The Housesitters

Orchid

When one marries a person and they have a child from a previous marriage, there might be problems.  That is if you believe the Disney movies and the Lifetime Channel.  When I met Mitch’s daughter Rachel, she was one month shy of 10 years old.  I saw her for the first time on July 4th 2000.  We were going to go to Gasworks park to watch the fireworks and hope that it didn’t rain and spoil our fun. I had met Mitch the month before, by answering his online dating ad and we’d had our first in-person date on Father’s day 2000.  He had been with Rachel until about 3pm that day and was then free to meet up with me for a quick beer and really to see if we would hit it off. As you may have guessed…we did…hit it off.   Early in our correspondence and then during subsequent phone calls, he told me and then reminded me a lot, that Rachel was his number one priority.  You know what?  That was not an issue with me.  I’d met enough guys that didn’t know anything about their kids, to know that Mitch had his own personal priorities straight. So early on the 4th we made our picnic, drove both our cars to pick up the girls, as Rachel was bringing her friend Lauren M (she had two friends Lauren) so she wouldn’t be too bored with us.  We drove both cars because we lived in opposite directions of the park and I had to work the next day.  As I pulled up behind Mitch’s Trooper, the two girls got out and we were introduced.  As we discussed where we would park, I could see Rachel slyly checking me out.  Throughout the day and evening we played games and explored the very crowded park and then topped it off with some very cool fireworks followed by a 2 hour wait in traffic to get home.  The day had been a success….except for the part where I had to be in traffic, I mean parked for an additional 2 hours.

This first meeting with Rachel began a friendship and love like nothing I’ve experienced. I often say that I couldn’t love her more or be more proud of her if I had ‘squirted’ her out myself.  When we moved to Hawaii, Rachel was the hardest tether to stretch.  Sure she’s a confident young woman now, but she still needs her parents.  It makes my heart swell when she call us her parents…..even though she has her mom….Mitch and I are her parents.  I like that.  One of the final in person conversations that we had with her before moving, was to assure her that we would be at her graduation from the University of Washington. Once we got to Hawaii and were settled it occurred to me that we would need someone to look after the cat.  When we lived in Seattle that wasn’t a problem.  We took turns with some friends in the neighborhood watching their cats and all was all right.

facebook

So what does one do when they need some help?  They turn to Facebook and send out a request to their friends.  I knew enough people who wanted to come to Hawaii and stay free of charge for the purr pleasure of taking care of a cat that FB was the most logical way to do it.  I posted a request something like this, ” Hey who’s interested in house sitting and watching Cica for us while we go to Seattle for Rachel’s graduation?”  I got some random people, but there was one big contender.  The odd thing was it was someone who I’d never met in person before.  I know I know, who has friends on Facebook they’ve never met…but I had one.  It was a very nice guy in Minnesota whose blog I followed for a few years and then he sort of dried up on the writing and he migrated to Facebook…so when he was suggested by the well wishing folks at FB, we became friends.  The odd thing about that was, the Facebook thing was now a more personal experience and I could ‘see’ his family and what they were up to.  Granted his posts and photos weren’t near as funny as his usual posting, but I looked past that to his true everyday humor.  So my friend Jeff, said he and his wife were interested in house sitting…if the stars aligned right. The caveat was their 17-year-old daughter Rosie was supposed to go to Florida for marine biology schooling and they weren’t sure if the timing would work out.  Well by gum, they made it work because Florida got left in the waves for University of Hawaii in Hilo for THEIR marine biology program.  As it worked out the program started the day before we got back.  They arrived on the Monday before we left for Seattle so we got to spend a few hours.

We made our way to Seattle where the weather, the food, the people visiting, the graduation, the family time and everything in between was near perfect.  I say near perfect because the place we rented and fell into bed every night had only a full size bed, and we’re used to a King size.  This visit was way way to short.  Even though we were happy with our move to Hawaii, we miss our friends and family like crazy.

Rachels visit

Now lets fast forward a month or so.  For the past few weeks Rachel has been with us in Hawaii.  I’ve gone to work everyday (more about my job at a later date) and Mitch and Rachel played tourist.  Over the years I’ve felt the teeniest bit guilty about interrupting the dad/daughter time, because they’ve always been close and really enjoy each others company.  So with a new person in the mix, time was now diluted.  Therefore we always made the goal for consistent quality time when we were together.   It’s been so long since they had one on one time that at first I was a little jealous that they got to go around the island doing things and visiting places that I already loved.  But I sucked it up and we made our one on one time count on the weekends and evenings.  We had a blast, so many miles travelled, so much food eaten and lots and lots of laughter.  But now she’s flown off on the next short adventure.  Before she heads to Seattle she is making a stop in Vegas to get some much-needed girlfriend time.  I say hoo-ray!  You only go around once so live it while you can, when you have the available time and the money to do it.  I know I did!

