Here’s me thinking of Turkey and Morocco in Hawaii on my Ukulele

I love playing. I don’t play enough. In Hawai’i – it seems like I never have time when I’m not working or taking care of business in one way or another…and when I play, I usually don’t record it…but here is some fun time..

Ukulele Family in Hawaii

Well, that has a nice ring to it. Yes, we are here. Our trailer arrived safely. We have moved into our little apartment in East Honolulu and my huge list of things to do is gradually shrinking. My job as an archaeologist seems to be everything I’ve ever wanted in a career – but without the huge paycheck I sometimes dreamed of – I get to study history, language, geology, antiques, architecture, and more and my firm has a cool lab and ongoing projects. It’s not an Indiana Jones sort of archaeology, but I’ve got my hat and whip ready. In the meantime, I am still selling books on Amazon and will be selling in a booth at this coming weekend’s All Colector’s show in Honolulu. Sophia is registered in school and Hanane has the internet and is job searching. There has been a lot to do and I can’t believe I’ve managed to do it all in the ten days we have been here…but sometimes when things are meant to be, you simply find yourself in the flow if you allow it. A few days ago Sophia said “I don’t ever want to leave Hawai’i.” I’m of the same mind. This is home and I want it to always be home – but, that being said, I’m not against working to be in the position where we can travel and see the world without giving up our home in Hawai’i. We have not been playing our ukuleles much but we have been pretty busy…if I’m honest about it – it sometimes seems I’m the only one who loves to play my uke but yesterday I finally coerced Sophia to sing some songs and play her Kala and she was great and enjoyed it. I wish I would have filmed it but it is sometimes hard to get her to focus on what she is doing if a camera is on her. There is more work to do – and I need to get to it, but I wanted to give a brief update about what is happening here.

On Our Way and In Transition

Hanane and Sophia in the Cherry Tree on Fir Ave in Reedsport

We did it. The hardest challenge thus far has been overcome. During four years of living in the United States, we managed to accumulate a gargantuan horde of stuff – every kind of spice you can imagine, a room full of yarn, a library of books – a large store filled with treasure, a garage filled with tools and paint and bikes and stuff, a yard filled with stuff – and a house filled with stuff. Some of the stuff was very nice, some of it was functional, lots of it was junk. The biggest impediment to us doing anything was getting rid of all that stuff because there was no way to move it – not without a fleet of trucks.

In late May, a family looking at a building across the street saw my modest For Sale flyer posted in the window of my shop – the person they were waiting for was late – and instead of buying the empty building across the street – they bought my shop. They made an offer and probably much to their surprise (because it wasn’t a high offer) I accepted. The offer was enough to realistically move my family to Hawai’i. So, I paid off credit card debts, applied for some hig rewards credit cards, and transferred my shop, the little paper I published, and everything I could teach them about the business to the new owners.

Ten days into June, I took a flight to Oahu for an interview and to find a house. Here are the links to that trip:

I’ve got to be honest, my expectations were low – my hopes were high. And I knew that as daunting as the challenge to find a home on Oahu, find a job, and sell the shop had been – the biggest challenge was going to be getting Hanane to actually get rid of all the stuff she’d accummulated – I’d been pushing her to downsize and to pack for six months – there was no secret we were going to move and frankly, she wasn’t nearly as excited about it as me. In Reedsport, she had found a certain stability and comfort she had never had before. Keep in mind, my wife is the daughter of shepherds. She was born in a smallish city in North Africa and is the only person in her family to ever go to and graduate from college.  Moving to the USA had been traumatic for her – a new culture, not much support from anyone but me, and we had arrived in the midst of the recession and because of various family situations – we had been thrown into a situation where we had been squatting in a Sacramento foreclosure for three months before I packed us up and moved us to Reedsport.  In Reedsport, she found a home, she got a car, she found a job, she made friends, she had stability. Had it been up to her – we would have stayed there forever because frankly, aside from being away from her mom and sisters – life for her had never been so good.  I, on the other hand, knew it could be better.  The depressed economy, the awful wet, moldy climate, and the lack of opportunity – so I knew we had to move and I knew that even though she outwardly agreed with my decision – there was a war about to happen.

Planning is essential to make an Estate Sale work. I’m like a barber who gives himself a bad haircut but gives everyone else a great one.

