2017 Life Logs, Day 266: The Wait Continues

2017 Life Logs, Day 266: The Wait Continues
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2017
Weather: Overcast; High 64, Low 60 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

The wait continues. According to posts on Rincon, Puerto Rico Facebook pages, people in that area are starting to find ways to communicate, but those people are few and far between. I have been contemplating flying down if we hear nothing by midweek, but tonight I saw that even if there is a rental car to be had, there might not be any fuel. Rightly, fuel is being reserved for emergencies. So plans for a trip will have to wait until I am sure I can actually reach Justin and Jo without using precious resources that cannot be replaced. Heather contacted someone on Facebook who says she is flying down on Tuesday and if going to try to get to Rincon. Heather gave her contact information for Justin, but that person might never reach Rincon. So, we must live each day in hopes that that we will hear good news soon. If Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco are safe, which I really feel they must be, they are still having to face so many decisions. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to think you might have to leave your home. But with the prospect of not having electricity and cell or wi-fi for a long period of time, this is something they must be considering. My heart breaks for them, but all I can do is to support them with whatever decision they make.

In the meantime, life must go on here. This morning I called to check in on the Goldstones and found out that Heather had to go to Martha’s Vineyard to moderate a panel discussion and Jed had the boys for the day. He had to take Sam and Jonah to a Scout event and then had to head off-Cape to coach Sam’s soccer game. He said Ollie’s cold was worse, so I offered to take Ollie for the day. I needed to get ready for a dinner party tonight, but I could do that with my little buddy. So, Ollie and I had another day together and I think Ollie enjoyed helping me get ready for tonight’s dinner party. It was my turn to host the Newcomers Dining-in Group that I joined in the spring and I had decided to have a paella party. Ollie helped me make non-alcoholic sangria and we both loved it. I used white grape juice as the base and put it in the Vita-mix with some blueberries to turn it red. I approached it as a science experiment and Ollie loved the color change. But getting ready for the dinner party took more than cooking. It took a bit of rearranging to figure out how to fit nine people at a dining table in my apartment. With the use of deck tables and chairs, it worked. The main dish was a seafood and chorizo paella served with a simple green salad with garbanzo beans provided by Midge and Bill Frieswyk. Before the main course, we had gazpacho that I made, fresh local clams provided by Karen and Peter Baranowski and then steamed in a Spanish tomato sauce upon arrival, and Manchego cheese and marinated green olives brought by Olivia and Terry White. All of this was topped by a chocolate fudge cake with a brandy sauce brought by Jane and Bruce Woodin. The food was great but it is always the comradery that is the most important part of the evening. I joined this group in the spring, but I was not sure I was going to be able to pull off a dinner for that many people in my small space. It worked and it was fun! And now I can stay in the group knowing I can do this. Thanks to Rich and Leslie Kole, my good friends in New Hampshire, for providing the paella recipe. I have seen them prepare and serve this dinner for dinner parties in the past, so although I had never done this before, I had a little experience from watching Rich work his magic in the kitchen. It takes a village.

Tomorrow morning I am headed to West Falmouth Harbor to help Bruce take Pooh out of the water for this season. He and Jane are headed to Europe in early October and tomorrow is the day their son Eric can help. So my morning will be spent messing about with boats. Not sure about the afternoon. It looks like Jose might finally be headed out to sea and we might get a hint of sunshine. That would be wonderful.

