Thursday, July 31, 2014

Anatomy of a Culebra Sunset

Last evening, for the first time in a long time, I got to watch a color full sunset. Earlier, it was so clear I thought I could read street signs on St. Thomas (sort of like seeing Russia from your backyard, but tropical). The Sahara dust had cleared out, my eyes weren't begging to be rubbed and my skin wasn't covered with what feels like the remnants of a gritty body mask. It was pretty divine after days and days of haze and dust.

Free business idea for some entrepreneur - collect lots of Sahara dust (simpler than it sounds, just collect it from windowsills, screens, tabletops, or any other surface. Anywhere.) Make it into some kind of very special product, say, Holy Sahara Dusting Powder or Dry As the Desert Facial Rub for Oily Skin. 

And then it was good night good night.

When the lighthouse light of Culebrita can be seen, that's a sign. Ok, for me it's a sign. Time to go!

Have a talismanic Thursday. Do something tip toe topping.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Common Rarities

Last day on housesitting hill flank. It has been good to get another island perspective and I'll continue to color myself thankful.

The other day I saw some friends vehicles stopped in the road. I asked what they were looking at and it appeared there was a puma sighting. VERY exciting! But I didn't have my camera with its mighty zoom and no one had binoculars. Cat like ears, a black body. We all agreed, slightly deliriously giddily, that it could be a puma.

We all went on our separate ways, but when I came back by, almost an hour later, it was still there. That was a sign if ever there was a sign. I would go get my camera and come back. And so I did. It was still there.

Sadly, it was not a puma (we're pretty sure it is the rare Culebra Black Dingo). But rampant ran joy for the mysteries of the universe. For a brief moment in time, 5 fairly intelligent people suspended their disbelief in hope of the most likely (but not to be ruled out) impossible. As Carmen Rosa would say, "Very good!"

The world is so full of a number of are some of them.

Have a wonder-stricken Wednesday. Do something wishfully.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

You Thought I Was Joking, Right? and Some THT

Supplicators need to supplicate! The news of the morning here won't be tiny homes. Okay, in some ways it's all about tiny...tiny whirls of air that might turn into bigger whirls and swirls. Key word *might*. But since I know that some of you still don't have water or canned food or propane stored, it might be time to put get it together. Think altruistically if you need that sort of motivation - you could be the one helping out somebody else who doesn't have the wherewithal to provide for themselves or their family in a time of emergency. There, do you hear your angel wings fluttering? Good.

From the NHC -

Invest 93 - July 29 - 2am:
Satellite data indicate that an area of low pressure located about
1000 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands is becoming
better defined.  The associated shower and thunderstorm activity
continues to gradually organize, and a tropical depression could
form during the next day or so while the system moves westward or
west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...70 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...high...80 percent.
This system has a 1010mb low embedded still in the Monsoon Trough @ 9N/35W.  It is producing scattered moderate convection right now from 5-14N/31-42W.  Those numbers indicate that it remains a very large system.  May very well see Invest 93 turn into a depression later today.  Will update as warranted.

As a local resource, Suzanne makes complex weather easy to understand (yes, I've mentioned her before) and while I use a number of weather sites, only two people I know, both on the big island, keep things very clear and very rational, Suzanne and my other weather guru in San Juan. Suzanne shares!

If you want to be on her email list, please consider adding a small donation for associated costs. She's well well well worth it!

Of course, this can dissipate, turn away in any direction, or be a bigger concern, it's weather and does as it wants. 

Ok, I dissembled fabricated lied changed my mind. There is a tiny house I want to post about. It's been all over the web and I've been resisting, but it is so intriguing, I keep going back to it over and over again, so much so that I thought maybe I'd already posted it. I checked and couldn't find it but if I already did? Mea culpa. 

At 200 sq. feet, it is the biggest tiny home I've seen, or it sure feels that way to me. Built in Hawaii by Jay Nelson (an extremely talented guy with an amazing imagination he translates into reality, you can find out more about him on his website here). The photos are by Jess Bianchi (who is doing lots more cool things, like this!

At first I thought the outside was pretty ramshackle, until I took a closer (and closer) look. Click on the photos for a bigger view.

Where's the kitchen? Where's the bathroom? Apparently the bathroom is under the stairs and if you cannot imagine a kitchen right 'there' then...well.

