A Typical Day in Retirement

Some of you may wonder what Kris and Doug are doing with all their time. You may imagine us spending our days laying around the beach and drinking painkillers. Weelll, that isn’t entirely true. We have the usual household chores just like the rest of you.

My day begins with a cup of tea on the deck, sometimes I even get to watch the sunrise as I do my Bible study devotional.

100_2583I help Nathan feed the animals.

Minew

Minew

Minew, the inside-outside cat.

Minew was adopted first, or should I say she adopted Nate and Alisa. She gets preferential treatment, comes inside, goes to the vet, gets her ears cleaned, all that good kitty stuff. Sometimes she sits at the screen door so Hobo can see she’s inside and he’s on the outside.

Hobo the outside cat.

Hobo on the boat

Hobo on the boat

Hobo also adopted Nate and Alisa. However, the pact had been made that there would only be one cat in the house. Therefore, Hobo is an outside only cat. He gets better treatment than if he had never adopted this new home. He is regularly well-fed  and gets his ears and back scratched whenever he wants. He doesn’t like being held and when he rubs on you for an ear and back scratching you never know when he’ll turn, bite you and bat you with his paws. Really, it’s more of a playful love bite.

Frank the tortoise.

Frank lives on the side of the house in an herb garden withFrank the Tortoise mint, thyme and rosemary and a volunteer tomato plant. Most of the time he stays in his little house but you may catch him out for a walk mid-day. He likes kale and loves watermelon and mango.

Then I try to get in a little workout; yoga on the deck and a walk on the beach.

walk

Once back home we have the usual chores of: sweeping the decks (the jungle is always shedding leaves),

Sweeping the steps

Sweeping the steps

cleaning all the sand from the car,

Sand in the car

Sand in the car

doing laundry,   doing laundry

and cleaning up the gardens.

Just a bit of our clean-up

Just a bit of our clean-up

Most recently Doug and Nathan have been hard at work on a kitchen project. They re-configured the island around the stove and tiled the post and counter. You may notice the back counters and finishing work is still left to do.  Tileed counter

However, our friends from Washington are coming today so we’re going back to vacation mode! Hurray!

I’ll post again in a couple weeks. I’m sure there will be new adventures to report.

Enjoy a beautiful day in paradise wherever you may be.

Night Sounds

Coming to a new area always brings new experiences. Night time in St Thomas is no exception.

Imagine night has fallen after a full day playing in the sun and water or working around the yard, cutting back jungle, washing windows, or working out.

Your body is ready to rest. As you fall into bed you feel the cool breeze off the ocean, the support of the mattress, the release. Ahhhhh.

You settle in.

Your body is feeling heavy, letting go.

Your breathing slows.

Then it starts.

At first it sounds like birds singing early on a spring morning amplified by 10.

yellow belly bird

Yet, you know birds don’t sing at night. The sound is right outside your window.

It’s the call of tree frogs, lizards, geckos, chameleons, iguanas, crickets, bats and more. The jungle comes alive at night.

geck on stepHard to believe thesiguana at beache little guys can make so much noise!

green iguana close

Follow this link and you’ll hear tree frog sounds and get an idea of what we’re experiencing; http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/species/frogs/coqui_at_lava_tree_20001003_long.mpg.

The sounds are intensified after a rain. It seems to rain a little most every night.

In the early, early morning, as the night slowly turns to day the jungle sounds begin to subside. Should you awaken, you notice the absence of the night sounds and know you have a couple more hours until full daylight.

You fall back into the blissfully deep early morning sleep.

Shortly thereafter, the feral rooster begins to announce the start of a new day.

Welcoming the day

Welcoming the day

The beauty is, it doesn’t take long to become accustomed to the songs of the night and sleep again comes quickly and deeply.

In fact, there are nights after dinner where we sit on the deck in the dark just to listen to the songs of the jungle as we watch the moon and clouds.

moon and clouds 4

The Boat

Doug had always dreamed of having a boat in retirement. It fit his goal of living in Mexico and fishing whenever he wanted. It’s a good dream.

