Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bioluminescence in St. Croix

February 2, 2011

Last night was one of those old fashioned nights which started with cooking S’mores over an open fire at Altona Lagoon. People were fishing for shrimp which were jumping all over the Lagoon and were being harvested by the bucket full. Then it was off to explore the Sea of Fire with Brice of “Sea – Thru Kayaks VI”. Seems that Vieques is not the only place in the Caribbean with a bioluminescence Lagoon and our own effort in St. Croix is really incredibly impressive.

From the bridge where the fishermen and campers gather, you must paddle to the other end by the Buccaneer Gate being careful to avoid the shrimp jumping into your Kayak and the iguana poop from the trees above but once you reach the other end, the experience is fantastic. As a matter of fact, Kayaking in the dark was pretty impressive on it’s own. When you reach the end and put your hand in the water and swirl it around, it looks like the sea is on fire with a bright blue-white light. Every time you paddle, the sea lights up and if you take a handfuls and sprinkle it on your legs, it looks like the Milky way is on your thigh.

This stuff is totally non toxic and safe to eat or drink and if you care to drink any water from the lagoon at all, it won’t be this stuff that kills you. Our guide Brice loves to talk and knows all about this stuff and it’s medical uses. He loves, nature and his job and was fun to spend a couple of hours with. Despite his love of his see through Kayaks, it is more Brice’s knowledge that enhances the experience than anything else. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to photograph but the memories are there.

Actually, I knew this stuff was there because my friend Chino and I used to take a six pack down to the Lagoon and swim on the sea side of the bridge to the Lagoon on moonless nights when the tide was going out. This blue stuff would cling to plants and other floating stuff and swirl around you. It is kind of a cool effect.

The Dear of St. Croix

December 4, 2010

I guess that when my wife was alive I still talked to all the other dears in my life. Now that she is dead, it is ironic that this is the only deer that listens to me and doesn’t run when I talk to her and tell her how beautiful she is. Without further comment, I present my new dear.

This is my back yard and she is about 50 feet away and I took her picture and talked to her for about a half hour I used to do this when Dolores was alive and she thought I was nuts back then. I guess nothing much has changed. I am starting to see my dear on a daily basis..

Tarpon Springs Adventures

July 1, 2010

Tarpon Springs is North of Clearwater with a population less than 25,000. It is notable for having the highest percentage of Greek-Americans of any city in the US. In size, the community is less than 20 square miles with about half under water. The first Greek immigrants arrived to this city during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry. Like most fishing communities, there are good years and bad based on the whim of mother nature.

When a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where the sponges were sold, into tourist attractions. And somebody was bright enough to put a silly plastic Turtle in the middle of the town square. While logic would dictate that it should have been a tarpon, a ninja turtle is definitely more huggable than a Tarpon which is best described as a pugnacious, smelly, inedible, cold-blooded fish.

The first time Dolores and I saw the Turtle was probably 1999. I had always kept in touch with Carol since the day I first met her. When we both married and had kids we kept in touch and our families visited each other in New Jersey, Santo Domingo, St. Croix, Florida and watched each other raise families and pass through life’s transitions. We had comforted each other from afar on the passing of our respective spouses.

Lunch at Hellas with Tracey and Carol

Carol is a gracious hostess and when I was here in May to get probed by aliens. Tracy and I went to visit and have lunch at Hellas a Greek restaurant.

John, Tracey & Turtle

Naturally everybody laughed, had fun and told jokes with an awful lot at my expense. And as we were leaving, I insisted on pictures of us with the turtle. First it was Tracey and I and then it was Carol and I.

John, Carol & Turtle

On Fathers Day, Carol had me join her family for a fantastic feast. I have know her father for over 50 years and he is still earning spending money by betting on his skeet shooting skills and constantly winning. He travels as far as Ohio where he finds people who bet against him because they see an old man on the line. They soon find out he has the eyes of a hawk, reflexes of a bat and nerves of steel as he wins most bets. George is pushing 90 and his family gave him books on sports memorabilia to read for his birthday and Fathers Day. My mom gave up on reading in her late 80’s because it was too tiring so it’s nice to see George keep going.

I told George, I wanted to be just like him when I grow up as we caught up on old times. Carol’s daughter Tara was there with her husband as was Carol’s boy friend. I have know Tara all her life and everybody just adsorbed me into the family. Carol asked to see my daughter when she came to care for me and even though Saturday was my most painful day, we kept our date.

I am glad we did as the walking and company took my mind off pain and I instantly felt better. At lunch, I toasted the special 50th anniversary of our first kiss and Carol asked how I could possibly remember such trivia. Then her eyes lit up as she told me I made up the anniversary story because the first kiss was more than 50 years ago. It made me laugh and smile because she also remembered. Unfortunately, she also remembers all the pranks and tricks that she played on me based on my teenage insecurity and raging hormones which is why we never made it past that kiss..

