A little bit on a lot

In today’s post: Kilauea, COVID in Hawaii, and trash.

Kilauea started erupting again on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Where we are, you wouldn’t really know about an eruption except for vog and changes in rain patterns, which aren’t noticeable in the short run anyway.

Sulfur dioxide was at 85,000 tons at the start of the eruption on Wednesday afternoon. It was at 14,750 tons per day on Saturday, October 2. Because of wind patterns, by Friday we started seeing vog, volcanic smog. The air looks hazier, and it’s difficult to see the line where ocean meets sky.

Sunsets are odd and quick. An eery orange sun might drop below thick, grey clouds for a while, and then it gets covered by some dark grey streaks, then it disappears altogether before it gets to where the horizon should be. When there isn’t vog, we often enjoy dramatically colored sky and reflections in the water well after the sun sets. Not now. Sunsets are underwhelming.

Voggy sunset on October 2, about 20 minutes apart. Use the slider to see both photos.
Sunset on August 31

No one knows if this eruptive phase will last weeks, months, or years. The last eruption was from December 20, 2020, to May 26, after a break of two years.

On another note, since my last gloomy COVID update, cases have decreased but are still very high. For the island the 7-day case average is 50, continuing to come down from the recent peak of 145, but still almost double the previous all-time peak of 27 back in early September. In the past week or so there have been 3-5 ICU beds available again, out of the island’s 24, i.e., we haven’t required overflow ICU beds.

Still, going in the right direction. When things kept peaking, you wonder if/when it’ll turn or just how bad it will get. After swimming the other day we actually spontaneously decided to grab coffee and a pastry at Kai Eats + Drinks, a waterfront restaurant (at the former Bubba Gump location) that opened in the summer and only opened for simple breakfast October 1. You’re in on the secret. All outdoor seating. There was only one other customer group, and there were times we were the only ones. And we even asked a friend to join us when we saw him in the parking lot. A once normal social interaction, a bite to eat after an activity, felt like such a treat. I really savored it.

Hubby has recently been considering buying a small-ish (< 2-inch) wood chipper to help deal with all the various cuttings lying around on the farm. It was serendipitous when the friend who joined us for coffee mentioned that he had recently bought a powerful, second-hand 6-inch chipper and was hoping to have a little hui (group, joint ownership). He wanted to have around three others go in on it to share the usage, cost and maintenance, etc. Not many people use a chipper daily. You use it intensely, and then you don’t need it for long periods of time. I asked why he bought vs. rented. He had enough wood to mulch that he didn’t want to pay others to do it, and if he rented one, he usually waited till he had lots of big piles, and then he’d exhaust himself trying to finish it all in 8-hour day(s) during the rental period. He thought the purchase, especially with a hui, would pay for itself. So, we’ll see. Maybe we’ll be part owners of a chipper.

This type of informal information dropped at in-person, casual chats or get-togethers have really been missing with this pandemic. I haven’t taken to Zoom and have mostly withdrawn and waited for in-person meetings or activities. So I might be more out of the loop than most. I don’t know if you’ve experienced it. There have been times we’ve really kept to ourselves and then go out into the world to celebrate something. The first time we went to Magics Beach Grill in December, before widespread vaccination availability, we saw crowds of people enjoying the beach and water before and during sunset. It was like a parallel universe going on right nearby.

On yet another unrelated topic, trash. We are very close to the refuse transfer station. People from miles away bring their trash and throw it down the chute into a large metal container that gets hauled away by very large truck. Every day 6am-6pm, except for a few big holidays. No charge. You have a bed you want to dispose of? Down the chute. Occasionally they close for a training day or some reason. Almost inevitably, someone with a truck bed full of their trash thinks it’s just fine (“I’ll show them!”) to dump all their trash outside the closed gate, alongside the road.

I don’t know how many times a day the trash trucks go rumbling along our small, winding highway, tooting their big horns at blind turns. These heavy trucks beat up the road. The road has potholes and is crumbly. We would have considerably less traffic on this part of the Mamalahoa Hwy if not for this refuse station. One of the garbage trucks overturned Saturday late afternoon. We really hope that some day in our lifetimes they’ll change the entry and exit to be from the main Belt Rd. (Hwy 11) below.

One of the signs at the transfer station says “Animals are not trash.” As for our animals, the pigs … they’re still around, but don’t seem to be out in force and aren’t being super destructive (at the moment). In the morning, we inspect for damage and make small repairs if needed. We’re currently in detente.

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