2017 Life Logs, Day 295: Pumpkins and Soccer

2017 Life Logs, Day 295: Pumpkins and Soccer
Date: Sunday, October 22, 2017
Weather: Still Warm and Sunny; High 70, Low 52 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Today was all about pumpkins and soccer, but it was also about the weather. It was 70 degrees and sunny and felt every bit like summer. For the afternoon soccer games, people were wearing tank tops, not polar fleece. All of my memories of fall soccer in the past five years has been of wearing polar fleece to keep warm. Not so this year!

This morning I went with Heather, Jed, and boys to the nearby Tony Andrew’s Farm to pick out one pumpkin for each Goldpebble to carve. We came home with three big pumpkins, two little pumpkins, a hay bale, dried corn stalks for decoration, and three very happy little boys. They took their pumpkins to the back deck and started the carving process. Fast forward a couple of hours and we were on the soccer field. Sam had a 2:30 game and Jonah had a 3 pm game on an adjoining field. So, we walked from field to field to watch the action. It was almost surreal to see everyone in tank tops and short sleeves, but it felt every bit like summer. Then fast forward again, and we were all at my place for dinner. It was a wonderful Sunday with the Goldstones.

While everyone was here for dinner, I got a text message from Ziggy in Puerto Rico. He said they have new goats, so I guess yesterday’s search for milk goats was successful. Yeah! Hopefully I’ll hear more detail from Justin soon, but it was great to get the text from Ziggy. I’ll be back on duty in “hurricane central” tomorrow and continue to find ways to help.

2017 Life Logs, Day 293: Connections

2017 Life Logs, Day 293: Connections
Date: Friday, October 20, 2017
Weather: Fantastic Fall Weather; High 70, Low 49 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

What a day. I’m not sure I really got anything done, but I was busy the entire day making connections. My first contact of the day was a call from Mark’s sister Mary Ellen. She has been battling a health issue since returning home after evacuating for Hurricane Irma. She is feeling a bit better and wanted to know what the most important things are that they could send to Justin and Jo. For the past couple of days, I have been focusing on solar and internet issues and had to jog my mind back to the day to day survival issues. As I talked about food needs, I mentioned that Justin and Ziggy have been craving beef. Mary Ellen said Mark’s brother Steve makes his own beef jerky, so she’ll get him moving on that. Then I talked about how Jo is trying to grow food and will start sprouting seeds as soon as the seed sprouting stuff arrives. I ordered the sprouting seeds and sprouting trays from Amazon on October 7 and, not surprisingly, the shipping has been delayed. Now it is not arriving until October 29. As Justin said to me on Wednesday, everything is taking so long. Deep breath. But in talking about this to Mary Ellen, she asked if I had thought of dehydrating veggies and fruit and send that to Justin and Jo. I had not thought about it, Mary Ellen is going to work on that and I am going to check with Heather. I think she has a dehydrator and maybe we can do that as well.

After I hung up from the call with Mary Ellen, I checked email and found a most interesting message from my friend Sue Wolowitz in New Hampshire. She sent a news clip from NH local television news reporting that a New Hampshire businessman that Mark knew well is headed to Puerto Rico on a one-man relief effort. The report wasn’t dated and I was moving so quickly that thought he had not yet left. So, I sent out an SOS email to friends in New Hampshire to get contact information on Alex Ray. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from my good friend Alan Kanegsberg who is a man who says that when he is gone he wants people to say about him, “He’s a man who got things done.” He had immediately called Alex Ray’s Common Man business headquarters, found out that he is already in Puerto Rico and probably unreachable. And then I heard from the President and CEO of New Hampshire Public Radio saying she had email Alex and was forwarding me his contact information. I sent Alex a text, but I doubt that he will get that until he returns home. The reason I wanted to reach him while he is was in Puerto Rico was to get him connected with The Rincon Beer Company that is doing so much good in Justin’s little corner of Puerto Rico. The Common Man, Alex’s business, is a chain of restaurants, and I think that The Rincon Beer Company, now the official non-profit relief center for Rincon, and Alex are a natural pairing. From the news report, Alex will return home after finding out first-hand what the people really need, do some fund raising, and then return. I will do everything I can to get in contact with him once he is back home. So, thank you to Sue Wolowitz, to Alan Kanegsberg, and to Betsy Gardella for your timely responses and actions. Connections are the name of the game.

