Reef Madness...The Sequel

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
Lewis Carroll

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June 23, 2008

Wow, I am in another universe! Lets continue with the trip report - day three... tomorrow. I am sure it will have you on the edge of your chair!


June 24, 2008

Trip report day three:
Oh boy, today we really are busy. I mean with real villa work type stuff to do. I am not in the mood. I want to run and jump and play, to swim, to snorkel, to be one with the donkeys, to…well you get the picture. I am so not into anything villa right now unless it involves a blender… Anyway we have issues (I know, you are shocked). The upstairs bedroom TV doesn’t work, the pool still has a bit of dripping, the music system only works on the inside OR outside speakers depending on the source, two electrical outlets are not working and two rather large dogs down the road from us are behaving as if I look like a suitable meal whenever I drive by their domain. Dudes, I just want to chill, doesn’t anyone get it? OK, I guess I am going to have to suck it up and get to it. Problem number one: - upstairs TV is showing me the message “No signal”.  I know the downstairs satellite box controls the upstairs TV however, while the downstairs TV needs to be set to channel four, the upstairs TV needs to be set at channel 60. Well of course it does, any fool should know that! OK,thats fixed; I’m doing well; next problem: Speakers indoors/out doors. Shortly after our arrival we noticed that the CD player only played on the inside speakers and my i-Pod only played on the outdoor speakers.  Who’s been playing with the programming?  Oh gawd, I have to read the owner’s manual!  Amazingly, I stumbled across an entry in the trouble-shooting guide that described my exact problem.  Analysis: “Someone’s been playing with the programming.”  Eureka!  The fix?  Waaaay too lengthy to go into here, but let’s just say that my hands were reaching for Rumsfeld’s bottle when I was finally done.  Let it be noted that new & improved directions for the TV’s and sound system are now part of our visitor’s guide to Reef Madness.  Instruction #1: Don’t play with the programming!  (Please?)

Next: drippy pool. OK I need HELP on this one! Call Pete. Yeah call Pete and while I’m begging for pool help, he can also look at getting me a door put on my brand new storeroom. All I need is a door and my villa square footage will skyrocket to an amazing 30 extra square feet. Now that is exciting. A new place to store some stuff (the late, great, George Carlin had something to say about stuff) that I will probably never use and don’t know what it does, but there will be a place for it! I am also going to need help on the electrical outlets. I am shockingly (bah-dah-bum) unqualified, so our electrician Lance, will be over today. Here comes Lance and it appears that our outlet fix is not quite as simple as I thought it would be. He doesn’t look happy as it is not as easy as he was hoping, but he did get them working. OK, thats done, now the pool and here comes Maintenance Pete to the rescue! Pete is so unflappable, nothing rocks his world. "The pool won’t be easy... We need to drain it"... (again?) (poop, call in the water trucks...again). I think this should wait until there is a break in the rental action. As for our new door, he has a plan. It will be installed during a quiet time and he will even have a dehumidifier installed in the room to keep this extremely valuable stuff (whatever it is or does) comfortable (my step ladder will be very excited I’m sure). Stay tuned for tomorrow’s part deux! (I can hardly wait!)

June 25, 2008

Trip Report Day Three Part Deux:
Since I have to wait around for Lance and Pete, it seems unreasonable that our guest must also hang around, particularly since no one has yet to see a beach on this trip. Sharon; you remember Sharon, the person who drove north from Greenville South Carolina to catch a south bound plane to Charlotte NC, to catch another plane to get to St Thomas… anyway, Sharon, after all she had been through, deserved to get to a beach, even late in the day. So off to Maho the girls go, sans testosterone (me).  Now, did I mention that I was not in the mood to do villa stuff? So not only am I stuck doing electrical & plumbing stuff with Lance and Maintenance Pete and I don’t even have a beer in the fridge (yes, that was very short-sighted of me), but it’s hot, sticky, and I wanna go to the beach tooooooo… I don’t want to do villa stuff. I want to be one with the fish and the turtles… So when the ladies finally come back, they are all a-smirk with wonderful stories of spotting octopus, huge turtles, eel, and a rainbow assortment of fish, coral, and the like. Drat! Not even a lousy beer to cry over! But there was Rumsfeld’s rum, and to make me feel better, we loaded the blender and had happy hour together (did you know that mango daiquiris have medicinal properties.. yeah, they do… no really!) and then I was treated to those awesome baby back ribs from Marina Market cooked on the barbeque along with roasted red peppers and one of our favorite on-the-grill side dishes, Chesapeake potatoes! OK, now I feel better. A dip in the pool, some rum, some laughs, good friends, good food… life is once again GOOD.

June 30, 2008

Trip Report Day Four:
Once again we got up later than usual. More coffee…need coffee… Where’s the Baileys? Ahhh that’s better. There is something about sitting out on the deck overlooking Coral Bay that makes one feel like royalty looking out over their kingdom. It’s good to be king. Now if I could just get all my loyal subjects to pay taxes for the privilege of my continued existence on my island…Ok, a winning lottery ticket is another fantasy. Today… what to do today?  I know, let’s jump in the pool! I feel the villa gravity taking hold. The phone rings while we are in the pool. It’s Eileen and Gene from Blue Caribe. We knew they were coming down this week. As it happens, we have a birds eye view of their villa and when the lights went on at Blue Caribe the night before, we knew they made it safely back to our island.  We called them back and must have just missed them. Sharon (you remember Sharon from South Carolina?) received a call from a friend of hers (also from South Carolina), Joe. Now Joe loves to sail. He has a sailboat he keeps down here and spends several months each year sailing around the Caribbean.  He met up with a couple friends of his on St Thomas (Chris and Tom) and decided to sail on over to Coral Bay and say howdy. How cool is that? Jump on your sailboat on St Thomas and mosey on over to Coral Bay for happy hour. We pick them up at the ever famous and oh so chic dinghy dock and after a few starter cocktails at Skinnys, escort them up to our estate on the hill. So here we all are, Joe, Chris, Tom, Randy, Marcia, and Sharon. The boys out number the girls for a change. So happy hour gets underway and the mango rum drinks are flowing. Wait – there’s a car coming up our driveway!  It’s Eileen & Gene, with impeccable timing!  Here we all sit, Eileen, Gene, Joe, Chris, Tom, Sharon, Marcia and Randy (are you keeping this all straight? There will be a test later), rum drinks in hand (Rumsfeld is smiling), snacks abound, looking over our kingdom wondering what the simple folk are doing. Yes, it’s good to be king…

July 1, 2008

So after happy hour Gene and Eileen went off to do more island things and Joe and Chris and Tom and Sharon and Marcia and Randy started to feel as if they needed something a bit more substantial than snacks, so off we all went to Shipwreck (more fish and chips!!!). We also had more pain killers, more beer, more of just about everything. We had a great time and did not run into anyone named Buster. It was getting late and as we had been very, very busy all day long doing very, very exhausting stuff, we took Joe and Chris and Tom back to the very, very chic dinghy dock where Joe immediately fell in a hole where a board was supposed to be. Not that rum had anything to do with it (after all it was dark and that dock moves up and down a lot and that missing board was…well...missing). Good thing they didn’t have to walk to that sailboat!

