Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sunday, June 9 2019

It's been a crazy week (what week isn't?). Yesterday was World Ocean Day. Not only did I miss remarking on it, I didn't even get in the ocean for it. It has been flat and calm every day this week - at least in the mornings  - and I did not get in the ocean once. Shame on me! No wonder I'm feeling out of sorts. We were supposed to go snorkeling Thursday but that got cancelled. Ah, well.

This week - like most weeks lately - has mostly been about horses. They are all getting healthy from little nicks and "new heard" anxieties and getting comfortable going without shoes, some of them for the first time. (That's a big deal for a horse, a big adjustment.) Most importantly, they have become a herd. The two new horses have been accepted and are now part of the herd. Again, that's a very important step.

Yunque, one the new horses from the police mounted division, was a therapy horse for the first time this week. And I got be a real therapy volunteer for the first time this week! Yay for us!

Coda Bear and I still go for a walk every day, usually on a beach. Some day, in fact most days right now, that's my only contact with the ocean. I'm tellin' ya, that has got to change! I need my vitamin Sea!

Weird little Ted, our latest rescue dog, now joins us on our walks. He get really upset if I start out and don't put his little harness on. It's good though. He and Coda like to romp on the beach together. He's a good playmate for Coda despite the difference in their sizes.

Fair warning: I will be off-line for the next 10 days. I leave tomorrow morning for Buenos Aires (yes, in Argentina) to watch my grandson Kai play soccer. He is nine years old and was recruited for this tour. His team in Ohio just won the state cup championship, defeating a team in the finals they've never beaten before. Yeah, he's good - really good. And he loves it. So poor poor pitiful me is going to watch him play. And, I get to hang out with his mother for the week. I will be gone but should have good stories when I get back.

See ya on the flipside. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Another beautiful sunny blue sky morning! And a very productive morning for photography.

First, the cactus in our yard is blooming with dozens of blooms at a time. I took a bunch of photos; this is the best so far:

There will be more.

We - the dogs and I - got out pretty early so I stopped on the way to the beach to check out the light on the rocks at the edge of the ocean.

Yeah, that was worth the stop. I have more from this little shoot to work on but so far I like this one the best.

Just before we walked on to the beach, I saw this:

Not bad - three sharable photos in one morning. After that, it was just a walk on the beach.

My life does not suck.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Saturday, June 1 2019

Sunshine and blue skies two days in a row! We desperately needed the rain but we are grateful for a break. Things - like the horses paddocks - need a chance to dry out. I need a chance to get the grass cut. And our solar water heater needs some sun to warm up.

Passive solar water heaters are great as long as the sun shines (and there is water). Three or four days with out sun - like this week - and the water cools off. Some solar water heaters have an electric element that will keep the water warm/hot during periods of no sun but using electric to heat water like that sort of defeats the purpose of a solar water heater, at least in my mind.

For now, the water is on and the sun is shining. There should be a nice warm shower after I cut the grass.

By the way, the 2019 hurricane season starts - now.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday, May 30 2019

It's been a week of a whole lot and not much.

Anna, Penny, and Vivian "officially" left the island this week. Jeremy will be here for another week or so then he's gone too. Lots of people have come and gone from our lives here in the past 13 years but this is family - our family, as Carole put it "the family I choose" - and this is especially hard.

Did anyone wish for rain? We have gone from drought to rain every day. I mean Every. Day. Thunderstorms, lightning, rain for a couple of hours Every. Day. But this is exactly what it's supposed to do this time of year. Fortunately, we - and Ola Lola's have not flooded. Downtown Aguadilla did as did the road between Aguadilla and Aguada. Rio Culebrinas, which drains a huge chunk of the northwest corner of the island and dumps into Aguadilla Bay, is over its banks in several places. If the rain stops now, it will be a week before the water clears up enough to dive.

The good news in all this is it has been raining a couple of hours every day in the mountains. This is exactly what we need to refill Lago Guajataca. The lake levels are high enough that the water authority lifted the rationing and restrictions last week. Not only do we have water, we have water pressure!

Carole and I did go back and snorkel at Rompeolas before the rain totally crapped it up. It's funny: when Heidi, Hernan and I dove there the week before, the reef seemed to have a lot of life. Snorkeling, looking down, it seemed pretty barren (except for the reef squid). One good sign though: in the midst of a stand of really old really dead elkhorn coral, we found several patches of new elkhorn growth. That is awesome! Maybe after years of decline the elkhorn is finding a way to come back.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday, May 21 It's all about the water don't ya know

Rain. Sweet blessed rain. But be careful what you wish for. It looks like we are actually having a rainy season. We're in one of those every afternoon and/or evening it rains cycles. 

And that's good. And bad. It's really good for the pastures where the horses are but the grass in the yard is growing faster than I can cut it. The paddocks are muddy and slippery. Fortunately they are sandy and dry pretty quickly. Once it stops raining.

It has been raining every day up in the mountains. That's good. And bad. The water level in Lago Guajataca - the lake that is our primary reservoir - is rising, enough that the water authority announced yesterday they are ending the 24-hours-on-24-hours-off water rationing starting this Wednesday. The bad news is all the water flowing down the rivers carries all kind of crap to the ocean. Visibility is bad and bacteria levels spike.

So far the rains have been fairly short and not too hard. There has been no flooding. Let's hope it stays that way.

Speaking of oceans and visibility, I dove at an beach/reef called Rompeolas with our friends Heidi and her husband Hernan.

Visibility at Rompeolas is never really good; after all the rain, we were prepared for really crappy viz. Rompeolas surprised us with 30-foot-plus visibility. That's about a good as it ever gets. Just shows ya, ya never know 'til ya get there.

I love diving with Heidi and Hernan. I think I've said this before but I'll repeat it: Heidi is a microbiologist and what we call a "four square foot" diver. She can spend a whole dive minutely inspecting  four square feet of ocean. It pays to hang around her: she sees the coolest stuff, stuff I would never see otherwise, like these shrimp and the starfish.

I am supposed to go snorkeling with Carole at Rompeolas this morning. We'll see how it is after all the rain we had yesterday.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019

After obsessing about rain for months, I can't believe I didn't mention it when we finally got some. We a good rain last week and then both Saturday and Sunday we had thunderstorms. Not bad, but with a couple of hours of good steady rain. I thought, "Ah! Finally, the rainy season is started." Nope. Since Sunday it's been dry, hot and humid with very little breeze, all under a Sahara dust haze. (I've written about Sahara dust before.)

I tried to snorkel at Playa Pastillo yesterday. 

I've always loved Pastillo but we didn't go there a lot. It was half-an-hour drive away and Shacks Beach was a five-minute walk. Since we moved from Shacks last summer, Pastillo is now the closest beach to us. Coda and I walk there a lot. 

Several years ago my dive buddy Darryl and I dove there just to see what is there. Honestly, we didn't find much. But we never got to the far east end of the beach. We suspected it was better than where we'd been but somehow we just never got back to it. 

Walking there with Coda so frequently, I've learned a lot more about the beach and the water. I know there is reef out there and not too far off shore. On good days I can see the darker areas in the water that indicate reef or rocks, something other than sand, which shows as lighter green or blue. 

This beach faces almost due north. It gets the brunt of whatever the Atlantic is throwing our way. It too rough to snorkel most days. I watched the waves for the past few days getting flatter and flatter, more and more inviting. 

A bigger problem than waves out in the water is getting in and out. There is nice sandy bottom along most of the shoreline, which is a much better entrance than climbing over rocks especially if there are any waves at at all. But because of the shape and slope of the beach, there is a wicked undertow. The undertow undermines your footing in the sand, making it hard to stand and walk in and out. 

As I thought about it later, I realized this is a perfect example of "he who hesitates is lost." If I had just plunged in, moved out beyond the surf zone to where I could float, put on my fins, and swam out, I would have been fine. Instead, I stood there analyzing the whole scene, in the exact wrong spot - and got knocked down by the one big(ger) wave of the day. Since I was there alone, no buddy, not another soul on the beach, it kinda freaked me out. I abandoned the idea of snorkeling there, at least for that day. 

This morning Pastillo was back to its beautiful more-wave-than-I-want-to-deal-with self. Snorkeling will wait for another day. 

This week Elaine (and Chocolate) did an extended radio/video interview about Horses of Hope. It included a demonstration therapy session with Sebastian, one of her clients and first-time-ever rides for Madeline Rivera, the reporter, and Iraida Hernández, a psychologist. Both got their first close up view of equine therapy and it's benefits. To say they were impressed is an understatement. I said to Paola, one of our volunteers, "I hope you're ready to be busy!"

Iraida, the psychologist, had never ridden a horse, had never been around horses, was afraid of horses. Now she's hooked1

We can't wait to see the finished edit. It will be posted on Facebook. We'll let you know when.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday, May 12, 2019 Mother's Day

Wow! How time flies! Hardly an original thought but appropriate. 

It's been busy here mostly with horses, getting the new new guys settled in, introducing them to the others, fixing fences behind them. 

 Jibaron is still a little anxious. For the first few days he wouldn't let us approach him to clip on a lead rope to bring him in from the pasture. So we let him run for a bit until he was ready. Once he is ready, he's very easy to lead. 

After just a few days, Yunque felt comfortable enough to lie down in the paddock and let Elaine approach him while he was down. This is a very vulnerable position for a horse. It takes quite a bit of trust to get to this point. 

Yunque also got his first ride. Jibaron injured his leg in a bizarre accident involving Yunque and an electric fence so he hasn't been ridden yet.

We began introducing Yunque and Jibaron to the other horses. We tried Chocolate first because he's the herd leader. Oh boy! That did not go well. Choco ran Yunque and Jibaron around and around the pasture. Yunque ran right through the wire gate where I was standing and nearly ran me over. I caught him and kept him out of the fray while Chocolate and Jibaron continued to run until Elaine stopped Choco and separated them.

Next we put Cass in with Yunque and Jibaron. That went much easier. A little posturing and then all was well. 

