Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Local’ Category

Thursday, 19 February 2015
Hello to all. All well here in Villa Vasquez, Dominican Republic. We’ve almost completed our first week and with no mishaps. The team (Hancock County Medical Mission) left Maine ahead of a major snowstorm and arrived smoothly. I came to the DR three days earlier with wife Jeri’s team, caught up with old friends in San Pedro de Macorís and saw how much the school Colegio Moriah and the Haitian Baptist church had grown since I was last there. On Saturday I met my own team members as they arrived at the airport.

We’re working in two medical groups as usual: the surgical team, which works every day in the local hospital and hardly sees the tropical sun, and the clinic team which goes by bus each day out to small farming villages and shamefully gets sunburned while doing general family medicine and occasional referrals to the surgical team or to Dominican specialists. Teo and Frida, the MMI directors, are also MDs and are treating patients. I’m translating for an MD named Ron from Saskatchewan, Canada.

Most of the days we set up clinic in school buildings, usually a kind of sprawling affair of long rooms separated by courtyards, secure for kids and also for a medical team. We’ve seen some beautiful places along the way, one of them about 1000 feet up with a view of the sea. Not too hot here, mid-eighties, and comfortable nights sleeping. Good hotel, concrete and tile with running water (usually) but no hot showers and no wi-fi. We eat in a rented house about four blocks away, meals cooked by MMI staff (that’s Medical Ministry International, our hosts) and the hospital is a few blocks from there, so it’s easy to walk around. Small town, easy to walk from one side to another, and friendly. We’ve gotten to know a few people in town—Andrea, the lady who owns the pizza place (best wi-fi AND best pizza around) and she speaks good English because she comes and goes from New Jersey.  Antonio, the security guard here at the hotel is also very friendly and we aren’t at all intimidated by the stockless shotgun that he carries around like a cane. Very talkative, and these people are great to learn from. Besides ourselves I don’t think we’ve seen anybody from the United States except for a woman with the Peace Corps. Villa Vasquez NOT a tourist destination.

Farming country nearby, lots of bananas, rice fields, and on today’s trip some tobacco. Sugar, but not so much in this area. Saw a few kinds of cactus on the ride today, and that area was very dry¸ many buildings with gutters and pipes set up to collect rainwater in cisterns. Old fashioned outhouses at the school where we worked today, and in some ways this is a step up from the proper flush toilets at the hospital—I’m told that there was no water at all there today and they had to lug buckets when the toilets got too foul.

Typical surgeries include hernia repair, gall bladder removal, lumpectomies. Probably other major surgeries like hysterectomies and tubal ligation but I’m not with that team this year [update: Charlie just confirmed all of the above, but said “lots of hernias”]. The hospital in Villa Vasquez has an OB unit so there have been two or three childbirths each day. Sarra, one of our scholarship students, has been with the surgical team, working pre-op and post-op, and has seen a few newborns, although not the births themselves. Taylor, our other student, has been with the clinic team and working with integrated health, which works as a waiting area after patients have seen the doctors and while prescriptions are being filled. During that time they receive a lesson in health care and hygiene and a gospel message, then instructions about taking their medications when the meds are ready. Taylor has been translating and assisting and she clearly loves kids. Also, there are three other teenage girls on the trip from Virginia. All are rooming together with an adult, an OB surgeon, to keep things on the level.

Food great, by the way. The MMI cooks have been doing this a long time. No chance of losing weight, especially with the pizza place as the wi-fi hot spot. Breakfasts include eggs, maybe bacon or sausage, fruit, choice of cereals and the best granola except for Jeri’s. We start breakfast with a praise song and close it with a short devotional by whoever had volunteered. My turn was this morning, and it was on Psalm 100. We also start the work day with an introduction to the people we’ll be treating, with a “circle time” that includes the song “Alabaré” (I will praise) and a prayer. The key is to be brief because it can be a long day.

I’ll close now, go over to the pizza place to connect and (try) to send this. Charlie and the gang are already over there. This time of evening I’ll walk past a bunch of older men playing dominoes on card tables on the sidewalk. You’d think it was a world-class chess match. Maybe it is, or better.