So I got home from Oahu and after five days – nothing had really been done.  We had nine days before I wanted us out of the house and the house was packed and my wife and daughter were not. I pushed as hard as I could and still it was almost too much – and almost not enough.  I got the rest of her needed possessions in our 10x6x6 cargo trailer along with our daughters favorite toys and best clothes (my things were already in there). Thankfully, our neighbor jumped in to help and my mother drove up from Redding to work beside Hanane and me to get our house ready for an estate sale – we planned on liquidating everything and had two days to get the sale ready. Because it all had to be done in two days – we didn’t get even a tenth of what I’d been hoping for our antique furniture, art, leather sofa, kitchen ware, china, or anything else.  Our estate sale was a huge failure – not only did we not make any money but we had a houseful of stuff left to get rid of.  We managed to sell Hanane’s car and only one or two of the items that I had wanted $100 or more for.  On the last day of the sale, we invited friends and neighbors for a potluck and I cooked a Turkey dinner. Only a couple of Hanane’s girlfirends dropped by – the truth is that I didn’t make a single good friend in Reedsport in four years of living there.  That was that.  I had planned on giving the leftovers to St. Vincent de Pauls after the sale, but our neighbor had been a huge help and asked if she could have them – so I gave her nearly everything.  My butcher block, my antique secretary cabinet, the leather sofa, the dryer, the food in the cupboards and freezer and so much more.  My plan had been to continue selling things on craigslist during the five days we had left – but letting go was the best decision – even though it was a bit painful – I was attached to some of those things.

This is how much Sophia grew in this house from August 2013-July 2017

I rented a truck and drove a 1000 miles to deliver our little trailer to a ship for transport to Hawai’i. I got back and we did some dump runs, finished moving the contents of the house to the neighbor’s house, did a final cleaning, took one las picture of Sophia next to the Tardis in the garden, and then dropped off the keys and drove away.

Time to get in our Tardis and move on to the next adventure! (It’s bigger on the inside!)

The impossible mission was accomplished, the tickets to Hawai’i are booked, and as soon as we drove away – my wife seemed to let go of the hostility that she’d been directing at me since the process began in earnest – once again, she was smiling like the girl I’d married and we were setting out on a new adventure with nothing to hold us back.

Ukulele Family Finds An Ukulele Teacher

This is one of those things in life that you couldn’t make up. I’ve written before about the universe affirming positive decisions – almost like the reward systems on credit cards. If you make a bad choice, no points, just debt – a neutral choice leaves you neutral – a positive choice brings you points – the right positive choice brings you triple points – or more!

Here is a real world example of what I’m talking about. I’m in Hawai’i right now – actually, I’m on Hawai’i (the Big Island) in Hilo. I like it here, but it isn’t where we are meant to be at this moment in time. Oahu is not done with me. This trip has been rushed – in fact – at times it felt like it would be impossible – but I did everything I could and trusted God to lead me in the right direction. I researched jobs and tried to land interviews, I researched housing and neighborhoods, and I kept in mind what I wanted as I moved forward and avoided the temptation to get sidetracked.

One of my goals in 2017 has been to start using points and credit cards effectively. With that in mind, I paid off my credit card debt and have paid attention to my credit score. At the end of May, I applied for two new credit cards – a Hawaiian Airlines credit card which awards 50k points if you spend $1000 in the first three months and a Hilton Honors credit card that awards 100k if you spend $3k in the first three months. In early June, I booked my trip here to find a house and a job. I only gave myself 5 days because there is a lot to still be done in Oregon. The Oahu portion and airfare took care of the $1000 on the Hawaiian Airlines card. 50k points will purchase two one way tickets from the mainland to Hawai’i…or upgrade two regular fares to 1st class…so, I actually just got most of our airfare to Hawai’i paid. The Hilton Honors points will come later – but shipping our items to Hawai’i should cover the $3k requirement.

