It is easy to forget that we do make progress. This morning I woke up and walked out to the living room. The first time I did this in the new house, my reaction was “Wow there’s an ocean out there – and it’s mine!” Many months have passed and I’ve woken up many times to be amazed at the ocean but dismayed at all the work that needs to be done. There is still a lot to do but I’ve now realized my vision for our Living/Dining/Great room. I woke up this morning and said “Wow this is my view of the ocean!”
Yesterday we went on our first boat dive to Lanai. Lanai is famous for its caverns. Neither Peter or I got very good pictures but Peter did his Photoshop magic to save a few of mine. Tons of swimthroughs and caverns at the Cathedrals. Highlight of one of the caverns is the “chandelier”, a huge black coral growing the ceiling. Truly equisite and impossible to shoot. I couldn’t even find a good picture on the net! The trip to Lanai was a long 1-1/2 hour trip. Unfortunately, the boat had a ton of “vacation divers” – those who do one boat dive a year and don’t keep or improve their skills since getting certified. I had so many people shocked that I had 300 dives! Most were in the 20-50 range. I feel sorry for the dive operators in places like this! Take a beautiful and interesting dive and spend your whole time checking on the safety of your clients. We’ve been so spoiled by the folks at Dive Makai on the big island. They have so many return clients that they haven’t had to advertise to draw typical vacation divers. At least not a whole boatful of them! Dive Makai has recently changed ownership and we are hoping they continue to operate with care and passion that we’ve seen for years. We’ll be diving with them in September so we’ll let you know then.
Here is a shot of a Hawaiian Sergeant Major. Ok, its not the most beautiful fish. But it is endemic to Hawaii. Hawaii also has many of the Indo-Pacific sergeant majors which have moved in. They are much prettier with bright black stripes and yellow coloring on their backs. Usually you see one or the other in an area. At Lanai, they were co-mingling. I thought I saw some fish that had the darker black stripes but the yellow on the lower parts… new breeds everyday!
I started my marine naturalist training last week. Much of what they taught I already knew but refreshers are always good. A few interesting nuggets (which I assume are true!):
- Most corals are colonies of animals. There is a thin transport layer that allows the individuals to transfer nutrients. When people touch or step on coral, it is this layer that is primarily damaged which leads to the demise of the whole colony.
- The exception is the mushroom coral which is a single coral polyp.
- The acid in a shark’s stomach can breakdown stainless steel.
- Studies of the tiger shark, show they are generally docile and are not the “attack” sharks people make them out to be. Tiger’s are the primary Hawaiian shark to bite people in Hawaii. Usually the attacks are attributed to mistaken identity (shark thinks a surfer is dead seal floating on surface) or shark is threatened (caught in net or cornered).
- One intersting shark that is rarely seen in Hawaii is the cookie cutter shark. But the results of it’s bites are often seen. It is a small oceanic shark that is too small to kill it’s prey. Instead it just takes a bite out it. It bites and then saws in a 360 degree circle making a nearly-perfect cookie shape. They take bites out of large fish including other sharks, dolfins, whales and monk seals.
On a side note, last week our cat Widgit had a sonagram of her heart. She has a heart murmur and the Doctor suggested we see how inflamed the heart is. She does show signs of some thickening but its not in the areas that they really worry about. Diagnosing heart problems in cats is pretty difficult. Anyway, Widgit fought the procedure the whole way in her attack position. The Dr’s first words as he observered her was “She’s got the heart of a trained killer”. Slow heart rate even when she was obviously very agitated! Yep, that be my Widgit… my sweet baby who is sharing my morning yogurt with me.
