Wednesday, September 30, 2009

so hot right now

The other night we went on a walk along Crooks Castle, a rocky beach on the southwestern side of Statia, hoping to find a blue bead. Some people live here for years and never find a single one, but others have no trouble at all. We didn't succeed, but it was a beautiful night and Jon had just received a new haircut, so I forced him out into the ocean to go sit on a rock for a picture.

Will you admire that hair? A work of art. No one short of amazing could have given a haircut that awesome.

Monday, September 28, 2009

and he kept right on preaching

At church on Sunday, Jon and I shared a couch and the cat tried to eat the Sacrament bread. Laura taught the Primary lesson. She displayed this picture of Noah and explained that he was crying repentance to the people.

Laura: How do you think the people responded to him?
9-year-old-Sophia: They laughed at him, they pointed at him...
5-year-old-Charles: They threw AXES at him!!!

PS - There are 8 Mormons on the island. Four of them are children. We meet in Ed and Laura's living room. I gave a talk last week.

[image from the archive on]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Photo Miscellany

I took this one on our first walk, but for some reason or another didn’t post it with the others I took that same day. We’ve asked a few people what exactly this thing is, but no one has been able to tell us anything about it other than it’s for runoff during rainstorms. But when was it built?? Why does it look like an Aztec temple?! Try using the buildings at the top of the picture to gage size – this thing is enormous.

My bread!! Second attempt turned out alright.

I love snorkeling.

I TAKE THIS PILL TWICE A DAY. Some people right now are like, “So, who cares? That’s the stupidest thing anyone has ever written about. I’m never reading this blog again”, but a handful of people are cheering for me. As a general rule, I don’t take pills, and especially not ones that are bigger than my pinky fingernail. As my mom reads this right now, she’s being flooded with horrible memories of me turning all panicky and desperate every time I was required to take an antibiotic. And Jon is currently remembering that time he had to hold my hand while I got the most excruciating shot in my butt after the doctor showed me the only alternative: a pill the size of Saturn. I HAD NO CHOICE.

This is Jon walking down Rosemary Lane. Sorry for the extreme sunlight – the street runs west towards the Caribbean sea and we’ve taken to getting the next day’s groceries in the evening now (as opposed to our previous method of just not ever getting any groceries unless we had a ride). It’s really hot. A special thanks to Kimley-Horn for the free "Caring and Sharing" shirts. We have a matching set.

Would this post be complete without one of these? Please note the rain out on the ocean. Best sunset so far. Wish you were here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Shake Shack is so far away

I’m going to tell you something. At the end of our first week here, I broke down crying as the direct result of a TGIFriday’s commercial (I wanted that burger so bad) and the fact that there was an unknown animal living in my kitchen (we’ve since discovered that it’s the World’s Largest Gecko). It’s a different life and I’m still getting used to the way things are. I fight a constant battle with beach sand in my shower. I wash my clothes, my dishes, and my body in rainwater that’s collected off my roof. But you know what? I’ve decided that I love it. It took some adjusting, and I still feel like I’m far outside of my comfort zone, but I really love it.

I had a breakthrough moment the other day. We were sitting together in our living room while Jon watched the game. Through our Taj Mahal curtains I could see the laundry out on the line, swaying in the breeze. I had bread rising in the kitchen. And I was so happy and grateful that I wanted to cry.

Granted, I wasn’t feeling so pleased when I realized that the bread actually DIDN’T rise. It ranked up there with the greatest disappointments of my life, right along with when my mom explained to 10-year-old me that Jesus wasn’t a Mormon. But I figured out what went wrong (two tablespoons is a lot more yeast than you’d think) and I’m trying again today. I might even take a picture, if it turns out alright.

We’ll see about it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Five important things:

1) I. MADE. BREAD. I know! And it was fun, and I can’t wait to do it again. I’d do it right now if we needed it, and if I wasn’t currently so involved in this The Price is Right. (Don’t think this means I have internet at home yet – I just write my blog posts in Word beforehand. Apparently the phone/internet company is “out of modems”, and there’s absolutely no way of knowing when more will arrive. Could be another month. Or two.)

2) Jon is officially Ken-Doll Tan.

