Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tying Up Loose Ends

I have been remiss, I admit it, and not followed up on a couple of things. Here they are.

Christmas on the island: We enjoyed the holiday. Didn't do everythin we might have, there were parades and events all over, and we didn't get to many of them. Partly it was the car, which was giving us fits. On a good day it would start in three or four tries. There weren't many good days. Then we'd go and run errands, including shopping trips, and I'd be afraid to turn it off for fear of the hassle of starting it again, so I'd circle the parking lot while Tori shopped. We also had shopping to do, kids to ferry, work, and rehearsals. Tori is stage managing "Evita" at Caribbean Community theatre, and Millie and I are in the show. So that's taking a chunk of our time as well.

But we had a nice holiday, and being together in a new place reinforced the feeling of family.

Max made people Christmas gifts. He took a couple of odd-shaped rocks and turned one into a cat for Alex and another into a puppy for Millie. He got me a backscratcher (always a great gift for dads - that's a shopping tip for you kids out there) put a face on it including glued-on googly eyes and wrote, "Mr. Scratchy, (copyright sign, which I can't find on my keyboard) Max, 2008.

We shopped at the Annaly Farms (pronounced Anna Lee, but a couple of our number insist on using a ruder pronunciation, thinking it funny) butcher market for Christmas dinner and got a pork roast that was - literally - the entire leg of a pig. The butcher cut the hoof off because it was kind of unsettling, and cut it in half so that we ended up with two seven-pound roasts. It was delicious., if unwieldy.

Shopping for gifts on the island is sometimes tricky. Some things you'd think anyone would have, no one did. You had to be lucky, and the first in line. We're still waiting for one gift that was ordered two weeks before Christmas. I can hardly wait. It drags the holiday out a bit, and that's always nice. It ought to arrive in time for my birthday in February.

Festival: I promised more on the festival parade. The best thing I can offer is this link to the story I wrote for The Source. And I'll get some of the photos over to the Web Wench for posting on the Talk Like a Pirate Day Flicker page.

The parade start time was posted as 10 a.m. It stepped off just before noon. Several people mentioned they were happy it started a little early this year. It ran about four hours and it was amazing. Moko Jumbies, steel pan bands, masqueraders, soca bands, calypso, dancing troupes with wild colorful costumes. Think Mardi Gras with a Jamaican rhythm. There was also some kind of cowboy group that performed what had to be the longest line dance in the history of St. Croix. But not a single pirate in the whole thing! This cannot stand, I sez to meself. I'm going to rally the local crews and see if we can't right this travesty next year.

The Moko Jumbies I mentioned are stilt dancers, a West African tradition that came to the islands via Trinidad. Costumed, towering above the crowds, strangely articulated as they dance, they're an amazing sight. They represent spirits that look after the village. Their height lets them see problems approaching before they get there. And makes them an awesome sight in a parade.

Time flies: Two weeks ago marked our six-month anniversary on the island. We didn't even notice it as some sort of milestone. We're too busy living our lives.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Perfect Wasted Day

A wasted day in paradise, and what could be better than that?

I was supposed to cover a trial at the federal courthouse. It was tricky, because Bertha is in the shop until this afternoon, when her longstanding problems will be all cleared up at last. (Please, God, please.)

So I took the cab with Tori and Max and Millie to school, the courthouse is just about a mile or so beyond that, so I walked.

Got there and found that the trial I was supposed to be covering was continued to an unspecified future date. Nothing "island" about that, I've covered a lot of trials that never happened. So I had the day free.

Walking back to the school, I could glance to my right and see the incredibly blue Caribbean shining between the buildings. A sunny day, 80 degrees with a good breeze to keep the heat at bay. Someone had taken a horse down the sidewalk, so I had to keep my eyes open and tiptoe through the tulips, as it were.

I heard a buzzing noise and glanced up - a small float plane was lazily swinging in the sky, making its approach to Christiansted harbor. But no, glancing up did not cause a misstep that made my feet fragrant,

The businesses to my left were all fronted by and/or separated by palm trees, their fronds blowing in the breeze, and bougainvillea.

