Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Best moment Monday 170522

(Update: My days are so screwed up! I've updated the date for this post. This wasn't Monday, the 15th. It was Monday, 22nd! We were closed on Mother's Day.)

I forgot how time consuming taking care of everything is. It's not hard. There is no really hard work I have to do in my day. And it much easier than when Elaine was in St. Lucia a few years ago: I don't have people renting the kitchen and other facilities that I am somehow responsible to. I don't even have our own kitchen crew to be responsible to. But still, many times I get to the end of my day and ask myself, "what did I do today? How did I get here without taking a few minutes to think about and write about a best moment? How did I let that get away from me?"

None of this is a complaint, mind you. It's meant as an observation, a snapshot if you will, of my life at this moment.

So best moment Monday: This is a bit of a backhanded best moment. Sunday evening, Mother's Day, just as we closed, we had a flash flood. I mean flash! It rained a bit but not enough to expect even a little flood. It must have rained a whole lot more up on top because here came the water!

Monday was full of those totally unexpected activities: cleaning up. It wasn't too bad. I got everything up off the floor and moved the car and truck to high ground before I came in for the night.

Monday's best moment was when I finished the unexpected mop up/clean up. No damage, just time and effort expended.

And water. The great irony of a flood is after it's over, what you need is - more water.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

best moment Sunday 170514 Mothers Day

Hope all the mothers had a wonderful, special day. We miss our mothers, Elaine and I, not just on Mother's Day, but every day. And on this particular Mother's Day, none of the important mothers in my life were around,

So, Marie and I celebrated Mother's Day by going for a ride. And after all, this is a post about best moments.

I took the time with Chocolate again before the ride. As we now say, I "phoned ahead for an appointment." It was a beautiful ride!

The importance of taking time to make a solid connection with the horse from the beginning became even more apparent about halfway through the ride.

We left the beach and started over dune through a pass we used dozens of times. For some reason both horses were skittish and hesitant to go through. But eventually they did go over the dune with Chocolate and me in the lead. As we came down the back side of the dune, Choco stopped and shied. Something was really freaking him out. He tried to spin but we were in a tight space on the trail, what horse people call a "squeeze." He tried to back up but Marie and Zip were right behind us. There was nowhere to run.

From the saddle I managed to calm Choco and get him to stand still. I dismounted and he immediately let me lead him past the "danger." (We still don't know what it was. It's not important that we don't perceive whatever it was as a danger - the horses do.)

How gently and calmly this situation - which could have been extremely dangerous to both horses and riders - was resolved is due in part to the mutual trust and respect Chocolate and I have developed over the past couple of years. He now sees me as a leader, as someone he can follow and be safe. Until recently he hasn't truly seen me as a trustworthy leader. In a pinch (or a "squeeze") he believed he needed to take charge because he didn't fully trust me.

That changed on Sunday. Or at least it became evident. Once I dismounted, he was ready and willing to follow me anywhere, even past what he perceived as mortal danger. (Horses see all possible danger as mortal. There are no grey areas for horses.)

I firmly believe the calm resolution was also due to the time spent making that connection, making that "phone call for an appointment" at the beginning. We were totally synced. And it got us safely out of a tight spot.

It was another gorgeous ride and another best moment connecting with my horse. I love it!

Best moment Saturday 170513

What can I say? Saturday was a beautiful day for a beach ride.

A few weeks ago our friend Chris, the horse-people trainer, held a clinic in Rincon. I couldn't go but Elaine did. She brought back this gem, this nugget, this pearl: "We don't call our horses and make an appointment to go for a ride or to work out. We just walk out and expect our horses to be ready and in the same frame of mind as we are. We take little notice of where they are. It's about what we want."

A few days ago I went out ride Chocolate. I wasn't stressed but I didn't have a lot of time and was tense and rushed. I didn't take time to really get in sync with Choco. I just put a bareback pad on him and expected him to be ready to go with me. Off we went.

It was obvious from the get-go we had different agendas. My agenda was a nice easy beach ride. His was to eat every blade of grass longer than 1" from the corral to Jobos. Obviously it was not our best ride. We struggled against each other the whole ride. We never really were in sync.

On Saturday I took Chris's wisdom to heart. I went out to the corral early so I had time to just sit and be present with Choco. Then I spent a few minutes doing a series of simple warm-ups. I almost always do these with Choco every time - unless I'm rushed or tense. They are simple and only take a few minutes but they make so much difference in the connection with him.

What a difference in the ride! We were connected. He was listening, responding. It was beautiful!

So the best moment wasn't just the ride. It was the lesson learned. This is another piece in this partnership Chocolate and I are forming.

Best moment Friday 170512

(For a number of reasons, I am way way behind. I will try to catch up.)

So this has been another one of those crazy rides our life seems to be taking lately.  I had to take nearly a week to come to grips with it, both literally and mentally.

