Monday, June 15, 2009

Musings: New Digs

Had a truly delightful weekend immersed in the joys of moving. Nothing quite compares to dragging all your stuff out of the house, packing it into cars and trucks, carting it over to a new place, rooting through it there to find whatever it is you need — now where did I put that bag of screws? — before you actually put it away, and cleaning both the place you’re moving into and worse, the place you’re moving out of.

But thanks to some great help, the bulk of it’s behind me now. Well, aside from the oven at my old house, which I still must tackle today.

I really liked my old place, with its big trees, spacious yard and resident shama thrushes. The house, however, was a feasting ground for termites, and they’d done a lot of damage. As my friend Ka`imi noted when he came over to help with the move, “Well, at least you won’t have to worry about the ants anymore, or the toilet falling through the floor.”

It was a little hard to leave initially, but as soon as I pulled all the taro, it broke my connection to the place. And even better, I had some ono poi to keep me sustained and a few bags to pass along to my moving helpers.

I saved all the huli for Ka`imi, who planted the first taro behind my old house, saying he was making an army of Hawaiians to guard me. I have just a very small yard at my new house and asked him to pick out a few warriors to come with me. He selected an assortment of black, variegated and green varieties, and I planted them last night at sunset, which gave a couple of little girls— Shanna and Diana, cousins — a chance to come over and check me out, ask a bunch of questions and share a bit of gossip about one of the families down the street, which made me realize that, I, too, could be the subject of gossip in this tightly-packed little neighborhood.

A comment was left on a previous post asking me to elaborate on what I meant by hard-scrabble Kapahi. I think of Kapahi as being two distinct areas, with the park as the rough dividing line. You’ve got the spacious lots mauka, with orchards and pastures and lots of moist greenery, and then you’ve got the drier, much smaller, higher-density lots on the makai side. The hard-scrabble part, where I now live, is that part of the latter that has the industrial and commercial uses thrown in.

I like it, though, and the house is cute and brand new, built single-handedly over six years by my landlord, who lives next door. It’s the first place I have ever lived on Kauai (this is number nine) that didn’t require major cleaning and/or an extensive overhaul. I’ve painted, drywalled, ripped out moldy carpet, patched roofs, trapped rats, fixed electrical problems, replaced broken windows and landscaped bare dirt, just to make the houses habitable.

Most landlords seem to view their rentals as simply a way to make money without ever having to invest a penny in them. And rentals have been so scarce over the years that they’ve been able to get away with it.

But all of a sudden, rentals are fairly abundant (although they still tend to fall into one of two categories, funky or unaffordable, especially for a single person) so it’s no longer a landlord’s market. Some of the places are vacation rentals that have been put back into the longterm market, others are spec houses that flopped instead of flipped, and perhaps others were vacated by people who have left the island or moved back in with family due to the economic downturn.

When you drive around now, you actually see for rent signs, and some of them have been up for a very long time. I’ve never experienced anything like it during my time on Kauai.

Koko seems to be enjoying all the new smells in our neighborhood, although she’s still figuring out a lot of the sounds, and she said goodbye to the old house in her own way, by chasing down and killing one of the chickens that had been taunting her for months.

And when we took a walk on the path that runs alongside Kawaihau Road this morning, and looked at the front side of the Giant, instead of the back, and cloud-topped Makaleha, and saw Kalalea and Hokualele vibrant in the clear Anahola light, and the sun rising up out of the sea, we both felt right at home.


Sandhya said...

May you enjoy your "new digs." I'll miss your early morning talks with neighbor Andy and Farmer Jerry, but I wonder who you will meet in your new neighborhood to share with us?

Anonymous said...

hope u like how ur move worked out in this renters market


is at 245 as of this comment



Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, dwps. I recognized a lot of the names on that petition and added mine as 251.

Anonymous said...

And fortunate that you walk at an hour when Kawaihau has not yet become overburdened with cars.

Enjoy all the "newness"!

I too will miss your morning perspective at the old place. It will be interesting to read your interpretation of your new surroundings always seem to find the magic in the midst.