I love this loft. Yes, a railing for those of us with imbalance at times syndrome might be a good addition. But it is standup-able and I like that. Plus I like that it is stairs that take you up there and not a ladder. And light. Lots and lots of light.

Ok. 200 sq. feet. Really?  Wow! Brilliant.

Have a tick tock Tuesday. Do something tactical.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hurricane Supplication Day ~ 2014

While no longer an official USVI holiday, Hurricane Supplication Day is still recognized by many (when I lived on St. Croix, some businesses, including banks and the PO, closed and churches were packed). Now that it's not official, I guess you'll just have to supplicate on your own initiative.

You won't find me in any organized church, though I have no doubt there will be services today if you are in the VI's and inclined to attend. But I did spend a moment on a shore this morning, hoping for weather grace this season. Whatever your flavor of supplication is, have at it with gentle gusto! A supplication in time...etc. etc. Oh...don't forget to have your supplies ready, just in case.

For tropical islanders, the potential for hurricanes is a risk of living in paradise. Although U.S. meteorologists cite June 1 as the start of hurricane season, hurricanes in the Virgin Islands are most likely to occur in August and September. Reducing this storm potential is at the heart of Hurricane Supplication Day, a tradition uniquely observed by residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Every year on the fourth Monday of July, islands dwellers on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John pray for protection from hurricanes. Special church services are held to call upon divine protection from storms that can wreak havoc on these and other Caribbean islands. The custom is said to originate in the Rogation Days ceremonies of 5th century England. Rogations (meaning “asking” or “supplications”) were sometimes offered annually, and sometimes in response to the aftermath of a particularly devastating natural disaster. From RLV
Russian River Brewing Company

Thanks to Ann, who, from NY, reminded me about this day. It takes an island or two! No need to keep our island holidays down on the seafarm, spread 'em around!

For more information on Hurricane Supplication Day, check out this St. Thomas Source article from 2006. If you want more information on supplication, I can only do so much.

Have a meddlesome Monday. Do something metamorphic.

p.s. Keep an eye on the weather, islanders.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Culebra Rambles

Yesterday I was looking at my facebook page when Ben posted a photo of the Lechonara parked in front of the Ecological School. Having no idea it was there and always tempted beyond resistance by lechon, I wrote that I'd have to make a trip there. Ben responded that I'd best hurry, that three pigs were almost all gone. Then Hannah said there was still one left. I hit the road.

By the time I got there, the pickings were slim but that was fine with me. I just wanted bits and bites and lots of skin, and that's exactly what I got. For five bucks. There was enough to share with a friend and to give the dogs a couple of taste treats. Win win win!

On my way out to Zoni, I saw this sailboat with a black sail. It caught my attention enough to detour to DRN but this boat was zipping along and I figured I'd missed it.

But I didn't miss it! There it was, sailing between Culebrita and Cayo Norte. We watched for awhile, trying to figure out where it was going. St. Thomas? San Juan?

Turning about, they had a long, tack free run into Culebrita. So long, Black Sail.

There is almost always a show to watch out here
(p.s. Just a note here. The beach is NOT a bathroom, nor are the little tucked away places that people set up in for a day of beachy enjoyment. If your needs (sexual or digestive) cannot wait, at least be as respectful as dog owners are and deal with your bits and pieces in a way that won't be found by others. Yes, bag it and use the trash cans. I know, disgusting, but even more disgusting for others who also want to enjoy the beach)

Another Culebrita visitor?
I've had these photos in my little camera for way too long! But if you haven't visited Aimee's Tesoros shop, don't wait. Located in town in the row of shops where the veggie guy and Vibra Verde among others hold court, Tesoros is a wonderful addition to Culebra. Old and new items, with a little of this and a little of that, you can probably find something you don't want to live without.

This morning after feeding my cat, I gave a fellow a ride into town and noticed that the Lechonera was newly refreshed with three new pigs on their spits. I wasn't ready for lechon (did I really write that?) but I bet they will be gone soon, so get thee to the Pig Place!

Have a salty, sandy Saturday! Do something savoury.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Free Range Friday ~ Matt Armendariz

Taking good photos of food and drink is not as easy as it might seem. Frankly, I do a pretty crap job of it. This is not self-deprecation, I'm just not that practiced in making food look beautiful. Matt Armendariz, on the other hand, is very good in this art form.

