Saturday, February 28, 2004

A Love Supreme

So I'm sitting/lying/sprawling here for what seems like hours, nursing a (now ice cold) pottery mug full of decaf and reading blogs, when the boyfriend waltzes out here in his glorious naked self and strolls over to the stacks of DVD's by the TV. He grabs one and makes a beeline for the bedroom. I try to grab his hand as he walks by to see what he's planning to watch. He yanks his hand out of my reach and I laugh. Thirty seconds later I hear John Coltrane blowing in the bedroom. I love my man.

Friday, February 27, 2004


We did a nice thing this week: we surprised my mother by Fed Ex'ing her a round-trip ticket to spend her 70th birthday with us here in the islands. She was VERY surprised. I'd been trying to think of some big-ticket item we could buy for her for her milestone birthday, but anyone who knows my mother will tell you that if there's one thing she doesn't need, it's more stuff. Then it occurred to me to switch my thinking from big-ticket item to just a big ticket.

Because of distance, my mother and I have had very little time together--just the two of us--in the last decade. We talk frequently on the phone, and they're sometimes lengthy conversations. It's not that we don't stay in touch--it's that we haven't had the kind of in-person contact that most have with their parents over an extended period of time. She came to Portland to spend her 65th birthday with us, so it seemed only fitting that she would spend her 70th with us. What finally made the light bulb go off was opening a little C.A.R.E. package she'd recently sent us. Tucked inside a notecard was a bag of French tea. The note said that she wished we could be together to have a cup of tea and talk about life the way we used to.

My mother has what she calls "a vision challenge." She visited us here once before, with my brother and his family for Thanksgiving in 2002. She fell in love with our neighborhood beach--said it became her "favorite beach in the world." She arrives Memorial Day weekend (her birthday's in early June) and I plan to take the following week off from work, so I'll have nine uninterrupted days with her. As far as I'm concerned, she (we) can spend every damn one of those days at that beach, if that makes her happy.

She lives in a picturesque small town in Northern California. They had snow this week. I sent her the tickets three months early not only so she could have plenty of time to plan her life around the travel dates, but also because I thought it might make her cold winter a little more tolerable to know she had a tropical vacation coming up soon.

Mom lives alone and on Social Security. She recently decided she would save all of her quarters and earmark that money as her "travel fund." She had finally saved $20 in quarters and gone to her neighborhood bank to exchange them for a $20 bill. She had that $20 bill in her hand and was looking for someplace to store it to begin her "travel fund"...when the Fed Ex guy knocked on her door. Just one more example of how when we take action to put our dreams into motion, the universe has all kinds of surprises in store for us.

Thursday, February 26, 2004


The washer was running when I got home from work. Cool, I thought, the boyfriend's doing some laundry. The cycle finished after he'd left for his gig. When I opened the washer to transfer the clothes to the dryer, I was momentarily stumped. "What's the theme of this load?" I wondered. Because it certainly wasn't sorted by color. Ah, I get it...underwear. He had rifled through the hamper and (seemingly) pulled out every dirty pair of chonies either of us had tossed in there. The only problem was that he washed a lot of very colorful underwear with some very white pieces. The result, as you might imagine, was some color bleeding onto (thankfully only) one white pair (of his). (Why do we call them "pairs," anyway?) How does a man get to be 41 years old and not know that you don't wash fuschia and white together? Men are funny.

P.S. It was lots and lots of underwear...and one pair of golf shorts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


This morning I felt like reading some online journals I haven't visited in awhile. In particular I chose a few that would either give me a feel-good buzz or make me laugh. Robin's one of the make-me-laugh variety. Check out her Groovy Decay and get her take on corporate life. She's hilarious.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Does someone need to grab that Dymo labeler from you because you've gotten too label-crazy? Read Danny's "Pigeonholes" post. Nothing more to be said. Except maybe this: spend a few minutes listing all of the labels you feel others have pinned on you. Now list those you've pinned on yourself. Guess we've got our work cut out for us, don't we?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