Thanks for praying. Keep it up for us, would you? See you next week in the snowdrifts.
Ted

PS—Also check out our Facebook page, Hancock County Medical Mission.  Charlie has been posting photos and videos of the OR team.  I’ll try to put this up on my blog, https://fromoffshore.wordpress.com and may include a few of my own photos in a few days.

Read Full Post »

He’s still there…

We thought Triomphe would disappear during yesterday’s Blizzard of ’15.  With a storm surge and northeast winds gusting into hurricane force, even a dead humpback whale should have been pulled off the island.

He washed up on Christmas Day (see blog post of January 5th) just east of the old Coast Guard Station, and the next storm washed him around the point, dropping him in front of the stone wall, right under Frank and Kim’s front porch.

He did move about 75 yards farther out, no longer up against the wall of the Station, and at least he’s well below the high tide line—so another storm may take him out to feed the lobsters.  Unless it’s a southeaster, in which case he may end up in the rosebushes.

Jeri and I hiked down to the Station with Skip and Sally around mid-day; it had just quit snowing and the sun was starting to come out.  Barb joined us along the way (see article in The Working Waterfront about Triomphe, written by Barb).

This is what we saw:

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 011

Jeri

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 019

Jeri, Skip & Sally

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 025

Barb joined us.

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 026

A lot easier walking on the wet sand

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 034

Triomphe

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 042

Baker’s Island in the distance

Seagull footprints in his ribbed underbelly

Seagull footprints in his ribbed underbelly

Photos - 2015 Jan blizzard & whale 043

Read Full Post »

This will work if you’re a Gilbert & Sullivan fan, or if you’re familiar with theModern Major General song from The Pirates of Penzance, “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” (even if you don’t remember where it came from).

As for the biblical philology stuff, I used to hang around people who did this, so yeah, it’s funny if you’re into that stuff too. In fact, it’s hilarious.

Laugh. Or not. The back button is at the upper left.

By the way, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Maine will be doing Yeomen of the Guard this year at The Grand in Ellsworth, Feb 6, 7 & 8.

Read Full Post »

Eight degrees below zero this morning (that’s Fahrenheit; it’s -22 to those of you in the Celsius countries). Northwest wind and sea smoke and the mailboat cancelled all runs today.

Facebook is lit up with people wondering what happened to global warming.

It’s winter, folks. It’s supposed to get cold. The summers in the Arctic are what could become the problem: what’s melted and what’s not. Today, nothing’s melted; everything up there is good and frozen as it’s supposed to be, and some of it’s blowing this way.

Here is a lesson from the British on how to understand the phenomenon. Study it. It could keep you out of jail.

Read Full Post »

*and a cat.

Jeri and I have been married 35 years today and it looks like we’ll make a go of it. Jeri & Ted 35th anniversary brt It was chilly and breezy today, but not as cold as the 5th of January 1980—cold as a dog and the wind no’th-east, as Ruth Moore would say.  I have cousins here in Maine who still complain about how cold it was on the island the day we got married—and they go ice fishing and snowmobiling for fun. Today the wind was northwest, a clear dry wind, pulling arctic air after yesterday’s storm—but the temperature hadn’t fallen much below freezing after the warm southeaster—so it was a pleasant enough walk on the back beach.  We decided to take a few photos of the dead 36-foot humpback whale that washed up on Christmas Day.

Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 041

Left to right: Triomphe, Jeri

Triomphe, as he was called, was identified last week by members of Allied Whale and the College of the Atlantic.  He was born seven years ago in the Dominican Republic and likely would have gone back there this winter.  No indication yet as to why he died. How do they know one whale from another?  Barnacles.  Each whale has a unique barnacle pattern, unique as fingerprints; and the ones on the tail are often visible by boat and easily photographed.  Researchers can track migration patterns by comparing photographs from other researchers or even from tourists on a whale watch excursion.

Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 044

Enormous barnacles on Triomphe’s underbelly.

Triomphe had washed ashore here on Little Cranberry Island just to the east of the Old Coast Guard Station (now a summer home) but during the southeaster a couple of nights ago came adrift, made his way around the point (going over Baker’s Island Bar a bit) and nestled up against the stone wall at the foot of the Station.  I think we’ll need a no’theaster to set him adrift completely, but winter is made up of those.  In the meantime, he’s made the front pages of local papers and of course Facebook is fond of him. Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 047

The three on the right came after we got married 35 years ago.  They made the new guy wear a yellow shirt so he'd match.   No whales were harmed in the making of this photo.