Then the adventure continued. In response to last night’s plea for suggestions, a number of people responded that I should contact Elon Musk and Richard Branson. I wish I had some connection to either of them, but I don’t. They are definitely out of my league, but I will still consider how to them and other wealthy people like Bill Gates. They are probably already doing something if they are so inclined, but you never know. It can’t hurt to try. Thanks to everyone who made those suggestions.

Next, I continued to try and contact HughesNet about satellite internet information. I called so many HughesNet numbers yesterday with no results that I was exhausted, but I started again this afternoon. I’m still trying to learn who provides the equipment versus who provides the service. So, I once again tried to call a business called GroundControl who is advertising satellite internet coverage for Puerto Rico on the web. I called the same number I had called two or three times yesterday, and this time someone answered the phone. Hurray! A man named O.J. answered the phone. He explained that he is in a California office that is totally overwhelmed with supplying satellite internet equipment for military, fire departments, police stations, and big businesses in Puerto Rico. And I think he is the only phone contact. He has family in Cabo Rojo which is about 25 miles south of where Justin lives. He listened to my story and took the time to explain to me in detail what GroundControl provides, how much it costs, and how much it costs to ship the equipment from California to Puerto Rico by ship (takes two weeks). But he thinks their must be a cheaper alternative for residential use. He gave me numbers that he thought should connect me to another company who should be able to provide residential equipment and service. Unfortunately, after we hung up I tried those numbers and found out they were just different numbers for HughesNet and I got the same song and dance I got from them yesterday. There is only one person in the DC area that they say will be able to give me the information I need, and when I call that number, I get a very strange answering machine message. I keep leaving my number with no response . . . maybe on Monday.

In between all of this, I got the sweetest little text message on my phone from Ziggy. But when I saw the message pop up and clicked on it, my phone was totally frozen for about four minutes. My phone just went black and there was nothing I could do. Finally, the message came up and I responded, but he was gone. So wonderful to hear from him, but so frustrating that there is no way to respond.

In my evenings, I am watching an internet docuseries called, “The Broken Brain.” I’m sure I have one of those, so I’m watching to see if there is anything I can do about it! This log entry pretty much describes a day in the life around here right now. Thank you to everyone who is contributing to Justin and Jo’s cause and supporting me through this. It is just not easy for a mother and grandmother to stand-by and watch this catastrophe play out. Words cannot express how appreciative I am of your suggestions, donations, actions, and support.

2017 Life Logs, Day 292: Seeking Suggestions

2017 Life Logs, Day 292: Seeking Suggestions
Date: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Weather: Another Lovely but Windy Fall Day; High 67, Low 54 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I realized after posting last night’s log, that although I don’t have Mark to help me figure out things, I have all of you. So tonight’s log is a call for suggestions. I have been researching satellite internet and solar power alternatives for Justin as he needs both to get back to work. Good friends, Tom Porat and David Laux, have stepped forward to help me understand what it is I am looking for as I have been unsuccessful in getting help from companies themselves. When I call the US phone numbers, the sales department people say they can’t help me because I need to talk to the offices within their company that handle Puerto Rico. When I call the numbers they give me, I either get a message saying the number is not in service right now—call at a later time. Or I get an answering machine that speaks only in Spanish. What I have been able to find out is that to purchase the equipment needed will cost somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars. It is much cheaper to buy and set up in here on the mainland, but prices for Puerto Rico are much higher. This search for Justin will continue, but the same information is needed for another project. And that is the project for which I am seeking suggestions.

Justin is on a newly formed committee of sorts that is trying to find solutions to the big problems faced by everyone in the community. Justin and Jo live on the line between two towns. Their actual street address is in Aguada, but they get their mail in Rincon. Both towns have a committee seeking solutions. Both towns have a central plaza. Each town now has an official non-profit relief center established. And the newly formed committees, representing the interests of the non-profit relief center for each town, would like to set up an internet hot spot and charging station in their town plaza for general public access. This will require satellite internet and a source of power. The source of power could be a generator, but they would prefer solar. They would like to get a corporate sponsor that will foot the bill for these stations, but they have no way of contacting anyone.

