Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There and Here

Oh, that we could send some of our rain to the fiery places in the Southeast of the US (actually, there are fires all over the US, rain and help is needed)! Our overabundance is their lack, to devastating proportions. 

From Earth Observatory NASA
The flash is a comparison from yesterday and November 22 in the same area

Whatever your form of positive thoughts is, send them in this direction, along with rain soon come. Along with sanity for those that are starting some of these fires. Here is one local place to look for ways to help.

Around here, where we know fire well, the rains have thankfully been saturating the ground, in an almost too much fashion. But in-between, it's blue skies and bright sun. The pattern continues.

Looking back on the way to town
Sort of like the post office, the veggie stand on Tuesdays is a great place to see friends and catch up. There is always someone or more that haven't been seen for awhile to chat with, exchange cooking ideas with ("Leeks! What do you do with them?" Curly kale...that is kale, right?) and generally shoot the breeze. 

When I got home, there was a mascot on the roof, very comfortably ensconced on the forward hatch cover. He didn't stay long but he did leave a memory of his visit and has me re-thinking my water collection plans...

Have a watchful Wednesday. Do something waterborne.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Where Am I?

About 98.7% of the time, my bow faces the big bay of Ensenada Honda. Sometimes with winds gusty and bold pushing me and my other moored companions tight against our lines, as if wanting us to return to land. And then there are intermittent times when the wind dies to nothing, the water turns to glass and I am looking out my front door seeing backdoor sights. Which can be a bit disconcerting if that's how you wake up. You think not? Imagine waking up and walking out your front door into your back yard. Ok, got it?

But of course, that is what boats are about. Making you keep your eyes open and your head somewhat in the game, because not much stays the same, except the very important things, like...being on top of the water, which is the very most important thing. If something in the norm looks to be changing, it's good to know why, what, where and when, just as a good journalist does when approaching a subject. It's not like a 24/7 worry though, just an awareness humming away under the daily go, a good thing, plus sometimes it's just a fun way to occupy yourself, making things a bit better, like hitching your drawers up or sitting up straight. It just feels good.

When weather is only a glance away, awareness isn't something to strive after, it is in your face. Literally. Yesterday had that amazing factor...first rainy and gusty and grey and cold, soup weather. Then still and sweaty hot. And literally, as the shadows overtook the sunlight at dusk, the temperature dropped a good five degrees in a couple of minutes. And then some more over the darkening hours. From the lightest sleeveless cotton top to a thermal long sleeved top that I had to dig out, with a half sleeved t-shirt in between the weather had its way. The thought of a heater actually crossed my mind at one point in the middle of the night, something that being on the water brought about that had never occurred to me when on land, even on three dog nights (Culebra type, I mean, mid to high 60's, low 70's...cold like that). 

Nope, no photos of me in my jammy's.
The swing about continues, like being in one of those very tall buildings with the revolving restaurants at the top, bringing about different sights each time I raise my head to look outside. Except I think I make better food. 

Dawn water bounce
Yesterday I waited for the rain to stop, thinking I had errands in town to take care of, mail to pick up, shopping and stopping. But once the rain stopped and the sun came out, I didn't want to leave. It would be like walking out in the middle of a good movie; I wanted to see what would happen next. So I did. 

Big excitement! New bright fronds gracing the palms.
There was no drama. Bait fish jumped. Long legged and short legged birds fished. I worked on a ladder Sue and Rick were kind enough to give me, having no need of it on their boat. I'm still trying to loosen a rusty bolt. I will win, but there is no hurry. 

Have a total Tuesday. Do something turnaround.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Simple Sunday ~ Culebra

A funny old bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helicon!
(combined from my Dad and the author Dixon Lanier Merritt)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Heading to Town

Once I dinghy out of Fulladoza Bay and turn the corner into Ensenada Honda, I never know what new sight will be out there. The other day I saw this boat/ship but had no camera with me. That wouldn't happen again! Well, most likely.

