Sunday, April 23, 2017

Another Perfect Day for Saying I Do

The evening before was full of dramatic clouds, the early morning only less so. But then it changed into that incredible clarity we get in the islands some days, where you can almost see cars moving on other islands nearby, the water 10 shades of blue, a breeze to keep the sun from being too hot, indeed, perfect wedding day weather. Again!

Vieques is full of tucked away neighborhoods and friends I was getting a ride with took me into one of them, to pick up some beach chairs from one of their rentals. Little houses, steps from the beach, are more the norm than the unusual and I wish I'd gotten some photos of them. Next time. Chairs in the trunk, a bottle of wine picked up and off we went to SunBay, where horses roam and a wide beach waits. With some funny signs.

Best evacuation sign ever (and I'm not a beer drinker)

Waiting for the bride!

And here she is!

Places, everybody!

I do! I do!

Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy/Kat Cochran!

Another splendid feast
Make your own caption here
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And here too!
Of course the chef brings a chef's knife to cut the cake.

Then Jimmy walked around with a bottle of tequila and some wee glasses to finish off an excellent day.

I saw this sign, expecting the usual 'don'ts' but there was not much usual about this one. No horse play or human pyramids! We mean it!

And that closes out the wedding portion of my Spring into Summer. What great joy! Thanks and thanks and thanks for all the goodness, the roofs over my head, the fabulous food and most importantly, the blessing of having dear friends.

Have your best Sunday Funday ever!!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

More Wedding Shells! Vieques

It must be the season but how lucky am I to have four dearhearts making their lifelong commitments within two days of each other, both on beautiful islands, on beautiful beaches? Pretty damn lucky!

But first I had to leave St. Croix. Reluctantly, missing a drive about with other guests who hadn't seen much of the island yet, but happily, knowing I was coming to another gorgeous place to see another amazing event. That works.

Leaving St. Croix
 I hadn't been off of Culebra in awhile and forgot some of the rules. I did remember that the St. Croix airport means TSA, so a utility knife I had in my backpack was handed over to Kat at the airport. It's not a fancy knife but it sure comes in handy and I didn't want to lose it.

But. The first thing I forgot was TSA also takes away liquid larger than 3 ounces. With plenty of time before boarding, I bought a bottle of Cruzan rum (what else do you buy on St. Croix for rum drinkers?) to give as a thank you gift to the people who hooked me up with a very beautiful place to stay. The first guy at TSA looks at it and says, did you just buy that here? Because you know...etc. etc. I was feeling stupid and a bit miffed when he said, don't worry, take it back to the gift shop on this side and she'll let you exchange it for one in the gift shop on the other side of customs. Wow! And she did, opening up the gift shop early so I could make my exchange. Thanks, cool TSA guy!

So long, St. Croix! Until next time.
In the line, for some reason they had to check my computer. All was well and off I went to the waiting area. I was writing my blog post about Michael and Liz's departing ride when I realized I had yet ANOTHER knife that I'd used the night before to poke holes in the JUSTis MARRIED cardboard sign going on their motorcycle. TSA didn't catch it. I hope we all feel safer now.

This is DiAngelo. He was my seat mate on the quick trip between STX and Vieques. I got him well strapped in and we looked at pictures for a bit. He told me a lot of things; he had just been to Florida to have surgery on his legs, see the scar? There are steel rods in there that must be changed every few months so he can grow. He liked the plane, doesn't like swimming much, has a grandmother on Vieques and a few more bits of interest. He might be my favorite seat mate ever. Good luck, DiAngelo, your bravery won't be forgotten when I get pissy about small things.

Hello, Vieques!

The taxi guy took seven of us to a variety of places, places I'd never seen before, some of the homes on well kept properties, in almost jungle like settings. The first was a simple, very tidy home with beautiful plantings in a huge yard, not so high above the beach. The woman who got out there had our ooohs and aaahs trailing behind her. Next was DiAngelo's little family, with Abuella in the lead. A couple who live on St. Croix were next, visiting family here. I talked with the woman a bit, they want to retire to Culebra, where they have family. Family I'm pretty sure I know. They were both really kind and she and I laughed a lot for a very short trip. Finally, it was my turn. I got out early because a refresher walkabout was a good thing. And then, there I was, where I was supposed to be. 

