2017 Life Logs, Day 288: Back on Cape Cod

2017 Life Logs, Day 288: Back on Cape Cod
Date: Sunday, October 15, 2017
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Warm Day, Stormy Night; High 76, Low 61 degrees F
Location: Back Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

After a run of absolutely beautiful, warm days, tonight it is stormy. As I neared the Cape this afternoon, it got misty and then fog set in. Now the wind is blowing about 25 mph with rain. So I am back on a stormy Cape Cod. The forecast, however, shows that sunshine will return by Tuesday. The predicted high temperatures are in the 60’, not the 70’s, but with sunshine, that is fine with me.

I had an incredible four days in New Hampshire visiting friends. Thank you to all. Meeting with yacht club friends in Concord is always special as I get to see so many friends at one time. And the three days in the Portsmouth area were just glorious. Portsmouth, NH, and Kittery, ME, are on either side of the Piscataqua River, and both are beautiful. I love the old homes and rocky shoreline. But I also love the sand beaches of Cape Cod. I just need to make sure I get out and walk along the shore here at home, just as I did along the rocky shore in New Hampshire. I will spend most of tomorrow waiting for a phone call from Justin as he can’t be sure when he might have a connection. But whenever that happens, we plan to go over an updated list of needs and get that list out to people who have indicated that they want to contribute. I am continually in disbelief of the dire situation in Puerto Rico, but I have been honored and overwhelmed at the generosity of friends. Thank you to all who have contributed. And to those waiting for that specific list of items needed, it will hopefully be coming your way tomorrow night.

2017 Life Logs, Day 287: From Rye to Greenland, New Hampshire

2017 Life Logs, Day 287: From Rye to Greenland, New Hampshire
Date: Saturday, October 14, 2017
Weather: Mostly Sunny; High 675, Low 55 degrees F
Location: At Home with Detta and Tom Porat, Greenland, NH

I’m writing and posting this log a day late because the day continued into the wee hours of the morning and I was just too tired to write. It was a long day, but it was filled with wonderful hours spent with friends. Leslie and I took her dog Roo to Great Island Common on New Castle Island for a morning walk along the ocean. Leslie and I enjoyed the walk and Roo delighted in running into the water to retrieve sticks Leslie threw to her. The ocean waves were gently rolling onto the rocky shoreline, the sky was blue dotted with wispy white clouds, the sun was shining, and the temperature felt like summer even though the trees are beginning to show the colors of fall. It was a delightful morning on the coast in New Hampshire.

I left Leslie and Rich Kole’s late morning and drove inland just a bit to Greenland, New Hampshire. I stopped at a post office to get Flat Rate boxes to mail to Puerto Rico and then went to visit with Sue and David Wolowitz where we sat on their patio overlooking Great Bay. Great Bay is a tidal estuary with its waters coming from the Atlantic into the Piscataqua River which winds itself into Great Bay. As we enjoyed the weather and the view, we talked about the situation in Puerto Rico and I got to hear all about Sue and David’s recent trip to Oman, Dubai, Jordon, and Italy. You can see Detta and Tom Porat’s house from Sue and David’s, so I didn’t have much a drive when it was time to head to Detta and Tom’s for lunch. The weather was just glorious, so we had lunch on their patio which also overlooks Great Bay, and then Detta and I spent our afternoon sorting and packing up donated school materials to send to Puerto Rico while Tom researched solar possibilities for Justin and Jo. As it is looking more and more like there will no electricity for at least six months to a year, they are going to have to become energy independent. They have a little solar system that is currently charging their phones and computer. But if they are going to have any kind of refrigeration over the next few months, they will definitely need more solar capacity. Tom’s research and time spent helping me understand what might work was extremely helpful. The bad news is that because of some international agreement, most solar things cannot be sent through Amazon and we couldn’t determine if we can order through Home Depot in Mayaguez. The good news is that there is a solar company that has an office close to Justin and Jo. If they are up and running, they should have everything we need. They even sell Tesla Walls and when I sent an email to them asking for information, I immediately got an auto reply that they will get back to during the work week. I hope this means they are ‘online’. Detta and I sorted through bags and bags of the donated reading books and math materials that Jo needs for home schooling Ziggy and Coco and a few of their friends. At the end of the afternoon, we packed my little car with box loads of books. While doing this, we had Great Blue Heron that kept flying by and squawking at us. He finally decided to stand on a rock to pose for a photo. Beautiful.

Dinner was Detta delicious with cod and sautéed vegetables. A close teaching friend of Detta’s, Marilu, and her husband Dean dropped by and we really enjoyed sharing stories so much that time got away from us. And then Detta and I sat up and talked our way into the wee hours of the morning. We get to see each other so infrequently that we need to fill every minute when we are together. But Sunday, I will head home to Cape and look forward to the next visit.

