The Ponce Chronicles, Winter 2023—Part 1

Here in Ponce, Puerto Rico, folks have been busy for a while. Allysen and Jayce came down in late January, and Allysen’s brother and a friend joined them, and a little later, their wives. I stayed in Boston with McDuff for that part. When I came down on February 14, everyone except Allysen had gone home, and I caught the baton in midair. Lots to do! (In case you missed the previous installments, this is work on the house that Allysen’s parents built in the 1970s and ultimately retired to.) If you look really closely at the picture above, you can see Allysen in the living room, working away at her job. And here she is, having just heard some horses go by on the hill above.

Some important stuff was already done. Andrew and his friend Paul replaced the two skylights that had blown off in Hurricane Fiona, and the bent gate was fixed, and Allysen and Jayce between them scraped and painted the stairs down from the parking pad. All of which was work I was delighted to miss! Because of my pulmonary fibrosis (can you hear the O2 machine puffing in the background?), I am officially off the “strenuous and hazardous” work details, meaning no heaving lifting, sawing, painting, etc. Nothing with dust or chemicals in the air.

That’s left me with a bunch of smaller jobs, like drilling into concrete to reattach a door to the tool shed (masked!), figuring out how to cover up a counter gap left from the earthquake a couple of years ago, figuring out how to put mosquito screen over various odd-shaped openings around the skylights where you have to attach to concrete, figuring out how to replace the broken cover over the pool pump equipment. But no deck building! No, no, no, not this year, and not any year ever again. Oh, and figuring out where and how to store the backup generators that somehow got stashed in a really inappropriate place.

Part of “figuring out” things is figuring out how to buy what you need. There’s Home Depot and Costco, of course, but they don’t have a lot of what we need. Take storage for the generators. The obvious solution is a small shed, and we even agreed on where one could go. But the two stores I just mentioned don’t have the right size. Amazon, of course, has everything, including exactly what we need. But most Amazon merchants won’t ship to Puerto Rico. Why? I don’t know. I’ve probably complained about this before, so I will spare you the rant.

Still, we’re making progress. We have vowed to spend some quality time on this trip actually enjoying the island where Allysen spent several years growing up, and we even have plans of where we want to go.

I am reserving more time to myself, to work on the book. So far, though, I have not found my way through the quicksand that has impeded my progress with the story. (If you are tempted to ping me and ask, “When is the next book going to be done?” please don’t. When I have something to report on that, I will report it.)

Meanwhile, I have seen only one (!) stray cat and no dogs, and that makes me a little sad. But we do have the occasional hummingbird, and a very sweet horse that wanders into the yard just below us, and that always brightens our day. And the trinitaria behind the house are beautiful!


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