2018 Life Logs, Day 44—Update from Puerto Rico

2018 Life Logs, Day 44—Update from Puerto Rico
Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Weather: Sunny and Cold; High 32, Low 27 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I emailed Justin yesterday asking him about how things are going in their part of Puerto Rico. They were still without power the end of December when the solar was installed, but I hadn’t really heard any details since then. But this morning I got a long response to my questions from yesterday. Basically, due to their amazing resilience and the support given to them by family and friends, they are doing great. They had electricity restored for a few days in early December, but then it went away. About a week and half ago at their house, it returned again. So, they can now use electricity from the grid to supplement the solar. But the grid continues to go down, so they are very thankful that they have the solar. They have had running water since November, but it comes and goes as well. They hope to install a rain water catchment and solar hot water system on the roof when they can afford it. They still do not have internet and have no idea when it will return, so they are hoping to have satellite installed soon. Justin continues to be able to work, either by driving to and from Mayaguez every day, which takes at least 45 minutes each way, or working in local cafes where it is harder for him to focus on this work but he doesn’t have to face the commute. One way or another, he is able to work. After Maria, Ziggy and Coco never returned to school and Jo has been homeschooling them. For now, the kids don’t want to go back to school and Justin says Jo finally has a good rhythm with them. They just got official non-profit status and they have put up a website where you can read about what they are doing. Just go to http://fincamaravilla.com to check it out. When you go to that site there are pictures at the top. If you keep clicking on ‘Load More’ you will go through all of the photos highlighting life since Maria. Absolutely amazing.

My day was consumed with more technical issues. I went to Tai Ji this morning and to the gym late this afternoon, but in between, I dealt with continued computer issues, and now cell phone problems. I called Comcast tonight and had my internet upgraded to the fastest they have. If that doesn’t solve my issues, which I don’t think it will, I’ll have to go to plan B. Not at all sure what that is, but I’ll figure it out. In between dealing with technical issues, I shop for food, cook, and watch the Olympics. Life is good.

2017 Life Logs, Day 360: Food Shopping on Boxing Day

2017 Life Logs, Day 360: Food Shopping on Boxing Day
Date: Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Weather: Partly Sunny and Chilly; High 30’s, Low 20’s F
Location: At Home with Patsy and Joe in Mt. Juliet, TN

Today was Boxing Day, a shopping day in this country, and my sister Patsy, my niece Janet, and I spent our day food shopping. We did a massive Costco buy and then went on to Whole Foods to fill in the blanks. It was a successful trip and we spent the rest of the day eating and enjoying cooking!

2017 Life Logs, Day 294: Catch-Up Day

2017 Life Logs, Day 294: Catch-Up Day
Date: Saturday, October 21, 2017
Weather: Still Warm and Sunny; High 70, Low 53 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Today was a nice chance of pace. I couldn’t make phone calls to inquire about things for Justin and Jo, so I took the opportunity to catch-up on my own affairs. I went to Zumba this morning and then to the post office to mail another package to Puerto Rico. Just as I was turning into the drive-way, my phone rang. I took a quick look and saw it was Justin, so I answered immediately. He called to let me know that all is well and that they were driving north today to try and buy a milk goat. They heard that someone north of Aguadilla still has goats, and while they were near Aguadilla they were going to Maximo Solar to check out solar systems. I have researched Maximo’s mini off-grid set-up, but the website doesn’t go into detail about the type of batteries that come with the system. Before I could tell Justin to get specific information on the batteries, the call dropped. Justin did explain that “they” (I assume he means FEMA workers, army personnel, or volunteers from the states) are now starting the clean-up of fallen telephone and electrical lines. The people that live in the area cleared the roads of fallen trees and poles the poles after the storm, but they didn’t touch the lines. When he said that they have just been driving over them, I tried not to gasp too loudly! But the clean-up “they” are doing seems to be causing people who have had internet connectivity of sorts to now have none at all. He also said that packages are coming more slowly than they were. The post office in Rincon has told them that there are at least a half million packages in San Juan and not enough personnel to process them even though they are working 24-hours a day. I know things always have to get worse before they get better, but I sure hope things get better quick. The call was short, but it was wonderful to hear that all is well. I next turned my attention to playing the catch-up game. My monthly bills go out automatically through on-line banking, but those bills that are a different amount each month like the electricity bill need to be updated by a human—me. I have paid absolutely no attention to this since the hurricane hit five weeks ago, so I was too late for some things, but that’s no big deal. I finished that job and started the process of checking on things that have been sent to Justin and Jo. I set up a spreadsheet listing donations and how that money has been or will be spent. I thought I would get that done on Monday when I first returned from New Hampshire, so I’m only six days behind on that job. And somehow, when I looked at the clock it was 5:30 pm. I jumped in the car to go to Heather’s to get jars and the pressure canner so I could can the chicken mineral broth I made on Thursday. I have spent my evening doing that and now it is time to get off this computer and read myself to sleep. Another day in the life.