July 2, 2008

Trip Report Day Five:
Another gorgeous day in paradise; oh woe is me; coffee with Baileys and a sit out on the deck looking out over our loyal subjects. Today, we will get some villa tasks accomplished: we need to visit WAPA to check on our permanent power status (for whatever good it will do); we need to check with VIVA and see if Rumsfeld’s replacement/stand-in has shown up (we had it shipped to VIVA before we left Maryland) and find out where we stand on a few other villa issues. But most importantly of all, since we are in the big city of Cruz Bay, we are meeting St John Spice’s Ruth and Ron for lunch at the Beach Bar. The Beach Bar is another great place to eat (oh yeah and drink). They seem to be able to make simple fare a cut above most other places and their prices (for St John) are very reasonable. That is why it is such a favorite spot for locals and returning off islanders. Did I mention that they’re right on the beach? And they are a bar? And they make a dynamite pain killer? So our first stop: WAPA (might as well get this over with as soon as possible). The very friendly lady at WAPA that I’ve spoken to time and again over the phone smiles and explains to us that the reason that we do not have permanent power yet is that our name and address are not on the power monument. As soon as we do this we will get our power. Oh, now I get it. We have been on construction power since we started renting Reef Madness last November because our name was missing. Hummmmm… We have a sharpie; we know our name; we know our address. We can handle this. I don’t suppose someone could have mentioned this during one of the many phone calls over the last six months… OK, off to VIVA; no they haven’t seen our Rumsfeld wannabe. Yes, we are getting into the “slow season” which is a good time for villa maintenance to occur. (What do you mean maintenance? Our villa is new; we haven’t even finished our punch list yet… maintenance… geeez). The good people at VIVA are concerned about the airlines’ endeavor to hike up the prices to the Caribbean and the impact on the rental market. We too are concerned. We were lucky to have had the lowest possible ticket prices when we had to fly down every couple of weeks last year (and when we had zero, zip, nada, money to spare). We were hoping to be able to continue in this vein and stay at RM whenever there was an opening, but it seems unlikely that this will be possible.  Of course if our loyal subjects will pay for our tickets… sorry, I fell off the fantasy deep end… again. So after a nice chat with VIVA, off we go to the Beach Bar. I think WAPA and the airlines are the reason why the pain killers taste soooo good.

July7, 2008

Trip Report Day Five; Part 2:
OK, where was I, Beach Bar, oh yeah and pain killers, oh yeah. Well, after drinking and eating our fill and bidding goodbye to Ron and Ruth, we (Marcia, Randy and Sharon – you remember Sharon from South Carolina?) went to Jumbie to do a bit of snorkeling.  Did I mention we bought this new underwater camera for a mere $100 and we needed to try it out? It was our duty to do this and report back as we only snorkel and take pictures to serve mankind. So off we go to Jumbie and the gods were with us; we found a parking space in the limited four space (sometimes three if the other parkers are assholes…)parking at Jumbie. Our rule of thumb when snorkeling at Jumbie is: if there are medium to large waves breaking over Johnson’s Reef, it is too rough to snorkel at Jumbie. Johnson’s had the merest hint of waves so we forged ahead and wandered on down to the beach. Good thing I am so technical as I forgot to bring the instructions for the camera. Good thing I am so technical and the camera is so intuitive, because I lost the instructions…Anyway, it is reasonably priced and it does take cool pictures and videos for those of us who are busy paying on an unbelievably huge mortgage for a former gash in the side of a hill and for those of us who are not very technical. Did I mention I had to have Jack from Coral Bay Computers hook up my sound system? So after a full day of back breaking work and camera testing, we headed back to Reef Madness for happy hour. Once we were suitably happy, we headed on down to the Donkey Diner for pizza. We brought with us some very cold beers, and a bottle of wine suitable for sipping with Donkey Diner pizza. A robust red as I recall!

July8, 2008

Trip report day 6:
Another audaciously glorious day in paradise. Oh me, what to do, what to do. First off, the obligatory Baileys and coffee and the surveying of all my vast holdings and subjects in and around Coral Bay. What’s this? Donkey noises? It appears as if my donkey subjects are at odds with my angry barking dog subjects on the Seagrape road below. These mischievous pups appear to not recognize that the donkeys have diplomatic immunity and are given safe passage throughout my kingdom! I will have to have a chat with my angry barking dog subjects. Other than that, I feel another beach day is in order. How will I ever accomplish all this in one day? Oh the stress of it all… Other than the fact that our cisterns are running dry, the beach weather is welcomed and glorious. So I think Honeymoon Beach is our destination today. Did I mention that I actually honeymooned on Honeymoon? More to the point, we actually tied the knot on Honeymoon. We invited friends and family knowing that no one would fork over the huge cash outlay required to attend a marriage ceremony way out in the USVI. We fully expected to be alone with the minister, our vows, and a few Rasta donkeys as witnesses. Little did we recognize the power of the get-away vacation excuse, in paradise, in the dead of winter.  Nearly everyone we invited came. Our friends and family are not dumb. What a great time we had and thus Honeymoon holds a special place in our hearts. So off we go to Honeymoon Beach. First stop, a chat with the neighbor dogs. We have had a couple of comments about the dogs appearing to be “vicious”.  Like many of the island dogs, these have a mixed family background which includes a Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull) heritage that puts many people on edge. These guys like to chase cars (and donkeys) but a stern “NO!!!” from their liege lord showed their fierceness to be feigned.  They stopped in their tracks looking most surprised and with tails wagging, immediately returned to their yard. Good angry dog subjects, good boys! I guess those diplomatic donkey subjects just do not know how to talk to the angry barking dog subjects. I decree that peace must reign!

