Sunday, April 30, 2017

Best moment Friday 170428

Scuba diving two days in a row! It's the first time that's happened since the beginning of January.

These two days of diving at Natural have been great. Visibility has been surprisingly good, between 80 and 100 feet.

Darryl had two first-time divers so I led the group of three other certified divers. The best I can say about my leading this group is I got everybody back to the beach safely. (By definition that makes it a good dive.) Other than that, my navigation and in-the-water skills need a bit of work. That's not surprising: this was only my sixth dive of the year and the first time I've led a dive at Natural in almost a year.

Hey! It was a good dive. And it was beautiful. And I was diving and learning. That's a best moment!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Best moment Thursday 170427

I know it's early in the day yet, but I don't know what could be a better moment. First I went diving this morning! That is a great moment (actually 58 great moments - that's how long the dive lasted) all by itself. Dives have been few and very far between this year so far.

Then we came on this little gal, a juvenile hawksbill turtle, hanging out and feeding on the bottom. She didn't care much about our presence. I guess one of us finally got a little too close and she swam off.

It was a beautiful dive. Visibility was about 60 or 70 feet. The sunshine overhead made the colors in the reef really pop.

It's my favorite way to start a day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Question for readers

So my question is this: Is this stuff interesting? Do you care? Do you want to read about "best moments" or would you prefer something else?

I really do care what you think. Please either leave a comment here or email your comment to

Thanks for taking a moment to do this. It's important to me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Best moment Monday 170424 and Tuesday 170425

No photos of this best moment except the ones I will forever carry in my memory.

My best moment Monday was that moment when Amber, the dog who a couple of nights ago couldn't even stand, asked to go for a walk.

It was midday, warm, a bit muggy, no breeze, and I wasn't sure how he would do. We took a short walk down to the beach. I didn't let him loose to run - that was my insecurity. But he enjoyed the walk and was happy to see the beach.

Which leads to the best moment Tuesday. At 7:00 am he let me know in no uncertain terms he wanted his walk/run on the beach! So Amber, Oz and Bito (pronounced  BEE-to in Spanish) went for our normal walk on the beach. I let Amber off leash and off he went, loping and prancing full of life. That was a happy happy dog.

And that makes me happy.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Best mometn Sunday 170423

Sunday morning I was honored to help clean up after the Calorcito pa'l Corazon fundraiser. So many people helped make the party both a party and a huge fundraising success. They met the fundraising goal and now can buy blankets and warm socks to give out in hospital emergency rooms for the rest of the year.

I want to share something from one of the Calorcito volunteers:

"While working the door, two different couples attended our fundraiser that let me know they were also recipients of CPC blankets in the ER.

The first couple said the wife was in the Aguadilla ER freezing and in came "The angels with blankets and socks. We still can't believe it was free. No one asked us for money. We appreciate the work that Calorcito Pa'l Corazon. We HAD to support this fundraiser!"

The second couple said the husband was in the Moca ER by himself. The wife was in the States at the time. "I can't thank you people enough for giving my husband a blanket. He was with pneumonia and in and out of sleep but woke covered in a blanket with a little red heart. He later asked the nurse about the blanket and she explained about your wonderful group. We jumped at the chance to give back and support you people. Gracias y Dios te Bendiga!"
Our dear friend Carole volunteered her beautiful home as a site for the fundraiser. By the time we got there Sunday morning to clean up, other volunteers had done pretty much all the work; there was very little for us to do. Is it any wonder that I am honored to be even a small part of this amazing group? 

That's why even helping to clean up was a best moment.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Best moment Saturday 170422

Late Friday afternoon we had a real scare: Amber Ale, our almost-17-year-old Vizsla, suffered a pretty major stoke. Although he had feeling, he had no control over his back legs. He couldn't stand. He had a difficult time getting his head and neck comfortable. His tongue was lolling to the side. He wouldn't eat or drink.

We stayed with him through the evening, loving on him, relaxing him as much as we could, letting him know he was loved and okay. He finally was able to relax a bit and settle into a peaceful sleep. We fully expected either he would pass in the night or that our first stop Saturday morning would be the vet's.

What we didn't expect was a dog who stood on the bed and then stepped down, almost as if nothing had happened! He was shaky, a little wobbly, and still weak. He needed to go out of course so the first time I carried him down the steps. He managed to walk around the yard to do his business. I carried him back upstairs but he climbed up on the bed on his own.