2017 Life Logs, Day 284: Good News from Justin

2017 Life Logs, Day 284: Good News from Justin
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Weather: Partly Cloudy; High 69, Low 52 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

My morning was listening to an online summit about best ways to deal with osteoarthritis. I seem to know someone very well who suffers from knee pain due to this. And yes, that person would be me. I didn’t learn a lot of new information, but I was reminded sternly that not drinking enough water can exacerbate the pain. So, I once again have that water bottle by my side. In the middle of one of the sessions, I got a call from Justin. He had been standing in line for two hours to try to once again to get the cash I sent to him on Saturday via Western Union. When he finally got to the head of the line, they couldn’t give him the money because I had not included his middle name when I sent the money. The name has to match what is written on your government issued ID. The person who met with gave him a number I could call to fix the problem, and because he was in town, he had a cell signal so he could call me. I called the number and I was able to add his middle name without too much fanfare. But by the time I sent Justin a text to let him know the name was changed, the people manning the Western Union window had gone to lunch. While he was once again waiting, he saw that people were getting money out of a nearby ATM machine. He gave it a try and was actually able to get money out of his account for the first time since the hurricane. Very good news. And then he was successful in getting the cash that had been sent through Western Union. So, I can breathe a little easier now knowing that at least Justin and Jo have cash . . . and hopefully continued access to their bank account. But that could come and go, so they can’t ‘bank’ on it. At least in terms of the ability to get cash and to communicate, there has been some improvement. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for food and water, at least not in western Puerto Rico where Justin lives.

There was a little bit of unsettling news from Justin, along with the good. Coco was not feeling good today. Justin said he had a bug of some sort a couple of days ago and Coco seems to have the same symptoms. Justin thinks it is just a result of eating too many carbs—just rice and beans and more rice and beans. He thinks their bodies are just telling them they need something green. But there is nothing green to eat right now. So hopefully he’s right and hopefully those sprouting seeds and trays will arrive soon. And hopefully our Coco Belle will feel better by tomorrow. But I don’t have my head buried in the sand. I know that the Governor of Puerto Rico today said that the first deaths have been reported from the water borne disease called leptospirosis. It is treatable if you have the right antibiotics, but people have no easy access to antibiotics. The deaths so far are close to San Juan, not in western Puerto Rico where Justin and Jo live. And J & J did receive the water filters they ordered before the storm. So hopefully their water is safe. I have sent hundreds of water purification tablets for others, but those have not yet arrived. It was three weeks ago today that Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico. I knew that if the hurricane hit hard, the entire island would be without electricity and cell service, but I guess I really didn’t believe that an entire island would be left without any source of fresh water. And even if they were, I naively thought that our government would find immediate ways to air drop water bottles to the people. But that hasn’t happened. Our government is still traveling around asking people to fill out forms to get relief. And I am still having a hard time believing this even though I know it to be true. Where is the government of the country I thought I lived in? There are good people down there ready to deliver food and water, but somehow the leadership is not allowing that to happen. Mail has not reached Justin yet, but so many things have been sent through the generosity of so many friends and family members with more on the way. So even if the government support system is broken, the goodness of the people of this country shines through. Thank you so much to everyone making contributions.

I’m headed to Concord, New Hampshire, tomorrow to attend a Concord Yacht Club meeting. And then on Friday I head to the coast of New Hampshire to visit with other good friends. I need some input from others to help me figure out how to prioritize what we are sending to Puerto Rico. This trip will give me time with friends who can help me with this task. Sitting here at my dining room table without input from others is leading to dysfunction. So I am really looking forward to brainstorming with friends.

I invited myself to dinner at the Goldstones tonight so I could see Heather, Jed, and boys before heading to New Hampshire for four days. And then I went to see Victoria and Abdul with Terry and Olivia White. The movie is about the unlikely relationship between Queen Victoria and a young clerk from India who is sent to England to deliver a ceremonial coin to the Queen. It is a cross between comedy and drama and Dame Judith Olivia ‘Judi’ Dent is as spectacular as ever. And Ali Fazal, the young Indian actor, quickly becomes a favorite. The movie certainly spurred me to learn more about the life of Queen Victoria.

2017 Life Logs, Day 276: How to Help

2017 Life Logs, Day 276: How to Help
Date: Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Weather: Still Cool and Sunny; High 66, Low 50 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I spent a fair amount of time today watching the television coverage of the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas and President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico. From what I saw, the Las Vegas community is coming together with grace and dignity to deal with the catastrophic event in their town. The first responders did everything possible to save lives, the people attending the concert did everything possible to help each other, the law enforcement was in action immediately, the medical community went into overdrive to try to save lives, and the powers that be and the businesses and citizens of the town are supporting the hundreds and hundreds of people affected by this—the family and friends of those murdered, those who were injured and their family and friends, and the people of Las Vegas who are living through this horror. This is the way Americans respond. But what I saw reported from Puerto Rico today was very different. Neighbors have been working non-stop to help neighbors and businesses that have the resources are doing what they can to help in their communities, but our President made no mention of this. In fact, he really didn’t acknowledge the devastation to the people of Puerto Rico. The powers that be are still boasting about what a wonderful job is being done there without evidence to back that up. There is no doubt that the people who have been sent there to help are good people who are doing the best they can. And I believe General Buchanan will do the best he can with the limited number of people and resources that have been deployed. But there are not enough people or machinery to do the job and the needed leadership was delayed in arriving. Things are steadily improving in San Juan where all the help and supplies are arriving, but it is the rest of the island that is in such dire need. Once again, I find myself feeling shame for the way our President conducted himself in San Juan today. When others are hurting so desperately, you do not go in announce what a great job your people have done to save them without acknowledging the incredible job they have done in saving each other. And you don’t remind them that their problem is causing you a great financial burden. Shameful is once again the only word I can find to describe Donald Trump’s speech and actions in dealing with Puerto Rico. I can only hope he does better in Las Vegas tomorrow.

