Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Get a grip! I’m expected to succeed,
face fear, be strong, and take the lead,
not hesitate in thought or deed.
My mask must never slip.

Man up! and keep my thoughts inside
No one can know how much I cried
when the rockets came and the fear arrived.
My mask must never slip.

Crack on! theres no time to reflect
or admit that I did genuflect
and prayed to God, me to protect.
My mask must never slip.

Chin up! Worry not ‘bout how I feel
never let them know just how surreal
it was. Dark thoughts I cant reveal.
My mask must never slip.

B J Lewis

Too many have died to forget to remember them today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Putting the Sun back in Sunday

The Sun woke me up this morning. blasting into my pillow. Which, after you haven't seen it properly for a few days, isn't a bad thing at all. And it was 6:30; I was being lazy anyway. Now if it would only deliver the Sunday NYT's...

Not much, but it's there

Here's a color we haven't seen for awhile

It is still pretty monochrome out - 
except for flowers and insects

Did I mention flowers?

I walked to the end of the yard to see what I could see. Some extra boats at Dakity with a three day weekend on board. I imagine with this slight weather break they will be piling in as the day goes along.

When I got to the stony little beach, there was a Coca Cola can lying there, oddly enough with a bendy straw next to it. My thought process went sort of like this:

"Damn it, trash, and figures it is Coke, I can't stand Coke, can't people stop using the ocea...blahblahblahblahblah"

Oh so cleverly staged Coke can/straw
to represent the smallness of...yeah yeah

"Well, it's a light thing, probably blew off the table, ok, don't get all crazy...why do they have to drink the damn stuff blahblahblahblahblah"

"Oh! It's a full, unopened can! Wow, it really WAS blowing out there. And, it's one less can of Coke someone can drink!" [skipping back up the trail]

Trash can plunk in one!

One year ago

Have a sanguine Sunday. Do something sunny!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Saturday

Rain seems to be the word, even though the radar is not showing the gigantic blobs of the last two days, most of which broke up around us. Today it's bits and pieces, some crossing over us, keeping the air cool.

Blooms are rioting!

Spider lily


Mock Frangipani


Neem tree blossoms


The bay is green with reflections of the land, with new growth everywhere. Which is good news for the paid weed whackers and we know who you are!

Every once in awhile I see this goose on the bay, this time it was up close. It used to have a partner, but I don't know the story on that...maybe the other one wasn't such a silly goose as to be out in the rain like as this one and myself.

Be open to a serendipitous Saturday. Do something swayable.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Free Range Friday...There, Not Here

In the last few days I've gotten emails from far flung friends that are making my own feet itchy for my upcoming trips to Maine and places West. I thought I'd share them as you make your own traveling plans this summer, along with a recipe from each area. And if you are only going holidaying as far as your own backyard, there is still magic to be found, with the eyes to see it and your own kitchen for making some delicious armchair forays.

From an Australian friend doing some business - opal business - in Alaska:

It's summer now in Juneau Alaska, and nudging 20 degrees Celsius, .
So I stopped into the Red Dog Saloon for a cool Alaskan Amber Ale, next to me at the bar was an a person I assumed, to be an Eskimo.
I knew she was an Eskimo as she ordered a Budweiser and next to it she had a 350 mil glass rammed full of ice. When she started to carefully pour the Bud, so it seeped around the ice, I asked if she was local and she said "no" and that she was from a tribe further north in the town of Nome. The Bud seemed to disappear at a rapid rate so she did not have to top up the ice too often, but when she did she rammed it in with the hilt of her hand making crunching sounds.
I wondered what she would do on a warmer day.

From the Alaskan blog Lynne's Country Kitchen is a great sounding recipe I'll be checking out, using some of Neil's Dinghy Dock brew (what? you thought I was going to put up Baked Alaska?):

Beef Braised in Beer

The dark beer gives the meat a rich flavor. It is thickened with bread. Serve this dish with a crusty French loaf and fried potatoes.


