Thursday, June 22, 2017

Best moment 170622

It's early in the day yet - and there is a birthday party at Ola Lola's tonight - so this best moment could well change.

But for now today's best moment is diving at Natural this morning. Visibility wasn't great but it was a nice dive with Darryl and Vivian. There was hardly any current, the water was warm and the fish were friendly. And, we got to blow bubbles.Those opportunities have bee few and far between this year. I only need 92 more dives this year to reach 100 for the year and only 90 more to reach a total of 500.

Better get diving!

Best moment 170521

Happy Summer Solstice!

You know, some day just slip by with no one moment jumping out at you. Yesterday was such a day. Then others are so full of "best moments" it's hard to choose.

It could have been that early morning walk on the beach with Amber and Oz and that sparkling firs-day-of-summer sunshine on the ocean. On another day the best moment would have been that amazing riding lesson I got from our resident Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Or maybe trying a new wood-fired pizza place for the first time.

But today it's easy to choose: my best moment today was talking to our son Steve for nearly two hours.

He has so much good news! He and Jenny finally go married (they've trying since last November but that's another story). They are buying the house they've been renting. They got a great deal. Now they can clean out and restore the upstairs - which was rented as an apartment - and have bedrooms for all the kids. I am so happy for them!

They live outside Washington, D.C., so politics had to be part of the discussion. But so were the kids and plans for the garden and and and.

It was two of the best hours I've ever spent. We love you Steve, and Jenny, Angel, Olivia and William!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Best moment 170618 Father's Day

Well, the best moment certainly could have been the beach and trail ride. And it certainly could have been the Vitamin Sea therapy soaking in the tide pool. 


But hands-down the best moment was a long talk with our oldest son, John. We don't actually talk nearly enough. Talked for more than an hour about all kinds of things. The call may have been longer but both cell phone batteries were dying.  Thank you, Beeje, for the best moment of my Father's Day!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Best moment Friday 170616

Happy birthday - to ME! Yep I survived another lap around the sun and I'm here to tell about it.

For the two of you who are wondering this is not the umpteenth anniversary of my 29th birthday. Well, actually it is, but that's not how I look at it. I have 66 years and I am proud of it. I will wear every one of those years as a badge of honor.

So was there a special best moment? Several actually. Elaine made me baked oatmeal apple crisp for breakfast. We had lunch together, even if it was in the car on the road trying to get errands done before the rain. It didn't rain. Listening to my grand children sing happy birthday on the phone.

And this sounds weird but...Facebook. For all the crap on fb - and there is a shit-ton of it - on a day like your birthday it is an amazing thing. Okay, I get it: it's abbreviated. It's shorthand. It's an excuse to say, "I connected" without having to actually do anything like write a letter or send a card  or even make a telephone call. But...

More that a hundred people took a moment to say "happy birthday." Some of them wrote very touching personal comments. And in response I took a moment to consider each one of those people, who they are in my life, what they mean to me. Some of those people only have passing contact in my life; without fb we probably would have lost touch with each other. Some of those people were very important in my life years ago and we did lose touch, only to find contact again through fb. 

That's really why I stay on social media, to keep that contact. Not for the memes or the politics but for the people. I'm 2,000 physical miles away from some of these folks. It's nice to be reminded of who they are, who they were, and who they've become.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Best moment Wednesday 170614

It's very early in the day but I can't imagine what could top this.

Actually there are two best moments already. The first was seeing Elaine walk out of the gate at 4:00 am, hugging her, kissing her, knowing she was finally home.

The second was waking up with her beside me. Yes - I missed her a lot.

I am so happy for her and proud of her. She has accomplished so much in the last month. And now she's home.

Best moment Tuesday 170613

Message from Elaine that she's at O'Hare in Chicago and boarding her flight for the first leg of her trip home.