My call for help tonight is to ask anyone who has any experience or expertise in gaining large donations, or anyone who just has ideas, to contact me via email or by sending a comment to this blog page. Or if you know someone who has $10,000 that really needs to be spent, please send me the phone number! But please understand that I am not asking for money donations from you. I just need your suggestions on how to proceed. And if you have no suggestions, just send me the strength to try and figure this out. So many friends have reached out to be supportive and that is what gets me through these tough days. I know a tough day for me is a walk in the park by comparison to the challenges faced in the day in the life of anyone in Puerto Rico right now. So, thank you for keeping them in your thoughts and prayers. Now get creative and send those ideas!

2017 Life Logs, Day 291: The Times They Are A’Changin

2017 Life Logs, Day 291: The Times They Are A’Changin
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Weather: Lovely Fall Day; High 68, Low 53 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Today I thought of Bob Dylan’s song, The Times They Are A’Changing, more than once. First it happened when I went to the post office to send two more packages to Justin and Jo. The postman on duty was not the one that is usually there and he casually asked what I was sending to Puerto Rico that was so heavy. I explained that it was books for home schooling. Then one of the postmen who is usually there came out from the back room. Somehow, they got into a fury bashing President Trump’s handling of the fallen soldiers in Niger. They used language I never thought I’d hear coming from a postman. And all I could think is . . . the times, they must be changing. What has happened to make a public employee feel that he can express his feelings like this to a customer he has never met? I just stood wide-eyed and then left. I actually agreed with what was being said, but I would never express that to people I had never met before. Something is happening in this country.

The second time today that I thought of the words in Dylan’s song was when I communicated with Justin. In the late afternoon I heard a ding on my computer that I knew was Justin on Skype messaging. I ran from the kitchen to my computer and read his message. We were able to message back and forth long enough for me to understand that there has been a change in what is happening there. Justin expressed it by saying they no longer need water purification tablets (although they really do in the short run). Rather, they need concrete cisterns and industrial grade water filters. This led me to understand that he, and everyone else there is realizing that their situation is not temporary. They are now fully realizing that they are going to have to live without any modern conveniences for a very long time. The words stating that have been said since Maria hit, but true realization is different. Mark and I reared our children to believe that anything is possible and I know Justin believes that. But I could tell today that he is tired. Things are too hard. Everything takes too long. A two-minute phone call takes 40 minutes because the call is dropped so many times. But I hope he can take a deep breath and regain his momentum. As any mother would do, I will do everything in my power to help. I just wish I had Mark here to help me. He would be able to figure out what kind of solar system Justin needs to run a refrigerator and a satellite dish for internet. And he would know how to figure out what satellite internet system he needs and how the solar system and satellite equipment would interface. But I don’t have Mark, so I need to figure all of this out on my own and very quickly.

2017 Life Logs, Day 290: Great News from Nyack

2017 Life Logs, Day 290: Great News from Nyack
Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Weather: Partly Sunny and Cool; High 58, Low 48 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

