Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With the Old, In with the New

2011 has been a year of re-invention for many of us. Dealing with world, country, state and local issues has brought more than a few people to come up with imaginative ways to do more than survive, merely holding on by bloody fingernails, but to have a life that is full of the good things that we should cherish, because even if you believe in reincarnation, this time around is the only one you've got that you're going to remember. Unless you are Shirley Maclaine and I'm not going there (but have you ever noticed that everyone was either Cleopatra or King Solomon? Who schlepped the slop buckets?). I do know one thing that many are learning or have learned and are incorporating. Less IS more.

Life should be celebrated, and the only way to make that happen is to...(alert, profoundness ahead) make it happen!

 credit: unknown with permission

I know a few great stories of recent life re-inventions, but best to let people tell there own tales of that sort. Mine is the one where I know what really happened next.

The Island Woman cart, which kept me pretty happily occupied for quite a few years - and why shouldn't it? I got to sell cool stuff, make fun stuff, hang out on a corner reading, talking to friends, meeting, for the most part, interesting people  - was both easy and hard to give up.

Easy because it was no longer a viable way for me to earn a living, one way and another, postage and handling included (luckily, Hannah won't have that issue, all of her beautiful work is made by her and other local artisans). I won't miss telling 873 people how to get to _________ . I won't miss certain kinds of people implying it is somehow my fault that it is: raining/too hot/too buggy, or that there is no milk/no water/no veggie guy/no dry cleaners (really)/no gas, that too loud are roosters crowing/parranda music/music in general/their air conditioners (really).Ok, I am still giving the occasional directions, and I don't mind that. Key word, occasional.

Hard because I miss seeing a lot of people I had come to enjoy on a daily or at the very least, weekly basis. Sometimes for chatting, a lot of times just waving, but it kept me smiling. I miss meeting the travelers who stopped along the way and the ones who come back every year. I'll miss seeing what socks Betz is wearing...yes, the good people, that's a big hard part I'll miss. And the firemen...and and and. 97.7% of the cart experience? I was blessed.

I'm not sure exactly what I've re-invented myself to be. What do you call some sort of hybrid baker/farmer/hot sauce maker along with being the shaky left hand to a good friend who manages houses and keeps me busy? All I know is that, thanks to people, local and part time alike, it's working and while I may be a mite more tired than sitting in a chair got me, I'm tired in body and not in mind. My mind and heart are singing, most of the time (unless the rye flour doesn't get here). And there is nothing, NOTHING better than that. I'll never be rolling in dough high cash flow, but I have enough to do the necessary and some beyond and what more do I need?

Which brings me to... That little tip jar over on the side? I've set it up blindly, so I don't know who tips. But for those that have, I'm shocked and slightly overwhelmed each time I'm notified. That new computer I have to get? It's helping, so I can keep on doing this. As Shakespeare wrote, "I can no other answer make but thanks and thanks and ever thanks."

Thankfulness. I'm full of it (hush). That I like as well as love my children (and grands). That I have incredible friends, true friends, both here and around the world. Friends that teach me, let me be myself, admonish me, love me. I can go into the New Year knowing if I break every resolution I attempt, they will laugh but not meanly. If I fall, they'll help me up, and then laugh. But not meanly. And I've got people who will buy my bread! Holy wow! The eggs are coming the eggs are coming.

There was the loss of friends in 2011 that were and are hard. Really hard. It doesn't make me stronger, sorry. But it does encourage me to try to live as vibrantly as they did, and that helps push me along. As it should. Because they were the kinds of friends who'd kick my ass (their phrase, not mine, of course not!) if I didn't. I'd deeply appreciate it if everyone I love would just stay on the planet this year. Deal? Deal.

Happy, hopeful, work towards making dreams come true full New Year. I'm so thankful for all of you.

I woke up and here I am.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Culebra Free Range Friday - Holiday Version

Thanks, Dad, that this wasn't our tradition

 Holiday foods. They bring us memories, traditions, comfort. We can change them at our own risk, add to them for our own and others enjoyment or discard them all together, but there it is, no matter what your culture or what you're celebrating, there is some food that just says "It's holiday time!"

