A Moving experience, part 1: stuff to forget

When I say moving I’m actually talking about household effects.

We moved here using suitcases over the course of three years from a home where we’d lived for 21 years. Our old house had lots of storage. Lots and lots of storage. We had so much storage that we lost track of what we were storing.

When we married many years ago, we merged the contents of my apartment and my husband’s condo into his two bedroom condo. It was a small space, but big enough for two of us. We didn’t have much stuff.  When I became pregnant with our first child we started looking more seriously at houses. We moved into our four bedroom house just a few months before our daughter was born.

Life was very busy from the moment we became parents until we moved out of our house six months ago. We both come from large families and we have many nieces and nephews. We didn’t have to buy anything for our daughter. Well, we bought diapers, and eventually food. We were given so many gifts and hand-me-downs that she was outfitted until the day she said “I’m not really a fan of that colour” or “that style”.  It was the same for our son, although there weren’t as many boy cousins and their clothes were more likely to be worn out before they made it to our house.

For awhile I was able to stay on top of the inventory, or so I thought. Then more stuff started to enter our house. Toys, books, school supplies, crafts, clothing, movies and music all made their way in, with very little purging of the old. Sure, I very often had a bag or four or five to give the numerous charities that called regularly looking for “gently used clothing and household goods” but I also had lots of storage space.  You can see where this is going. If you’ve ever moved from a place you’ve been that long, or cleaned out a house after a parent or grandparent passed, you know where this is going.

For over a year, I carefully went through every box and bag and closet. I gave away several bags and boxes each week filled with clothing, linens, books and movies. It hardly made a dent. I persisted. We had a garage sale. We gave stuff to our children. We gave away more stuff. We sold stuff online. Still, we had a storage room full of boxes and closets full of clothing. Every time we came to our place on the island, we filled suitcases with carefully packed pictures and plates and mugs that had special meaning.

When we finally moved we only brought things that either had special meaning or that were incredibly useful and hard to replace. For example, our garlic press didn’t take much space and we hadn’t found one we liked here, so we brought it.

The move from the old house was not a pretty sight. At first it was fun to read old letters and cards, and to look at old photos and our kids’ homework. I had sorted through them, making piles to shred, scan or save.  The scan pile was never completely scanned. Those things were thrown away. Our photo albums, filled with travel and family photos from pre-digital camera days, are still in a parent’s basement. Lovely items given to us as gifts were deemed too large to pack. I don’t remember where they went.

When we finally moved here permanently, we had already moved a lot of our favourite things. It wasn’t the huge and overwhelming task that we would have faced if we’d put everything into a shipping container and had it delivered all at once. We still hadn’t found places for everything, though. We are determined to avoid mistakes of the past and store things that “might be useful” someday. We don’t have much storage space, so what we do have is being used for Christmas and seasonal storage, and to store “winter” clothes for travel.

Once in awhile I’ll think of something that I gave away, or may have given away, and I wonder why I didn’t keep it. Or I’ll wonder where it went. For the first month or so, I’d feel a stab of pain and I’d be close to tears for something as random as being in a kitchen store and not seeing a single thing I liked as much as what I’ve given away. Regrets, I’ve had a few…. Those feelings are thankfully hitting me less often. I don’t like to compare it with Post Traumatic Stress or grieving, but the triggers have become less potent over time in the same way. Just this morning I wondered what we did with our ice cream and yogurt makers. The last few days of packing really are a blur, so I really don’t remember.

Sometimes I’ll have a stab of guilt over selling the only home our kids have ever known. They are students and as such they don’t have a permanent address. Our son visited recently and referred to our place here as a “home away from home”, which was some consolation, but our daughter hasn’t been to this place since 2012. She is less emotional about the loss of her childhood home, however, having left years ago and spending very little time there even on summer holidays.

There is a silver lining to all this. We gave away a lot of our things to friends and family, offering first dibs to our children. On a recent visit to my daughter, it felt like my “home away from home” with the artwork and pictures and even cooking utensils and bed sheets we’d passed along. My sister has my fine china. She uses it every day. That makes me happy, especially when we have dinner at her place. Once our son has his own place, he’ll be using dishes and linens that we donated from our house. There is no need to store things anymore. They are being used. That also makes me happy.

