Monday, June 6, 2011

Spin Cycle: Renovating and Redoing One's Life

When we bought our home in 1993, we had no fuckin’ idea what we were in for. Becoming homeowners in Hawaii was a huge, huge blessing; but blessings come with challenges. We worked in Honolulu, but the new homes, the “affordable homes,” were being built on the West Side, the Second City.

After ten years of commuting, of working two jobs, of working two jobs while going to grad school, of working two jobs while going to grad school and raising two children, of getting by on 5-6 hours of sleep a night for years – after ten years we were able to refinance and renovate.

The beige, track-house curtains which were frayed were replaced with blinds.

The beige carpet that our children and all the neighborhood kids had trampled for years was replaced – downstairs with a dark laminate flooring, kitchen and bathrooms with stone like tile, upstairs and stairs with carpet.

Our garage sale, mismatched living room furniture moved out and our first couch set was purchased.

We painted every single room and left the world of white behind.

We put in crown molding downstairs. So pretty.

We relandscaped our yard and put in automatic sprinklers, providing us with an extra hour a day we no longer had to hand water. The West Side is dry and hot and nothing like what most people imagine when they think of Hawaii.

It took months. Our marriage had not been given previous opportunities to explore our differences in tastes. It was vast, like a great desert separating two foreign lands.

We set out across that desert to find our oasis somewhere in the middle.

The kids started out thrilled and excited with visiting furniture stores, flooring stores, home depot stores; running through and laying claim to whole rooms at a time.

Hubs and I sat on couches by the hours. Comfortability, design, and a couch that we both approved of became the Holy Grail of quests.

The children started opting to stay home with rolling eyeballs when we went out on renovating excursions.


It happened.

We both loved the final outcome.

And then life throws one a curve ball.

One adjusts.

One rents out the renovated home, which looks like a track home on a zero lot line on the outside and looks like a custom – this is our house and yes we did put in crown molding – on the inside.

One moves to the other side of the island, where one rents a home because one cannot afford to buy over here.

A family takes a leap of faith.

The old home had a postage stamp size of a backyard.

The rental has a humongous yard.

This summer, I want to do some yard renovating.

But. Money is tight and it is not practical to spend money on a yard we do not own.

I’m taking suggestions….

This box was in the yard and I got rid of the piles of trash and leaves, put in some soil and started growing arugula. Planning to put other lettuces in those blank spots.

There is a river that runs behind the house that was made into a cement river decades ago. My daughter bought this plant (which I don't remember the name) and it is supposed to grow and climb all over the fence to provide some privacy from the neighbors yard behind us.

That big tall one in the middle is okra. There is also lavendar on the far right. Some of these plants need to get in the ground, put the ground is so hard and dense, with kiawe roots and rocks, that it takes two hours to dig one hole.

A baby papaya tree we planted last week. We still need to weed the ground around it.

The side yard is huge. The renters before us used it to keep a big boat. This planter is overgrown and a mess but on our to do list this summer.

BC loves having a yard. But when asked to help, he sticks tongue at me. Really.

For more Spins head on over to Sprite's Keeper. The list of Spins go up on Saturday, but checkout last week's spins as well, "Waiting."


Kristan said...

HEE to BC! Sorry, I have a black thumb and know NOTHING about plants. But I loved your story about seeking out the middle ground (oasis) across your deserts of taste. :)

Michele said...

Having a big yard makes my head spin with possibilities. I say invest in sends, dig up some of the sunny flower beds and put in veggie. That bit of sweat equity will reward you many times over.

PS: that is the same look that my dogs give me. The least they could do is dig up a hole or something.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I was about to tell you to ask Michele about gardening since she's got such a green thumb, but she seems to have beat me to the punch without being aware!
As much as I wish I could see the afters on the old place, a new place with promise and a list long of to-do's (when you're ready to) sounds just as good. Good luck with the gardening!
You're linked!

Amber said...

Ah, renovating. So much work, but always worth it in the end, isn't it? :)

Visiting from the Spin Cycle. :)

Brian Miller said...

wow. all that to rent it out...the yard is probably worth it my yard, except when i got to mow...ugh...haha. cool on you pseudo

darsden said...


Sharon Rose said...