The three on the right came after we got married 35 years ago. They made the new guy wear a yellow shirt so he’d match.
No whales were harmed in the making of this photo.

Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 031

Believe it or not, you can see the whale here. Click over the photo, then click again to enlarge. Triomphe is the dark mass just to the right of the stone wall at the Station.

* Here is a picture of the cat:

Little Sal on Heather's bed

Little Sal

Read Full Post »

Out like a lion

March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Or, the other way around. I can’t remember how March came in this year, but that other critter the groundhog saw his shadow on February 2nd and that meant six more weeks of winter. In this case eight, and I don’t think it’s over yet. It’s been one of those “always winter and never Christmas!” kind of seasons, some of us wondering “When is it gonna be over?” and others, more resigned when yet another snowstorm pounds our way, merely saying, “Whatever.”

No crocuses up yet, but a few robins and cardinals have flown our way. And a couple more winter storms to the westward. I checked the real-time composite satellite weather image a few minutes ago and this is what showed up. The swirl on the right, just leaving Maine, is the second of two storms this past week. It looks like a couple of days of good weather mid-week and two more storms to follow.

2014 late march storms

Read Full Post »

Young doctor goes to Alaska to find himself, also to pay off his medical school debt. There’s a story in there somewhere.

In the case of Northern Exposure, the TV series back in the early ’90s, the youngNorthern Exposure - Joel and moose doc was Joel Fleischman, who clearly found himself out of his east-coast element and refused to conform to his new environment.

In another story, currently in progress, the doc is a young woman from an island off the coast of Maine, who finds Alaska somewhat her element, only more so. Bigger. Farther. Colder, and darker. She was too little back in the early ’90s to stay up with Mom and Dad and watch the TV show, and she has no idea what I’m talking about.

Darkness. Yes, that’s partly what it’s about this time of year, especially nearer to the Arctic Circle. Stay indoors under the fluorescent lights of the hospital and you’ll never know the difference, but your brain will burn out. Get out under the stars, under the moon, light a bonfire, a Swedish torch, make a snow lantern and email a photo of it to Sarah and Dick. Do something out in the cold and feel alive. After tonight Spring is on the way.

Light. That’s what it’s really about. Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. The menorah gets lit, the Advent candles too. Jesus is the light of the world, we remind ourselves at Christmas. God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.

The earlier years of Northern Exposure gave us some of the best TV around, and no doubt the series aided Alaska’s tourism. Great character development, great story lines, great scenery, fun-loving Tlingit people.

Here in the video Chris, the part-time philosopher and full-time disc-jockey at KBHR Radio, hosts the turning of the season from darkness into light. It’s makeshift, it’s a fire warden’s nightmare, but it’s a party.

Plug in the Christmas tree lights and have an eggnog. Spring is on the way.

Read Full Post »

“A painter first, and a musician second.”  This is how Joni has described herself, but what a musician!  SheJoni Mitchell 2 has also said that her music  was meant at first to pay her way through art school and to buy cigarettes.  Her voice has lowered over the years, possibly from smoking, although she might say it was from age.  Her incredible vocal range has narrowed, but she still dazzles in torch singing and jazz.

My first awareness of Joni’s music was in 1971 while lobster fishing as a teenager with my father.  That summer, the coolest song that ever came over that boring old AM radio station (I think Dad kept it on only so he wouldn’t miss Paul Harvey News) began with the lyrics, “The wind is in from Africa; last night I couldn’t sleep” and it turned out to be Joni’s song “Carey”.  I re-discovered it a few years ago with her “Blue” CD, and recently I’ve burned a copy and listen in the car.  It’s new every time I hear it.

Joni Mitchell - olderLobstering on my own now, I’ve since made a fan out of at least one crew member, a friend from Switzerland—there was a folk program that used to come on every week (different radio station, and sadly no more Paul Harvey) and the host would open each time with a Joni Mitchell song.  I’d shove the poor guy out of my way and scramble for the volume knob and crank it up.  He got the hint and bought me her “Travelogue” CD for Christmas, just released that year and featuring her artwork and music about the September 11 tragedy.

