Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The color's coming back.

I am going to write a brief post without any photos of destruction, for a change. We've gone an entire week now without a hurricane scaring the bejesus out of us. We have been waking up to weather service updates such as:

800 AM EDT WED SEP 17 2008


Well, "forecaster Franklin", we do appreciate that bit of news. Please keep it up. Let's see if we can keep this trend going. Some of these forecasters have been writing too many short horror stories lately. Oh, and we do appreciate the little dollar signs as well. They need little wings on them to be accurate.

The dog is no longer trying to spend his life underneath something or someone. He very much prefers someone. I don't think he's gotten much further than 6 feet from an ankle since August. He still watches dark clouds as though they might turn criminally ugly at any moment. And we do still get a few this time of year:

We keep reminding ourselves that we are still in the middle of hurricane season. It's not that we really need reminders. They are all around us. Shredded roofs. Rusty little pickup trucks loaded with sheets of plywood. Blue tarps. The stream of airplanes and helicopters going back and forth to South Caicos, Salt Cay, and Grand Turk. And Cay Lime sitting forlornly in the driveway, looking exactly like a once beautiful little boat that got rolled over rocks. The walloping Mother Nature cheerfully slapped on us is very fresh. Watching the same two storms head to the USA, especially Ike, has kept us pretty concerned for friends and family in their respective paths. We have not had television since Hanna. I did try to beat that sat dish back to the point where all the curves were on the same side, but it's not working. I think it's reflecting signals toward Mars instead of to the receiver. We are going to replace it with a smaller dish. Plastic. Removable. We will give up the promise of HDTV for a chance at ANY TV. So I will have an eight foot disc of battered aluminum to play with. It kinda looks like an enlargement of a defective gray golfball. But it could be useful stuff. You never can find a large piece of thin aluminum plate when you need one. It could work out to be more fun than a Croc strap.

We are working slowly and steadily to get back to what we call our "new" normal. I think it's important in these situations to just go ahead and give up the "old" normal. That state of existence just doesn't exist any more. Big storms make permanent changes. These are life altering events, more for some than for others. When we see Internet photos and videos of Galveston and Houston, we cringe. Suddenly our smashed boat doesn't look as catastrophic as it did. We were not living in it. We have some major pieces of it left. Many people cannot say that about their entire homes, or all their former belongings.

I won't let Dooley even look at the newspapers, anymore. And it's probably a good thing that he can't tune into the weather channel again just yet.

Hanna was La Gringa's first real hurricane. By the time Ike finished with us and left to go mess with Cuba she was pretty well seasoned. She's taking it remarkably well, chalking it all up to one of life's exciting experiences. She did say she would like to try the Aurora Borealis next, though. A change of pace from a Category 4 cyclone. Those lights are not known to smash boats or blow houses down. Could probably watch them safely from a hot tub with an iced drink in hand. She hasn't seen those yet. I have been thinking Iceland might be a good place to try that.

I have been dismantling Cay Lime, looking for what might still be made to work. The compass isn't broken, for example. Maybe that will become a souvenir if we can find a good spot for it.

We've been talking to a contractor for the roof repairs. Ours are relatively minor. We have a roof to repair. This is a good thing. Not everybody has one. We are both trying to take all this in stride, reminding ourselves, once again, that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is all in your attitude about it. We are managing to slot this one into the 'adventure' category.

Dark clouds always dissipate eventually. The sun comes back out. The water turns blue, and people adjust. A little time and light makes a difference. For me it helped to realize that all we really needed to do was to hang on through the bumpy spots until the next smooth stretch of pavement showed up.

Maybe one of the simple secrets to life is to just hang on until things get better again. That doesn't mean they won't be getting slightly worse first, of course. That's the tricky part, remembering that as bad as it seems, it can't get worse forever.

So we are hanging on to our hopes to find a way to get back on the water. Being suddenly boatless is our biggest adjustment through all this. We want to see how the geography here has changed, and we know just where to look. We know there are lots of things to take photos of. And now we will have before-and-after images on a lot of them. The driftwood situation must be absolutely stupendous for incorrigible beachcombers.

