Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…


I need a helicopter…or more underwear

Before the Wards and we left on our trip to Tortola, I had several people tell me they couldn’t wait to see the blog. The thing is, I lost my “wanna” somewhere along the way. Put another way, like the old Jo Dee Messina song, “my give a damn’s busted.” It’s been nice to not spend each evening fretting about and writing and rewriting a blog post. That, plus the fact that Eddie and the Dave’s (they really should form a band) aren’t on this trip and they usually provide most of my material. Tres is doing his best to take up the slack but even he, as good as he is, can’t do the work of six men, men who are willing to start the day with an 8am Bloody Mary. However, the week is still young so hope springs eternal. 

Getting to the West end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands from Midland or Wichita Falls is no small feat. In fact, it’s a grueling all-day affair and involves planes, ferries and automobiles. It took over an hour for about 50 people to clear customs in Roadtown. I’ve gotten through customs in Miami with 3000 people in less time. Julia, bless her heart, and I mean that in the best way, not the Southern “well bless her heart” way, is stuck with the driving again and that is not an easy thing. I’m sure it is made more difficult by someone yelling “shit, Shit, SHIT!” with ever increasing volume from the backseat every 30 seconds. The road to our house is up a mountain, not paved, and we traveled it for the first time in the dark…in a Kia. We first missed the turnoff because it didn’t look like a road and even when we found the road, my mind was saying “this CANNOT be it.” It was.

But, the house, Blackbeard’s Hideaway on Steel Point, is beautiful and the view is spectacular. We were supposed to come here back in October of 2017 because three out of four of us were turning sixty. Category 5 Hurricane Irma took care of that in September. The Virgin Islands took a direct hit and the devastation was immense. Boats and docks were either sunk or thrown onshore or literally on top of buildings. The infrastructure was decimated, even roads were washed away. Businesses, buildings, homes, both large and small, were demolished. Nothing escaped Irma. Things were so bad that prisoners were released from jail because they didn’t know if the structures would make it…and almost everyone turned themselves back in within a week because they couldn’t find food or water. We have a good view of Frenchman’s Lookout, which our group visited in 2010 and again in 2015. It’s the only repeat destination we’ve had on our island trips and was magnificent. You can see pictures of it if you look in my blog archives. It is in ruins now and will not be rebuilt unless someone buys it. It is sad to see. 

Tortola is rebounding, but slowly. Even rebuilding seems to be on island time. The West end seems to be behind other parts of the island, but they are working on the boardwalk at Sopher’s Hole and many of the homes have been repaired. There are four houses, all owned by the same person, on Steel Point and all but one have been repaired, however, the third one was just finished two weeks ago, 21 months after the storm. The Soggy Dollar has brought Jost Van Dyke back better than before, of course, all they needed was about a dozen sheets of plywood to rebuild the bar. Nevertheless, it was good to see a thriving scene at our favorite place.

Yesterday we drove over to Cane Garden Bay, which doesn’t look very far on the map, but is about thirty switchbacks, a hundred “oh shits” and a half a dozen Lord’s Prayers away. That’s how I measure distance here. I don’t know how Julia does it. After the third 90 degree incline switchback, and I’m talking up not left or right, I would have thrown that little Kia in park, hoped the brakes held, and said “I’m done.” At the scene of the crash, they wouldn’t know if I wet myself before or after we fell off the mountain. Luckily for everyone involved I doubt I’m ever asked to drive on these treacherous roads since most people don’t want to ride with me on the flat plains of Texas.


Today we are not doing a thing except relaxing and enjoying the house and maybe a little snorkeling…ok, Tres is doing the snorkeling, we will be doing the relaxing.


Leave a comment

Chalk Sound or Bust

We had to be out of the house by 11:00 because another group was arriving at 3:00. It’s a popular place and I can see why. That left us with five hours to kill so we headed to Chalk Sound…again. And this time we found it! Of course, we had a new navigator so our odds went up astronomically (sorry Cheryl). It’s every bit as beautiful as I remember.

Julia found us a great restaurant, right on Chalk Sound, for lunch, Las Brisas, which turned out to be my favorite meal of the trip (coconut crusted snapper tacos). It would have been perfect except for the gale force winds whipping around the outdoor awning we were under.

