Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shamelss Promotion of My Animal Family

Hereʻs my Gibby boy: 

 I think heʻs very distinguished in his middle age, even if he does need a good brushing. 

And here are the goat boys:
Poor camera quality, but they are so cute.  They love to give kisses (or maybe they just think my hair is food). 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Treating Abscesses

The pasture horse, Gibby Crazy Horse (who is getting less crazy the more he does lawn ornament duty), has an abscess in his front left hoof.  I am very familiar with abscesses and hooves, to my sadness, because of my late, beloved Ohia, who was laminitic. 

Of course, the lingering craziness of Gibbyʻs mind makes treating the issue a little more difficult than Iʻd want.  I find trapping him in his stall, stalking him until I can put the halter on (a matter of two minutes now - rather than 15) and firmly pretending heʻs not scared at all works just fine.  Horses are very amenable to suggestion: projecting that theyʻre panicking tricks them into thinking they arenʻt panicking.  Itʻs pretty fun to watch.  The nice thing about horses that are scared of people is they reliable run away from you, not over you.  Donʻt take that a safety advice - it works for Gibby, but not for every horse! 

I slapped a poultice of bran, epsom salt, and iodine on his hoof. Heʻs still a little sore this morning, but much, much more comfortable. 

Nice to know I still got it - although I hope I donʻt need it that often! 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Two Down, One to Go

At least this year.... graduations, that is.

My oldest two graduated yesterday.  My daughter decided not to walk, which saved us logistics of trying to figure out how to attend two ceremonies on two different islands.  She flew in just in time to see her brotherʻs ceremony. 

It was really, really long, and really, really uncomfortable.  It was held in the Edith Kanakaole Tennis stadium - stadium seats are not my favorite), and there were 900 graduates.  I am fairly sure my own college graduation was about the same size - and half the length.  My younger son said, definitively, "I am not walking in four years; that was awful!"  Oh well, I still had time to tear up when older son marched in to Pomp and Circumstance and turned around to wave at us (well, probably, really, his girlfriend). Also, by fortunate chance, happened to sit in the row below my best friend.  We donʻt teach together any more, so it was super great to see her.  She even brought a maile lei for my son.  I am a terrible friend and didnʻt remember her daughter was graduating, too!  Sonya is someone ver special! 

I got a great picture of all the kids together (rare), and my son gave his sister the mortarboard cap to wear so they both looked like graduates! 

On the farm front, Gibby Crazy Horse has an abscess brewing - I spent part of the morning soaking him up and giving him horse aspirin.  Poor guy.  I havenʻt had to deal with one of these for years, since I put Ohia down. 

The bucklings are making no progress at all at cleaning that obnoxious new weed that is taking over the pasture, although they are valiantly trying.  I think I need to think about more goats - or at least a doe, so I can raise my own goats.  They are quite a bit more expensive than sheep here.

Two more weeks of school.  Really only a week and a half - although the graduation is in 13 days.  I would get a LOT more excited about this if I werenʻt teaching two summer school classes - writing intensive (with the emphasis on intense).  I am excited, because I love to teach these classes and I am a little apprehensive, because I think I may just be flat out exhausted at the end of the 5 weeks.  On the home front, this year has been - well, itʻs been terribly stressful.  On the school front, itʻs been great - I have a new partner teacher whom I love working with.  Weʻre even sharing a room this year, and itʻs been pretty cool.  For one thing, I get to not have to totally float (weʻre short rooms, so one person in each department floats), and for another, we got to the point where we co-plan and so we get to see each other teach the lessons we planned together. The class that happens at the end of the day gets the best version of the lesson because we change right there.  Fortunately, classes rotate around, so itʻs not the same class every day. 

I think I need to get into blogging again - this is all over the place!  Thanks for bearing with my ramblings. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Returning Oddly Late to the Game

Well, if anyone is still around, I apologize.  Itʻs been a wild year and a half for our family. 