What I’m trying to say, is that you shouldn’t get too attached to stuff, but if something gives you good memories or has a sentimental attachment, keep it, use it, and cherish it,  or share it with someone who will. Don’t store too much stuff. Get it out and give it away, or use it. There isn’t much that actually becomes more valuable with time, no matter what the collectors tell you. I sold hundreds of dollars worth of collector plates for the equivalent of lunch money, or I gave them away. I enjoyed them while I had them, but I couldn’t bring them all with me.

I probably enjoy my the photos and pictures we’ve hung on our walls more than I ever did. In this smaller space, I see them more often. Every item we kept was carefully selected, wrapped and delivered here personally. What I didn’t bring, I hope others are enjoying as much, if not more, than we did. Sometimes I even get to see it.

 

Farewell to a great ambassador for his species

Blue Iguana

 

I read in the news today that Inky, a Blue Iguana at the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, was killed by a dog on Sunday morning. Inky was a friendly “blue dragon”, often seen and photographed by visitors while he hung out at the entrance to the park. I’ve seen him and he was magnificent! I can’t guarantee that it’s him in the above photo, but it’s very likely.

This is the second high profile Blue Iguana death in just a short time. The problem is not only that of feral dogs (and cats), but unrestrained local pets. I read that in this particular attack, the dog wore a collar.

I hope we aren’t witnessing the extinction of a species, as some of the comments on the news article would suggest. I know that the Blue Iguana Recovery Program is committed and determined to ensure this is not so. I see dogs roaming freely here all the time. In the past, I only worried when they were in packs and without collars. There are small children in my building and I worry about them, but most of the dogs are “tame”and wouldn’t attack a child, they just don’t live as indoor pets. I’ve heard it’s cultural, but I don’t know where that began.

While researching the news about blue iguanas, I found a 2008 article describing an attack on six iguanas, probably by humans. I couldn’t find a follow up as to whether or not the attackers were ever identified.

I do know that the blue iguanas were here before any of the people or their pets. I also know that Inky will be missed.

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Yesterday was Father’s Day in my world. Father’s Day has been a hit or miss holiday for the past few years. I always call my dad, and my husband calls his, but my husband is often away. Our children probably got out of the habit of celebrating the day, but they both called with love and best wishes…eventually.

Father’s Day here seems to be all about brunch, or lunch, or maybe an extended brunch. We decided that just in case Eden Rock is going to be ruined forever by the addition of a massive cruise ship dock, we should snorkel there while we can. It was beautiful! Fantastic! It was all we’ve come to expect of a snorkel at Eden Rock, except for one thing. We were only in for 30 minutes. We entered from the stairs near the Paradise Grill, which, to me, makes it remarkably easy. We swam out to the main part of the reef, enjoying the Parrot Fish, Blue Tangs, Needlefish, Tarpon and finally the incredible maze of coral from which we often see divers emerging. There was a loud roar from the sky and I thought, “There goes the WestJet flight!”. I looked up and the sky was growing darker to the east. We heard another roar, which this time was definitely thunder. We decided to head back in.

It wasn’t all disappointing. We saw more in five minutes than we often see in a half hour. On our way back we saw a huge school of reef squid.download

I think they are beautiful, but they are often quite shy and I’ve never seen more that about a dozen at a time. This time there were dozens, probably sixty, and they were not at all skittish. We admired them for a moment, until we heard another thunder clap, and we hurried back in to shore.

After we dried off we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the Paradise Grill, one of my favourite places to get conch fritters. It was leisurely out of necessity rather than choice. We often stop there before or after a snorkel or museum visit, but usually the crowd is mainly fellow sight seers and swimmers. We are usually the locals among the tourists. It’s a great spot because you can look out over the harbour and watch the huge tarpon that hang out near the steps, while enjoying the breeze off the water.