July 10, 2008

Honeymoon Beach was spectacular. The great thing about the summer season on St John (besides the prices, lack of crowds, and availability) is that the warm beautiful blue Caribbean water is even warmer, bluer and clearer in the summer. This makes snorkeling an extra, way-cool pleasure. Also, I am no ichtiologist  (ichthyologist?) but it seems to me that some of those little itsy-bitsy fish (you know those tiny silvery whatchamacallit fish) that swim in schools of thousands along the St John shorelines, multiply into schools of millions in the summer. Perhaps it’s the fact that the water is much clearer in the summer or perhaps my aging eyes are clearer in the summer, but I seem to be able to spot all sorts of cool scaly stuff that I am usually the last person to spot in the winter. Or perhaps it is because all those other cool scaly fishy things like to come out of hiding and  hang out with those itsy-bitsy silvery guys – one big summer school party, methinks. Anyway, after a beautiful day at Honeymoon, we headed back to the Madness for…you guessed it, happy hour. We knew we wanted to hit Sweet Plantains for our final supper on the next night, so we took a look in the fridge and noticed we had enough left-over food to feed the Russian army. Unanimously, we voted to stay in and have some left-over barbequed rib-pizza-nacho-fish-chocolate-chip surprise. Hey, after a few mango daiquiris, it was quite the feast! Uuummm uuum – good eats.

July 14, 2008

Trip Report Day Seven:

It’s the last day of this adventure on St. John and we’re ready for action, we’re ready for thrills and spills and anything those wild island donkeys can throw at us!  Well… except for one thing.  Two of us woke up with the feeling we were walking around on that swaying Skinny’s dinghy dock. And this without any help from Rumsfeld! During the night, something got into our bellies and did a few belly-flops.  Our anticipated day of fun in the sun was turning into a day of mewl in the pool.  Yecchhh!!!  Sharon, you remember... South Carolina… was feeling mainly some...uh...lower intestinal distress. Randy felt flu like symptoms and Marcia wanted to party on. Thank the gods one of us was left to carry on the tradition. A dilemma, yes? The sickly majority ruled.  So as it turned out, Friday was a wine whine, villa, pool day. Mostly, everybody napped most of the day because that’s all we could do. No beach. No swimming with the fishes. No Sweet Plantains. No nothing. Sad to say, Marcia was the only one to have happy hour on Friday! What a trooper!  No use letting all that good rum mix go to waste! And besides, that fruit juice contains antioxidants, so I’ve heard. That’s the problem! Not enough mango rum punch drinks! There were still plenty of leftovers to munch on and of course, Marcia was the only person who even cared. We were all around the same people, ate the same things and we all had different symptoms or no symptoms at all. Go figure. I think I heard the voices of the Carib gods snickering in the distance… So, Friday came, Friday went and we had to be up early Saturday to catch the 10 o’clock car barge. Randy’s symptoms hung around for several days – he shivered his way to Maryland and beyond.  Sharon was back to her normal (as normal as any of our friends can be) self on travel day. Marcia, well lets just say that before departure, she and Rumsfeld spent a great deal of time commiserating on the lack intestinal fortitude of some in residence at Reef Madness. Party on!

July 16, 2008

Trip Report Final Day (Travel day)

Saturday we got up semi bright eyed and bushy tailed, sort of. OK, we crawled out of bed sad and inconsolable. Good bye all my honorable, liege subjects. Good bye my little Bananaquits buddies. Goodbye Larry. Goodbye Curly and Moe. Goodbye angry barky dog subjects. Goodbye… farewell. After throwing everything into our suitcases and packing out our stinky garbage (we still had a lot of leftovers…) we hauled our forlorn butts into the car and headed off to Cruz Bay. A quick stop to rid ourselves of the stinky garbage and once again we were off.  We heard that the Captain Vic was in for seasonal maintenance and so if we missed the 10 o’clock barge we would have to wait until 11 before the next arrival. We got to the dock ten minutes early as the last of the cars were being loaded. No more room; this sucks! It will be more than an hour before the next boat arrives and that puts us short of time getting to the airport. Have you ever been to the Cyril E. King Airport on a Saturday? Geez! As luck would have it, a barge came early (or maybe it was actually really late) when it wasn’t supposed to come at all. Well actually luck has nothing to do with it. Everyone knows that the barge/ferry schedule is more of an optimistic suggestion rather than an actual “schedule”.  It all has something to do with that nebulous moving target referred to as “Island Time”. It gets there when it gets there and it leaves the same way. However, we did get to ride aboard our favorite car barge. The Roanoke showed up when the Captain Vic was supposed to show up and of course the Captain Vic didn’t show up because it wasn’t supposed to but it could have… Anyway, off we went on our palm laden car barge, waving goodbye to St John and watching the Captain Vic crew idle away their down time with a rousing game of island dominoes. When I sidled on up to watch, they gave me their best go away ‘n don’t bother us glare. These guys are really serious about their domino game.

Very serious!

You remember Sharon - from South Carolina?

Wow! A Bar!

Hey they have Baileys, but no coffee!

Farewell St John

August 05, 2008

So, where were we?  Since our last entries consisted of a “Trip Report” and that “Trip Report” took longer to tell than the actual trip itself, and since our next trip is a mere 25 days away (but who’s counting?), and since we have nothing much better to do (Shhhhh! Don’t tell our employers!), we thought we’d start a “Pre-Trip Report”.  You can never plan too much, and besides, the planning is part of the fun, right? It’s a bit like buying a lottery ticket. I, in my heart of hearts, know I am not going to win. But for one dollar, I get about fifty dollars worth of fantasy. Let me see, will I call in to work to tell them “I resign” or do I let them figure it out all on their own? I wonder how long it would take for them to figure out I stopped showing up for work? Will they keep paying me until they figure it out? Will they throw me a retirement party if they never figure it out?  Do I tell anyone or do I make it my very own deepest of secrets? Do I buy up all of Ditliff Point and turn it into a home for abused Rasta donkeys? Sorry, off the fantasy ledge I plummet again…  Any way, one must plan these things… really! I mean, it’s not like after we get there, we can just take off to the mall and pick up a few odds and ends for the house.  We have to anticipate those odds and ends ahead of time.  And since we plan to take carry-on only when we fly down in October, (another flight of fantasy) we’ll be loading up our allotted number of suitcases this time.  So that leads me to yesterday… I was dragged along to do one of my favorite things… shop. Yes, shopping rates right up there with root canals and colonoscopies. When decorating Reef Madness, we tried to pay attention to the fine little details that make a house a home. Apparently we did not pay enough attention because on our last visit to RM, we found some glaring holes in our attention to detail. A couple of years ago, on a trip to South Africa, we bought some native arts and crafts that were amazing in detail, design and most importantly, price. The prices on all the lovely handmade things we coveted were shamelessly low, so low in fact that it cost more to ship them back stateside than to purchase. One of these great pieces was a wood carving depicting the African “big five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino). This carving is very intricate and delicate with a golden soft sand coloring. Have I mentioned we have this beautiful natural stone wall in the great room; make that a beautiful, expensive, stone wall that the stone masons took great care to complete. Now let me tell you when I say great care I mean Leonardo De Vinci and Sistine Chapel, agonizingly, painstakingly, slooooooooow, great care. We felt that hanging these beautiful African artifacts on our gorgeous stone walls would provide the perfect viewing spot for our treasures. Hey it looked great in my mind’s eye. In actuality, the beautiful wooden hangings and tribal masks get lost in the stone. You walk in the room and...where’s Waldo? Most of these treasures turn into chameleons and blend right into the wall.  Well that will never do! So yesterday, off we went to a frame shop to buy something to frame our little treasures and show them off. Did I mention that we pay a lot of attention to detail? Well again, apparently not.
“Let me see, we need to get a long skinny frame right?”
“I guess”
“So how big was that big five piece?”
“I don’t know, I thought you measured it?”
“I didn’t measure it. You said you knew its size”.
“I never said that.”
“Did so”
“Did not”
So here we are in the frame store debating the approximate sizes of these pieces, each accusing the other of not paying enough attention to detail and bringing up all the general oversights of the past twenty years and the specific blunders of the last two or three island years, and threatening to call everyone we know to acknowledge our righteousness in each and every issue. Yeah, a colonoscopy sounds pretty good right about now.  So after about an hour of this, we decided to do what makes sense. This is an island issue and an island action needs to be taken. So we went to a bar and stopped caring…