I've got some business I can take care of by phone while waiting for the garage to call to tell me that Bertha's all better. I found the mechanic by asking around, and everyone swears by him. He's got the perfect name for his job - Mike P. Huebner. He uses his initials for the business name - MPH Automotive.

But he's not in the phone book, you just have to know that he's there.

Anyway, I'll be sitting out in the sun making a few phone calls now. Hope you're having a good day too.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Just home from the Crucian Christmas Festival Parade and that pretty much says it all. Wow.

I will say more of course, but not right now. Have to write it up for The Source, after I do something about what I assume is a case of heat stroke. Out in the sun all day, and working.

I will have something to say, of course. And many, many pictures. Many of which we will post, plus some video for youtube. Just let me catch my breath.


(Oh yeah. And Tori danced with a Moko Jumbie. Just so you know.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy (Warm) Holidays

The Christmas Boat Parade was just what the name promised - and more.

Twenty one boats decorated with lights and manned crews of revelers dancing and partying (and with enough Santa Clauses to take care of a LOT of shopping malls) looped around and around Christiansted Harbor. The shore was lined by about 4,000 revelers and everyone had a great time. Max found some other kids to play with (Max always finds some other kids to play with) and Janet came and enjoyed the spectacle.

And it finished with fireworks - a really good show of them over the water. Anything that concludes with fireworks is okay in my book.

The traffic getting out of town was impossible, so we went east, cut across the island and took the South Shore road back to the highway and home. And yes, we're very excited about the fact that we knew how to do that. We almost never get lost anymore.


Our decorations were modest this year. We have two boxes stuffed with Christmas decorations, but they're still in storage in Oregon waiting for us to ransom them.

One thing I insisted on getting, something I wouldd have scoffed at back in Oregon, was a three-foot-tall plastic snowman, lit from inside, with a kind of scary leer on his face. I think that's supposed to be a smile. I don't know, but we immediately dubbed him Ugly the Snowman.

In a snowy, cold locale the thing would be beyond kitsch. But here it's wonderfully ironic, and it made me smile every time I plugged it in.


Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
Your palm fronds delight us.

Oh yeah, we went with the palm tree for our Tannenbaum. You can get traditional trees here, shipped in refrigerated containers, but they range from badly overpriced for scraggly, four-foot trees, to hideously overpriced for five and six foot trees. Remember, living in Oregon we had never paid more than twenty five bucks for a tree, full, tall and lush. We just couldn't, although Tori did bring home a few lopped off branches so we could sell the "Doug fir smell. Instead, for sixty bucks we got a six-foot live potted palm that carried the few ornaments and lights we've bought. It's beautiful, and it's alive - we'll have this tree for ages.


If you've been watching this blog at all, you've already seen the picture of Tori on the beach three days before Christmas. On Christmas day we went down to the beach so she could try out the new snorkeling mask she got for Christmas.

The water was a little choppy, she said, but the mask worked beautifully, no leaking and better visibility than she had with her old Kmart special. And considering that back in Oregon there was snow and ice and all manner of crap all over the ground, complaining that the water was a little choppy seems sort of rude.


We have been watching the weather back north, and we try not to taunt people, but it's hard. I mean, one of the main reasons for moving here is the weather. And I remember how cold and miserable we were every winter. So I hope you'll forgive us for a little taunting.

People keep sending us pictures of the snowfall on the streets, houses and landscape with notes saying, "Isn't it pretty?" "Isn't it beautiful?"

Sorry, but no it's not. I have driven and walked and suffered through enough of that in my life to say no. What's beautiful is that stretch of beach three minutes from my front door.


Christmas morning was good. The kids seemed to enjoy things, everyone got something they really liked, even though sometimes choices here on the island are limited. Even better - the kids all seemed to feel really good about things they got other people. As a parent you always like to see when they get it, you know?

Lots of books under the tree. I'm now working my way through "American Lion," the bio of Andrew Jackson, Tori already whipped through the New Toni Morrison, and Millie flew through the four boo she got.

We'll have a little more before we wrap up the holidays, but this is getting too long.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all the other joys of the season (no matter which season you celebrate) to all our friends, from the Baurs tucked away warm on their island.