Dagny and Poppa John

When we were leaving Tarpon Springs, I reminded Carol of my need to capture the Day with pictures of the Turtle. She pointed out that there is far more complexity to the culture of Tarpon Springs than the Turtle. I reminded her that when Dolores and I first came to Tarpon Springs with her, we all did the Turtle thing and if I searched for them, I would find those pictures. I also pointed out that I am not running from her memory because after 43 years of marriage, there is no way to even dream of erasing Dolores from my life. Besides, I believe that she was there both days enjoying the outing as she knew everybody including Carol’s family and Tracey and never missed a pleasant social event.

Dagny, Carol & the Tarpon Springs Turtle

The worst part of the day was thinking about what BP and a hurricane could do to the town. This is not about money, because the cost to relocate 25,000 people is nothing compared to the cost of disrupting all of the population of the Gulf Coast. But once a town like Tarpon Springs is gone, not even Disney could resurrect the authentic version.

As they say in the islands;

“God spare life”, I will live to see Tarpon Springs in a decade, just the way it is.

In Florida for a Next Adventure

June 19, 2010

I expected the trip to be a disaster. After all when you start a 5 hour trip with all of the problems and delays the airline industry is currently having, high expectations would be a waste of time.Especially when you embark on your trip after 6 pm in the evening.

Now I am either having very good luck with American Airlines or they are getting a lot better. From St. Croix they are a monopoly but they are flying on time and my tickets have been costing about 1/2 of what they cost 30 years ago. Even with a first class upgrade, and a flexible return date, the price of a ticket was still less than it was in the past.

My first joy was getting my upgrade at the check-in counter and not having to stand around and watch the flickering board at the gate to see if I am in a high or low position in the standby lottery for upgrades with flexible rules that favor the traveler with the most frequent flier miles ahead of the one who asks for it two weeks in advance.

My next pleasant surprise was meeting up with my friend Kai  Martin who I hadn’t seen to in awhile and we talked about her family including brothers, nieces and nephews and my family including children grandchildren, nieces and nephews,  my bad taste in young women since my wife died, her living will, my need for one and all the weird stuff that friends talk about as they jump from topic to topic. The trip flew by and we continued to talk at the bar while I continued my medicinal drinking and she had a ginger ale. Of course we were both late for loading, but made our panes.

My next positive event was my seat companion in the first class section.  Seems Jorge was celebrating a monstrous commission that would pay off his mortgage and had spent some time prior to the flight in the first class lounge in San Juan. There is a huge unavoidble time gap between the normal 11 am hotel checkout in Puerto Rico and the 7 o’clock flight time which probably makes the Admiral’s Cub at the San Juan Airport very profitable.

Between Jorge’s euphoria and my discomfort, neither one of us was consumed by the overwhelming amount of alcohol we had consumed so we continued the party in the first class section of the trip to Tampa.  There are  many regulars on this flight and the stewards new and joked with everybody. Jorge was a Cuban Immigrant who had grown up in Tampa and was proud of both.  He was about 15 years younger than me and had a daughter 15 years younger than mine.

He needed and wanted to know about business opportunities in the Virgin Islands as I learned all about the Indians naming Tampa for the lightning storms and the time he spent bonding with his father watching mother nature at work from his porch.  We talked about the bond between fathers and daughters and the time invested now would be repaid later when he was the one needing help just as my daughter is coming to be with me for my neck operation.

I warned him to stay very close to his daughter for the college years which are most dangerous to a young girls because equally smart and attractive young men would be using all there wit and charm to lead her to new and more dangerous experiences like sex, drugs, and “rock n roll”.  He must stand by her for a couple of poor choices and keep trying to  bring her back into the family fold while trying to not  be terribly judgmental for making the same mistakes that many of us did when young..

We talked about growing old and from my prospective of 65, I believe 80 is still young and that my mom was still talking and laughing at 90. She died at 93 with her sense of humor in tact although the rest of her was very worn out. As long as she could smile about the hand that God dealt her, I would not have ever done anything to shorten her life by even a second. Jorge chose 80 because that was when his father’s body had shut down and it was making him feel mortal.

We talked about the joy and pain of having young girlfriends: The health and vigor are a joy to behold; their selfishness, vanity and angst ends up killing the joy.

We  experienced a lightning storm upon arrival with the lightning coming from clouds above and below us and from the ground up.  The lightning was all around us and might have been terrifying if it wasn’t so beautiful. Jorge was in his glory describing all of the different type of lightening that he had learned about from his father as a child.

It was delightful flight getting in 1/2 hour early and I got a cab and was in my hotel room by midnight.