In the Dark

The power's just gone off. That's not an unusual occurrence, but it seems to happen more frequently during daylight hours. It's DARK here at night. Thankfully the laptop was on, so I could find my way to the flashlight without tripping over anything. Boyfriend's at a gig, and I had just finished watching a special with the Marsalis family on PBS. I don't mind the darkness really--I'm in sort of an introspective mood this evening anyway. But it would be nice to have some light to read by. I suppose I could use the flashlight, but I don't have any extra batteries for it and don't know how long the lights will be out. It's usually not more than an hour, often less than that. The truly annoying part happens when the power comes back on and I walk around the house resetting all of the digital clocks and displays...only to have it go off again as soon as I've reset the last clock. I've learned to wait a good amount of time before doing any resetting, because it's likely to go on and off several times. Like now...back on...after surging a couple of times. The good news is that my folks sent us a bunch of candles for Christmas, so at least I'm not trying to light some waxy nubs (which I've been known to do). Okay, back to my book...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

225 Feet

On Tuesday of this week, road crews began work to replace 225 feet of retaining wall on one of the main arteries between downtown and the north side of the island. It's expected that this work will take until the end of June to complete. Let me repeat: this is 225 FEET of work...not miles...feet. (The island's only three miles wide.) Geniuses that they are, the government scheduled this work during peak high season when we have dozens of cruise ships arriving each week. It's the road that connects downtown with Magens Bay Beach (and our neighborhood). Magens is the island's most beautiful beach and one of the cruise ship passsengers' primary destinations. That section of road will be one way for 4-1/2 months. From 9:30 am until midnight, one will only be able to travel northbound (toward the beach). Sounds smart, until you realize that taxi drivers have to get all of the cruise ship passengers back to their ships through traffice that was already horrendous before this closure. To head south (into town) one must now snake around a narrow, windy, sometimes steep detour...or better yet, clog up some of the other narrow, windy roads into town.

I wondered how a road crew could possibly work slowly enough to expand a 225-foot project over a 4-1/2 month period. But then I remembered that I live in the West Indies, where it's holiday heaven. When one takes into account weekends and government holidays between February 18 and June 30...well, I guess it makes sense. And government workers don't just take a holiday here or there--they get/take some serious time off. Let's use Easter as an example. Government workers will be given paid holidays on Good Friday and "Easter Monday." (You don't expect them to go to work the day AFTER a holiday, do you?) And I suspect many will start their little Easter break early by not showing up on the Thursday before Easter.

Then there's Carnival here on St. Thomas. (St. John has its own Carnival festivities around the 4th of July and St. Croix celebrates their Carnival activities around Christmas. Each of those begets yet more government holidays.) On St. Thomas, Carnival activities are planned for the entire month of April, culminating in Carnival Week the last week of the month and into the first few days of May. Government workers get paid holidays during Carnival Week as follows: half a day on Wednesday for "Food Fair," half a day on Thursday for "Jouvert" and a full day on Friday to attend the Children's Parade. That's the "official" holiday schedule, but here's what actually happens if you're trying to conduct business of any type with any government agency during Carnival Week: forget about getting anything done the entire last week of April and into the first few days of May. Even though workers are supposed to work the Wednesday morning of "Food Fair" and the afternoon of Thursday following "Jouvert," it's not gonna happen. And since they're gonna get Wednesday and Thursday off anyway, most of them start early and just take the whole week. Expecting them to work the half-day following "Jouvert" is particularly funny--it's an event that's supposed to start at 4 am where bands and revelers take to the street to dance and party down a parade route. Typically the bands are too hungover from their Carnival gigs the night before to start at 4 am, so it usually starts closer to 8:00. And since there's (customarily) a lot of drinking involved, you can see why you can forget getting any work done that afternoon. The Children's Parade is on Friday, followed by the Adult Parade on Saturday. Technically, that should give everyone Sunday to recover. But don't expect any work to get done the following Monday or Tuesday or even Wednesday, because it won't. Not that I'm complaining--my office closes for most government holidays, so no complaints here...except when it comes to that 225 feet of road work.