Joni Mitchell painting - window

Self-portrait

Joni’s  lyrics really grab my attention.  She writes about life—joys and sorrows, broken relationships, and having fun (“Come on down to the Mermaid Café and I will buy you a bottle of wine, and we’ll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down”).  Growing up conservative, the smashing of wine glasses didn’t make sense, but by now I can appreciate the act in the song at least (still, who is supposed to clean that up?).  Like good literature, she says more with fewer words, painting a picture in the mind (if not on canvas), whether writing about giving her baby up for adoption (“Little Green”) or breaking up with a man, possibly Leonard Cohen (“Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine; you taste so bitter and so sweet.  Oh, I could drink a case of you darling, and I would still be on my feet”), or worrying about a friend mixed up in the occult (“I think of rain, I think of roses blue; I think of Rose, my heart begins to tremble, to see the place she’s lately gotten to, gotten to, gotten to”).

I’m less conservative now, or perhaps more so; and I see grace in more places than I used to because God’s in charge of it and he’s not as stingy as we are.  Joni’s music points me to the joy and caring and truth that only comes from grace, whether she is aware of it or not.  Oh, there are other musicians that do that for me too, some of Joni Mitchell - at easelthem unfit to mention (some might think) in a conversation about grace; but this is Joni’s three-score and ten and I thank God she’s made it this far.

The video was recorded in 1970.  She describes her role in Woodstock the year before:  she didn’t make it there,  but wrote this song that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young made famous.

  

 

Read Full Post »

I may get in trouble for this, but it’ll be with all the right people.

Today I got a belated Fathers Day present—a flag decal, and I rushed right out and pasted it on the back window of my Ford Ranger truck.  Nothing more patriotic than that.

No, it’s not a U.S. flag decal, there are already enough of those around; but it’s one that Sarah Palin would bealaska flag proud of nevertheless, and she may even have one of these on a GMC Yukon Denali, right alongside Old Glory.

Daughter Number One moved to Anchorage, Alaska a few weeks ago and sent me this sticker of the Alaska state flag—a simple and elegant design, with the Big Dipper and North Star.  Pasting it on the truck I felt like a kid again, when my parents received their copy of the Readers Digest, probably back in ’68 or so, when the magazines were stuffed with U.S. flag decals and sent to an appreciative public.  Not knowing any of the politics behind this (at the innocent age of 12) I rushed out (as I did today, less innocently, at 57) and pasted their decal on the side window of my dad’s 1961 Peugeot 404, the very car I learned to drive in.  Ah, Peugeot 404 1961memories.

This would have been a whole lot more patriotic (in 1968, to support the war effort) if the car had been a Chevy or a Ford (and not a Peugeot), but Dad had got a deal on the Peugeot, and this was decades before the French fell out of grace by not wanting to bomb Iraq with us.  A second time.

Come to think of it, it was the French not wanting to bomb Vietnam anymore that got us into war in the in the first place, back in the ’60s.  Remember?  French Indo-China?

John PrineWhich leads to my second topic—to prove I’m not rambling—a song about pasting a flag decal (that had fallen out of a Readers Digest) onto the windshield of one’s car (back in 1968 or so, and probably it was a Chevy) along with the patriotism, and a theology, involved in that act.

by John Prine:   “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”

(They’re already overcrowded from yer dirty little war / Now Jesus don’t like killin’ no matter what the reasons for / and your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore).

If I get in trouble for this it’ll be worth it.  And I got more of this stuff, too.

Read Full Post »

This photo was taken last year in the Cayambe region.  Note the traditional clothing worn by the women.  There are many indigenous people in the higher elevations and we have loved working with them during our trips to the north of Ecuador.  They are extremely friendly and their kids are suspiciously well-behaved.

The non-Ecuadorian to the right of the photo is my daughter Marya, who had just finished her third year at Tufts University School of Medicine and was getting some experience treating patients.  She speaks Spanish better that I do, so I didn’t need to translate for her.

marya.enhanced - mary o photo

Read Full Post »

Breeze

Gusts to 60 knots today.  I took the camera out for a look, also to check on the Hope, having no intention of rowing off aboard but I suppose I could have if I’d wanted to (living on an island it’s important to think that you could get somebody to the mainland in an emergency).