When I opened my email and saw these photos, the heat of the day lifted and I fell into the coolness of them. Since I'm not really cooking much these days, this became the offering. You can find these drinks on Matt's blog  Matt's Bites, as well as a link to Chandon for the recipes. If you are into food porn, make sure you check out his link to his other photos on his page. Delicious!

Summer in a Glass

photo credit - Matt Armendariz
The photo in the upper left is called The Refresher. What is there not to like about this, including the glassware? Just reading the recipe blew in some fresh breezes.

Yields 1 cocktail (ed. note - makes ONE! which could get you into serious trouble in my world, so I suggest you'd better make a pitcher!)
Honeydew, canteloupe and watermelon balls
1 oz honeydew mint syrup (4 cups chopped honeydew melon, 2 sprigs fresh mint, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar)
2 dashes orange flower water (do not substitute orange blossom perfume, trust me on this)
3 oz Chandon Rosé (no Chandon? Use your imagination here)
Fresh mint sprig for garnish
Put the melon balls on a plate and freeze.
Combine the chopped honeydew melon, fresh mint, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir. Remove from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a container with a sealing top and chill. Discard the solids.
Pour the honeydew mint syrup into a decorative glass. Add the orange flower water and Chandon Rosé. Add a selection of melon balls and garnish with the mint sprig. Serve.
Recipe from Chandon.

(If you enjoyed that and want to stay in the moment of cool refreshing, beautiful drink, do not continue reading. Just click and get outta here. Fair warning!)


Truly the WORST food item I saw this week was sent to me by my brother. I was really, really hoping it was a joke. isn't. You can read about it here on ThinkGeek. If you must. I'm sorry, but I couldn't be alone with this.

I'm going back to look at cocktails. Then, when the sun looks like it is thinking about going over the yardarm, I will make something delicious and jump in the water. Even if it's the sprinkler. I will forget about all the ugly things in the world, including the above. You do the same.

Have a fruitfully festive Friday. Do something fluidly frolicsome. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another Point of View

Here at a new housesitting gig, the views are new, to me anyway. This morning showed how different  it really is here. I was getting dogs outside when my gaze was drawn down the driveway, maybe 20 feet away. A doe was staring at me, staring hard. I stared back. I was sure the dogs would frighten her, but it was a frozen tableau. The dogs stood still. The doe was statue-like. We stared into each others' eyes while I wished for my camera, 3 feet away but inside the door. Finally, because we might have been there all day, I made a move and she slipped into the brush, silently, instantly. Maybe tomorrow.

Living in a flamboyant bower

Sahara dust and haze at sunset

Treetop frangipanis

Yes, I want to know more!

Hillside through the haze
Hazy, somewhat lazy, summer daze. Life is good.

Have a transcendental Thursday. Do something true-hearted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tiny Home Tuesday ~ Out There

There are as many ways to own a tiny home as there are imaginations in their stations. The Shelter Blog brought a couple of these ways to my attention, one calling for intensive labor but very feasible from the money end. The other, there are some bucks involved. Big bucks. But tiny and small homes aren't just for those with little money, either trying to get out of debt or not incur it in the first place. There are plenty of folks, with plenty of money, who also see the sense of large living on a small scale.

First up, Morgan, from Asheville, North Carolina and his 5000.00 earth bag home. But first, long time readers will remember Jack's start on one in Texas a few years ago. His was more specifically sand bag than earth bag, because sand is what he had. Sand and plenty of rocks. When he found a piece of land he liked better, Jack left behind an incredible amount of work. So out there in the westernmost of West Texas, there is some real cheap land and the start of a sand bag home, complete with the diggings and stone base of an bath/outhouse, if you're looking that way...

Morgan on the other hand, did finish his earth bag home. The complete story with lots more photos can be found on the Alternative Homes website. Photo credits - unknown

Amazing what plaster can do!

I love the use of the bottles.
5000.00. Of course, there's the price of the land and accoutroments - solar panels and appliances come to mind. Plus a lot of bathing at the end of each day. But do-able. Very do-able.

David Coulson Design built the structure below as a home as well as a landscape design studio for their business. I don't think much expense was spared and it shows, in the good way. Plenty of money doesn't necessarily translate into good taste and the intelligence to make practical beautiful, but I think it happened with this post and beam beauty. Lots more photos and explanations of same can be found here.

