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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!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Adventure #32: We're Mortgage Owners! Thank you Oprah.

That's right, we bought a mortgage!  I'd say we bought a house, but that will be 30 years from now when our mortgage is paid off and the title is in our hands.  ;-)  The adventure getting to this point was a wild ride, with all sorts of twists and turns.

Jun and I had no intentions of buying a home now.  We had a five year plan to save and put 20% down on a decent home, however, we both equally stalked real estate listings to keep up on the market and dream a little.  The five year plan was getting blurry and distant as we compared our favorite listings and found that we had complete opposite taste in homes.  Jun's taste:  He was totally fine with neighbors being within talking distance as long as the home was new or 'updated'.  He wanted a turn-key home with new appliances and fresh paint.  The home had to be 'on-grid'.  To me that sounded like a jail cell.  My taste:  I wanted a home with land.  Actually, I wanted land... and the home was optional.  It seriously could have been a shack, a tent, a yurt.... it just had to have privacy and some land for me to have chickens and a big garden.   Location was also key, and I'm more of an "off-grid" kind of gal, so water catchment and solar panels appealed to me.  One of my friends and founder of the veterinary clinics where I work, (Shae), caught wind that I was "looking" at homes.  She wrote down two real estate agents names and sent me a couple of listings.  She's a brilliant investor and home owning guru, so I took everything she said as bible.  One of those listings I had looked at a million times before she had even sent it to me.  I loved the home, but it was listed as a two bedroom and we needed three: one for Jun and I, one for Reise, and one for Dad when he's here 7-8 months out of the year.  So I kept passing it by until Shae sent it to me.  It just felt like that home kept coming back to me, one way or another.  Jun and I decided to just go see it, for the heck of it.

We went during an open house.  As soon as we pulled in the driveway, I said out loud, "I want it".  Jun just laughed, not taking me seriously at all, but I was dead serious.  The half acre had a tree house, (I immediately envisioned it as a chicken coop), a jacaranda tree, and plenty of room to garden.  The ADORABLE home was just a bonus.  When we got inside, the bonus home became a dream home.  The top story is a large loft with two bedrooms, one not 'counted' on the listing because it didn't have a closet.  The same with downstairs, two bedrooms, but another not counted.  So FOUR bedrooms, two of which existed in the silo, (YES, A FREAKING SILO!).  The house was built by a local artist with local wood and materials.  Wood floors, wood framing, custom cabinets, and did I mention A LOFT and A SILO.  My heart was pacing so fast, all I wanted to do was call the agent we'd blindly picked from Shae's list and tell her to write the offer.  I'm not an aggressive person, in fact I'd consider myself the opposite, but as I heard others complimenting the home during the open house, I wanted to shout at them that they couldn't have it... it was mine.  Ours, I meant... ours.  I still needed Jun's opinion, but how would I convince him to love such a "rustic" looking home?  When we got in the car, I was nervous, sweating, terrified that Jun hated it.  I couldn't bear to hear that he hated it.  It would be soul-crushing.  It had shiny newish appliances, county water and electric, so I was putting all of my hope on those things... and even they felt slim considering our taste differences.  Never mind that it was 3,000 miles above sea level in rural farm country, and five year plan be damned, this was THE ONE!  So I asked Jun what he thought and I nearly passed out when he said he liked it.

We made a pact.  We'd put in our offer and if they accepted, the LAND and house would be ours.  If they countered or turned down our offer, we'd consider it not meant to be.  On my days off, I'd go run errands.  Errands meant that I'd actually go run errands, and then drive well out of my way to the house and sit outside it's gate and visualize it being ours.  Jun and my dad would say, "So where'd you go?", but they already knew.  One of those 'errand' days, the listing agent was there and she caught me, and so we chatted for a good hour.  We hit it off instantly, and after I had finished telling her about the Christmas berry trees being great for the bees, and my plans for the chicken coop, and what room would be used for what, and what plants I'd plant, and art I'd hang, I think she was as excited for it to be ours as I was.  We'd already put in our offer, so she openly told me that Oprah had been inquiring about purchasing the property because it lead directly into her new home and land.  Yes, this property essentially butts up to Oprah's land.  OPRAH.  Just another reason to love it, because that essentially makes it like it butts up to a national park.  No condos, no hotels, no imposing structure will ever be built behind it.  Most would say, "That's awesome!  If Oprah wants to buy it, tell her it will cost her 2 million dollars!", but I didn't feel that way.  First, Oprah's not dumb... she's a brilliant business woman.  Second, I felt like it was the perfect home for us, for Reise, for Lono, for chickens, for sustainability.  Even with the listing agent rooting for us, it was out of our hands, her hands, and in the hands of the owners.

