Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Has Anyone Seen my Shoes?

Perhaps life on Kauai is simple but there is one thing that is definitely more complicated. Move to Kauai and you can throw away most of your clothes. Formal attire just gets moldy in your closet. Rain gear would seem to be in order but most people just allow themselves to get wet and figure they will dry out later when the sun comes out. Jackets, sweaters, scarves –I don’t even remember what they look like. (I had a Twilight Zone experience the other day in the grocery store when a worker emerged from the refrigerated area in a full snowsuit). Shoes, however, are the notable exception to this trend. With so many different environments for tootsies to roam, wet, dry, sandy, muddy, I’ve found myself acquiring a variety of footwear.

Consider the picture above, at 12 o’clock the trusty tennis shoe, my default choice living on the mainland. I hardly ever wear them now. To its right, my all-vegan, Italian hiking boots, good ankle support and well suited to trails that are no too slippery and when you are carrying a lot of weight. At three o’clock Hawaii’s universal footwear. Available at grocery stores for three dollars a pair, you’ll find a pile of them at every front door. Next we have the sandal that would SEEM to be ideally suited to life in Hawaii but for two fatal flaws: they are harder to put on and take off than their cheaper cousins, the flip-flops, and while they are great for crossing streams they are a poor choice for hiking in muddy conditions since slime finds it way in between your foot and the sandal so that your feet slip around IN your shoe.

At six o’clock is the newest and most exciting addition to my shoe family: Spiked tabis (TAA-bees) imported from Japan. With a sole like a soccer cleat and uppers like something a ninja might wear, these babies offer unparalleled traction, the perfect choice for rock hopping up mossy streams or rappelling down waterfalls. To the left, the more traditional tabis with a felt bottom to grip slippery rocks. (I got them before I got the super Japanese tabis.) The debate between split-toed tabis and non-split-toed tabis is beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice to say there are strong opinions on both sides.

At nine o’clock you see my neoprene wet suit booties. In California I surfed in these but here that is happily not necessary. Now I use them only for snorkeling and Scuba diving. And finally my steel-toed, vegan safety boots from the UK which I wear at work. They’re hot but well suited to their purpose.

So you can see that my feet are well taken care of here which is ironic because a lot of the time I just don’t wear any shoes at all!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I have read with interest recent thoughtful blog entries by Judy and Ramblinmatt on the subject of procreation. To breed or not to breed seems to be the question. When I was a kid I don’t think I comprehended that having children was optional. It seemed like all the adults I knew had kids and of course all the kids I knew had parents. Looking back I realize that there were some adults I knew that didn’t have children but somehow that didn’t enter my consciousness. It seems very natural to have children. We’re just animals like any other and the instinct to reproduce is about as strong as any we have. On the other hand maybe we’re not just like other animals. We live in an arguably more complex world and we have choices about how we live our lives. I humbly submit that we also have a greater capacity to reflect on our choices than say, an amoeba.

I used to eat meat. Now I choose not to. I don’t consider vegetarianism to more or less natural than omnivorism. It’s just a choice I make based on my own desires and beliefs. Maybe choices about having a family are similar. It would seem to be the natural thing to do but the fact is many people don’t want children and it seems crazy to suggest they should have them anyway just because it fits within some perception of the natural order of things.

So if it’s not about what’s natural then the question is about what you WANT. I know several people who’ve had kids recently and seem very happy about being parents. I know other people who have not yet had kids but clearly want to. I have to admit I don’t really understand that feeling. When I see my sister with her daughters or my other friends with their children I appreciate the kids and how the parents’ lives seem to have been enriched but I don’t think to myself, “Gee, I wish I had on of those.” In fact, I’m a little surprised that anyone would choose parenthood.

