Livin’ off the grid

Today when I was thinking of all the things I’m thankful for I thought about all the recent changes in my life.  After a 35  year marriage came to an end seven years ago, I was on my own. The entire time I was married I lived off the electrical grid. This was not a matter of choice at the beginning as we built our home in a rural area without electric or telephone poles. We drove down a dirt road for four miles to get to the house and we had no neighbors. We had made several friends in the area and we all communicated via CB radios. The other wives got together one afternoon to decide on our prospective “handles”. Since I was in nursing school at the time, I became “Nancy Nurse”, we had an actress, “famous neighbor”,  “butterfly” was a lovely tall wispy woman. There were others I can no longer remember.  We could all get on the CB at the same time like an old time party line. It was a fun time.  Most of us were not working so we were able to meet for picnics at the end of our street  which after a spreading of ashes Maku’u Point became “Charlie’s Point”. We still refer to it by that name after 40+ years. We were the first of our friends to get a phone. But, electricity was completely out of our means even when they brought poles down the main street. It was still a $17,000 investment to bring poles to our lot. By the time other people moved onto our street and the cost went considerable down we were so use to living off the grid we just never bothered to hook up.
I have always loved to sew and for about 20 years I used an old Singer treadle. I got  really good at it and could sew as fast as most people with power. And, my legs got extra exercise and toning and I got some cardio along with it. When my boys were little I made all their school clothes on the treadle. We had florescent lights which were not bright enough for night time sewing, so this was a day time activity. The boys went to Kindergarten and third grade wearing western shirts, polo shirts, tees, shorts, pants all done with my legs just a pumpin’ away.

We did have a small inverter which managed to give us some AC ability. We had a TV that wasn’t turned on until the boys were in bed so they grew up actually playing outside. My husband, at the time, was a hoarder so the boys had a lot of unusual things to play with. They had vivid imaginations. David also loved the sea, especially sailing.  So, the kids spent a lot of time at the beach learning to sail, building sand castles, swimming. I don’t think they realized there were cartoons on Saturday mornings until they were about 9 and 12! They are now 29 and 32, neither has a TV, both are very athletic. The youngest surfs, snowboards, kite surfs, skateboards. The oldest does a lot of hiking, running. He’s in Xterra races and marathons. They did both jump on the computer bandwagon when it came about but neither of them uses it as their primary form of entertainment. For them it’s work as they both work in the computer field.

Some of the things I learned to live without or with limited use have slowly found their way into my life since I built my own home and went onto the power grid. I now use an iron daily in my sewing. I have a waffle iron, a blender, a microwave, a computer. I have bright lights, a CD deck, a printer. I have an electric refrigerator!  I still am extremely conservative with my new power so our electric bill is among the lowest of anyone I know.

I am thankful for those wires that now go from tall poles on the street

The view from the road

to my new cottage.

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3 thoughts on “Livin’ off the grid

  1. The one year we lived just north of Makuu on Hinahina(7th), there in HPP, the cost of electricity was unbelievably expensive. Having lived in the land of cheap electricity, I had sticker shock. We learned quickly to plug into power strips and turn them off when we weren’t using that item. Thank goodness we had so many sliding glass doors that the trade winds could just blow through the house and keep us cool!

  2. You are an amazing woman. Not too many these days, or even a few decades ago, would be willing to settle for that simpler life. I bet, though, that it was so peaceful. I love your cottage now. Thanks for sharing the photos with us!

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