Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feeling Great in the Caribbean

It's another beautiful sunny, breezy day in St. John.  If the fact that I'm here wasn't enough, there are three reasons for me to be feeling great. 

First, John and Dawn and the twins arrived Monday and the party is well under way.  

Second, although I somehow hurt my leg snorkeling on Monday -- strained quad? -- and I'm hobbling around instead of walking naturally, a heavy dose of Nuprin and frequent applications of cold packs resulted in my being able to snorkel again yesterday.  

Oh, and I was so glad because we saw not one but four skates (or were they rays; hard for us to know) who appeared to be feeding on the bottom in a little pack.  And we saw a huge school of bright yellow fish about 6 inches large and another big school of silvery small fish (minnows?) and were able to swim right through both schools.  Such a cool experience which made me so happy that I had to take a smiling selfie once I got back to the beach.   Today we are going out on a boat to two snorkeling sites with a knowledgeable captain who might be able to tell us the names of the fish we see.      

Third, in the evening we signed a sales contract for our house!!  We had received an offer in the morning which, for various reasons, I didn't have a great feeling about.  Even so, we thought we'd take it because, after all, it's only seven weeks until we move out.  But later in the day we received a great offer from a couple who clearly were very excited about the house, met our price plus a bit more, and even included an escalation clause; I didn't think houses in our county ever got those anymore!   They also offered generous "rent back" terms so we could close in mid May and move in early June.  Ben & I had a great feeling about this offer and signed the contract under the beautiful Caribbean moonlight.    

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Something is Missing

I'm writing this from a villa high above Coral Bay on St. John, Virgin Island, having arrived here yesterday to start off our spring break vacation.  

It is wonderful here but something is missing. 

The views described in the villa advertising are as fantastic as promised. 

Last night the island sunset was as glorious as ever.

 There are still lots of little lizards to spot and try to catch.

And cows, donkeys, goats, chickens, and roosters still wander the island roads freely. 

We've tried out the pool and found it to be as great as we expected.

And Maho Bay beach is still white and smooth with interesting snorkeling.  I saw a big turtle!

We would be totally smiling except that something is missing.

We are missing John, Dawn, Michael, and Johnny who were all bumped from the flight yesterday! 

Yes, United overbooked the flight by fourteen people and Ben's brother and his family were left behind as the plane closed its door and flew away!  Incredible.  

I underlined the words I want to scream since I am on vacation and trying to take it easy and I'm mindful that you, my friends, do not want to hear me scream!

But oh my,  I still can't believe that an airline would purposefully overbook at flight on the first day of spring break going to a resort location.  And, apparently, it was perfectly legal!  Airlines regularly overbook and it seems to work out, I guess, on most flights, maybe because so much travel is for business.  But did United really think that anyone flying to St. Thomas at the beginning of spring break was going to jump up and take the $500 they were offered to be voluntarily bumped?

Well, no one did.  So that left John's family, who for some reason had been picked to be involuntarily bumped.  (The first hint of this was when they realized that they didn't have assigned seats.)  It didn't matter that they had bought their tickets in October or that they were part of a larger family group,  or that they had a pre-paid villa and a rented jeep waiting for them, or that they had arrived at the boarding gate two and a half hours before the flight.   There weren't seats for them and that was that.

Having the reality of this unfold, realizing there was nothing to stop it, and then flying off and leaving them behind was a very stressful way to start our own vacation.   While it is wonderful here and we are enjoying ourselves, it isn't the family vacation we had planned.  

The good new is that they are scheduled to arrive tomorrow afternoon, after which we'll get this party started!  

Thursday, April 10, 2014


We had a beautiful sunny day today with temps in the low 70s,  just right for bringing our pet Bearded Dragon out on the patio to bask in the sun.  Spikey usually shows that he loves being placed in direct sunlight by striking the classic Beardie pose, tail down, chest out, head high.  

Out in the bright sun I could see the skin on his face pealing; clearly he has grown bigger over the winter and is about to shed yet another skin.   

I love the texture under his neck. 

He basked in the sunshine for a while, his little beady eyes moving to check out the shadows of birds flying overhead and occasionally flicking his tongue in what I quess was an attempt to catch a bite to eat.   After a while he went for a little walk, and then I captured him and gave him a warm bath in an old mixing tray to sooth the distress caused by the shedding; apparently it hurts a bit!

All that was quite enough excitement for the day and I think he was content to be put back into his cage.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three More "Sleeps"

My travel-loving sister, Jean, likes to count down the number of nights at home before she leaves for a much-anticipated trip, and I have picked up the habit.   I'm counting down to our spring break vacation in St. John, Virgin Islands and am excited to say that we have "Three more sleeps!"

By Saturday night we should be getting comfortable in our home away from home for the next week, the "It's About Time" villa high up on Ajax Peak.  Don't the photos look inviting? 

We'll be traveling with Ben's brother, John, and his wife, Dawn, and their two boys.  They have the top floor bedrooms and we have the pool deck bedrooms, with plenty of family space on the top floor and by the pool.  I'm quite looking forward to it.

Spring break this year comes immediately after all the grades are in for the third trimester progress reports, meaning that this week is full of quizzes and tests on top of regular homework.  It's so much fun; not!  The school yearbook has to be uploaded to the printer the day we return, so that means our deadline is the last day of school before we leave and it's been a big push to finish that up.  And we dropped the price on our house the other day and showings immediately picked up so we are again busy keeping the house very clean.  In addition Ben has been trying to get the deck restained to impress our new visitors.  Whew!

With all this going on, we are all counting the "sleeps" until we can collapse in the warm Caribbean breezes for a day or two and then snorkel and hike and eat and drink to our heart's content for the rest of the week.

Of course there is the little matter of getting ready to go.  The house sitter is scheduled, pet feeding instructions written, the pool and snorkel gear collected, and now we are focusing on rounding up our media.  While the kids are busy on their various e-devices the grownups plan to indulge in the Godfather trilogy so I downloaded them tonight on my computer.   It'll be fun to have a GF marathon; can't wait!


Monday, April 7, 2014


This is the kind of letter you like to get from the IRS! 

That's one of our two issues with them resolved. Crossing our fingers that the other will end as well.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Happy People

The school's Wind Ensemble went down to Richmond on Friday to compete in a music festival, the Dixie Classic.   The Ensemble is the highest ranked band in the school and has always earned a Superior rating at the Dixie Classic.   Given all the snow days that resulted in cancelled band rehearsals and a general feeling that many this of year's band members just weren't as serious as they could be, there was an uneasy feeling that perhaps this year the rating might only be an Excellent.  Nothing wrong with an Excellent, of course, but it would still be embarrassingly not a Superior.   

When the Ensemble played for the whole school before leaving on the bus Friday morning, I thought they were very good but not as good as bands of other years.  But once on stage down in Richmond some type of magic took place and they played with confidence and skill, and were, in fact, awarded a well-earned Superior rating.       

Paul sits first chair  of second flutes which places him in a high visible end seat, right in front of the tuba player.  He told me he was very nervous the whole time he was playing, but I couldn't tell.  I was proud of his poise and happy to hear him whooping for joy along with his classmates when the rating was announced! 

We stayed down in Richmond overnight and visited with my niece, Jennifer, and her family, which Paul and I both enjoyed.  Jennifer's children range from two to fifteen years old, so Paul had a lot of fun playing with them while I caught up with Jennifer and her husband. 

Here's another happy person.  Why is Ben so happy?  Not because we have a contract on the house; still waiting on that.  Not because the two tax issues vexing us have been resolved; no, still waiting on those.   Not because we're on Spring vacation; that's still a week away.  

I'll give you a clue.

Yes, Ben is happy because we went to lunch at Union Market where he had three types of oysters from Virginia waters.  Apparently they were quite good.  I wouldn't know since I don't eat oysters.  BUT I did eat something new --caviar! --  and it was delicious.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Like Magic

Very little is happening with selling our house.  We haven't had a showing for over a week, though, to be fair, we did have a snowstorm and then a weekend of amazingly gloomy and heavy rain.

The other day a man in a truck belonging to a landscape and pond company drove up to see what the place looked like.  Wouldn't it be great if someone who worked for a landscape/pond company bought the place?  They'd have such fun and heaven knows the property could use a good landscaper.

Yesterday a man in a truck marked K-9 drove up and looked around and I had a vision of handsome German Shepherds running around the pasture.

Well, we'll see what this weekend brings.  I'm not concerned.  Someone will come along and fall in love with the place just like we did.

Meanwhile, things are clicking out in our Boulder House. The big tick this week was the installation of a new gas fireplace.  The old mechanism was so outdated that turning it on made us nervous.  The new one is efficient and actually produces heat to warm up the house.  Not only that but it looks more modern and stylish.  We're quite tickled.

We've finalized the plans for the new master bath and demolition of the old bath starts early next week.
We also decided on a new stove for the kitchen, selecting a dual fuel range, meaning it has a gas stove top and an electric oven.  This requires wiring a new electrical circuit, so that task was added to the list of other electrical and cable wiring we need.

We are able to move ahead in all these areas when we aren't even in Boulder because Ben's long-time rock climber friend, Susan, is the owner of Interior Motives, a design company in Boulder.  She is organizing the work of getting the house ready for us, doing everything from making sure we have enough electrical outlets for our computers to designing the tile design in the new bathroom.   We are so lucky to have the benefit of her creativity and hard work, as well as her contacts with stores and workmen.  It's kind of like magic how everything in the new house is coming together, and a lot of that magic is Susan's doing!