Speaking of the owners, this is one of the parts where the story takes a strange twist.  Unbeknown to me at the time, I actually knew one of them... sort of.  The wife had been a veterinarian at the clinic I work for when we lived in Hana.  I met her a couple of times, but I am close to many of the people that she knows well.  The joke between myself and co-workers was that the house would stay "in the family" if we bought it, (in the veterinary family, that is).  I never reached out to her personally, but I think that one of my favorite DVM's might have "put in a good word".  Business is business though, and they countered our offer.  I tried to fake through a smile and a "well that's that" attitude because we'd made a pact.  Internally, I was shattered.  I did not like where we lived at that time with crazy, screaming, abusive neighbors and police next door a few times a month.  It was as if I was Cinderella finding her castle, and then someone dragged me back to live with the evil stepsisters, (evil stepsisters being the especially insane woman next door to us who had three children and was the worst mother ever).  Jun saw through my facade and, like a knight in shining armor, said "You're miserable.  I want you to be happy.  Let's put in another offer."  Damn, I'm one lucky woman, but I'm also fair, and in fairness to our deal, I said "No, I made a promise", but do you know who wasn't having it?  Do you know who showed up at our kitchen table handing me a bowl of soup with a big friendly neighbor grin on her face, basically saying "It's your house... let's be neighbors!"?  OPRAH.  There it sat, staring me in the face.  The latest magazine of the Costo Connection was NOT a coincidence.  Oprah was on the cover and she WAS handing ME that soup and she DEFINITELY wanted ME to be her neighbor.  "Okay honey!", I said.  "Oprah is sending me a sign that she wants us to be neighbors and we're going to counter offer!".  I know I sound like a crazy woman, but I swear to you, seeing that magazine on that day, at that moment, felt like it was meant to be.  Later, I would actually read the article and find out that it was all about her farm, on Maui, the one within a stones throw of our new home.  I told you it wasn't a coincidence.

This was the magazine. I thought about framing it, but then found a cool little paint app and jazzed it up into a work of art.  
Even if it's a 4x4, Oprah will hang somewhere in our home as a memory.

After talking with our loan agent to make sure it was feasible, we countered, and after the owners talked with their agent, (who I know probably told them about our love and enthusiasm for the home), they accepted.  It was one of the single most exciting moments of my life.  Even though they'd accepted and it would be ours soon enough, I still "ran errands" every week until it became ours.  I would just sit and visualize, (usually while listening to Eddie Vedder).  Every single night, I'd wake up in the middle of the night and look at chickens, gardening, furniture.... I couldn't fall back to sleep until I'd spent an hour or two visualizing our new place and our future.  Our agent was PHENOMENAL.  Seriously, the best.  Katie was diligent beyond our greatest expectations.  She told us the good, the bad, and everything in between.  All I heard was the good, of course, because that's all I wanted to hear.  For instance, Keokea, the very rural area the house is located in, is called the "Goldilocks Zone" of the island.  It was given this name for it's perfect climate, being just outside of rainy Kula, and just up the mountain from dry Kihei.  MORE TO LOVE!  The move happened the weekend of Reise's birthday, and so we had a box party, got her an electric four-wheeler, and called it a day... or a year.... or many more to come.  And while I'm only briefly mentioning this, this could have a whole section by itself,  because we weren't just buying a home and celebrating Reise's birthday at the same time, I was also working on hosting a blessing and opening a new veterinary clinic that same week, (not a small feat).  I joked that it was like giving birth to two babies at once.  (South Maui Animal Clinic turned out beautifully and the blessing went off without a hitch).

Her birthday present was a four-wheeler and A HOUSE!