The highlight of my day was a text from Ed and Lynne Kirwin in Nyack, New York. If you have read this log over time, you know that Mark and I sailed across the Indian Ocean on Windbird with Ed and Lynne on their boat Constance. We didn’t know one another until then, but we spent six weeks in India together, two months in the Chagos, and four months in Madagascar. This gave us the chance to become very close friends. And again, if you have read this log over time, you are probably aware that Ed was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2015 and was given only months to live. But today he was given another two months off chemo because the scans show that his body is holding its own for now. He has spent the past two months chemo-free and now he has the gift of another two months without having to deal with the terrible side effects of chemotherapy. After beginning the chemotherapy treatments in 2015, Ed had so many side effects that he it was difficult, if not impossible, for him to walk for any distance. He and Lynne researched and got linked up with the Pine Street Clinic near San Francisco. The Clinic works with Ed’s oncologist at Sloan-Kettering in New York City to provide appropriate supplements to his chemo treatment. The Pine Street Clinic provides the right mix of Chinese herbs along with high doses of Vitamin D and other vitamins. And Ed and Lynne’s research led them to change their diet. Ed eats almost no sugar, including natural sources of sugar in fruits and limits carbohydrates to a minimum. He starts every day, and I mean every day, with a green smoothie that includes kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, some nuts, and an apple to sweeten it up. The apple is his one exception to the no sugar rule. He eats organic and Lynne ferments cabbage that they include with other fermented vegetables with lunch every day to keep the gut working properly. The results have been miraculous. Ed knows he is buying time, but he has been playing golf four days a week and spending quality time with his sons and grandchildren. Ed and Lynne, congratulations! I know how much time you spend buying and preparing the ‘just right’ food, but I’m sure the news today makes it all worth it.

I spent my day getting packages ready to send to Puerto Rico and taking them to the Post Office. Then I picked Ollie and Jonah up from school and spent the afternoon and evening with them. Heather was in Boston and Jed and Sam had soccer practice. I worked with Jonah helping him with a book report that is due on Friday, fixed dinner, and then spent some time with Ollie after dinner while Jed helped Jonah finish up that book report. When I picked Jonah and Ollie up from school, they were both in such a good mood. They are both really enjoying school this year. Sam rides the bus home from his school and goes to his room to read and work on homework, so I don’t get to see his happy face coming out of school. But he seems to be enjoying his year as well. Happy boys make for a happy Oma!

2017 Life Logs, Day 289: Focus on Puerto Rico

2017 Life Logs, Day 289: Focus on Puerto Rico
Date: Monday, October 16, 2017
Weather: Overcast; High 65, Low 41 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I’ve been sitting at this dining room table working at this computer screen for most of the day. I did go out to buy some Halloween fun stuff to send to Ziggy and Coco, but then I was back at work. In the afternoon, I was connected via Skype messaging with Justin. He had hoped to have a new website up and running today that would be a place for people to check in to see what the current needs are, but things are changing there and the website might be a duplication. So, he has put that on hold. The Rincon Beer Company that transformed itself into a soup kitchen after the hurricane and has now become the official relief distribution point. If they put up a website listing needs, then a second one would be unnecessary. So Justin went to Mayaguez today to try and check into a hotel so he could use their internet to get some work done. But now that FEMA and military personnel are there, no rooms are available. He paid $25 to use the internet but had to work in the very busy and noisy lobby. And internet is very spotty, not allowing us to talk via Skype. We had to message back and forth. We are trying to figure out if there is way that Justin can get back to work by installing a solar power system and satellite internet. In other words, he needs to be totally independent. Of course it can be done, but the cost is pricey. And I learned from Justin today that he has been told that it is illegal in Puerto Rico to set up an independent solar system in your home that is not connected to the grid. The grid doesn’t exist right now, but anything we do now would need to have the capacity of being connected eventually. Justin is going to a meeting tomorrow where the possibility of setting up charging stations and internet in the town plaza in Aguada will be discussed. And if he has time, he might drive further north to Aguadilla to talk to the people at Maximo, a solar energy company. He is so lucky that they are so close. Now that I have been able to get money to him, at least he can drive to these places to check out possibilities. Stay tuned for further reports on progress. And there was a bit of really good news today. Packages that I sent through the US Postal System soon after Maria are finally starting to arrive. Even a package that contained a large amount of cash arrived intact. So I have faith that packages sent through UPS or through the Postal System will arrive.