Jorge and I made a tentative date to go to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg so that my Daughter and he could make a business connection that might have future value for the both of them while we all enjoy the art of Salvador Dali.

“Si Dios Quiere”,  it will happen.

Pharaoh, Longevity and BP

June 13, 2010

Pharaoh was the first widely recognized and influential King of Kings and God of Gods. When the first Pharaoh reigned there were only two prohibitions that would block entry to a happy after life. Thou shall not kill and thou shall not destroy the flow of water in the rivers. In addition to healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle expanding life,  for another jump in longevity, I think we have to look backwards in time.

If we think about wars and crime and eliminate them, the life expectancy rises because the victims of murder and war are usually young. And with BP screwing up the gulf, the other prohibition about altering the environment will become obvious.

None of the Talking Heads or college professors have talked about it, but it should be obvious that if the BP oil leak  is as big or bigger than what the Government has been projecting, it is going to foul the beaches of Florida and the western Caribbean and perhaps even the Carolinas.

Forget about the effect of millions of people breathing fouled air, forget about the workers who will have a shorter life due to involvement in the clean-up as they did after 911. These two are obvious

Think about the millions who give up their stress relieving vacations and die of heart attacks. Think about the business owners who go broke and die from the stress. Think about the millions who lose their jobs in the tourism industry. Think of the impact on millions of people who give up on outdoor exercise and move north for the winter. People have been arguing about the environment impact on life expectancy because longevity has been steadily rising for years while the environment deteriorated.

Anybody who has ever experienced a hurricane knows that the rain is salty as the ocean water is sucked into the eye walls of the storm and drops when it hits land. Water is heavier than oil so its reasonable to expect that a gulf hurricane suck up oil and cause oil to rain everywhere from the Yucatan Peninsula to Texas and inland to Oklahoma and Tennessee. Anyone who has experienced a hurricane will also tell you that life expectancy is lowered because of storm related deaths, reconstruction related deaths, stress and a reduction in medical care.

Now for the first time ever, we have an environment disaster that is so large that a careful analysis relative to the rest of the country should settle the argument. It would be interesting to look at the life expectancy of those who skip vacations, work in the cleanup, lose their businesses, get caught in more violent hurricanes, move to a less hospital environment and those who stay compared to what they would have been if BP had not shafted the world with “allegedly” criminal behavior.

If a dead pelican is worth $15,000 how much is appropriate for taking a year off of someones life?

Put into the modern vernacular, Pharaoh’s two rules still make sense.

Thou show not kill and thou shall not screw up the environment.—Maybe the two rules are the same.

THe Philadelphia Art Museum

May 13, 2010

 

The picture of Andrew and I is less than two weeks after my paralysis episode and at least in Philadelphia, I am walking upright and unassisted like a human. As I was trying to explain to one of my young friends, there is no difference to me between an adventure of the body and an adventure of the mind. All adventures are fun and a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum is the same as Hang Gliding, Para-sailing or a trip to Space Camp. Fun is fun and it is all good.

 

Naturally my son ignored my undefined episode of paralysis and parked 50 blocks away, more or less. When we finally got to the steps of the Museum, he dropped the Rocky challenge on me because he thought he could beat an old cripple to the top of the steps. Naturally, Lauren captured the comradery at the start of the “race”. The last time we raced up the steps was in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. I ended up with a pulled groin tendon and walked with a cane for six months but he never saw it as I hid my limp until he boarded his plane and swore his mother to secrecy.

 This time I was under Doctor’s orders not to exercise but as we read in previous posts, I am a very physical person. Andrew knew that and I definitely beat him to the top as he followed behind not believing I would accept the challenge. I also believe he was behind me to catch the corpse if my neck snapped during the effort and I once again crumbled to the ground.

 Of course in our family, it’s difficult to separate the physical or emotional from the mental. During the same week as Mom’s funeral there was a Picasso exhibit at the Art Museum and Lauren and Andrew asked if it would be proper to go. I thought of what Mom would say and the answer is of course yes so we all went and found it crowded. Lauren’s Doctorate and focus was on Medieval History and according to Lauren, the Philadelphia Art Museum has one of the best collections in the Nation. So when the Picasso exhibit was overwhelmed with people we decided on General Admission.

 I have been going to the Philadelphia Art Museum for 45 years and it is a very physical museum aside from Sylvester Stallone running up the steps in Rocky. There are guards all over the place telling you to turn off the flash, don’t touch the painting etc. but no one ever gets kicked out so it’s a great place to be up close and personal with great art just like it was in your living room. I hope Jerlyn remembers touching the Pissarro because not many get to touch the masters. This trip was routine for me as I only got yelled at half a dozen times and got up close and personal with Renaissance art.

All art has meaning but as my life changes, the meaning I am seeking also changes. On this trip two paintings jumped out at me begging to be remembered because there message is about 400 years old and still meaningful to me today.

 The first picture was poignant because it reminded me that my friend who has given up on love and trusting people is not all wrong.

 

This picture is over 400 years old and describes a principle that goes back to the Roman Empire.The title is:

Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze.

 Most know that Bacchus is the God of wine and parties but most would not recognize Ceres as the Goddess of growing plants hence the word cereal. The message is brutally simple without an adequate supply of food and pleasure in a person’s life there can be no place for love in the heart (Venus Freezes).

Think about the inverse and it is truly obvious. For those living a life of hunger and misery cohabitation is a necessity pleasure. Love and the ensuing sacrifices are a luxury.

 The next meaningful painting to me on that day was:

 The Massacre of the Innocents

 This painting is a pictorial representation of the Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18. In the story Herod the Great, King of Judea slaughtered all babies under the age of two because he was fearful that Jesus Christ would take over his Kingdom on earth when he came of age. Since he didn’t know Christ, he killed everyone under the age of two. From the 10th century, monks depicted this scene in manuscripts and every hundred years or so one of the Masters offered the world another version. This one was painted in Naples, Italy around 1640 by Francesco de Rosa. At my age, I cant help but reflect upon how innocent my childhood was and how much our mother protected us. Between social networking, poverty, the internet, loss of religion, television and all the other wonders of the contemporary world a day will not pass when there is not a story of murder or molestation by both parents and total strangers.

Right after returning home, I was watching two boys and a girl playing on the beach. She was submissively laying on the sand while the two slightly older boys were covering her in sand including her hair. Ste tired of the game and sat up. In unison, both boys slammed her in the solders with their hands and held her on the sand. She submitted and they continued burying her in sand without protest. All I could think of was:

The Massacre of the Innocents

Oh well it was a great trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum and I enjoyed all the times I had been there over the past 45 years and also, how much Dolores and I had enjoyed it.

 

Rainy Day Adventure – Meatloaf

April 4, 2010

Rainy days are particularly miserable in winter because there is pretty much nothing to do to really burn a lot of energy so the girls just fuss. Of course I always plan ahead and make sure that there is something that I want to do that will distract them and the easiest is cooking. I had tried meatloaf twice before in the coffeepot and was just dying to get it right. The first two times I tried it (without them), I used a tin can as a mold and the whole mess tasted like nasty plastic.

So on our trip to get my fantastic running outfit, Carson and I looked for the right sized drink mixer and found a stainless steel martini shaker that was the right size. I discarded the top and .punched a whole in the bottom. Anyone interested in the recipe and method can check out coffeepotcooking.wordpress.com for the details.

This blog is about adventures great and small and trust me cooking with kids is always an adventure. It started with neither girl being excited about cooking meatloaf in the coffeepot by using a martini shaker because it was too weird. However, there are certain things that they will do separately or together to help and even learn a little. Ms Ana just loves to use a knife and will happily dice onions much finer than my patience allows.  Turns out Cayla had never broken an egg and was more than willing to try.

Since Ms Ana is always the instigator when it comes to mixing meatloaf or dumplings and she was definitely not interested in making meatloaf in a coffeepot, I got stuck but she did hang around to take my picture and it is a pretty good picture.

Both got involved in opening a can of baked beans and I had to help because they were spending more time fighting over who was going to do the task than actually doing it.

When the meal was done Ana declared that she was not going to eat it and my response was OK go hungry because there was no one else in the house to make her food. Well, Cayla was hungry and started eating and pragmatically asked for her sisters portion which brought Ana back to the table.

They both ate everything and only left me enough to determine that it was actually pretty good.

The Difference Between Girls and Women

April 3, 2010


All my life I have heard that the only difference between men and boys is the price of the toys.  Now not as poetic as Dorthy Parker, I have discovered that the only difference between women and girls is who pays for the toys.

This discover occurred while 7-year-old Ms Ana was working on her laptop which is a better model than mine at the kitchen table.  When I went to 11-year- old Cayla’s room to check on her cleaning progress, I noticed that she has a Mac and a PC laptop on her desk.  Of course Mom has her own computers.

Then when Ms Ana wanted to read a book she went to her library and I noticed that both Cayla and her Mom also have their own libraries.  Of course I captured a picture.

While looking around, I noticed she has stuffed animals on her bed as does her sister.  Then I remembered that their Mom (my daughter) also had stuffed animals on her bed before her daughters took them.

The only difference was that Mommy and Daddy purchased the stuff for the girls whereas in many cases my daughters surviving stuffed animals carried memories of the giver and it wasn’t me.  In the case of books and computers, she buys her own.

So the biggest difference between women and girls is not the toys but who bought them.