We still got to the airport three hours early and there must have been a gajillion people leaving about the same time…and no air conditioning in the terminal. And Dallas customs was the biggest bunch of FUBAR I’ve seen in a while. Trying to get home is always the worst part of the trip. Luckily, we all made it through.

Thanks again to Julia for her hard work in making not only this trip happen but the previous seven. You rock! I love our whole group and feel blessed to be a part of it. Everyone brings their own special part to the group. Our trip was awesome, but no matter where I travel, I am always happy to get back to Texas, where I belong. Until next time…

Leave a comment

Highway to Hell (aka Be Careful What You Wish For )

It’s been hard to write a blog the last couple of days because we’ve been so laid back that it’s been hard to find something interesting to write about. We remedied that today. We dropped Tres and Joe at Sharkbites so that Tres could get another cup of “the best coffee in the world,” which he claims to have drunk there on our last trip to Turks and Caicos five years ago. We took the other three guys to the golf course for a round and the girls headed for Chaulk Sound.

Our first mistake was allowing Cheryl to navigate after “two” drinks. Did you know that if you refill your first drink it still counts as only having one drink? There are a lot of people who will be delighted to hear this news. By that standard, I’m still on my first drink. Anyway, we ended up going in the wrong direction, until we stopped and asked a utility worker if we were going the right way and he looked at us like we were crazy and pointed in the opposite direction. Not wanting to take just one local person’s word for it, we continued on in the wrong direction for several miles, until we hit water and were forced to turn around.

Once we were going the right direction, Cheryl decided that we should take the scenic route…and boy was it scenic. Upon reflection, the end of the paved road should have been our first clue that maybe we should turn around and go the less scenic route. Common sense did not win out and we ended up going cross country in a ten passenger van, expecting to pop a tire any moment. The road was so rough Cheryl was worried about losing her “headlight covers.” We had a swamp to one side and burned out bullet ridden cars on the other. I started composing a goodbye note to the kids just in case we didn’t make it out alive, which looked more likely by the minute. It was that kind of neighborhood.

Trash heavily littered both sides of the road, but on the bright side we might have found an icemaker to replace the broken one at the house. The last straw was a pair of abandoned platform high heel shoes among the trash that looked to be a very large size. Afraid that the body belonging to those size fifteens might be around there too, we turned around and skeedaddled…as much as you can skeedaddle going 5 miles per hour through potholes and over boulders.

As soon as we got back to pavement, Denise called Tres and told him we were on the way to Sharkbites and there had better be five pina coladas waiting when we got there. And there were. Also, Sharkbites was not where Tres got the best cup off coffee in the world. It might have been at a coffee shop around the corner…or it might not have even been on Turks and Caicos at all. Guess he’ll keep looking.

When the Dave, Eddie and Keith got back from golf, we headed for Da Conch Shack to celebrate making it through the day in one piece. To say the portions were large would be an understatement. Dave’s meal was, honest-to-God, served in a pink 5 1/2 quart Le Cruset dutch oven. We could have just ordered one of those for the whole table. It was all we could do to waddle back to the van afterwards. We never did make it to Chaulk Sound…at least not yet.

Leave a comment

We Ain’t Right

Today was massage day and that’s always a favorite with this group. Eight of us signed up and two masseuses with really strong thumbs showed up at 10:00. We set one up in the spare bedroom and the second was on the lower deck by the firepit. I chose the inside room because who wants to flash everyone on the beach, well, besides Tres? But that’s sort of a given. Everyone certainly had that dazed look of the relaxed when they were through.

Tres’ masseuse asked if there was a name for our group. It’s not the first time we’ve been asked. When I used to travel to the Sweet Potato Queen parade as part of a group, we would be in tiaras and hideous queen bee vests that we picked up at Cracker Barrel, and my friend Debi Weaver would always answer the inquiry with a story about us being a group of cloggers on our way to a competition. Pic12.jpgI’m not sure that this band of misfits could ever be mistaken for cloggers. So, if this bunch had a group name, what would it be? The Dirty Dozen would work most years but we’ve only got ten this year. The Hateful Eight + Two? Twister Ten? The conversation degenerated, as it always does, when Tres piped up that our group should simply be ”We Ain’t Right.” Ding, ding, ding. And we have a winner, and it will be appropriate no matter how many people attend.

