A Flash from the Past

In my purging/organizing frenzy, I’ve run across a disc that holds most (if not all) of my blog posts from Xanga, when it was still a thing. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to import them here, so I’m going to go through and copy/paste entries that might entertain you. This one is especially poignant for reasons that don’t need to be explained — a simple reminder to keep praying for all those in the Caribbean, that they will recover and come back stronger than ever.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

The green-eyed monster has me by the tail . . .

Cane Bay

This is where my sister-in-law is right now.  And where I am not.  While the average Jill might be a little green with envy, a tiny bit jealous . . . I am CONSUMED.

This is St. Croix, U.S.V.I., and St. Croix is where I spent 15 of the most glorious months of my life when I was a teenager.  In fact, this picture that I copied for your viewing pleasure happens to be of Cane Bay, where I made my certification dive when I was 15.  Yours truly swam out to sea and dove a deliciously scary 80 feet down the Cane Bay Wall (which continues to drop a toe-curling 3,200 feet before hitting bottom — think phosphorous glowing fishies a’ la “Finding Nemo”).  I saw the most amazing creatures, collected the most beautiful shells, made the most wonderful memories.

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Colony Cove, formerly The Barrier Reef

While it has been 24 years since we returned to Texas, I am positive this is the condominium we lived in the first three months we were there.  The name has changed — it was called “The Barrier Reef” when we lived there, but the view is the same, the design of the condo is the same, I’m certain this is it.  In another photo on the website, I identified the condominiums next door as Mill Harbor, hence my confidence.  I learned to snorkel off this beach before advancing to my scuba adventures.  The reef we explored was full of sea life and named “The Barrier Reef” because it resembled (on a much smaller scale) the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.I remember wandering through the 300+ year old streets of Christiansted and shopping in store fronts that were built by Danish settlers in the 1600’s.  My best friend, Cindy, and I would roam the shops and then grab a sandwich at Reed’s Deli followed by a trip to Steele’s Smokes and Sweets.  Did you know that the aroma of flavored tobacco mingling with the sweet scent of chocolate is intoxicating?  We bypassed the smokes (although the antique lady’s pipe with a pink coral bowl and long ebony stem made smoking a pipe seem almost elegant), indulging in the chocolates that were to die for.

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The Cruzan Rum Distillery

I don’t know why, but many of my memories are tied to scent:

Each morning, our school bus drove past the Cruzan Rum distillery.  Even now, at the age of 40, when I smell rum, I think of Good Hope School and the school bus . . . weird, I know.

 

 

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The Good Hope School

It was an awesome school — a private school built on beachfront land donated by Laurance Rockefeller.  We had a rotating schedule, which was geared toward making sure that we were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at least one day a week for each subject.  (So, if you had Math, English, and Science on Monday, you’d have English, Science, and Math on Tuesday, and Science, Math, and English on Wednesday, etc., etc., etc.)  I had one open period in my schedule and I often spent it in the art classroom pretending to be talented or sitting on a rock down on the beach until my next class started.

I met probably the most intelligent and interesting educator of my life while a student there.  Richard Collings was my European history prof and even now, I occasionally correspond with him.  An amazing man, he was born in England and travelled all over Europe and other parts of the world.  He was able to teach history with so much more depth and make it so much more interesting because he’d actually been all the places he was telling us about.  While he managed to keep us on track lesson plan-wise, he still allowed us time to discuss issues that were important, confusing, or interesting to us.  One topic that came up repeatedly was the hostage crisis in ’79 – ’80, when Americans were held prisoner for months on end in Iran.  We were 9th graders, and for the first time in our lives, we realized that sometimes things happen that our parents might not be able to protect us from, or even themselves.

In my mind’s eye, it seems almost like yesterday when we left.  Three days after my sixteenth birthday, we boarded a plane and came back to Texas.  It was really difficult for me, because I’d made some very close friends in the brief time I lived there.  I wrote some heart-wrenching poetry (thank you, teenage angst) and slowly but surely readjusted to life in the “real” world.

Someday, I hope to return.  I’d like to take my husband with me and share “my” island with him.  If I’m feeling particularly generous, I might take my daughter, too . . . but it would be an awesome “just the two of us” trip.  Jami might have to stay with her MoMo. 


A lot has changed since I wrote this — our girl is grown and finishing college. My mom passed away two years ago. As much as my mom was a homebody, I think she enjoyed our adventure as much or more than we did. She settled in to life on the island really well, learning to drive on the left side of the road quickly and was not hesitant to get out there and explore, even while my dad was at work — taking care of us, running errands, participating in the HOVIC women’s service league. She bought cookbooks to learn how to fix the crazy things Dad brought home from his snorkeling and diving adventures — I can still see her standing over the stove, frying conch fritters and letting my sister and I make “creatures of the deep” with the leftover batter. Sometimes I think she adapted to life there better than any of us. I know if she were here now, she would be praying for the islanders, too.