Yesterday, we were definitely candidates for the “worst dressed” of the clientele, as well dressed families, probably straight from church, gathered to celebrate with their fathers. This time, we looked like the tourists among the locals. The place was the busiest I’ve ever seen, so the food took a little longer than usual. It didn’t matter because we were enjoying a leisurely Father’s Day lunch.

When we came home I was very happy that both our children found a way to wish their dad a happy Father’s Day. I hope they continue the tradition for many years.

Market Madness

Today was a market day here. The market at Camana Bay is advertised to run from noon to 8 pm. Any time we’ve arrived at noon or later, we are sadly disappointed, because the best of the produce is long gone! The only exception is one of the mango stands. Charlie has to set up another fruit stand in Grand Harbour before making his way to Camana Bay to set up in the thick of things.

There are days when we really don’t want to be at the market in the “thick of things”. The first time we went, I thought I’d never seen so many strollers. I had to fight my way through the nannies to get some good Japanese eggplants. If you want the variety of local greens; spinach, arugula, callaloo and lettuce; you need a combination of polite assertiveness and patience. People are polite and patient here. I haven’t really seen some of the aggressive pushing and shoving that we’ve seen on other islands, which shall not be named here.

Sometimes I’ll buy a bag of fresh greens without even knowing what it is. The market greens stay fresh so much longer than anything we can buy in the grocery store. Today I bought four different bags of greens from two different vendors, just because I could.

I finally bought some local bananas and plantains. When we buy bananas here we buy them green. By the time we get home they are ripe. I’m kidding, but it’s only a slight exaggeration.

We didn’t see as many strollers today, but there were a few wee babies. This island seems to have a large number of young families. Instead, today, there was a professional photographer with a very large camera. I tried to stay out of the way. I wasn’t looking my best!

So it turned out that our strategy to go to the market a bit earlier, but not too early, paid off. I didn’t buy any eggplants today, though, as I thought I’d give my husband a break from my eggplant obsession. I’ve been trying different types of eggplant and a few different recipes. My new project will be to try eggplant recipes from around the world!

Today was about salad greens and mangoes. It was also about trying to stay cool. Since the rainy weather has stopped, we’ve had temperatures around 30 Celsius and 75 to 85 percent humidity. So, even though I can’t really stay cool, I am trying to stay relatively dry. My face was dripping by the time we left the market. I blasted the Amigo‘s air conditioning to the maximum for the ride home. I know, it could be hotter, or worse, it could be cold outside!

In addition to the humidity, we have huge waves. I guess we are into the hurricane season, so maybe everything is just a bit steamier and more volatile. We watched the waves come right up over the beach at the nearby shopping corner, known to locals as the four-way. Even in our air conditioned home I couldn’t cool off. I finally went for a swim,( in the pool, not in the wildly rough sea)which seemed to do the trick. I’m still hoping for some calmer days to get my sea swim fix.

As for the market purchases, the variety of greens and the local baby cucumbers made a nice salad for our supper. There is a different flavour to everything here. The spinach is stronger tasting and thicker. The arugula is large and has quite a bite. The tomatoes have a thicker peel. I haven’t tried the local bananas yet, but I bet they’ll taste different, too.

Then we have the mangoes. Enough said.

 

 

 

 

Mango Tango: The joy of mango season in Cayman

We love mangoes! In my family I am probably the least affected by the sight, smell and taste of a mango, but even I get excited at a display of mangoes at the market. I can’t imagine anyone taking full advantage of the mango season as we do.

The first time we came here, twelve years ago, we stopped at a mango stand along Seven Mile Beach. The Mango Man made a comment about eating the mango in the sea. Ever since then, my Husband wanted to eat a mango in the sea. A few years ago, on his birthday, he didn’t need a cake or a dinner out or presents. He ate a mango in the sea.

One of my favourite book titles ever is An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof. As it turns out, the book is also very entertaining, but the title is what inspired me to give it to my husband for Christmas one year. This past week, we had an embarrassment of mangoes after a trip to our favourite fruit stand and another to the Farmer’s Market.

