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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Adventure #34: Hugelkultur, BTE, and the Hattori Homestead

A blog a year, that's what I'm currently averaging. Unacceptable.  Here comes the excuse:  work happened, then we pulled Reise out of preschool and I am now asked "Why?, Why?, Why?" every 10 seconds, every waking hour, and I insist on answering EVERY. SINGLE. WHY. because curiosity is knowledge and knowledge is power, right?  Or did curiosity really kill the cat?  OR did curiosity kill the cat's MOM?  Either way, she's brilliant, but I am her person.... I am her source of fun, her source of food, her teacher, and her butt wiper, (TMI?).  So when I think I'm done making sure she's spent enough time outside, had enough fun, learned enough, eaten enough, and is pooping sufficiently, I go to sit down for some me time.  Me time... That's the part where you LOL!  Who am I kidding?!  She's hungry again, she's bored, she has already finished the project that I thought would take a half hour and only took the ten minutes it took me to go pee and feed the chickens.  So I try to wake up early, and when I wake up early, I go downstairs, drink coffee like it's the nectar of the gods, embracing each uninterrupted sip, and I sit down and work on my book.  My book.  That felt strange to type.  I never went to school for writing, but it somehow has always been in me and I must let it out.  I might be crazy, but I'm giving writing an autobiography a shot.  My life hasn't been boring, I promise you this, and even if you THINK you know me, I swear you will learn ten things you didn't know about me if you read it.  It's deep, it's personal, it scares the shit out of me thinking someone might actually read it.

ANYWAYS, I'm WAY OFF topic.  It's just nice having you to talk to, (you being whoever you are reading this... and crazy me addressing you because I'm with a five year old all day).  So, now that we've talked about life and stuff, let me tell you about my garden.  That's the other thing I do.  Writing + Gardening = Therapy.  It's no big secret that we live in Hawaii, and therefore we live on the slopes of the inactive volcano, Haleakala.  We live on lava rock.  The plus side to living on lava, great drainage, the negative, digging a hole.  When we first moved in, I spent hours, blood, sweat, and backaches digging out lava rock to create the first garden.  Then I decided to work smarter, not harder and began researching raised bed ideas.  I didn't want to spend a fortune building boxes everywhere and trying to level out our gently sloping land, (leveling would have put me right back to digging, so that would have been counter-productive).  I found hugelkultur, ("bless me"), and Back to Eden gardening.  I became obsessed.  Hugelkultur meant using a layering technique that would allow the garden to provide it's own nutrients for approximately TWENTY YEARS.  You use logs, then sticks, then whatever lighter mediums you want, (like grass clippings or straw or manure), then top it off with soil.  We have trees we've chopped all over the property, so I was sold.

Jun, bless his heart.  He listens to my rant on hugelkultur, (which he could care less about), but he still proceeds to help me haul the wood, haul the soil, and build that mofo just to make me happy.  He and my Dad just look at me like, "There she goes again on one of her projects!".  I am the project queen.  If I'm project-less, there's an empty nagging feeling deep inside that won't go away.  There's always other stuff I could be doing, like laundry, or dishes, or vacuuming... BOOOOORING.  No, I need a hands on, get myself covered in paint, covered in sawdust, or covered in dirt kind of project.  I also found the BTE method, which was more of a raised bed approach, so I just bought some cheap wood and put both gardens side-by-side.  Ask Jun, "side-by-side" is one of my favorite things.  He'll say, "Do you like Corona or Pacifico better?", when we're shopping at the store.  I say, "Let's try both so I can do a side-by-side." Which salsa is better?  Side-by-side.  Which shirt looks better?  Side-by-side.  Which paint?  Side-by-side.  Which garden works better?  Side-by-side.

