Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Store Sign Ever

Posted by John

The other day I had to stop by the art supply store after dropping Tori, Millie and Max off at school to pick up some supplies Millie needed for her art class. I’d driven by the place several times so finding it was easy. Pulled up at the front door at 8:10 a.m. They were closed, so I checked the sign on the door to find out how long I’d have to wait. This is what the sign said:

Approximate Hours
Monday through Friday 9:01 a.m. to 5:01 p.m.
Saturday 1:14 p.m. to 4:47 p.m.
If we’re here, we’re open. If we’re not open, we’re not here. If we’re open and not here, please call the police and kindly leave a donation”

You've gotta love it. I certainly do.

As it happens, a woman walked down the sidewalk 15 minutes later, opened the door and went in. They were there, so it was open. I went in.

The store, by the way, had everything Millie needed and LOTS more. It was a far more complete art supply store than anything in Albany or Corvallis Oregon, really a terrific art supply store. It'd be my favorite store on the island – if I had any artistic ability whatsoever. I don't, but I still like the store.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Frustration and Persepective

So I've been having on ongoing situation trying to start a new bank account. The bank we went to first was nice enough, but didn't have an office anywhere close to our house. So we closed that account and decided to switch to a different one.

Should have opened the new account first. It's been more than a week and we're not quite there, although finally getting close. It really doesn't do any good to argue when they say they need this or need that. The individual you're talking to isn't being mean or purposely hindering you. She's got her rules she has to follow and even though you can logically show why something doesn't make sense (try explaining "freelance writer" to a person who sits in a bank office all day long) the person on the other side of the desk has to follow the rules if she wants to keep her job. It's not her fault, and the person whose fault it is isn't there, or on the island or even necessarily in the U.S.

So you keep your sense of humor, keep smiling, keep jumping through hoops and finding more pieces of paper for them as they think to ask for them (and they NEVER tell you everything you need, you have to keep coming back with more.)

It wouldn't be a problem except we're getting close to a cash-flow problem. We've got lots of money (well, maybe not "lots," but enough) but we can't get hold of it yet. Not a disaster – yet – but it's starting to get aggravating.

And then you step out of the bank office and look across the street to the promenade, where the Caribbean surf is gently breaking against the seawall and the sun is shining and everything is so blue – and so many different shades of blue – that it's impossible to capture it all in a single glance.

And you say to yourself, "You know, that's frustrating, but it's really not the end of the world. Things could be a lot worse. At least I'm here.

John B.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Home again

Last week I went off island for the first time since we moved here. Two and a half months. It was a business trip (and those who know me know that the words “business trip” don’t mean stuffy meetings and boring conferences. Cap’n Slappy and I were performing our pirate shtick in Philadelphia.)

I liked the city, at least as much as I saw of it. The hotel was clean, the museum was nice. That’s almost all we saw. There was a lot more traffic – obviously – than on St. Croix, but it mostly flowed smoothly. On my one foray out to find aspirin at a drug store two blocks away, I enjoyed the street life in the central city.

But it wasn’t home. When I got off the plane the weather seemed chilly – 70, maybe 72 compared to the stx, which is about 10 degrees warmer. I actually slept under a blanket! And while the people were all friendly enough, I missed the outgoing dispositions of my fellow islanders, who wouldn’t dream of entering a room without greeting everyone present with a “Good morning!” (Or afternoon or night, obviously, as appropriate.) And yeah, I missed my family a lot.

The weekend went well, the audiences liked us, the people who had hired us seemed to love us, and all in all we did fine. But I was sure ready to go home.

They always say, “No matter how long your layover in San Juan is, it’s not long enough.” Not because it's so great. It's an airport, not much better or worse than any other I've been to. I guess the issue is making your connecting flight and making sure your luggage gets transferred to the right plane. But I’m telling you, six hours was way more than enough. Three would have been plenty. My flight out left at 10:40 a.m. and arrived in Philly at 8:30 p.m. Six hours on the ground in San Juan. The homeward flight left at 7:50 and I got into stx at 6 p.m. All the extra time on the ground in Puerto Rico.

It’s very, very hard to sleep in those hard plastic airport seats that are exactly the wrong size and shape to relax into. Once you’ve cruised through the duty-free shops and realized you don’t need anything they’re selling, you’ve pretty much exhausted the entertainment options. There was a TV set on the Weather Channel, and even without sound I watched that pretty constantly (thanks closed-captioning!) keeping track of Invest 93, the weather system that never quite formed a tropical depression (thanks upper atmosphere wind shear!) and was dumping huge amounts of rain on the island.

The heavy rains and head winds meant the plane had to take on extra fuel, but there wasn’t a person on board who’d have voted to delay. We wanted out of San Juan!

Forty minutes later the ATR 70 turboprop set down at the stx airport. And there was Tori and Max to greet me! It was raining, and by 8 that evening the rain had turned to a tropical downpour courtesy of Invest93. Between the warmth and the rain it was positively steamy.

It was great to be home.

John Baur

Friday, September 5, 2008

No news is good news

Just in case anyone was wondering or worrying about us, there is still no trouble from hurricanes here on St. Croix. As I write this, Ike is 340 miles almost due north of the island, heading west. We're told there might be some sea surge, maybe a little extra rain, but that's about it. I can honestly say I Like Ike, because it's not coming here.

A few days ago we had another pretty good lightning storm over the water, and some torrential rains that evening. But it wasn't enough to knock out the power, and on this island it doesn't take much to do that. That was the very edge of Hannah brushing past on its way northwest.

It's all a matter of perspective. While the TV was full of Gustav about to touch down, that was old news here. Gustav had passed a week earlier. When Hannah started filling the news, we were already looking at Ike and Josephine. Now Ike is safely past us and Josephine (as of now) appears to be a non-factor, angling out into the Atlantic basin, we're tentatively breathing easier. Of course, there's still plenty of time in the season for a K storm, an L, M, N and maybe an O. But they're not actually on the ocean's surface yet.

It's a little like being a bowling pin You know a bowling ball is going to come hurtling down the lane. you're just sitting there, watching and wondering exactly where it'll hit, and there's nothing you can do but get ready. We're preparing for the worst and hoping it won't come to that. But I sure never thought The Weather Cannel would become one of my favorite TV stations.


Finally connected

The long wait for Internet connection is over. Our DSL is hooked up, and the good (or at least better) computer arrived. So we'll be posting a LOT more frequently. Tori just finished her first week of school, as did Max and Millie. I'm working now. Janet found a doctor she really likes. I'm told by a source that the police now have an idea who the perp might be in the hold up of our daughter. More to come on that as news develops. And today is our anniversary – Tori and I have been married 19 years. So things are happening, we're adjusting and getting used to island life, and we'll have a lot more to say about that in the weeks and months to come.