Sunday, April 13, 2008


I have been trying not to start every one of these snippets out with a sunset photo, but there's a reason for this one:

See that upright post thing just to the left of center there on the edge of the driveway? That's a galvanized steel pipe. Earlier this week the satellite TV installation crew finally got started. While I was preoccupied with trying to fix the garage doors, two guys worked a big part of the day in the hot sun. With pickaxe and shovel, they scraped, chipped, and chopped out a two foot deep hole in the limestone. They built a wooden form and hand-mixed two bags of concrete to pour around the base of it. They got it exactly vertical. They did a good job. Then they left for the day.
Well, that evening, just at sunset, when La Gringa and I stepped out front to fire up the charcoal grill and watch the sunset, we got that image, above, of the intended new sat dish antenna location. Yep. Right in the middle of one of our favorite views.

And they don't just use the small three foot sort of sat dish down here. No sir. To get a good signal here you need an eight foot diameter dish. It's one of them big suckers.

We discussed the situation at length as we watched the sun disappear behind the gray metal pipe. We imagined an eight foot fiberglass dish attached to the top of the pipe. The sunset did not get any better with the pipe in it. We know how hard it was to excavate that hole with hand tools in a limestone hilltop. We did not want to have to tell the guys that we wanted it taken down. We even discussed whether we really need a television. We have gotten along just fine without one for almost two months. We have commonly gotten through days or even weeks without turning on a television even when we could. We talked about just using their new pipe for a flagpole.

But what we finally had to admit is that we don't even want a flagpole in that spot. We really don't want anything between us and our view of the ocean.

But we do want a television. we need to be able to keep in touch with what's going on in the world. We enjoy the odd movie, well, not exactly the odd movies. What I meant to say was that sometimes we like to watch a movie. Or more likely Discovery Channel. We watch "Tropical Update" religiously during hurricane season. We even considered, briefly, whether or not an 8 foot diameter dish on that pole would be all that much of an eyesore. It would be in the view from the front door, and from the kitchen window. So I blocked out about an eight foot dish sort of area on a recent photo taken from our front steps, just to be sure we really could not live with it there. It would look kinda like this:

And yeah, we really couldn't live with it there. I mean, I like technology as much as the next guy...but this....well this was not going to improve anything about this view. And what else do we have up here, really. It's all about the ocean views. And the sunsets.

It fell to me to inform the installers that....this just wouldn't do. I felt bad about it, but well, there it is. They were not happy, of course, but they showed up the next day (after the concrete had set good and hard) and with the help of our builder's big blue machine they managed to knock the whole thing loose:

They put a strap on it and lifted it out of the hole, concrete and all. As a side note; I was very interested in how well the poured concrete adhered to the bare limestone. Excellent adhesion. Tenacious to dislodge. Bad news for the satellite installers in this case, but good news for the house.

Romeo drove the now uprooted installation to a new location, out of the line of sight between us and any part of the ocean.

And the sat tv team started over. But this time they had to chip away a couple hundred pounds of concrete from the pole, before they once again took pickaxe and shovel to the limestone. It took them all day to move this thing. It's now installed in it's new location up the hill from us, and although I think sat dishes are ugly no matter where they are installed...

We think we can live with it up there. (yes of course the trash will get cleaned up and landscaped. Well, the trash won't get landscaped...) I am wondering if it's okay to paint the back of these things. Sky blue, perhaps?)

Anyhow, you gotta admit, an eight foot dish on the pole there is not nearly as much the visual equivalent of a dental drill as it would have been in the other location. We cannot even see this dish location from most of the house. We minimized our exposure to this view when we designed it, realizing that eventually someone would be building up the hill from us. They can look down on our new sat dish. We don't have to see it.

This week life has been hectic. Again. On the day of the sat dish installation we had a total of six guys here working on various parts of the house. We managed to get the garage doors going up and down mechanically. Oh, the electric openers don't work, but being able to manually open the doors is a big step forward. There are adjustments to the automatic openers, and I will get around to troubleshooting those eventually. If I can find the manual for them. But in the meantime, I can finally get some things done in the future workshop, now that I can open it up to the sea breezes blowing through. Nice place to work.

Today is Sunday. For the first time in weeks, we had nice weather and a day without subcontractors all at the same time. So we decided to walk away from the homeowner projects and just go fishing. We grabbed a couple rods, some lures, the dog, and headed for the marina. We fueled up the boat, said hello to Duran and Chad, and headed out.

The fishing was slow but it felt so good to be on the boat again that we really didn't mind that. We did not get totally skunked but we did come home empty handed. We managed to hook up with a small barracuda and a small Amberjack. But we don't eat either of those fish and so after getting them on board I threw them back. They were fun to catch.

Of course one member of the family was highly critical of our decision to throw the fish back. Dooley the Demented Dog does not believe in releasing any fish for any reason. He had to personally inspect the barracuda and give it a couple bites for good measure.

He went right for the barracuda's throat. Maybe he was a lawyer in a previous life. ( I meant the Jack Russell Terrier's previous life, not the barracuda's.)

A little while later La Gringa hauled in a small Jack. And of course the dog was still pretty worked up thinking about the barracuda we threw back, so he really went mental over the much livelier jack..

Couldn't quite reach it...

