Sunday, October 30, 2011

Deer friends

Here's something you may not know about me. I'm a sucker for guys with big, brown eyes. The other day, I spotted the handsome fellow on the far right of this impressive trio for the first time and, I must admit, I was smitten.

"Nice rack," I said. He seemed to appreciate the compliment. The next day this five-point buck was accompanied by a four-point buddy. The day after that, the day of this photo, there were three. Since then, I've witnessed these musketeers several times near the big, Colorado blue spruce in the southwest corner of my yard. Sometimes, the two smaller ones lower their heads and lock horns, but not fiercely. It's as though they're going through the motions because it's expected of them, but really they'd rather break out the cigars and play a friendly game of poker or something. Hang out here, guys, and you're safe from the camo-clad, neon-hatted crowd milling around this time of year. Of course, a sage, five point buck probably knows that. 

I'm told I've missed scads of action in my other, mid-Pacific community. Our neighbors' son was spotted at a recent county council meeting in Puna, chanting and wielding a lai o mano, a tradition Hawaiian weapon, best described as a hardwood club edged with sharks' teeth. He was deemed harmless at the meeting, but later assaulted a large Samoan man at a local beach park and was arrested a few days later. The neighborhood is all atwitter about this. As I understand it, it's lucky for him the cops got to him before the Samoans. 

The pack of dogs has returned, too, some distance down the road from us. They have killed again, this time the grandma sheep from the farm I featured a few weeks ago in this very blog. So sad. Humans are once again on vigilant watch. You'd think the best approach would be to contact the humane society and ask them to trap the dogs. The sheep farmers did that immediately after the first attack, only to land themselves at the bottom of a months-long waiting list. The humane society is overwhelmed by nuisance wild dog complaints on Hawaii Island. 

All our stuff is out of storage now, and it feels a bit like Christmas as I rediscover some old favorite sweaters and shirts, which I will enjoy in the coming chilly weeks. That said, there's plenty to shake my head over, too. What were we thinking, packing this stuff for eventual transport to Hawaii? The truth is, if you haven't looked at something in six years, you probably don't need it and should toss it or give it to someone who does. Except, of course, what the IRS and the SEC require you to keep for 10 years. In that case, you have no choice. But much of that has expired now, too, so into the burn barrel it goes.

The house is in great shape. Everything works: the furnace (yay!), the original stove and oven, circa 1951, the fridge, the water heater. I've got some winterizing to do, a little touch up and sealing of the south-facing windows, some pipe wrapping and insulation. But really, this house is solid. It'll stand and provide shelter forever, and would really thrive in the hands of someone who enjoys restoring good old homes. The red oak floors and knotty pine ceilings are amazing.  That old growth oak no longer exists on planet earth, other than in classic homes like this one. I just ripped the carpeting out of the office and found more of that beautiful wood underneath, in excellent condition. It's the perfect location for a home/business, too. If this sounds like a sales pitch, it is. I do love this place, but maintaining it from 3500 miles away is impractical. It deserves attention. It's really an awesome house.

My hunt for a seasonal job on the mountain has not panned out. I've gotten raves from interviewers who tell me I was their second choice (not good enough), that it was a tough decision, they will make complimentary notes in my application file and forward it to the next position in which I express interest, but they've chosen the applicant with "direct experience with the job." My guess is that people who worked those positions last year, having not found year-round, permanent positions out in the world, are returning to seasonal work. I have a few prospects in Gunnison, and one very attractive offer I'm mulling over that will enable me to work remotely and still have time to pick up a class to teach online if the opportunity presents itself, so I am still hopeful.  I do miss my family. BeeCee the trouble cat is misbehaving and trying Ron's patience, but mostly, they're all fine, and so am I.  Ron continues to tend the farm, and is preparing a spot to plant another 20 trees or so, no doubt dodging raindrops as he plants.  Here, the sun is shining, the bucks and I are chillin', and the sky's so blue you'd swear you were halfway to outer space.

A hui hou. Aloha!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A bit of a bust

I have arrived in the land of the immortal tractor, a place where the cattle are hearty and the grass will not need mowing for another seven months. The sun is bright, the nights are cold and the magpies are feisty. When I'm in Hawaii, I miss this place. Now that I'm here, I miss the island.  As it turns out, I missed a classic Hawaii day today.

Some weeks ago, Ron and I disassembled an old, dead dehumidifier to see if we might recycled the innards rather than throw it all into the rubbish, since there's no practical way to dispose of stuff like that on the island. There was some copper tubing inside, plus other metals. We're constantly hearing about copper thieves in the islands, so we figured it must be worth something. He took the contraption to Reynolds Recycling in Hilo yesterday.

