The Storm Continues

Erika is long past. That was August 27th. There are some things that amaze me about people. The School wanted to show everyone all was perfectly well. So they posted (and they posted MANY places) pictures of our fully stocked store, and people out drinking and eating in the Caribbean light. And as soon as they could figure out how to get the 450 new students and the families to the island, they did. – Our airport was closed, the ferries would only go to Rosseau, the normally used port, but the road and bridges (with water pipes and fiber optics attached) from Rosseau to Portsmouth were washed away.

So after IGA took everything out of the back to display the beautiful pictures of fully stocked shelves, how were they to restock? What about fresh water? But sure! Let’s bring in 450 + more people.  After a couple of weeks, the school resumed providing a weekly bus for shopping in Rosseau, which was a normal thing. That was cancelled, I think after one trip. There are people going to Rosseau, just not with the schools help. And VERY few students have cars, amazingly few.

I go to IGA regularly. It’s been interesting. This week I found the vinegar pepper wpid-20151008_152325.jpgsauce we’ve always liked for chili. We’ve never seen it on island before. I got 2 bottles. A couple of days later, I got the last box of flavored instant oatmeal and the only box, yes, one box, of graham crackers. We had been looking for graham crackers as part of a gift of a s’more kit. One box, slightly crunched. I don’t think the frozen foods have been restocked for almost 3 weeks. Finding eggs is like an Easter Egg hunt. Forget milk of any kind, coconut, almond included. Those are treasure treats too. It’s kind of surreal knowing you got the last of something at a store and to do it twice in the same trip.

As my daughter reminds me, there are 3 other little stores in the area. Generally, the population says to not food shop there, but these are desperate times. She found cornmeal for me at one which was great since I had found fresh okra at another.

Unless somewhere in your cells you understand not having your store as dependable as the sun, you probably won’t feel this. I’m not concerned about not having food particularly, it’s the kind and condition of it. While the island has been relatively rich with fruits and chickens, the bananas were already suffering and the storm washed away the largest chicken/eggs supplier and many gardens.

This is our fourth day with more than a trickle of brown water. We have actually been able to have warm showers!  Some are still completely without. Some never really lost water because the apartments had tanks. A couple of weeks ago, the school said we could drink the triple filtered water again. We opted out at that time due to the unappealing look of it. But now it’s usually clear, which is probably false anyway, but we are drinking it.

So water!! YAY! Do not be mislead. Yesterday at noon the electricity went out. It has done that before, at that time. Not too worried and it was a nice day so I took a book out to read. When I came back in, about 45 minutes later, the electricity was back on, but the water was off. It stayed off most of the afternoon. Finally it came back. A bit darker, but it cleared some. So the internet went off, for a couple of hours.

As for me. Sometimes I maintain an attitude of amused neutrality. I’m revisiting my deep spiritual teachings, writing, doing art. I feel brief twinges of panic that I’ve refused to acknowledge for a long time. Now it is more money related. If we had the money, I could go home for a bit. – but then I wonder if it would refresh me for the next 11 months we will be here? At least, I’d be able to renew my wardrobe which is being wore thin with the pumice laundry water. But the money is more practical too in that I would be more comfortable with having the air conditioner on and food/water costs have gone up. Not too mention, I some times loose my spiritual sense and worry about what do we live in and how, when we are done here?

Some days are okay. Some days, I am maintaining a semblance of balance but it feels tight. and some days I simply have to admit I am depressed. Oh well. Now to go look for the good again!

Erika

On Thursday, August 27th, 2015, a storm hit Dominica. That sounds simple. It’s the Caribbean, it’s rainy season. But in a few short hours, Tropical Storm Erika dumped so much water that it actually washed away villages. It took 11 important bridges. It took the lives of people, of families, of livestock.