The end of 2014 was full of the angst of the hurricane and a few other large storms, one of which took out our greenhouse, and the lava flow which took part of a cemetery and exactly one house in a nearby town.  Thankfully, it slowed and eventually stopped at the lower end of the flow.  Itʻs still flowing merrily at the top, but not, at the moment, threatening any human habitations.  Sometimes, I look at the vent - itʻs about ten miles away and sometimes I can see it smoking - and ponder Mauna Loa, which periodically inflates -  and wonder in a way I never have the entire 20 years weʻve lived here whether someday weʻll face what Pāhoa faced. 

2015  was filled with finishing my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards work, waiting semi-agonizingly for the results (I passed, Thank God, great kids, and a wonderful mentor), and dealing with surgeries: cancer (husbandʻs), pneumothorax (son, 100% collapse of left lung), a bout of pneumonia (mine)  - or maybe the flu: I was too busy handling the surgeries to figure out why I had a 103 fever for six days and a yucky junky cough for much longer - and yay! baby bucklings. 

Rufus and Biscuit joined the family in December of 2015.  We bottle fed them from a bucket fitted with nipples for three months and they are quite merrily a part of the family now. 

Since then, weʻve had one more (much smaller) pneumothorax - same son - much angst over college and scholarship applications and a few more family medical emergencies.  Folks, I am a complete emotional mess and waiting for the school year to end - joyfully and semi-emotionally, as three of my four kids graduate from one school or another (two from college and one from high school).  I look at my kids and see these beautiful, wonderful young adults, and I also see the enthusiastic, loving little folks they used to be, and itʻs killing me.  I am so proud of the now-people and I miss so much the then-people.  And if I think this is bad...I suspect the baby graduating next year will well and truly put me more firmly into emotional basketcase-ness. 

I have to explain graduations at the high school where I teach and where my kids attend.  Itʻs one big emotional, beautiful, crazy wonderful ceremony - hula, chanting, singing, Hawaiian names that take half a page to write and which tell a whole story in the one name (my kids arenʻt that lucky - their Hawaiian names consist of one Hawaiian noun each - well actually, my second child has two middle names, but thatʻs another story).  The song that they each sing breaks my heart every single year.  Itʻs called "The Prayer" and they sing in four-part harmony in both English and Hawaiian. If you are a parent, it is guaranteed to kill you.  I have been to years of these graduations; itʻs the same song every time and it kills me every, every time, but especially in the years my personal kids, my biological kids, graduate.

Soon, I know it will be too soon, my oldest son will get that job that heʻs been working so hard for (cʻmon Google, hire the kid - heʻs awesome) and leave the islands.  My oldest child will find her place and I can only hope itʻs still here in Hawai'i, and my younger son will be off to college.  I have one more year with one child in the nest, and then itʻs a new phase of life.  

I wonder what it will be like, and I mourn the life I am leaving, all at the same time. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Here We Go Again (Maybe)

Apparently, there is another possible hurricane on the way.  The kids are excited, because it is meant to hit us on PSAT day - which means not having to come to school on a Saturday to take a big test. 

I am not so excited about it, because storms are a lot of work.  I'd rather read the PSAT script and do the mind-numbingly boring work of watching kids bubble in answers with a number 2 pencil.  I'd even more so like to stay home and continue the productive work I did during our Fall Break (I canned and froze 20 lbs of pumpkin, deep cleaned the kitchen, and painted 10 interior doors). 

I suppose if it is blowing 80 mile an hour winds on Saturday, I could still paint door jambs and organize closets, but I probably won't want to.  I'll probably just be looking out the windows hoping more trees won't come down - or if they do, that they don't hit things like the house, the water tanks, or the barn.  My husband really trimmed a lot of the heavy stuff off the bigger Mexican cypress that didn't fall down, hoping to encourage the trees to snap off at the top rather than pulling out at the roots like the other trees should there be another storm - that way, they'll probably just block the driveway, rather than smashing anything vital. 

Hopefully, the storm will just scoot around us and be just a scare, because Puna district really doesn't need anymore of this.  The lava is slowly, inchingly, heading for Pahoa town and if (when, they say) it crosses the highway, three communities will be cut off from the rest of the island - including several teachers from our school.  There are alternate routes being worked on, but they will be dirt roads, very slow - and eventually, these routes will possibly cut off as the lava heads for the ocean.  That will mean a 30 minute drive to town will turn into a 90 minute drive and there will be several thousand more cars on my highway (two-lane, not really built to handle that much traffic).  They suffered a lot during Iselle (power, water, etc, out for weeks), and the lava is hanging over everyone's heads, and now, possibly another storm. 