With key in hand, we came in and I got the 'here is where this is' tour before my friend had to get back to work. The sea in front of me, the town behind, I could just enjoy this place and this part of the island. Isabella is the part I know best and it's nice to know where to find the market and bank and farmacia. A few things were different, but not much. The colmado here in town is owned by the same people who own Costa del Sol on Culebra, so I even knew there might be my new go-to wine there and it was! It's a lot different than Costa, bigger, with fresh meats and more veggies, well, more of everything, but it still felt familiar.

Mainly though, I've just stayed here, enjoying the view, the sound of the surf hitting the sand, the cool breezes and the plantings. Lots of them. There is always something to see I didn't catch before or maybe it's just magically appeared while my back was turned. 

I don't know what it is, but I really like it

It might have rained a few drops but not much

Another 'I've never seen that before' 

Some beautiful ginger blossoms

More ginger

A very old flamboyant

Ginger this!
It's almost time to get ready to go to the wedding. Little frissions of tangible joy are coursing. 

Have a seasonal Saturday. Do something saturating. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Marriage of Hearts

My friend Michael made it to the age of 60 before he found his one and only. I'm so happy I got to be there!

As anyone involved in any part of planning a wedding knows, it can be a lot of fun with some crazy mixed in, ending in just a lot of fun and joy. This was no exception. Well, add in being on an island where things can be slightly slanted for a bit more zing. Like getting the wedding bouquet and watching the flowers turn to a bad imitation of themselves, finding nothing like them, and then finally finding a grocery store with roses that worked beautifully instead. Island adaptation is an art form sometimes, and Terry, an old friend of Liz's, who is a florist and not from an island, adapted with the best of us. Five stars!

Terry takes a well deserved walk on the beach before the ceremony
When Michael's told me his best man couldn't make it due to health issues, I was thinking as we were talking about who would do the honors. It turned out he had already decided; I would be his Best Ma'am. So if you wonder why there aren't photos from the wedding ceremony itself, it was because I was busy hoping I'd not drop the ring or do anything else to mar the moment (I didn't drop the ring or fall down or anything else memorable, so that worked out). I still feel honored, and know Pratt was there in heart...wishing him well.

Liz and Shannon came by straight from the hair and make-up time.
Nice work, Shannon! Gilding that lily worked very nicely.
As much as I like to talk (and you know I do, no need to add any helpful comments), talking in front of a large group of people isn't one of my favorite things. So instead of doing what I planned on doing, a bit of a trip down memory lane, I read two of my favorite poems about love by e.e. cummings and Pattiann Rogers, which officially made me done with my happy duties. Well, mostly, the rest was clean up stuff but that was fun. 

But before all of that, here's a look around where the wedding happened. The folks at Freedom City Surf Board Shop & Grill, good friends of Michael's, were amazing, as were all the friends who made incredible hors d'oeuvres (shrimp and cheeses and roasted garlic and and and), the people who did the pig and chicken, the cake, the musicians - so many who love these two made it an amazing moment in time. 

Freedom City is on the west end of St. Croix

Irie the Great Dane was chill, waiting for the food part

One of the beaches I used to find a lot of chenay on, long days gone by.

Before the fire! I really like this thing.

The goodies crew. I was drooling.
Michael was looking very dapper (okay, I've never, in 20 years, seen him in a suit...he cleans up well!), the busiest groom ever, making sure everything was just all right. And it was.

Friends were excited for this moment in his life.
To put it mildly.

And then it was time. John Macy, aka Big Beard, presided, gently getting us all in our places with bright happy faces. It was so very good to see him! 

