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.