We had good old Texas steak for dinner. It’s bought and frozen at home, wrapped up and added to someone’s luggage and always superior to what you can find on the island. We’re usually ready for some red meat by mid-week. After dinner we played a dice game called Hot Dice or Farkle. It was a fun way to end the evening even though half the participants didn’t know any more about the rules of the game at the end than they did at the beginning…and one of those people came from behind to win. We ain’t right.


My Two Cents

I saw a post yesterday on an Instant Pot Community Facebook page that stopped me in my tracks. If you don’t know what an Instant Pot is, it’s a miracle of technology, has a cult following, and is kind of like a crock pot/pressure cooker on steroids and you must be living under a rock because it was the hottest item on Amazon’s Prime Day the last two years. A woman wrote that she was deleting her post because “people can’t be nice.” It’s a freaking cooking page for Pete’s sake. Is there anything more benign than food? If we can’t be polite there, of all places, where can we be? Where will we be? If you spend more than two minutes scrolling through Facebook at any given time, the answer is nowhere it seems, and it makes me incredibly sad. How did we fall to such a level of disrespect that you can’t post about a recipe on a cooking site without getting nasty comments? Really? There’s a scroll bar. Learn it. Use it.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that social media has done more to kill civility than anything in history. Facebook used to be the place to post pictures of your kids or vacation or jokes, but not so much anymore. It’s been hijacked by an ‘us against them’ mentality. Not only are we no longer polite but too often we we aren’t even civil to each other. The anonymity of social media has stripped away any semblance of decency. It gives us free license to say things that we would never in a million years say to someone standing in front of us on the street, and society is the worse for it. I know this, yet I’m no better than anyone else when I feel attacked.

That’s not to say that there’s not a lot to be angry about these days. The political divide in America is the greatest it’s been since the Civil War. Not only is the country angry but there is an unprecedented level of outright hate. I’m no fan of Trump. I think he’s probably the worst candidate the Republicans could have picked, but I understand how he was elected. Among other things, people got tired of being called homophobic, Islamophobic, greedy anti-Christian racists by the Left simply because of their political affiliation. Most of my family and friends are conservative, by a wide margin, and I can only think of one person who might be those things. That’s a very small percentage of people I know, probably less than a quarter of one percent. Social media, as well as the mainstream media, takes that very small minority and paints every conservative with the same brush. They don’t just paint us as such, they actually believe in their hearts we are all like that, and they hate us. The mainstream media loves the Left, but their treatment is every bit as bad on social media. And the vitriol and hate on both sides has only gotten worse since Trump has been in the White House. Before you say “but what about Obama…,” it’s no secret that half of the country pretty much thought he was the worst President ever (and for 99.99% of us it had nothing to do with race), but I don’t remember anyone in Hollywood, much less elected officials, calling for his assassination. It’s worse. Much worse. There is no high road, we are rolling around in the gutter.

I worry. I worry about our country and soul of the nation. I know people who think we are actually headed for Civil War II…and soon. I hope that they are wrong. I hope that the haters are just more prolific posters than the lovers. I hope that people really are more civil, more caring, more tolerant, more kind than what is so prevalent on Facebook and Twitter. I hope the humanity is just getting hidden beneath the avalanche of shit out there. I hope that someday soon a young woman will not feel attacked on a post about cooking because of obnoxious comments. And I really, really hope more people will learn to use their scroll bars. As my Granny used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Wise woman. In the meantime, I will continue to worry while I whip up some comfort food in my Instant Pot…and I’ll try harder to follow Granny’s advice.



1 Comment

Starfish and Sea-Doos and Stingrays, Oh My!

Boat day finally arrived! If you’ve read my blogs from previous years you know I don’t really swim, and when I say “don’t really” I mean I don’t at all, so you’ll be shocked to know that I channeled my inner Mark Spitz and I was all over the water today. We had a 42′ Sea Ray with a Sea-Doo on the back and two really cute crew, so maybe I just wanted mouth-to-mouth. Our Captain was semi-famous being the grandson of legend Bob Soto who almost single-handedly started the tourist industry on Grand Cayman by opening the first dive shop here in 1957.

