In 2000, I had been living on Maui since 1984, and, before that, from 1974 to 1981–most of my adult life, really. I had friends there that I’d loved for over twenty five years, even some “sort-of stepkids” (boyfriends’ children from previous relationships that I co-parented) who had already become parents themselves.
In 1988, I started a wedding planning business as a venue for my art, writing and music. I designed and made my own floral arrangements and decorations, sang and played guitar, designed and wrote my own advertising and promotional materials, even made commissioned paintings for my clients. It had been nearly impossible to get away for a vacation during those years, with multiple weddings in the planning stages, and sometimes multiple weddings to coordinate in a single week. I had promised myself that, when I got out of the wedding business, I would take a road trip around North America and visit the friends I had seldom seen since the 1970s. I sold the wedding business in July 1999, after 3000 weddings and untold hair-raising experiences.
The publication of the revised Living On The Earth provided another appealing reason to travel. Since the fans of my book are often of a bohemian persuasion, and the friends I would be visiting are as well, why not read from the book at my friends’ favorite bookstores when I visit them? And then, why not make a photo blog about the bohemian and communal worlds I visit as I travel around North America doing that? And why not sing the songs I wrote at the time I wrote the book while I am speaking at the book-signings? Shouldn’t I also make a CD of these songs for the people who enjoy the performance? Since I am selling books, why not also sell my art? Maybe I can sell enough swag to keep myself in tofu and gasoline for the whole trip.
Toshiko Akiyoshi, pianist, composer, and leader of a famous jazz big band, said in an interview that to do ambitious art projects one must be a little naive. Leap before you look. That is my credo, yet I am methodical. I packed my household goods into labeled boxes in a storage container. I spent hours on the phone booking gigs, lodging, media. I found a good home for my pets. It is the naiveté that things will work out that keeps me going. I have had setbacks galore, but I notice that I am often blessed with unexpected assistance along the way.
Rabbit Moving Day
We moved my rabbits today. The rabbits had been scheming to move to Haiku ever since I sold the wedding business. Through their powers of deliberate creation, they have managed to attract an invitation from the fabulous Diana Dahl, founder and president of the Maui Organic Farmers Association. They will live in their current spacious rabbit condo, but next to Diana’s garden, where they will turn her weeds into fertilizer, amuse her grandchildren, and meditate. I knew they would be cool there, but I cried all day during the move because I would miss them.
I wrote this letter of instruction to Diana and her partner Roy Smith:
Dear Diana and Roy:
I thought I would give you a little introduction to your two new houseguests-for-life.
Nijinsky, whose name was inspired by his light-footed movements and fawn-colored fur (harkening to Nijinsky’s most famous role in Afternoon of a Faun), is the personality rabbit. He prefers being petted to eating food, provided the food is being offered at his normal feeding time. He is a Libra, sociable, intelligent, even-tempered. He has a palpable sense of humor considering he is a creature who expresses all things in pantomime. He is six and a half years old, which, in human years, would be 65–a spry older man. He has lived with me since he was 10 weeks old (a Christmas surprise from Chip). He had a little stroke a couple of years ago, which is why his mouth is crooked, like Popeye’s.
Moonlight is a Taurus–stubborn, beautiful, slow on her feet, fond of food. I got her “free to a good home” at the age of one, already spayed after two litters. Now she’s nearly 5, or 50 in rabbit years, and still a bit traumatized from whatever occurred before she came to live with me, although much more trusting than she was four years ago. After I got her I had to get Nijinsky neutered because he was all over her and she wasn’t into it. He eventually forgave me. Sometimes he forgets and humps her anyway. She fights him off, which is why she sometimes has a bald spot on her back. Nonetheless, she loves him devotedly and bathes him frequently. He knows this and shoves his head under her chin to let her know when he wants to be bathed.
The reason I had walls put in around the bottom of the cage is to prevent cats and dogs from coming close and scaring them. I made the cage close to the ground with screen all around so that predators can’t nip at their feet from underneath. I suspect this is what Mrs. Bunny suffered from in her last home.
They need their water changed every day, so that algae doesn’t grow in their water container. They are accustomed to sharing one whole carrot and some greens each day. They crave variety. Whatever you weed out of your organic vegetable garden ought to please them mightily. They love ha’ole koa. They enjoy most flowers; here, I pick the hibiscus flowers and leaves from the hedge, and some cane grass. Mrs. Bunny is wild about her greens. Mr. Bunny likes sweets–banana chips, or an occasional slice of apple.
They also get three scoops of Kay Tee Rabbit Food, a sort of granola that has their very favorite treat, banana chips, blended in, along with a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried carrot slices. I buy it at Long’s. If insects try to get into the food, place the food dish inside a larger dish and fill the larger dish with water to form a moat. The best vessel for this purpose is a round, flat-bottomed plastic florists’ design tray, available at Of Land and Sea in Kahului. If that doesn’t discourage them enough, I sprinkle some pyrethrum powder on the wooden parts of the cage to kill the bugs. So far that has worked well.
They need their toenails clipped every month or so. This is something they do not like, but if you don’ t do it, they catch their long toenails on the cage floor and hurt themselves. It’s a two person job. One person wraps the rabbit up in a towel and holds it securely; the other person clips. The rabbit doesn’t mind being held as much as fearing being dropped, so support them well. You clip so that you don’t cross the pink part at the bottom of the nail where the blood is.
Cage cleaning: put the rabbits in a travel cage (together), and hose down the inside of their condo. Let it dry a bit before putting them back in. Keep the caged rabbits out of direct sunlight; it can kill them.
If they need a vet, the rabbit specialist for Maui is Dr. Cindy Krach at Animal Care Hospital in Kula. She neutered both of them. Hospital records show Moonlight under the name Babette, a name she hates, that I gave her years ago. Her former owners called her Roxy. Her mother
belonged to Candle Summers.
The whole rabbit dance requires about ten minutes per day, plus the monthly toenail and cage cleaning time of 30 minutes. Of course, they are happy for the break from boredom any time you want to get into the house with them and pet them, unless it’s nap time (mid day and mid night), in which case they will let you know they feel you are imposing.
Thanks so much for your time and love in undertaking this mission. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!