The name of the boat is Rogue. Perfect.
Closing in on town, I noticed that the floating house that wasn't yet complete when I left is now done.

Take a pontoon base, get 'er done!
My other favorite floating house 
I forget what this bird is called.
There are enough bait fish for birds and fisherfolk alike!

I've only seen a fast speed ferry with this hull design (it wasn't a smooth ride, either) but from the bit of information heard, they apparently do research...somewhere... Which I'd already assumed. I'd love to get a tour!

When I first saw the flag, I thought it was from some African country. When I looked it up, a bit chastised to find it was from Antigua and Barbuda, the description made me feel a little better. 

 ...the sun symbolizes the dawn of a new era, black represents the African heritage of most of the population, blue is for hope, and red is for the dynamism of the people; the "V" stands for victory; the successive yellow, blue, and white coloring is also meant to evoke the country's tourist attractions of sun, sea, and sand.
(from Flags with Descriptions, a very cool site if you are into flags)

Even the 'dinghy' is awesome
 I'm not usually a motorboat type but this one is fascinating to me. I heard some people from it were at our Thanksgiving dinner but I never met them. Oops!

Edited to add: It's for sale??

Have a safe sailing Saturday. Do something seasonal.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra

I hope your Thanksgiving saw you well fed and smiling with family and friends, what more is there to ask for? 

In various places around Culebra, people gathered together; it was definitely full bellies and full hearts. In a geographical rarity, I can say no one went hungry here on this island, food and love shared for those who couldn't make it out was plentiful. And big food for the heart, seeing Woody out and about was a filler upper!

Right before I left I saw my first pelicans in this little corner of the world, feasting on their own early dinners.

This morning, a great blue came in for breakfast. The photos aren't as sharp as I'd like, because my hands were shaking with happiness. Next time!

As ever, I miss those post-Thanksgiving days of sitting at the cart, waiting for Ann to come by with my turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwich, but I have the memories and they are filling as well. That's what we do for those days and people gone from here, one way or another.

Have a free your fixin's Friday! Do something feastable!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Full of Thanks Day 2016

This morning's dawning
I thought I'd include a couple excerpts of Thanksgivings gone by, from 2008 and 2010. Because Thankfulness never wears out.

"When it gets down to it, the biggest part of Thanksgiving is being with family and/or friends you love. Ok, sometimes the love is like eating Aunt Gertrude's circus peanut candies that she's brought to Thanksgiving dinner for the last 150 years. From the same bag. Be polite. Stuff it in your pocket. It'll still be good next year. That kind of love.

For me, it is about being with people I truly want to be with, since my brother and children and some friends from the past are too far away. While locals are surrounded by family (I think there are three families on Culebra and everyone is related, like it or not), many of us have families everywhere but here. While we may be lucky enough to get a local family invite, there will be groups of people getting together for some kind of feasting around the island with others who don't get to sit down for pavochon and mofongo dressing. Each group makes sure that any newcomers they've gotten to know have a place at the table."

Thanksgiving sunrise 2010
"Thanksgiving is, of course, an American holiday, full of myth and untruths, but it remains my favorite holiday because what's not to like about being thankful? And I am often overflowing with thanks, because after all, I am the Luckiest Woman in the World. America is in another wrenching convolution of its existence, in my opinion. Yet, I am thankful. Traveling its width this summer I fell back in love with the sheer beauty of the country I was born in. So take a good look around you all passes away eventually, but we do have now. Thankfully."

Give thanks. Dance, laugh, hug your loved ones, play with the critters, rejoice in the food on your table and the roof over your head, the earth (or the water) under your feet. Be mindful of those who have only some or none of the above and do as you can to change that. 

