In sickness and in health, to love and cherish, ’til tiki do us drop.
I could swear that phrase might have been an alternate wedding vow for Heather and Don. In the past two years, they have completely built three (yes, I said three) home tiki bars and a tiki bedroom in their 1970s house in Happy Valley, Oregon. I had lucked into a three-for-one. The Uncharted Waters, the Backside of Waters, and the Hula Hideaway can be visited by simply moving from one part of their house to the next. Together with the tiki bedroom, they form the Waters House of Tiki. Even more amazing than the short time frame involved, the work on these three spaces was accomplished in moments of sickness and in health.
Don had just been admitted to the Emergency Room when Heather saw a message from a tiki friend. Keith was selling a significant stash of beautiful bamboo that would be perfect for Hula Hideaway. Heather didn’t want to lose the opportunity, so she called him back immediately:
“I really want your bamboo. My husband is in the ER and might be dying, but I really want that bamboo.”
You might guess the outcome. Heather got that bamboo, and Don survived. Later, when Keith saw the completed bar a mere two months after the purchase, he flipped off Heather, and exclaimed there was “no freakin’ way” they had done this so fast. Yet, they did. They worked on that install through thick and thin. And, it wouldn’t be the last time that there was a quandary involving tiki procurement and healthy living choices.
Heather saw a post for a beautiful set of vintage rattan lounge chairs from a woman about three hours north. It was a urgent sale. The woman was putting up the set piece by piece, and Heather was in a panic. She wanted the entire lot. If Heather didn’t jump on it immediately, she might lose her chance. She called the woman, bought the set, phoned Don at work, told him to rent a truck like it was yesterday, and mapped the six hour roundtrip. It would take both of them to lift this heavy furniture.
It might be important to mention that as this was all happening, Don was experiencing swelling and pain in his legs. Don is stoic when it comes to pain, so he didn’t mention it. He complied, but couldn’t find the right truck for the job. He needed a Sprinter for adequate leg room, but none were available that day. So, he rented the best truck he could find, and they headed out.
Two exits into their trip, Don started to cry. Now, let’s be clear. Don is not a crying kind of guy, but his legs were giving him so much pain that tears spontaneously erupted. He couldn’t sit in this truck without bumping the steering wheel, so it was agonizing in more ways than one. Heather noticed and asked what’s going on:
“I can’t do this. I seriously can’t do three hours of driving.”
They turned back, dropped Don off, and Heather drove to Washington on her own. You know that scene where the momma is filled with endorphins and lifts an entire car to save her baby? That’s Heather. She hauled that entire set of heavy rattan furniture into that truck and made it home, no looking back. The furniture now sits re-covered (in a beautiful Sophistatiki fabric) in the Hula Hideaway. There is no trace of its troubled transport history. Moreover, Don and Heather tell these stories with infectious laughter and healthy gusto.
How did they outfit three home tiki bars in two years? Heather is the huntress of thrifting deals. On her lunch hour she would hit two or three vintage stores. After work she would do the same. No lingering or long visits were required. It would be a quick trip to scan for anything new. Once she established her reputation as the “tiki lady,” store clerks started to save things for her. Two years later, the collection she has pulled together is phenomenal. According to Don, they still have enough in their garage to build a fourth tiki bar at the house. I bet they will.
Why not? There’s got to be a place for the stuffed hyena.