3) I have a mild obsession with sunsets. I thought it was a problem in Tucson. Then I moved here.

4) My 8th grade homeroom teacher had the worst breath of any creature on earth. It was like a deadly mix of rotting trachea and dirty diaper. The other night, I woke up in a panic after dreaming that she was talking to me.

5) Remember when Jon got smashed in an elevator? And the building management company kept avoiding us for over a year, then we threatened them seriously with a lawsuit, and all of a sudden they cared? Well we finally worked out a settlement. And I’m very happy with the result. Though I’m not sure if it’s worth a lifetime of Jon sobbing every time he has to take an elevator.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Beachity Beach Beach Beeeach

I loved today. It was Jon’s first break from classes, which started on Tuesday (and are going well, by the way), so we lived it up by sleeping in, making a late breakfast, then hitting the beach. There are a couple of different beaches here, and people reference them mostly by what side of the island they’re on. Half of Statia is bordered by the Atlantic ocean, and half by the Caribbean. The Caribbean beaches are great for swimming and snorkeling, but we’ve been told that the Atlantic beaches have a dangerous undertow and are best to enjoy from dry land. Some people surf on an Atlantic beach called Zeelandia, claiming that the board is buoyant enough to counteract the current, but I’m not sure if I’ll try it or not. I don’t know. Only two people have ever died there, and at least one of them was wasted when it happened, so I guess I’ll see about it. Anyway, don’t think I’m an expert on Statian beaches – so far we’ve only been to one. It’s the closest to us – about a 20 minute walk down Rosemary Lane. Rosemary Lane! Adorable huh?? We live on it. It’s one of two streets on the island that anyone ever calls by name, and it leads at a steady incline to the volcano (The Quill) so it’s an easy walk down and a very tiring walk back. I’m assuming we’ll get used to the humidity eventually. Supposedly it’s the most humid part of the year right now, being hurricane season and all.

OH MY GOSH, so way back in June, we sent three large boxes of our things to Miami, then the school was supposed to pick it all up in Miami and it was supposed to be waiting for us when we got here BUT IT WASN’T so we’ve been barely scraping by with what was furnished in our house plus a couple of things our friends Ed and Laura loaned to us. The container never came, never came, never came until yesterday, oh blessed day, Frig from the school pulled up in front of the house and brought all of it up to our doorstep. And we spent the next couple of hours unpacking our boxes while exclaiming over every item we’d thought to put in. Since we’d sent it all so long ago, we’d forgotten about most of it and it was like Christmas opening it all up and seeing what we’d sent ourselves. SCISSORS!!! And dental floss! And BATTERIES!!! Anyway, the beach, the BEACH, I went off-topic for a minute, but the reason I mentioned it is because one of the things we bought ahead of time and sent in the container to Miami was snorkel gear. You may know where I’m going with this - okay it’s pretty obvious - we went snorkeling today. It was such a perfectly clear day – the clearest since we’ve been here, so we had to go. I’d forgotten how much I love it. You could totally get addicted to it. So relaxing and beautiful. I saw lots of fish and coral and sea urchins and a crazy old anchor. It was enorm. E-NORM. And classic anchor shape. Like the one in front of Skippers restaurants. Skippers? Anyone? Jon saw a cannon underwater, a CANNON. I’m pretty upset that I missed that one, but there’s always next time.

Anyway, for those of you that only want pictures, here are a few from the last couple days ;-)

Here’s me today at the top of the Slave Path, which leads down to the close beach. I don’t know the whole history behind the path yet, but I do know that it had something to do with slaves, and that it’s very, very steep. And that we saw a tarantula on the wall of it our second day here. That’s all I know about it. Clearly I need to do some research.

Also today: Jon swimming. (Ignore the slant)

Soldier crab at the beach: Kind of like a hermit crab. In fact, it may very well be a hermit crab, just a different name for it. Not sure.

Oh, so this is a picture of a hummingbird, only my camera accidentally focused on the foliage instead, and the hummingbird took off right when I snapped the picture. So, basically, everything went wrong, but I sort of like the picture anyway.

