Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back to Molokai

         Over the last six years I've set up and torn down painting studios from Florida to the South Pacific. Unforeseeable reasons why some places don't work show fairly quickly. In the swamp in Georgia guys showed up to fish in boats outside my window with hand guns. In Pullman, frozen air and electric heat made the paint dry so fast it was unworkable. And I've lost count how many times I've gone broke painting in Hawaii. 
     I left the snowy north country a few weeks ago for Molokai. A generous friend offered me his currently unused wood shop as a painting studio, which will be great after shoveling through an eclectic assortment of sawdust covered stuff. Itchy and filthy from clouds of dirt sticking to rivers of sweat I filled the shop vac with sawdust and mouse shit, but still hollered over a disrupted cane spider. As if bugs were a surprise, hello it's the tropics, but uncovering several old dried scorpions had me spooked. You don't find dead ones without live ones breeding somewhere.
     Still, these are bonsai bugs compared to the creepy monsters I found in the walls while remodeling old houses in American Samoa. Going rigid while suppressing the urge to hurl worked, scream and they might actually turn on you. The bugs here courteously run and hide, even faster with some light screaming. Samoan bugs held their ground. They made disturbing noises too, popping, scratching, crackling sounds like insect creatures in bad sci-fi or accidental metal in a microwave. 
     I found a lair yesterday, long abandoned, where something drug it's pray in, ripped it to pieces and shoved the inedible bits deeper into a pile of old carpet, including a lot of feathers. Luckily whatever could do that had moved on. It's the price of warm, steamy weather. Skin doesn't dry up and crack and acrylic paint is workable in the lovely humid air, but you never know what is going to scuttle across your path. The second big advantage to flip-flops (slippahs in Hawaii) are that bugs can't hide in them. The first is that it's warm enough to wear them everyday. I hope insurmountable obstacles stay at bay. Always the optimist (there's no way to know what will work until you try it) I'm sure it's going to be fine. Vacuuming rodent turds and dead bugs isn't every one's dream Hawaiian vacation, but having a place to paint when it's done will be paradise.
     Tim Cahill said it best in his book 'Road Fever', "Budget travel is the mother of adventure."

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