Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

October, 2012:

Rarely the Twain Shall Meet

Once again we are glued to the television watching the weather channel tracking a hurricane. Once again that hurricane is not threatening us here on our little Caribbean island but is heading to the northeastern United States. The irony in this is not lost on us. And we can only hope that the predictions of horrific devastation and destruction from this “Frankenstorm” turn out to be overblown and that the impact will not be nearly as bad as the experts fear. 

Meanwhile, we are sitting here enjoying glorious weather. The last storm that passed by a couple of weeks ago brought not only much-needed rain but also a much-appreciated break in the doldrums. Summer seems to have finally given way to Caribbean autumn.  Our walk on the beach yesterday was idyllic: clear sky, pleasant breeze and perfect water.  Life is good.

In fact, it’s nice enough now that I could comfortably put on some real clothes and go out somewhere to celebrate. The only problem is that most restaurants are still closed. The months of September and October are REALLY quiet here on island. This is beyond the ‘off season’. It’s literally the ‘turned off season.” That hurricane risk keeps folks away.  As a result, most resorts and restaurants close down for some part, if not all, of these two months. For weeks on end it’s a challenge to find any place that’s open for business. 

For us it’s not a big problem since we really don’t go out that much anyway. We love our house. We have a gorgeous view, a typically lovely breeze, and we enjoy cooking. The drinks are cheaper at our house, and we can listen to our own playlists. So we tend to just have folks over for dinner rather than go out and split a check. That means that even when every place on island is open for business you won’t see us out and about all that often. We might want to consider making an effort to venture out a wee bit more, however, as we may be taking the hermit existence to a bit of an extreme. It’s always been the case that we would occasionally run into somebody who would ask us when we got back on island – assuming that since they hadn’t seen us we must have been away. 

The other day, however, we were running errands and ran into an acquaintance who was clearly surprised to see us.  It had been so long since she’d seen us that she had apparently concluded that we must have left the island for good! That was certainly a new twist, but she wasn’t a close friend (obviously)so we pretty much dismissed the comment. That is until we went to the grocery store and ran right into someone else who said the same thing. Now we had a disturbing coincidence. Of course, as you know it is really unusual for us to find everything on our grocery list in only one store. So we had to make one more stop at another store. Sure enough, there was someone else we hadn’t seen in a while, and darn if he didn’t voice the same surprise at finding us still living on island. 

It was just a bit disconcerting having to explain our existence at every turn. That must have been how Mark Twain felt when a reporter came to his house to do research for his obituary and Twain was put in the peculiar position of having to proclaim, “the report of my death was an exaggeration.”  So as a new day dawns, I’d just like to point out that, like tropical storm winds, you may not be able to see us, but we are still here.  

In the meantime, stay safe everyone.

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

It has been unbelievably dry here lately. Sure this is a semi-arid island so nobody is expecting monsoons, but still. Last year we had over 50 inches of rain. This year we were registering less than 20. So in the midst of the hottest time of the year, we’ve also been suffering through a relative drought. In addition, it has been so hot that I could be sitting on the couch, wearing next to nothing, barely moving a single muscle, with a fan blowing directly on me, and I would still be sweating.  Even jumping in the swimming pool provided pathetically marginal relief in as much as the water temperature in the pool has been running well into the mid-90’s. Every cloud has a silver lining, however, and as uncomfortable as a Caribbean October can be this also happens to be the season when a look at the difference between life at 18 degrees north and life at other latitudes reveals a much starker contrast – a contrast that makes us honor-bound to acknowledge our blessings. 

First of all, we took that trip to Florida last week….the one where I thought I was going to dress up in layers and slip on heels and wear my hair down.  Well, it turns out that it is pretty beastly hot and still miserably humid in Florida this time of year, and the sun doesn’t rise until after 7AM which is totally uncivilized. So that trip didn’t turn out particularly well as a break from our norm (though I did see a movie in an air-conditioned theater and got to shop at big, air-conditioned, box stores), but it did relieve me of any unfounded envy for folks living in southern Florida’s climate. (I still covet their roads and shopping and restaurants and affordable air-conditioning. I just don’t envy their weather.) 

Having returned home we are starting to catch little glimpses of real life even further north. We have noticed that the folks outside on the plaza at the Today Show are already bundling up in the mornings to stand vigil hoping to meet Matt Lauer or to see themselves on tv.  Then I read a facebook post from a friend in Vermont happily(?) announcing that it was SNOWING while other friends emailed during a trip to Tucson overjoyed that they were missing a snow storm back home in Denver, and my niece in Maryland emailed whining about her weather asking what mine was like. And that’s all it takes to remind me that there are many worse places and few better places to be weather-wise than right where I am: heat or no heat, rain or no rain. 

We still desperately needed some rain, though. So we were really happy to find the weather satellite indicating a front or a depression (or whatever all those pretty colors on the image mean) brewing to the southeast of us and heading to the northwest. Contrary to our usual tendency to pray that the weather misses us, this time I was telepathically urging it on as it drifted west and then jogged east again until finally it brought us our much-needed precipitation. I am now happy to report that over the last few days we have enjoyed cloudy, breezy (sometimes quite blustery), rainy weather with nearly four inches of accumulated rain! And it is still raining off and on as I type. The plants are ecstatic. The cisterns are filling up. And I am downright chilly in the house even with all of the fans turned off. (Take THAT Electrical Company!) 

Sadly, however, the title of this post is not a mistype. The silver lining that is the rain did come with more than just its requisite, meteorological cloud. It brought with it a metaphysical cloud as well. While enjoying the coolness and the rain and the 49ers football game yesterday, our newest, HDTV, flat-screen, plasma television shorted out.  Not due to any apparent electrical storm activity. It just died. Perhaps from the damp. I don’t know. (Panasonic support said, in essence, ‘sucks to be you;’ and the internet is awash with references to the ‘blinking red light of death’ that is now the only pulsing sign of life on the unit.) Not to be deterred, though, we moved into the bedroom to watch on an old, big, boxy tv when the picture just up and died on that set, too. 

So now, just as the local cable company is finally completing the process of switching over from analog to digital feeds….the two televisions I have (or HAD) that were newer, digital-ready versions are dead.  That’s a proverbial cloud if there ever were one. At least I’ve got plenty of water to wash away my tears.