So when I factored in weekends and every possible official and unofficial holiday between now and the end of June, I came up with 87 work days. At that rate, the road crew will be blazing through their repairs at the lightning speed of 2-1/2 feet per day. God, I love living in the West Indies.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Visitors...of the Unexpected Kind

Boyfriend was scheduled to do a club gig from 10-12 last night following a parking lot blues show put on by the same club and featuring three acts from the States. The outdoor show was supposed to run 6:00-9:00 but didn't start until 7:00...and didn't end until almost 11:00. That's past our bedtime! Boyfriend and I were sitting on a planter box ledge in the courtyard next to the parking lot, listening to the last of the outdoor show and wondering how we were going to stay awake through his gig. (We really ARE getting old...and tired of club gigs.)

Boyfriend had hired a bass player he often works with and a young guitarist who lives on St. John. Since the gig would end after the last ferry back to St. John, the guitarist was going to need a place to sleep. He had taken the car ferry over with his girlfriend. I was meeting both of them for the first time.

Gig's over...everyone's tired...the club manager has told the guitarist and his girlfriend they can stay at the club's "band house." Boyfriend and I are leading them to the place (before heading home) since we lived in the original band house (next door to the current location). Let me mention once again that St. Thomas is VERY hilly. These houses are situated well above Skyline Drive, which you might have guessed by its name is already quite high up. We hadn't been to this location since we moved from there in August of 2000. Boyfriend and I are suddenly getting queasy remembering how hideously steep (and long) the driveway was. We also remembered that there's not really any place to turn around once you reach the house and its individual driveway...and the main driveway is NOT one you'd want to back down, unless you get your kicks by scaring yourself silly. We pull off the side of Skyline Drive adjacent to the driveway and suggest that the guitarist go first, since we'll be the ones who'll need to turn around and leave. Enter nauseuous feeling in the pit of our stomachs.

There's an additional twist: the bands from the States are already camped out at the band house. Boyfriend tells the guitarist that if there's not room for them there, they can crash at our place. But what was the club manager thinking even sending them up there to check it out? If you've got two 4-piece bands, another keyboardist and her friend and who knows how many hangers-on crashing in a 4-bedroom house, it doesn't take a degree in mathematics to see that this isn't gonna be pretty. So the guitarist heads up the driveway, we follow and I suddenly thnk, "Hey, it doesn't seem that steep..." But then it gets steeper and our little caravan stops...because we're confused. It's pitch dark. Boyfriend and I have pulled off into someone's driveway. He asks, "Is this it?" "No." And in front of the guitarist's pickup is a huge (closed) gate. That really threw us for a loop--where the hell had that come from? I suggest we abandon this little adventure and just have them stay with us. We realized later that we'd missed the first fork in the main driveway--we'd gone left instead of right. I was just happy to be out of there. (There are zillions of steep-ass, scary driveways here--I hate them.)

I jumped out of the car to tell them to follow us to our place, but I warned them that the place was pretty cluttered. (We certainly weren't anticipating houseguests.) We have several airbeds (from previous visitors), so about 1:30 this morning boyfriend was standing in the living room pumping up an airbed. We were asleep about 2:00 and his alarm went off at 6:00. I had the day off today, but felt sorry for him having to work on so little sleep so I drove him to work. Afterwards I tiptoed back into the house, past our sleeping visitors, and crawled back into bed to read. About 8:30 I thought I heard them deflating the airbed. I gave them a few minutes to "get decent," but when I went out to greet them, they were gone. They had left the folded airbed and linens in a neat stack and left a very sweet "thank you" note.

This was a monumental occasion in our lives. It's the first time we've ever had unexpected overnight guests. Every time we've had houseguests, we've scrubbed our little condo with a frenzy and made it look as spotless and perfect as possible. (And we did the same thing when we were playing hosts at the band house.) What a damn relief it was to say, "Here, sleep on this...see ya in the morning." And you know what? It didn't matter a bit to them. A good lesson in letting go of expectations...of ourselves.