And last but not least, Jon snapped this picture of a sunset the other night from our patio. It was even better in person.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On the way

Getting here was not easy. That isn't an allusion to the trials we overcame while Jon was completing his undergrad, I mean that we missed our connection in Chicago. I don’t really want to talk about it, I’ll just say it involved an incorrect assessment of the time, two hot dogs, and a broken flip-flop. Unfortunately, this mishap landed us in New York about 5 hours after we had originally planned to be there. Annie, whose flight landed minutes after ours did (without us aboard), had to take a cab all by herself to Corinne’s apartment. She’ll recover. My foot, which ran shoeless through Midway, may not.

My sister had a baby. It came out of her womb. And I got to spend 5 days with that little baby in New York City before we headed to the island. She’s the most precious thing I’ve ever seen, plus, she can wink, CHECK IT OUT.

She also does a killer impersonation of John Goodman.

Our days in New York were fun and relaxing. We ate good food, spent time in Central Park, and went to a couple of museums. Here's Jon in the Natural History Museum. He was pretty excited to be there.

Also in the Natural History Museum:

My face adequately sums up how I felt about being shoved out of the secret passageway behind the giant amethyst by a double stroller.

Anyway, I'm posting this at the school and Jon's getting antsy to get home so I have to run. Still no internet! WTH??

PS- for better pictures of baby Ada, check out Corinne and Kyle's friend Josh's photography blog. He photographed Shawn Johnson right before photographing my niece, so I'm pretty much famous.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


St Eustatius! It’s an island, and I live on it. We arrived Wednesday night after a bumpy ride from St Maarten through tropical storm Erika. She tried to have her way with us, but miraculously our flight wasn’t cancelled. We were met at the air strip by Bongo and Frig, two representatives of the school, who magically had a pay-as-you-go cell phone for us as well as the keys to our house. Our living arrangements were coordinated by our friends Ed and Laura, who are the only other Mormon couple on the island, and to whom we are forever grateful. Laura even had food waiting for us when we got to our place – some fruit, milk, cereal, and homemade bread – which was completely unexpected and such a relief after our long day of travel. After dropping us off, Bongo promised he’d return the next morning at 10 to take us on the grand tour of the island. He did finally show up at 1, and we had a great time seeing the sights as he sang along to “Stand by Your Man”. Falsetto parts and all. I felt like a VIP.

Unfortunately, it’s been raining pretty consistently since we got here so we haven’t had the chance to see the town by foot yet, but Laura’s been chauffeuring us to and from her house to use their internet, and to and from the grocery store so we can eat. And to the cable place, and to our landlady’s, and to the internet provider, and on and on. So far, from what I’ve seen of the island, I’m really impressed. It’s not as primitive as I was anticipating. I think I had a fear that it would be like in the Poisonwood Bible, where an American family up and moves to the bowels of the African jungle, and the cake mix intended for their daughter’s sweet sixteen turns to concrete, and their chickens are eaten by carnivorous ants so they starve, and the wife ends up idolizing the only pretty dish they own, and that I’d be that wife, only it would be one of the picture frames we brought, since we don’t have any pretty dishes. And Jon would come home from school and I’d be stroking it and singing to it and stuff. But as it turns out, I can just BUY food, or BUY a picture frame, or a silly oversized Hannah Montana pen. When I found that out, it BLEW MY MIND. Granted, it all costs more than what you’d pay in the states, but I can deal with that.

The island is beautiful. We live at the base of a dormant volcano, which is covered inside and out with lush rainforest, and have a gorgeous view of the ocean and Saba, a nearby island.

We have a wrap-around tiled balcony with two sets of French doors leading out from our living room. The nearest beach is within walking distance, just West of adorable downtown Statia (full of historical Dutch buildings). Am I doing a good job of convincing people to come visit? I’ll just say it. Come visit. You’ll have your own room. We will spray for roaches right before you get here. You will hear bats at night and roosters in the morning. There are goats. Lots of goats, and cows. And lizards. HUGE ones. Iguanas, even.

I’ve got to wrap this up. I’m posting it from Ed and Laura’s house. We’re still working on getting our internet situation worked out and until then I’ll be bouncing back and forth from here and the school library. Thank you EVERYONE for your support. WE. ARE. HERE.