About Us

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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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Just what I needed......

No...this was not some other island photo. This was taken in Esperanza? How about that. We (and I'll explain the we part in a moment) guessed it was a pet of somebody. Anyway...what a colorful addition to the vista.

Ok...about the "we" part. The we were Lorrie and I living vicariously, again, through Bill and Joy. Those stinkers snuck in a quick trip to Vieques while in the southern U.S. Lucky dawgs. They are the best about keeping a continuous IV (involves vieques) drip of photos and info to me when they are on island.  It's a lifesaver and just what I needed.

They're our buds and we love them. Not that Joy doesn't like to tease me with pics that really only mean anything to those of us that really get Vieques...such as this:

To which my only response was:

Yea I know, doesn't even compare....anyhoo

June in Vieques, what's that like? Well first thing that hits you is all the flamboyan trees in bloom. If you can get up at a high elevation they  really are something to see, scattered across the island. 

I love this picture for so many reasons. First and most obviously is the flamboyan and just how beautiful it is. Then in front you have this broken down recliner with some box and other refuse lying about.  And that is Vieques. It's like there's this yin/yang full frontal at all times and it's why we love the place, because it's real. I could go on and on about that, but if you step outside the box you can relate to what I mean. Unless, of course, your one of the many looking for latest,  greatest, carpetbagger stamp of approval, cookie cutter, "spoon feed me please!", abomination of the quintessential caribbean. Sorry about that. Can you tell I eschew all inclusives? 

But I digress....

June in Vieques also means that the snowbirds are gone, for the most part, and the beaches are yours.

Joy was also sending me pics and asking me to guess what beach is was. This was one of the first ones. So...which beach is it? 

How bout this one? 

and here's the last one. This picture has enormous meaning for Lorrie and I. We have spent countless hours in this exact spot at this exact time of the day. For years this was the only spot we would go to and set up the cabana. 

The above picture is probably circa 2010 or so and it's turnout 26 on La Plata.  Pre cabana ban and that whole saga. "Calling Zack Kincaid...aka the beach gestapo!"  Seems like a lifetime ago. The  second beach picture is La Chiva, way on the east end, and the very first picture is Sun Bay. So...did you guess any?

June also means,  near peak mango season (July/August is usually peak). But there are many different varieties of mango on Vieques and you can usually find ripe mangos any time of the year if you ask around.  Lorrie and I love mangos and usually have fresh ones from David and Andre, gathered from one of the trees on their property, usually  in Feb. 

Did you know that some people can have allergies to  mangoes (some even to the flesh), for most it is the mango's skin. Mango skin, bark and leaves contain the same toxic substance, urushiol, as in poison ivy

The intense irritation and blisters follow contact. Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours, but may appear in a few hours or a few days. The rash and blisters may appear at different times because the poison can absorb into skin at different rates. The blisters may break and release a liquid, but the liquid cannot cause more blisters and it is not contagious. The liquid does not contain the irritating urushiol.

The amount of poison available in the plant can vary. In a drought year the toxins can be more concentrated. You can also be reinfected by touching contaminated clothing or pets. Wash any exposed clothing in hot soapy water and not with the family wash.

According to the booklet Pesky Plants by Thor Kommedahl, the reaction of the poison with the skin is nearly instantaneous. However, immediately washing with strong soaps or rubbing alcohol can remove any excess poison that might be transferred to other parts of the body. Soap or alcohol is needed to remove the oils.

We've never had any problems, but good info to know. 

There's a new sign outside Belly Buttons.

and look at how much Rancho Choli has expanded. Wow...I ate there his first year and it wasn't much more than a few plastic chairs out in what look like someone's front lawn. 

One thing that didn't change was how great of a host Choli is. The guy is super kewl. 

That and the food...can you believe that plate of food! 

Waiting on my owners...that's what Joy wrote with this pic. Only in Vieques. I remember having a hen chicken walk under our table one time when we were at Duffys and there were these two dogs that always seem to be present there in dayz past. 

Still can't get used to all the new signage...seems way too hip for Vieques. 

Towards the end of their trip I get this pic and that can only be one thing. Lyman's dumplings with pickled ginger. Only to be found at the little cafe at the airport, isla-nena  Well, I must correct that, it's Lyman's wife's dumplings. What a hidden gem on Vieques. It was only by chance that Lorrie and I found out about them a few years ago. It's now a staple for us. 

Great trip Bill and Joy had. They  also did some not so "vacation-like"  activities while on island. Like helping a friend paint some rooms in a house, making trips to the dump. Stuff like that. 