Sunday, February 15, 2004


Just have to give a big rave to Story House Coffee. I got my first order of their Headless Chicken Decaf a couple of weeks ago and they're wonderful beans. I stocked up--bought four cans and froze three. (Our mail service is sort of unreliable, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn't run out for awhile!) I'm on can #2. If you'd like to support a small Portland business with a unique take on the market, please check them out. After all, now they have three mouths to feed since the birth of their daughter Esmee.


I forgot to mention that during the fundraiser walk yesterday morning, I saw my first-ever stingray (outside of an aquarium, of course). Boyfriend had previously seen a small one in that bay, but this was the first time I'd seen one. At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing. It was fairly small, with an intricate brown pattern, and barely above the sand. But when I saw the tail, I realized what it was. I know they have "Stingray City" locations where you can swim and frolic with them, because they're supposed to be very gentle. I don't think I'm that brave though. Just the NAME...makes them sound kind of, well, fierce.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Against the Tide, Pt 2

I'm here to tell you that walking as fast as you can in waist-high water for almost a mile is a helluva lot harder than it looks. (They said the course would be 2/3 of a mile, but we went end to end.) I thought it would be a piece of cake, because I've been walking for years. What really shocked me is that the boyfriend took OFF. To be expected, I guess, because he has naturally long strides. It wasn't until I was about 2/3 of the way that it dawned on me I was taking a lot of small steps and needed to lengthen my stride. Then it became a bit easier, but by then I was getting pretty tired. Not exhausted kind of tired, more like, "Whose idea was this anyway? Oh yeah...mine."

So the gap between the boyfriend and me grew and grew. He finished at least 1/4 of a mile ahead of me and was one of the first finishers in the walking category. I felt fiercely proud of him, not because of his fast finish but because a year ago he would have never done an event like this. For the first 40-1/2 years of his life he had a terrifying fear of the water (even to be in waist- or chest-high water). He finally conquered that fear last July by teaching himself to snorkel. It might seem like a tiny accomplishment to a lot of people, but it was huge for him. So I was back there with my tired-ass legs silently cheering him on. I don't know where I finished--maybe 6th or 7th among the walkers. You could walk/wade or swim or snorkel.

As we came out of the water, there were volunteers to greet us and drape medals around our necks. It was a bit like the Special Olympics--everyone got a medal. It was sweet. Boyfriend commented that he was one of only three "brothers" participating, and he knew one of the other two. The third was a visitor staying with a resident; he finished right ahead of me and we chatted a bit. So that means ONE West Indian man participated. That's shameful when you consider that we live on an island with a predominantly black population...and how many "sisters" have lost their lives to breast cancer. It was only the second year of the event--hopefully it'll continue to grow.

We rubber-legged our way to the snack bar and ordered breakfast and then headed to our sand chairs that we'd parked before the event in their usual spots. We lounged a bit, took a short dip and then headed home so boyfriend could play in his usual Saturday golf game. How the hell he's gonna play 18 holes of golf with those tight legs is beyond me. Me, I'm in for the afternoon. I've had a good soak in the tub, started the laundry and I'm ready to crawl back in bed and read. I began Hillary Clinton's "Living History" this week (a gift from the boyfriend for my birthday last month). That oughta put me sleep! :) It's a bit dry so far, rather like reading a textbook. Maybe it'll get more fun once she meets Bill.

Against the Tide

Boyfriend and I have signed up for a breast cancer fundraiser at our neighborhood beach this morning. The beach is on a horseshoe-shaped bay that's enclosed by two very hilly peninsulas on the Atlantic (north) side of our island. The water's clear, clean, usually calm and fairly warm--it's like swimming in a tub. The beach is a mile long. The "race course" will be 2/3 of a mile. The idea is to make it the width of the bay any way you like, as long as you do it in the water. You can swim, snorkel, walk, float on a mat, whatever. (We'll probably walk since we're not the strongest swimmers. We prefer our swimming in fits and bursts with much frolicking interspersed throughout.)

This is the second year of the fundraiser and we often head there on Saturday mornings for breakfast and a swim anyway, so we figured we might as well support a good cause. Last year they had entrants ranging in age from 6 months (you can pull your kids with you) up to their 70's. Seemed like a nice idea to start the holiday weekend by remembering what V. Day should really be about...spreading some love.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Itsy Bitsy Spider...NOT!

