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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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