21 Nov 2008, 10:20am

my suitcase heart

last glimpse of the island:

felt a certain sinking of my heart, i must admit, when i looked out the window and realized i was actually leaving.

later, looking down at last at the lights of seattle, i thought about cities and the sheer number of people they contain within such a compact, easily-traversable space. well that’s kind of cool, isn’t it?, i thought. with that many people there’s got to be some kindred spirits. but i think that that attitude is exactly what keeps us from finding them. the sea is so big that we use pretty much any excuse to throw away each fish without much more than a glance. sometimes we don’t bother glancing. i met people in puna with whom i probably wouldn’t have so much as chatted with at a party in portland, and they were pretty much without exception generous, kind people whose conversations i was delighted to listen to and take part in. while puna is a unique, self-selecting crowd, i think there are probably way more worthwhile people in the world in general than i have previously allowed for. everyone’s figuring shit out. it’s really exciting and feels good to be involved in other people’s figuring and have others involved in yours. community building and all that. i approve.

but all this feels silly when i remember that i have so much love and community in portland already. i came down with my dad on wednesday. yesterday i saw my friend’s dance-theatre thesis show, ran into so many friends and felt so welcomed home. went to another friend’s weekly midnight picnic (since 2006! i’ve been going since early 2007) and drank sweet wine and toasted everything and shared cookies i’d made. this morning i walked through my neighborhood in my winter coat and my favorite scarf, watching my warm breath. i love the smell of the cold air. yellow leaves in puddles. tonight i’m hanging out with as many friends as possible at the pied cow, one of my favorite coffee/dessert/drinks places.

there are so many possibilities! i feel two-sided–or i suppose multi-facted (!)–but not in any really difficult or frustrating way. there is the part of me that was appalled when i walked in the door of my house for the first time in six weeks or so at the sheer amount of stuff we have. there is the part of me that sat on my bed and delighted in the stacks of unread books and zines, the drawers full of mementoes, my ukulele. there is the part of me that wants to join the peace corps or teach english in the french caribbean. there is the part of me that wants to get a dog and buy a house and paint murals on all the walls. in any case, i am not worried about being bored.

17 Nov 2008, 7:16pm
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gotta hele on

today i finished up my work trade by painting this table:

yes, those are nekkid ladiez in two of the petals. it’s an aesthetic of which mojo (the owner of hedonisia) is quite fond, and hey i aim to please.

also, by the way, the finished floor in maiʻa hale (slightly awkward photos due to limited space in which to take them):

it’s already a little grubby by virtue of being, you know, a floor. i did the lettering and i’m pretty pleased with it–though i did learn soon after we finished this that the apostrophe in “maiʻa” is actually an ʻokina, which looks more like an upside-down apostrophe, like so:

oh well! you probably can’t tell, but every ʻokina in this entry is actually a proper ʻokina, thanks to my mad html skillz. and google.

this afternoon i packed most of my things, shaking out all my dirty laundry just in case, because i’d hate to be accused of attempting to illegally transport millipedes to the mainland when my bags go through agricultural inspection tomorrow morning. hah!

here are some things i will not miss about living in puna:

  • the mosquitoes
  • finding millipedes in my clothes and on my person
  • worrying about seven-inch-long centipedes
  • worrying about my clothes molding (yes, this is actually a legitimate worry)
  • um, the mosquitoes

    there are lots more things i will miss, of course.

    last night i think i accidentally killed two tiny coqui frogs–maybe a quarter-inch long each–while trying to sweep them off of my computer screen. last night while sitting around a bonfire i was startled when a snail crawled across one of my toes (yes, startled by a snail). but mostly i’m cool with everything with four or fewer legs.

    tonight as the sun set i went for a walk down the street with all three of the kids currently living here (two, four and seven years old), just me and them. i think i need to get a dog or something, friends.

    i’m leaving here at 6:30 tomorrow morning. see you soon, portland!

  • 16 Nov 2008, 8:08am
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    good morning

    am i glowing?

    14 Nov 2008, 5:28pm

    lazy hedonisia days

    things have been pretty laidback here lately. what am i saying, “lately”??

    yesterday’s weather was kind of like portland weather often is–it’s sunny! no it’s raining! no it’s pouring! no it’s sunny again!–but of course even when it’s pouring here it’s warm and downright pleasant and there’re big fat drops dripping through the jungle leaves… i took some pictures around the property:

    the driveway:

    (the sign says “remember the love / with aloha from hedonisia hawaii”)

    the bathroom area–note the harvested bananas hanging on the right there:

    the huge mural on the back (or front??) of the barn:

    cozy inside:

    in the afternoon during a relatively sunny period, i went with another girl here down to ahalanui park, which is called that by pretty much no one–everyone just calls it the warm pond. it’s a large, volcanically heated saltwater pool, right by the ocean. waves come right over and into it:

    it rained while we were swimming and rained on and off as we made our way home. i’m pretty sure hitching a ride in the back of a pick-up truck in the pouring rain is a quintessential puna experience. every once in awhile it is just fantastic to be completely dressed and drenched.

