Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Picked a Bad Week to Stop Sniffin Glue

I lost my wallet this week. This has been absolutely miserable. I had both driver's licenses and all my credit cards in my wallet. This now seems like a mistake to have them all together. Not that it matters here, but not having credit cards would make it extremely hard to get back to the states.

I remember having it Saturday evening when I took it out and realized I did not have any money to pay for ice cream. Leah only had two dollars in her pocket. Unfortunately for everyone but me, I had ordered first and was already eating two dollars worth of chocolate ice cream. I had to ride in the back of the pickup on top of scaffolding. I was sure that my wallet fell out of my pocket soemwhere between Cool Beans and home.

Losing your wallet here stinks. Losing it at home is bad, but here I can't cancel my cards and have new ones sent to me right away. I spent Sunday looking everywhere for the wallet. I could not find it anywhere. But this figures, as it capped off a weekend that did not need more capping off.

Friday morning I came to work in the best of moods. I received a call at 8:30 that our container of hurricane fix up stuff had finally arrived and been cleared through customs.

When I arrived at the museum I discovered that we were having water pump problems again. This has been going on all week. it requires someone to go into the pump house and knock the relay so that the pump resets.

The last time this was done, however, whoever reset the pump spilled a gallon of red roof paint in the pump room and then proceeded to walk through the red paint. Then they walked all over the concrete pad where the AC pumps sit. Then they walked down the path to the museum. They evidently then walked into the museum. After this they saw their mistake and tried to clean the red paint off of the museum carpet with gasoline. Well, at least this was not just minutes before cruise ship tours were scheduled to come. Oh, sorry, yes it was.

When the day finally ended, I was looking forward to a relaxing late evening dive. We were in the boat and on the Library dive site by 5:00pm and in the water by 5:05. The dive started well, but my ears did not adjust past 25 feet. I worked through this, but coming back up from 50 feet to 30 feet I got severe vertigo as my ears went through a reverse block. I became very dizzy and disoriented. I finished the dive, but another diver ran out of air and we surfaced quite aways from the boat. This was about 5:45 and we surfaced to one of the coolest sunsets I have seen here. This made the dive worth while, but my head was all messed up and I was sick to my stomach from the reverse block.

On Saturday I did two morning dives with the DECR moving coral. Working dives keep you focused. I am also typically not willing to admit that I don't feel well. So I worked through the fact that I still felt messed up. Saturday was not turning into a fun filled, easy go lucky kind of day.

Work on the mural progressed on Saturday morning. Community involvement has been mixed, but the mural is turning out very well. The idea here was that local artists or people with an interest in the arts would come out and help paint sections of the mural. But the story I like to keep telling is when on Saturday someone pulled up and dropped off their 5-year-old so that he could help paint, and then left.

On Sunday the Canadian veterinarians finished up at the museum and flew home. They completed 125 operations in the week they were here. This included Pounder who got neutered on Saturday. We have been making fun of him all week. Telling him his day was coming and I keep saying "come here girl." This makes me laugh every time.

I was hoping to clean up and put the labs back together, but there were still a dozen dogs who had to stay over night. Some of these dogs were living in conditions where it was not safe for them to go home right away.

Call me a sucker.

Pounder has been very put out by the usurper who is living with us for a few days. He will not come in the house. He also won't be petted.

This morning I left for Provo on a flight at 8:30. I have to go, but without credit cards I cant get a rental car or a hotel room.

At 7:00 I took the little dog out to use the bathroom. There on the ground were two of my credit cards. Further out into the yard I found two more. On the other side of the house I found the wallet. In the neighbors yard I found my driver's license.

Sometime on Saturday Pounder must have found my wallet laying somewhere. You can imagine the rest of the story.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Diving Cage

Last week I assisted with the move of a new BioRock cage structure to replace one that collapsed during the hurricane. It is not a great story. Just a great picture that was emailed to me today. This is six of us carrying a welded metal structure. It took about 20 minutes to walk the cage out and put it in place. I am the second diver on the right.

Today, I am in Provo preparing for the mural project here next week. I have become a fundraiser. You get to see all of the fund stuff. But like the story above, you get the best 20 minutes of my 10 hour day. My day today was filled with meeting after meeting promoting our projects, trying to build consensus, and putting our needs into peoples ears.