August 07, 2008

We have noticed in the Coral Bay area, and indeed all over the island that dogs have been outlawed from all eating establishments. The once laissez faire attitude among island officials in regards to our furry four footed friends has been replaced with a hard-line posture  which seems not quite in keeping with free spirited island traditions. Odd, New York City has many open air restaurants that allow dogs. Even the snootiest of hotels, more to the point, mainly the snootiest of hotels take our pampered pets and show them the same consideration (in some cases better) as their two legged guests. This is no longer true on St John. It makes me feel kind of sad. Is this a whiff of change I smell on St John? The pirate’s code, the island free form flow, the live and let live mantra is becoming more restrictive. Is it because of people like me? Have I moved down to paradise and immediately tried to make it into that which I left behind? Have I and other late coming people of my ilk determined that our island paradise needs grooming…a make-over? Will donkeys have to obey the leash laws; will the mongoose be required to make restitution for all the bags of chips they have stolen off Maho Beach, will people have to drive on the right side of the road? Where will it all end?  If I wanted to be civilized I would stay home. Wait…what am I saying…St John is much more civilized than Maryland. What is civilized about wearing a tie, or wearing high heels, or wearing both a tie and high heels together? What is civilized about cell phones and blackberry devices and staying “connected” and text messaging and on and on and on? Hell, where did I put my soap box, it was here a minute ago… At any rate, I fear that we are seeing life through Alice’s looking glass when St John becomes "more civilized" than New York City. Now, someone help me down off this damn box!

August 20, 2008

“So how are things going at Reef Madness after over 8 months of rentals?”  We get asked that question a lot.  And there are so many ways to answer it.  The rentals: They’re going well.  If anything, they’ve exceeded our expectations.  The cost of running the house: Yep, that’s exceeded our expectations as well.  The management company: They get rave reviews from everyone who has written us after their stay.  And if that feeds back into our future rentals, particularly in the form of return guests, that’s excellent!  The physical shape of the house itself:  Still looking really good and really new, although that new-car smell is beginning to fade.  Would you have done anything differently if you had it to do all over again:  Oh sure.  If you can’t learn from experience, you’ve had waaaaay too much rum...  We’ve got a couple of little projects in the works right now to do some things that we should have done differently.  And that brings us right back to the Pre-Trip Report!  We’ve been talking to Maintenance Pete about turning our downstairs storage room into an actually usable storage room by adding shelving, a door, and a dehumidifier to keep things from getting a little too warm and moist. Mold and mildew have a lovely aroma and a fashionable greenish hue that works well in any island décor. I personally enjoy wrapping myself up in a towel that smells of fetid fish after a refreshing dip in the pool. A larger than a bread box storage room is just what we need so that we can schlep down more stuff from Maryland in the near term so that we can go carry-on only in the long term!  At least, that’s the plan. Ah yes, I have a dream… We’ll be meeting with Pete in a couple of weeks to go over the fine details of shelving height, width and depth.  Where’s my yardstick???  And then there’s the matter of a new cistern fill-pipe.  But that’s another story for another day.  Maybe tomorrow… Besides, Tropical Storm Fay has allowed us a short reprieve from water trucks needing to navigate our Himalayan driveway.   In any event, as you can see, work will again mix with pleasure on our upcoming trip.  And that’s why it’s in our Pre-Trip Report.  Soon come!!!

This beautiful picture, with the exception of some informational editing (done by moi), was taken by one of our guests. It needs not to be mentioned that our guests are incredibly artistic and creative and have flawless judgment and taste.

September 10, 2008

We finally have some new stuff to talk about. In fact, we have enough trip stuff to chat about to keep this up longer than the actual trip! Heck, we might have enough stuff rolling around our heads to last us until our next trip!

Labor Day Week Trip Report: Saturday
This is a travel day. I hate travel days. Bad sleep, bad food, bad coffee. Bad, bad, bad. What more can I say? Well, actually this was a good travel day comparatively speaking. We were up at 4:45 AM and out the door at 5:30. The route we take to National Airport is the same route we take to get to work every day only a smidge farther.  At 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday, this commute is a breeze. At 7:30 on a Tuesday, this route sucks. The only people on the road this morning are others like us making their way to the airport, oh and the crazy suicidal taxi drivers who are also speeding toward the airport. Went to the Economy Lot to drop off our car and it was full. Never had that happen before, so we dropped our little car off at the Auxiliary Economy parking lot for the uncool, poor planning, cheap folk that was located at the end of the known universe. Now this lot costs exactly the same as the other lot, but they reserve it for people too sleepy to complain about the inequities. We might never find our car again without a map. Once again we are back flying American Airlines. We bought these tickets before the prices went through the roof. The good news is that American allows frequent flyers to check in two bags free and we had two bags to check that were stuffed full of vital villa stuff. One box had a large steamer pot, 1/2 dozen glass wine goblets, five books on St John, four backup place settings of china, two beach towels, one throw pillow, some foam padding, and a partridge in a pear tree, all stuffed into a Dell PC shipping box. We weighed the box at home and the total weight was 25 lbs. Wait a minute, all that stuff and it only weighed 25 lbs.? We should have thought something was amiss when the box handle broke while lugging it through the airport. On the American Airlines scale, the box came to 54 lbs, four over the limit. Oooppps!  It was all taped up and ready to ship. I sure did not want to rip it all apart or pay an addition $50. We must have looked sufficiently pathetic as the ticket agent let us slide. Phew. Digging around my trusty backpack, I found some duct tape (what, you leave home without duct tape on your person???) and proceeded to tape up the torn box handles (which are not strong enough to heft a 54 lb. villa care package) so that the baggage handlers can lift this monster, tear more of the handles and think it was their fault in the first place! We also had a hard sided suitcase in which we always stash a cooler full of cold packs and frozen rum mix. TSA loves this. The canisters look just like ammunition passing through the X-ray machine! I feel I am doing them a service by putting a bit of excitement into their dreary day. Going through security ourselves, we were just fortunate enough to have the X-ray machine break down about five people ahead of us. Our line got absorbed into another line. The people in the other line looked at us like we had just cheated on our final exam. No really, they told us to come over here…really!