Have a truly thankful Thursday. Do everything with thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

In Light of Current Culebra Events

I've been writing blog posts about Victor Gonzalez for many years now. But truthfully, there is just so much that can be written about his violations over and over again and the result of same that gets worse and worse every year, so I'm going to repost this one from 2009 and this one from 2010. Watch or don't, but this is what's going on. 

2009 March on the Muellecito

Today, the water flows muddier, the consequences of Victor's selfish, uneducated and wanton destruction more obvious than ever. 

If you want to help, check in with Coralations, and talk to the Mayor about what you can do. 

Have a refuse to take the toll Tuesday. Do something timeless.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bailing a Dingy Walkabout (photo light, fair warning)

Early in the morning yesterday, between rain showers, I walked over to where my dinghy is tied up while I'm housesitting. It wasn't quite raining and it wasn't quite not raining; that sort of weather. The kind where not many people are out and about. My favorite sort of time. For about a day every once in awhile.

I walk a lot here. Walking helps you see what you easily miss when driving (not that I mind driving or being driven, mind you!). The changes on a house being worked on. The growth of plants around houses; blossoms, fruit, just a bigger profusion of green. Trash. Trash thrown out of cars, trash washed down the street. I only pick up plastic these days, maybe a habit from when the guy who used to pick up cans with his grocery cart was around. He was a good guy that way but I haven't seen him for years now. Too bad, there's lots of cans. Other walkers. I've watched children grow up on walks over the years, people I only see walking. People who I pick up if I'm driving or vice versa. So much to see.

By the airport there are big swaths of low ground. Land crabs have crossed the road in a couple of places, up by the fence, where I'd never seen them before. The best thing  seen was a a tri-colored heron and a mother duck with her babies, two of them, on the inside of the fence. The babies paddling around under the mother's watchful eyes.  Ducks! I mean, I've seen ducks before here, on the bay, on a pond, but inside the fence at the airport? Nope, haven't seen that before. 

A magical recovery also happened. A big thing on Culebra that doesn't, by a long shot, happen only to me, is running into the people you need to see when you need to see them. I ran into those people and got back something very important to me. An African mobile that my daughter Michelle had given to me years ago, that somehow mysteriously disappeared and then, two years later, reappeared. I'd never told her it was gone, because I felt so bad about it. But there it was, a lot of rust on those hand hammered bells, but intact and, aesthetically  the rust works.  

After the bailing of the dinghy, walking down that same street, it was empty. Those people were gone. A different minute, a different day, it would have been like that but Culebra rolls in a strange time frame, always. I carried it for the rest of my walk, listening to the soft cowbell like ringing, a part of me, a sound, a sight, brought back. I'll hang it on the houseboat in the place where it lives, smiling most every time I see it, a reminder that Culebra, as well as my daughter, is often magical.

Back at the house, across from the school, I sat on the balcony, listening to the  kids in some class singing. Loudly. Beautifully. Happily. It went on a long time, drizzling rain, grey skies and song. Another note of the day.

Later, after another walk, to town this time, I heard from a friend who has his boat near my dinghy. He told me it was caught under the dock the other day, not long from sinking, its gunnel a couple of inches from being underwater as the tide came up. He pulled it free, saving me from a salt watered engine. He told me not because he wanted to say he saved my dinghy engine but to suggest tying it up a bit differently. It was just timing luck, he said. Nah, that's just how things go here...over and over again.

I didn't carry my camera on this walk, because it was sort of raining and sort of not but could have rained a lot. So there are no photos to show. Not the ducks, not the porch railing with five incredible bonsai trees (someone is doing amazing bonsai; there was a bougainvillea with a trunk four or five inches in diameter, with blooms, that wasn't a foot high. A closer look next time will be taken, to see what the others are), not the new wooden house being built, not the funny little boat on land made of cardboard that I'll ask about when I see that guy. Not a walkabout photo to be seen. Sorry, but not sorry. 

This is all I got today, while waiting at Dinghy Dock to greet dear friends returned. 