When I started this project, I didn't have a clue just how successful they both would be.  They both are concepts that keep your gardens nearly weed-free, on top of all of their other benefits.  There are pros and cons with both, but the winner for me is the hugelkultur, ("bless me again").  The reason it wins is because I used things I would have just taken to green waste anyways, yet they become plant food.  It also gives you more planting space per square foot because of it being a hill shape, and like I mentioned before, it is self fertilizing as the brush decomposes underneath.  The only con is that heavy rainfall causes some of the soil to fall down, exposing some of the roots of plants, but that is getting better all the time as it compacts, and I just add more soil over the roots when it happens.  The BTE is going great too.  We've harvested more radishes and beans than we know what to do with out of it, but I will have to fertilize it and add compost as I replant it.  If you have any questions about either of these methods, please don't hesitate to ask.  I can save you the hours of research because I've already done it.  I've been over here gardening, canning, cooking, and composting straight from the earth.  Shit, I'm like a walking, talking, Mother Earth News.  Maybe saying "Shit" wasn't appropriate, but you're not five and I love that word, so shit, shit, shit, shit.

My next project when we get back from vacation, (California and Alaska these next few weeks... EEK!), is using my leftover wood to create an edible flower garden.  I'm going to be outside like a little rabbit just grazing away on my flowers.  It's going to be EPIC.  (Yes, I'm a mom to a five year old, and my idea of epic is eating flowers.... and surfing stellar waves.... at least maybe the latter makes me a little cool?).  Oh, and chickens.  Our chickens and their eggs are pretty epic too, so I'll include some pictures of them also.  And no blog would be complete without my little person, (with guest appearances by my main four-legged man, Lono).  Reise definitely makes my days brighter and my world a better place... "Why's" and all.

 HUGELKULTUR  ("Bless me")

The genuine meaning of the "labor of love" right here.
He helps with these things just to make me happy.
The mound is ready!
I added some wood chips along the sides for easier walking.
Seeds are growing!
I added a nice little herb and flower garden in front of it.
Nothing is little anymore.  Our garden is a big, beautiful dinosaur of plants!

AND BAM!  This before and after really gives you perspective
with the herbs in front and the plants behind.


I'd been saving newspapers as a weed barrier for a year.

Photo creds go to my sister, Kristina, when they were visiting. 
Lono is hunting for lizards in the "first garden", I'm working away,
and the kids are in the background playing on the Moana Boat.  :)


Reise tries a lot more vegetables now that she participates in picking them.

Too bad I didn't take pictures of our purple carrots or
our giant watermelon radishes.  They were SO PRETTY!

Good raw, but also amazing roasted.  I used both the radish
tops and the carrot tops in these dishes.  Carrot tops became
 pesto, radish tops became a wilted salad green 
to serve with the radishes.

When I have too much of something, I give stuff away or I can..
This pickled namasu is so beautiful and completely from the garden.

The namasu made for one phenomenal Bahn Mi sandwich.

Jun loves red meat, so we sometimes make pot roast so he gets
his fix. I still use all of our own herbs and vegetables in it though!

I'm not much of a red meat eater, but dang that's
a pretty pot roast, (if I must say so myself).

And we have salads and all the fixins' coming out of our.... 
garden. So much salad!  I add in peaches from our tree for
a sweet touch. I actually just canned many mason jars
of momoshu; a japanese peach wine with our peaches.

My canning drawer keeps growing. 


I once made a board on Pinterest called "Hawaii Life - Pictures by Danielle Hattori".  I do nothing with it, but everyday I get emails saying I've been re-pinned, (or whatever you call it), a bunch of times.  It's almost always the same pin.  It's not the beautiful hula dancer, the Manhattan sized crater, or the gorgeous beaches in Hawaii.  It's my old chicken coop.  My old chicken coop is a Pinterest sensation.  "The Fuster Cluck", which you can see HERE, if you'd like.  When we got the chickens, I knew their coop needed a name.  I now introduce you to our Buff Orpingtons: Pip Squeak, Pie Pie, Pecky, Purple, Panda, Picchu, and Pickles.  Their home I lovingly painted and named, "The Chick Inn (the Buff)".  Remember, they're Buff, get it?  The Chick Inn the Buff?  Ba dom chee.