I’ll end this log with a bit of a rant and then I’ll list the items that I know Justin and Jo and neighbors could use. It is not an exhaustive list, but it is the current Top 20. If you or anyone you know would like to contribute and don’t have Amazon Prime for free shipping, you can contact me and I will order and send for you. Now for the rant of the day. I get very angry every time I hear our President saying that the Puerto Rincon people need to do more for themselves. I think they are probably working as hard as they can. Finally, after more than three weeks, the US government help is getting out of San Juan and into the rest of the island. But they were only able to get there late last week. How were the people of Puerto Rico who have had no way of communicating, who don’t have any idea of how other people on the island were affected by the hurricane, who have had no way to get cash until the last few days (and no way to charge anything), and even if they had cash, there was limited fuel availability—How were these people supposed to know to come to San Juan to pick up water and food? And how were they supposed to get there? If there was a devastating hurricane that hit the Cape and we were in the same situation, I would not think it would be acceptable for the government to deliver water and food to Providence, Rhode Island or to Boston and expect me to go pick it up. If you don’t have water, if you don’t have fuel, if you don’t have communication, if the roads are a mess, and if many people had lost their homes or incurred severe damage, I would hope my government would come to my aid by delivering what is needed to me. I know there is corruption in Puerto Rico, just like there is corruption here on the mainland. But I don’t think that is the problem here. This has been an unprecedented catastrophe in a time with so many other catastrophes that is hard for any of us to keep track of what is happening. I could understand if things didn’t get done because of that. But I can’t understand or tolerate blaming the victims for not doing their part. Where is the compassion, the caring? Where is the spirit of what this country has always stood for?

Okay, enough of that. Let’s focus on what we can do. Here is the list of things that can be ordered on Amazon and sent to:
Justin Handley
100 Carretera 115, Unit 870
Rincon, PR 00677
USA

Deluxe Kitchen Crop 4-Tray Seed Sprouter by VICTORIO VKP1200
$18.50

The Sprout House Amazon Six – Assorted Organic Sprouting Seeds and Seeds Mixes Sample, Pack of 6
$18.05

5 Part Salad Sprout Seed Mix -1/2 Lbs (8 Oz) – Organic Sprouting Seeds: Radish, Broccoli, Alfalfa, Green Lentil & Mung Bean – For Sprouts
$11.99

The Sprout House Organic Sprouting Seeds Baby Black Sunflower 1 Lb
$15.90

The Sprout House Certified Organic Non-GMO Alfalfa Organic Sprouting Seeds 1 pound
$19.25

Winner Outfitters 6-Pack 10 Gallon Grow Bags /Aeration Fabric Pots With Handles
$16.59

KANBERRA GEL 524003 Natural Air Purifier Gel, 8-Ounce
$49.35

Kanberra KG0024P Kanberra Gel Refill – 24 oz.
$89.99

100 Pack – World’s #1 Water Purification Tablets – Aquatabs
$15.95

Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus – For Camping and Emergency Drinking Water
$10.25

Personal Water Filter, Epress Mini Portable Water Purifier Straw 2000L Outdoor Survival kit Emergency Camping Equipment for Outdoor Camping Life, Hiking, Climbing, Traveling, Backpacking (2 pack)
$31.99

DampRid FG90 Moisture Absorber Easy-Fill System, Large Room
$9.82

DampRid Hanging Bag FGAM86 Fresh Scent 16-ounce, 3-Pack
$10.99

Meyenberg Whole Powdered Goat Milk, Vitamin D, 12 Ounce (Pack of 3)
$33.54

Certified Organic Whole Milk Powder (1lb), Hoosier Hill Farm, Gluten free Hormone free
$16.99

#1 Rated TASTY Grass-Fed Beef Sticks Gluten Free MSG Free Nitrate/Nitrite Free Paleo Friendly Meat Sticks 12 Pack
$19.95

Mission Meats Ultimate Sampler Pack Grass Fed Beef Sticks & Bars & Free Range Turkey Sticks Gluten Free MSG Free
$23.95

Laura’s Lean Beef Organic Grass Fed Jerky, Original, 3 Oz Bag
$7.99

Home Depot Gift Certificates and D-cell batteries are both great things to send. I cannot get confirmation from Home Depot that a gift certificate bought electronically can be honored in Puerto Rico at this point. So, if you wanted to send a gift certificate, you would have to buy it in a store and send it. A gift card or anything else you want to purchase to send yourself should be put in a US Postal Service Flat-Rate box (not UPS) and addressed to:
Justin Handley
PO Box 870
Rincon, PR 00677
USA