In spite of the fact that Doug has always said boats are a bottomless pit, this is still his dream. Those who’ve owned/own a boat know about the expense and time involved. We had a ski boat back in the Blackfoot, Idaho days. We had lots of fun with that boat. And maintenance and time.

Dream Boat 2

Dream Boat

Nathan has a 17 foot fishing boat with a 60 hp Johnson. He and Doug were looking forward to doing some fishing. First there were a couple boat related things to take care of.

So, Nate took a couple days off work to spend with us and get the boat squared away so we could do some fishing. It’s a long, long weekend considering Columbus Day on Monday. The goal was to get the boat in the water for some fishing over the weekend.

Nate's boat

Nate’s boat

The past few days have been spent preparing the boat to launch.

Buying the parts and building a bimini top to protect from the sun.

Charging the batteries.

Connecting the new radio.

Making sure fishing gear is ready and in order.

Things are looking good. Sticking with the plan to take the boat for a ride Sunday AM. Pick up the batteries charging at AutoZone at 8 AM and we’re good to go.

Saturday the weather is a bit sketchy. Cloudy and windy and even some rain. Hopefully it’ll be okay tomorrow for a little boat ride.

thunder clouds 001

Sunday comes. Weather still sketchy, water looks a bit rough, more wave action than we’ve had to date. Yet, weather changes quickly in the VI.

Re-load the boat. Safety equipment. Anchor. Ladder. Fishing gear. Cooler. Gas Tanks. Check, check, check. Hook up the newly charged batteries. Check.

Run a motor check. Nice. Sounds good.

Switch off the engine.

Re-start.

Nothing.

The wind is still blowing strong. It’s looking pretty bleak out over the water, blue-grey, hazy, even some rain.

Now what’s with the motor?? Mechanical? Electrical?

Ahhh, the joys of boat ownership. Let’s watch the Seahawks and eat wings.

loading up the game

Boat ownership, what a dream! Must be worth it.

The weather wasn’t cooperating to take the boat out anyway.

Calling in reinforcement!ReinforcementsThere will be another day…

Nate's boat

Nate’s boat

Ramblings of an Old Man

Anyone who knows us realizes that “Kris & Doug’s Retirement Adventures” has been the sole effort of only one of us to date.  I have been a bit reticent to participate.  Heck, I can always shoot you an e-mail or give you a call and actually talk to you!!  Truth be told it has always been a difficult task for me to put thoughts to paper and while I always feel better after having done so, I will avoid it at all costs, kind of like working out.

Doug on deck

So, a few thoughts;

In an attempt to overstate the obvious, the tropics are hot and humid.  The weather has taken a subtle shift to the cooler side of things since our arrival in St. T three weeks ago, but it is still very possible to just stand in place and sweat like a teenager before their first prom date.

This place is a contradiction in many ways.  You go from the stunning beaches with their turquoise blue waters that are everywhere to the inner island which gives you the sense of being in an industrial area in decline, like South Seattle.  There are poor neighborhoods everywhere, the roads are narrow with no shoulders and full of man eating pot holes.

Island time is pervasive here.  I am sure some of you understand the concept, but for the uninitiated, things aren’t as regimented as they are in the states.  Waiting becomes an art form here.  Island time applies to most everything here with the exception of driving.  Put a local in a car and they become a NASCAR driver 3 days late to their own funeral.  I don’t get it, the island is only 15 miles wide, the roads are steep (we’re talking mountain goat terrain) and full of curves and yet most of the drivers seem to have a death wish.

st thomas 002

This place is a jungle!!  Vegetation encroaches everywhere.  It is full of wildlife, mostly birds, tree frogs and lizards ( including pick-up sized Iguanas).  One of the more challenging things I have had to adapt to is after enjoying the beauty of the daily sunsets, the jungle symphony starts.  The lizards and frogs become very vocal at night.  Some of you who know me have accused me of exaggerating from time to time, something I just don’t understand, but it is difficult to describe just how loud the night time is.  I have actually resorted to using ear plugs at night.  Something I have never done before.

This place is an island and it is easy to see how “rock fever” could settle in after awhile.  There are only so many places you can go, supplies are limited and expensive and if you want to have something shipped, forget it.  The time and cost are both something you can’t afford.

Enough of me for now.  I’ll try and weigh in from time to time but I am still transitioning to my retirement and that requires the majority of my focus for now.  Speaking of which, I need to pack a cooler and head to the beach.

Kris' iPhone pix 087

A Confident Heart

This post is a bit off the track I’ve taken so far, then again, it’s not off topic. We’re working on ‘navigating a new way’ and this definitely applies.

Moving to a new area brings with it several challenges, one of which is to find a worship community. That hasn’t been easy here on St Thomas. This week I am embarking on a new journey; an online Bible study through the Proverbs 31 Ministries (http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/) called A Confident Heart. It’s a new adventure and a new way.

Excited Newbie

This is my first online Bible study. In July, my husband and I retired. In August we sold everything, including our home, and are now transients, or ‘homeless’ as some affectionately call us. Since then we’ve been spending time with our adult children and their families in Mill Creek WA, Portland, OR and now St Thomas, USVI. We plan to continue traveling for the next few years. Next stop Merida, Mx.

Finding a worship community or a way to remain grounded in our faith without a specific physical church is one of the new challenges we are navigating. When I heard about the Proverbs 31 online Bible study I was excited to learn of a place where I can be guided through a Bible study, do it on my schedule and join with other women who love Jesus. We are designed to be in community, to share, encourage, support, nurture and grow together in our love for each other and the Lord. This will be a great opportunity and a new adventure to navigate. Many thanks to the many women who have designed and continue to work on this project.

A Confident Heart

Night Hunt

We had the welcome opportunity to go with Nate on a night dive for lobster. Night diving for lobster means snorkeling, yes, free diving, holding your breath as you dive into twelve foot plus deep water, then using your little flashlight to hunt around under the ledges of coral and rocks. And, when you spy one of the spiny buggers deciding if you have enough room and time and air in your lungs to reach into the dark mini-cave before the critter escapes.

The night was dark with a sliver of a moon. The surf was calm with the waves slowly and methodically reaching for our toes as we sat waiting in the dark on the beach. It’s true; Nate and his buddy went without us. We enjoyed God’s light show while sipping our “painkillers” as the hunters were at work in the deep. Occasionally we would see the flash of a small light about a quarter of a mile off the beach toward the end of the reef. After about two hours the light slowly began approaching the beach. We heard their voices before we could see them approaching in the dark of the night.

Success! They had bagged 10 lobsters, 1 spiny and 9 slipper lobster. It’ll be a good dinner tomorrow.

lobsters 10-8

Maybe, maybe, maybe if I practice diving deep in the daylight I’ll go out on the next night dive. Do I have the courage??

mom n lobsters

Good Morning

Nate's back yard

Nate’s back yard

It’s a jungle out here. Vegetation is green, growing constantly and surrounds us everywhere. We’ve been told it isn’t so during the dry season. We’re here during hurricane season. Every day there are darker fluffy clouds that float by.

Yesterday we had rain. Sitting at the pool the wind began picking up as the clouds rolled in. Suddenly it was raining, at first a light mist, then a downpour. It wasn’t cold. We moved under cover more to protect our electronics than to get out of the rain. It didn’t last long, maybe less than 5 minutes but everything was wet. This was repeated about three times. I was wondering if the trees at the beach would keep the electronics dry enough. Maybe we’ll have a chance to check that out. Later in the afternoon we had rumblings of thunder.

While at Magen’s Beach the clouds covered from side to side of the bay, yet the sun shown and we never experienced the rain. It did look to be pretty stormy out on the ocean at the mouth of the bay.

The local road crews are constantly at work cutting back the overgrowth along the roads. Orange cones are placed on the road to alert drivers. The workers are typically in teams of four; two men hold the blue tarp along the side of the road, a third uses a weed-eater and stands behind the tarp to cut back the brush on the roadside, the fourth man watches or supervises.

thunder clouds 001

Most of the rain must be occurring at night. We awaken to wet decks and more flowers in bloom.

st thomas flowers 001

And more flowers

st thomas flowers 005st thomas flowers 008