As the day went on, he got stronger and stronger, getting on and off the bed and up and down the stairs on his own. By mid-afternoon he was restless and bored and ready for a walk. I took him for a short walk - not all the way to the beach, just down the road, and he did fine.

He is an amazing resilient soul! In 24 hours we went from not making it through the night to "hey, what's the problem?" What an incredible best moment.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Best moment Tuesday 170418

Elaine has a class every Tuesday evening (that is not the best moment) so Tuesday dinner is frequently a catch-as-catch-can affair. This Tuesday she left me some of her amazing homemade Pepper Chicken Chinese. Oh my goddess!

If she were so inclined - and she absolutely is not - Elaine could have the best Chinese restaurant on the island! She has the skill, the knowledge (gained from working with one of the top Chinese chefs in the country) but not the desire. Oh, well. I'm just grateful for every one of those moments when she offers to make Chinese at home for us.

To top off this marvelous meal she surprised me and brought home ice cream after her class. Ah, bliss!

Best moment Thursday 170420

About 30 people came to Ola Lola's Thursday evening to learn about and to volunteer for a project to begin replanting coral on the reef at Shacks - our reef!

For millennia elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) was one of the most common corals in the shallow waters of the Caribbean. It's range covers from Biscayne National Park, Florida,  in the north southward all the way to Venezuela.

In the past 30-40 years upwards of 90% of the elkhorn coral have died off, largely because of warming waters and increased acidification of the oceans. Other threats include disease, human activity and storm damage. 

Coral "reseeding" is used in a number of places around the world. There are several sites here in Puerto Rico. We visited a site for staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) off Guanica on a dive last year.

Both elkhorn and staghorn coral reproduce by fragmentation. That is, living pieces break off and if they fall in the right places, start new colonies. In the coral farming process, fragments are collected and allowed to grow. Once they reach a certain size, they are "replanted" on the reef. Some are not replanted. Fragments taken from them and used to start a new "crop."

Most of the coral "farms" here in Puerto Rico are on the south side of the island where it is protected from winter storms and waves. Seas and shorelines here on the north are  mostly too rough. Our friends Sean and Micheal, both experts from NOAA, have found a place here at Shacks they think is protected enough to begin the process. 

Our "farm" will look different from the one in Guanica. Because of the waves, ours will be flat on the bottom.

So we have a group of volunteers. Some are scuba divers, some are snorkelers. All are committed to helping restore the reef. There is even hope that in the long term, we can grow enough coral to "export" to other sites. For now, we are taking the first tiny steps. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A week of best moments

It's been a wild week in Ola Lola-land. Remember how Wednesday started off with a "best moment" scuba diving? What a day that turned into!

The short version is we had a very unexpected flash flood. It was unexpected because we had very little rain. Apparently, elsewhere up in the mountains there was a lot of rain! It all came roaring down toward us. This is not exactly the stuff best moments are made of.

Sometimes adversity brings out the best. Wednesday evening and into Thursday we got calls and texts and messages checking to see if we were okay. We got offers of help. People from the Office of Emergency Management stopped to talk and to make a report. (They've never done that before.)

And I got to help other people, mostly pushing stranded cars out of the receding waters and picking up things the floated away.

By Thursday evening the waters had long since receded. It doesn't take much rain - let alone a freak flash flood - to turn the area where the horses are into Lago de los Caballos (Lake of the Horses). The OEM people came back. They must have noticed be setting up my little sump pump because they stopped and asked if we want the area for the horses pumped out. With great gratitude we answered
"Oh, hell yes!" They pulled a gas-powered pump with a three-inch hose off the truck and proceeded to pump out the lake. What would have taken me three days they did in a couple of hours. I think in all of it, that was Thursday's best moment.

All weekend our friend Marie brought us food. It was so unexpected! And so wonderful. And we are so grateful. On Sunday Elaine finally had a chance to cook and we got to feed Marie and her husband. So many great moments shared!

The best moment Friday had to be finishing up the major clean up in time to open Ola Lola's. After working so hard for two days we felt a great sense of pride and relief and well, joy to finally finish the "heavy lifting." There is still work to be done but the hard part is done.

