Sunday, January 25, 2009

We need a new fence

The board fence around our house was pretty much rotted away. Chocolate could push his head through gaps in the fence and eat the hibiscus, which he loves.

This week we put up a new fence.

We (read: Elaine) spent a lot of time researching all kinds of fences, looking for the best combination of cost, environmental friendliness, longevity and privacy. We (read: we) looked at another board fence, this time with treated wood, cyclone fence, even plastic lattice. Then Elaine found this bamboo on the Internet. It was comparable in cost to all the other acceptable possibilities, even with shipping from the mainland. At 8 feet high, it offered the privacy we were looking for. It is cured bamboo of a species insects don't usually like so it should last a long time. And it was pretty easy (albeit time consuming) to install.

So now we have this beautiful new bamboo fence around us. We've gotten tons of wonderful compliments on it. And we're really happy with it. The only problem now is we want redo Ola Lola's in all bamboo.

But that's a project (or projects) for another month.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Ground - hope & virtue

Today we have a new president, Barack Obama. The world already feels different. After 8 years of hubris, we have humility. After 8 years of fear-mongering, we have hope. There is a sense that the world is moving toward a better place, a place of peace and joy and justice. As President Obama said in his inaugural address, "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply."

Many of us are grateful for this shift and eager to see its results. A friend was talking with us the other day about how wonderful it would be if the media started to headline and focus the majority of their attention on stories of hope, stories of success, and stories that illicit gratitude and happiness from people. At the time it was an interesting idea but viewed somewhat cynically, as it seemed so far-fetched.

However, I've been giving that some thought. Maybe if as individuals we each focused on and decided that this is possible - that we can work and play and love and live productive lives without focusing on ideas and stories that are driven by fear, sensationalism, and negativity - we could each start demonstrating it little by little and make the change from the ground up. I've never been much of a believer in "trickle down" effectiveness so I think this is a good place to start. As part of my community service, I intend to focus on positive actions, ideas and stories coming out of our community. I will share these with others. And, I will energize myself by passing on information and stories that focus on hope and virtue, leaving behind those that are negative and propagate fear. It's an exciting idea, easier said than done, but I think well worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations, Celeste and Christian

Our friends Celeste and Christian celebrated part of their wedding weekend with us on Sunday. Their final "get-together"before family and friends headed back to the States was here at Ola Lola's.

Celeste is a finance director for the Democratic Party so they flew out Monday morning for New York and then directly on to Washington for President Barack Obama's inauguration today. We gave 'em a great party at Ola Lola's but I don't know how that compares to the inauguration. Talk about a honeymoon!

Congratulations Celeste and Christian! Thank you for sharing a bit of your special weekend with us. Hopefully, we'll see you for many anniversaries to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy on the beach

Okay - it's been a little over a week since we've posted anything. Not because there's nothing to write about; there's always something happening to write about. It's just that we've been hearing the weather from just about everywhere in the States and it's almost embarrassing to be here, enjoying our life in paradise. It almost feels like we're rubbing it in.


And as one of our frigid frozen friends said, "Keep writing. We need to know there is SOMETHING else."

So here we are, chillin' on the beach, enjoying it, and grateful to be here.

It's been a good week. We've been working with our nephew Jordan to get his "pincho and burger" business going so he can afford to stay here 'til he goes back to college in March. He's really "stoked" to learn to surf while he's here. I gotta say, there are challenges to sharing the house (and the business) with a 20-year-old. But for the most part, it's going well. And he does make a mean pincho (pinchos are meat-on-a-stick, a shish kabob without the veggies).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy Three Kings Day

Today is Three Kings Day, also known as Twelfth Night and Epiphany. In the Christmas story, this is the day the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus in the manger.

Here in Puerto Rico, Three Kings Day (Dia de Tres Reyes) is often bigger than Christmas Day itself. It is a holiday, a time for families to gather and celebrate, either instead of Christmas or in addition to Christmas.

On Three Kings Eve, children put hay or grass for the wise men's camels in boxes under their beds (much like their northern cousins leave cookies and milk for Santa). In the morning the boxes are gone and wonderful presents have been left in their place.

The three kings are very popular and common in Puerto Rican art and are represented in many different ways and styles. It is a rare Puerto Rican household that does not have some representation of the three kings.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A special guest

We had a special visitor at Ola Lola's last night. Back sometime in the last century, I had a college roommate who was from, of all places, Puerto Rico. About four years ago we reconnected via e-mail and occasional phone calls. He was on the island for the new governor's inauguration on Friday (Manny now lives in Orlando). Last night he surprised me by showing up at Ola Lola's (Elaine knew he was coming but kept it a surprise - she's good at that).

It was a short (too short!) but wild reunion.

It was really nice to see an friend after so many years. We both hope it won't be anywhere near that long before we see each other again.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

More than 40 of us gathered on the beach at Shacks last night to toast the last sunset of the year. It was an amazing, beautiful sunset. It was a beautiful end to a not-always-beautiful year but it filled us all with hope for the new year.

From the beach we went to Marisol's for the rest of the evening and a party full of great friends, wonderful food (I think I ate more than I drank and I drank a lot) and good times. We left the party a little early but this morning we heard the party went on 'til 3:00 am.

We're keeping our new year's tradition alive this afternoon with a New Year's Day kite fly (today is the 20th annual New Year's Day festival). Elaine and I have been doing festivals for more than 25 years and we are frequently asked, "What's the weather going to be like?" For years, I've answered, "clear skies, sunshine, about 80 degrees, winds 7-10 mph." Hey - as long as you're wishing, wish for the best, wish for perfection.

But that is EXACTLY the forecast for this afternoon. What an amazing start to the new year! How can we not be filled with hope?