There is only one terminal American flies out of at National Airport (DCA). They also have one set of bathrooms in that terminal which were closed for what? Remodeling? Repairs? Whatever the reason, we had to go all the way from the far end of the terminal where our gate was back to the security check-in to find a working bathroom. So far this day was not looking promising. The American terminal at National has the worst food known to mankind. Well OK, Puerto Rico is pretty awful as well, but this American terminal…yechhhh! This line I was standing in to buy a marginally edible breakfast sandwich, was moving at island time speed. Then, just as I was next in line, the person ahead of me stood at the cash register for ten minutes arguing about being overcharged 40 cents (the tax on the meal which was not included on the sign). The people in the line behind me left and went elsewhere. There we stood just me and Little Miss Personality. I tried to give her the 40 cents. I figured my time was worth more than $2.40 an hour even if her time wasn’t. She didn’t like me any more than she liked the cashier. After all that, the breakfast burrito I bought was really awful. Maybe they made it thinking it was for Miss Personality.

It is nice when you are on an early flight, to see your plane sitting there waiting for you. This plane rolled right up to the gate and no one got off, so this must have been the first flight of the day for this aircraft. I wonder where it sleeps at night.  Does it have a garage or hanger or someplace to curl up in or does it hang out at some unused gate like a homeless person all night? And who figures this stuff out, I mean when and where the plane stops for the day. Is that someone’s job? Do some just fly around all night because they don’t have a resting spot? I mean there are a lot of planes out there. There must be more planes than gates because every time we land we always have to wait just off the runway until our gate becomes available; so obviously there is a gate shortage. After 911, when all the airplanes were grounded, where did they put them all? Not quite completed highways? Aircraft carriers? OK where was I. Oh yeah, the flight left on time. And I had an exit row seat with an empty center seat all the way to Miami. Oh joy, oh rapture. Life is good.

Duct Tape – don’t leave home without it!

September 11, 2008

Saturday Part II
So what does the very cool, jet-setting, sophisticated world traveler take along to ease the discomfort of the long weary flight? I wouldn’t know, but I take: a Washington Post for the crossword and Sudoku puzzles, Bose quiet headset, ear plugs (to put the head phones over), foam neck rest, trashy beach novel, chapstick,  bottled water. Newspaper is read, crossword - done, Sudoku - done, water – done; are we there yet? Finally the soothing voice over the intercom telling us to put up our tray tables and stow away all carry-ons… Miami is just a shot away…

Miami International Airport or MIA  (I hope that doesn’t have anything to do with luggage) the coldest spot on earth. Really it is. Scientists have studied this phenomenon for years. They placed temperature gauges over all parts of the earth and MIA consistently has fallen within the top 99 percentile as the coldest spot ever recorded. It is exceeded only by Antarctica, Barrow, Alaska and Siberia. Really! Now when someone travels to the Caribbean in the summertime, they dress for the Caribbean in the summertime – unless you make your connecting flight through Miami. A veteran Caribbean traveler stopping in the Miami Airport knows that a certain amount of layering is necessary to avoid bronchial pneumonia. This seasoned island traveler is prepared for Miami’s worst by wearing crocs with socks, long pants that zipper at the thigh (to convert into shorts in St Thomas), a tank top covered by a long sleeved shirt, covered by a sweater. Fool me once, shame on you Miami, freeze me twice – aint gonna happen…Now within the corridors and various terminals of MIA there are a few warmer than normal thermal “hot spots” that have been detected. One place to unthaw is the corridor leading up to the Starbucks between terminals D & E. In this corridor one can see all these silly people in shorts and tank tops shivering over a venti latte while they are trying to warm up. They hold on tightly to those scalding hot cups and won’t even use a cardboard protective sleeve so as to unthaw their frozen fingers.  I have seen Red Cross volunteers handing out blankets and hot coffee at the airport. One of the reasons why this airport is so cold is because travelers have to run a marathon to get from one terminal to the other. The rule of thumb when making a connecting flight through Miami is to allow two hours to get from your arriving gate to your departing gate. Anything less is risky. There are no moving sidewalks there, no underground or over-ground trains (except to the curiously named High-E gates) , nothing to get you around the three hundred mile airport terminal layout but your own two legs. So those people weighted down with backpacks, dragging luggage behind them, pushing baby strollers or worse - carrying a toddler, need the frosty oxygenated air to survive the marathon. Now let’s talk about food. OK MIA surpasses DCA in the food department, but not by much. The most variety can be found in terminal D (are you taking notes here?). They have a pizza place (you need to remind them to warm the pizza or they will serve it to you at room temperature), they have a Chinese place (the only food there that has any flavor is the stuff with more breading around it than actual meat), a sandwich shop (no condiments on the sandwich, no mayo, no mustard, you know dry-like), a sit down place not worth mentioning, and a pastry place that serves sandwiches (see previous sandwich entry). That’s it. And that’s the best place to eat at MIA. I wonder if ZAGAT has ratings for airport food. Perhaps they should hire me.

D Terminal. Next stop St Thomas

September 12, 2008

Saturday Part III
We picked up chicken salad sandwiches because it comes mixed in with some stuff that adds a bit of moisture to the dry, doughy, huge slabs of bread that the infinitesimally small amount of chicken is served in. Interestingly enough, the chicken salad also had bits of boiled potato slices mixed in with it as well. Did someone mistake apple chunks with potato chunks? Perhaps this is a special Miami version of the old standard chicken salad sandwich. I think I prefer the original recipe (the one that has apples in it). We also got two double shot, tall lattes (because we are so very trendy) potato chips (to go along with the potatoes in the chicken salad), and cookies. I can feel my cholesterol rising like the banks of the Mississippi during flood season. Speaking of flood season, Miami is due to get hit with thunderstorms and leaving might be problematic. Hell, what am I thinking?  Miami is always in danger of getting hit with thunderstorms; it is a regular occurrence much like the setting of the sun, a hotdog at the ballpark, the locking up of a PC running Vista…anyway it happens a lot. So you can only imagine our pleasure at seeing our airplane rolling on up to our gate – on time! Perhaps we can get out of MIA before the boomers hit! Hummmm, doesn’t seem to be very many passengers on this flight. Miami International Airport seems peculiarly quiet. Could this be because of the dramatic spike in airline prices driving customers away? Perhaps it is all the hurricanes lurking in the shadows. Whatever the reason, we once again found an empty middle seat allowing us to spread out and extend our personal space beyond the airline’s allotted fifteen inch perimeter and once again, life is good. So what is going through our heads as we take off?
Hope we don’t crash!
I wonder if there are any hurricanes lurking about?
If there are, I wonder if Reef Madness will lose power? (I know…hurricane, lose power? Sometimes I can be a bit retarded. I mean, hell, the entire island would be without power)
I wonder if anything at RM got broken since last time we were there?
I wonder if something did get broken, is it something that we really care about?
I wonder is Rumsfeld is still in one piece?
I wonder what Rumsfeld’s backup looks like?
Does he have a good personality?
What is his name? (He would tell us right away if he had one you know.)
What if we come up with a name that is not in keeping with his character and we traumatize him for life?
What if he has no personality and we never come up with a suitable name?
OH NO!!! Yes taking off in an airplane can cause a great deal of mental meandering and stress. With all these vital questions racing around our sleep deprived heads it’s no wonder our first stop on St John is Compass Rose for a painkiller. These burdens must be unloaded…by getting loaded.