Thursday, evening after Ola Lola's closed. I came up to check email. I usually do this first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I noticed several "unexpected sign in attempts" on a couple of accounts. On one there was a "we sent you an account key" message. We had not requested an access key. Somebody was hacking our accounts.

Although we couldn't be sure, there was a possibility they got access to some sensitive passwords.We spent several hours on Thursday night changing passwords. Apparently we missed one.

We got an email Friday morning from our bank that, per our request, a cashier's check was being sent UPS overnight to somewhere in Texas. There was also some indication the person or persons tried to get access to another bank account.

Of course we got on the phone right away to stop the check and to do whatever we could to stop the delivery. The bank was very very helpful, UPS not so much. A stop-payment was put on the check. Accounts and passwords were immediately changed. Later, we did get notification from UPS that the package was delivered but they wouldn't give us the address, just the town (which we already had).

So where is the best moment in this? Several best moments, or at least things to be grateful for: one, it happened on Thursday night/Friday. Both of us were here to work on the issues. If it happened 34 hours later, it would have been Saturday and Elaine would have been gone, on her way the States for a month.

Second, and probably most important, the people we dealt with (except for UPS). Everyone was friendly, helpful and straight forward. "Okay, it happened. Let's fix what we need to fix and get on with it."

It could have been much much worse. Thanks to everyone who helped us.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Best moment Thursday 170511

Nearly two years ago we acquired this sweet, loving but damaged little pit bull mix. He had obviously been in some kind of fight: he had two-inch long gash in his right hip. He was obviously smart but very anxious. He was very nervous about finding a home.

Our original plan was to foster him, get him will and find a home for him.

Then we found out he was heartworm positive. We couldn't pass that on to someone else so we kept him to get him well.

He did get well but more and more he settled into live here in the Ola Lola's pack. It wasn't always smooth. He was a two-year-old cannonball in a geriatric dog home (Oz is nearly 10, Jazz was 15 and Amber almost 17) He would just blast and bull his way through everything. Not mean, just totally unaware. He was still unsure and nervous about his full-time status.

All that came to a very very happy conclusion yesterday. A friend of ours recently lost her pit bull. She has been grieving but not quite ready for a new dog. Another friend suggested this guy might be just the one for her.

They met Wednesday evening and took an instant liking to each other. Thursday Elaine took Orito to Kathryn's house and he moved right in. She has posted wonderful comments on Facebook about the dog. They both seem very happy.

And that is the best possible outcome: a loving companion for Kathryn and a loving home for Orito. That is a best moment for all.

Best moment Wednesday 170510


I've written about how much yoga has come to mean to me. But yesterday's class with Rosie was special, especially special after last weeks class. Last week I was stiff and creaky and just couldn't get my body into it. This week was completely different. I was more relaxed, less kinked up to start so I was able to get into it more.

I know intellectually that yoga is not just physical, that it is mental and spiritual as well. This week more than ever I felt that more than ever. I had a connection with the people and world around me in ways I've rarely experienced.

And it was only me. We all felt it

Part of what made this special was Rosie's sister Milly was part of our class for her first-ever yoga. Milly had a knee replaced in February and wasn't sure what or how much she could do. Rosie was nervous. Milly did a great job, better I think that even she thought she could do. As we all sat up after our final Savasana relaxation Rosie slid over to hug her sister, a deep, kind, loving embrace. Her embrace reached all of us, enclosed all of us. It was an incredible moment and we were very very privileged and honored to share it.

No question - that was the best moment of the day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Best moment Tuesday 170509

How do you have a best moment spending four hours in a medical clinic waiting to have your ripped up thumb looked at? (The ripped up thumb is not a best moment. And, it's another story.)

Actually in Puerto Rico it's not that difficult. In many places on the mainland, people can be stuck together for hours and never say a word to each other. In fact, they may not even acknowledge there are other people around

Not so in Puerto Rico. Sitting a waiting room, standing in line at the grocery or the bank, we all talk to each other. I met several nice people. We all commented on the behavior (bad!) of one boy who kept throwing temper tantrums. Several older women - mothers and grandmothers themselves - offered advice on ways to handle the boy. We all commented on the news stories on the TV (mostly bad).

By the time I left we all felt like friends. Mostly likely I'll never see any of them again. That said, then again I may. We talked about where we live and what we do. (So much for HIPPA and medical confidentiality!) Several people promised to visit Ola Lola's. So who knows?

Many Mainlanders object to the way medical "appointments" are handled here. Basically, there aren't any appointments. You go to the office, put you name on a list, and wait for your name to be called. People who are in a mainland hurry, who get frustrated when a doctor makes them wait 10 minutes passed their appointment time don't get it. Here a trip to the doctor or clinic can be a social occasion. For some people, especially older people, the weekly or monthly trip to the doctor is like Facebook. They see some of the same people each time, catch up on gossip and families, and interact socially.

Even four hours waiting in a clinic waiting room can have a best moment. It's all in how you perceive it.

Best moment Monday 170508

First, I don't do selfies. This should answer any questions as why I don't.