We seldom eat our mangoes in the sea. We usually eat them over the sink or over a plate or a paper towel. This is mango season and we are blessed with riches! There are too many varieties to recognize and mention. The mangoes we are eating are all local and somehow, the people who sell us the mangoes can tell them all apart. There is the Carrie, the Nam Doc, the Nelson, the Keitt, the Fairchild, the Springfell and the Julie. I’m not sure I’m spelling them all correctly, but I challenge you to find all of these in the supermarket in North America.

I just read in the local paper, that this is a bumper year for mangoes! This, in contrast to last year when it was a rather dismal mango season. I’m sure my husband was joking when he said we might have to find another place to live, but if this season had been similar to last, I wouldn’t count on staying here for long.

If you’ve never eaten a fresh mango,(and by fresh I mean you are in the country where it was grown), do yourself a favour and come to Cayman during mango season.

Sometimes the mango is maligned by those who think the sugar content is too high. They are a fruit, after all, and that’s what makes them so sweet. To stay away from a particular fruit because of their sugar content means giving up all the other nutrition benefits they have to offer. A single mango, according to USDA tables, is 135 Calories and provides almost a third of the Vitamin A requirement for one day and almost all your vitamin C! It also provides 4 grams of fibre and it’s delicious!

I would  venture to say that this mango season is having a very positive effect on our quality of life.

How to truly retire and not become a full time volunteer

The island’s first ever International Film Festival is going to be on in a week! I was so excited when I first heard of this event! We have our passes and we are studying the schedule to maximize our time and enjoyment!

When I first heard about this I wanted to help. It seemed like a natural; I have time, I love film, I’m not allowed to have a paying job here, and everyone needs volunteers.

I emailed the organizers and voila! they asked me if I’d be interested in coordinating the volunteers. Now that seems like it would be a pretty daunting task for someone who had just moved to the island and hadn’t even volunteered here before. Not to me it wasn’t! Well, maybe a tiny bit. At risk of giving away my secret identity, I’d have to say that event planning and volunteer coordinating were my super powers. I’ve been involved in the planning and coordinating of several national level competitions, hosting athletes from all over Canada at some of them, and from all over Western Canada at others. This involved arranging the venue, organizing the necessary officials and all support volunteers, booking hotel accommodation for visiting officials and for the higher level competitions, planning receptions and awards ceremonies. We sent out notices to participating clubs with all the necessary information and processed the entries and seeding. We planned the food for volunteers and officials and ensured there was emergency medical staff in attendance.  The list goes on. It took a team to organize this level of an event, but I do know a few things about volunteers.

I went to meet the organizers, having just returned from a vacation and finding our car in urgent need of a service, in a bit of a flustered state. Our internet wasn’t working when I arrived at home and I was making daily trips to the coffee shop to check my email in a car that I was more than a little concerned about. I must have made a really bad impression. In retrospect, I wondered if I was expected to bring a resume or references, or go over my past experience. That hadn’t occurred to me because it was for a VOLUNTEER position. I have never felt the need to sell myself on a volunteer job before. On the contrary, it took me and my co-planning/organizing superwoman partner a couple of years  to train people to replace us.

When I say partner I mean that strictly in the sense that we worked together on several events! She was amazing with the small details of planning and contacting the outside support people, and with coordinating our committee. I coordinated, contacted and confirmed all the volunteers, and knew where and for how long they’d be needed, who had the skills for certain positions, and how many “back up” people we should have, and how we would keep them hydrated and fed.

So at this film festival meeting, it’s quite possible that my own reservations about taking on the job gave them reservations about trusting me to take on the job. I don’t exude confidence, especially after a harrowing trip across the island in a car that is trembling. Perhaps I had a moment of  “Can I do this without my superwoman partner who is so good with the details?” So after I thought about the job for a couple of days and contacted them, offering to do it, I understood their decision to hire an event planning company instead of having little old unknown me do it for free. I was probably secretly relieved, even though I’d been drawing up sample spreadsheets of the various screening locations and positions that would need to be filled.