We weaved and bobbed around all the tropical disturbances in the area and landed safe and sound at the Cyril E. King Airport in St Thomas. Now all you seasoned Cyril King Airport people know that there is free rum waiting for you as you enter the terminal. These nice island ladies used to give out a small cup of punch made with St Croix’s Cruzan Rum. Apparently their marketing strategy has changed and they now give out straight shots of flavored Cruzan Rum instead of the punch. It makes sense to me. It’s a cost saving measure as the mixer costs more than the rum. They have a serving tray with little cups of the flavored Cruzan Rum, coconut, orange, banana, mango, vanilla, so one can hang around and sample every flavor and get five shots instead of one. Nice way to start out a vacation don’t you think?


September 16, 2008

Saturday Part IV

So, first things first. They have a great little liquor store conveniently located right by the baggage claim area at Cyril E. King Airport. I have shopped around the USVI for liquor, and this place is as reasonable as any place, and so conveniently located! We picked up some Baileys and some rum, grabbed our luggage, called Dependable Car Rental to pick us up and off we go to get our rental car.  Normally we get a largish, four wheel drive vehicle as we are usually carrying a ton of luggage, passengers, equipment, and supplies, but this time, since it was just the two of us, we got a small Suzuki Aerio. This is a great island car. It takes the steep hills like a goat, it handles well, and has enough get up and go to manage the lightning fast 35 MPH St Thomas speed limit. It has a huge trunk for its size and most importantly (these days) it is economical to run. We were quite pleased.

First stop -  Home Depot. We need to get a dehumidifier for our very fine, brand spanking new owner’s closet (storage room).We were forced out of our old owner’s closet as VIVA had way too much stuff to share any space with us (the mere owners!) Our next stop, K-Mart. I hate K-Mart. I hate going there stateside and I hate it even more so on St Thomas. But, villa supplies are requested by VIVA and K-Mart is the best place to get it all – if you are lucky – and we weren’t. We needed loads of sponges, paper towels, kitchen wash towels, cleaning liquid stuff, dishwasher detergent stuff, and more. One hour later we crawled out of that place feeling as if we had been rode hard and put away wet, and they do not carry electric dishwasher stuff. They have two and a half aisles of laundry soap, but they do not carry electric dish washing detergent. I don’t get it…Time to move on. We have pain killers waiting! Next stop Marina Market for stuff for US! We got some steaks and pork loins, coffee, cream, cheeses, and all things for us to munch on. On to the ferry and on to St John.

We missed the 6PM ferry and later found out that it had broken down and barge commuters were down to one working barge – the Mr. B. The Mr. B was the only and I might add, the last car barge leaving St Thomas for St John that day. Did I mention that we got a little tiny car that is very economical? We loved that little car – until we had to back aboard the car barge. This little tiny car has little tiny wheels and these little tiny wheels make this little tiny car sit very low to the ground. The Mr. B is the biggest and highest riding of the car barge fleet. By the way, did I mention that it was high tide and the Mr. B sat unusually high up off the ferry landing? While backing up onto the Mr. B, it sounded as if we had pushed the rear bumper up through the roof. OUCH. I think we hurt that poor little Aerio guy; I think it might have been internally hemorrhaging. The back end didn’t look too bad… and with what was left of our duct tape I was sure we could fix it.  But from that point on we discovered we could not go over anything deeper than a teacup without banging the tailpipe. Now I know why car rental places are hesitant to let people go off island with their vehicles. Every speed bump we came to (there are more than several on St John) we had to come to a complete stop and then edge over it veeerrrrry gently so as not to further damage the poor little guy. So after all that trauma and all that car blood we spilled, we finally scraped aboard the Mr. B and set off for St John. No, the Mr. B does not serve painkillers!

September 17, 2008

Saturday Part V

We are really rock’n and roll’n on Pillsbury Sound. There are tropical depressions to the north, south, east and west of us! This makes for a very bumpy ride. The guy in the car in the aisle next to us forgot to set his brake. He raced back to his car just in time to keep it from rolling into the car ahead of him. What an inventive way to meet new friends! Yes, on this crossing, sea-legs are a definite asset. I am staying in the car because I left my sea-legs behind in Red Hook. We land at the St John car dock and once again I inch my way off the loading ramp, this time with only a slight scraping noise giving the front bumper the merest of nose bleeds. YIPPEEE, safe and sound once again!!! We are at last on terra firma and more importantly, we are home; we are on St John!

Our first (and only) stop is Pastory Gardens, to give Wally his slightly used Washington Post. Of course while at Compass Rose we must have a pain killer. We have been up since 4:45 AM and the sun is going down. We are way past due for the happiest hour of the day and damn, that tastes good. OK two painkillers and a pizza later, we once again hit the road. Next stop, Reef Madness. Home is in our sights. Wow, look at all the lights that have burned out. The driveway light is out and RM is pitch dark. We asked that VIVA keep all our lights off when the villa is vacant, but that was predicated on the driveway lamp, which has a motion detector, working. Where is the moon? It’s dark out here. Hope we don’t fall off the cliff. Then we would be at Skinny’s and we just ate! We made our way over to the outside porch light switch and wow, all these lights work! That’s a first. I have noticed that 10,000 hour light bulbs last about a week on St John. Inside the great room, we have these very cool looking pendant lamps hanging over the kitchen island. Two out of three of them are burned out. Now these little guys use bulbs that are manufactured in super secret factories where the employees must shave every body part and slather sterilized Vaseline all over their bodies. They must wear level four biohazard suits, not for the employee’s safety, but for the protection of these very fragile and rather expensive light bulbs. These bulbs are so sensitive that they can not be touched by human hands. No human respiration or perspiration may come into contact with them. Oh no, they must be installed by robotics. If the environmental specifications go above or below a .0000125 compliance percentile, the bulbs will cough once and then implode. A very wise decoration choice on our behalf. 