(Her United flight from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale was delayed nearly two hours.She was supposed to have a comfortable break in Ft. Lauderdale to leave the secure zone, get her checked bag at United baggage claim, and then go to JetBlue in a different terminal. [Becasue United and JetBlue are not "partners," a fact that was repeatedly pointed out, her bag could not be checked through to Aguadilla.] With the delay that wasn't possible; she would have to rush to change terminals and be lucky to make the JetBlue flight to Aguadilla at all. It looked like she was going to have to leave her checked bag for United to deliver later.  

But - the JetBlue flight was also delayed. With a couple of flat-out sprints she was able to get her checked bag, get to JetBlue and make the flight to Aguadilla. Elaine and luggage made to Aguadilla, two hours late but hey, esta todo bien! Its all good.)

Best moment Monday 170612

 From Dorota Janik, Reins of Life:

Hello Everybody,

We have reached the end of series of our educational experiences. Our volunteers rocked again! It was intense couple weeks but so rewarding. Thank you everybody for your contributions to making us so successful. Thank you Amanda for your guidance. Thank  you all instructors for your time, talents, shared experience and knowledge. We should be so proud of our team!!!

I can not wait to share wonderful news with all of you: Aly, Debbie & Elaine can officially be called Therapeutic Riding Instructors. I am so proud of them! 

Dorota Janik, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Reins of Life, Inc.

Email from Elaine in response to the above email: 

I am incredibly happy and grateful. Please know you are all always welcome to come visit me in Puerto Rico (and share in our new soon-to-be therapeutic riding center). I will keep you posted as we move forward.

Hugs and horse whinnies,

All the work and being away for the last month has paid off. Elaine is now a fully certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. That's a huge step forward on our Next Great Adventure!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Best moment Sunday 170611

A nice, easy trail ride with Marie and Zip. We trotted, cantered(!) and enjoyed a relaxed beautiful ride. It was a beautiful day!

Best moment Saturday 170610

"Coral reefs are threatened worldwide. Here's a way to rescue broken coral fragments that have fallen in sand and will die. With the expertise of NOAA, the community was able to make some racks to plant the fragments in a coral garden! After they hopefully regrow, we will be able to put them back on a safer place on the reef." --Kathy Hall, marine biologist

On Saturday volunteers met on Shacks Beach for the first "plantings" in our new coral nursery.

The nursery bed is PVC pipe with holes drilled in it. Coral fragments are attached to cups filled with cement with twisted wire. The cups are then placed in the holes and secured with cable ties.

Volunteers carry the PVC frame out to a pre-selected spot then divers secure the frame to the ocean floor with rerod driven into the sand.

Meanwhile, other volunteers collect fragments of coral, in this case elkhorn coral (and one bit of staghorn), for seeding.

And the first seed bed is in place! The coral will be allowed to grow here. Healthy coral will later be transplanted to the reef. If this bed is successful, more will be added. Several more frames are already under construction.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Best moment Friday 170609

Diving at Shacks - for the second day in a row!

Shacks Beach - "our" beach, the beach just a few minutes' walk from home - is probably my favorite beach in Puerto Rico. That's saying something because Puerto Rico has no lack of beautiful beaches and truth be told, I still have a few to explore. Part of the attraction is proximity: It's hard to not to love a beach that is a five-minute walk from home. Part of the attraction is the lack of crowds. While other beaches (Jobos and Crashboat for example) are jammed with umbrellas, boomboxes and bodies, when Shacks is at its busiest, there are maybe a couple hundred people. Most of those are packed into one small area; the other two miles of beach are nearly empty.

Part of the attraction is the variety of activities: snorkeling and scuba diving over and through a 8,000-year-old reef, paddle boarding in a protected ocean pool (behind the aforementioned reef), kite surfing, surfing and just hanging out on the beach are there, all together in one spot.

Scuba diving at Shacks is a multidimensional experience. First there is the swim-out over Blue Hole. Not as deep as the famous 3,000-foor-deep Blue Hole in Belize (ours is more like 35 feet deep), Blue Hole is an area were the reef grew around a sandy area, making a hole in the ocean.

KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) view of the inner reef and Blue Hole.

The outer reef at Shacks is called a "finger-and-groove" reef system. The reef has grown in to long "fingers" with canyons between them. The canyon walls can be as much as 35 feet from the sandy bottom to the top of the reef.

This part of the reef is like Swiss cheese, riddled with holes, nooks, crannies and swim-throughs. Beyond the finger-and-groove is a long plateau of flat reef.

The dive then loops back around to the finger-and-groove. Going out we usually swim over the outer wall of Blue Hole. That's mostly to save air, so we're not using up air getting out to the cool stuff. Coming back into Blue Hole we swim through the reef, through one of several underwater tunnels that lead from the outside back in.

Coming out of the "big tube" into Blue Hole. Not all the tunnels that lead into Blue Hole are this big.

Once divers are back in Blue Hole, we can either swim across the sand bottom -

or go around the edge of Blue Hole. More swim-throughs and holes and cracks to the surface offer an incredible laser light show. (See the photo at the top of this post.) My dive buddy Darryl even does what he calls the "caverns tour" of the edges of Blue Hole, just to experience this. Many times he does the "caverns tour" as a second dive after diving the outside reef.

Either way, whether we swim across or around Blue Hole, one more swim-through tunnel leads back to the surface and back to Shacks Beach.

Every dive we do here is different. It's the swim-throughs and holes and cracks and canyons that make the experience at Shacks unique and very popular. Pretty much everybody (including us!) wants to dive Shacks. Unfortunately, Mother Ocean tends to limit our diving here to the summer months. Shacks faces due north, right in to the teeth of every swell coming down from the North Atlantic. Some years it's ever too rough to dive in the summer. Last year for example we only dove Shacks three times and two of those were lulls during surf season.

Anyone interested in diving Shacks please note: It is imperative that you dive with a guide who knows this reef. It is a beautiful dive if you know what you are doing. It can be dangerous if you don't To be honest, very few local dive guides are truly able to safely lead dives at Shacks. If you're interested, contact us and we'll hook you up, Mother Ocean allowing.

A quick transparency note: The photos in this post are not all from one dive. You probably knew that already but I just want to be clear.

 Here is a link to video I did of part of the caverns tour: Into the darkness, into the light

(Sorry it has taken so long to post this.)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Best moment Sunday 170604

How did I not post this? The best moment of Sunday, 06/04? The whole day! It was Amber the Wonder Dog's 17th birthday! That is incredible! He's still with us, still running on the beach every day.

I hope it was a happy day for him. He has brought so much joy into so many people's lives. He deserves for every day to be a great wonderful day.

Best moment Thursday 170608

Okay, the day isn't over yet and something truly amazing could still happen. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the best moment today was diving at Shacks.

Finally! A nitrogen fix! And we're planning to go again tomorrow! I didn't take many photos today. Since it's been so long since I've been in the water, I wanted to concentrate just on getting my diving mechanics back. A wise choice I think.

It was a good dive. We say three turtles - one of them huge - French angel fish, black durgons and a bunch of other stuff. It was not only good to dive, it was nice to dive a site that a bazillion other divers don't. Very few people besides us dive the outside reef. The reef looked clean and pretty healthy, not all kicked out like some of the more popular reefs.

Ahhhhh! Back in the water again.

Best moment Wednesday 170607

Hmmm - yoga or snorkeling?

Gotta go with yoga for this one. Snorkeling was okay, a chance to be in the water. But one of our favorite snorkeling spots has become a very popular little beach. Parking is a pain and there are lots of people scaring away the sealife. Don't get me wrong: it is still beautiful and amazing and with yoga before it snorkeling would have been the best moment.

Yoga was great. Our teacher Rosie said she wants to make yoga junkies out of all of us. Well, she certainly has made one of me!