As much as I understood the “rejection” of my services, which they had asked for in the first place, and as much as I’ve enjoyed some time to settle in without the added stress of being part of a major event involving hundreds of volunteers, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit like I’d lost my mojo.  I hope I responded graciously although I thought,”It’s your loss because I would have done a fantastic job even if it killed me!”. I was just a little disappointed that I hadn’t even been asked to be a worker-bee volunteer. Apparently this island has a phenomenal volunteer force and they didn’t even need me to be an usher or take tickets or clean up garbage after the shows. Maybe I made a really bad impression!

Wait, who am I kidding? I was once again relieved that I hadn’t been called upon to volunteer. My enthusiasm for the project had come from a sincere desire to work with the organizers. You see, they made a very good impression on me! I would have done this major project if it killed me and in truth, it probably would have killed me! In retrospect, I realize that my favourite volunteer moments have come doing the small jobs that use my technical skills; the jobs I can go in and do well and go home later and forget. I only became a volunteer coordinator extraordinaire out of necessity.

Then I got an email, presumably from someone at the event planning company, asking for volunteers. She didn’t say what the volunteers would be doing, but the shifts were during festival screenings. I had to say no. I’ve been available since April, and I’m available almost all week, but once the screenings begin, I’m no longer available. We have our festival passes and we’ve been studying the schedule. There are a lot of films to see and it’s going to take some serious planning and organization to maximize our time and enjoyment!

You could say that I’ve discovered a new super power; being able to say “No”.

 

 

Destroying Paradise, one reef at a time

I always thought that the long term Cayman tourism plan was to entertain the cruise ship guests for a day, but to convince them with our hospitality and services, to return for longer stays. Divers return here over and over for the amazing reefs. The Cayman Magic Reef Recovery project alone is bringing together divers who want to help restore a reef damaged by a cruise ship’s anchor.(https://caymannewsservice.com/2015/03/cruise-line-coughs-up-100k-for-reef-damage/  ) Anyone we know who has arrived here on a cruise has been impressed with the crystal clear Caribbean blue sea.

We often recommend Eden Rock as a really great place to snorkel, and the Devil’s Grotto and Eden Rock dive is very popular. If I had a dive buddy I’d be so ready to try it out. Instead, I snorkel there whenever I can. In fact, we try to combine that with a Saturday in George Town: National Museum, lunch at the Paradise Grill, snorkel Eden Rock.

Imagine my horror at the idea of attempting to “move the reef” to accommodate a huge pier for cruise ships.

http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2015/06/08/Reefs-could-be-relocated-to-make-way-for-cruise-pier/

There are some suggestions to build the dock elsewhere on the island, such as West Bay. Are you kidding? The reef  that we look out on in West Bay is a very popular spot for dive boats! The reef surrounds the island and any pier built in West Bay would only increase the traffic into George Town. The shops in George Town are probably where the majority of cruisers want to be, or at least where the powers that be want them to be. Honestly, as someone who has been on a cruise ship, the last place I want to be in a new port is in the duty free shops and stores that look like they could be anywhere. I want to experience what little I can of the culture for the limited time I have, but to each his own. I’ve seen evidence of that when I find myself accidentally in town on a cruise ship day.

I get that it’s time consuming and unpleasant to have to tender into port from the cruise ship. How many cruise ship passengers, if they knew of the damage it would cause to the reef, would still ask for the docks to be built to do away with the tenders? Okay, maybe I don’t want to know the answer.

I was a little relieved today to read that The Cayman Compass has not yet endorsed the plan.

http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2015/06/10/Cruise-berthing–Pros-and-cons-begin-to-crystallize/

There are  arguments on both sides, but with no guarantees from the cruise lines that there will be more ships coming, why not invest in the overnight tourist trade? Why not invest in preserving what we have?

One thing I know for sure is that we’ll be going to Eden Rock to snorkel as often as we can, while we still can!

 

 

 

Catching a little Cayman Culture

I took my own advice this rainy weekend and my Husband and I went to the National Museum. We’ve been a few times over the years, but the most recent was almost a year ago. The permanent exhibits are worth a visit, and we’re happy to take any interested visitors there. I’ve also recommended it to anyone interested in the history of the Cayman Islands. There is no charge for residents on the first Saturday of the month.

On this visit we only had time to see the current exhibit, Towards 2050, Living in a Sustainable Cayman, and to browse a little in the gift shop. I learned a little bit about the Blue Iguana, or the Blue Dragon as they call it. The Blue Iguana recovery program has a sponsorship or “adopt a blue dragon” program. I thought it would be pretty cool to adopt a blue iguana until I saw the price tag of $500 per year. I could name one for $1000, but what would I call it?

The Blue Iguana lives almost exclusively in protected areas. It is threatened by rats and feral cats, which eat the eggs, and feral dogs. They grow much larger than the common or green iguana and there are some distinguishing features to help recognize which is which. The blue iguana does not have black rings on the tail. They have no spines on the dewlap, the flap under the chin, and they never have the large circular scale on the cheek. Those features would all indicate a green iguana.

The population of the Blue Iguana was at one time estimated to be fewer than 50! It is the most endangered iguana on earth.

As for the green iguanas, I’m sure there are at least 50 living in this area right around our building and pool right now. I chased a very large green iguana away from the pool today. It was so big it could hardly squeeze itself through the fence, but it sure could move quickly. I’ve seen several smaller ones scurrying off through the shrubbery when I walk by.

The sustainability exhibit also mentioned the idea that Cayman culture is being replaced with the cultures of the many nationalities moving here. I see a very strong Jamaican influence, but North Americans are making their mark. There is a new “Thanksgiving” holiday to mark the end of hurricane season. The long standing Sunday “rest” day is currently under review to allow the opening of certain stores.

What really interested me was the promotion of and growth in the tourist industry. One flyer, describing the couple who had saved up for a vacation on their dream island, encouraged locals to give them a smile. You’ll find that friendly Caymanian attitude to this day! You don’t find people pushing you to buy things on every corner. The staff in the services operated nationally, such as the museum, Pedro St. James and the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden, are unfailingly polite and friendly.

I can’t help comparing Caymanian culture with the Blue Iguana. Both are fascinating and unique, like something time forgot, and both are struggling to survive on an island that is striving to accommodate thousands of visitors daily.

 

What else is there to do here?

When I look across the water towards George Town, I see…nothing! Everything is shrouded in mist, as if I were in the middle of a Gothic novel, or living in Scotland. The fact that it’s actually warm outside should reassure me that I’m still in my Island Paradise, but instead, it’s starting to feel oppressive!

The cruise ships that offer us some entertainment with their comings and goings may or may not be in port. Sometimes the rain lightens up enough to show us the outlines of what look like ghost ships.

It must be very depressing to come into port when it’s like this, or even worse, to be here for a vacation for a week when it’s like this. The thunder storms will prevent any water activity. NO stingrays, no snorkeling, no diving.

I know, because I’ve been coming here for four years and living here off and on, that there are things to do when it rains. It’s not “the dream” but it’s better than sitting in the internet cafe waiting for the rain to stop. I would like to offer a few rainy day suggestions.

Pedro St. James is a mostly indoor tour and includes a cleverly produced”multi-sensory 3D presentation” which covers the history of the building and in some ways, the island and slavery in the Cayman Islands. You can tour the grounds and building and if it isn’t too stormy you can look out over the ironshore and enjoy the sight of the breakers on the south shore.

http://www.keytocayman.com/content/452/pedro-st-james

The National Museum is another way to spend some quality time indoors. Your visit starts with a short film about the people and history of Cayman. They have several permanent exhibits and one area devoted to changing exhibits. The gift shop is a great place to buy jewelry made of Caymanite, the local stone.

http://www.museum.ky/

The National Gallery is home to the National Collection of Caymanian art, as well as changing exhibits of local and international pieces. The outside entrance passes through a sculpture garden and to one side there is a labyrinth.

https://www.nationalgallery.org.ky/aboutusngci

The car museum in West Bay, the Cayman Motor Museum, is unfortunately closed for renovations over the summer months. This is the private collection of Andreas Ugland, which he has chosen to share with the Cayman Islands and visitors to the island.  I’ve been twice and it’s a must see for car lovers, if you should be lucky enough to be here when it’s open!

http://www.caymanmotormuseum.com/about-cmm/the-history

I know you can see a movie almost anywhere, but if you’ve been to the museums, the gallery and Pedro St. James and it’s still raining, there is a cinema in Camana Bay showing new release movies. The Cayman Drama Society does a variety of live performances throughout the year if you’re looking for evening entertainment beyond the clubs. That said, many hotels and resorts do have regular entertainment planned, so check out what is going on at the various resorts.