I am tired and I want to go to bed now. Good night.

September 22, 2008

Sunday Part I: Random Morning Musings

I got an exceptionally great night’s sleep, opened my eyes and crawled out of bed. It is still early and the sun is just coming up. COFFEE…. I need COFFEE. I suppose that my drug of choice is caffeine. I love my coffee; I need my coffee. If I had to choose between abstaining from either coffee or alcohol, Rumsfeld would be out of a job. While on island, I allow for a special treat combining coffee and drink by spiking my morning java with Baileys, just a touch. It makes me feel as if…well, as if I were on vacation. So with coffee in hand, I wander around the villa critiquing its appearance in the daylight. Geez! What happened to the pool? I know I am going have a far more critical eye than most because of all we have been through to get this far, but…what the hell? The pool has a sickly greenish hue to it. It is the dreaded algae (only to be trumped by the even more dreadful, Cyprus mildew – which we haven’t seen of late, thank god). Our beautiful Caribbean blue, crystal clear pool looks like it has the stomach flu. Pool guy…where are you? Our pool is sick and needs a vitamin B-12 shot or something. I think it is going to throw up! Fortunately, we are here to see this and not our guests. Wait a minute; if it looks this bad for the owners, what kind of attention do they pay when mere paying guests are supposed to be here? OK, I am starting to get angry now! Time to make a phone call!

Alright, I need to slow down. I am on vacation. Clear my mind of all unpleasantness. OOOOOHHHHHMMMMMMM. That’s better. I feel more one with the island. More coffee, less critiquing, and no anxiety... OOOOOOOOMMMHHHHH.

I am sitting on the deck enjoying all the interesting sounds this island makes. Off in the distance I hear a braying donkey (Larry? Curly? Is that you) followed by the rumble of thunder. Have I mentioned that there are tropical depressions all over the place down here? Our cisterns are filling up nicely, thank you. I sit back and gaze out over all of Coral Bay below. Life is good. What’s that I hear? The little (OK, not so little), Seagrape dogs giving warning to some sinister interloper! Now where did I put my binoculars?  I need to see what has changed in Coral Bay Harbor since my last visit. Ralph: Looks like you got a new mast up on your boat. So where is Lewis’s boat? There it is! There’s Stephen’s boat. Tsk, tsk, Stephen, a little soap and water if you please. If your boat looks that bad from way up here…! Your boat looks…wait that’s not Stephen’s boat…that one over there is Stephen’s boat. Much better, clean, ship shape and seaworthy! Sorry Stephen, my bad. Looking to the hill across from Seagrape I notice the metal foundation of a building going up. We visited this building site about a year ago. This property has a million dollar view and it appears that the intended structure will be sizable, but it is in exactly the same condition that it was in a year ago. No progress has been made. I’m shocked! How could this happen here on St John! Did some poor starry eyed innocent run out of money? Perhaps the construction crew went on vacation for a year. I feel their pain. A metal foundation, hummmm…I wonder how long that will hold up in the salty sea air of the tropics? Hope it does better than the light bulb bases do. That new construction up higher on the hill has added a roof since last I snooped. Good job! Over there to the left is a little tiny house going up just under a huge house also going up. I appreciate the little houses. They are more in keeping with Coral Bay. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know… but Reef Madness only looks huge. It’s all that expensive concrete underneath (which keeps it stuck on the hillside, thank you very much) that gives it the appearance of a Peter Bay wannabe. Well all I can say is all this new construction here in Coral Bay has to stop! Don’t they know we were supposed to be the last ones in before they closed the construction gate!  Yes our island is changing…each and every time we come. That’s progress; that’s life; That’s just the way it is.  But you know what?  Thanks to forward thinkers like Lawrence Rockefeller, most of St. John will never change – not one bit.  And that thought makes me smile.

September 23, 2008

Sunday Part II:  More Idle Musings

I just walked down the side of the cliff to visit our brand new store room. I suppose having stairs installed would be easier, but that is not the island way. We need the exercise. Besides, all we need to do to get stuff down there is to toss it over the railing and hope it lands gently – and on target.  Otherwise, Skinny’s will wonder who brought them all the new blenders…Wow, those shelves look like they will hold a ton of stuff. They sure do look sturdy, unlike the ones we installed in the owner’s closet which bend and bow and dangerously look as if they will give way any second. Good thing our stuff is moving from that precarious place. It will be only the VIVA stuff that will come crashing down. Wait a minute; we paid for all that VIVA stuff, so it really is our stuff. Pete did a thorough job on the new room. Everything is done right. He might cost us a bit more initially, but it’s done once and done right. He installed an access door on what was just an opening in the concrete. He painted the door a fashionable monochromatic gray to match our very chic monochromatic concrete and will be installing a dehumidifier in the room sometime this week. Pete has been very busy of late working on the flooring at the Gifft Hill School. He has a vested interest in getting the flooring completed at Gifft Hill as he has a child attending this school and fall classes are starting. Our work stuff comes after.

Notice the sag in the middle of the shelves
We all sag at some point, but these aren’t old
enough for old age gravity sags, or are they…
Perhaps one too many spare blenders???

Look at those heavy boards. We can even put
a boat anchor (or spare waffle iron) on these!

Notice how the door is custom designed to match this exquisite concrete!

Our very own mildew buster. Does it work on algae in pools?

September 25, 2008

Sunday Part III: Musing minus the Muses…

I am back on the porch and it is still early and I still am sipping on my “special” coffee. With many of the locals off island and tourists few and far between, St John is in stasis.  There is a gentle rain falling and Coral Bay is hushed. Wait, what’s that I hear? Could it be Verdi? Is that Curly braying out an aria in the early morning mist? Bravismo Curly! Others are joining in the Coral Bay Sunday morning choir. The Bananaquits are tuning up their voices to join the song; the echo of a bold rooster announcing his place in the order of things. Now others join in: the voices of the faithful spilling out of the doors and windows of the Moravian Church below are wafting up the Seagrape hillside, the spirit of the wind is speaking through the whispering leaves, other spirits who rest within the roadside graveyard counterpoint the cooing of the doves who gently mourn their loss. It is all so magical; it is all so peaceful; it is all so St John. Damn this coffee tastes good. The church is emptying out now and the Coral Bay song is winding down. The low season is in its full absent swing and the local establishments are closing their doors to pay homage to hurricane (and empty island syndrome) season. Gustav was a Category Four when it slammed into our neighboring Cuba this morning and he is not done with mankind yet.  Odds are that he will saunter on over to the low lying bayou districts on the Gulf Coast wrecking more destruction along the way. Where will he go next and with what degree of ferocity? The resilience of tropical islanders amazes me. Many things are built to be temporary here. Let the wind and water slash and topple; when the water again recedes, those temporary structures float back up. I suppose even Reef Madness which was built to last, is a temporary structure here, as too are the sugar mills and ancient petroglyphs. I just hope RM is a bit more durable than say, Bomba’s Shack over on Tortola. But what about a Cat Four, or, god forbid, a Cat Five hurricane…can anything withstand such a force of nature? These unique people who call the islands their home live with this specter every September and October…each and every year. Yes, it’s the low season, the slow season, and the tumultuous season. Perhaps that is why these people seem to be so at ease with nature. Neither are something to be predicted or controlled. We are as small as the iguana and the donkey. To the Caribe gods, there is no difference. The juxtaposition of this Sunday morning hush with the five named tropical disturbances that surround this island paints a portrait of St John and the dichotomies that are intrinsic to its nature. More coffee…yes…more coffee is needed…