I’m also checking out this mini-laptop that I’ll be taking to Ecuador next week.  I’ve put the camera’s SD card into the computer, and if I can upload photos directly to my blog, life will be swell.

Here goes with the photos.  The Hope, like Where’s Waldo, shows up in most of them.

DSC_0377

View from the bait shed at the Co-Op. Like a wind tunnel in there. Bend the knees.

DSC_0381

DSC_0392

View from the Learys’ porch

DSC_0394

Stefanie, Under Pressure, and Joanne Louise

DSC_0409

Toward sunset. Much quieter.

DSC_0414

DSC_0415

The back beach around noon.  The old coast guard station is somewhere beyond the salt spray.  Not a good environment for a camera.

The back beach around noon. The old coast guard station is somewhere beyond the salt spray. Not a good environment for a camera.

It seems to have worked. Any suggestions for blogging in the bush will be welcome.  I think the photos are too large (nearly 5 megabytes each) for the Ecuadorian web, so I’ll change the settings on the camera.  Like many things, it’s nice to think I can do something if I have to.

Read Full Post »

President Obama’s inauguration gets bumped to second page, with Great Cranberry Island’s Gary AllenGary Allen 2 storming the Capitol steps this evening.

Gary began his 700-mile run two weeks ago, on the top of Cadillac Mountain here in Acadia National Park.  It’s hard on the knees running downhill from 1600 feet to sea-level, and harder still with 695 miles to go.  But Gary did it—not quite in time to steal the show from the president, but there will be more photos and interviews tomorrow, so stay tuned.

And he’ll meet with both of Maine’s senators tomorrow, after  a few beers and a good night’s sleep.

Meantime, read in the Bangor Daily and view a slide show:  http://bangordailynews.com/slideshow/maine-marathoner-running-to-d-c-for-charity/

Why in the world would Gary do this?  50 miles a day for 15 days?  Well, if you’ve known Gary for as long as I have, or run a few miles with him, you’d have your answer.  It’s something like climbing Everest:  because it is there, and because he could.

And since he was doing it anyway, Gary has been raising a few bucks for worthy causes:

— American Cancer Society

— Wounded Warriors

— Sandy Hook victims

You can pledge right now by going to http://www.maine2dcrun.com/ and choosing at least one of these worthy causes.  And get more news of Gary while there.

Next stop the Today Show?  or maybe Letterman…  But Gary will still have time to come back to Cranberry Island and spend time with the rest of us.

Gary Allen at Capitol

Gary Allen arrives in Washington on Inauguration Day after 700-mile run from Bar Harbor, Maine. President Obama no longer in the news.

Read Full Post »

Thanks to my old friend Joey Marshall for this cartoon, and to the Mount Desert Islander who subsidizes his habit.

See related article in this week’s paper by editor Earl Brechlin, who appears to be a skeptic.

Mayan endtimes - Joe Marshall cartoon

Read Full Post »

Earlier this week I thought about putting up a painting by Marc Chagall to illustrate Hanukkah, but I didn’t seeHenry Isaacs 8 any of Chagall’s that fit what I wanted.  Then the light bulb came on in my head:  my friend Henry Isaacs!  Henry  puts a lot of light onto the canvas and some of his paintings appear three-dimensional.

I met Henry back in the early ‘eighties when I would almost trip over his easel while walking home at night.  That was during his phase of painting under street lights and in moonlight.  Even though he painted in the dark in those days, the light would pour out from behind the canvas in the completed painting.

Henry also shares his talent, and there may be a spot for you in his September 2013 plein air workshop on Little Cranberry Island, co-directed with Ashley Bryan.  For more paintings, or info about the workshop, see his website henryisaacs.com or find him on FaceBook at Henry Isaacs Studios.

Henry Isaacs 5

Henry Isaacs 6

Henry Isaacs 2

Henry Isaacs 4

Henry Isaacs 7

Read Full Post »

If I had a Facebook page…

Rainy Saturday at home.  Fresh hot bread and reading with the cat on my lap.  Woo-hooo!!!

Very undignified.  That’s IF I had a Facebook page.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »