Progress is being made almost weekly these days with regards to the project. Our latest discussion involves the possibilities for electricity. Do we go solar? Do we try to connect with the grid? Each choice comes with a different set of problems, both equally complex and time consuming. If we go the solar route, we can really only count on 4 hours of sunlight a day given the weather patterns, location and amount of jungle in this area. This would obligate us to have a dependable battery or batteries to store unused power. Tree trimming will be a must as well as having a generator backup if/when we encounter consecutive days of poor weather. If we go solar, we might as well install a solar water heater, although, it’s my guess that might be overkill given that here in Hana one uses only tepid water to shower with since it’s so hot already. Solar electricity would include the addition of propane for cooking and the dryer, which would involve a propane tank, a separate shed for the tank and some sort of maintenance plan to not only survey and troubleshoot the system when we are not out there, but also to refill the tank when it runs dry. Since we don’t plan on living there full-time (for now), ease of maintenance is big on my list of priorities.
Connecting to the grid poses a different set of problems. I spoke with the Maui Electric guy and he said we needed to put in a pole, if not two (the electricity out here is all above-ground), which would involve obtaining the necessary drawings, easement(s) and permit(s)… we need to find out if the road we are on belongs to the homeowners or if it’s a county road… I’m pretty sure it’s county, but not entirely sure… we need to decide if we want to run the wire from our new pole over or underground, and finally, we need to submit our plans, permits, drawings, necessary contracts to Maui Electric for review, which in all honesty only starts the conversation. Frustrated, I asked him where to begin. He advised we get a consultant but was unable to tell me how to get one. This unveiled a whole different set of questions. How do I do that? Search on Google for “maui, electricity, consultant?” Craigslist? How will I know if I’ve found one? Will they have a special badge that says “I’m a consultant?” Honestly, I could write a book on how mired in bureaucracy and complexity things are when it comes to building a house in Hawaii, which I’m sure is pretty similar in other parts of the U.S., maybe even the world all over for that matter. The good news with regards to the electricity is that for the time being we are surviving with a simple generator.
In the fixture department, we’ve decided to go with this fan. It’s called “Haiku” by Big Ass Fans. Yes, that’s their name. What I like about it is how simple and sleek they look. The blades are made of either coco or bamboo, depending on the color you want. A bonus is that they are really efficient.
I found this fan and other fixtures at Valley Isle Lighting. The guy I’m working with is the owner and he seems to really know his stuff. Of course he does, he owns the place. In a process mired with a million decisions, he was able to not only understand what I was looking for, but also narrow down the option list for me so that my decision was easy. Sometimes having a lot of choices is not a good thing. If you are in the area, his name is Erik.
We visited Hana last weekend and were able to make a modest impact on the process. We moved supplies to safer, less exposed places, cleaned up what little bit of construction mess there was, and started the process of lightly sanding and painting all exposed bolt ends on the base of the building. Of course, being so close the ocean we have already taken a few precautions when it comes to rust like stainless steel hardware and obtaining end caps for these holes, however we figured it wouldn’t hurt for us to visually inspect each bolt and hit them with a shot of paint that protects the metal from rust.
It was nice to see our builder Levi, and spend a brief time with him by the campfire in the evening. It’s clear that working in this remote area involves a change in lifestyle for him and his crew, like living in tents and cooking over an open fire, but so far they have all been gracious when discussing the sacrifices they have made. Something tells me Hana has been a good thing for them. At least I hope. We are lucky to have them. The weekend we arrived, the community of Hana was hosting a “taro” festival. I’ve blogged about it before; it’s an annual event in Hana, a largely Hawaiian community, that celebrates taro, the staple food of Hawaii. This year, we missed the singing, dancing and food, but were delighted to find on Sunday the community hosted a special breakfast which featured taro pancakes and taro hash. It was all delicious! At the bay, people were organizing for the Olukai Ho’olaulea challenge or in other words a race of sailing canoes from Hana to Kahului. What’s a sailing canoe, you ask? Picture this; if an out-rigger canoe and a sailboat and a baby, this would be it. It was such a treat to watch these colorful canoes paddling out the bay, sails waving in the breeze.
Finally, from the factory today is a picture of the kitchen as it stands. On the island in front is a wood slab. We asked them to make it “not perfect” and if you look, you will notice that smooth organic edge on the left has a slight curve to it. The countertops will (hopefully) be changed to black and that sink will also be switched out as well. The whole kit should be delivered sometime in June.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all these details. It helps that I’m reasonably organized and I keep notes, papers and emails in their proper places, yet there are times when my mind feels like it’s going to explode from information overload. Sometimes I grow weary of the process and want to quit. I’ve learned that’s not an option, because leaving the project would be a disaster and I’m the only one who has the time, knowledge and energy to see it to completion. Over the years, I’ve had dark moments with regards to finishing things that I’ve started and in the end I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way out is through tenacity. I’m inspired by my children who continue to do well in school despite sometimes daily complaints that school is a drag. I’m inspired by Jamey who for years continues to work hard in providing for us despite being faced with the frustrations of the work world. Finally, I’m inspired by the words of Calvin Coolidge when he said amongst other things, “The slogan “press on” has solved, and always will solve the problems of the human race.” I have no choice but to press on. This house simply must be seen to fruition. When it’s all over, I can relax. When it’s all over we will at least have something to show for our troubles.