I have borrowed photos from a variety of sources discovered through Google Search for the purposes of this blog post. As best I can tell, they are not copyrighted.

Update

So what’s up with you? I’d love to see some comments below — let me know how you are, what’s happening in your life, even if it’s only a couple of sentences.

Life’s pretty good here. It’s a little weird to be living a normal, non-eventful life when I know there are so many people dealing with the after effects of hurricanes and floods. I’m still working on putting things away after being gone for a number of days. As I put them (photos, negatives, sentimental this and that) back where they belong, I’m trying to cull the things that really aren’t important and organize the things that make the cut. Part of the reason: it was incredibly stressful trying to figure out which boxes to grab and which to leave behind when I evacuated. My goal is two-fold: to better organize my memories so that they can be enjoyed, and so it’s easier to secure them if we are ever threatened by storms again.

This past week has been a banner week business-wise. I had two appointments with potential window covering clients, and I am thrilled to say they have both selected me as their source. I am doing twenty plantation shutters for one client, and a combination of plantation shutters, decorative roller shades, and 2 1/2″ blinds (8 shutters, 9 shades, and 4 blinds) — so that is a real blessing. I have a couple of appointments on the schedule next week, too.

I’m hoping to finish up the editing of the photos I took during our “mother of all road trips” this summer and then I’ll share a little bit about our adventure. I should have already blogged about it, but truthfully I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by documenting an 18 day trip that covered over 4,500 miles. Our trip exceeded our (mine, for sure) expectations in so many ways — I just don’t know that I’ll ever be able to express it adequately. But I will try.

My Island

My island is not really my island, but for the short period of time I lived there as a teen, I fell in love with the rather small rock in the middle of the Caribbean, and I’ve never forgotten St. Croix. Right now, she is being battered by the winds and rain of Hurricane Maria, and I have been and continue to pray that loss of life will be zero, and there will be some sort of miracle as far as damage goes.

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It was on St. Croix that I first experienced that painful ache of viewing something of indescribable beauty, and the overwhelming desire to record it and remember it as best I could. It was on St. Croix that I really started flexing my poetry muscles with any sense of satisfaction. Keep in mind, what I share below was written by a fifteen year old teenager. At the time I thought it was pretty awesome. And now as I wait for news, as I wait for answers to my prayers, I read these words written almost forty years ago and remember.


Twilight Sea

Silver moonlight,

Diamonds scattered

By a careless hand

Across the waters.

Cool winds,

Scents of hibiscus,

Ginger thomas.

Peaceful winds,

Quiet shadows,

Gently moving palms,

Swaying flamboyant trees.

Cool winds,

Peaceful winds, 

Bring the spirit 

Of a twilight sea.

(1979)


Turquoise in Portrait

The ocean:

A turquoise stone

Melted into fluid motion,

Waves capped with

Ivory froth,

Ivory that is swallowed 

By the turquoise sea

And comes forth

On the next wave,

Undaunted.

(1979)


The Lonely Ruin

Turquoise, sky blue, deep purple

Blended together in a velvet sea

Washing golden white sands.

Long, stony road

Through tangled vines and

Tall mahogany trees of an ancient rain forest.

Clearing in the forest —

Ragged, crumbling vine covered walls,

Hundreds of years having stood.

Silent ghosts roam the halls

Open to the skies.

Gentle rains wet the floors

That have known the tread 

Of the elite dwellers 

Of a bygone day.

Worn path leading away

Through hibiscus and sea grape tree

To a rocky, jagged cliff.

Below,

Turquoise, sky blue, deep purple

Blended together in a velvet sea

Washing rocky, jagged shores.

(1979)


Tuning into Memories

Every song brings back

The memories of a distant age,

Where life held no requirements 

On the spirit.

In my ear’s memory, I hear

The fading strains

Of our favorite band, Styx,

And the delicate taste of

Orange Lipton tea still lingers

On my tongue, while the

Click of backgammon die

Quietly punctuates the

Heavy heartbeat of the “Renegade.”

Those were such fine days,

The sun streaming down on

Your pale green shag;

I stretched like a sleepy Siamese,

And you accused me of

Laziness.

We raced down the hill to the courts

To play a game of one-on-one,

While Dennis and Dave sat in the red Datsun,

Feet on dashboard,

Ears keenly attuned to Pink Floyd dreams.

Sweat beads formed on your lip,

And I asked if you wanted a Coke.