2017 Life Logs, Day 28: Bow to Concord to Portsmouth, NH

2017 Life Logs, Day 28: Bow to Concord to Portsmouth, NH
Date: Friday, October 13, 2017
Weather: Partly Cloudy; High 68, Low 34 degrees F
Location: At Home with Leslie and Rich Kole, Rye, NH

In 20 minutes, Friday the 13th will be over, and so far it has been a wonderful day. So maybe, just maybe, I should drop my superstition that makes me see flashing caution signs on this day. I had breakfast with Helaine Kanegsberg and then Alan joined us for conversation as he had already had breakfast with the Rotary Club. I then drove into Concord to meet with Scott McPherson from New Hampshire Public Radio to congratulate him on a career move. Scott came to NHPR almost fresh out of college and in just a few years became Mark’s right hand man. He has served as assistant station manager since the late 1990’s and has been indispensable in the smooth running of the station. He is now moving on to become the CFO of a New Hampshire private school. I know public radio will miss him, but I wish Scott all the luck in the world in his new job.

Then I was off to Rye, New Hampshire, to spend the day and evening with good friend Leslie Kole and her husband Rich. On the drive from Concord to Rye, New Hampshire, my cell rang and I saw it was a call from Justin. I pulled over to answer the phone and Justin and I talked for quite some time about how things are going in his corner of Puerto Rico. Packages are starting to arrive at the post office and FEMA aid workers have now reached the west coast. Justin has been back to the hotel in Mayaguez where he and the family spend last Friday night, and upon return he saw that FEMA workers and people in US military uniforms are now using the hotel as a base. He said that food and water are starting to be distributed. So that is very good news. At the same time he said overheard the people in military uniforms saying it could be as much as a year before power is returned to the country. Not such good news. He called to ask me to do a little research into solar alternatives for power and to say that on Monday he plans to return to the hotel in Mayaguez to use their internet to launch a new website that will list the supplies most needed. He hopes he will be able to build the site to make it possible for people to see what has been sent which should help in their decision making about what to send. It was great to talk to Justin and get an update on how things are going. He said he had left Jo with a whole bunch of children at Finca Maravilla in their new temporary outdoor school. Way to go, Jo!

I arrived at Leslie and Rich’s a bit late due to the long phone call with Justin. When I did arrive, Leslie had lunch waiting for me—a great green salad. Then Leslie and I drove to Kittery, Maine, right across the bridge from Portsmouth, to walk at Fort Foster with her dog Roo. After that we drove to a Kittery Beach to take another walk along the ocean and then it was home to get ready for dinner. It was warm enough for us to sit outside to have happy hour with the help of their outdoor heater. Then Rich cooked another of his award-winning dinners and Detta and Tom Porat joined us. It was a lovely day and evening.

2017 Life Logs, Day 285: An Evening with the Concord Yacht Club

2017 Life Logs, Day 285: An Evening with the Concord Yacht Club
Date: Thursday, October 12, 2017
Weather: Partly Cloudy; High 68, Low 34 degrees F
Location: At Home with Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg, Bow, NH

What a lovely evening I had attending the Concord Yacht Club meeting. We met at the home of my very good friends, Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg, in Bow, New Hampshire. Everyone brought heavy hors d’oeuvres that made a great dinner with no one person having to bear the total responsibility. I don’t get to see these folks very often, but I always enjoy it when I do. We talk about sailing, we talk about life, and tonight I did a lot of talking about the dire situation in Puerto Rico. People read and hear things in the news, but I don’t think they really start to fully understand until they talk with someone who has a friend or family connection there. We have shared news about our children for years. So, when we get together, it is natural to ask how each other’s kids are doing. A couple of people in the group read this blog regularly, so they were aware of how Justin and family are faring in Puerto Rico. During the evening, they shared what they have learned with others who don’t read this blog, and pretty soon everyone was asking what they could do to help. They decided to make a donation from the group allowing me to order the most needed items and send them to Justin to share with the larger community there. I know Mark would feel as grateful as I do that the group stepped forward like this. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Concord Yacht Club. And thank you to all of the others of you who are sending donations. Justin would want me to remind you that he and his family is doing fine, but that there are so many who are not. It’s hard for me to comprehend how they are really doing ‘fine’ with no electricity, no source of fresh food, no running water, and very few opportunities to communicate. I think saying that they are doing a great job of coping in these conditions is probably a more accurate way to describe it. But they are coping and they are trying to help others do the same. And so many friends have stepped forward to give them a helping hand. With so many disasters coming so fast and furiously this fall, it is very heartening to see how deeply people care about one another.