We knew it was a heavy rain. First, the water went (not unusual), then the internet, then the phones. We didn’t loose electricity. I noticed at the bottom of the hill there were several cars and some flashing lights. The bridge still stood, but the side road was washed away. Couldn’t tell where it had actually been and even sidewalk had moved. The construction storage yard that sat between the road and the river was half gone also. Pallets of cinder block shifted and broken. Two sides of chain link fence laying in the mud. And downriver, I could see buildings and a foot bridge that I hadn’t seen from there before. I was starting to catch on that this was more than a good heavy rain.

We went to the Sea. I thought maybe some things had washed on shore, but the shore had washed away instead. New gullies. Where there had been flat terraced areas, the sand had washed away leaving deep holes in concrete walls. We went to a friend’s who lives close to the water. They were okay, but their neighbor’s concrete steps were in what had been their yard, before the river ate 5 feet of it and took their fence.

The school closed the campus. Something that is met with anger even now. My daughter activated the student EMS (which had been on semester break) with campus security since campus was closed and the doctors could not be reached. Word began to circulate that we were essentially shut off from the rest of the island and that there was true devastation south of us. There were check-in meetings at the school every day. We went, the area we live in was shut off from the rest of the island, which I didn’t learn til later. Without phones and internet, all communication was down. Staff pm campus set it up for us to leave a message for family off island, said they would call them. It was to leave here by boat and go to where the satellite phone was in Rosseau. The storm was Thursday, my family in the states received a call on Sunday afternoon to let them know we had not been heard from and if we weren’t at the meeting that day, they would send someone to check on us. We had been at the meetings. We had signed up for sending messages two times. Sunday evening, the family finally heard we were well. Then we learned we had maybe one week of water left for our community and they were not sure about getting food in. The power plant said it had 2 days of fuel left before we lost power.

It is still hard for us over a month later. We are not to drink the water of course. But the water just barely trickles anyway. We have water. I don’t even wake up hoping it’s on anymore. We had filled a shipping barrel with water shortly before the storm and it served us well. The rain continued off and on for a few days so we could fill buckets for cleaning and flushing. When that quit, I struggled to stay positive.

Our main grocery store runs out. The dairy section was down to a bit of fake butter last week. No milk of any kind, no yogurt, no eggs. Today that was better, but the frozen foods were gone. Since the bridges on the main road were taken out, delivery of goods must come by boat. Fortunately, there is a pier for larger boats. The roads opened for a bit using the abundant washed in sand to build up areas, but they were not very safe and some areas did not hold up to the further rains.

We are in good shape. We are still feeling disheartened and discouraged with a bit of concern thrown in for water, power and food. But we are in a safe house. We have basics. For this we are grateful.

UPDATE: I wrote this last night. This morning we have been advised that the water in this area is safe to drink. Before the storm, we didn’t drink the water out of the tap, too much grit for us, but this means we feel comfortable filling our water jugs again with the filtered water on campus! This is good. Water is still just a trickle, but it’s not yellow green leaving silt in the bottom of the container like before.

Energy works

When I agreed to foster 2 semi-wild strays to get them adjusted to people and into a home, I had committed to a new born pup and had a few weeks til she could leave her moma. After I handed the pups over to their new owner, I found out that I would not be getting that puppy.  I tried to be cool about it and began to wonder where my new dog may come from. Well, this is an island of outside, loose dogs… So when someone posted on Sunday that a very young, very sweet stray dog was about have deliver puppies, I said bring her to me. Now that other voice says “What!?! Are you crazy? Do you not remember how those other two pups tore up your life?”

She is so different from the wild pups! She has lived at the beach and played with many visitors. She does get a little food grabby, but is very lovable. Two days and she follows me around the house, has not had an accident inside, and even the 3 year old, who has been around a few dogs, likes this one and it’s mutual.

And every day, we think she will deliver.

Other than that, the electricity was off a while the other day. It was a nice wet day that was announcing rainy season which the locals simply call hurricane season. And the water went off too. Electricity was only gone a bit of the day, but the water hasn’t fully come back on and has been off all night and shows no signs of coming back. So I’m guessing the propane tank we use for cooking is about due also and am going gently with it til I have the number of someone to call or a vehicle.

