Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jessica's Birthday

Today was Jessica's birthday. What she wanted to do today was swim. I think she also did not want to hear any sarcastic comments about her age or getting older. I told her we could probably accomplish one of those things.

This day has been absolutely calm and still. And unbelievably hot. I had a first today as well. We swam all the way to the wall.

We decided we would swim off the Bohio and then swim down the beach as far as we could go. We swam out over the Bohio wreck, which I finally found last weekend.

Visibility was about 40 feet. Past the Bohio wreck the bottom became sandy. A few minutes later small clumps of rock and coral began to appear. I swam along these until until I was in front of Mitch's house. I looked out of the water and could see the mooring float marking the Black Forest dive site. As I swam out to the marker the water moved from teal blue to a very deep blue. With visibility at 40 feet the bottom moved out of view.

About fifteen yards passed the marker the color of the water began to feel ominous. Actually a little freaky. It was hard to tell if this was the wall, at the edge there is usually large coral outcroppings that rise to 20 or 30 feet below the surface. At Black Forest the reef just drops over the edge about 50 feet. I swam down about 30 feet, and sure enough there was the edge and out passed that just the blackness of 1000 feet ocean.

That was enough. Been there done that.

I turned around and swam back down the beach and came out of the water in front of the Mitchel's. They invited us in and we sat on their porch until sunset.

In the water today 2 1/2 hours. I think we swam over 2 miles. Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Elaine the Dog Lady has Left the Building

My last two days have been spent helping Elaine pack up and fly out. Most everyone on Grand Turk knew Elaine as the Dog Lady. I knew her as a friend.

Elaine was the subject of my third blog. One of the early characters that I met on Grand Turk. My blog read in part:

"I just met Helene. She is French Canadian and runs a makeshift animal shelter on the island. She is about 65, the size of Lucas, and was a concert pianist. The museum works with Helene to provide an animal hospital twice a year. Veterinarians come from Canada and use our conservation laboratory to spade and neuter all of the animals they can."

In fact, she was older. And the French "Helen" is Elaine in English. And she and her vets completed over 300 animal surgeries at the museum since I have been here.

Elaine ran the animal shelter on Grand Turk as part of United Humanitarians, a non-profit organization based in Florida. Since the hurricane it has been very difficult for Elaine here. Her funding kept getting cut and was often late. Though she still had to feed 50 plus animals at the shelter. As people have left the TCI, Elaine's volunteer and support base shrunk to less than a handful of people. In fact, maybe three people. A couple months ago her program was cut all together.

The museum is one of the few really functional NGOs on Grand Turk. As such, I have really tried to support the work of other non-profits. I have tried to help Elaine with almost anything it took to help her through the stress of the emergency she found herself in.

For the last year or more, she has been working on an animal rescue plan to try and get the sheltered animals off of Grand Turk and into the states. Finally, this happened yesterday. We started moving animals at 4:00am. By 7:00am we had 49 dogs and cats assembled at the airport. At 8:00 a chartered rescue plane landed. It took forever to get everything together, but a couple hours later they were off. We put a few additional animals on a plane this morning.

Elaine and her animals are now in a Florida shelter built to take animals after Hurricane Katrina. This never happened. But the shelter now holds 53 animals rescued off of Grand Turk after Hurricane Ike.

I spent all weekend helping Elaine fill out customs forms and creating packing invoices. So much work, is now just a sigh of relief. In a few days, it will just be another friend gone from Grand Turk.

So many...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Little Bear, the Puppy Who Ruined Christmas

Doesn't that sound like a great title to a children's book. Last Christmas, we, evidently from the memories that my children keep of the event, had an episode. When we went to pick up Davis up from a party at Tuvol's house, he announced that he had won a puppy and tried to get in the car with a tiny dog. Really? Is there anyone who would be cool with this? Thats what you think you need on a three week “vacation” is to dump a puppy on your estranged father.

Needless to say, this did not work out well for anyone. Davis was not happy, which makes Deneen not happy, which makes Neal not happy, who then “ruins” Christmas. The dog did not wind up happy either. He died several weeks later under a tree at Tuvol's house.

Deneen sent me a text reminding me of this story today. This, after someone sent her an IM on Facebook to ask what she thought of the new puppy, after having read about said “new puppy” on Jessica's blog (read the last blog entry).

“New puppy?” you ask.

Three nights ago I was sitting in the house when after about three hours I said to myself, “That dog has been barking for a long time.”

I went outside with a flashlight and found a tiny little puppy stuck in the cattle grate of our housing compound. I was able to rescue the puppy and get it out of the pit. I brought it into the house and got it to eat.

Next to swimming, saving puppies has been the most consistent thing I have done here. Actually, this started with the first week I was on Grand Turk. You can read this in the third blog I wrote, September 11, 2007, entitled “Saving Puppies.” That is when I met Elaine.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Art Imitating Life, or Something Like That

If you ever wondered what it is like to have to live with me, this explains it better than anything ever could: or you could just want an art history lesson:

Read This Blog

Jessica has been volunteering at the museum for nearly five months now. She once told me once that I never leave the classroom. She keeps a blog of her adventures here, too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saturday Snorkel Trip

On Saturday we had our last Spring Children's Club Program. Evidently, everyone decided this was the event they were all going to come to. We planned for 20 children. We had 30 show up.

This program was a snorkel lesson and trip to the Cruise Center historical snorkeling park. This is another one of the successes here. The snorkel park is a project worked out between the museum, the cruise center, and the DECR to protect some large underwater artifacts that have been found or recovered in the last couple of years. The artifacts have been moved to an area where they can be protected and monitored. They can also be seen by countless cruise tourists.

Oasis Divers assisted us during the Saturday program. We went down to Oasis South Base and picked up 15 sets of gear. We walked the few hundred yards down to the cruise center. The boys all put gear on, had a snorkel lesson and then went on a 20 minute swim around the cruise center swim area.

The girls went second. It is not typical for kids here to swim. In fact, I think the museum programs are probably the only organized lesson there is on the island to try. Out of the 30 children we had, eleven actually were able to snorkel through the park.

While staff took most of the kids back to Oasis for a cookout on their beach deck, I took the eleven snorkelers back into the water for another 20 minute swim. This was cool as we came across very, very large barracuda sitting very shallow in the water. I tried to point it out so that everyone could see it. But it wasn't a problem. When I stuck my head out of the water we had eleven snorkelers all bunched up swimming on top of one another.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Let the Adventure Be Over

This is an email I got this week. Have I let the adventure be over? This has not been an easy few weeks. This last trip was home was the first time that I really did not want to leave Deneen, Martin, Lucas, and Davis. The emergency of the hurricane is over. We are back on track at the museum trying to move the new development on Provo forward. But things that were adventures two years ago have become all too common and now are just extremely frustrating.

The day I returned I had a flat tire on the way to the museum. The owners and shakers of tour companies have been on GT over the last couple of weeks. New tour excursions plans are due, as this is the end of the cruise season. Oh, this is the end of the cruise season. It is also the end of the community college semester as well. We have been limping all season with staffing, and now everyone wants to work -all the time. I am working on a new plan where staff are paid from earned revenue. This is hard concept here. We have had half the guests as in March. Staff hours have dropped accordingly. And this has gone over like a lead paycheck.

This week the condensor pan on one of the new AC units rusted through (not a new pan) and we had water infiltration into the new library shelving. I deal with this all, but it just gets in the way of the work that I woul dreally like to get done.

Today, I met with the heads of every government department about the Salina Master Plan project and a UESCO World Heritage proposal that another NGO is putting forth.

There are some bright spots though. The first week I was back we had a couple stop by looking who wanted to see the maps they had left on loan with the museum in 2004. They were not in the new PastPerfect database and their paperwork is not in the file. Because of all of reorganization in the library and archives that has been completed by Tyffany and Jessica over the last 8 months we were able to find two of the maps right away. The third was located shortly after.

The couple wanted to know how their maps fit into our collection. I explained to them what we had. One of their maps is actually the oldest map in our map file. I talk to them about the hurricane and how the museum came through with out a loss to our collections. I talked at length of the cost associated with long-term preservation and how hard it is for museum's to justify taking things on loan. When they returned a couple days later to pick up their new paperwork (we gave their items new numbers with locations tagged to the database) they asked us to prepare new paperwork and gifted the maps to the museum.

I would love to take credit for this. But this was a shining example of how effective Jessica and Tyffany have been as visiting archivists. Professional staff make all the difference in the world.