1/4 cup canola oil
3 pounds round steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large slice sourdough bread, crust trimmed
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups dark beer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large, oven-proof saucepan or flameproof casserole, heat the oil. Sear the meat on all sides over medium heat. Drain off any excess oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spread the slice of bread with the mustard. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue to cook until the onion is caramelized. Add the red wine vinegar and continue to sauté until the vinegar is absorbed.

Place the bread slice into the casserole with the beef, sticking it down in the middle of the meat. Add the onion. Heat the beer in the sauté pan and then pour it over the beef. Cover and braise the beef on the center rack of the oven for 4 hours.

Serve the beef with the sauce as is, or purée the sauce until smooth.

Makes 6 servings


From an island friend in Newport, RI, one port of call on a boat delivery from Antigua to Maine:

Greetings from Newport...We arrived last evening just before the sunset having had an amazing passage. Plenty of dolphin encounters, one massive whale that was basking in the sun, and one gorgeous sunset after another...Our last day we raised the whole lot of sails including the fisherman and enjoyed a steady 8.5kts under perfect conditions. Needless to say the custom ordered passage! It is nice to be out strolling around on my two legs again and the sun feels lovely in this cooler latitude. Newport is a classic New England port town full of some amazing vessels and I am constantly stopping to drool at yet another beautiful classic yacht (no doubt the one I am on definitely falls into the category as well-check out their website :google Schooner Heron) We are currently taking on water and fuel and then off to find a warm shower and do some exploring before embarking on our last passage for Monhegan Island Maine, a small island just outside of Camden and Rockport, our final port of call.

From The Heart of New England blog (food section) is this recipe I never even imagined, but it's simple and sounds so er...interesting, I'm going to give it a go:

Cottage Cakes
Recipe by Inn at Manchester

Easy and delicious for breakfast!

1 Cup Cottage Cheese
4 Eggs Beaten
4 Tablespoon Melted Butter or Margarine
½ Cup Flour


Whisk the first 3 ingredients. Fold
in flour, bake on a pancake griddle,
using medium high heat. Serve with
Vermont maple syrup and apricot sauce.


And last but not least, from the Marshall Islands, specifically Likiep, where an intended 10 day stay from one of the other islands turned into a month long visit (I always enjoy these emails, because they usually include a cool history lesson told in the writer's unique style):

Ghosts, demons and spirits are just part of normal everyday life here on the edge of the world. Perhaps those of you who have been to the Hawaiian Islands are familiar with their rich spiritual history. The Hawaiian traditional pantheon contains a plethora of Goddesses and Gods who inhabit the volcanoes, the sea, the land and they are involved in virtually all aspects of everyday life. The arrival of European culture brought with it the Christian belief system that was energetically spread by voyaging missionaries. The Hawaiians were impressed with the strength of the Christian god who provided the Europeans with very large voyaging canoes, cannons, guns, whiskey and ferrous metals. Obviously any god that strong deserved to be worshipped! Therefore they added this Christian god into their belief system. The important point to remember here is that they did not entirely give up their belief in the old gods. They simply added the Christian beliefs into their traditional belief system.

As a result of their geographical remoteness the Marshall Islands were invaded much later than other island groups in the pacific. Being very small atolls with few easily exploitable resources the Western commercial interests left them pretty much alone. Some of the earliest contacts were with the likes of the notorious “Bully Hayes” and others of his ilk that were looking for slaves to carry off. The Marshallese viewed Westerners with suspicion.

Eventually the missionaries arrived in the Marshalls to convert the heathens and to save their souls. Over the course of the past 150 years or so the people of the RMI have come totally under the sway of Christianity with a healthy mix of Roman Catholic, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon and a variety of Protestant, Baptist and storefront churches.