It is 6:08pm. I am waiting on the flight back to Grand Turk. This is now going on 10 hours today. I have had eight meeting today. I have showed the new water color painting to six VIPs. I have sat with the editor of the Times of the Islands to make sure that the Astrolabe articles were in order. I gave an interview for the newspaper. And met with the Minister of Education about a National Environmental Art contest I am promoting. Oh, this was after a 30 minute discussion of Great Sand Cay and teh Endymion Wreck with the Assistant Director of the DECR on the flight over here.

PS - Read with your heart not your eyes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Literally, Non Stop

I have been working literally non-stop since I returned on January 20. I hope that when I write this blog it all sounds like fun and games. But no one every sees the twelve and fourteen hour days. Some days this is more if you consider entertaining work.

We are currently managing six grants. We are completing three community art murals. We are hosting five Canadian veterinarians who will be doing 125 surgeries. Children's club restarted. We hosted a Where is Simon, Sandy? book reading and had 67children show up. We have had all of our gutters replaced. My shipment of carpet and roofing left Miami this weekend. We are painting the two museum buildings. We removed and reset the toilet in the museum. We are installing new museum software and reorganizing our artifact database. We have begun cataloging a major archaeological collection. We have hosted a music jamb in the wetlab the last two Saturday nights. I have helped Wes finish the drywall at Sunnyside. I have been diving. I have assisted the DECR with installing a new Biorock cage at the Oasis sight. I have written an article on a nautical water color painting. I have edited the spring issue of the Astrolabe.

All in the last two weeks.

Whale Song

On Thursday morning I heard whales while diving.

Jesse told me that people have been hearing them this week, but you can only hear them deep. At around 100 feet I started hearing this faint moan. I thought it was my tank releasing air. I held my breath. Two tones, but they just sounded so mechanical and constant. Breath out. Hold breath. So mechanical and constant. Breath out. Hold breath. So mechanical and constant. So faint. It has to be my tank.

Then, the unmistakable whale song. OOOoooOO. OOOOoooo. This story I is much better when I get to do the sound effects. This was a first for me and very cool.

When we came back up to the boat Jesse said that the whales had been close and he was looking for them to swim up near us. This did not happen, but the idea is pretty cool.

I know that when you read this you are thinking how is this literally working all the time. But I am writing an article on a painting of Grand Turk and wanted to see the view from a boat. Aslo, Leah needed to sketch the reefs so she needed to get to the wall to snorkel.

Dinner With Friends

We are starting a new program. I want to invite someone over for dinner once a week and I want to get an invite to dinner every Monday. Getting an invite to dinner really requires Dinah or Leah to get us an invite to dinner. We will see how it goes.

The first Monday not so great. But on Tuesday we were invited over to Blue Water Divers for chicken wings. Wes and Jesse were putting together a small dinner party.

With Dinah and Leah here we often talk about our multi-cultural travel experiences. Dinah spent a semester in China. Leah has just returned from Nairobi and was in Norway before coming to Grand Turk. The daily experience on Grand Turk is very multi-cultural. Dinner was with several of our friends. But when you look deeper, they are a real mix of people. Jesse is Canadian, Katja and David are from Switzerland, Mario is from Columbia. Wes, he is just from Seattle, but he plays the sax. I told Leah that she had to choose someone from this crowd to invite to dinner on Wednesday.


Leah has been trying to find Indian food here, but it does not exactly work like that. You don't find the food. The food finds you. So, she printed a curried ginger and coconut soup recipe off the internet and this week we tried to find ways to make it work.

We have Jamaican curry. Not exactly what it calls for but close. Ginger; check. Onions; check. Coriander; probably not. Sesame oil; we have olive oil. Coconut cream; well actually we found some at the Dominican store.

Chicken broth was a tough one. On Wednesday I put on a whole chicken in the crock pot so that we would have broth. We also would have a lot of chicken. But Leah had decided that no one at dinner on Tuesday had made the cut.

On Wednesday night, just as we were leaving the museum, we ran into three young people who are here doing roof with the Bahamas Methodist Habitat. Ah, dinner invites.

We had a very nice evening with Abraham, Leia, and Emily. They are leaving on Tuesday so they invited us to get pizza on Monday night. See how this is working?

Downtown Mural

Leah has arrived to begin work on the two murals we are completing on on Grand Turk. She is with an organization called Artists on Call. She arrived on January 15, while I was in the states. The museum received a last mintue grant to bring her down, but it has been a work in progress because nothing was put together until after she arrived.