This close up is just to show the cute little chicken I painted on the sign.

The chickens have a playground, equipped with a xylophone
and all, (you know, just in case they're feeling musical).

We grew the chickens this sunflower to eat, which they
totally dug.  One of the chickens is photobombing us here.

If you're ever at my house, and Reise has gone missing, she's
 likely one of three places.  One, with the chickens.  Two,
on the Moana Boat I made for her, (which you can see here)
Or three, shoveling through my compost looking for
roly-polies and worms.

The chicken in all of the pictures with Reise is "Pie Pie".
I bandaged and healed her as a chick when she came with a
 broken leg.  Reise promptly named her "Cutie Pie", now
shortened to "Pie Pie", and they've been buddies ever since.

Our chickens are treasured just for their unique personalities
they each have, and their eggs are just the icing on the cake.
Occasionally we get a double-yoker.  OUCH!  I pity the
chicken who laid this egg.
This is "Purple", our presumably deaf chicken, (since all the other
chickens come to me like dogs when I call them... which is pretty
amazing and amusing to see them follow me around).  Purple is
special with a face only a mother could love, (and I do love her).
I call her my Trump chicken, (mean of me, I know).

Her long "Trump" comb may be the reason for Purple's hearing loss.

Speaking of purple, lavender and jacarandas are blooming
like crazy at our house.  Bring on the pollinators

And just because... these two and their friendship melts my heart.

Let me know you stopped by!  I love hearing from you.  

Danielle and The Hattori Homestead

Friday, September 29, 2017

Adventure #33: My Moana Boat Project

I had messages, texts, Facebook posts, clients, and friends telling me that Reise and I needed to watch Moana.  The day finally came and the movie encompasses the Hawaii I love.  Essentially, the “Hana” atmosphere of community, adventure, and connection. I could relate to it in so many ways, (adventuring in my mind back to the time I lived on a sailboat on Oahu and sailed around the Hawaiian Islands).  Reise, of course, loved it, especially the music.  She constantly pretends to be Moana, singing at the top of her lungs lyrics that often don’t match, but that she can still confidently belt out to the point where I even start to believe the lyrics have changed.  We went camping, (in Hana/Kipahulu), and all she wanted to do was walk back and forth on the picnic table top, pretending she was on Moana’s boat, and sang every line she partially knows.  

Here she is belting it out atop our picnic table at our campsite:

My artistic Libra side instantly envisioned building her her very own Moana boat.  And so it began….

I drew it out in my journal then put an ad up on Craigslist in the “wanted” section, saying that I was looking for a tiny boat or dinghy.  It didn’t have to be water tight, could have big holes in fact, as it would be land based.  Within 24 hours I had a reply.  A 12 foot dingy, still water tight, but PLENTY of wear and tear, for $50.  My next day off, I was on my way to Honokowai to meet a guy named Moose.  Moose was vague in our texts… “just go to Honokowai and ask for Moose”.  Honokowai is a town… so I asked for a “location” of some kind to at least get within a half mile of him.  “Go to Honokowai Palms and ask for Moose”.  Okay, now I was driving to a condominium complex looking for a guy called Moose.  We also didn’t even set up a time, just a day.  So I just hoped that when I traveled the 43 miles, (one way), I’d find this mysterious Moose to buy a $50 beat up boat.   I had no idea how I was going to tie it on to the truck, I basically just brought every kind of strap we own. The whole way there I was chanting a little gratitude in my mind that Jun didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going, and that he wouldn’t be with me to observe this crazy endeavor.  He lies on the side of extreme caution… I lie on the side of, “I want to build a Moana boat for Reise and will do what I have to do to make it happen”. 