2017 Life Logs, Day 265: Still No Word from Justin and Family

2017 Life Logs, Day 265: Still No Word from Justin and Family
Date: Friday, September 22, 2017
Weather: Overcast, Rainy, Windy and Cooler; High 61, Low 62 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Still, we have not heard from Justin and Jo. I posted a rare message on my Facebook page last night and we got more information from that than from any other source. Someone who is a friend of Jo’s posted a screenshot of a message from a mother who had heard from her daughter in Rincon via satellite phone. “She said that Rincon . . . has many trees down, some flooding, some wind damage, but that to her knowledge everyone is fine in the area. They feel like they were fortunate. So, so happy to finally have some news. They expect to have communications down for days unknown. She said people are mopping up and digging out.” I certainly agree with this mother. Even though the news was not from Justin and Jo, it was from someone in their community and I, too, was so, so happy to hear this news. There was also a screenshot of another message forward by a friend of Justin’s. This one said, “Spoke to my daughter in Rincon a little while ago and she reports that everyone is okay. There was damage, but not the devastation we are seeing on TV in other areas. Everyone is helping everyone and cleaning up the streets of debris. This little town always pulls together and is an example for the rest of us.” Evidently there is a satellite phone that is being circulated in a local hotel and that is how some people have made contact with family outside Puerto Rico. I am in close contact with Jo’s family in England, and we are all doing all we can to try and get information about them through hotlines, the Red Cross, amateur radio operators, and Facebook. People have been contacting me all evening about the dam in northwest Puerto Rico that is failing. Fortunately, I do not think the water from the dam can affect the far western shore where Justin and Jo live, but my thoughts are with those who are in its path should it break. The scope of the damage wrought by Maria is overwhelming . . . a total humanitarian disaster. Not sure yet the best way to help.

Ollie was sick and was not able to go to school today, so I went to be with him. That filled my day. And I will be busy tomorrow getting ready for that dinner party I am hosting tomorrow night. But I’m sure I’ll find time to worry. I think that is just what mothers do—unavoidable. But I do thank all of you for being right here with me. It really does help.

2017 Life Logs, Day 264: No Word from Justin and Family

2017 Life Logs, Day 264: No Word from Justin and Family
Date: Thursday, September 21, 2017
Weather: Overcast and Rainy, Windy; High 67, Low 59 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

We have still heard no word from Justin and family in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria ravaged the entire island, leaving it without power and without cell and wi-fi. So, I assume we haven’t heard from them because they have no way of communicating. But thinking that doesn’t make this any easier to live with. There’s no way to know how long this communication void might go on. I have checked-in with the Red Cross site that people can register with to let family members know they are okay. Justin and Jo haven’t registered with them, but there could be no Red Cross involved in western Puerto Rico. I have checked my HAM radio email account—nothing there. I have found two different phone hot lines, but both are continually busy. I will keep trying. I have checked in with the Puerto Rico Maria Updates page on Facebook, but nothing there either. Jo’s mom and dad in England are keeping in close contact with me, but all we can do is hope and wait. If you are reading this log, I know you are familiar with the beautiful, smiling faces of Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco. Thank you for keeping them in your thoughts. It helps to know that so many people are sending their positive thoughts to Justin and Jo and all of the people of Puerto Rico.

Long before Maria was spawned, I had made plans to go on a bus trip today to Salem, Massachusetts, to the Peabody Essex Museum. I was going with Olivia White, and I decided to go. Otherwise, I would just sit here and worry and that does no one any good. Salem is north and east of Boston and it took two and half hours to get there and more than three hours to get home. But it was worth it. The museum is fabulous. We had an hour-long guided tour through Maritime Art, American Art, Native American Art, Asian Art, and a section called Ocean Liners. We saw a large model of the Friendship of Salem ship. The original ship was built in Salem in the late 1700’s and the model was at least five feet long and tall, was built aboard the ship as it sailed to the Pacific Northwest. A replica of the ship usually sits on Derby Wharf in Salem, but it was hauled out in July of 2016 for routine maintenance. Not sure when it will return, but I would love to go see it when it is returned to its homeport. I learned that Salem was a hub for merchant ships in the 1800’s. I never knew that. The ships sailed to the Mediterranean and to the Pacific to the Pacific Northwest and to China. The museum highlights those areas and the trade items that were exchanged. Salem has a rich history, including the Salem witch trials. But that will be the focus of another trip. After the guided tour, I toured the Yin Yu Tang, a Chinese house that was dismantled in China, shipped to Salem, and rebuilt onsite at the museum. The house was originally built by the Huang family around 1800 in the mountainous Anhui Province in southeastern China. This was a definite highlight of today’s tour. Then it was off to Pickering Wharf for lunch. Olivia and I finished up in time to visit the adjacent historic district. The Customs House was a highlight of that quick tour before we had to head back to the bus.