Along side of Christianity the belief in Ghosts, Demons, Spirits and Magic remains very strong among the people here. Walking with my pal Neal on one of the outer islands we came to a small group of native houses. It was only 3 or 4 small houses with a couple of cooking sites and some copra drying sheds. Nothing very urban to say the least. All around the perimeter of this little group of dwellings bottles hung from the branches of the trees and each bottle contained a page from the Bible. It was a “spiritual fence” set up around the houses to keep the ghosts and demons away! No shit!

I was sitting on the veranda of Joe DeBrum’s hotel the other night along with his wife Yumiko and I was fortunate enough to be told quite a few “ghost stories”. Joe is a pretty worldly guy and he has little or no belief in ghosts or spirits. He lives by the credo that if he doesn’t bother the spirit world the spirit world won’t bother him. He claims he has never seen a ghost or demon. His wife, however, a former prayer leader at the church who attends services regularly has had many first hand encounters with ghosts and spirits. She does not like to be alone at night and the lights are never turned off!

Most ghosts seem to be women although there are a few instances of male spirits appearing, particularly soon after a male friend or relative has passed away. Joe was telling of one such story that is part of the folklore of Likiep Atoll…

The Ghost Rides For Free

Jemo is a little island that lies 15-20 miles NE of Likiep and occasionally the DeBrum family sends a couple of guys over there to make copra. They go over by canoe and set up camp for a few weeks while they make the copra. So one time these two guys go over. They decide to share food gathering and cooking duties. One day one guy cooks the rice, catches the fish and gets the drinking nuts while the other makes copra. The next day they reverse roles thereby sharing the duties.

After they’ve been there a while a tragic event occurs and one fellow falls out of a coconut tree and dies. The other fellow, who was making copra at the time, comes back to camp at dinner time and there is no dinner ready and his companion is missing. Walking around Jemo (a very small island) he finds his colleague dead on the ground under the coconut tree. This is very perplexing to him… his friend is dead and there is no dinner to eat…

He digs a grave and buries the body on Jemo then proceeds to load up the copra on the canoe and heads back to Likiep. As he starts paddling he hears some sounds from the back of the canoe. Looking aft he sees his companion sitting on the back of the canoe! He continues paddling all night until he reaches the beach on Likiep and his companion, who rode in the back the whole way saying nothing, vanishes into thin air. “You son of a bitch!” he says. “You fall out of coconut tree and die and I must dig grave! You don’t make dinner! You don’t help load copra! You get free ride all the way back to Likiep and I have to paddle all the way by myself! You son of a bitch!”

From a Marshall Islands forum are a few suggestions on using breadfruit, which we grow here on Culebra, but you won't find it in a store! Of course, I was very tempted to use the recipe for Fruit Bat Soup, since we have them here, but somehow I resisted.

Remove the center seeded area and the skin then slice it up into chips and fry it in oil.

Remove the center seeded area, cut into strips ( you can leave the skin on if it's ripe) Cook over low heat in coconut milk.

Bake whole on a fire. Keep rotating it until it's soft inside. Check it by poking it with a wooden skewer. When it's done scrape the burned skin parts off the outside. We use a piece of broken glass to scrape with, but you could use a shell. Then break off a piece and dip it in warm coconut milk cooked with lime juice and salt or coconut milk with fish or seafood. You can also dip it in vegetable oil with salt.

Another reader responds:

Man o` man that sounds good. I can not decide which I like more Fried Breadfruit slices (with the skin) or baked Breadfruit with meat drippings... Unfortunatly the only breadfruit I can get here is from a Fiji store but its frozen and skinned.

Buen provecho!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ready or Not...Storms Don't Care

Hurricane   History Storm Surge   & Marine Safety High Winds   & Tornadoes Inland Flooding Forecast   Process Be Prepared Take Action
23 May '10
24 May '10
25 May '10
26 May '10
27 May '10
28 May '10
29 May '10

Due to the 'crash' I'm making this post almost a week later than I planned but it doesn't matter much as long as you are paying attention now. This week has been and still is Hurricane Preparedness Week - the link will direct you to much more information than I'll go into here, and is well worth a look, even if you consider yourself a hurricane season veteran. Everyone I know takes this season extremely seriously but it won't hurt to re-visit some of the information, if only to remind yourself to check over your supplies and paperwork for any updating that might be needed. Without trying to be a scare tactic sort, this year is estimated to be high in the number of storms and I don't think any of us can disregard the bizarre warm weather we had all winter. As ever, hope for the best, prepare for the worst and remember to keep the liquor cabinet stocked!