Now, on a different level from the points – I’ve mentioned before that life apparently didn’t want me to take my family on a crazy pell-mell adventure around the world – and I had to listen to it. Instead, it became really clear that the right decision was to slow down – make the adventure more of a long term journey – the first step of that journey was to get ukuleles. The next step was to learn how to play them – and there really isn’t a better place to learn to play than in Hawai’i. To live here, I needed a job, a career really – so I looked at the online job ads and one of the first to come up was Archaeologist – some of the requirements were a degree in Anthropology (I have that) and a knowledge of Hawaiian history and culture (I have that too from being a guide and from classes I took at the University of Hawai’i. So I applied with my initial idea of bringing the family here in September – they wanted someone sooner – so I pushed my agenda closer and here I am and we will be moving in a very short time – and guess what? I had the interview the other day and I was hired!

Another thing I wanted to accomplish on my five days in Hawai’i was to find a home for us. There was a really cool piece of property for sale on Hilo with a wreck of a house – it’s part of why I came to Hilo – I had it in my mind that it might be a neat adventure to bring my family here and learn to make it work on the land – but the property was not right for us. I knew that when I saw it. I had looked at three properties on Oahu – they were not perfect, but one stood out above the others. It was located close to where I will be working, the rent was reasonable by Oahu standards and included utilities, it wasn’t a tiny closet with no windows, and this was the kicker – the landlady was really cool. She had me fill out the application and one of the questions was “Do you have any musical instruments?” I hesitantly told her that we have three ukuleles and she burst into smiles. “That’s so cool! I love ukulele. In fact, I’m an ukulele teacher!”

At that moment, I knew that this was meant to be. I had found our home. Still, I had to come here and see the farm on the Big Island – I really wanted the farm, I loved the idea of it, but I knew it wasn’t right. So I made the calls to accept the job and accept the apartment from the ukulele teacher. As if to reward me for making the right decision, when I checked into my hotel my room was not ready – so I was upgraded to a lanai room with a view of the bay. Seriously. This stuff works.

The Universe Will Guide You

Wow. That’s all I can really say at the moment. I don’t want to presume to tell where the universe is sending us, but it all seems good. At the moment, things are really in flux. We had decided to accelerate the rate of our movement and no sooner were we positively moving forward than our landlord of four years decided to put her house on the market and gave us a 60-day eviction notice. We’ve been great tenants and she has been a great landlord – so there are no hard feelings about that. In fact, it’s a good decision on her part and for us, it is an affirmation from the universe that we have made the right decision – the decision to go to Hawai’i. So, in the house we found ourselves with a necessity to move by the end of July and since Solarfest is in mid-August – we decided to let our tickets go and let ourselves go to Hawai’i in July…which means all the stuff has to go by the end of June. With our decision to slow down and not rush pull-mell into a trip around the world – came the decision to get Sophia in school once we get in Hawai’i. Classes start there August 1 – so the Solarfest no-go decision was affirmed as well. I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed to miss the eclipse and festival but after seeing the Frye Festival melt down – I am a bit doubtful about the small Oregon town’s hosting for the eclipse being prepared to deal with a Burning Man or bigger type of festival…lord knows that the little Oregon town we live in would be a mess and the festival would probably be a huge disaster and we are already in a tourist area…so, those are my tiny little sour grapes…it will probably suck anyway. I hope not. My sister and her kids are still going and I hope they have a wonderful time – we, in the meantime will be having a wonderful time in Hawai’i as we figure out our life there. And that seems to be where the universe has been pointing us all along – to build a life in the islands. My heart has always considered Kailua on windward Oahu home – but after nearly a decade of not being there – friends tell me that it has become another Waikiki – I love Waikiki as well – but it’s not what I dream about when I dream of Kailua. I dream of a slow and easy, laid back beach town with empty beaches and easy smiles – which is not what Kailua is known for these days. I will head to Hawai’i in a couple of days to lay the groundwork for our future. I will spend a couple of days on Oahu and then head over to Hilo on the Big Island – something has been pulling me towards Hilo for a while now…I have a very strong feeling that we are going to end up not very far from there.

So, there is a lot going on and a lot to do. We’ve also been playing our ukuleles quite a lot. I play more than Sophia and Sophia plays more than Hanane, but Hanane is playing more than she was. Part of the problem was that her Martin Smith ukulele sounded terrible. She wasn’t playing it at all so I sold it (and made a profit on it!) and then I saw an estate sale with an old vintage Harmony uke from the 1940s – it was dusty and the strings sounded horrible and I grabbed it for $7.50! Once I cleaned and polished it and put new strings on it – it became a real beauty with a classic tone that sounds wonderful. And now, Hanane is starting to get into the feel of it. So, we really are the Ukulele Family and we really are getting ready to go to Hawai’i.

