Posts Tagged ‘home renovation’

Love the holidays?


Pour yourself some mulled wine, grab your e-reader and curl up by the fire with a copy of my book, Tropic of Sunshine.

Book Cover Idea


Hate the holidays?

That’s okay too.

Tropic of Sunshine barely mentions Christmas.


(available on Kindle, Nook and iBooks)


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Hey everybody,

Tropic of Sunshine is now available (finally) on Apple iBooks.

Grab a copy and join us for the wacky Tropic of Sunshine journey!



See you there!


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One of our favorite spots for pre-dinner cocktails in Vieques is Al’s, down by the ferry terminal.


It’s pretty perfect in its own way.

First of all, it’s delightfully run-down. No one could ever accuse Al’s decorator of trying too hard. We like that.

And then there’s the air of quiet desperation that hangs over the place. Even the bar stools look a little depressed. It reminds us of some of our favorite sad/happy bars around the world, from Sydney to Sorrento.

It’s also fun to study the crowd while you’re waiting for your drink.

To the left you’ll generally find an ex-pat named Clive who looks 70 but probably isn’t much over 50 (a squirt or two of sun block along the way might have helped). He’s flirting listlessly with the bartender, who seems more interested in the soccer match blaring on the big screen behind her than in his leathery charms.

Two seats over lurks a clutch of ladies I’ve seen behind the counter at the Humane Society Shop. Margaritas in hand, they look quite a bit happier here than the last time I saw them, sweating over a pile of “previously owned” clothing. One of them sports a headband, as if she’s just bounced off the tennis court at Bryn Mawr.

Completing the tableau to the far right is an assortment of aging hippie types—three women, two guys—complete with lashings of salt-and-pepper hair, gauzy outfits and turquoise jewelry. You get the idea.

We take our drinks and head out to the balcony—which is really the whole point of the place–but not before stopping and chatting with at least half of our fellow patrons along the way. It’s a friendly sort of place, and we like that about it too.

The balcony, appended to the back of the building like a carbuncle stuck onto the hull of a ship, is in fact a narrow, rickety deck that’s usually far too crowded and could easily collapse at any moment.

Al's from the back

But no one seems to care.

Maybe because of the view.

Which is hard to describe. Or at least hard to explain. How is it different from a zillion other great views we’ve ogled here and there through the years?

Not sure.

Maybe it’s the light, which changes approximately every ten seconds from lavender to violet to gold and back again. Or the clouds stacking up like giant boulders across the horizon. Or maybe it’s the ferry plowing its solemn way through the water.

Yeah, maybe that’s it.

And as if all that’s not enough, sometimes there’s even a sideshow.

One night just before sunset we were treated to the following spectacle: a stout middle-aged man, nonchalantly reclining on an inflated raft sipping a cocktail, was being hauled back and forth across the water by a younger man energetically paddling a kayak.

To delighted catcalls from the crowd, this picturesque duo circled the area in front of Al’s three times, jauntily saluted its audience, and paddled away, presumably for refills.

Speaking of refills, isn’t it time to grab one?

Meet you at the bar.

[If you enjoyed this sketch of Vieques, you’ll find lots more like it in my book, Tropic of Sunshine, available on Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks. www.tropicofsunshine.com]

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Hey everyone,

Thanks for your support and positive messages about Tropic of Sunshine. I noticed today on Amazon that the book has been prominently featured in the Hot New Releases in the Caribbean Travel category. Hooray!

I forgot to mention in my last post that I’ve created a new website for the book. Please check it out and click the Facebook “Like” button if you’re plugged in to social media. Also follow us on Twitter: @viequesguy

No word yet about when the Barnes & Noble Nook or Apple iBooks version will be available – I’ll let you know as soon as I hear!

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Hey everyone,

Vieques Dream House Diary is now available as Tropic of Sunshine on Amazon Kindle. It will be available soon on Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks.

Click on the Amazon logo below to purchase a copy for your Kindle.

Happy reading!