Saturday's best moment was a day of doing nothing! We mostly took it easy and recuperated a bit.

Sunday was supposed to be a day with friends and horses but a minor illness kept our friends home on the other side of the island. So it was just Elaine and Marie and I with our horses and short but very satisfying Easter Sunday beach ride.

On Monday Elaine was at a horse clinic in Rincon most of the day, both helping and learning. I spent the day catching up on stuff that needed catching up on. It started raining again late Monday afternoon. Between the rain and the Monday after a holiday weekend, Ola Lola's was still. I quietly closed a little early. The rain finally stopped so I took Amber for a walk to the beach. 

And that was a best moment.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Best moment Wednesday 170412

I don't need therapy. I just need to go scuba diving!

My best moment of the day was the whole morning! First, my buddy Darryl and I actually went scuba diving! It was the first time in the water for me since the first week of February. Too long! Too long! It was my first dive with my new mask and new camera. I love them both.

After the dive, as if I weren't relaxed enough, I came home to an amazing yoga session with Rosie and our friend Margie.

And then, a I took a great walk with the dogs on the beach.

What a great morning for mind, body and spirit.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Best moment Tuesday 170411

Look familiar? Deja vu all over again. Went snorkeling at Shacks beach. Again. Ho hum.

It may be repetitive but life doesn't suck.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Best moment Monday 170410

Happy birthday to our "middle baby" Amy. Even though she and her family are a couple thousand miles away, it is still a celebration!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Best moment Sunday 170409

Sunday - Not only did I get to go snorkeling with my new "wow I can see" mask and my new camera, I got to go snorkeling with my bestest favorite mermaid. ( I know, snorkeling two days in a row. How boring my life is.)

This is Vitamin Sea therapy at it's best!

Best moment Saturday 170408

I got two new toys to play with! I got a new underwater camera and a new prescription mask.

And, the day was flat enough and calm enough to actually go in the water. That's three gifts!

I love my new mask. An optician in Kansas (of all places) custom-makes lenses for scuba masks. Oh my goddess what difference. I can see! Clearly!

The new camera is Sealife's newest, the DC2000. I've had it for nearly two weeks but couldn't get in the water. It's just been too rough. Watch for more photos in the next few days.

But now I'm set for great new underwater adventures. As soon as Mother Ocean cooperates.

Best moment Thursday 170406

No photo for this one.

Amber, like a lot of us old guys, wakes up in the middle of the night, has to pee, and then is restless. So I've started taking him for a little extra walk at night, after Ola Lola's closes or just before bedtime on nights we're closed.

We walk down to the beach over the dune. It's not a long walk, just a little extra exercise. I'm really enjoying these little walks with him. It's just us; we don't take Oz and Orito. There's no agenda, no time frame. We take an easy gentle walk then home to bed.

The ocean is beautiful at night, especially right now around the full moon. When it's clear, the stars over the ocean are incredible.

Guess I'm going to have to learn to take night photos. The full moon is Tuesday. That would be agood night to start.

Best moment Wednesday 170405

(I got wrapped up in a lot of stuff, some of which you will read about shortly, and got behind. So, now trying to catch up. Nine days without one's main computer tends to put one behind.)

Our lives are so boring. I'm repeating myself again. Wednesday's best moment was a good workout with Chocolate and the riding on the beach together.

Ho hum...

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Best moment Friday 170407

Yay!!!!! We got the computer back and running! I spent most of Friday afternoon reloading software so I can edit a week's worth of surf photos.

I have a love/hate - okay, love/sometimes-strong-dislike relationship with technology.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Best moment Monday

More surf!

Monday was almost as good as Sunday. More great images! Another 600 images to edit when I get the computer back. 

But shooting was amazing! What a great day!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Best moment Sunday


Sunday may have been the best the best swell and surf we've had all season. It had good size and for the most part was clean with little wind. I captured some of the best images of the season.

The think is, you can't see them, not yet at least. Our "main" computer - the one with all my editing and posting software - is in the shop. I can do process image at a time, like this photo of Mike Shand, one of the legends of Puerto Rico surf. But I have about 600 images from this session to edit. Those are going to have to wait a bit, until we get the box back.

Ah - the anticipation!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Best moment Friday

First a great workout with Chocolate, then a ride on the beach.

What can I say? We live here.