There have been three things on my “list” – a scooter, which my daughter morphed into a more practical car for the 3 of us in rainy season, a dog, and increased income. The dog with a belly full of more dogs is in my care. Today we are renting a car we are considering buying to try it out (driving on a different side of the road and shifting with the left hand will be an adjustment). So I can’t wait to see how the income thing plays out! My work permit was approved for the few hours I do through the school, but it is open for whatever work finds me.

I’ve always loved energy work and have been taking this time of islanding to refocus on it again. Art and energy! Woo-hoo! And I am loving the outcomes so far. I’m feeling better, less pain, remembering to protect from outside influence (always been a bit of an empath taking on others energy disruptions). And, as noted above, putting out in the universe choices that are before me, that enrich my life.

Will keep you updated on puppies.

pups and perceptions

Well, first, I am very happy to tell you that both pups have been adopted. They are still with me and will be at least 2 more weeks, but I am so happy for them! There is a man that brings sheep to tend the yard occasionally. He fell in love with the dogs at first sight. His plan was to take the female, but this morning he confirmed he wants them both and has even spoken with his friend, the vet tech who gave them their shots, regarding them. They still make me crazy a bit. I was scared a couple of days ago when I saw them too close to the street and put them on the tie-out lines one of the PAWS people brought me. We are actually all much happier now. And the man adopting them was able to approach and get hesitant licks from both of them today.

Still mixed about living on Dominica at times. Much happier since in the new house. Shutting down to tolerate the environment we were in was a great reminder of how we put up with things and allow a “norm” to become acceptable. I know there is a lesson in that. I’ve giving talks on it and taught it in classes. But today isn’t lesson day. And for this time it would be about making upgrades inside and out if I were to take that path with this entry.

One of the blessings in the current home is having a washing machine. Between the humidity and shortage of drying lines, I only do a load or two small ones a day. Even though I’ve been doing it about a month, every few days I still screw something up like… leave the room and forget the water is still running (flooded most of the kitchen one day, had very clean floors afterward), or I forget to put the drain out the door. I’d say it’s getting better, but I am usually trying to do several things, like wash dishes, get Indigo ready for school – you know, general morning things, so I still forget or get distracted. The best days are when I take some art project to the kitchen table so I am next to the laundry chore. By the way, I’d love tips on getting the towels to come off the line soft.

Our PUR water filters will be gone soon. I really thought I’d brought at least enough for a year and maybe more! Not here. So another plus of where we live now is that we can refill our water jugs at the annex across the street. Across the street is a bit misleading, but it is very close and not up and down hills. As if the pitcher going through filters so fast wasn’t enough to convince me, seeing the color of a tub of washing water before I put the clothes in has done it well. On a side note, my daughter said she started playing an online game during the recent break but it asked her to get water, pick mangoes and ask a local resident for information. She decided she was already in the game. It was life as we know it and she deleted it. ( It is mango season by the way! Yum!)

I was laughing at myself going to get water the other day. I had on a dress I’d made some time ago, a jug in each hand, feeling like a milk maid, and thought how I could tell the grandkids about how I had to walk for water as I got old, since I can’t say it was “when I was your age”.

I look forward to sharing more with you. I have made notes of so many things I want to share as I explore inside and out. Be back soon

keep on changing

The move to the new place went well. Whew! Of course, we moved to the Caribbean with 7 barrels and several suitcases, so it was pretty easy to throw it back in place. The new house is very white and rather large, so it’s annoying trait is echoes!. I’ve put some yards of fabric on a curtain rod on one wall and Indigo and I are hanging our art work on other walls. The echo effect is easing a little. Overall, the place is working much better for us. I look forward to company coming here.