Emmaus Moravian Church

Bomba’s Shack, Tortola

“There’ll Be Peace in the valley” - for now

The eye of the storm

September 26, 2008

Sunday Musing Part IV:  Here’s the Poop

Hummmm, what’s that on the wall? Looks like a big bird dropping! Yuck


On further examination (can’t have droppings on our wall) it appears as if this piece of poo has legs. Yes, it is a living, breathing, St John Doo Doo Bug and they are all over the place. There are certainly some very interesting creatures on this island.


Speaking of poo, Larry (or Curly or Moe) left a present letting us know of their previous dining experiences here at Reef Madness. There is evidence of their dining pleasure in more than one place. First, there is the aromatic evidence…


Then there is the destructive evidence…


And sadly this is what is left of our poor little mango tree.
Why would they like mangos without the rum I wonder?

September 30, 2008

Sunday Part V: Yet More Musings

Ok, so now we have had all the coffee we can consume and we are hungry for lunch, so off we go to Skinny’s for a cheeseburger in paradise. Everybody is talking about how bad the mosquitoes are right now. Because of all the rain that has fallen of late, the mosquitoes are a very happy group. Because the mosquitoes are very happy, the bats are very happy. As for the rest of us - not so happy. When mosquitoes see me coming, they smack their little mosquito lips and say to the group, “Oh boy, oh boy, here come a five course meal. Tell all the others that it’s happy hour!”  So our first stop before Skinny’s is to Lily’s Market for some extra-strength bug repellant. One of my observations about Skinny’s is that they do not usually have a breeze going there and if the mosquitoes don’t get you, the flies will. The flies at Skinny Legs are a local island hybrid variety world renowned for their carefully genetically engineered trait selection of tenacity, ferocity, and speed. Repeat customers at Skinny’s know they must eat their burger quickly as the flies can take off with their burger and their left arm before the ketchup shows up. Skinny burgers are great and those Skinny flies are true gourmands. While at Skinny’s, we place a few phone calls to let the people, who have been out of the amazing St John grape vine loop, know that we are indeed on island and when do they want to go out and play? I find many of the people we know on St John are rather like otters. They love to play and are always up for a good time. Have I mentioned we feel right at home on St John? Called Stephen, he is on a barge coming back from St Thomas. Called Lewis, he is in Michigan visiting his daughter and grandbaby, (and you answered the phone Lewis? Why???) Called Steve and Vicki, they are out and about so left a message. Called Ruth, yep checking in with the gang and synchronizing our rusty island watches and getting together a tentative, perhaps, maybe, kinda, sorta, plan to get together with our mates! We only have a week to play!

Today the weather is good… a little sun, a little clouds, a little rain, a little sun, a little clouds… you know, kind of tropical-typical. For some unfathomable reason we have decided to actually get some work done at Reef Madness (and play later). Our first task now that our bellies are full, move VIS (Very Important Stuff) from our former owners closet (now VIVA closet) into our new storage room home downstairs (wait, there’s no stairs involved here?) rather, our down under room (sounds faintly Aussie). Even after our VIS is out of the former owner’s closet, (now VIVA closet), the VIVA closet is still bulging over with VIVA VIS. Now what? OK, we will let VIVA take over part of our down-under room closet. But, it’s my closet…MINE!! I don’t want to share. But share we must. This management company business takes up a lot of room. I had no idea how much room they would use. Well I guess since they do the maintenance on Reef Madness, they need places to put the same stuff we would have to have if we did the maintenance on it. What we need is a garage. Isn’t a garage the 21st century version of a storage room? We will build a three car garage and park one donkey in it and use the rest for storage. Yes, that’s it! I’m a genius!

St John version of a "NO FLY ZONE"

October 1, 2008

Sunday Part VI: I Am Not Mused Out Yet

Bought some bleach, but not for the laundry. Nope this was for the very attractive dark green color that is slowly etching its way into our pool tile. Unlike our pool, which is a sickly color of gangrenous green swamp water, this is a delightful shade of an earthy forest green. I only wish that our tile really was supposed to be that color. It’s not. Our tile is blue gray, not forest green. I would leave that beautiful color alone and let it flourish if only I did not know that in actuality, it is mold. I imagine mold and its close relative, mildew, is an island favorite among the biochemists who travel the world in search of interesting green gooey stuff. That St John primordial goo soup is teeming with primordial goo soup creatures that scientists from around the globe wish to be the first to identify and perhaps self name. Sadly, we must try and eradicate that luxurious green hue from the sides of the pool. We should have somehow incorporated forest green in our patio color scheme. No one would be the wiser. If only we had not previously seen our pool in its pristine, bright, Caribbean turquoise splendor. Now anything less just won’t do. So this Tilex stuff really works. I wonder, if I pour Tilex into the pool will the water get as clean as the tile. Maybe I had better wait for the pool guy.

More cleaning of the VIVA closet and…what’s that? Wow, we have a tile floor in the ex-owner’s VIVA VIS closet. Who knew!

Trekking back and forth from the great room to the down-under room (now to be known as the Aussie room), we can’t help but notice the Josephine magic that has been worked on our landscape. I can’t believe that this landscape is barely a year old. It has exploded. A little over a year ago, it was a dream, a landscape fetus. By February, it was a short and stumpy toddler awkwardly swaying in its scrubby breeze dance. By June it was an active child romping on the hillside showing glimpses of color and its potential profusion. Now, it’s still young and growing, an active teenager occasionally getting out of control. We will have to set some limits for these active rambunctious striplings lest they get away from us. But my, oh my, they are smart, sassy and beautiful. I suppose every parent thinks that way about their young.

11 months ago, our ugly naked lobster pots

Today, where did those lobster contraptions disappear to???

Josephine magic

More magic

On to a new page

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