It occurred to me as I was dressing for work this morning that since both attorneys are out of town, I could wear jeans. I had left my Levi's draped over the end of the ironing board. I put them on, finished dressing, grabbed my bag and walked out to the living room fairly prepared to leave. All of a sudden I felt a tickle on the back of my left knee. We have teensy ants that sometimes appear on your arm or whatever. This wasn't that kind of tickle--this was a pretty significant tickle. I started to panic and began ripping off the jeans, but in my haste (and being denim) they weren't coming off as easily as I hoped. One leg got caught on my foot. Finally I got them off, shook them and the biggest spider IN THE WORLD came flying out. I'm not kidding. This thing made tarantulas (many of which live at the golf course) look like wimps.

It was dark brown and its legs were about 1-1/2" long and it had a thick body. Altogether it had to be almost 4" in diameter. I WISH I was exaggerating. Needless to say, I screamed and then began running around, practically hyperventilating, saying "Oh my god! Oh my god!" That thing was CRAWLING ON ME!!!

When it flew out, it started scampering towards me. I ran to the kitchen to grab the fly swatter out of the broom closet. But when I ran back into the living room, the fly swatter suddenly looked really puny. I needed a sledgehammer or something. He quickly made his way into a little stack of papers I'd set on the floor near the TV. I couldn't bear the thought of trying to do battle with him--I was still to freaked out by him TOUCHING ME.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that it might have bitten me. What if it was poisonous?!?! I don't wanna die like this!! Try looking at the back of your knee--not easy! I ran to the bathroom to get a small hand mirror. I didn't see any marks and I hadn't felt a bite. To think I'd had the jeans on for a good 5 minutes before I felt the tickle...and all the while that mother was IN MY PANTS!!! I started to put them back on and then thought, "Are you crazy?! That thing could have laid eggs in there or something!" So I tossed the jeans in the hamper and grabbed another pair of pants. I left the fly swatter in the middle of the living room floor, pointing it like an arrow toward the last known sighting of the spider and left for work. When I got to the office, I left a frantic message for the boyfriend to please try to find him and kill him (since he comes home on his morning break and at lunch). But I knew he wouldn't. Everyone I told the story to said, "But he's still in your house!" Yeah, I know. Don't remind me.

After work, I came home, changed clothes and went straight to the beach for a walk. When I returned I sat down to watch a little TV while boyfriend was finishing his golf round. I looked very carefully before I sat anywhere, but I had a sneaking suspicion he was still buried in the stack of papers. I picked up the boyfriend at the clubhouse, we went out to dinner, and when we got home I asked if he would PLEASE see if he could find and kill it. But I warned him not to get too close, because he was BIG. He poked at the stack of papers with the fly swatter and then muttered something. I said, "Do you see him?" He said, "Oh yeah." And then the spider ran away from the papers a bit and he smacked him. I said, "Hit him again! And again!" He said, "He's already dead." He picked him up with the fly swatter and carried him out to the balcony and dumped him over the side.

I know it's a wonderful thing to love nature and all of its creatures, but I think exception has to be made...when they crawl down your pants.

9 on 9

Nine years today. Boyfriend and I consider this date our "anniversary." Hard to believe it's been that long. There was a time in my life not so long ago when I could have never imagined staying with someone this long. Now I feel like this is only the beginning...and I look forward to the rest.