Ho-hum! Another solo beach ride, another best moment.

In reality this was the second (of two) best moments on the beach. The first was the morning walk with Amber, Oz, and Beeto.

Then Chocolate and I went for a ride on the beach. As is probably apparent, I rode, he was on the beach. It was a great ride Chocolate was listening and responsive (mostly). We did a bit of ground work first and then he was ready. Who am I to argue? Off we went.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Food, glorious food! Best moment Sunday 170507

I've been working on improving my skills as a food photographer and experimenting with different techniques. I think this is especially important now we're partnering with MiraSur PR for food at Ola Lola's.

(Did I tell you about MiraSur? Hmmm...there must have been something really good for their opening not to be a best moment. More on them later.)

Matt and Angie and Juan Carlos are doing some amazing things in their food truck parked right next to Ola Lola's. They have fabulous food offerings with unique presentations. I truly want to photograph their food well, to do it justice in the photos. I also want to match their back-to-basics, rock-and-wood open-fire sort of rustic approach in the photos.

This is their slow-roasted pulled pork sandwich with manchego cheese and dijon-mayo on a house-made potato roll and served with sweet potato fries. Oh my god!!

My best moment for Sunday (besides eating this for dinner) was creating this photo for them. I'm proud of this. I'm getting there!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

We live in paradise - Best moment Saturday 170506

We live in Paradise.

It's true, we do. But sometimes the emphasis is on live. Because we live here.We're not on vacation. We have to do all the same day-to-day activities you do at home. True, there are some spectacular moments. Like everywhere and everyone else, there is a certain sameness, a certain routine to our days.

So some of my best moments come from those routine activities and because they are routine, become repetitive. Watching Amber's joy on the beach every morning is always a great moment, no matter what else happens during the day. I've said this before, I know, but his mornings on the beach are his happiest moments of the day. And that makes them my best moments.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Best Moment(s) Thursday 170504

Thursday's best  moment(s) are all about the beach and the animals.

Even as he struggles with weakened muscles and the lingering effects of his stroke, Amber's happiest moments of the day are on the beach.

Now, to maximize his beach time and minimize the time and walking to get to the beach. we drive there. I know, it's only about a four minute walk (without dogs, 10-12 minutes with) but why make him walk those extra steps? For him it's all about the  beach! I'll do whatever I can to make that easier and better for him.

The other best beach moment was with Chocolate. He and I went for a ride, just the two of us. My plan was to ride down the road toward the beach to an area we call the "campground." An extended family owns a couple of lots there. Three or four times a year they all show up with tents and camp there for the weekend. Hence the name. But there are rows of trees and little open areas that are fabulous for working a horse. We can weave between the trees, pick up the pace in the "avenues" between the trees, go around them, all kinds of activity. It's just a great place to work out. Chocolate was on his best behavior. He was listening to me, responding well to my cues. So, after a bit of work, we headed on down the calle to the beach.

Frequently, if we're out alone, without the other horses, Chocolate will balk going down the dune to beach. Not Thursday! We went straight down the dune and off down the beach at a trot. Here again he was listening and responsive. Mostly I just gave him very light cues and he gave me what I asked for.

Chocolate has a habit of walking or trotting in a pretty straight line near the water's edge on the beach. We're working to break him out of this pattern, this habit by making him move up and down the beach more. He gave me some attitude about it but with some mostly gentle corrections, he was soon responding to those requests as well.

It was a great ride and more great moments with our animals on the beach.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Best moment Wednesday 170503

One of the things I do is volunteer once a month to take water samples at local beaches. There are a number of us who volunteer to do this. Among us We manage to cover quite a few beaches.

The samples are taken to Ramey School, the local school for families of federal personnel, miltary, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, etc. stationed here. One of the teachers, as a science project for his class. has students test the water samples for various bacteria.

A number people, even though they do the sampling, kind of see it as an imposition on their time. Yes, it takes an hour or so. You have to drive around a bit. But it is important. Through these samples  we get a baseline and running record of water quality and dangers at the beaches. Temporary changes in bacteria levels are common. Heavy rain can change them as can heavy use like on holiday weekends. If there are big changes or long-term changes, that could indicate problems. Without this on-going record, we might not catch the problem until it's too late to do anything about it.

To me, an hour or so a month and a couple of dollars for gas are a small price to pay for knowing what's happening in our ocean. I volunteer a little bit of time to make something in my world better. that's a great moment.

And it gets me out and to some beaches I don't normally go to, like the one above, Sardinera. Every time I go there, I wonder why I don't go more often. That awareness beyond my usual boundaries is a good thing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Best moment Tuesday 170502

We took the horses to the beach today. Not a ride, we just walked them down to let them play in the water. There are a gazillion photos form this playdate with the ocean but I don't have any of them. People on the beach, people on the balconies of the beach apartments at Villa Topical, everybody took pictures with cameras and phones. Everybody except me. I was playing with my horse and didn't bother to take a camera.

Silly me. Never again.