In other news....Lorrie and I have dumped the United Explorer card in March and switched to an American airlines  mile card.  It's a Citi AAdvanage platinum select  with 50k signup after 3k spent in the first few months. It's takes 60k miles to buy two, coach, round trip tickets. We've already there. United's flights out of Indiana using miles were/are horrible. Plus they run like 25k miles one way.  Good departure and return times out of the midwest on American. So we'll try this for a bit and see how it goes.  If you use a card like we do, it's a really good deal. We are flying down in Feb for $10 on American. If you don't ever carry a balance, these mile cards can be very helpful. 

No Cape Air this year either. They've decided to start charging for checked baggage?  Even on the commuter book tickets? I'm like WFT? I even called them to confirm that this change applied to commuter books holders?  Yep, you know it. I guess they don't want the business. A commuter book ticket is gonna cost you $115 each way now, if you check a bag. Totally defeats the point of buying a commuter book of 10 tickets.  So..we are flying out of SIG (isla grande)  this year. Will need to take a cab to another airport. No TSA at that airport. We will fly VAL. $75 each way to VQS. So $150 round trip. Only caveat is their baggage policy. 50lbs total per person max, including carry on. Yikes!!! We've needed to downsize anyway, so this is just the reason to make it happen.

 On a personal note I'm still digg'n retirement...but ready to get back to Vieques. I leave you with circa 1978...the Cars..."just what I needed." Thanks Bill and Joy. 

I had a cassette tape (yea..remember those) of this and played the sheit out of it, all while dating Lorrie...jeez man. 


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gas Station, Gallery Galleon and goodbyes....

Said goodbye to our fluke 70 degree Feb weather here n Indiana. It's  long gone. Back to reality with light snow and 27 degree temps this morning. Yee frigg'n Haw!

Joy sent  this picture to me this morning as her and Bill were beginning their last full day on island:

A far cry from 27 degrees for sure. Of course later on I got another reminder of what we are missing this year:

yeah...it's killing us. 

I also got this next one today attached to a text. She ask if I could guess where she was at. Can you? I got it right on my first try.

I'll give you the answer later into the post.

Like I mentioned, there's a new gas station on Vieques. Well...it's more like a reborn gas station. Years ago it was one and now it's back. As your going into Isabell, just past the intersection of 997 on your right you see this:

Here's Bill fueling up:

And here's a picture of the inside courtesy of Dave. 

Very spacious and uncluttered by Vieques standards. 

Dave had sent me some pictures of him and one of his sons, Silas, at the Gallery Galleon. Silas was taking a landscape painting class. The life experiences Dave and Andrea have given their boys during their annual 1 month stay on Vieques are priceless. 

Dave said it best. His words were "I can think of no other way I would rather be spending the day." I have to say I agree with that and this particular activity resonates with me. I too, dabble in painting. Can you guess what beach I've tried to capture here?

Dave also took Silas to a dance workshop earlier this month on Vieques. Silas got high marks with his flipping tricks and made new friends:

Like I said, Dave and Andrea and the boys are amazing people.  And speaking of amazing, check out this new signage that has sprung up all over Vieques:

Damn...now that's pretty hip for Vieques...don't ya think!

I would get photos in slugs from Joy. She would send bursts of shots her and Bill were taking during the day. Some of the pictures are just gorgeous. 

Bill and Joy say goodbye to Vieques tomorrow. This was their last evening on island. I can't thank them enough for letting me live vicariously with them these last two weeks. Oh...I almost forgot...the photo where Joy ask me where she was, is from Al's on the Atlantic side. I wish them safe travels back home. 

A goodbye Lorrie and I made today is from Cape Air. They are now charging for checked bags. $20 per bag. This would ad $80 round trip for us with our usual commuter book purchase. This November we are flying our of SIG (island Grande) on VAL. It is the same price as the old commuter book tickets prices from Cape Air. Only caveat is we need to downsize our luggage. VAL has a 50lb max including carry on. So I will be blogging via my phone this next trip. No laptop. 

Lastly, and on a much sombre note, the world said goodbye to Bill Paxton today. I personally loved watching that man act. In tribute to him, Lorrie and I watched Twister this evening and I've got Aliens playing while I'm working on this post. An amazing career by what everyone in the business called a really nice guy. You always rooted for Bill no matter who he was playing. He was 61. It might be game over Bill, but you will be watched for years to come.