Tomorrow we go from summer to fall. The autumnal equinox occurs here at 4:02 pm EDT. I will spend my day preparing for a Saturday evening dinner party I am hosting. But at the same time, I will continue trying searching to find out about Justin and Jo’s situation. I know they, along with the other 3.5 million Puerto Ricans, are without power and water and any means of communicating with the outside world. That must be a very frightening realization. It is one thing to anticipate it. It must be quite another to live through it. Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco—please know that friends and family from around the world are waiting to hear from you and hope that you are safe. Oma, Grandma and Grandpa in England, your aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends of all of us love you so much! And at the same time, we are thinking about the other hurricane victims of Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the people of Mexico City dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. And as I write this, the winds of Jose are still whipping through the Falmouth Harbor. Almost too much to bear.

2017 Life Logs, Day 263: All Eyes on Puerto Rico

2017 Life Logs, Day 263: All Eyes on Puerto Rico
Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Weather: Overcast and Rainy, Winds Increasing; High 69, Low 67 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

It is 8 pm here and all I can do watch the Weather Channel as Hurricane Maria is pulling away from the island, but still very much in play. So, all eyes (and hearts) on Puerto Rico. I have heard nothing from Justin and Jo. I know they are still being pelleted by the wind and rain from the hurricane that is still only about 25 miles offshore, but I think if they had cell service I would have had a text from them by now. I was in email contact with Jo’s parents in England around noon, and we will certainly let each other know if we hear from them. I can only assume the there is no cell or wi-fi service, plus no electricity, and now I am hearing this could be the case for weeks. I thought I had grasp of the damage this hurricane could do, but I did not. After Irma, there was no electricity, but there was still cell service. Now the three and half million people that live on the island of Puerto Rico are in the dark tonight because there is no power, no way to communicate, and the devastation of flooding is just beginning. Puerto Rico is a beautiful, mountainous island with everything from gorgeous beaches to rain forests. Justin and Jo live on the west coast in the mountains just above the surfing capitol of Rincon. This is about 15 miles north of a much larger city, Mayaguez. Since the last Category 4 hurricane to hit the island was in 1932, most people living there really didn’t know what to expect from Maria. I heard tonight that the airport in San Juan might open on Saturday. If I haven’t heard from Justin and Jo by then, part of me wants to get on a plane and go there to find them. The other part of me says I should wait until I hear from Justin. Again, I ask you to hope with me that all is well.

Thankfully I have a couple of busy days coming up that will be a distraction. Tomorrow I am going to the Peabody Essex Museum north of Boston and on Saturday I am hosting a dinner party for nine of us. At least this will keep me from just sitting and watching the Weather Channel!

Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco. So many people contacted me today asking about your safety. You have people all around the world hoping that you come through this unscathed. We all love you and hope to hear from you soon. Be safe.

2017 Life Logs, Day 262: Holy, Hurricanes!

2017 Life Logs, Day 262: Holy, Hurricanes!
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Weather: Overcast with Rain Here and There; High 69, Low 67 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Holy, Hurricanes! This weather is going to drive me over the edge. Two weeks ago tomorrow, Irma bore down on Puerto Rico. Tomorrow, exactly two weeks later, Maria will do the same. We were lucky with Irma as she made a northward turn at the last minute and spared Puerto Rico her full rath. And still there was a billion dollars in damages. There doesn’t seem to be any way out for Maria. She is going to go right across Puerto Rico. But for Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco, tonight it looks like there is some hope that the hurricane will hit the east coast and then veer northward toward San Juan or just a little west of the city. If this happens, Maria will spare her full force on the west coast where Justin and Jo live. I learned on the Weather Channel today that Puerto Rico is the most densely populated area of the United States and much of that population is centered in the area around San Juan. So, there are no happy scenarios, but I can only hope against hope that Justin and Joe’s Finca Maravilla will be spared the worst.