    i had just enough time for a quick warm-up shower before lauren picked me up to take me into pahoa for her wheel of fortune viewing party at the local mexican restaurant, luquin’s. yes, she was on wheel of fortune with a friend of hers! the game she played in aired last night, so she got a bunch of friends and family together to watch it.

    i drank a (very strong) mango margarita. ex-margarita by the time i took this picture:

    the stuff around the edge instead of salt is li hing mui, which i figured was worth a try ’cause i’m not a big fan of salt rims anyway. it’s full of aspartame and stuff but pretty tasty. lauren asked what i thought and when i told her i liked it she said (as she has said before), “you’re such a good local!” aw, i’m just a haole tourist, but i felt a little warm and fuzzy nonetheless. maybe it was the margarita.

    today i spent some of my work trade down by sunnyside, one of the acommodations–kind of built around an old tractor (abandoned there by the previous owner of the property), with the tractor and another little sheltered area being used for storage, like so:

    i was sorting some of the wood scraps currently shoved willy-nilly into the cab of the tractor. i found this (alas, poor anole!):

    and also took a whole bunch of pictures of the fantastic vines wrapping themselves all over everything and dancing in the air:

    hedonisia wildlife:

    oh, and–when i first started sleeping up at ocean view… the rain at night, the coqui frogs, the creepy crawlies imagined and real all kind of felt just a little threatening. now it is just amazing sleeping up there. i climb the hill with confidence. the past few nights the moon has been so bright i’ve hardly needed my flashlight. i sleep so soundly, surrounded by jungle. in the early morning i wake up and roll over and–this–

    oh, hawaii…!

    12 Nov 2008, 2:26pm
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    thank you

    i gotta take this space to write some thank yous.

    first, to madame pele, for welcoming me to her island with such generosity and plenty.

    to lauren, who has been incredibly kind, generous and welcoming.
    to her family, especially her mother kathy and her grandfather dick.
    to mojo, lloyd, lee, josh, joe, elesha, saffron, sage, alice, chris, christian, richard, claudia, sam, max, stone, kelly, bastian, thi and everyone else at hedonisia.

    i generally haven’t been attaching anyone’s names to my blog posts here, though i have been posting pictures that include the people i’ve met. i’ve kind of been assuming that people sorta figure that digital photos might or even probably will end up online, but that blogging is another can of beans. i’d like to respect everyone’s personal boundaries, and i hope they don’t mind my listing their names here… but i really do want to acknowledge everything that the people listed above have done for me in my time here in puna. they have all been incredibly warm and welcoming and i feel privileged and lucky to have stumbled into their acquaintance.

    lastly (but of course not leastly)…

    though i am here in hawaii independent of my family and friends in the pnw, i feel in some ways that i have a partner here, though he is actually on the other side of the world. i hope he doesn’t mind me posting this here. i would not be here in hawaii if not for him (for better or worse–hah!) and he has been a big part of my healing here. he’s helped me learn how to forgive myself, him, and everyone/everything else for the unfortunate events of this past summer, and, i hope, vice versa. regardless of how things shake out, i know that he’s incredibly important to me and i hope we can remain in each other’s lives.

    you know who you are. mahalo and namaste… and happy birthday (i think it’s the 13th where you are!).

    i go home in less than a week. i think it’s about time. still, hawaii has been good to me.

    i’m working on painting the ceiling in the barn for my work trade today. i’m pretty sure i have paint in my hair, and i know i have paint in one of my eyebrows. a lot of the clothes i brought here will come home with paint stains and splotches; i think that obviously the “solution” to this “problem” is to paint more when i get home.

    9 Nov 2008, 4:09pm
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    on top of the world

    i have lots of photos and some story to share from yesterday (when lauren and i stood at the top of the tallest mountain in the world), but i want to write about this morning first. i slept (dozed, anyway) late (’til 9 o’clock, yo, that’s like an hour or two later than i’m usually up around here–the mornings are too too beautiful!), got up, and was promptly offered the last seat in a car bound for maku’u market, the big weekly farmer’s-and-everything-else market between pahoa and kea’au (which is in turn about halfway between pahoa and hilo).

    from the market we went to ecstatic dance at kalani (which i wrote about 2 weeks ago here). it is really the best thing to do on sunday morning ever, i think. on any morning. i felt so invigorated and good and sweaty and beautiful. and during one of the last songs, when i held my hands above my head, palms open, i swear i could feel everyone’s good energy in the air, vibrating through my fingertips down my arms and into my belly.

    and after the dance we went to kehena, where the waves were ENORMOUS, and we stood in the surf and let ourselves be bowled over. i went nude (way too much sand in the suit otherwise, lemme tell you) and the sun on my skin felt amazing and i felt beautiful and whole.