More small than tiny and there is nothing wrong with that! By the way, have you subscribed to The Shelter Blog yet? You should.

In my not yet finished search for a class C motorhome on the U.S. mainland, I'm reading a LOT of road trip stories, off shoots of ads, the flotsam and jetsam of a different sort of lifestyle floating around the internet. One bit was a blog from a woman named Sue. In her 60's, she chose a trailer and van as her mode of travel life.  Selling her home and packing up a couple of dogs, she hit the road and hasn't looked back. Her posts have made me laugh and she gives a lot of practical info (seems these road life people have a lot of that to share) and that's enough to keep me interested for now. You might enjoy her as well. You can find RV Sue and her canine crew here.

Over on Cabin Porn there is this wonderful cabin from an ecological reserve in Masatepe, Nicaragua. I tried to find out exactly WHERE in Nicaragua, but there are a lot of them and I'd be posting this next week if I continue trying to track it down.

Contributed by Alex Schoemann
I fluctuate between liking the combination of materials and not being sure if I do or not, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Wish there were interior shots, but I can't find any of those either.

So there's your grab bag of small and tiny homes for today. Be inspired.

Have a tactical Tuesday. Do something tantalizing.

p.s. There is a tropical depression out in our neck of the woods. The expectations aren't high for much to happen, but it is that time of year and a good reminder that if you aren't ready, get ready.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

VW Vans on the Ferry

A trip to Fajardo usually turns up something to bring out the camera and capture, but as I made my way to the terminal to head home, it occurred to me that I'd lugged the camera along all day and now, with another laden bag to carry, wondered why, as nothing had grabbed my attention and it was a few pounds that became a lot more than I wished I was toting along at that moment. And then, I saw the VW vans.

I am hopelessly, though mildly, obsessed with VW vans. Owning both a 1972 camper van and a 1973 regular bus style van, they pop to the surface of my memories with Old Faithful regularity. Road trips, full of waves from many strangers (something about an old camper van brings out the grins along the way, I'm not the only one who will tell you this, ask any old VW van owner) , teaching my kids to drive stick up and down AIA, the back full of kites and extra clothes, wine and cheese in the fridge, ready to go at a moment's notice, there's just something about these vehicles that calls to the road. So when I see one I want to know about it. Especially around here.

These vans, however, were not your usual VW vans. At least not in my experience; the reason I wrote the above paragraph was to let you know I look at them closely when I see them. I looked closely now...

I'm not sure what this cherry truck was doing in the mix, but old trucks rock and this one was primo.

I must say, as different as this is, it's ease of use captured my imagination. I'd never seen a van with a ladder on the side and here were TWO!

The angle of the photos is a bit off because I was sort of skulking to the side while taking photos, as, if any of you have ever tried to take photos at the ferry terminal know, the guards will shut you down tout de suite. Even a guy trying to take a photo of his own van, once he'd backed it onto the ferry, was told to put his phone camera away. I was four feet from him with a bigger camera, but had on the Cloak of Invisibility apparently. Or, I'm just short.

I asked a couple from one of the vans if this was for a rally on Vieques (note: I'm particularly clever in my deductions that way...many vans on the Vieques ferry, etc. - just so you know you aren't reading the post of a dummy) and they said yes. What I didn't find out is whether it was a year specific rally. While most of the vans were of the same general style, a couple were older, one that got on the ferry before I got my camera out; a classic green Westfalia from the early 80's, still rounded on the edges, was the oddball in a group of some pretty oddball vans.

Ladders, water tanks, oh my! I've always said, since moving to Culebra, that NO one knows how to camp in more style than Puerto Ricans. Now I'll add camping in a VW bus to the list of "Damn! That's smart!" camping tips for the future. And yes, if you are crossing a high bridge in a big wind you'd not want a full water tank uncentered, but since that's not applicable around here, well. It's just not.

Oh! I miss my VW! No, this isn't mine, but it if I'd taken a photo of it, this would be it. Lesson - if you live across the street from, or next to the beach, rinse your van often...gas tanks rust and can catch on fire. Trust me on this one. photo credit - somebody selling their van for probably a lot more than I bought mine
If your VW van lust is up and running and you want to stoke it a bit, have fun torturing yourself going here. Please make sure while you are sobbing not to drip onto your keyboard.

Have a semidivinely sentimental Saturday. Do something sacredcowishly.