I am so very, very proud of both Justin and Jo. They have met the adversity of these hurricanes with hard work and grace. I know they are scared, but they try not to transfer that fear to Coco and Ziggy. Justin sent a text late this morning asking if I would like to Skype video with Ziggy and Coco. I got to converse with Justin and Jo for a bit before they headed back to their prep work. I could see the exhaustion and apprehension in their eyes, but I could tell that Ziggy and Coco saw none of this. Z and C walked me through all of the preparation and explained how things would go during the storm. They had obviously been well prepared by their parents. I also got to talk to them about their new school year. Both Ziggy and Coco described their school days in detail and shared with me their current favorite books. They took me on a video tour of the house and the preparations underway outside. What a special interactive video contact this was. Now I just look forward to getting the “all clear” text on Thursday. In the meantime, those of us on the northeast coast of the US have to negotiate the wind and rain sent our way by Hurricane Jose. It looks like we will get winds and rain like a boisterous nor’easter with 25-35 mph winds and gusts to 50 mph. We might lose power which is not a big deal this time of year, but that will mean that I will not be able to watch the weather channel non-stop to keep track of Maria. Hopefully I’ll still have cell service, however, so I can receive texts from Justin and Jo. It is going to be a tense 36+ hours.

After talking to Justin and family, I needed to get out and about to distract myself. I busied myself making sure all of the furniture was off my deck and then I went to Heather and Jed’s and stored all of their outdoor furniture and soccer goals. I looked a mess when I was done as it was rainy and muddy, so I came home to clean up and then went back out to do some shopping and to deliver something to Bruce and Jane. They offered me late afternoon tea and it was helpful for me to vent some of my weather frustrations with them. We also reviewed the day’s political news, but that was just too depressing. Trump’s speech at the UN today was just not our ‘cup of tea’. Once I got home, I think I was on the phone for almost two hours. Mark’s sister Mary Ellen called and brought me up-to-date on their Hurricane Irma experiences. Then I talked to my friend Detta Porat from New Hampshire. Her sister has a retirement home in St. Croix which is going to get hit with Maria tonight. So, we commiserated about family with homes in the Caribbean. Then I talked to my sister Patsy who wanted to check on everybody’s safety in the wake of these storms. And now I am going to go to bed so I can be rested for another day of tense weather-watching.

2017 Life Logs, Day 261: Galapagos, Pooh, Jose, Maria

2017 Life Logs, Day 261: Galapagos, Pooh, Jose, Maria
Date: Monday, September 18, 2017
Weather: Another Foggy Start, Mostly Cloudy; High 77, Low 62 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Galapagos, Pooh, Jose, Maria—What do these names have in common? Nothing, except that I was connected to all four today. I invited friends, Karen and Peter Baranowski, over for lunch to talk about the Galapagos. They are interested in going there and wanted to hear about my experiences. Since the Galapagos is one of my favorite places on earth, I’m sure they heard more than they bargained for! Mid-afternoon I met Bruce Woodin and we headed to Pooh for a sail and to then to batten her down for the approaching tropical storm. Enter Jose. Yes, that hurricane that I naively thought went away is coming back for a visit. It has been so very unpredictable, but at this point it looks like we are going to have tropical storm conditions over the next couple of days. Unfortunately, Bruce and I could not get Pooh motor started, so we never made it out for a sail this afternoon. Bruce worked for a very long time trying to start the engine. He would pull a few times and rest, pull a few times and rest, try something different to no avail, and on and on. Finally, he did it started, but by this time we had decided that if we managed to get the motor started, we wouldn’t go out. We agreed that we would just sit on the boat and enjoy the view while waiting for the motor to cool down and then try to start it again. That worked! So maybe after the stormy weather from Jose passes, we can give it a go again. We did get things buttoned up and left Pooh to ride out the storm. And this brings us to Maria. Maria is now a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour. She is currently battering the beautiful island of Dominica in the Leewards and by Wednesday noon she will arrive in Puerto Rico. I cannot believe that so soon after Irma, the islands of the Caribbean are having to deal with another Cat 5 hurricane. It looks like this one is going to give Puerto Rico a direct hit. Justin and Jo are doing everything possible to prepare, but naturally they are very apprehensive. Please join me in sending your most positive thoughts their way.