Sunday, February 08, 2004


So the boyfriend phones me at work around lunchtime on Friday and says, "Monday's our 'anniversary,' right?" Um, yeah. "I've got my own room tomorrow night. Why don't you come with me and we'll have a little anniversary getaway?" Okay! So he rushed down to the seaplane terminal to buy me a ticket. The only problem was that his Saturday noon flight was sold out, so I flew out at 10:30. Neither of us had ever flown on a seaplane before, although technically what we have here are floatplanes. I guess on a real seaplane the fuselage rests in the water. These are small land-based aircraft that have been adapted with floats. I'm a nervous flier, at best, so I wasn't too keen on getting on this little tiny plane -- by myself -- and flying over the OCEAN. But I have to say that the seaplane ROCKS! It was a smoother flight than with land planes. On our return flight, there was a couple with two adorable little towheaded kids--a boy and a girl. The boy and his father were seated right behind us and when we landed in St. Thomas, the little guy turned to his dad and said, "Dad! Dat was a rough one!" The landing seemed pretty smooth to me, but I guess I'm not the seasoned seaplane traveler he is. :)

I wasn't sure what the set-up would be at the St. Croix terminal because it was my first trip to St. Croix. (Boyfriend's fourth time there, all to play music.) But it was very pleasant--which was good because I had 90 minutes to kill waiting for his plane. They had an outdoor seating area under a canopy that had an espresso bar. (Okay, now we're talkin'!) So even though I had brought reading material, I was quite content to sip my latte and gaze out at the Caribbean and the boats in the harbor. Very relaxing. About half an hour after I arrived, I saw a couple get off a plane. He had a guitar case strapped over his shoulder and I concluded it was probably the bass player. Although boyfriend had done some gigs with him, I'd never met him--but I knew he was coming from St. John and bringing his girlfriend with him. I inquired if that was who they were (it was) and they joined me in waiting for the boyfriend, keyboard player and singer (who were all on the same flight.) It was the first time we'd met the singer.

Our driver, Melvin, showed up shortly after the rest of our party arrived. We were taken straight to the amphitheatre for sound check which was scheduled for 1:00. The only problem was that the headliners were given the first sound check, which turned into what appeared to be a full-fledged rehearsal. (It was a jazz show--Chieli Minnucci and Special EFX from New York.) So boyfriend and I sat in the front row for a couple of hours and waited for their band to finish. Meanwhile, it was a gorgeous day, we were booked at a gorgeous resort and time's a tickin'! We knew our pick-up time to go back to the venue was 6:30 and it was a 20-minute drive. During boyfriend's sound check, the promoter practiced introducing the singer and said, "From San Francisco..." I thought, hmmm, I didn't know that. We finally got out of there about 4:30.

St. Croix has fallen on very hard economic times. They have no cruise ship business anymore; the lines have all pulled out for a number of reasons, but the primary ones are the crime rate and the continued raw sewage that spills onto some of its beaches (like the one next to the cruise ship pier). It's much larger than St. Thomas and St. John (they have highways!), and also much flatter. It also seemed a bit more arid. (St. Thomas and St. John are both very hilly and very lush.) Carambola Beach Resort is in an out-of-the-way location right on the beach at Davis Bay on the north side of the island. It's a beautiful setting and we loved the resort.

We got back to the hotel, checked into our rooms and thought: wow! The rooms are in the old Danish West Indian style and are more like suites, with a living area (couch and rocking chair), huge vanity area in the bathroom that includes a walk-in closet, a separate room with the toilet and a huge tiled shower with a bench, and two-poster beds. There were doors from both the bedroom and living areas that opened onto the screened-in veranda that had two long bench seats and a table. Our room was on the ground floor at the east end of the beach; the water was maybe 15 yards away. It was gorgeous--looking out at the entire expanse of beach and listening to the waves. And when we returned that night, the full moon was in the western sky directly above the beach view. Just beautiful. So we oohed and aahed over the setting, had a quick bite to eat with the promoter and some of the band members on the deck of one of the restaurants, changed clothes and met back at the lobby for the ride back to the venue.