We were lucky with bad boy Omar in 2008...
I was very glad to be as ready as possible though

This is my amended list of what the Red Cross and others suggest - I've upped the water and food amounts particularly. 3 days worth of anything just isn't enough here in the islands, especially Culebra.

* Water—at least a two week supply; one gallon per person per day
* Food—at least a two week supply of non­perishable, easy­to­prepare food
* Non electric can opener/paper plates/plastic utensils (I hate advocating plastic but the less need to wash the better)/extra trash bags
* Topped up gasoline in cars, generators, boats, extra if possible in safe containers
* Extra propane/cooking fuel
* Flashlights with working batteries /extra batteries
* Battery­ powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
* First aid kit
* Medications ( two week­ supply if possible, minimum if critical) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
* Multi­purpose tool
* Sanitation and personal hygiene items (things like baby wipes are great, along with the rest)
* Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) in waterproof containers - even sealable plastic bags are better than nothing
* Cell phone with chargers
* Family and emergency contact information
* Extra cash (remember, no electricity, no ATH)
* Emergency blanket
* Map(s) of the area (well...maybe you can skip the map here)
* Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
* Toys/books/games
* Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
* Tools/supplies for securing your home
* Extra set of car keys and house keys
* Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
* Rain gear
* Insect repellent and sunscreen
* Camera for photos of damage
* Plan for where you will go for the storm if your home/boat is not storm worthy (and in a serious storm, your boat is not!). If you won't be at home, an emergency grab bag with your documents and basic supplies is a good thing to have. Evacuating in a hurry - and don't wait until the last minute - plan your work, work your plan - can be full of anxiety, an easy time to forget things that you'll wish you had with you.

Ok, that's a long list! But as you gather it together - a good idea to be doing that all year, little by little, such as an extra tube of toothpaste, a package of batteries, an extra can or two of food each time you do a shopping, along with filling and storing water bottles (hey, we've GOT water now, use it - even if you don't want to drink it, it's still the cheapest way to go for wash water), makes it easier than waiting until the last minute, when all the other people who delayed will be trying to get the goods they wish they'd gotten before - you'll find it's not huge and the feeling of readiness is a good one.

So, that's it, my official Get Ready post for 2010. Of course I'll be reminding all of us as the season goes along, but as we know already, the weather doesn't give a damn about the calendar, so ready up, people!

It can happen here...Hugo, 1989
While there have been other damaging storms since then,
Hugo showed is how bad it can get

While looking for Hugo photos, I came across this man's log he kept (and put on the web at a later date, obviously) while on his boat here during Hugo. While I've heard a lot of stories and have seen a lot of photos, nothing made me feel quite as sick at heart as reading this hourly account. If this doesn't ramp up your 'get ready' attitude, I give up!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Victory Rises

Dreads in life that aren't life and death...sort of: computer crashes.
Miracles in life that you can't script: Your computer guru is on Culebra from the States and fixes your computer. Thank you, Lewis (and Debbie for sharing his time), beyond words. But you know that!

So, where was I? Sunday afternoon (3-5 if it keeps going, worth checking to see), Neil had his Sausage Fest at Dinghy Dock and it was a fine, fine time. Conrad, Grady and Lewis all playing and singing. Five or six kinds of sausages on the grill. Plenty of laughter and good friends. The sausages were delicious and at a buck fifty, pretty impossible to beat for a mid-day snack or two or three.

Even with no wind, Greg managed to sail in. Mark this photo. Greg, sailing in daylight!