Next we put KTJ in with the new boys. KTJ smelled new horse flesh and immediately went into season. Yunque is apparently one of three percent of geldings who still thinks he can do it. KTJ was an incorrigible tease. She flirted every way a mare can but then wouldn't let Yunque near her. Meanwhile Jibaron was way off to the side. "Y'all work this out. I'm gonna graze." In the end they settled down and now we can put KTJ or Cass with the new boys.

Next will be to introduce Chocolate to them one at a time.

I did manage to get in the water twice this week at Crashboat. The first was a solo dive. Finally! A decent dive! No current, good visibility. The second time was with one of my favorite mermaids, our friend Carole.

She and Rolf used to snorkel a lot but since Rolf began getting worse her time was taken with him so it has been a long time since she was in the water. This was her first time in the water at Crashboat since before Hurricane Maria; she had not seen the wreckage before.

Like all of us who have seen it, she was amazed, saddened, but awed by the incredible forces it took to create this.

Amidst it all there is beauty and life returning.

One of the most interesting parts of diving at Crashboat now is looking at what is growing on the wreckage. Now more than ever Crashboat is a "look closely" dive. I love looking for the abstractions  in the colors of the different things growing there.


Sometimes you have to look really close. One of the big surprises to me is the number of tiny tiny Christmas tree tube worms there are now. These things are rampant! And beautiful.

Most of these are smaller than a dime.

We also said good-bye to friends. An island icon, a fixture at Ola Lola's, Suzanne, or just Zan, is leaving the island headed for Boise, Idaho. Now there's a change! She's been a dear friend for 12 years and we wish nothing but the best. We hope this is the move she needs. (Shirley and Mac actually left the island in March. I just happened to find this picture of them and Zan together. We miss them.)

Finally, today is Mother's Day. We wish a happy joyous Happy Mother's Day, not just today but every day, to all the mother's, grandmothers, step-mothers, mothers who have moved on, soon-to-be mothers, never-gonna-be mothers, all of you descendants of the goddess, whoever and wherever you are.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

April 27, 2019 this week in review

 Penny looking for eggs

Cloey found some

We spent Easter Sunday with Jeremy and Anna and friends. The kids had an egg hunt; the adults ate too much. At least, this one did.

 Penny and Jeremy in "the pool"

Vivian in her "floater-mobile"
On Adventure Tuesday we took Anna, Jeremy, Penny, and Vivian to La Parguera. It wasn't exactly the adventure we thought we were going to have but it was the adventure we apparently needed. Anna and Jeremy were a little (!) distracted trying to get details on the closing on the sale of their house here and word about financing on their new house in Michigan. (More this in a minute.) Elaine was distracted waiting for information about what day we could get the new police horses and if our trailer guy was available when the government agency said we could get them. Just a little tension. We couldn't go out in the little skiffs to the mangrove islands because it was too windy and choppy. But there is a beach with an "ocean pool" so we played there and then hung out drinking beer and snacking in town. Very gentle, very low key. Like I said, not the adventure we thought we were going to have but the one we needed. Anna and Jeremy had never been to La Parguera so at least we got to show them that before they leave.

Ah, yes - that. In very short order Anna and Jeremy got an out-of-the-blue offer on their house  At almost exactly the same time, Jeremy got word he is being promoted to a new position back in Michigan. They were looking for a house in Michigan and practically feel into a deal on a house very near Jeremy's family that is already setup for special needs. Vivian's growth and development is a constantly wonderful surprise but no one can predict what her future will be. With this house, they are prepared no matter what it is. And the house has a pool for Penny!

So They are leaving. That is probably the hardest thing about living here. People come, you get close, and then they leave. Anna and Jeremy are going to be especially hard to lose. They are family. And as Carole says, "I love the family I chose!" And their moving away so soon after Rolf's death is especially especially difficult.

Carole and Vivian

 Yunque (in the back) and Jibaron (in the front) - our two new horses

 Yunque meeting Chocolate and KTJ for the first time

After all the craziness, the two new horses, Yunque and Jibaron, finally came home on Friday. The trip from Bayamon to here was pretty uneventful. The first meeting was quite eventful. Nothing really bad, i.e., no body and no horses got hurt, but fences came down, fence posts were broken and for a while mayhem ensued. The good news is when the fences were down and they all cavorting together, there was no fighting. A lot of shouldering and nuzzling and pushing but no fighting. That's bodes well. Things eventually calmed down. KT, Choco, and Cass spend the night grazing in a pasture (poor babies!) and Yunque and Jibaron spent the night getting used to their paddock and the electric fence.

This morning I did what in hindsight I should have done in the first place: I put separator fences between the paddocks so the horses can see each other but can't get to each other. Today that has worked so far. We'll see what the night brings. 

Cass, Yunque, and Jibaron just before the fences came down 

They are pretty horses and - in spite of some news reports - in good health. They need work and they need to get used to their digs and herd-mates, and they will. They just need some time and patience. 

An exciting week. I'm hoping to get in the water tomorrow. It's supposed to be flat and calm and no rain. We'll see how the fences are.