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Hi everyone,

I’m writing today to thank you all for being such loyal readers of Vieques Dream House Diary over the past year and a half. Amazingly, the blog has been viewed almost 66,000 times.

At the suggestion of a bunch of readers, I’ve converted the blog into an e-book, which will be published in November 2012 under the title Tropic of Sunshine.

Here’s a preview of the cover:

The e-book will include new sections and new photographs (for a total of more than 120 color photos), and will be available on most e-readers, including Kindles, Nooks, and iPads.

Thanks again for your unflagging interest in the Casa Dos Chivos project and for your wonderful feedback. I can’t wait to hear what you think about Tropic of Sunshine.

Patrick Youngblood

P.S. Don’t forget, I’m always happy to hear from you at viequesguys@gmail.com.

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After an ominous week-long silence from Vieques, I decided to call Freddy-the-bathroom-renovator to see how our project was coming.

“Those tiles is still not a good fit,” was his opening salvo.

Gulp. “But you’re making it work, right?”

Long silence. “More or less…”

Oh dear. “What’s actually going on?”

“Them tiles I don’t like.”

I wasn’t exactly looking for a love-match between Freddy and our bathroom walls but this didn’t sound like a positive development. An unhappy Freddy was most likely going to be an unproductive Freddy.

“I’m really sorry this has been such a tough project,” I began.

He all but whimpered. “Is very difficult.”

Pretty soon he’d be sucking his thumb.

Okay, time to ratchet up my game.

“But I know how skilled you are, and I have faith that you can get this job done soon,” I said in my most business-like voice.

“I dunno…”

I thought for a minute. “Listen Freddy, do you have a camera?”


“A camera?”


“Okay, but you’ve got a cellphone, right?”


“Could you take a few photos of the bathroom so we can get a better idea of how it’s looking?”

I could almost hear the creaky wheels turning in his brain.  “Is broken, my phone.”

“Aren’t you using your phone right now?”


I waited.

“Yes, but my phone’s camera, she’s busted.”

“We need photos, Freddy,” I repeated.

The next day three blurry photos of the bathroom showed up in my inbox.

To be honest, the tile work didn’t look all that great. Yes, the tiles were square and gorgeously white, but their placement didn’t look particularly even and a couple of edges appeared to be chipped.

Uh oh.

“It’ll look better when it’s grouted,” Michael said, which made me feel better until I remembered he’d used this same phrase to comfort me about a broad array of past disasters, including Joan Rivers’ latest facelift.

I called Jane. “Could you stop by and make sure Freddy’s work is up to speed?”

“Sure, but what if it’s not? I didn’t hire him, you know, so I don’t have much leverage on this particular job.”

As much as I loved the old girl, she could be a tad petty at times.

“Just take a look. You know how much I trust your judgment.”

Sheer, unadulterated flattery usually worked with Jane, and sure enough it appeared to do the trick this time. She called back later that evening with a full report.

“It’s not a complete disaster,” she began.

I sat down.

“On the other hand,” she went on, “I’ve seen better tile work.” She paused. “In public bathrooms.  In third world countries.”

Gulp. “Is it fixable?”

She hesitated. “Of course…but it’s going to cost you some extra dollars.”

How often had we heard some variation on this same statement over the past three years?

And yet, once again, we just wanted the nightmare to be over. “I don’t care,” I said. “Make it work!”

A week later five more photos showed up in my inbox. I held my breath as they downloaded.


Jane had worked her magic again.

The tiles looked perfectly even. The jagged edges were gone. The grouting was immaculate. The whole thing positively gleamed.

“You’re a magician!” I yelled into the phone five minutes later. “A sorceress.”

She laughed with real pleasure. “It’s true.”

“Was it tough going?”

“You can’t imagine,” she began, sighing dramatically. “I’m absolutely exhausted. And frankly,” she added, dropping her voice an octave or two, “I don’t think Freddy will ever be the same again.”

I felt bad for at least five seconds.

Then I got over it.

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