Was I absent that day?

 

Moving to Hawaii has made this is a unique time in our lives.  I’m not so sure that I’ve ever been so stress free.  We have plenty of money from the sale of the house with additional income coming in weekly, so that’s not a worry.  We’ve stanched the bleeding of money that comes with a move and we have a lot of free time.  I’ve been looking for work since December, and when the house sold in January, I shifted my job focus to Hawaii, knowing that we could now move. As we all know, looking for a job brings  its own level of stress, hoops to jump through and miscellaneous stupid criteria. Now throw in a new area where the job market is supposed to be non-existent and the stress level is multiplied exponentially. We moved to Hawaii on March 1st, on March 10th I sent off some applications because I was starting to have initial panic attacks about not being employed.  On the day we moved into our apartment, March 23rd, I got a call, asking me to come in for an interview.  That interview led to more interviews and the short story is…now I have a job.  Here’s the really really cool part, because of scheduling conflicts with the new boss being out-of-town and the fact Mitch and I are going to Seattle in June for Rachel’s graduation, I don’t start my new job until July 8th.   I KNOW!!! I’ve been given this amazing gift of time.  I’ve always wanted a gift of time….especially in Hawaii.  Since Mitch will be going to school and that hasn’t been finalized yet,  I have someone to share this precious gift.

It’s really been nice to have time to set up our apartment, get the lay of the land and explore at our leisure.  One of the ways we’ve been spending our time is exploring all the ways the beach can change from day-to-day. Every day that we’ve been to the beach it’s different.  Oh sure it’s always gorgeous, but the waves change.  Monday of this past week, the water was so flat that all we did was hang draped over our boogie boards waiting for the waves to arrive.  Oh I didn’t mention that we had boogie boards…oh my god, it’s so much fun!  Here we are so tentative at first, I know we look like total dorks and then WHAM, we’re in the water riding those fool waves up to the sand.  The past few days there has been a surf advisory for all of the islands.  That means that there are dangerous waves which can suck the very life out of you, if you’re not paying attention. Please notice the alert below says surf 6-10 feet, that’s much bigger than me, and not anything that I want to fight with.

High Surf Warning

Yesterday I went out for a few waves and got my share of good rides, but this was one of those days when I really had to be careful.  I like the happy medium beach days where I’m enjoying the ride and not getting pummeled to death.  Ok, let’s back up for a few minutes.  If you clicked on the BOOGIE BOARD link and read through everything, don’t think for a second that either Mitch or I are out riding waves in the middle of the ocean. Neither one of us have walked out where the water is over our heads.  We’re on the trainer waves riding on boogie boards purchased at a chain retail outlet, plus we’re 54 years old.

My very brave husband is out there, time and time again. I have some video, but I promised I wouldn’t post it…sorry!  He’s having a blast, and just so you know we wear plenty of sun screen, which we reapply during the day.  We purchased an umbrella and a couple of beach chairs, all which can be carried on our backs.  We’re even on first name basis with the parking lot attendant, we’re there so much. During all of this beach time,there is one thing that I’ve never heard mentioned…and that’s the amount of sand that is taken away from the beach in ones swimsuit.  huh, who knew!

After I had my share of boogie boarding yesterday, I walked to the outside showers to rinse off.  This is a great opportunity to leave the sand where it’s supposed to be and have a little less salt and sunscreen on.  I walked back to our stuff to sit down to watch the people and dry as best I could.  I lay down on my towel to dry my backside, and when I felt like I was getting too much sun, I sat up, sitting crossed legged.  I’d noticed that my suit was feeling odd, but thought it was just from the water.  I glanced down to the towel I was on…emitting a very loud gasp.  It looked like I was sporting a woody, and I KNOW that I don’t have that sort of equipment on me.  I jumped up flailing around, being careful to not look like a self satisfying pervert at the beach (if you know what I mean) only to discover that there was about 2 cups of sand resting in the crotch of my swimsuit.  Serious how did I not know this happened when you swam in the ocean, was I gone the day we talked about this in health class?  Was I doing something wrong, like scooping up sandy water with the top of my suit as I got off my board?  Yeah there were adjustments going on, but not enough to scoop that much sand. Sure it makes sense now that I think about it, but really?