    i am just glad, and wanted to share my gladness. so.

    yesterday–the mountain. our first glimpse of it, on our way to hilo:

    we stopped in hilo to check out the farmer’s market and this sustainable agricultural event thing (where lauren’s grandfather was selling his goat cheese–more yum!!), and to get shave ice!

    they do it right here, with ice cream in the bottom. yum yum yum. man we ate so much good food yesterday. summer rolls from a woman at the farmer’s market, anise-infused goat cheese samples, limeade with coconut from a shop in hilo, more rambutans, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, thai food for dinner.

    up, up to the mountain:

    we drove on the saddle road, which runs between mauna kea and mauna loa (”long mountain”). this is mauna loa:

    and this is mauna kea again. see the observatories at the top?:

    we parked at the visitor center at 9000 feet and checked out the little silversword reserve area. silversword is endemic to the hawaiian islands, and i guess this particular variety grows only on mauna kea, and has a pretty small population. it really is silver!

    (with a hawaiian heiau)

    there was also this other crazy plant with really fuzzy leaves, which a little internet research reveals is mullein:

    the view was everywhere–uncaptureable–here’s part of it:

    we caught a ride up to the summit (lauren’s car isn’t 4wd) with two couples, one from kea’au and one (visiting them) from bainbridge island, washington, of all places! i actually ran into the second couple this morning at maku’u market! small big island. anyway, it was fucking beautiful, and a little otherworldly…

    (check out the red on that cinder cone in the distance, oh my god, that color)

    at the top, with the observatories:

    i know the two in the middle are the “keck twins,” but i can’t remember who operates the others or what they’re called. there are several other ones not visible in this picture as well. lauren tells me there is some controversy surrounding them, because the mountain is very holy to hawaiians (every mountain in the world is a holy place). i am reminded a little of the stained glass window created by artist gerhard richter in the kölner dom in köln, germany–to quote wikipedia, “it is composed of 11,500 identically sized pieces of coloured glass resembling pixels, randomly arranged by computer, which create a colorful ‘carpet’.” the archbishop of the cathedral disliked the window enough that he refused to attend the unveiling; my friend who took me to the cathedral told me that the bishop thought the randomness did not adequately reflect the glory of god. i am not catholic and i am not hawaiian, but to me the window was very spiritual. the explosion of color brought to mind the random genetic mutations that have created everything that surrounds us–to me, that is (part of) god. i feel like it should all be able to exist respectfully together. the observatories at the top of mauna kea reflect a human yearning to understand the universe that surrounds us, and also (i think) the knowledge that there is more to the universe than we could ever possibly understand. of course this is all somewhat complicated by the fact that hawaiians have been historically oppressed and kicked off their land and all that, and the catholics not so much. i dunno; just a thought…

    a guide who’d just finished up a tour was up there at the top, too, and though he had to get back down soon, he gave us a little mini informational session about the observatories while his boss waited in the car and laughed and honked at him to hurry up.

    oh, and, uh, it was really cold at the top, especially coming from balmy hilo. our ride’s car had a thermometer, and when we got to the summit, it read 42 degrees fahrenheit. by the time we left, it read 38 degrees. bear that in mind when i share with you how monumentally stupid i was…

    i think my logic was something like, “i’ve worn these shoes hiking in the jungle, clambering over lava rock at night, wading in tide pools, climbing over fences… why the heck wouldn’t i wear them up to mauna kea?” but, uh. my toes began to go numb shortly after i took this picture. i ended up wrapping my leg warmers (which i’ve been carrying everywhere, mostly because they are good for keeping mosquitoes off my legs–who’d'a thunk?) around my feet with the opening underneath them, making sorta-socks, like so:

    and that helped a lot.

    however, i am delighted to say that despite my fears (my mom and brother both suffer from it), i don’t appear to suffer from altitude sickness! i just got a little short of breath, which is all right ’cause it makes it more fun to say (many ways truthfully) that the summit was breathtaking.

    there was a heiau on the next little summit over, and we walked out to it…

    we hunkered down beside the heiau for awhile and watched the sun and the clouds and the light and the colors. and when i say hunkered i guess (based on the pictorial evidence!) i mean we jumped!–

    that was lauren; this is me:

    long shadows:

    (the shadow at the middle left is actually the shadow of another cinder cone, not a building or a person)

    bundled up:

    and the sun began to set…

    right before the sun actually set, the tour buses arrived. lots of tourists in matching parkas, provided by the tour company–but darn they sure did look nice and warm. the sunset itself was maybe a little too much for my trusty little camera, but it did its best:

    the other side:

    the gathered crowd:

    and then the light got more and more beautiful, and my camera just couldn’t cut it anymore, and i tapped my head and said, “it’s in here” and it is. sorry. and it was night, and the stars came out, and we drove home, and slept, and it was morning.

    7 Nov 2008, 2:03pm
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    oh yes

    these are my mandalas.

    these are my mandalas on hawaii: