Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Chistmas!

Our nephew Jordan spells out our message on the dune.

So where ya been? Oh, I guess it's the other way 'round - we haven't been here. We lost Internet early on Christmas Eve and didn't get it back until late last night. So we've been here, just not able to get on line.

For the last two weeks we've had huge winds - 30 mph plus - day and night. It's been overcast much of the time, and rainy. Lousy surf (mostly) and too much wind for kite surfing to be much fun. On Christmas Eve the power was off and on, mostly off. Every time the power went off, the cell phone towers went down. And Internet just went away for a week. Empathy for our friends in the frozen north perhaps?

But all is back on now. The winds are back to more manageable speeds. Skies are blue and the ocean is pretty calm (surfers aren't very happy about that). And we can get back to wishing everyone a very merry Christmas (which we'd planned to do a week ago).

We had a wonderful Christmas. Christmas Eve we had invited some visiting friends from the States over for a quiet dinner. On Christmas Day we went to our friends Mary and George's home for dinner. Mary and her cousin Teresa (visiting from Scotland) made an amazing Christmas dinner: starters with smoked salmon and pate; then ham, two kinds of turkey, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots in a honey-dijon glaze, green beans, fresh bread, salad; and all topped off with a Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Oh my god. I haven seen so much food since...since...since Thanksgiving at Marisol's. It was wonderful!

Last night (Dec. 29) was our holiday party and a celebration of our second anniversary at Ola Lola's (and our fourth wedding anniversary). More than 80 people came to celebrate with us. Sorry if you missed it. It was great time. Lots of people brought a bunch o' yummy dishes to share so there was lots of food. We had a small gift exchange that pleased everyone. And of course, in the true Ola Lola's party spirit, there was lots of fun and great company.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to celebrate with us. And a huge special thanks to all our friends, both here on the island and all those who have visited Ola Lola's during the past two years, for helping make our lives so rich and so full, and for helping make Ola Lola's a success. Thank you all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Happy Solstice! To all of our many friends in the northern half of the country, shivering and buried in ice and snow, please know we are thinking of you. We hope you are some place warm and safe.

Today, the shortest day of the year, has been celebrated as a special day for centuries. Even though today is officially the first day of winter (and even though some of you have had winter for weeks), from here on the days get longer. Spring is coming.

And in the sometimes weirdness that is our life, after not posting a blog for four days, we're putting up two on the shortest day of the year. And, we still have not mailed our Christmas cards!

Speaking of celebrations, on January 1 we will celebrate our 20th annual New Year's Day Kite Fly! If you are anywhere in the neighborhood, come join us.

Shh-h-h-h! It's a secret...

Nobody is supposed to know but today is our good friend George's birthday. He has a natural Scottish reticence about being in the spotlight or being fussed over. So if you see George today, just whisper "happy birthday." But don't tell him we told you it's his birthday.

Of course George didn't want a birthday party, but hey - this is Ola Lola's. Far be it from us to let such a moment pass. We knew George had another commitment for tonight so on Friday we threw him a Happy "it's not your" Birthday party. Not-your-birthday cake with candles was served and everyone participated in singing George many not-your-birthday songs with personalized lyrics (some of which Elaine got up in the middle of the night to write) to melodies such as "Auld Lang Syne," "My Favorite Things," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". And yes, George was surprised since he didn't know we knew his birthday was even close.

Party season is in full swing here on the island. (I guess that's the third season here in Puerto Rico, along with surf season and snorkel-'n-dive season.) Thursday night we went to Ron and Tina's Christmas party. Ron and Tina live in a beautiful house up on the cliff above Shore Island Beach and the Villa Pescara. They finished the patio in their yard this year so the party was outside.Their party is always a great mix of Puerto Ricans-by-birth and Puerto Ricans-by-choice. Somehow, (mostly at Ron's insistence) the party always ends in a stay-at-home paranda (more about parandas later).

Note to Zan: Someone brought the traditional Hormel party platter in your honor and it was a hit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

new favorite surf photo

This week we've had some good size waves in the 8-10 range around us. The problem for surfers has been the wind: it's been blowing 15-25 mph day and night. Wind like that across the face of the waves makes 'em terrible for surfers. Favorite surf breaks like Middles, Jobos, Surfers and Wilderness have been totally blown out and unsurfable.

Tuesday we went out checkin' out surf sites, just to see if by chance there might be something surfable and somebody might be out. Nobody at the usual spots but...

We stopped at Borinquen beach, just to look at the waves, 'cause it not usually a surf spot. But there, down near the cliff and the rocks, a half a dozen or so surfers were out. Wow!

I set up the camera so I could shoot with the rocks and cliff as a background. What a totally different look! It doesn't even look like a Puerto Rican surf break. There were some great shots from this short session. This is my personal favorite. In fact, it's my new favorite surf photo. I love the contrast between all the moving water and the rocks and the surfer right in the middle of it all.

You can see more from this set on Flickr and on the web site, www.puertoricosurfphoto.com.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You are invited

YOU are invited to the Ola Lola's Holiday Party and our 2nd Anniversary Celebration. I know, it will be hard for some of you to get here but you are invited anyway. If there is anyway you can be here, we'd love to see you.

Think about it. And know even if you're not here, we'll be thinking about you, too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flying kites for Christmas

Yesterday we performed at a company Christmas party for the families of our friends at the golf course. We got to fly on this amazing site overlooking the ocean. (The photos are from a visit to the site last month to check it out and test fly there.)

After a week of high winds that made practice nearly impossible, we had okay, flyable winds for our hour-long performance. The site on the bluff has very squirrelly winds, in some places really good, in others a step forward or backward sends the kite into a black hole. But hey - we're professionals, right? So we took it all in stride and made it work.

The good news is the audience, particularly course owners Stanley and Charlie and their families and course designer David and his wife Liane, were pleased and impressed. As David said, "I am impressed. I'm not surprised at how good you are, but I am impressed!"

Thank you, Stanley and Charlie, for inviting us to perform - and for the great lunch afterward!

Today Rescate Playas Isabela, a local group working to clean up and protect our local beaches is having a family Christmas Fair. We are going to put up some kites for that event as well. Today will just be single line kites. The venue for this event really doesn't have room for dual-line demonstrations.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surf season

Thanksgiving afternoon at Wilderness Beach

It's surf season here on the island (which is why it's so bad for snorkeling an diving) and I've taken a lot of surf photos already. There are a ton of new pictures from October, November and early December on PuertoRicoSurfPhoto.com. There is a "Readers' Digest" version in two sets on Flickr for those who don't want to go through all the photos on the web site.

A good swell is supposed to come through middle of this week. I'm hoping to get out and get some new stuff to post.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ocean time

A photo from a snorkel trip to Crashboat Beach in November when Amy was here. You can see just how cloudy the water has been.

On Thursday I went SCUBA diving. When I recorded the dive in my log book, I realized I haven't been diving since August. Let me repeat that: I haven't been diving SINCE AUGUST! And to be honest, I've only been snorkeling about half-a-dozen time since then. The ocean has simply been too churned up and too rough to make snorkeling or diving much fun. Visibility has been terrible. Even our dive master Darryl has pretty much been diving only for SCUBA classes.

But Thursday was really good, the best it's been in a couple of months. Visibility was good - 50'-60' - and the water was a beautiful blue. We went to Natural and had about a 45 minute dive.

It felt so good to be back in the water. I miss it. I love taking surf pictures but I miss being IN the water myself.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A week after Thanksgiving

A week on and I think my insulin levels have returned to close enough to normal to write about Thanksgiving.

Wow! We went to our friends Marisol JR's house for Thanksgiving dinner. There was so much food and ALL of it wonderful. TWO turkeys (there were a lot of us!) Stuffing. Homemade cranberry sauce. Southern-style cornbread dressing. Potato salad. Darryl's famous Caesar salad. Sweet potato cassrole. Asparagus casserole. Broccoli casserole. Cakes. Coquito. It was amazing.

And of course dinner was followed by salsa dancing (by those in any condition to move). Thanks to JR, Marisol, John, Darryl and everybody who was there and who contributed to a wonderful night!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Horse's point of view

Hi. I'm Chocolate - Elaine & John's hors. nOtt sooo eszeyy Tu typ wiff hooooovezz. Soo I tehll Elinae waht too tpe.

I am very smart and I have figured out how to open pull out the chain, throw the lock and push open the gate on my pasture. Elaine caught me just about ready to make a break a few days ago. They say I'm a "character" - not sure exactly what that means, but I think it's because I love attention and I'm very relaxed and lie down to sleep like a dog when I get my naps (that's me above laying in front of Ola Lola's). My favorite snacks are granola bars, guineos (bananas), mangos (YUM!), and my grain. Which, by the way, I only get 1.5 cups twice a day (please feel free to lobby for me to get more...I'm a hungry guy!).

But, I do sometimes get a great treat - I get to meet people, especially young people, who love me and get to sit on me and I treat them to a moment on a beautiful (and very humble) horse. I've done it with my friend Paige who visited Ola Lola's with her parents, Anna Paula, who came by with her dad, Agustin (another friend), with Kennedy Anne, Elaine & John's granddaughter, and most recently with a beautiful girl, Isabella, who just turned 5 years old on Nov. 29th. Elaine leads me with Anna Paula on top
I met her when Elaine was riding by the Eclipse restaurant on the beach and she and her brother were there having lunch with their parents and fed me some fried plaintain chips. They were yummy, but hard for me to get 'cuz they kept falling off their hands and I can't see at the end of my nose and while trying to eat one, I accidentally bit Isabella's finger. Boy, was I sorry. She cried but was very brave and cooled her sore digit in her dad's ice water before deciding she wanted to come sit on top of me.

I was soooo happy that I could show her that I liked her and didn't want to hurt her (I just wasn't sure if the finger was a carrot or not until I tasted it...it wasn't, so I spit it right out and let go with my teeth).

So, all was well that ends well I hope. Isabella sat on me and smiled and had her picture taken by her beautiful mom while her dad and little brother watched me (I hope they send me a photo). Then they all stopped by while I was getting washed off with the hose after my ride (something I really like) and Elaine gave Isabella a little kite for a birthday present (plus balloons which sometimes scare me 'cuz they go POP!!!).

I hope that Isabella and her family and all the wonderful kids I have met have a wonderful Christmas and I hope I get an extra ration of grain and some mangos in my stocking, too.

Chocolate (world's most awesome rescued horse)

p.s. John rode me today for more than 2 hours and he did great. We love each other a lot and I hope I can spend more time with him, too.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Happy Birthday, John

Last night we celebrated our friend John's birthday, by his own admission the 23rd anniversary of his 30th birthday.

It was kind of an impromptu party, rather than a full-blown Ola Lola's do-it-up-right party. We didn't find out it was his birthday until Thursday at Thanksgiving dinner.

John, whatever the party lacked in preparation was more than made up for in the spirit of wishing you a happy birthday this year and many many more!