Even that ripple went away, leaving glass
Sitting on the balcony typing this, last night, there was, out in some neighborhood, (maybe the gym behind Carlos Jeeps?) loud cheering going on. A lot of cheering. I don't know why but as long as it's happy sounds, I'm all for it. I'm sure it won't be hard to find out what went on, but right then, just hearing huge good noise? Yes, that's a fine thing. I can't take a photo of that either. 

Sometimes the camera leads the walk, sometimes the walk leads itself. If you don't do it a lot, take a walk sometime, from town to around Susie's. You just might be amazed. Take a camera if you think of it, and an empty bag to pick up the trash.

Have a saturated Saturday. Do something seeing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Sound of Rain

I started writing this a few days ago, but on this very, very rainy morning, it's time.

The rain on the roof of this place next door - musical
I was walking back to my housesitting place tonight when it started drizzling. It has been warm and humid and the rain, cooler than the air, felt good, in that barely there walking through one of those restaurant mister sort of ways. Then it started coming down just a little bit more strongly, right as I was walking by what we called in Florida a palmetto bush (we also called cockroaches palmetto bugs; do the connection), the low palms with Chinese fan like leaves. I started thinking about the sound of rain on things, the new way it sounds, coming over the water in the bay where I now live, the old way of rain on the shack's roof. By the time I'd reached the gate the rain had stopped. Gratefulness that I can hear the sound of rain remained.

When the sun comes out, rain drops are so jewel like, better than any diamond I've ever seen.

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. That works for today, when the sunrise was literally filling the house with this orange light. I really did think there was a fire for a split second, but it was only the sky on fire from the rising sun.

I'll wait for a break in the rain and go bail out my dinghy. If the break is more than a break, there will be other things to do, but if not, I still have the fun of housesitting pups who don't like the thunder and do like curling up by my shoulder and hip to keep me entertained.

Have a weatherly fine Friday. Do something festive.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Super Moon, Tarpon and Pomegranates

Last night was the Super Moon. And I missed its rising. Oops. From photos I've seen around the country it was a glorious thing, but I only saw it long afterward, when it looked less super, though beautiful. The night before wasn't bad.

While looking up for the moon, looking down brought tarpon.

Between moon glow and underwater lights, they carry on about their business.

I actually started to go look for the moon last night, early. Too early, catching only these pomegranates. Early enough to say, I'll just lie down for a moment...

The next thing I knew, it was dark. As dark as it gets with a bright moon lighting up the world.

So it goes in these strange days and nights. The beauty is everywhere, if we're awake to see it.

Have a take time Tuesday. Do something thrillful.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Saying Good-bye Sucks

Yes, I know, that's not the most eloquent way of expressing the loss of a friend, but Conrad would get it, so I'm leaving it to stand. Where's that Joni Mitchell song, Conrad? 

I actually met Conrad's brother AJ before I met Conrad, when I was over in Vieques, a long time ago. He was a funny guy with a lot of conflicts, so naturally we hit it off and ended up talking for hours over a few days. Meeting Conrad when he got back to Culebra seemed like I was meeting someone I already knew. Hearing his versions of stories I'd heard from AJ was like watching Bob Ross turn happy little dabs into a painting they created of Culebra. Everyone has their own version of Culebra and I got to share theirs. But that was just the beginning of sharing Culebra with Conrad. Back then, he wasn't drinking, but little did he care if I got roaringly (I called it singing) intoxicated as he played guitar in the gazebo, the gazebo he and Greg had built in the yard for one of Johnny Padron's birthdays. I remember asking them to not build it like two stoned guys and they swore they wouldn't but of course they did. That doesn't mean it wasn't strong and sturdy; it's weathered many a storm without moving an inch, it just meant a 'little sawing here' and 'there'. And a lot of laughter. Who can forget his laugh?