The last one was pretty scary - and I've been through a couple before.  I think it was because it was largely at night.  I kept hearing things outside, and we could see the trees whipping wildly by flashlight, and at 8 or 9, we could see the car port had come down - and there just wasn't a lot of information coming through.  I thought, "If this is just the beginning, we're in real trouble." 

This new storm might have higher winds than the last ones, but - then again - the uncertainty is there - it might just divert and go around.  The vast majority of hurricanes in the Pacific over the years have done just that, actually, and if we hadn't just gone through one, I wouldn't even be worried. 

I guess worrying doesn't do anything, anyway.  No point.  Maybe, I'll just admit to speculating.  And I'll pick up some extra animal feed and fill the large water bottles in case our generator poops out again (it started AFTER the power came back on in August).  We do have a little 12 volt pump that can charge on solar, so we can have some water from our tanks for toilets and (cold) baths, but the drinking water is a different matter.  I am not looking forward to no cell, no land line, no internet, no lights, and minimal running water, but it's not really that big of a deal.  The only thing that bothered me was not being able to tell my family on Oahu that we were fine. 

Probably, it will be nothing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Poor Puna

It's been just over a month since the storm.  FEMA is declining to name the area a disaster area, and apparently, our state spent the hurricane fund.  If people are carrying hurricane insurance, and it reads anything like mine, the fact that it was downgraded just before hitting shouldn't make a difference - my policy says any damage within 72 hours of a Hurricane warning declaration.  I told my friend that, because she has roof damage and was a little dismayed - she didn't say whether she actually has the hurricane rider, though.

Now, there's a lava flow heading downhill.  It's moving 300 yards a day, and it's getting pretty close to some homes, but these things are unpredictable.  Some of the projections have the flow crossing the one highway that goes in and out of the area - even wiping out the main town down there.  I read an article that says they are moving a police substation and some ambulances to what could be the "far side" of the flow, so there are police and paramedics if the community gets cut off.  Somehow this feels a little ludicrous to me - the ambulances have a limited supply of medical equipment, and they won't be able to get to the hospital.  I guess they could send in helicopters, though, and something is better than nothing.

The flow is relatively close, as the crow flies, to us, but it's downhill - because our roads situation here is a bit sparse, it takes nearly an hour to drive to where the flow is, but on the map, I was kind of surprised that it's not that far.   The one good thing that might happen is that they are working to open old abandoned roads to make alternate routes - something sorely missing on this island.  There are some old government roads down near the ocean that used to go straight to Hilo dating from the time they were building the Hilo Breakwater.  We used to have a railroad on this island for the cane fields and for the supplies for the Breakwater.  I wish will still had one.  It came all the way up to my community, and the roads that ran along next to the track are still faintly marked on maps, but their largely gone. 

Well, the next few weeks should be interesting.  The mayor is making political hay over it - promising engineers right on the spot as soon as the flow crosses the road.  What an engineer is going to do about an active lava flow, I do not know, but hey, okay.  It's not like you can bulldoze fluid lava until it is well cooled.  I don't blame him for giving the people down there hope - they've been through a rough time in the last 34 days. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting for Eggs and other Rambling Thoughts

So, my pullets will be sixth months in about a week and a half.  At this point, I don't believe I have seen any eggs.  I did see some pullet sized eggs a couple of months ago, but that was too early, I think.  Kind of wondering if they are laying in the bushes - particularly all those trees that are still down and laying around in our yard - or the large piles of cut up trees that are the remnants of what fell on our driveway.  Kind of getting annoying feeding these birds and still having to buy store bought eggs.  The old hens are past my forbearance period, I think. 