To put it another way, I don’t want kids, at least not at this point in my life. I guess it’s an area where each person should just follow his or her heart so I might not feel this way forever, but its kind of a moot point since I’m missing a key part of the whole baby-making operation. No matter how much I love my surfboard, I can’t impregnate it.
In closing I say yeah for parents! Yeah for babies! Yeah for pets!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Time Zone

Of all of my possessions, the oldest may be my clock-radio. I don’t remember getting it but it is at least 20 years old. It may not be so unusual to keep something of sentimental value for many decades. Most of my belongings of that type sit in dark boxes in my parents’ basement over 2000 miles away. But my faithful clock radio sits on my desk next to my bed where it reliably tics away the seconds and wakes me up in the morning just as it has done for so many years. The shelf life of electronic devices has become so short it seems as though your average mosquito will live to see at least three new formats for recording music but the clock fulfills such a simple need that cannot really be improved upon. Every time I packed up my belongings I reasoned that I would certainly still need an alarm clock and the one I had was as good as any so I might as well take it with me.

Well, maybe it’s not quite as good as any anymore. The buttons for setting the time and alarm have sunk into the clock so they can no longer be pressed without the aid of a tool. I use a bent paper clip or a pen. Power outages are frequent here in Haolewood and resetting the clock can be tedious, but it still works.

When I was a kid I used to worry that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. Knowing how long I had been lying in bed not sleeping made me worry more which only made it harder for me to get to sleep. It was important that I NOT know what time it was but I couldn’t manage to avoid looking at the clock. Sometimes I would just turn it around but later I taped a piece of orange construction paper so that it hung down and covered the clock’s display and could be folded up during the day when there was no need to hide the time. That orange construction paper stayed with the clock for years. Mostly I sleep pretty well these days and if I wake up and don’t want to know what time it is I just don’t look.

The buttons are getting worse. A day will come when I’m no longer able to set the clock and I’ll have to replace it but my curiosity about just how long an cheap clock radio can last compels me to continue this experiment until the bitter end.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Wrokers of the world unite!

I am now a member of the Hawaii Carpenters Union. My knowledge of unions is informed primarily by what I have learned watching The Soppranos in which gangsters arrange for “no work” jobs where they sit around in lawn chairs all day and draw a union pay check. This is gonna be great!

Friday, March 02, 2007

The D-word

One year ago today a judge in Alameda County declared me officially divorced. Divorce sucks. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Getting married is easy: a few papers at the courthouse, a small fee and your hitched. Anything else you do to mark the occasion is what you choose. Weddings can become huge projects but they are (hopefully) joyfully chosen. Divorce may be chosen, but there’s sure nothing joyous about it. There’s just no quick fix to a broken marriage. The quickest the state of California will give you a divorce is six months from the day you file which was four months after my separation.

In the midst of my marriage ending, moving out on my own and selling our house I realized that I knew almost nothing about how divorce works and I had to start learning right away. I knew plenty of divorced people but it’s not something people often talk about. How do you file for divorce? How do you divide property? Do you need a lawyer? How much is this going to cost and who’s going to pay for it? How do you manage finances while separated but not yet divorced? What happens if you don’t agree on how to proceed or what the final terms of the divorce should be? I read books. I asked questions from people who knew. I got professional help in filling out and filing legal documents and I paid a lawyer $300 and hour to answer my questions. That was some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

What I learned was that you either come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce or you fight it out in court and let a judge decide. Everything I read and everyone I spoke to emphasized how undesirable the second option was for everyone. So what was left was to hash things out with the one person with whom I had realized I couldn’t hash things out. But that’s what we did. It was no fun. It was probably the most unfun thing I’ve ever had to do. There was so much bad feeling and the good will had been exhausted. All that was left was self-interest and a shared desire to get it over with.

As divorces go it could have been much worse. We had no children and since we both had similar incomes there was no question of spousal support. It pretty much just came down to money and the law was pretty clear on how it would be divided. But there were still hard feelings and angry words. At times it seemed like we could get through it and still be friends but I’m sorry to say that that didn’t happen. The best thing about the divorce process was that it eventually ended and there was no unfinished business.

Having said all that divorce was the best thing that could have possibly happened. It’s a great irony that what I feared so much and tried so hard to avoid may have been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Letting go is hard to do but I found that everything I needed to make the changes in my life was there for me. There were people to support me and there were answers for me when I didn’t know what to do. When I got married I felt CERTAIN mine would not be among the fifty percent of marriages that end in divorce but I learned that even when things turn out drastically different from how they were planned a lot of good can come out of it.