I feel it has allowed me to expand. I’m not protecting myself from sounds, scents and colors as I was. Still finding myself and how I fit here, and liking it. Trying different meditations and Spiritual practices, feeling what works, clearing out old stuff. Soon after the move, it was crunch time for final tests. Now it is semester break.

I heard of a puppy, from a litter of 2, that was going to be ready for a home in about 6 weeks. At the same time I became aware of a couple of stray pups that were in danger. I put some prayer into each possibility and chose the puppy still with mom. But I went to where the strays were hanging out and they came easily to take food from me. After a couple of days, I contacted PAWS (a student group committed to helping local island strays) and said if they could catch one, I’d foster it. So now I have two 5 month old semi wild pups. Oh my! 20150419_121903They are a great growing, learning experience. I am holding highest and best for them to find families. I didn’t think through what it meant to be an unclaimed island dog… the survival traits, the need to run and play in the grass, but the need to connect with a human food machine. Gracie is very glad to see me a couple of times a day. LOL. It’s fun to observe the very different personalities. I am drawn to Grace because she celebrates seeing me (a couple of times a day) and she is one of those rare dogs that has a true, toothy, natural grin that always makes me smile. Hunter, on the other hand, has a whistlely whine that he uses often. His loyalty is manifest in how he was the one pup who never left home base.

The lesson/learning for now? I think it is in the pups. Occasionally I seem to hit this lesson that has to do with seeing the other side. It’s always a good reminder of being open to “right”ways that aren’t the same as what my background considers right or my mindset training. I would think this lesson was already coming through the differences  in life right now, but it seems it needs some fine tuning – or maybe I listen better when it is in the more familiar form of animal behavior than a whole new life style. One change at a time. Day by day, I am getting better and better! and all is well.

Better

For the past few months, if anyone asks my granddaughter “how are you today?” Her response is always “better!” Some just smile, many ask if she has been unwell. How are you today? While I may wonder about Indigo’s response of “Better!” – I love it. For so many years, I have worked with affirmations. One of the original affirmations was from Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie in the 1870’s. He introduced a form of psychotherapy and self improvement using positive statements for change. The best known, and still used is “Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” Reminded by Indigo of this powerful inner suggestion, I began using it as I walked up the hill to pick her up at her school. I can at least say that walking up the hill is definitely easier and better now than when I started. But it’s much more than what the exercise would have accomplished alone because I was making changes within. Moving to a Caribbean Island and having time to paint sounds dreamy, but it isn’t all sand and umbrella drinks. There are days when it is difficult to face the living room with its assault on the senses with the massive clash of colors and sounds of propane tanks being loaded and unloaded at the store downstairs, and the fumes of the truck waifing up through our windows. And the car horns as people say hello or warn possible traffic that they are in the area. The wonderful island breeze that has been crazy (local terminology) for the past couple of weeks blowing a partially empty box down the hall and slamming doors,even knocked out a small window, not to mention all art papers had to be anchored down. General depression ran through me like sluggish molasses. And then I heard we may be here even longer. Those examples are a very tiny sliver of the stabs of everyday life. I didn’t want to shut down, but I was. And here’s my thought on that, if I am trying to block the “noise” I am blocking part of the symphony. In this case, I was protecting myself to mental/emotional death. I love dogs. The neglected dog chained out the back door had to be ignored. He’s taken care of and by island standards, he has it easy. And I’m living on a tropical island. There’s the dreamy version VERSUS the reality. Using the best tools I know, I felt into that depression to the core of its energy to expunge it at it’s tangled roots. I used the affirmations to root out the mental lines and ideas that argued with “better and better” and to make firm within me the highest and best of the lovely ones. I focused on the previous romantically held notion of being an (emerging) artist living on a Caribbean island. I looked past the living room and out the window to mountains (mornes, they are called here) so close I can count the trees and engaged in how they change with the sun and the clouds that so often sit on top of them. And embraced the little sliver of the bay and boats that I can see and know that I can walk there. And, probably most important, I resumed the practice of meditation. I also added heaps of gratitude felt as deeply and thoroughly as possible.I’ve even created a few20150314_170018-1 signs in my sketchbook using a couple of positive words and splashes of watercolor, just to hold onto those thoughts. I must add an important piece here… I signed up for a few art groups before I moved since that was the plan on how I was going to fill my days. One of those is Tamara Laporte’s Life Book 2015 and it has truly impacted me.(The picture is of flowers Indigo collected last week and in the background is a work in progress.) My art work is improving at tremendous speed and the lessons that have been provided so far have been in perfect alignment with the changes I was working on. They have been affirmations held in place and lovingly drawn forth as I did my inner work. Then I began to look for a new place to live. Ours may be inexpensive, but it had reasons to be. There is a place I pass on my walk and I would wonder about being there, top of the hill, able to see the view. I scoured sites that listed or mentioned rentals around us. On a walk home from the school, I ventured to areas of possible places to move from my list. I became scared of leaving the known problems of this place to journey to unknown ones with new potential new problems. I decided to ask to look at the place on the hill that I knew was more than we wanted to pay. And he made me a deal, right in the range of my target price, and sweetened with a washing machine and maid service, and I can have a dog, which of course will be a rescued island dog. And even better! Our current landlord said notice to leave was a month, but the last 2 weeks of our paid month was okay! I could go on and on! But I won’t. And I’ve put in my schedule to continue this blog through the smooth and rough as part of the practices I am embracing so I’ll be back. Day by day, I am getting better and better and I know you are too. Life is great when you know where to look.