Between starting school and the storm, I have broken out in weird hives.  I get a little itchy, I scratch, and the lines pop up.  I can even write on my arm with my fingernail and have word shaped hives.  Cool, if irritating.  I am just chalking it up to stress - or maybe a week of eating an ounce of almonds every day.  Who knows.  It's irritating, but hardly life-threatening.  I've never been allergic to anything, so this is just baffling.  I did have a babysitter when I was little who was allergic to 97 things - a fact which filled me with awe at the age of 9 or so, but now inspires me to a new kind of awe - his mother must have been driven absolutely nuts (no pun intended). 

The only problem with having the trees down is that three of them are laying on top of what used to be my garden.  I didn't like that garden spot much - and to be honest, the trees were always shading the spot for a large part of the day, so having them gone is probably good - but now I don't have a place that's been dug up and filled with compost readily available.  Also, the tree that broke in half rather than hitting our house fell on my roses.  It's still on my roses, and is likely to stay there until we get a break from the school calendar.  I wonder if the roses can wait that long? 

It's Cross Country season again - and guess who didn't have the guts to say, "NO!" to team mom?  Well, actually, I did say no to the girls' team - I would have to be nuts to do both the girls' and the boys' teams - but since the girls' don't have a team mom, guess what?  If they don't have a team mom - they don't get asked to volunteer or to bring anything to the potluck (Next WEEK, OMG!!!).  I have to get my parents to bring enough food for over 200 people or I have to cave and, I won't. They have concessions (snack bar at athletic meets). Not going there.   I want to cry.  In fact, I have, a few times, on the sly, when no one is looking.  The only awesome thing about it is that one of our new freshmen boy's parents have a HUGE rice cooker - it cooks enough for 100 people.  In fact, they have TWO of them.  Now, that's a Hawaiian family!  Another family has a catering business, so you know, I really don't have all that much to worry about. 

I used to be so laid back about this whole thing - but then the girls' team mom drummed the fear of "failure at potlucking" into me.  Her girls have graduated, but somehow, I still feel that fear.  It's dumb; we always have enough.  We always have way more than enough.  Of course, I was counting on the girls to bring drinks, desserts, and plates/utensils....oh gosh, I just am not good at this stuff.  I don't have the time to be good at this stuff.  I thought I was doing good by offering up the boys' parents for the main dish and substantial sides - they just bring what they like anyway, but at least I could say to the girls:  please bring the little stuff - although, plates are kind of crucial, actually.  

It's all so manini; I know I am being ridiculous, but I guess you face what's in front of you, and the potluck has always stressed me beyond proportion.  Last year, I totally and completely embarrassingly burst into tears, because I was told I had to stay with the food instead of watching my kids run.  It was the first race for my youngest daughter, and I was devastated.  It was my 8th year as a XC parent - you'd think I wouldn't care by that point, but I really did.  I chalk it up to hearing my counterpart saying (as she always did), "Nancy, there's not going to be enough!" because the parents come, often, at the last minute bearing large pans of pasta and chili and it always looks like there won't be enough until suddenly, there is....  But by that last minute time, I am always wound up so tight from the implied blame that I didn't do enough, that it would fail because of me, that bursting into tears feels like a viable option. 

The coaches say that the "parents do this out of the goodness of their hearts" but really, it's their deal.  I do wonder if some parent decided to do this a million years ago (or at least 11 when our school started) and it just keeps going, or if it was one particular coach's idea, and he keeps the fiction going that it is some kind of spontaneous parental miracle every year. I love these coaches, I really do, but I feel this little kernel of frustration at the yearly speech at how wonderful we parents are - when I feel like we've been brought to this point by a certain element of duress. 

I am really not that much of a crybaby.  Really.  It's just this aspect of being an XC parent that brings it out in me, I guess.  You see, we never did the soccer thing, so all of this team mom/snack/participation thing is just not an old habit with me. 

Oh well, if my hens would just start laying eggs - it would all be grand.  I think I'd be so happy all of this would recede into a blip of annoyance.  I keep dreaming of hard boiled eggs and custard and scrambled eggs that taste a million times better than store bought...yum.  Plus, eggs are so cool.  After all these years of keeping hens, I still get so happy when I pick up those new eggs - it's like a treasure every time.