On the ride to the resort, I turned around in the van and said to the singer, "I didn't know you were from San Francisco." And she said that she's really not, that she lives about 8 hours north of there. I said, "Really? Where would that be?" And she told me that it was in a remote place that no one's ever heard of. I told her "try me" because I grew up in a small town in the northwest corner of the state. It turns out she's in the next county over and as the crow flies, about 60 miles from my hometown. What are the odds? I imagine I'm one of the few people she's met in the Caribbean who knows where it is. Small world. Her family's had land there for decades. She lived on St. John for a few years, went back home to visit her dad, he introduced her to his neighbor from across the river, it was love at first sight and she moved back home to move in with her new guy. They have 40 acres and are preparing to build a log cabin. She said she's also an avid gardener and they have a lot of animals. She seems very happy and quite content with her life. She's flying back on Tuesday, having spent the last couple of months on St. John. They're in such a remote place that to use the phone they have to drive to the top of the mountain and use their radio phone. I was sorry we didn't meet sooner, but we've exchanged e-mail addresses; she goes into town once a week to check hers. She's also a massage therapist. (The main reason I was sorry I didn't meet her sooner!)

The show went very well, audience response was great and it was a lovely night. Boyfriend and I sat on a bench at the back of the amphitheatre, under the full moon, for the headliner's set. As we made our way backstage while they were playing one of their last tunes, he said, "Didn't they already play this song?" I said, "No, it's just that we heard almost their entire show during sound check." Oh, right. Boyfriend and I are like a couple of old geezers. The show was over about 11:00 and we were ready for bed. The only problem was that there was an after-show party at a club in Fredericksted. I'd barely kept my eyes open during the headlining set--how the hell was I gonna stay awake for more??

So we pile back in the van for the drive to Fredericksted. On the highway! Which is a thrill when you live on an island where top speed is, at most, 45. The club we went to has its stage set up in the courtyard under a canopy. It was a very pleasant setting and they had an appetizer buffet. The promoter had hired St. Croix's Central High School Jazz Band to play the after-show party. I thought that was a wonderful touch. I'm all for anything that encourages young people to play jazz. It's one of our most precious American art forms and it'll die out if we don't encourage kids to further its legacy. Most of the kids had attended the sound check and the headlining band had agreed to sit in and play with them, which they did after we'd been there about an hour. The kids seemed thrilled. Boyfriend and I were at a table at the back, full of ginger ale and chicken wings...and struggling to stay awake. The keyboard player (who's older) actually nodded out for a bit. It all finally wrapped up at 2 am and we couldn't get in the van fast enough. Our poor driver, Melvin, had spent his day waiting on all of us. He said he was used to it because he sometimes drives bands in the States. He was a peach.

When we arrived back at the hotel, we made a beeline for the front desk so boyfriend could arrange for a wake-up call and a 6:45 taxi to take him to the resort's golf course, a couple of miles down the road. He'd been wanting to play that course since we moved here and now he was finally getting his chance. (Truth be told, it's the real reason he took the gig.) Everyone thought he was insane (because we were all exhausted) but I knew he'd be up and ready to go. So he went off to the golf course early the next morning. I laid in bed and read and phoned the singer about 7:30 to see if she still wanted to meet for breakfast. We agreed to meet at 8:00, and when we got there we joined the promoter, the keyboard player and the sax player. (He and his wife are down from Boston for a month and have rented an apartment in St. Croix, but they were at the resort for the night.) The promoter and his wife and the keyboard player were picked up for an early flight right after breakfast. The singer had switched to our 3:30 return flight and went back to her room to go back to bed. I sat and chatted with the sax player for awhile and then went back to the room to finish my book, change clothes and return to the beach for a little lounging. Still no sign of the boyfriend. About 11:30 I went back to the room to shower and change and pack our bags in time for the noon check-out. He called at 11:45 and said he'd been detained because his taxi still hadn't shown up. He arrived about noon.

We stashed our bags with the front desk, went to the restaurant to have lunch on the deck and grabbed a couple of lounge chairs on the beach. The beach at the resort is a sea turtle nesting site and I came upon a couple of baby ones lying on their backs. I thought at first they were dead, but then I saw them move. One was moving all of his "arms and legs" as if saying "help me!" We rescued both of them and put them in the water. Hopefully we gave them a chance at survival. At least the birds won't pluck them off the beach. They were the cutest things EVER.