I really hope you don’t need any more rainy day suggestions than that! I hope that if you’re ever on this beautiful island, that you will be blessed with the weather to do whatever you’re dreaming of doing and to enjoy the sun and sea!

 

 

 

TGIF still happens

Friday! There is something about Fridays that stayed with me long after I had to work Monday to Friday. When our kids were young, Friday was my day to get the paper, read the entertainment section and do the crossword. I’d go to the video store and pick out two movies: one to watch with the family and one for the adults to watch when the kids were in bed. We’d all make pizza together and set up the TV tables and have Family Pizza and Movie Night. We still do that sometimes, without the kids. It’s more like Couple Pizza and Movie Night. If either one of our kids is visiting, it’s grown up Family Pizza and Movie Night.

Fridays in our new life are a clean start, literally. For the past four years I’ve known when it’s Friday, because without fail, someone shows up and cleans the pool deck and all the sidewalks and landings. Later, a crew from a pool service shows up and cleans the pool. Somehow, no matter how dirty the pool may be, no matter how many leaves have found their way in and how many iguanas have had their way, those guys can get the pool clean! I so look forward to that first swim in the freshly cleaned pool.  Maybe I look forward to it a little too much.

Last week I had a busy week running errands and getting the car serviced while my husband was in Canada visiting family. I had big plans for Friday, or rather NO plans. I was going to sit on the deck for meals and do some writing while watching for the pool guys to come, so I could jump in as soon as they were done. I’d swim my lengths, then sit by the pool, reading a good book, occasionally jumping back in to cool off.

I should never plan anything here, or at least I should have a Plan B.

Last Friday, the pool guys didn’t show up. “It’s Friday!” I kept telling myself. I got a lot done, watching for them all day. When I finally gave up, put my goggles on and started my swim in the unclean pool, I had about 10 minutes before the rain started. I know, I was already wet, but I’m always cautious about being in water when there is a chance of lightning. By the time I got out of the pool, within seconds, my towel was soaked. I waited in the rain to make sure there was nothing electrical happening. When the sky cleared a little, I finished my swim. I didn’t sit outside with my book, which I’d fortunately left inside, or it, too would be soaked.  I came inside and showered, didn’t feel like driving to the video store for a movie and didn’t feel like making pizza for myself. My Friday was not exactly how I’d planned. It was okay, but why didn’t they clean the pool? It was FRIDAY!

All week I kept hoping they would come and clean the pool, maybe on a different day. By Tuesday, I gave up hope and watched the sheets of rain fill the pool to the brim.The rain has hardly stopped since then.  At least the rain water is diluting the filth.

Today the sky was clear in the morning, long enough for me to swim lengths. The pool hasn’t been cleaned yet, almost another week later, but no more iguanas have come to visit. The thing about rain water is that it’s pretty cool. The pool is heated by the sun and we haven’t had much sun for three days. I had to remind myself that I’m Canadian! I can take a little cold! The swim felt great, and oh, so refreshing!

The rain is coming down again. Every now and then it starts raining harder, just to remind me that it’s still raining. I’m pretty sure there are flood warnings, and the mosquitoes are going to be horrific when this rain stops. I’m trying to be productive while I’m “trapped” indoors. Still, I watch for my opportunity to be out in that pool. I can accept it when nature messes up my routine, but this is where spontaneity comes in.

Tomorrow is another Friday. Maybe the pool will get cleaned. If it does I’ll go out and bask in the cleanliness,  but I won’t plan my day around it. I will plan to pick up a movie and make a pizza, just for old times’ sake.