HOME... We love it here.  Papayas, bananas, avocados, and our many additions to the garden, (lilikoi, herbs, tomatoes, pumpkins, a variety of peppers, etc.).  I've put in a worm compost area and found a cheap, homemade table to use as my nursery station.  Sure, there's issues.  Mainly leaks.... a few water tricky leaks from the "custom-ness" of the home that we need to seal up, but it's grand really.  Reise has the best room in the house, in my opinion.  A dreamy circular room in a silo with phenomenal mountain views.  Our bedroom balcony would have excellent views of the ocean, except that there are a couple of jacarandas in our way.  In our way?  NOT!  Jacarandas are GORGEOUS!  We still get the amazing sunsets too.  I'm just going to post exterior photos for now, as to not bombard you any more than I already have with my words.  I'll do an interior photo-shoot soon.

I'd like to make a quick shout out to all the people who went on this ride with us; my Dad, thanks for being so flexible and wanting us to be happy.  He really just went with the flow and was a big help during the move, and is also a very handy and great guy to have around.  Katie Moquin, our real estate agent, for being the best there is!  Our lender was also fantastic, (Katie recommended him).  Shae and Kelly, (co-owners of the veterinary clinics who encouraged the whole process and even joined us on our final walk-through).  Genelle, one of my very best friends.  She came for a visit during the 'waiting process', and I basically picked her up from the airport, went to get kombucha, and then headed straight up the mountain to sit outside the gate and dream.  She eagerly obliged and it meant so much to me having her there to let me visualize out loud.  Afterward, we walked Oprah's road and caught up on life.  You're such an important part of my life, and it was the best having you there at such a huge landmark in our lives.

On our walk after seeing the house.  I LOVE this lady so much!
And because she's one of the most creative, talented, radiant, and kind people I know, she up-cycled this door she found in someone's waste pile and made it into a beautiful work of photo art.  It instantly went on our living room wall.

More thanks go out to my sister-in-law and my other best friend, Kristina, for texting me for progress updates and letting me bombard you with pictures when we finally got the place.  Thanks for caring so much!  I also love our house warming presents, (the BEACH photo she sewed by hand), and the egg basket will come in handy when we get our chickens!

In my family, even though we live 5,000 miles away, news spreads like wildfire.  It's a good thing!  Uncle Matt and Aunt Jenny sent us a piece of the East that really made our house feel like home; a nut cracker with walnuts and pecans!  It included a cute little note saying it was from a "couple of nuts".  It proudly sits on our dining table and friends enjoy using it when they come over.

And this guy.... everything I do with intention.  My passwords all have meanings that are little manifestations of things I want in life.  "Lono" was named Lono exactly 8 years ago because Lono is the Hawaiian god of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music, and peace.  I mainly named him Lono for the music and agriculture part because I wanted a farm and am always trying to further myself in music.  It turns out, eight years later, it's ALL come true.  We even have a music room in our home!

He loves his new home and especially enjoys trying to find critters in the lava rock.

I spy my little sweet pea!  Click to enlarge.

Papayas from the papaya tree.

Peach ghost peppers, the 2nd hottest in the world.  Jun tried them raw. 

Click to enlarge to see a panoramic view.
Hunting for worms for our compost bin in the Makawao Forest.

The desk turned nursery table I got for a bargain on Craigslist.
This is a blurry photo, because it was taken from inside our home on a rainy day, but it's the soon-to-be chicken coop.
You can see it in the panorama view too. 

Inside the playhouse/coop was painted with spray paint.  I spent a couple weekends working on it,
making it bright and clean, adding nesting boxes, and perches.

The jacaranda tree in bloom.
There's nothing like having an Easter egg hunt on your very own land.

There are Jackson Chameleons everywhere.

A great property for our family.  :)

On my way home from work, just a mile down the road.

If you read this through entire thing and made it to the end, you're phenomenal and it would mean the world if you left a comment letting me know your thoughts.

For those of you who would like our new address, just send me a Facebook message or email.  Our P.O. Box is still good too.  

With Love and Aloha,

P.S.  All of these photos were taken with my iPhone at random moments of life and are not a reflection of my actual photographer abilities.  ;)

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