I made it to Honokowai Palms, a multi-building condo complex, and literally rolled down my window to talk to the first guy I saw, who was walking across the street and asked, “I hope this isn’t an absurd question, but do you know where I can find a guy called “Moose”?”  Hearing the words come out of my mouth, and the fact that this guy was definitely stoned, I knew I sounded like a soccer mom trying to make a drug deal… so I quickly blurted out, “I’m trying to buy a boat”.  To my surprise, he said, “yeah, he’s probably over at that building”, so I said, “what’s he look like?”, to which the guy quickly replied, “A moose”, and began laughing and walked away.  Two guys were outside of the building, and I was easily able to identify which one was Moose, a shy mannered, larger sized local who must have worked for the condo, because he was vacuuming and I had to scream “MOOSE!!!” at the top of my lungs for him to hear me.  I felt like an idiot.  Finally, he shut the vacuum off. “Hi…. Are you Moose?”….  I’d never said Moose so many times before in my life at that point, never shouted it, never felt like I was making a drug deal while saying it, and never used it in reference to a human.  “Yeah, the boat is around the pool back here.”.  Now that sucker wasn’t light, and it was just me and the 250+lbs. Moose carrying it.  He needed breaks just as badly as I did as we hauled that thing across the pool deck and to the truck.  

Our strapping it down was a miracle, to say the least.  I have a 5 ½ ft. truck bed, so this thing was hanging out 6 ½ feet.  I pounced and pulled on it a few times and felt like I could make it the 1 ½, 2 hour trip home safely.  Shoot… I forgot to bring a red flag to tie on the back.  Oh well, no turning back now... I just hoped I didn't get stopped by police on my way home because then Jun would probably hear it on his police radio and that would be embarrassing.  I tipped Moose for helping me load and strap it, and off I went with my junker boat, all the while thinking to myself that Jun would not have been cool with the bigness of the boat or basically the whole mystery "Moose" scenario.  I took some back streets to take it slow.  I was halfway home, in Kahului, when my phone rang.  Hands free, of course, I answered the call on my truck speaker thingy…. It was Jun.

I expected our typical midday conversation starting with "Hi honey, how's your day going?"  I was prepared to be nonchalant and avoid anything pertaining to my current boat situation.  Unfortunately, that's not how the conversation started.  Instead, he said,

“I don’t know why the lord wanted me to see that, but I just saw you drive past me at a stoplight.  I'm at an intersection and just saw this white truck go past with this huge amount of boat hanging out of the back and was like, “What on earth is that person doing hauling that boat!”…. Then realized that that person was my wife.”  I couldn’t help it and just started laughing hysterically to the point of crying.  I replied with, “you love me because I’m crazy and ambitious”.  He managed to giggle a little before mentioning my lack of a flag tied to the back, then made me promise to call or text him when I made it home safely.  I literally, like a mad woman, broke out it spurts of laughter driving home, just thinking of him seeing the truck with the boat, then realizing after sitting a moment, that it was actually me.  I still laugh now about it and am grateful I didn't get a ticket.... from my husband.

So I made it home safe and sound, unloaded that sucker by myself, and got to work on it that weekend.  It took me a few weekends to complete, as we have the joy of seven chickens now, and have been putting up fence and other things as well.  Reise helped me paint for about 5 whole minutes, but she was a huge help when it came to screwing down the platform.  I’d drill a hole, she’d wipe the sawdust away and place a screw in the hole for me to secure down.  Then I built the sail out of a drop cloth canvas and some branches I found lying around the property.  The sand box was part of the plan, and to my surprise, sand is expensive!  I know, I live by the beach and it may seem silly, but I did actually purchase the sand.  Jun, all the while, looking at me like I’m crazy spending all this time on making a Moana boat, but he did help me move it to it’s final destination, a 200 square foot area I designated as Reise’s play area. 

The final product isn’t really final yet, I don’t think.  I’d like to do a little tribal painting on the side like the canoe in the movie.  I think I’ll plant some flowers in the front area where there is a small compartment.  I have added more sand since taking these photos.  The best part is that Reise wants to go out to her Moana boat the first thing when she gets home, or when she wakes up on the weekends.  She loves playing in it.  It was well worth the time and effort, and meeting strangers named Moose and almost being pulled over by my husband. 

Let me know what you think and leave a comment if you were here.  I love hearing from you!


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