Hector and Sandra enjoying their Sunday afternoon

I'm sure other things have happened since then but I've been, without the computer, getting a lot of things done around here for my upcoming trip. Plus, that cut off from the world feeling led to serious cleaning, the reading of five books, lots of yard puttering and much concentration of good vibes to Lewis, in the hopes that my computer would come home to Mama happy and whole. It all worked! So this is a quickie post to let you, gentle readers, know I'm alive and well and picking the gravel out of my knees from thanking Lewis...did I mention that? Once again confirming: I am the luckiest woman in the world. I do love Culebra!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Tidy Up

 Cantaloupe blossom (oh boy!)

In the enthusiasm and frustration of posting yesterday, I completely forgot that it was Free Range Friday...oopsy! Last night Ann was telling a few of us about a fantastic dessert she had at a dinner party the other night and it sounded so good, I went searching this morning to see if I could find anything close to it. While I don't think what I ended up with (and the search isn't over yet!) was anything like what was described, it sounds very yummy and summery to me. Presenting Mango Fool.

From a wide lot of recipes (making fool is like making potato salad I've discovered), I've ended up with this one. Some were only about three ingredients long, which appealed to my love of simple, but a few of the spices involved in some of the others just made my mouth water when thinking of the here you go.

Mango Fool (fool? who you callin' fool? and why?)

  • 2 mangoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chai masala (see recipe below) 
  • mint leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners suger
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice 
  • 1 teaspoon zest of lime 
  • 1 cup whipping cream 
  1. Peel  and cut (save some slices for garnish) mangoes into small pieces, blend to a puree in blender
  2. Add the ginger, chai masala, sugar and lime juice to blender, blending until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the cream and lime zest until peaks form
  4. Fold the mango mixture into the whipped cream, a bit at a time.
  5. Stir, then gradually add more, until they are all mixed together  (you can layer it if you prefer)
  6. Pour the mixture into bowls and chill for one hour before serving
  7. Garnish with mango slices and mint leaves 

Chai masala (if you don't feel like making this yourself, you can buy bottled Garam Masala to substitute - either  Penzey's or Vann's make a wonderful blend if you can't find something good in your local market)

Grind up the following in a spice grinder/coffee bean grinder or blender. Keeps bottled for - a pretty long time!
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 12 whole cloves 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (broken up) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (use fresh if you like, say a 1 inch or so piece)
  • 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns 
  • 2 bay leaves 
Buen provecho!


The second loose end is about a bridge. Mathers Bridge to be precise, which I've mentioned *cough* a few times before on this blog. But I had to go back back back (because yes, I'm a compulsive freak, it's true)  and see if I could find a photo of when it was still a wooden bridge. I got close but couldn't quite crack the code so I wrote to My Florida Memory and asked if they had any such photos. As luck would have it, they did have a few - thank you very much, Mr. Neal Adam Watson - apparently taken just before work started on the bridge in 1981. No more clickity clacking across the wooden planks. No more jumping on one side to see if you could make another fly up. No more splinters in your arms or butt while fishing....No more hand cranking it open from that giant crank, with the cranky but nice bridgetender (though I think that actually had stopped years before since I was about 10 or 12 when we still got to do that). Can you imagine in these days letting 10 or more kids crank open a swing bridge while boats went through? With the bridge wide open to nowhere but the water, we'd dangle our legs over the edges until the boats got through, hopping up to get back on the crank and close it before running off to fish or jump off the pilings... It might sound like Little House on the River Prarie but it wasn't that long ago...oh dear god, I sound like my 95 year old Aunt...'it seems so fresh in my mind'. Shoot me now.

Looking toward the road home...
if you kept going about a mile and 1/2, you'd hit the beach on the other side

View looking toward S. Merritt Island and the restaurant that, alas, is gone as well

So there it is...the place where at my father's hands I learned to bait a hook and catch a fish, net crabs and shrimp under full mon, with dangling kerosene lanterns hung down over the side of the bridge. The place I had my first *real* date; we went fishing. The spot I fell in love with dolphins and all things rivery.