In the morning, I had notified the desk that we'd be needing a taxi at 2:00. About 2:15 I went to the lobby to see if it was on its way and found out that they'd forgotten to order it. Our driver showed up about 2:40 and drove like a bat out of hell to get us to the seaplane. Thankfully there was little traffic since it was Sunday, so we arrived with plenty of time to spare. And that, my friends, was our weekend on St. Croix.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Island Hopping

Off to St. Croix for the weekend. Will post when we return.

Friday, February 06, 2004

SAD for birds

As I walked into the bedroom last night to go to bed (boyfriend was still on the computer), I was greeted with the sound of a bird chirping just outside the bedroom. (We keep all of our sliders and windows open 24/7, so we're able to hear the natural soundtrack occurring outside.) I could only assume that the huge, bright full moon we had last night had confused the little guy (or gal) into thinking that it was still daylight. It reminded me of people who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) who surround themselves with special lights during the winter months to keep depression at bay. And it occurred to me that we live in a place that would be considered a haven for SAD people. Living with nearly constant sunshine has certainly made a huge difference in our moods, I know that.

Light's a powerful thing. Otherwise we wouldn't be drawn to the commonly-held belief that when someone dies, they see a bright, loving light beckoning to them. We're calmed and seduced by candlelight. We string festive and colorful lights to celebrate holidays. We feel the pull of a full moon light playing out in sometimes strange behavior. I learned years ago to imagine surrounding myself with white light to ward off negativity or scary stuff.

I've always loved full moons--even though they sometimes disrupt my sleep. But not last night. I drifted off with my last thoughts being about how lucky I am to live in a place where I can sleep in the altogether, in the warm night air, under a ceiling fan, with all of the doors and windows open and hear the happy chirping of a bird bathed in moonlight in a place where no one has to ever experience SAD.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The Sands of Time

I know someone who's lived on this island for decades--this little island that has about 40 gorgeous tropical beaches--and never goes to the beach...because she hates sand. It's hard for me to relate to her sand-hating because I love the stuff. Love it. Have loved it since I had a sandbox in my first backyard--a backyard I had to abandon at age 3 when we moved. The good news was that I could still play in the sandbox because my cousins moved to that house (it was owned by the grandmother).

One of my favorite things to do at the beach is to watch the kids. Living in an international travel destination (and nearest the most popular beach), I see all kinds of kids at our beach and it seems to be universal that they all love sand and waves. (It's also universal that kids like to scream when they're playing in the water.) Give any small child any item than can be used to hold sand or water and he/she is good to go for about 5 hours.

I typically take a stroll down the (mile-long) beach at some point on our beach days. Recently on my walk I saw an adorable tow-headed boy who was maybe 4, dressed in a surf suit, who had dug himself a pretty decent hole in the sand. He was sitting in his sand hole, shaking his head (and his little blond curls) back and forth as fast as he could with his mouth hanging open. Then he'd stop shaking his head and get this funny look on his face, and do it again. Maybe it was making him dizzy, because that seems to be another universal kid love--getting dizzy.

The best part of being at the beach for me is doing "nothing"...which while I'm doing it seems like everything. It fills me up in all the best ways--the sound of the waves, the sun, the loving buoyancy of the very salty water, the tradewind, the delighted shrieks of the kids and, yes, the feel of the sand between my toes. I wear flip-flops to the beach but once we're a few feet away from the car (onto the sand from the asphalt), they're flipped off not to be worn again until I walk to the car. Because I simply can't get enough of the sand.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


It amazes me that I live with a musician and was a passionate music lover before I ever met him, and yet find myself rarely listening to music these days. We went out for Creole food last night and then hit the music store to browse DVD's and CD's. I decided that I had to have this since she's one of my favorites. I put it on early this morning just as the boyfriend left for work and I sat down to write. And all I could think was, "Why the hell don't I listen to music all the time?"

Sunday, February 01, 2004


"We must understand that creativity is both essential to survival and anathema. That's why it can be so hard to overcome the resistance we have to our own creativity. Why it causes us such a deep sense of fear and dread." - Danny Gregory, Everyday Matters

I just read Danny Gregory's beautifully written 1/31 post linking creativity with our (communal and individual) evolution...and survival. Go here to read it in its entirety. And then read it again.