Our first stop was Starfish Point. You literally jump off the back, and by “jump” I mean a lift slowly lowers you down into less than 4′ of water. We were allowed to pick the starfish up and handle them as long as we didn’t take them out of the water. We also got to ride the Sea-Doo. Sea-Doos are not really my thing but it was fun watching everyone else. I was content to hang with my new starfish buddies. Denise rode with the Capitain and the louder you scream the faster he goes. She apologized if she grabbed him inappropriately, but she was hanging on for dear life. Everybody kept offering me rides, which I kept turning down. These people just can’t take a hint. Julia said she would go with me and I swear I don’t know what got into me, but I somehow found myself agreeing just to see the look on her face. I don’t know which one of us was more surprised. Not only that but I drove…not as fast as I drive my BMW, but certainly faster than a starfish. 

Next up was snorkeling. I hear it was fabulous with huge lion fish, big coral fans and coral heads. The water was super clear and full of color from fish and the reef. That’s about all I can tell you because all of us non-snorkelers were sitting onboard with a rum and coke.

I know you’re not going to believe this but I went swimming with stingrays, ya’ll. Shut the front door. Stingray City Sandbar was cooler than cool. It was actually only about 3 to 4 feet deep and out in the middle of nowhere. It was weird being so far from land and still be able to stand up, and when I can comfortably stand, you know it’s shallow. The first mate said it was the first time he had ever been there when we were the only boat there. Usually boats are parked like a parking lot, but today we had it all to ourselves. How neat is that? As soon as the boat anchored we were inundated with really big stingrays. We got to feed them big chunks of calamari. Julia almost lost another finger to one. At least it was on the hand where she had a finger to spare.

We had a leisurely ride back to Rum Point. Once back to the house we threw together dinner out of what was left of the food and drank what was left of the drink. Joe said he’s finally found his island chill now that’s it’s time to pack up and go home. It was a great week! It makes me wonder, if you live on Grand Cayman, where do you go on vacation?


Leave a comment

In My Defense

Ok, I know that yesterday’s blog was not up to my usual standards. I’m sure it left you wanting more. In my defense, I just wasn’t feeling it. It might have had something to do with the four drinks I’d had in town. Hemingway’s adage to “write drunk and edit sober” apparently doesn’t apply to me. Even old Ernest probably had a off day occasionally. If he’d been as uninspired as I was, instead of “The Sun Also Rises” you would have been reading “Sun’s Up” in high school.

After breakfast, all the guys and Denise headed out for Rum Point for “ice.” I’m glad Denise went with them as our own private PI, otherwise I’m sure we would never would have heard about the mudslides and how Tres pontificated on at what tonnage a coverup should be required, and further about he wants to open a “fancy ice cream shop like Baskin Robbins” with a narrow door…and if you can’t fit through it, you can’t buy it. He’s only going to sell ice cream to skinny women. Joe told him he would go broke. We haven’t yet given out an Asshat of the Day award on this trip, but that just changed. I may have to strangle him with my coverup.

We sat around the patio retelling old drinking stories and laughing. If your story starts out with, “In my defense…” you know it’s not going to end well. It will, however, most likely be funny to your audience. Let’s just say Denise provided a lot of entertainment.

Tonight we went to a Michelin rated restaurant, Kaibo Upstairs. Getting ready, I asked Joe if he could see any panty lines in my tighter-than-when-we-left-home pants. He suggested I just go commando. He may be on to something as I could probably use the extra room. Dinner was fabulous. We had the 6 course chef’s tasting menu. Not only was the food top notch but the drinks were something else. Joe was drinking martinis made with Monkey 47 gin. He made it through 94 monkeys before he switched to coffee. Dave had this thing called a Smoking Gun, which was made with 23 year old rum and homemade soda syrup. 

It is poured into a decanter where they add smoke with some special contraption. The smoke is captured in the decanter when the bottle is corked. It “adds complexity” to the drink. Tres had rum poured over coconut ice. It might have been our most expensive meal ever, but it it was also our best. All in all a very memorable meal. Walking back into the house I asked Joe if he could cut the button off of my pants. I warned him to stand back when that thing went. In my defense, my pants fit in Texas. It must be the salt air…