The Banana never sounded like a funny name until I moved away and would mention it, getting quizzical laughter in response. But it is the biggest spring habitat for manatees and the largest pelican rookery on the Atlantic has about every sort of water eco system you can imagine in such a small area, hey, it's where I saw my first horseshoe crab, damn it! What's so funny? Yes...yes nurse, I know it's time for my meds, just a minute, I'm almost done.

Across Merritt Island, which at the point of this bridge end is probably about 50 feet wide, if that, is the Indian River, and then the mainland of Melbourne. But you have to go to another bridge for that; this spot is the end of the end...and apparently I keep seeking out those spots in my life, having lived at End of the World places more than a few times before I found Culebra. With its bridge. Yeah. Thanks, Dad!

This morning has been silver shine sun on white/grey clouded skies and finally a nice little shower to cool off the air. I can delay chores no longer...unless the radar says I can!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Since I've almost crashed my computer trying to post this, I think I'll go the very simple way, which loses a lot of energy but...keeps my computer going (though I still have somehow got 4000 + items on my desktop I don't know how to make go away...invisible but there...Lewis? HELP!)

Last night I headed over to Dinghy Dock for Amigos Night to prove to myself I hadn't become a complete social recluse. I am SO glad I did! A nice crowd schmoozed and (subliminal message approaching: BEER) enjoyed Grady playing. Even Doug played a little blues on Grady's guitar and after hearing a lot about his music days, I was really happy to realize, the man can play the blues! 

And then Conrad showed up, a sighting I'd almost given up hope on, but there he was...guitar soon to be in hand. The people who'd never met Conrad wondered who is this guy that those who do know him were so very happy to see. Answer: Conrad lived here (and Vieques) long before I was ever around, but I got to know him soon after I moved here. He and Greg built my gazebo and I got to know him better, along with having a few sessions of gazebo guitar time.

But the one thing Conrad used to do that can never be done again was to hang out on the Wall across from the pizza place (Chuck's Pizza, as he still calls it) and play music - and he can play & sing a lot of music and does both really well - with a lot of happy singing people enjoying the moment. I was lucky enough to get in on that before the Wall came down one sad day. Not long after that, Conrad moved off island and it all became a part of Culebra history. Somewhere in the archives I have photos of that last night...somewhere!

Chuck singing country

Judy off duty and Jeff

Doug Lisa & John on the breezy side

Conrad and Grady fit together like two who'd been playing and riffing off of each other for years, Grady on his harmonica, the two of them singing pretty much anything the crowd asked for, with some help on the mic. And no, it wasn't me. I really have learned my lesson. So far. Thanks so much, Conrad, for having coming to play with and for us - much enjoyed, mi amigo!

Some visitors from Atlanta yielded up J.T. - no, not James Taylor, another J.T. who was funny and could dance...really dance. Enough to dip me far enough to where I was praying to the god of muscles that his wouldn't fail him or I was going to have a very sore head. But he never came close to dropping me, or, he faked it really well and I was thanking the universe for young, strong guys who don't mind dancing with old women. Total energy fun! Thanks, J.T.!

I originally made a slideshow for this, because sometimes music and the energy it creates simply can't be translated into words (and it was a pretty cool slideshow too!). Maybe sometime when I get my tech mess untangled I'll do that. For now, it is what it is!

Great night, Neil, and thanks for the dances! Oh, and by the way, dear readers, anyone who has read this blog for long knows I'm not a beer drinking sort overall, but I sampled a few of the beers Neil and Steve have gotten in and they are good! In other words, they taste like something I want to drink, not something I want to turn a hose onto. As Walt put it, it's like having three sandwiches in a glass. If that makes sense to you, get on down to Dinghy Dock and support those new taps! And the new bottled beers as well.

Balloon John said I looked unusually happy (and took up my camera to prove it)
...I was