Photo stolen from by Nicole Brown
John had all the cell phone people step back to allow photos of the ceremony with that amazing background to not be filled with everything but the center attraction. Liz's Matron of Honor was her old friend Fern, who I got to know, along with Terry, staying at the house together. She's a trip, in the good way. Both women had me laughing a lot and that is always a good sign. 

Stepping up for their first dance

I think they're in love

And pretty happy about it

What that cool thing looks like lit up

Michael was only allowed to play one song
mixing business with pleasure.
Of course, making music is his business and his pleasure.

Lots of eating and drinking and talking ensued. Two people I hoped dearly to see were there, Tito and Sue, who have done (still do!) the crab races here for a very long time. I think my arms and mouth were almost sore from hugging and grinning. It was a good reunion. Very good.

But then it was time to move on. Goodies were gathered, food was packed away, the bride changed into her bridal trip togs. Bob opted for a sign rather than tin cans (JUSTis Married), someone got some electrical ties, I poked in holes with my knife - oh my god! I just went through TSA with that!!!! oops.

And they were off! And so am I, sitting in the airport on STX waiting to go to Vieques and another wedding of heart friends. Love is in the air and it's pretty damn sweet. 

The best wishes of my heart to Michael and Liz, who found each other on the life road and that changed everything. 

Have a Freedom City Friday. Do something forever. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Where Am I?

Maybe it's weird, but I like the sensation of waking up and, for a brief moment, not knowing exactly where I am. Call it first world safety net of knowing I'm not in prison or any other grim space, or just call it a little wake up orienteering amusement. 

So to orient a bit, I'll start by going backwards. Sounds about right. Yesterday before heading for the Vieques airport (people were great, but I do like ours better!), we went by the restaurant to drop Jimmy off to start his cooking day and Kat needed to pick up some paperwork. It seemed like a good time to take those photos I missed last time. Or some of them; I missed the porch and it was too early for any dishes to be coming out of the kitchen. 

This is the piece I mentioned yesterday Sweet!
Yes, Zuleyma, that is Frieda in the corner

Turns out one of Jimmy's kitchen guys used to live on Culebra.
We had a good chat before he got back to work.

View of the kitchen from the table area

Thanks again!
But this is today...

Usually the first thing is to look at the ceiling because no other ceiling looks like the houseboat's. Unless I'm sleeping in a garden shed. A fan? Nope, not home. A chandelier? Nope, not home. Next comes, what was I doing last night? That should usually rustle up a clue about where I am, and it usually does, along with the noises around me (no chickens? might not be in the islands).

This morning I woke up on St. Croix and even though this is a part of the island I never was around much, it feels good. From the lilting taxi guy's voice, telling me he is one of 25 children, born and raised on St. Croix, to seeing a couple of people I knew while watching Michael play a day gig at Cane Bay. 

Cane Bay is the site that is a bit of a mecca for scuba folks, home of the famous Wall. There are all sorts of videos of the Wall experience if you're interested; it's pretty dramatic. 

But I was not into being dramatic, I was into hearing some mellow music. That worked.

Making music on a cloudy day

This is an old sign and one of my favorites
(or it's another version of the old sign)

I really like this sign. 

Even though the sun had hidden behind a lot of clouds, there were still people out and about on the beaches (though not too many), along with some tents left over from Semana Santa. St. Croix is where I learned about the camping part of Easter Week; apparently it's still going strong here as well. 

From the beach side of the street.
Good food, good people. Good music too!!

We came back to the house and Liz got back not long after. Though I've heard about her and have seen facebook photos, the reality of meeting someone face to face is a much better thing. I can see and feel now why Michael is marrying her and am glad to have this new member in our island family. If I come home speaking with a totally southern accent, you'll know why.

A delicious dinner was almost ready

Sure, I will get a better photo, but this felt pretty much
like family 'round the barbie, so here it is.
As friends and family filter in, we'll be doing errands leading up to the Big Event, along with, for me, the inevitable running into old friends not seen for far too long. This is going back to step into the future, my heart expands a bit more and I, under direct orders from Michael, am going to keep my shoes on and look out for centipedes. What??

Have a temperate Tuesday. Do something touching.