I’m trying to learn to navigate the world of hotel and airline credit cards and points while at the same time reducing, reducing, reducing and making the plans for our forthcoming life-changing adventure. There is more happening than I can write about right now because I don’t want to jinx anything by spilling the beans or presuming to know where the universe is sending us. I have changed my motto from “All there is to it, is to do it” which fostered a sort of all speed and no control lifestyle to “Tie your camel and trust God” which means to do as much as you humanly can to move towards the life you want but then to trust the universal guide to put you where you need to be. It’s a positive change. My old motto fostered a sort of young man’s devil may care attitude and my new motto is more of a wiseman’s approach to life. I’ve evolved from Aesop’s hare to Aesop’s turtle. Or maybe that’s a bad analogy….anyway, I’ve gone from all speed and no control to the fastest speed possible while maintaining as much control as is possible. Approaching the wisdom of the serenity prayer. God grant me the strength and courage to make the changes I can. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. God grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

Plan Flexibility – Loosening Up

Things change – that’s one thing you can know about life. Things change. For us, we have reconsidered how best to go about this trip at the outset. Instead of booking all the tickets and having it all laid out ahead of us, we’ve decided to take a more stress-free approach and will only work on two or three steps at a time. So, for the moment, we are getting rid of everything, learning to play Ukulele, then we are going to go to the 2017 Solar Eclipse, and then we are going to move out of our house and head to Hawaii. That’s plenty to plan for the moment.

Once we are in Hawaii, we will catch our breath, explore the lay of the land, and see which is the best step to focus on next. This does not have to be a breakneck race around the globe, we do not have to compete in the Amazing Race, and we are not on Survivor. This is real life and what we want most is to be able to savor every exquisite second of it to the absolute fullest.

Sophia Gives an Ukulele Lesson

They say that to truly know something you need to teach…I’m proud that our little girl is enthusiastic enough to want to teach others what she is learning about the ukulele…We all have a lot to learn though.

Anyone recognize this language she is singing? I’m stumped on it and the mysterious E chord (update: it turns out there is an E chord and it is horrendously hard to play…

So much thanks to Raising Davinci for our first Ukulele Lessons (which are what we are learning from!)

The Daunting Task – All There Is To It – Is To Do It!

Our decision to do this has been met with a combination of disbelief, disapproval, and discouragement (the three D’s) from some sectors in our life and from others it has been enthusiasm, encouragement, and excitement. All of the responses are understandable and appreciated – but of course we prefer the latter. There is a lot to be gained though from the ‘negative’ reactions though – those friends and family members who have met our decision with one of the three D’s are doing us a great service. They are testing our resolve, making sure that we think through our plans, and providing a very healthy dose of realism so that we aren’t caught wearing rose colored glasses while walking around with our pants down (because frankly there are few things more enjoyable than a completely mixed metaphor).

And, with all of that, we continue on, marching towards the daunting task ahead of us. You may ask, which daunting task? Travelling around the world? Planning the trip? Finding sponsors? Figuring out the logistics? Discovering the money to make this a reality? Learning how to play ukuleles – as a family? Figuring out how to make YouTube Videos that build an audience? Connecting with our causes? Yes – all of those, but at the moment – each of those Herculean feats pales in comparison to the most immediate concern.

Is the suspense there yet? Have I built it up enough? (Drumroll please!)

The greatest challenge we face at the moment is shrinking our life down to three bags and three passports. Our immediate daunting task is to liquidate all of our possessions and to do it in the most orderly way possible. Ours is not a modest hoard of belongings – over the past four years we have made a business out of buying and selling – not just buying and selling small items – but buying and selling entire estates, massive and overstuffed storage lockers, and filling a large antique shop to the gills with books, jewelry, collectibles, furniture, and all manner of things. Our house (which I am thankful we do not own) is filled with the best of the things we have found in this business and the things we have enjoyed. We have conducted many estate sales over the years we have been here and thankfully, we have learned how to liquidate a small to medium estate in a weekend and a large estate over a series of weekends, but we have never attempted to liquidate so much as we will be selling over the next few months. Vehicles, trailers, display cases, furniture, collections of coins, jewelry, carpets, an entire library of book (because close to half of our store is dedicated to books), art, pottery, toys, dolls, and more. This is the daunting task and it is not made more simple by the rain which this year threatens to never stop for more than a few hours at a time.