Over the years, I've lost way too many photos of way too much but some survive and I'll post them in a minute. But one that I won't be able to recover was the night the Wall was going to be coming down. I'd heard so many of the old stories about Chuck's and the Wall and the good times, and had spent more than a few nights perched there myself. This night, Conrad sang, Juan cried, we all got pretty ripped and the next day it was mere rubble, carted away to the dump I guess.  

So many gone people and some gone places too...those who knew and loved Conrad have their own stories and I hope I get to hear a whole lot of them in time. While I take a bunch of actual photos, we all take mental photos and sharing them is another way to keep those we love close to us, in different ways, for just a little longer. 

This is an old memory from a blog post in 2010..."And then Conrad showed up, a sighting I'd almost given up hope on, but there he was...guitar soon to be in hand. The people who'd never met Conrad wondered who is this guy that those who do know him were so very happy to see? Answer: Conrad lived here (and Vieques) long before I was ever around, but I got to know him soon after I moved here. He and Greg built my gazebo and I got to know him better, along with having a few sessions of gazebo guitar time...But the one thing Conrad used to do that can never be done again was to hang out on the Wall across from the pizza place (Chuck's Pizza, as he still calls it) and play music - and he can play & sing a lot of music and does both really well - with a lot of happy singing people enjoying the moment" 

Lisa and Conrad, 2010
Conrad and Grady, blusin' the blues
And then, in 2014 - "Last night felt like a combination of New Year's Eve and Memory Lane out on the street. Conrad came over from Vieques (finally!) and Ann is here for awhile too. When we heard that Conrad would be playing guitar in front of The Spot it seemed like a perfect set up for a very good time. And so it was." 

The photos below are from that night. I know I have many more, with some digital digging. And I know his many, many friends have lots too. Conrad drew people in with his funky magic, that's just how that was, and preserving those moments was a big deal and a good thing, no matter how fuzzy the day or night got.

Here's to you, Conrad. You were a part of my earliest Culebra experiences. I'm sorry I didn't get to see you since returning. You left on the long ship before I could get one more Conrad hug and hear your laugh that made me laugh. That sucks for me. Love you, friend. 

Shirley and Conrad

Chiquitine and Conrad

The Crooners
Have a tell your friends you love them Friday. Do something fantastico.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The State of a Few Things

Yesterday, early in the morning, I heard sounds of laughter across the street from where I'm housesitting. It was coming from the Ecological School where some of Culebra's voting would soon take place. When I got there, the lines were long, smiles abounded and the mood was upbeat. I greeted and was greeted by old friends and acquaintances, many of whom I have no idea of their political affiliation. It didn't seem to matter. The tension in the air of four years ago wasn't there and that felt amazing.

Hours later, car horns were blaring, cheering filled the air. Ivan won, and the street party began. I know there was a losing side; there always is, but this is what I saw. 

So Culebra!

Heading down to Ivan's headquarters

Right before this, a swift and strong rain storm had blown through. High gusty winds, a whiteout over the bay, thunder rolling. And just as quickly it was over. It was like a sign; clear the air and move ahead. 

When the day to day is back, I hope this moment will remain in our minds and hearts. 

Our world stage is not very big on Culebra, but it is ours. The ups and downs, the good and bad, this is our family, some of us are in-laws, here by choice. I can't imagine feeling any other way.

I wish the above shot was a video, Fortunado leaping in the street was great! 

A big thanks to the tireless workers at the polls, all of whom were helpful and smiling for many long hours. Salud!

And then there was the American election. No doubt, my stance is well known, so there isn't much to say, except to say this. Where can you volunteer to make life better where you live? There are many, many needs and for each of us who wants to show what is good, there is a plethora of places to do so; women's clinics, Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, in schools (whether you have children or not), in libraries - yep, people still use them - even just on the street, with a smile at a stranger. Step in, step up. If the results of this election mean anything, it means we all have to do more to show and live the good. That's all I know.

Have an out of the woods, into the world Wednesday. Do something even a tiny bit wonderful.