Sunday, October 2, 2016

Random pics

The Islandwide Blackout, Zombies and Babies. Wait, Babies? Seriously, it was a crazy week. The power station in Salinas, Puerto Rico caught on fire and left the entire island without power. Shortly after that the water service, internet, cellphones and cable television all went out as well. We were completely in the dark in all aspects. Only a few radio stations were broadcasting. The Puerto Rico governor called for a state of emergency as the power was not projected to return for several days. All gas stations ran out of fuel the first day and ATM and credit card machines did not work. It was a mini zombie apocalypse, without zombies. I will admit the night sky was as bright as the Alaskan sky for those three nights. Another interesting observation during the blackout was everyone actually talked. No one buried their faces in their cellphone (like zombies, lol). In the waiting room at the hospital people actually talked to each other. In the elevators people actually talked. And so on and on and on. It was refreshing to see the interaction between strangers and friends. Some of us saw the power outage as actually a good thing. Ok, back to the most important thing, the babies. My oldest daughter Berkley has never made things easy. During the first day of the power outage is when she and her babies decided to join us. The hospital was running on generators and they also had a backup water supply. It was a normal day inside the hospital except for the lack of internet and cable television. At around 9:45 the twins joined the us in the world of the living. We did not get to see or hold them until around 5:00 pm. Berkley returned to the room around noon and went to sleep right away. The day was very different from a normal day as outside the thunder, lighting lasted for most of the day. We watched the storm from the hospital windows while talking to total strangers. Yes, talking. It’s a form of communication that occurred before cellphones took over the world and made zombies out of all of us. These little incredible bundles of joy came into the world during what most called one of the biggest disasters in many years. The major energy blackout, water shortage, cellphone outage, internet outage, cable television outage and incredible tropical storm. I guess you could say they came in with a bang, so to speak. As the days went on we noticed that no one really was upset about the lack of services. It was kind of like being on vacation for a week in a far off paradise. We all rather enjoyed it. The power was restored on Friday morning at 1:00 am. And the water, internet, cable all started working shortly after that. You could hear the neighbors cheering down the street. I guess before we knew it we were all back to the land of zombies? Almost immediately my cellphone started to get text messages, emails and voice mail notifications. Chirp, beep, chirp, chirp, beep, beep and on and on and on. I could feel my anxiety level start right away. Three days without being connected. You should all try it. You might find you like it. I realized some very important things from the recent blackout and seeing the new bundles of joy. Maybe it’s time to let the zombies stay on TV and start living in the real world. Let’s turn these devices off. Let’s change how we communicate. Let’s play games, have dinner together, celebrate life and enjoy the land of the living. The recent mini disaster was a blessing just like my daughter’s little bundles of joy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Superstition or just an excuse for a party? As we get older it is funny how we let superstitions find their way into our lives. I am sure we all have a few things we do daily that are just plain weird. I know I do. I won’t go into much detail about that though or you might think I am weirder than I actually am. The most popular superstition in Puerto Rico is related to the Moon. They say all the crazy things that happen seem to happen when it’s a full moon (lunacy). The biggest thing I have noticed about the full moon in PR, are the drivers. It seems that the friendliest people to into the most unfriendly people behind the wheel during a full moon. Unfortunately, this seems to last for several days before and after the full moon. I am not excluding myself. I also turn into a lunatic driver during that time. So let me get back on track. Superstitions, we all have them. We just may not realize how important they are until something happens. We recently purchased a small boat in San Juan and sailed it to the west side of the island. On the way we had a few challenging things happen. So now we take superstitions a little more seriously. The boat we purchased came with a name that we did not like and it was very difficult to say, “Senses Pleasures”. Can you say that ten times fast? Or can you imagine how that name sounds on a scratchy VHF radio? Plus as my son says, “it sounds like a strip club!” So we decided on a new name and started moving forward with changing the registration and USCG documentation. You would think this is an easy task. Nope, I am convinced that things that should be easy never are. After several months we were granted approval to officially change the name and update registration and USCG Documentation. We then removed the name from the boat. We did not put the new name on the boat until we completed a ceremony to the gods. It is a very bad omen to change the name of a vessel. But it can be done if some certain steps are followed. The process of changing the name of a boat is more involved than removing the old name and slapping on the new. Basically it’s an excuse to have a party, drink champagne, and have some very good spirits. The first step is to congratulate and celebrate the new owners. I thought this part was funny. You must convince the boat, yes the boat that the new owners are worthy and generous. The boat has to believe this. I am pretty sure our boat believes this now. Then and only then can you precede with the ceremony. First you must thank the previous owners and gods for their previous stewardship of the vessel. Then the old name must be written on a small metal plaque and thrown into the sea. Of course, it is important to remove all traces of that old name from everything on the boat before the ceremony. The previous name will now be retired and stricken from Poseidon’s list. A final toast with good champagne is made to all who are present, then to the previous owners, and finally to the gods of the wind and the seas. It was a wonderful day. We invited all the important members of the maiden voyage to this ceremony. We had guests travel from Maryland, Isabela, Rincon and Hormigueros. Keep in mind that it is very important to honor the gods as they grant safe passage over their seas. Plus, it is excellent excuse to have a party, have a few drinks and reminisce. I am not a superstitious person but after the first voyage I am not willing to tempt fate. And watch out for the next full moon as this lunatic will now be driving a boat. ARRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHH, that's pirate for lets have a party....