Training Day (2017) TV stars as Frank Rourke
Life Briefly (2017)
Mean Dreams (2016) stars as Wayne Caraway
The Circle (2016)
Term Life (2016) stars as Detective Keenan
The Gamechangers (2015) aka "Grand Theft Auto" stars as Jack Thompson
Texas Rising (2015) TV stars as Sam Houston
Million Dollar Arm (2014) stars as Tom House
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) aka "All You Need Is Kill" stars as Master Sergeant Farell
Nightcrawler (2014) stars as Joe Loder
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014) TV stars as John Garrett
2 Guns (2013) stars as Earl
Head Smash: The Prequel (2013) stars as Maurice (voice)
Red Wing (2013) stars as Jim Verret
The Colony (2013) stars as Mason
Shanghai Calling (2012) stars as Donald
Hatfields & McCoys (2012) TV stars as Randall McCoy
Haywire (2011) aka "Knockout" stars as Mr. Kane
The Good Life (2007) stars as Robbie
Big Love: In the Beginning (2007) TV stars as Bill Henrickson
Big Love (2006) TV stars as Bill Henrickson
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (2005) stars as Ed Mitchell (voice)
Haven (2004) stars as Carl Ridley
Thunderbirds (2004) aka Thunderbirds - Les sentinelles de l'air (France) stars as Jeff Tracy
Club Dread (2004) aka Broken Lizard's Club Dread stars as Coconut Pete
Resistance (2003) stars as Maj. Theodore 'Ted' Brice
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) stars as Dinky Winks
Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) stars as Dinky Winks
Frailty (2001) aka Damonisch (Germany) stars as Dad Meiks
U-571 (2000) stars as Lt. Cmdr. Mike Dahlgren
Vertical Limit (2000) stars as Elliot Vaughn
Mighty Joe Young (1998) aka Mighty Joe stars as Professor Gregory "Gregg" O'Hara
A Simple Plan (1998) aka Ein Einfacher Plan (Germany) stars as Hank Mitchell
A Bright Shining Lie (1998) TM stars as Col. John Paul Vann
Traveller (1997) stars as Bokky
Titanic (1997) stars as Brock Lovett
The Evening Star (1996) stars as Jerry Bruckner
Twister (1996) stars as Bill Harding
The Last Supper (1995) stars as Zachary Cody
Apollo 13 (1995) aka Apollo 13: The IMAX Experience stars as Fred Haise
True Lies (1994) stars as Simon
Frank & Jesse (1994) stars as Frank James
Tombstone (1993) stars as Morgan Earp
Monolith (1993) aka Monolith (Germany) stars as Tucker
Indian Summer (1993) aka Ete indien, L' (Canada: French title) stars as Jack Belston
Boxing Helena (1993) stars as Ray O'Malley
Future Shock (1993) stars as Vince
One False Move (1992) stars as Chief Dale 'Hurricane' Dixon
The Vagrant (1992) stars as Graham Krakowski
Trespass (1992) aka Looters stars as Vince Gillian
The Dark Backward (1991) aka The Man with Three Arms stars as Gus
Brain Dead (1990) aka Paranoia stars as Jim Reston
The Last of the Finest (1990) aka Blue Heat stars as Howard 'Hojo' Jones
Navy Seals (1990) stars as Dane
Predator 2 (1990) stars as Jerry Lambert
Back to Back (1989) stars as Bo Brand
Next of Kin (1989) stars as Gerald Gates
Slipstream (1989) aka Slipstream: Bounty Hunter 2000 stars as Matt Owens
Pass the Ammo (1988) stars as Jesse Wilkes
Near Dark (1987) stars as Severen
Riding Fast (1986) stars as Bobo
Aliens (1986) stars as Pvt. Hudson
Fresno (1986) TV stars as Billy Joe Bobb
An Early Frost (1985) TM stars as Bob Maracek
Commando (1985) stars as Intercept Officer
Weird Science (1985) stars as Chet Donnelly
The Atlanta Child Murders (1985) TV stars as Campbell
Pat Benatar: Hit Videos (1984) VI stars as Radio operator
Streets of Fire (1984) stars as Clyde the Bartender
Impulse (1984) stars as Eddie
The Terminator (1984) stars as Punk Leader
Great Day (1983) TM stars as Rudy
Taking Tiger Mountain (1983) aka Trechi Mynydd y Teigr (UK: Welsh title: literal title)
The Lords of Discipline (1983) stars as Gilbreath
Night Warning (1983) aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker stars as Eddie
Deadly Lessons (1983) TM stars as Eddie Fox
Mortuary (1983) aka Embalmed stars as Paul Andrews
Stripes (1981) stars as Soldier
The Six O'Clock Follies (1980) TV
Fish Heads (1980) stars as Main Character
Crazy Mama (1975) stars as John

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sugar Season....