As we walked toward the rec hall

Beneath the sea grape trees,

A breeze smelling of salt

Cooled us and made us long for Cane Bay.

(1980)

 

A Worthy Need

There are so many needs across my home state of Texas right now, so many people affected by Harvey and the flooding afterward. I ask you to consider donating whatever you feel led to give, whether it’s $5 or $500, to this Jones Creek couple. Wendy and her husband, Jim, are facing more challenges than just a little mud in the living room. Jim’s status as a heart transplant recipient prevent him from going into their damaged home at all due to his fragile immune system. Wendy is working her regular job as an administrative assistant, taking care of Jim, AND dealing with the aftermath of a badly flooded home with no flood insurance. My husband works with Wendy, and we are currently giving two of their beloved dogs a place to stay while they are displaced from their home. Keep in mind, even if you can only give $5, when many people do that, it adds up. Thanks for your consideration.

via Fundraiser by Robin Huff Stowe : Harvey Aid for Wendy and Jim

Jones Creek Tough

So thankful for these Jones Creek folk who looked out for their neighbors and their neighbors’ animals. Click on the link to watch Bailey’s video of their efforts. The music is pretty perfect, too.

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Video credit: Bailey Alexandra Fairchild

From Bailey’s FB page: Finally got this video done! Most of these are CR 400 on the Jones Creek side. My family and I got to help 5 kids, 17 horses and a few steer out of the water. I can’t express to you how proud I am of our little community. Home is where your heart is and my heart will always be in Jones Creek, TX! A huge thanks to all the people that worked with us including some of the owners and a family from Florida that drove down here just to lend a hand. I know it’s long but I had a lot of pictures I wanted to include lol. Hope y’all enjoy and feel free to share!

“Insert Your Own Title Here”

Yep. I got nothing. For days I’ve been staring at the catastrophic events unfolding around my little islands of refuge. We evacuated to my sister’s house when the hurricane was bearing down on the Texas coast. Six people and six dogs in 1100 square feet.

Yep. It was stressful. Nerves were raw and people got cranky, because we all handle things differently. As soon as the coast appeared clear, we headed back home. Only to learn the stationary storm had dumped 9+ trillion gallons of water over 50+ counties before finally leaving to inflict its abuse elsewhere, and that flooding under clear blue skies and bright shining sun is a real thing.

Yep. I packed up boxes of photos and negatives and a few things that can’t be replaced, like my red and white checkered Better Homes & Gardens cookbook my Nanny gave me in 1976, and my PaPa’s old Stetson hat that I requested when he died in 1986. I grabbed the chihuahua and I headed back to my sister’s house, while my much braver husband and daughter remained in Jones Creek. From 20 miles away, I kept up with their service through Facebook — how my daughter took care of her 9-year-old “little sister” so Sierra’s parents could try to save as much of their belongings before 8+ inches of water flowed into their home. How my husband and our daughter’s boyfriend filled sandbags and then took them to a woman who had no one to help her protect her home from the waters. How my husband cooked and served hot dogs to our weary neighbors one evening, laughing and joking the entire time to keep their spirits up.

Yep. I’ll admit I still struggle with worry. The fact that our house, which is only 0.6 miles from homes with several feet of water in them, stayed dry is almost surreal to me. For days I’ve watched every county report of waters rising, wondering if we would escape. And now that the county reports the water is going down, I still worry about us, since we are downriver from the communities that have seen the worst of it and are now cleaning up. The river has dropped 2 inches, but the creek is maintaining its level. I’m praying the drop in the river will contain whatever is headed our way and we’ll hold steady with  no further loss to our village. I am hopeful.

So here’s my plan: while I’m no good at filling sandbags or cooking hot dogs, I am pretty good at researching information and I can clean up messes and swing paintbrushes. So I’m leaving the photos at my sister’s (just in case), and I’m heading home today to do what I can do best. There’s so much misinformation going back and forth on Facebook regarding how to clean up after the devastation, so I’m researching the CDC website and other reputable sources to share with the community. While there are hundreds, even thousands that have been affected by the storm, I’m going to work on helping those in my little community by cooking and doing laundry and whatever else will reduce their burden while they try to get back to normal.

And I’m going to give thanks that things aren’t any worse than they are, and that we are all still here, together.

Love this girl and her wisdom!

Warning: this post may be slightly unpopular. You know what fashion trend I am completely over? Shirts with words on them. You know what I’m talking about…they’ll have random words like, “How about Tacos” or “#squad” or something like “Laundry Day.” The whole I’m-really-trying-to-look-like-I’m-not-trying look. And listen buddy, you ain’t foolin’ anybody. Just take your poly/cotton […]

via The Angry Feminist — BeautyBeyondBones