We had an antique mall space in Coos Bay which I am closing down over the next few days – it was a large space, several big rooms packed to the brim. I had hoped that we would be able to sell a significant amount of our inventory there, but ultimately, even in the larger market of Coos Bay, the rain and economic worries were keeping wallets in pockets and shoppers in their homes. I don’t blame the mall which I’m sure will do better when the weather improves, but it didn’t work out to be what we had hoped. My plan at the moment is fairly simple – at the end of May there is a big citywide garage sale in Reedsport. We will sell everything that we do not need for two months of life in our house at that point. In June, I will (if my shop has not found a buyer by that point) liquidate the entire contents of our shop using our tried and true formula of 25% off, then 50% off, then 70% off, then 75% off and finally a dollar sale on inventory and a sale of our fixtures and display. It is possible that I will need to continue this sale into July.But by the end of July our shop will be gone and our little community paper will either be sold or shut down as well. In July or possibly August, we will have an Estate sale at our house before we move out and into our Vanagon for a month – at this sale we will sell anything that is left in the house or from the shop.

By September – we will be houseless, have our tickets paid for, and have our itinerary laid before us. That is the daunting task and all there is to it, is to do it.

The Impossible Dream

My dad was a vocalist. He was in several bands and well known as a powerhouse singer in the little town we lived in when I was a kid. One of the songs I most clearly remember him singing is The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote). It has always been one of my favorite musicals and books…Don Quixote has always been this wonderful figure in my imagination. Maybe it’s because I hear him singing with my dad’s voice. I don’t know.

Sometimes this feels like an impossible dream. The planning and preparation for this journey are going well. All the ducks seem to be lining up – but when I stop and think about it – I have to admit, it sounds crazy. Like jousting at windmills. My dad thinks I’m putting my family at risk, I can feel the disapproval of others. There are so many reasons not to do this – like the fact that we don’t even know how to play our ukuleles yet – and yet – we are learning. This glorious quest is coming to life. Each day we are finding more reasons to do this. Each day we are moving closer to making this a reality.

Introducción: D# D B Am-F-Am F C

G D G Bm
To dream… the impossible dream…
C F C-Am
To fight… the unbeatable foe…
Bm D C
To bear… with unbearable sorrow…
G Am C D A#
and to run… where the brave dare not go…
G Bm C
To right… the unrightable wrong…
D Am Am
and to love… pure and chaste from afar…
Bm C
To try… when your arms are too weary…
Am G C D
and to reach… the unreachable star…
Am G Em
This is my quest, to follow that star…
Bm G C
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far…
Am C Em D#
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause…
Am Em C E C F B
and I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
Am C
that my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
D Em B C-D C
when I’m laid to my rest______.
G D Bm
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Am Bm D C
still strove, with his last ounce of courage…
Am G D Fm
To reach… the unreachable star…
Bm D G Bm D G E
the unreachable, the unreachable star____________.

Am F#m Am Em-C-Bm D C

And I leave a impossible dream
Em D Em
And I leave a impossible dream

C Bm
and to reach… the unreachable
the unreachable star

Our First Sponsor! Ukulele Course for Kids by Raising Davinci

We are incredibly stoked to announce that we have our first sponsor. Amanda from Raising Davinci has provided us with their amazing Ukulele Course for kids for no charge. The course is great – we’ve already started it and find the workbook to be easy to understand and fun to follow – the videos are just the right length for short lessons and provide enough information to make sure that the ukulele play time which follows is productive and fun.

(To get to the course just follow the link above and you will find the ukulele course and the photography course for kids on the right sidebar.)

Amanda has a degree in fine arts and that comes through on the site – her background in photography means that we are really looking forward to taking her Photography Course for Kids too and what I particularly love is that Raising Davinci is a homeschool site that isn’t focused on religion, instead it is focused on creativity. The arts and literacy are important to me, but her site also has a strong focus on STEM Science Technology Engineering and Math. Her site has very quickly become a favorite of mine and I’m pretty sure you will enjoy it too.

Raising Davinci is not only inspirational and educational – it’s also fun – which is what learning should always be!