Ok, we finally finished one project– THE GARAGE. It is the garage so it will never be totally done but we had decided that one car in the garage would be great progress. It was our first painting job and was planned to be done before our stuff all showed up. Well my tennis elbow stopped that from happening. Here are some notes, lessons and the before and after shots.The plan — I did a good job laying out the plan and we’ve executed almost to the plan. Critical was recognizing that the garage is also the laundry room, storage room and scuba storage all of which were separate areas in our old house. Then of course we have the normal garage things like bikes, sporting gear, cars, tools, ladders and gardening stuff. While complaining about not having a laundry room, I realized that many laundry rooms in Hawaii are outside. There is one area of the plan that is not complete and that is a workbench. This is due to fact that we still have many boxes that must be unpacked and therefore needed additional storage space. Hopefully workbench will go in within a year.
Here are the before shots right after Peter moved in.
One premise for the garage was that I wanted to finish it. Our house in California also had an “almost finished” garage but I realized that unfinished drywall is a pain to clean and always looks like crap. Peter would ask why I care in a garage? When we are doing laundry and storing scuba equipment, it is important to have some ability to clean. Besides, how hard can painting be?
It was more than painting. First we had to add another layer of joint compound. Although we never attempted to make it perfectly smooth, I must say each area done got better. The ceilings were a pain in the butt. Do you know that the temperature difference 3 feet up is about 5 degrees hotter. Not fun on a warm afternoon! Second was the priming and then 2 coats of paint.
Since we had lots of stuff that needed storing in the garage, we had to split the garage into quartiles and do each one separately. Original plan (without all our stuff) was a 7 day estimate and suddenly it turned into 12-15 but we had no other options. With each move things started looking better. We had purchased a couple bin organizers at Costco which have been great for storing everything! Then we bought a couple hyloft hangers (also at Costco) which really added lots of storage for Christmas stuff and luggage.
Here are the after shots… I walk in the garage now and it is so much better. And after getting rid of a few more boxes…almost zen-like (for a garage!). Note that the Prius is in the garage!
Only in Hawaii – Turning on to Piilani Highway, Peter and I see a young man on scooter carrying a pink guitar under his arm. If only we had our cameras.
Reflections – We escaped Silicon Valley to rid ourselves of a high-stress lifestyle. We do not have much stress. We have nearly 100% control over our time. Yet we both admit to having nearly as many sleepless nights when we wake up pondering something important. Are we just high-stress (or high-thought) people?
Last Night’s Gecko Scoreboard: Peter -2, Mooshie -0. We are watching TV and hear a scuttle in the dining room. Peter gets up and sees Mooshie with a gecko in her mouth; tail protruding. He chases her with Widgit scurring downstairs as I am following turning lights on to view what is going on. Finally, we corner Mooshie and she drops the gecko on the stairway. He’s a 3-4 inch (normal full grown size). He seems to be fine and Peter guides him to safety behind a bookcase. Minutes later, we hear another scuffle downstairs and think that he’s come out and Mooshie has gotten him again. Peter finds Mooshie in the entry playing with a 2 inch little guy. This time, I chase Mooshie while Peter guides the little guy out the front door to safety. This is Hawaiian entertainment… I guess for Peter and Mooshie it is sport!
As I mentioned earlier, we finally got 2 offers on our house in San Jose. If all goes as planned we should close tomorrow. I am sad because I loved the house but also relieved that it has sold. Due to the changes in the market, I estimate that we got about $40K less than we should have for it but who can tell what or when the market is going to do what it does. I have several lessons-learned from this process:
- Never take the complete word of a friend on a real estate agent…especially when your gut says you can’t trust the guy (the RE, not the friend!). Obviously what worked for the friend, did not work for me! Interview other clients and trust your instincts. Our RE, Howard Bloom, was very professional, ethical and knew the real estate business. However, I would not recommend him to anyone. He did many things well. Planning strategies was not one of them. He’d say we need to come up with a strategy, throw lots of data at us and never come with a recommendation. The recommendations always came from us and then he’d say he supported them but later say that I was too analytical. This happened with staging, pricing and everything in between. He also had a problem listening if the topic was not on his agenda.