When Leah came we did not really have a wall to paint. I had some ideas, but no wall. The wall mural project is part of a grant aimed at hurricane restoration. I hoped to use art to restore hope to the community.

I was driving by Ona Glinton Primary school one day and realized that they use to have a mural. It was evidently lost to hurricane Francis in 2004. The first wall became

My vision was to paint a mural on one of the standing walls from one of the buildings demolished after hurricane Ike. I want to take something that is a reminder of our loss here and paint it with a big sign that says “One day Grand Turk will be better.” Not literally. But get it? The idea is that everything does not have to look dismal and destroyed.

Leah spent two weeks meeting with local artists and community leaders. With their input, she planned and designed the mural from a list of images that people felt represented Grand Turk. The images represent the history and culture of Grand Turk, which was actually very surprising to me. The mural has been titled “Looking at our Past, Rebuilding our Future.”

I have been making the rounds with Leah to Kiwanis and then to Rotary selling the idea. Kiwanis gave us a work day.

So, on Saturday, February 7, we started the downtown mural. This was also the first Saturday of the museum's children's club. Leah and I went to the wall mural at 8:00am. Ok, really 8:ish am. Leah had to leave at 9:00 to set up the children's club program, which was a water color painting clinic.

I had to stay and paint the wall. By about 10:00 a few others began to show up. I think we had a total of six volunteers. The wall took 15 gallons of a bright blue base coat.

We finished at 1:00 and I went back to the museum to clean up children's club. We had 40 children come, twice as many as they had been prepared for.

On Saturday night we held a musician's party in the wet lab. Four guys came out to play and about 30 people showed up to hang out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Believing in Someone

This weekend has been so busy. The after school homework program has just finished and everyone is sitting here wanting to go home. I will write just a quick note as I am reminded of something cool that happened today.

Raphael and I were trying to fix an air conditioning unit today. He started telling me that I need to be careful of some of the young men who came to the after school homework program. Raphael says that, "They are bad and will teaf (the local word for stealing) things."

I asked Raphael why he never steals anything.

"I would never steal from someone who believes in me."

This is not exactly the answer I was expecting.

"You leave me in your house. You ask me to help at the museum. I would never want to steal because you believe in me."

What does that mean? I told Raphael that he was right. I do believe in him. I believe that he and Joseph are different than many people I have met. They are honest and can be trusted. I believe they can become anything they want to become. They just need support and opportunity.

I told Raphael that what the world needs is more men who will be honest and trustworthy. If that's who he wants to be than he has all the support I can give him.

On Saturday morning I got a call from Joseph. He needed me to pick him up at the hospital and take him to church. I was kind of put out in my mind, I had things I was doing on Saturday. But I drove over to the hospital. He was there with a friend who had twisted his ankle playing basketball and could not walk. Why is Joseph always the one who is walking someone to the hospital? This just drives me crazy.

It was not lost on me today that the jobs I provide also provide stability for two young men. What I do to help and support Joseph or Raphael is actually very small. But I am coming to believe that it is in the small things where we make a difference.
These are young men who provide stability in their community. They are very successful in their world. They are the difference makers to the people around them.

Isn't that something you should believe in?

Quick rundown of the weekend...

Saturday we were suppose to go to one of the outlaying cays but the weather has been bad here and the seas are rough. Instead, we took a lunch and walked the east shore from the lighthouse down to Smuggler's Cove and then along the beach to the ruins at the Coral Reef, a resort which closed in the 1980s.

In the afternoon I met the Irish plumbers at the museum. They are working at the new hospital and are living next door to us. I have a broken toilet and they are plumbers. They have skills and I have something in more valuable here, two young Samuelson women. They seem to have no problem coming to fix things at the museum after Dinah went over and asked them.

Saturday night we held a musicians jamb at the museum. Wes came and played sax with Allesio and myself. Don came over to play a little bass. We had a good time. The Irish plumbers came as well as several other friends.

On Sunday, We had a party at 2:00 where everyone was to bring something from their own country. Dinah and Leah went to get something text-mex and then woke me up and told me to make something tex-mex. Later we went to a small Superbowl party and had a great steak and chicken dinner.

What a great game. I am a Pittsburgh fan who wanted the Cardinals to win. It was the perfect game.