Aldo Leopold wrote:

"There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” 

I would add  that a third spiritual danger is never experiencing "real" maple syrup, especially syrup made by one's own hands, from one's own trees. 

We have taken it upon ourselves, over the last couple of years,  to utilize this resource, readily available on our property. Many would say it's foolish endeavor, when you can just as easily go to the grocery and buy yourself maple (flavored) syrup, very cheaply i might add. But Lorrie and I eschew high fructose corn syrup, which is an almost  impossible pursuit given that  we are all nearly swimming in the stuff. That,  and  we are just generally  into these kinds of life pursuits. 

Here in Indiana it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. We are by no means large in our maple syrup production. I tap, on average, 20 trees or so. You can see by the picture above I just use a gallon jug with a plastic hose attached. We usually ask friends to save jugs or us. It doesn't take too many. Maybe 30 at most. I had almost enough on hand for this year when one of my co-workers from last year called me and ask if I needed any jugs. I hadn't spoke with him in over a year and was surprised he remembered. I said "sure" we can always use some. He came up the following weekend. He arrived in a van, packed FULL of jugs. OMG!

There was over 100 jugs! I thanked him,,,but my gawd. Needless to say we will be making a trip to the recycle center in the near future. Note to self: be sure to remember that some people take things way too literally. 

 Last year I tapped trees the day after we got back from Vieques, makes for a very short season.  This year, due to our absence on island, I began tapping trees the last week in January.  So on the debit side of things we've given up our  Feb Vieques trip, but on the credit side we've netted about a gallon of syrup. And I was really hoping for a record setting maple syrup harvest this year. What I got was Vieques calling to me, some 3k miles away?

When one usually thinks of sugar season you visualize cold overnight temps and sunny days. Maybe a blanket of snow. You definitely don't think of overnight lows in the 50's and highs approaching 70. But that has been the case here for the last week (which would have been our last week in Vieques on our normal Feb trip. Feb high temperature records are being smashed across the middle of the country. Obviously this kind of heat has killed the maple sap run. Maple  syrup season is over for the year and it didn't last very long.

Not that I mind. This is really helping us get through this winter. That and all my great friends, who are now on island. I am fortunate that they have been keeping me inundated with photos and experiences.

Bill and Joy, who threatened to come to Indiana and "drag are asses" to Vieques when we told them we wouldn't be there this year.

One of the first pictures they sent me was when they were waiting in SJU to fly over to Vieques. I think they were hanging out at the same little bar Lorrie and I do. And of course, they've got a couple Medallas in hand. A right of passage that let's you know for sure that "yes, indeed, we've made it."

One of their first sunsets on island. How can you ever get tired of seeing that?

Wasn't long before they met up with Dave and Andrea. One of the beautiful things about Feb in Vieques is the same great people are always there.

I had ask them to toast a Medalla to Lorrie and I, while they were on La Plata. And that they did. You can see the gallery way in the background, all set up and curated by Judy and Andre. Doesn't get any better.

Joy and Bill brought along a new shelter for the beach this year:

As did Dave and Andrea:

Dave sent me a photo of the gallery, cause he knows just how much I enjoy it:

Almost makes me feel like I'm there. But not quite. I've got lot's more photos to go through. Even have pictures of the inside of the NEW gas station. We now have 3 on Vieques....yeah!

Big thanks once again to my friends on island.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Back in the saddle again....

Yep...been nearly one year since I've last posted. YIKES!!!!

I've been thinking a lot about this post. I wanted to title it "back in the saddle", because...we are  back in the saddle again ( but lorrie thinks the video is too risque). So probably, it's more of a dream on sort of post. I've always liked that song, and now, being ...ahem...older..it's seems quite applicable.

Great song...dream on...keep dreaming on.

But I still think back in the saddle works better.....it just makes for a better segue.

You see,  getting back in the saddle undoubtedly originates from being out of the saddle, or being thrown off your horse.  So...I guess that's where I will begin.

A year ago...you know "mojito Monday" or thereabout we were on island to sort of celebrate our signing of the paperwork for the house in Los Chivos. Lorrie hadn't even seen it yet. Well..we had both seen it for nearly 6 years..but she had never been on the property or been inside the house. I had when I flew down earlier in the year to start the paperwork. Anyway...we were really within reach of getting our house on the island.

