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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hurricanes and other odd pursuits....

First...what a crazy Summer. To say July was wet here in Indiana is an enormous understatement. Whereas I eschew political punditry here in my little semi-private universe, I can't help but compare the "new norm" weather to what has been going on in the upper echelons of our  elected government and  think of Russell Crowe in Gladiator:

So yes...weather gladiators..we were more than entertained.  The amount of rain Indiana had in July broke a 140 year old record. The whole year has been "a half bubble off", to use some construction vernacular.  I had wrote previously about how short the sugar season was this year with the crazy warm Feb. weather, and that askew weather pattern has persisted,  creating a new 140 year rainfall record for July. I should have known something like this would happen since I built a 350 gallon rain collector for our garden this spring. It has yet to be used and probably won't this year. Not that it doesn't work..works great....especially at growing algae.

And then there was  Irma. My gawd...I spent 4 or 5 straight days watching that hurricane. Hoping it would not hit Vieques.  If you don't already know about it Weather Underground has a blog called Catagory 6 that is teeming with weather geeks and amateur mets (that's slang for meteorologist on that blog. There are so many acronyms in weather lingo that you almost need a user guide just to follow along) That blog had the most up to date info I found on the internet. Literally as new forecasts and radar images were coming out, these guys were posting them and talking about it. I learned so much on that site.   And although Vieques did dodge the bullet, things are not back to normal, yet. The owner of the house we're renting in November has been in contact and has offered me full refund it we wanted to cancel. Cancel? Hell no! Warm medallas....no prob. As for now,  the refuge beaches are closed. Reason being there may, or may not, have been some munitions exposed and the refuge wants to check it out, plus there's a lot of vegetative cleanup to be done.


I've been working on this post for weeks now and in the interim Maria has poked her big fat ugly category 5 head into my world.   I have now spent the last two days tracking this sister of Irma.  Below is a screen grab of a radar shot from last night. If that isn't a skull face from hell I don't know what it is:

By this time tomorrow we will probably know if we will be going to Vieques in 6 weeks or not. The storm looks devastating as of now and is fluctuating between  coming within 8 to 16 miles of the island. Jeezus.


So...after not being on island for a whole year (man I hate saying that), we may not get to see La Plata. So in lieu of actually sinking my toes into that baby powder white sand and doing my curating duties at the gallery, I have painted another picture of what we think is the most beautiful beach in the world.

It's a retirement thing, alright! I used to paint years ago, in my other life, and have now come back to it. I plan on packing my french easel down to Vieques in Feb do some plein air painting (and no, just because I use some fancy French painting lingo doesn't mean I will be wearing one of those berets and growing myself some pointy goatee.)

I am amazed at the things I notice now since I'm not in the rat race. For one thing, I've become one of those people I always cussed on the freeway. I drive slow. I like driving slow now. I'm not in a hurry anymore. Strange...I always think about the lyrics in that Police song "Synchronicity II" whenever I piss someone off with my new-found driving habits:

Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race

 So...what else...oh yes...I  had noticed something this spring..or should I say I notice a lack thereof. It was the butterflies. I know...your saying to yourself "oh..how quaint....he looks at butterflies." Well I'll admit, I've been a fan of beauty, especially short lived, transient beauty. Be it the changing seasons, the golden light on La Plata near 5pm or the little flying jewels we call butterflies. Each and every spring near the same area in our woods around the same time of the year I am greeted by  nymphalis antiopa  or what I called them, Mourning Cloaks.

They are the very first butterfly I see and I've seen them on our property every year for the last 24, except for this year.  They have one of the longest lifespans of any butterfly, 11 to 12 months and have the ability to overwinter. Something I find crazy. But this year I saw zero. And I took notice of it.  There's a progression in the spring. Mourning cloaks, then question marks, then red-spotted purples and so on. That was altered if not absent this year.

I have believed, for a very long time, that the insects are the proverbial canaries in the coalmine. I was introduced to insects, and the study of them, at a very young age having lived next door to some college professors teaching in biology. That early introduction made me more aware of them, much more than most people are....but that's a tangent for another day.

Now where was I....oh yes... odd pursuits. I have also noticed that there's an inverse relationship between beer consumption and work. So much so, that I am now brewing my own beer. Ahem...all grain I might add. To be honest  I have to admit that although this does fit into the "odd pursuit" category, the real reason was one of economics. I can brew beer for roughly .45 cents a 12oz bottle or about $11 a case and that's a 5% german lager. I made myself a mash tun out of an Igloo 5 gallon cooler and some stainless steel water supply line. Then I made a wort chiller out of flexible copper tubing and a few fittings.

 ( I know those sort of details are more for the home brew aficionados, but I put them in anyway)  I must say they work beautifully.

Well...I must get back to tracking of Maria. I see messages flashing about the latest recon into the storm and they're reading 919mb pressure and 170mph winds. This is beyond bad.

I leave you with a couple pictures of where Lorrie and I have been going this summer to get a "running water"   fix, sans hurricane force winds:

Lastly...we hope...so very much...that the damage...especially to our friends and the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico is minimized.