- You can sell a house from a remote location but it is going to cost you. Staging the house for 3 months was significant $$. I do believe that given the options again, staging was the right route to go. But the number of sleepless nights contemplating whether one of us should head back to SJ was more troublesome. Whether it was a problem (fountain stopped working) or just concern (Howard can not figure out the sprinkler system) it was keeping us awake. We had daily phone calls with Howard which were painful for all of us!
- Set your asking price as low as you can in a changing or slow market. Howard’s recommendation initially was to price it as close to what you think it will sell for as possible. I analyzed the data and did that. We reduced price by $25K after 1 month and another $25K after another month. I felt like we could chase the market into oblivion. Data was starting show some drops in price but not $50K worth. Strategy – if you need to sell, start low and hopefully creating a bidding war. If you don’t need to sell, you can play different games but recognize you may walk away still owning a house.
- Hire an RE who is very familiar with your specific area. Most of Howard’s market is in Palo Alto and Mountain View but he has sold several homes in San Jose. Not good enough. We could have avoided several issues if we had a person familiar with the Cambrian area.
New topic – Follow up on passions. I was going to try to describe a perfect life for us but we never got that far. Peter wants to photograph the globe but abhors the travel; extended trips minimize those issues. I like to travel and actually tolerate “travel issues” far better than he does. Through my travel, I realize that you don’t know a place until you’ve spent weeks there. So we have agreement that we would like to go on extended trips. But that leads to the area of disagreement. He says that if we travel lots, we can’t have our kitties (we would wait until Widgit and Mooshie leave us and not replace them). Sounds ok but I really can’t imagine life at home without my kittens! I say we find a good house/pet sitter. He says that isn’t fair to them. So there isn’t any resolution on a perfect life -yet.
But I have made some tentative decisions about my next career path. What feeds my soul? Doing lots of different things. Working with people, helping people, design, decorating, creating systems, making the world more beautiful, being environmentally savvy… what can I do where I can incorporate all of these? Real Estate… and it’s a viable job in Maui. Yes, there are many realtors here but they go as fast as they come and many don’t practice. I’ve talked to a few people and am still in investigation stage but it sounds like a pretty good path for me.
I continue to be amused by the differences between Maui and Silicon Valley. Here are a few funnies I’ve observed.
Every morning on the news, they end with “Only x days until Friday”.
On Friday’s, you can not turn the radio on without hearing the song “It’s Aloha Friday“. It’s one of those tunes that sticks in your head. It’s Aloha Friday, no work till Monday. Doo be doo, doo doo be, doo be doo be doo be doo! The song is one of those where people change the lyrics of the versus to meet their own circumstances.
I have not noticed that more people wear aloha shirts on Fridays which is how “Aloha Friday” first started back in the 1940’s. Maybe you’d see it in Honolulu but here on Maui, people wear Aloha shirts every day. One note on that though — there are vacation Aloha shirts and local Aloha shirts. Vacation Aloha shirts are characterized by those that would only be bought and worn by someone who had no intent to wear them except to drink Mai Tai’s on the beach in Hawaii (kind of like the bridesmaid’s dress that you would NEVER wear again). Think Fuschia pink with 15″ palm trees and pineapples.
There was a good one in the Police Scanner report this week. 11:45 Little Beach Stung by jellyfish, a nude 45-year-old male breaking out in hives and is going into shock. Medics climb over Makena hill to go get him. I advise anyone visiting Hawaii and going to a beach to check the jellyfish report. We only have jellyfish 1-2 days a month as determined by the lunar calendar – 8 days after full moon. Advice is especially true of those wanting to visit a nude beach!
Ok, this one isn’t Mauism, but still made me chuckle. I’ve been taking DBM’s classes on entrepenuership and retirement. The retirement class talks a lot about 2nd careers so it has been interesting. They categorize retirement success in 6 areas and one of them is Life Meaning. They had an exercise called “It may be time to move on.” Ok, what would you think? My reaction was that this was a Dr. Kevorkian test!