We were sitting on the patio tonight watching the moon reflect off the water, listening to Willie Nelson, and noticing that the "new normal" is well underway. And we still love this place and these people. We have found that we have some great neighbors, some great friends, and each other. It feels like we spent a month last week in a turbulent, uncertain world of angry grays. The sky, the sea, the rain...I can see why primitive man figured the gods were really getting on his case sometimes.. But we know the colors will always come back eventually.

I had intended to stitch these two photos together into a pano, but the software is not behaving:

Fortunately for me, La Gringa had grabbed another camera and caught the whole thing in wide angle in one shot while I was trying to be clever. Once again, she had my back. She's a keeper.

I tell you, it's an extremely good feeling to come through times like these and realize you're part of a really good team.

Two and a half Gringos is still in business.


Anonymous said...

stumbled on your site recently and love it! great writing, great photos, great life choice.
glad to read you're weathering the storms in stride and health.

Unknown said...

Gringo...Methinks the severity of events from the last couple of weeks are beginning to fade...Thats not necessarily a bad thing.
You have a way with words that I envy!
Tammy syas Hi and we both love the pics!!!

Anonymous said...

So glad that you are able to focus on the colors again and put the gray behind you...

(from the USVI travel board)

La Gringa said...

It's not too hard.

The colors still amaze us all the time... GENTLE, warm tropical breezes and the full moon shimmering off the ocean. It's been absolutely idyllic and lovely.

Matt Cook said...

Glad to know y'all are well.

Having read about your "life of the make-do" since the THT days, I want to make sure you know I've never felt like you've taken a "post" off. Every one I read is just filled with that whit and knowledge -- that I hope to read in a book someday!!

I hope to visit y'all one day, stay at Bottle Creek Lodge to boot! (on my short list)

Thanks. And prayers to y'all and the TCI.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing. I recently stumbled upon this blog as it was a link on a USVI blog that I also came upon. My first read was the day you posted about losing Cay Lime. I couldn't get enough, even though it took me a few days to catch up. It was almost like reading the last page of a book first.

I have thouroughly enjoyed all your posts. I found it interesting to see the progress of the house, as well as adjusting to the "simple life and way of doing things". And I love, love, love all the sunrise pictures. I was too lazy on my last Caribbean trip to get up for the sunrise, which I think is prettier than sunsets.

I know you have questioned a few times if you should keep posting. Please do. I am glad to see that overall you faired well in the recent storms. My heart goes out to all of your friends and loved ones who may have lost more.

One question, as I think I missed it - what did you end up naming your house?


Anonymous said...

Dear 2 Gringos, happy to read you make it and that the dog is almost weather proof. As I lived in Costa Rica for 15 years and experienced some hurricans tails I am wondering if you are planning a "safe and dry room" where you can spend at least 48 hours.
I am NOT hoping but you know, local people knows, it is very possible that is going to happen again. Keep up the nice blog, I will visit one day, love fishing and diving and can help you beachcombing.

Existentialist said...

My friend Johnny Deep introduced me to your site and I've enjoyed every post. I haven't gotten around to posting a comment until now, but I'm very glad to hear you made it through the hurricane with relatively minor damage. Although I've always found your writing very entertaining I wanted to let you know that the last four sentences of this post are inspiring. Until my wife and I move to a tropical island ourselves I'll keep living vicariously through you.

La Gringa said...

No we still haven't named the house. We keep hoping that something will just jump out at us one of these days. :-)

Anonymous said...

This may be my first post on your site, but trust me, I read every page. Great stuff. Thanks for addding the link to my site folks, I appreciate it more than you know.

Gringo, your photography is impressive. The sunsets in this latest entry are top notch. You're destined to be a great photography, as you've developed the ONE skill that many professionals have yet to master - the level horizon.

Keep posting....and may you're horizons be level AND free of hurricanes.

La Gringa said...


Your photography is truly amazing and a compliment coming from you means a lot over here too! :-)

Anonymous said...

Ya could call it survivor hill