I do love having a bigger yard. Sounds like you have been busy!

secret agent woman said...

I don't know tropical plants well enough to make suggestions. But I was more caught by this:

"And then life throws one a curve ball.

One adjusts."

Often, repeatedly.

Nubian said...

I love living in a condo now. With hubby going back to school and working our weekends were a nightmare with yard work. Now weekends are left open to explore and when he is studying for finals, more time for me to drink wine.

Love your plants and the container idea, I did that and it is so much easier to manage.


Irish Gumbo said...

Okra? In Hawaii? that's awesome! fried okra, pickled okra, all yum.

Wishing you all the best with the landscape adventures!

Casey said...

I'm feeling your pain. We did absolutely everything we could to our old house, complete with professional landscaping, brick pavered driveway and complete remodel because we never thought we would move. And here we are, in a better place but with a weedy/shitty yard. Let me know if you figure out a good plan for the landscaping..... ;)

Kendra said...

We've been in our house for 7 years and we have not had the time or money to do what we would like to do to it. I'm afraid that when we do it will be time to move on. But good luck with your yard renovations. My thumbs are not green so I have no suggestions!
--Over from the spin cycle

Fragrant Liar said...

The only thing that remains the same is change, right? Your back yard is going to be wonderful. Wish I could come over and visit.

Unknown said...

It's important, in my opinion, to have beauty around you, no matter if you own or rent. Good on you Pseudo, for making your own beauty.

Mama Badger said...

Oh, I love your gardening optimism! I love flowers and plants, but hate gardening, so I have no suggestions. I'm actually spending the summer taking out all the planters and random stuff the previous owner put in and turning it into lawn. With the two little guys, I just don't have the time and energy. So, I'm with BC.

Heather said...

I have the same problem with the ground being so hard it is nearly impossible to get a bed going, plus we also rent the land. I find it difficult to dish out money for improvements for someone elses land, but have resigned myself to doing it, since we do plan to stay here for as long as possible. I have built a rock bed and place my potted plants on it. I get enjoyment out of it without all the labor of weeding.

I wish you luck with your yard.

Barbara said...

A bummer having to leave the renovated home. But look at it this way-now you and BC are so much closer to the Koko Head trail!

K Dubs said...

Love the new yard! I found that digging after a rain makes the ground a lot softer and easier to dig. How long do you plan on staying there? I'd say grow what you want - it's only going to help, right? And growing from seed is pretty cheap.

Pearl said...

From my vantage in Minneapolis I can only sit back and think: Wow. People really live in Hawaii. :-)


Midlife Roadtripper said...

I admire you ambition to garden. We're in a drought. Keeping things alive is the key around here.

We have a home update ahead of us to downsize. Thinking it won't make our life easier getting through the process.

sage said...

That sounds like too much work and I'm into traveling again these days! But I know what you mean by differences in taste!

VandyJ said...

I'm not one with much gardening advice--I like self maintaining gardens. Nick likes to garden, but I'm not a fan of bugs and such.
Hope you get things to look good.

Ellie Belen Ambrose said...

To do all that work so that someone else could enjoy it, that would be hard for me. Because that's something I wouldn't want to do twice.

Stacy Uncorked said...

Isn't it funny how when you switch from a postage stamp yard to a larger one how overwhelming it can seem to be? We had that same issue - so I planted lots of fruit trees and grape vines, since I can keep those alive with minor effort, vs. lots of flowers that the critters seem to love to dig up. ;)

Spinning Up Recycled Renovations...Literally

Cajoh said...

We rent, but we managed to keep tha majority of the plants that are already there and plant ones we want as well.

Anonymous said...

I once heard jokingly that the quickest way to a divorce is to remodel! Then we remodeled our old house and I found out it wasn't a joke! LOL It brought out the worst in both of us but we survived! I have two brown thumbs and no nothing about Hawaii so I'm afraid I am no help at all!

Great Spin!

Anonymous said...

I once heard jokingly that the quickest way to a divorce is to remodel! Then we remodeled our old house and I found out it wasn't a joke! LOL It brought out the worst in both of us but we survived! I have two brown thumbs and no nothing about Hawaii so I'm afraid I am no help at all!

Great Spin!