Monday, August 1, 2016

Three years in paradise, let’s catch up…
Berkley, Liam, Bill (dad), Madison, Jenn (mom)
My lovely bride has become a horse lover. She volunteers helping at a local horse stable. This keeps her pretty busy. She has also rescued several abandoned dogs and puppies. She, along with ARF of Rincon ( ), have found homes for some of them as far away as Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The stories behind the rescue of two of those puppies would break your heart. So I will not share that. I know it was hard for her to say goodbye to some of these little dumplings but they are so blessed to have the loving homes they have now. I will admit I also became very attached to one of them too. We named her Bella. She was an adorable little blue nose.
Saying good bye never gets easier, does it?
Our oldest child Berkley moved back home and is expecting twins. She has a huge heart and will make a good mother. She has had a few difficult years trying to find her way. I am hoping this will make her a strong parent. I guess it is true, Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? So it looks like we will have little ones running around this October. I can only hope that we will be half the grandparents our parents have been.
Our middle child graduated from a high school in Mayaguez and left for Alaska in June. She just missed the snow covered mountains and fresh salmon far too much. Wait, she traded sun and grouper for rain and salmon. What? This can’t be right… She is an amazing young lady and is trying to find her own path in life. I will admit I had a little trouble with letting her go. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I received a care package today from Madison reminding me how much I miss my baby girl. She knows exactly what to write to bring instant tears to my eyes and the canned salmon didn’t help…. Parenting is so much harder than I expected it to be. I miss her terribly. Saying goodbye never gets easy.
Our youngest, Liam has turned 16 and is driving in Puerto Rico. He has a few bad driving habits including refusing to use his turn signal. I know, it’s no different than anyone else in PR. Liam says, the turn signal just gives the driver behind him the unfair advantage. I wonder where he got that one? Be careful what you say to a teenage boy even if you are joking. He remembers everything. Gosh darn these kids. I am convinced they are trying to give us heart attacks. He also has become an impressive sailor and placed second in his first real yacht race. He has two more years of high school and has adapted to Puerto Rican life quicker than the rest of us. He is a straight A student at a private all Spanish speaking school. He has a heart of gold and is one of the most caring souls I have ever known.
Above is a photo of our sailboat race crew from April of 2016. It was a great family event. We placed second under the helpful hands of my father Kurt, mother Jeannette, nephew Mark, nephew Adam, lovely bride Jenn, daughter Berkley, daughter Madison, my son Liam and good friend Julio.
And now for me. I am first and foremost a father. This job has been more challenging than I had ever expected. Raising two beautiful girls and a high energy son in the Caribbean has not been an easy task. I have had some great highs and some tremendous lows. I will admit, I remember the highs more than the lows. If you need advice with raising your teenage daughters or son? I have no answers. Just pray……. And to finish I have to bring up one more thing. Saying goodbye, never gets easy. Just make sure you use the turn signal so my son has the unfair advantage.
The spring speed bump

It’s been a very busy spring. The kids have kept us super busy with school functions and graduations. Everyone in Puerto Rico takes the graduation ceremony very serious. I remember going to my High School graduation soaking wet and only having only one shoe on. That is a long story that had something to do with a sailing.

The school graduations in Puerto Rico are completely different from what I am used to. The clothes, hair, makeup and shoes are all perfect. It honestly felt like I was going to multiple celebrity weddings. I have never witnessed such a thing. The outfits everyone wore were straight from Madison Ave.

Another amazing thing here is the parents are actually encouraged to participate in everything including the Prom and Senior Class trip. What makes this so different from the states is the kids actually want their parents to attend. In the states the kids want their parents as far away as possible. It was unbelievably refreshing and I love how important family is to Puerto Ricans. I will admit this is one of my favorite things about Puerto Rico.  

We also bought a house. Yes, we are real Puerto Ricans now. That process was less complicated than we have been told. Everyone has said that experience would break us. They told us horrible stories about the banks, realtors and the sellers in Puerto Rico. In fact, the banking process was very simple and was a little faster than we liked. I can’t believe I actually wrote that. But yes, the mortgage process was as simple as pie. We even got very lucky with the sellers as they wanted to move as quickly as we did. So we will start painting, landscaping, and making it ours this week.

At dinner the other night the kids told me moving here was the best decision we have ever made. I will admit this made me feel really good. The decision to move somewhere completely different has been a very difficult one. As a parent I worry every day. Did I make the right choice? Did I complicate my child’s life? Did I make this move for the wrong selfish reasons? And so on. But overall the move from the amazing state of Alaska to a territory in the Caribbean really has been a wonderful experience. We have had our fair share of hardships during this first year. But overall the speed bumps have made us a closer and stronger family. Puerto Rico is an incredible place. I am proud to call it my home.

Side note:
I remember going to a house for sale that that had over twenty speed bumps on the way to it. It was a beautiful home. I just could not get past the speed bumps. It was all I thought about. Can you imagine going over forty speed bumps every day. I have had enough speed bumps in my life. I can’t even remember what the house looked like. I was so fixated on those ridiculous speed bumps.
I often tell my kids that life is full of hardships or speed bumps. Some days those speed bumps are really difficult to get over. Some days you don’t notice them at all. But the trick is to minimize them in everything you do.
Yep, we passed on that house.