We got home, showered and I laid my suit out to dry on the lanai and that bad boy was heavy.  How the hell did I get so much sand, I couldn’t see a way in. This morning I came out to see how it was drying and I turned it upside down.  All of the sand fell out the same way it came in, through a very large opening between the lining and actual suit.  I’ve sewn that gap shut and we’ll see tomorrow just how much sand I bring home with me.  Here’s a pic of what I was carrying around.  No wonder it felt like I had a full diaper, and I don’t even remember that sensation.

Sandy bottom

…and so it begins!

Today is our 6th day in Hawaii.  WOW that kind of blows me away.  I’d be lying  if I said these first few days have been a vacation, but they haven’t.  The biggest reason I can figure is when you go on vacation you know that after some pre-determined amount of time, you will be going home. When on vacation you spend all that money you’ve been saving for months on end, on meals and trinkets, post cards and tee-shirts.  Day trips to the beach, and tropical gardens and helicopter rides over the volcano are the highlights and almost every minute is planned to take advantage of a well deserved vacation.  Or in other words, relaxing is the priority.

I fully expected to feel like I was on vacation, at least for a little while. The first place we stayed was magical and beautiful, really the sort of place I’d love to own.  ….but I don’t, yet!

Hawaiian Oasis sunset

Hawaiian Oasis sunset

The difference is, we are not on vacation.  We are in transition, and no matter where that is…it isn’t an awesome experience.  Don’t get me wrong, we are enjoying our time.  But instead of going to the beaches or on some high end $ tour, we head off to Costco to check out prices on appliances or Home Depot to see what sort of building materials they have.  In fact because we are traveling with a cat, it hasn’t been that easy to get a place to stay.  We actually landed in a place we stayed at in 2010, and the owner remembered us and is kind enough to allow said cat.  This too is short term and we’ve a call into an agency for a long term rental, as we want to rent before we decide to purchase a place.  We want to make sure that we are in the right location for us.

Yesterday was a large disappointment.  We went to the Post Office to rent a box….but we don’t have a street address so we couldn’t get one. If we had an address why would we need a PO box? Is there a difference between naive and just not knowing.  I guess it’s a Homeland security thing to keep terrorists from having PO boxes….oh well more non nonsensical government hoops to perform.

Then there was one of the houses for sale that was on our radar that we decided to drive by.  Oh my!  What is stated on the real estate listing as an “architect designed home, with a little wood damage that needs a handyman’s touch” should be translated as “Termite infested shit hole, complete tear down necessary”.  We trespassed went through the hole in the fence and walked around to the back of the house where there were no walls and the inside was totally exposed to the elements.   I could see the rotting wood under the bathtub….from 10 feet away…outside.  Did I mention there was an in ground pool?  It still held water….. shitty brown, yucky bug infested water.  It too needed ‘a little’ work.  I was afraid to actually walk on the steps for fear of falling through.  We looked at each other, wiped the tears from our disappointed eyes, got in the car and left.  I have to tell you….we’re not afraid to tackle projects, but looking at this mess, we wouldn’t even know where to begin, short of tearing or burning it down. We were stunned that a real estate agent would so understate this property.

It’s now the 10th of March and we still haven’t found any long term housing.  We met with a rental agency and she guided us to three separate properties.  I have to say, she was at least honest.  The first house was a really nice home, basically brand new, but the down side on this one was the neighbors with the pit bulls and no useable outside area.  Really?  The whole reason we moved to Hawaii was to have outside access.  Secondly on this house, we would never be able to park in the garage, our rental car bottomed out as I was backing out.  I thought I’d ruptured the oil pan….but it was OK. One of the other houses bordered a VERY VERY busy road and these neighbors had at least 3 dogs running around, in our prospective yard.  And lastly, there was  the run down house that wasn’t appealing at all.

We’ve contacted several places via Craigslist, but we are very obviously on Island time now….only one response and that was to say they had rented it out already.  Therefore the search continues.  We were trying to avoid having to store our container full of items and it gets here next week.  But as Mitch is prone to say, ‘we’ll fly it and watch’.

All in all, we still wake up to beautiful sunrises, we sit outside and watch the stars and I’ve been given a fresh flower almost daily.  It is another day in paradise, as I reminded myself this morning and for the first time ever, I’m not being sarcastic.

Hawaiian Beach