Though he tried his best, La Gringa kept it just out of reach of his teeth:

He growled. He barked. He made loud and sinister sounding threats in a language I don't understand. Then he suddenly got one of his famous ideas, and decided he needed to get closer to the fish:

(look at his feet. You think he's excited?)

Oh yes, he will get right up on the gunwale of the boat out in the deep blue ocean, if he thinks he can get close enough to bite a fish:

So we had to let him at least be able to say he bit it:

We did not want him to hurt it, because we were throwing it back. (I kinda like that photo. Clear skies. Blue water. Late afternoon sun sparkling on the waves. Cuddly little domestic lapdog pet gone bloodthirsty and feral...)

After that the fishing slowed back down to nothing. We still enjoyed the day. We saw a huge turtle swimming around on the surface but did not get close enough for a photo. So we headed back to the house and back to our never-ending list of things that need to be fixed, painted, installed, moved, removed, adjusted, dusted or just cursed at. Tomorrow morning we are expecting our guys from the builder to be here. We are expecting a plumber to be here. We are expecting our architect to drop by to sort out some issues. And we are hoping the hurricane shutters arrived this weekend. And I got word that the water filtering and UV system I ordered from the USA is here and waiting for me to clear it through customs. We have a lot to do over the next few days and the weather is forecast to be perfect for boating. We haven't given up all hope of getting back on the water this week by any means. Construction-associated workers generally pretty much get thin and vanish by around 4:00, and we still have daylight until after 7:00...

I have started doing a few things in the still unfinished workshop. It's really fun for me to unpack tools I haven't seen or used in years. Kind of like Christmas. I am getting reacquainted with saws and sanders and chisels. As a warm-up project, I am building two racks of shelving for the pantry. I've managed to get the first one together from framing lumber and plywood, and even got it half painted this morning (before we decided to chuck it and go fishing):

Hey, that's not bad for a Sunday morning. I am a little rusty on the woodworking, but it's just like riding a bicycle. Meaning, I guess, that if you let your attention wander eventually you are going to run into something and bleed. Hey, for some of us, BandAids are shop tools, also.

I hope to get this shelf set finished and installed tomorrow. Then I get to build another one just like it for the other side of the pantry. I should be friends with the new table saw by then.

These shelves should take care of a lot of storage requirements. I always wanted a decent sized pantry, they never seem to be big enough. Hopefully, this one should be able to handle cases of tuna fish, dog food, coffee and beer. The four basic food groups and now we have room to hoard them in respectable quantities on those rare occasions when the supermarket has the brands we like.

So, while things are still very much under construction, we are slowly starting to see some progress. With a little luck, we might have some better boating and tropical blue water and maybe fishing photos to post in the next day or so. We are pretty tired of house photos, and I am sure everyone else is as well.


Anonymous said...

Good call on the dish guys, It would eventually get to the point where you stopped noticing it, at least until the next visitor said "shame about the dish being there"

heinz said...

I think you can paint the dish - we were in St. Thomas and saw several painted very colorfully (these were the smaller dishes). Here is a link -

As always, enjoyed the post and the pictures.

Soggy Dollars said...

Gringo and Gringa,
You guys are really living the dream!
Gringo, I found you on "The Hull Truth" and have really enjoyed all the awesome photos and great stories. I tune in once in awhile to see whats new. My wife and I are celebrating our 20th this year and we wanted to go somewhere special. Based on your photos, I thought T&C looked pretty special, so we booked it! We fly into Provo on 4/25/08 from New England. We are looking forward to relaxing, snorkeling, diving and maybe a little drinking! I already packed the dive gear and some fishing equipment. I would love to rent a boat and go fishing and exploring on our own. Can you reccomend an outfit that might rent a capable boat? Any other advice?
Do you need anything from the mainland?
Thanks for the motivation and keep the fantastic photos coming!

La Gringa said...

Hey! You forgot to mention that the original satellite dish location was not actually ON our property!! Somewhere down the line we'd have had to move it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Soggy Dollars:
I do not know of anyone who rents out their boats without someone to run it. Boats are a precious commodity down here, and I could understand a reluctance to hand one over to someone they don't personally know.

However, that doesn't mean that someone here doesn't rent boats. It just means that I have not heard of it yet. I am asking around, because the question has come up before. If I find out anything useful I will let you know.

On the other hand, if you rent a vehicle here, there are literally tons of places you can fish from the shore. You can wade easily for bonefish, if you are into fly fishing. You can also catch yellowtail and mutton snappers off the rocky places all along the coast.

There is also excellent snorkelling off the beach in lots of places. I would suggest renting a small car, go for the Terios SUV or a Jeep. Forget the cheapest ones, the "Charades". They will pretty much restrict you to pavement. We don't have a lot of pavement.

And you need a little SUV type to get to Malcom Beach, where you can fish from shore, and snorkel to your hearts content without a lot of other visitor traffic. In fact on a weekday you could spend all day there and not see other people.

Anonymous said...

That's one classic animal you got there in that dog. Had a good chuckle at those photos. He really loves putting the bite on a fish eh?

La Gringa said...

Hi Bender :-)

When we get a big fish on the line, the first thing we do is secure Dooley with a line in the bow. The bigger the fish - the more insane the Jack Russell! And until that fish (assuming it's a keeper) is secured in the cooler, you will hear a very frantic, very pissed off dog howling to get loose.