That's when we got thrown off the horse.

It was actually a two fold buck, if that makes any sense. Anyway...while we were making plans and just dreaming (here's the dream on theme) about how we wanted to finish the place I got a phone call...yes while I was on island, that my job was ending in a few months. Well...sheit. Not that we couldn't make it work, I had planned on retiring in the next year or so, but we were planning doing all this stuff, and me, being pragmatic and all, got really, really nervous. Then...we find out that our daughter is getting married in a few months.

Well...that just about sealed it. Definitely out of the saddle...again.

We flew back to Indiana...in a real state of depression...on the one hand..but really excited on the other about the wedding. We waited a week or so after getting back to make our decision. Then we called the real estate agent and explained the situation...with my job. We forfeited a modest down payment...and a huge dream.

Ah...such is life. And as it turned out, I didn't miss a lick of work..moved right on to another job without even a single missed day. Jeez....could of, should of...and all that sort of hindsight. Lorrie plowed herself into wedding planning with Jessica. I decided I needed to build something. So...a barn/greenhouse/70's kickback man cave was my new project.

If this blacklight poster from the 70's doesn't cause a flashback...skip to the next pic.

Silver faced pioneer receiver bring back any memories?  

Surely these acoustic research speakers from 1969 make you think back. I have 4 of them I got off ebay. I had to refurbish all of them. 

Well...if you were a child of the 70's you had to have seen the poster on the right of the two lovers. I've got black lights over each poster...it's a real trip with the lights out. 

If none of that brought back any memories...I'm sorry you missed it. That was a great time to be alive.

Ah..but I digress....

Between the barn, the wedding, a 2 hour commute and just life in general...last year flew by. The wedding was in October and we had family in from all over the country and even out of the country. It was a wonderful moment in Lorrie and my's life journey.

So...after the wedding we really started feeling this empty nest sorta thing. Nevermind that Jessica has been out of the house since her first year in undergrad. There's another feeling when your child is married ...a finality of sorts. 

We had already decided that there would be no trip to Vieques in November, much to the dismay of our friends. We told ourselves, ti was best. We had too much going on in the fall. My work, the wedding...plus secretly we were still licking our wounds from letting go of what was a dream. I dove headfirst into my work and the barn. Time past and, with a lot of reservations, we opted to forgo our Feb. trip. 

Now missing the November trip was bad, but missing the Feb trip was huge. I tried to treat it as a test of sorts. To just see how much it bothered us, not going to Vieques. I mean...I had my barn project, Lorrie was busy helping Jess with her new life and her medical career. 

I got a phone call from Judy and Andre. They were about to leave for Vieques and wondered when we were arriving. Arrgh...that was tough telling them we wouldn't be there this year. I was telling everyone that I needed to finish this job and then I was retiring, which I was, but that was no reason not to go. 

Then the grey days of January and the cold really set in. Gawd...it was killing us. I've had people write me that read, or at least used to when I was writing, the blog asking if everything was ok. Bill and Joy threatened to come to Indiana and "drag our asses to Vieques (gawd I love those two people). 

Yesterday, Andre sent me a video of how shitty the gallery looks and about how much cleanup is needed. Then today, Dave sent me pictures of his son Silas doing flips on La plata and a new cabana his wife Andrea had bought. 

So this evening....it's 25 outside and the wind is blowing like hell. I make my way out to the barn and when I get inside I take a look at the temperature in the greenhouse (yeah..there's a greenhouse attached to the barn). It's 90 in it. I open the door and it's like, well...it's like heaven. The sun is shinning bright through the roof and it's WARM...like Vieques warm.  I run back to the house and tell Lorrie "you've got to come out to the greenhouse", you need it. 

So out she comes and the smile she gets on her face when she feels the heat  is priceless. We are really digging the heat and then she notices I have on my Mambo T'shirt. It's just about too much. 

There were a lot of firsts, and last that have happened in the  past year. First time I watched my daughter get married (and by the looks of how much they love each other,  it'll be the last time I experience that). First we've missed our semi annual trips to Vieques, and according to Lorrie it's the last time that's gonna happen. We've got things going for November already. First time I've been able to do things according to "my schedule" and the last time I'll be wearing a hard hat. Yes...I have finally retired. 

So with that, I'll say, to any that might still read this thing, I am indeed back in the saddle again. It might be vicariously, through my good friends who are now on island, but come November it's the real deal. 

And since I'm feeling kinda perky with all these life changes...here's the video I wasn't supposed to post...sorry Lorrie.