2017 Life Logs, Day 283: Meeting a Fascinating Woman

2017 Life Logs, Day 283: Meeting a Fascinating Woman
Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Weather: Back to Beautiful Summer Weather; High 80, Low 58 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

At 11:15 this morning, I was picked up by a fascinating woman I had never met before and she whisked me away in her Mercedes Benz ‘top off’. This is what the Goldpebbles call a convertible with the top down, and it was a great day for a ride with the ‘top off’. It was sunny with a high temperature of 80 degrees. Just wonderful. But back to my new acquaintance. We were introduced to each other in an email by a mutual friend who thought we should meet. Good call, Patsy (the mutual friend). We went to a luncheon meeting of the Wood Hole Woman’s Club which included a climate change presentation by yet another incredible woman. Sue Natali from the Woods Hole Research Center focuses her research on the permafrost in the Arctic and how it relates to climate change. And she does a fantastic job of explaining the importance of this to a lay audience. I won’t divulge the name of my new acquaintance as I didn’t ask her if I could, but what an interesting person. She earned her PhD at the University of Toronto in the early 1960’s in Physics. This came as a shock to me, not because she earned the degree which was record-breaking in itself, but because she doesn’t look like she could possibly be old enough to have done this. She is an active pilot who owns what she refers to as one-and-a-half planes (full ownership of one and joint ownership of the other). I must introduce her to Sam of Windbird the next time he visits here on the Cape. And any woman who got her PhD while I was in high school and still drives around in her convertible with the ‘top off’ is my kind of woman. She listens to my daughter on public radio and invited the two of us for a fly over Cape Cod. Looking forward to that!

Before and after the luncheon, I spent the rest of my day corresponding with people who want to make contributions to Justin and Jo and their wider community. I packaged things that I took to the PO late this afternoon even though I still have no confirmation that anything I have sent has arrived. But I am still hopeful. I’m also overwhelmed with the number of people who want to help-out. Tomorrow I will spend time researching items and prioritizing them the best that I can with the information I have. And on Thursday morning I get ready to leave on a four-day visit in New Hampshire. I’m really looking forward to visiting with good friends.

2017 Life Logs, Day 282: A Bit of Good News from Justin

2017 Life Logs, Day 282: A Bit of Good News from Justin
Date: Monday, October 9, 2017
Weather: Second Day of Rain and Wind; High 71, Low 65 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I was on the phone this afternoon when I got the buzz-buzz telling me someone else was calling me. Since I almost never get phone calls during the day, I just figured the person on the other end could leave a message. When I got off the phone, I looked at the number that had called and area code told me it was a Puerto Rican number. I frantically looked for a message and found one. The missed call had been from Justin. I called back and Justin answered. How could this be? He explained that he had purchased a Claro go-phone and was in an area with a signal. Claro is the Puerto Rican cell provider and they have more cell signal than other providers. Hurray! Unfortunately, the call dropped fairly quickly, but then Justin sent a text asking if the text got through. It did. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. Just knowing that Justin and Jo can find a signal and contact me if there is an emergency is such a huge relief.

Now to how to best help Justin and Jo and their neighbors. Justin’s Facebook post that I shared in Sunday night’s log outlines most needs very clearly and includes his address. In addition, when I talked to Justin on Friday night, he said that he knows that one person in Rincon received a package from Amazon that was sent from the US the day after the hurricane. Hopefully this means that packages from Amazon will arrive. If you have Amazon Prime, you can send things to Puerto Rico with no shipping charge. One caution is that items produced in some countries cannot be shipped to Puerto Rico, but Amazon will let you know that when you enter the shipping address. Justin’s address for Amazon:
Justin Handley
100 Carreterra 115, Unit 870
Rincon, Puerto Rico 00677

The address for flat-rate Priority packages sent through the US Postal system:
Justin Handley
PO Box 870
Rincon, Puerto Rico 00677

A few items that Justin did not mention in his Facebook post are Home Depot gift certificates and organic potatoes, especially sweet potatoes, that will be used as seed potatoes to grow more potatoes. There are also items that are specifically needed by Justin and Jo. I won’t list those here, but if you are interested in knowing more, please contact me by email at judithmhandley@gmail.com. If you would prefer to have me order and send things for you, I am glad to do that. Just let me know and we’ll figure out the best way to pay for that.

The most important thing right now is that Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco are doing fine. They are all pirates at heart and don’t mind the temporary (hopefully) absence of running water, electricity, and reliable communication. But people who have never thought about living without these necessities of life are struggling desperately. And the federal response is just not getting through to the people. FEMA is visiting towns to have people fill out forms for assistance, but those same people need food and water and electricity and access to cash, not more forms to fill out. The American citizens of Puerto Rico have been thrown into conditions of a third world country which they were not before the storm. Before Hurricane Maria, the people of Puerto Rico enjoyed the same life style as you and me. Try to imagine that tomorrow morning you wake up with none of the basic necessities of life and with no way to do anything about your situation; no way to buy anything using a credit card and no way to get cash; no way to drive anywhere because there is no fuel; no way to get drinking water except to collect rain water or find a spring. At least that is the way it is in Rincon where Justin and family live and I think it is that way for much of the island. It is truly a desperate situation.