I relate

originally written around 2-27-15 I hesitated to publish it, but life has changed again and although it wasn’t one of my better times, I am choosing to begin writing again (now that I don’t feel so whiney) and it’s only fair to include this one….

I love animals. Absolutely love them. And I am not in a place to have one right now. I will be.

There is a dog downstairs, outside my back door. He belongs to the people that own the house next door. He looks like he is mostly German shepherd, unfixed. He gets fed, and I’m sure there is water there. He is chained, just the right length that he won’t fall over the edge of the retaining wall to our side. He barks a lot. He is restless. I have not seen anyone pet him. Yesterday, one of the younger girls got close, but when he stretched his nose to her, she turned away. And he barked.

I’ve talked to one of the students that lives there about the dog. He said they let one student that lived there in the past walk it occasionally. I’d love to do that, but I had to let go of a dog to be here and I don’t want the pain of giving to that dog to leave it. I don’t know how long we will be in this place. We have been looking for another one, but haven’t agreed on anything.

I relate to that dog. I often stand at the bar on our balcony door looking out. I have no friends here. My daughter would say it is my own fault, but the students here are young and focused on their studies. The few spouses are young and focused. The locals are used to us but not with interacting with us.

I ask questions of the locals. Mainly to learn, like what to do with the very green bananas, but to connect too. There was one woman who lives here that seemed, to my daughter who met her, to be thrilled at the prospect of having a friend. I’ve emailed her twice. She responded the first time about being busy and a new momma goat that wasn’t dealing with her twins and they were having to be fed often. I wrote back that I would be happy to help, (Animals!), but didn’t hear anything back. Like the dog, almost touched.

I have occasional times of deep pain. Not finding my way. Trapped in this beautiful island. Not supposed to go far alone. Not to go out at night, either not alone or due to the mosquitoes.

I have opportunity for deep healing and great reflection. I know to not stop the process, but to hold to faith that it can be the journey to greater expression of life, and joyful living. One thing I know, the last time I did something grand, that was my path to choose and do, was when I followed a very clear Voice. I thought I was following that voice when I changed paths, but couldn’t seem to find my way after that. I am remembering those times of feeling free and full.

So now, I make art to remind me of who I am, what I need to do and to ask for the guidance from that Voice. And when the pain comes, I let it. I feel into it and ask what I need to do. It passes and I hope it has been allowed to be healed a bit more in my willingness to sit with it, and the Guidance has more room to be in me and work through me.