Despite my disappointment in the way things continue to move so slowly in Puerto Rico, I’m still focused like a laser on doing what I can to help. The title of this log, How to Help, should have a series of question marks after it . . . and I don’t have the answer. The packages we have sent via the US Postal Service are still delayed in transit according the USPS tracking site. And until those packages arrive, Justin and Jo have no source of money. Their bank is still closed. So hopefully they have enough gas to continue to drive to town to check on the mail. I read on a Rincon Facebook page that the Red Cross did make it to town yesterday to hand out water bottles and some food to those willing to wait in line. That is the first help I have heard that has reached their area of Puerto Rico. Justin and Jo still have food and they are collecting rain water and spring water to drink. But they need the water filters in one of those packages that is still in transit. There was a video on a Rincon Facebook page demonstrating some items that would be welcomed if they could be sent. Tomorrow I will go to Walmart to see if they have some of these items. One was a device that looks like a light switch that can be mounted on the wall. When you turn the light switch on, it emits light. Another was a light bulb that screws into a battery-operated socket that can be switched off and on. I’ve never seen either of these things, but I can see that they would be handy if you had batteries. Another particularly heartening thing I saw on Facebook is that the Rincon Beer Company in downtown Rincon is in the process of temporarily changing to a donation center and soup kitchen for local residents. They are serving as a community hub and are open daily from 9am to 5pm with free wifi. So Jo’s parents and myself are now communicating with Justin and Jo using WhatsApp on our phones. We can send messages and if they go to the Rincon Beer Company, they will receive them and can get back to us. The Rincon Beer Company is accepting donations, but at this point, Jo’s parents and myself would rather make our donations directly to Justin and Jo. We know they will share with those in need. Jo’s parents, Phil and Margaret, and I have formed a united front. Since they live in England, it is much easier for me to buy and do the sending of items through the US Postal Service, but we are sharing the costs. We’ll have to come up with a catchy name for our little organization! If you want to contribute, let me know and I’ll get information to you on the best way to do this. There is no end to the things needed by Justin and Jo and the people of Rincon.

2017 Life Logs, Day 259: Fun in the Sun Saturday

2017 Life Logs, Day 259: Fun in the Sun Saturday
Date: Saturday, September 16, 2017
Weather: Foggy Start and End to a Sunny Day; High 77, Low 62 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Soccer . . . lunch on the beach . . . soccer . . . soccer . . . skate park. That was today. The day started and ended with fog, but in between we had loads of fun in the sun. Since the Goldpebbles spent the night with me, we had a big breakfast before heading to the soccer field for Ollie’s first practice/game of the season. Ollie decided not to play last year, but he got up this morning saying he really wanted to play this year. We got to the field, met up with Heather, found out that he was on a team with no one he knows, and when he saw all those strangers, he quickly changed his mind. He put on the new uniform, but that was as far as we got. I’m sure he feels pressured to play because his older brothers live, eat, and breath soccer. He loves it, too, and is quite good at it when he is at home and playing with people he knows. But playing with strangers is just not his thing, so we’ll just have to wait another year and try again if he shows interest. But his buddies from the Woods Hole Day Care invited us to join them for lunch on the beach, and he was all in for that. The fog was starting to lift by that time, and kids had a great time in the water and on the beach. Heather had to leave the soccer field early to take Jonah to meet up with friends who were going to take him to his off-Cape soccer game, but she returned to have lunch with us and spend time with Ollie and Sam on the beach. Then she headed to Woods Hole to moderate a discussion about how Rachel Carson’s life work has guided women in science. My friend, Olivia White, attended the session and sent me a photo of Heather in action. By this time, Ollie and I were at a different field watching Sam’s soccer game. Jed is the coach for this team but was not there today because he was at a conference. It was the first game of the season after only one practice. The boys played hard but lost this game. Still, at the end of the game, they were in high spirits. Sam went home with a friend and Ollie and I walked across the parking lot to the skate park. There were a few older kids there negotiating the jumps on scooters, but Ollie found some jumps not being used and gave it a go on his strider. This was his first try at this. Scary for a grandmother to watch, but Ollie loved it and was very sensible in what he thought he should try. Whew! Ollie and I got home just a little before Heather arrived, and when she got home she announced that Jonah’s game ended in a tie, but Jonah and his good friend Luke made two of the three goals. I didn’t get to see Jonah, but I know he was one proud little soccer player.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice day, so I’m hoping to get in some biking and sailing. These last days of summer are precious and won’t be with us much longer. Make hay while the sun shines!