The scene goes something like this:

Ron pulls in and after waiting for a few minutes, an employee asks if he can please move his car. The man signals Ron to back up, stands behind the car and waves with a "keep going, keep going, you're good, keep going" motion. Ron watches him through the rearview mirror and rolls backward as the man waves.
And then...
"What was that?" Ron asks.
"Why did you hit that?" The man asks.
"Why did you wave me into it?"
"I thought you saw it."
"I didn't see it. I was watching you. You were signaling me to keep going."
"You should have looked out your side mirror."
"Why would I do that when you were waving me on? You're standing right there. I was following you're instructions."
"I thought you saw it."
Luckily, it's just a wooden pallet, and no damage is done. Next, he shows the man the metal innards.
"Can you take this?"
"You'll have to have it notarized to prove it's yours. That you own it. That you didn't steal it."
"Why would I steal this?"
"Because it's worth money to recycle."
"How can I have it notarized? It's from something I bought five years ago. Besides, I'm not going to drive to a notary and pay $10 to prove I own this." The man has an alternative. He presents Ron with a wad of forms, requiring signatures in three places attesting to the fact that he does, indeed, own the metal and has not stolen it. He also takes Ron's photo in the act of signing the paperwork.
"OK," says the man, and hands Ron a check for eighty cents. Yes, you read that right, but it bears repeating, doesn't it? A check for eighty cents! He gets another ten bucks, cash, for a bin of aluminum cans. He doesn't have to prove he owns those.
The two men get to talking money. Ron mentions that he is a Certified Financial Planner.
"Would you look at my portfolio?" the man asks. "I lost $20 last month and I want to know why."
"I really can't if you're not a client."
"Just take a look," says the man, and hands Ron the statement from his mutual fund. He just happens to have it with him. It has a total value of about $400.
"Is there anything I can do? Can you tell me what this all means and why I lost $20 and ... "
"Sorry, but legally, if you're not a client, I can't advise you."  Ron's used to this. Everybody wants free advice.

From there, Ron heads to Safeway, the real reason for his trip to town. They've advertised gulf shrimp in their weekly sales flyer. They almost never get those in. When he gets there, he sees a sign posted for the shrimp, big and bold at the fish counter. "Product of China" is written in small print at the bottom.
"Where are the gulf shrimp you show in the flyer?"
"We're out, so we're substituting these."
"But these aren't gulf shrimp. There's a huge difference."
"Yes, we know. But that's all we have."
"So you lure me here with an ad for gulf shrimp, in hope that I will buy these crappy, carcinogenic, farm-raised shrimp instead?"
"No, we just ran out, and this is all we have for the same price."
"I want a rain check."
"There are no rain checks. It's a 'while supplies last' sale."
Maybe such random rules apply to mere mortal shoppers, but Ron can be persuasive, especially when he's angry, if he feels he's been duped, or he has his heart set on Gulf shrimp and has driven 20 miles to get some. So they relent and give him the rain check anyway.
"We don't expect to get any more of those for awhile."
"I'll hang onto it until you do, and when you do, I'll get them at this price," he says.

Except for cat food, his entire trip to town was a bust. Ah, but in Hilo, even if you don't get what you traveled 40 miles round trip for, you at least always return home with a good story. Priceless!

I do miss that soggy, drippy place, most notably my husband, my furry babies, and the cast of characters we encounter daily. But there are characters here in Gunnison, too. I'm anxious to work again, not so much for dire need of money, but for the health and well-being of my psyche. I'm no kid anymore, but I'm too young to retire and don't want the economy making that decision for me. Able bodied people should work. It's the American way, or at least it used to be. Without work, without something meaningful to do, we flounder. I saw an image recently, I don't remember where, of a "Help Wanted" sign posted with the caveat, "Long time unemployed need not apply." The longer a person's out of the job market, the less employable she becomes.

Next year, maybe I'll have enough to do marketing our delicious coffee. Until then, my empty cabin in Colorado needs me, and I need something to do.

My trip to the Rockies was a bit of a bust, too. I had planned to drive from the Willamette Valley in my father's -- now my -- classic, 1962 Ford Falcon. It's been sitting in storage under my pseudo-step brother's carport for three years, a carport that was half my father's and I'm told is now half mine. He assured me it would "run all day," a few weeks ago, and maybe it could, but not well. Not yet. It's also unaccustomed to driving at highway speeds and could easily blow a gasket in the middle of bumfuck Idaho, in which case I'd be at the mercy of whomever towed me. If I were still my fearless, 21 year old self, I'd have jumped into that car as-is and headed east. Clearly, I've lost my edge. It ran OK when I pulled it out of the driveway, and even better with a new distributor and plugs. But it needs  a proper carbuerator, not the outsized substitute sitting on it now, and when I filled it with gas, it sprung a significant fuel-line leak. The driver's side window likes to fall into the door when you slam it shut, and the crank takes some effort to get it back up. I could imagine that happening at a pit stop along the way, then driving the next stretch freezing my gnads off because I couldn't get the window rolled up. The moldings is a too thick for the doors, so they don't seal tightly with ease. I was told that in a few months the molding will "squish out" and getting the doors closed will get easier. Right. Another $1000 bucks will have that car hummin', but even perfect, it's not ideal for everyday use. It should be driven, sure, but I can't imagine sanded, snowy, slushy roads would be kind to such a car. So I returned it to its original spot, flew here, and am now driving a rental, in search of a practical vehicle. The Falcon is for sale. I love it, but it deserves better than to sit 2500 miles away from its owner.  It really is a beautiful car, it's flaws easily fixable. It deserves those fixes, regular attention, and to be driven with pride around town and to car shows, to be admired in all its shiny red glory.

I had a job interview on the mountain yesterday, and will be checking out additional options in town today. The brilliant Colorado sunshine will light my way.

A hui hou. Aloha!