Power Up!

Our seven days Unplugged for National Turn-off Week was quite a revelation and a wake-up call. Lots happened after and immediately before we pulled the power cord. We learned we aren’t moving as soon as we had thought we would, bid “A hui hou” to a part-time resident neighbor, celebrated our anniversary, had epiphanies about the need for redundant non-electric back-up systems, re-visited a favorite garden, attended a techfest, and received a blog award. Our efforts to stay off the grid were aided for nearly a full day by a blown transformer that kept our community guessing about when power would be restored (thankfully it was only out for 10 hours), but also gave us a chance to test out our new hand-crank radio for a few hours.

Revelations came by way of realizing how much information is actually stored on our computers — important phone numbers, for instance. I stopped updating my Rolodex after we moved here, so anyone who has moved in the last 3 years we were not able to contact. The blown transformer brought this point home again — what if we lost power in a natural disaster for weeks or months? So having a non-electric redundant back-up (i.e., my Rolodex!) is top of the priority list this week.

I also realized how cut off I felt not being able to follow-up on the Net with things I heard on the radio or read in the papers. And what was the weather going to be like today or this weekend? No morning news, no Google weather forecast. In fact, the biggest weather news here was kind of a shock because we saw it before we heard about it . . . The Return of the Vog! Volcanic ash and dust from Kilauea were carried by not-normal southeast winds all the way over to here, where a high cloud system evidently kept it “boxed in” over the islands. Although this vog was supposedly less of a health issue (less sulfuric acid) than previous vog episodes we’ve had recently, it was many times more disconcerting because for the first time since we’ve lived here . . . . all the mountain ranges disappeared, and we were left with the uneasy feeling of being spatially displaced. Around here, you tend to think in terms of your relation to the mountains, the ocean, Diamond Head, the coasts, etc. With all these landmarks shrouded in unending gray, you can feel sort of . . . well, lost and out of sorts. Below are photos taken from the beach a 1/2 mile from home — the top was the “view” of Diamond Head and Honolulu last Saturday, and below it, the normal view.

View of Diamond Head with VogView of Diamond Head

We also saw the last of our part-time neighbor, this golden plover, or Kolea. He spends his winters feasting in the large yard behind our house, which he defends against all others of his kind (he seems perfectly content with other bird species, but other Kolea are aves non gratae). Arriving around mid-August from his Alaska nesting grounds, he makes the 3000 mile journey each year non-stop! After basking in the Hawaiian sun all winter, he makes his way back to Alaska around now to find a mate and raise a brood, which he will leave behind in the fall and blithely make his way back to Hawaii. OK, he won’t win any bird-parent of the year awards, but somehow the fledglings find their way to Hawaii on their own! I managed to snap this photo at some distance (he’s notoriously camera-shy) 2 weeks ago when I noticed his breast plumage had completely transformed to solid black and knew he was getting ready for his big trip. We haven’t seen him for over a week now so luckily he seems to have made it out before the disturbing vog rolled in. He’ll be back in August. A hui hou?

Just before we pulled the plug last week, I made the rounds of some of my favorite blogs and learned that Nicisme at Cherrapeno had named ThreeTastes as one of the recipients of the “E for Excellent” award badge! It was quite an honor, especially coming from Nic whose blog is my cure for my virtual sweet-tooth. Not only does she create the most amazing desserts, but she has a great gift for making eye-candy, too. Lucky for me our keyboard has a silicone drool guard over it! In fact, I was on her site to get a recipe for her pineapple sorbet to try during our time-off (in all the excitement, I forgot to print the recipe so I’ll be trying it in future). I’ve had a week to consider to whom I will in turn pass on this badge. I still have to type it all up and will post the list over the weekend. Mahalo nui loa, Nic! You definitely set a bar with your site, I’ll try to maintain it here too!

Finally, what do lemons, twigs and chalk, needles and heat lamps, pears, courgettes, green tea, and shrimp paste have in common? They’re some of the things that kept us occupied during the last week. Here’s a visual quick peek of what’s coming up. Stay tuned to this bat-channel, Folks!