One of my favorite 'new to me' holiday foods here is pasteles. Truth? I'll probably never make pasteles. I think it is something your Puerto Rican mother or grandmother needs to teach you. So when I actually get one, it's a huge special gift. This is a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas treat and I was lucky enough to snag a couple from a party I went to last week. I usually take food TO a party, not take it away, but some things are irresistible and this was one of them. Ok, two of them. Thank you, Mary Ann and thanks to whoever made these delicious pasteles. Oh, you want to try to make your own? Here you go!

Wrapped in parchment paper (I forgot to get the first photo, which would have been the two pasteles tied up with string. Very cool looking package of deliciousness!
Parchment paper opened and banana leaf slightly pulled back (if you don't think it took major self-control to not just start eating this immediately, you don't know me very well)
The filling looks smooth but once broken into gently, the prizes are revealed, including garbanzo beans. This was so good that I only let myself have one. For breakfast. Two days in a row. Pasteles are now a part of my Christmas, along with coquito. I love Culebra!
Tomorrow night is New Year's Eve, or Old Year's Night, take your choice. I'd never heard of Old Year's Night until I moved to the Virgin Islands and I like it. No matter what you call it, it's celebrated all around the world, in various time zones. With the power of the internet and friends around the world, it's fun to follow midnight...but it's more fun to be down at the plaza and that's where I'll be. Inside my head and heart, I'll be waving to family and friends and wishing the very best of good things for all in this New Year.

I'm all for pushing good luck by borrowing from a few cultures traditional good luck foods. I've made up a pot of Hoppin' John; black-eyed peas, with pork and pork (chops and bacon, double luck?) for my contribution. Hopefully there will be grapes, 12 each, one for each month of the year. Maybe the only good luck it will bring is being a good base for a long night of paced celebration. That works. For the down and dirty on good luck foods, what they are and what they mean, go here.

Mince up some garlic. Cut up a couple of pork chops and bacon in smaller than bite sized pieces. Start the bacon until you have a nice amount of fat going on. Add the pork and garlic.
Then add some chopped onion. Cook until soft under a lower heat than the above.
Add the black-eyed peas and some chopped up jalapenos. Let simmer awhile (until it smells so good you can hardly stand it, that's right). This is great to make ahead and put in the fridge after it cools because the flavors have a chance to get mixed and mellow.

There are a couple of ways to go here. The best way is to use dry black-eyed peas, The directions to cook the above is more or less on the package. I say more or less because it says, basically, cook until done. Don't be afraid, the worst you can do to any legume is cook it to mush, Well, you could burn it but hopefully that won't happen. If you do use dry beans, you can do the above steps with the meat, garlic and onions while you get your pot of water going for the beans. The longer you cook it the better it will be. I cheated and used canned this time, because frankly, I'm using my propane very judiciously these days to make sure I have enough for baking bread (which means always having a back-up tank, a good idea in any case but not always one I've followed). I wish I could tell you I used organic canned black-eyed peas. I didn't. Don't shoot me, it would seriously dent my good luck chances. Oh, and add rice if you want, I'd rather have cornbread!

There is nothing to do with good luck food here. I just liked seeing all the chickens going crazy on the newly cleared ground.
This also has nothing to do with good luck food. Anita is just so damn cute I had to share. I don't know how the Passoa Passion Party Pump (say that three times, heck, say it one time) worked out but it was fun to watch it being put together. With enough Passoa, you might get lucky. With too much Passoa, you won't.
Debbie and Lewis are on island, singin' for their beer our entertainment
Have a food filled Friday! Do something farther out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


It wasn't only me. I talked to a woman sitting under a tree who agreed; yesterday was hot. The coolness of winter seemed sucked away, leaving me sweating wondering if our respite from heat was over. Of course, it isn't. This morning is cool, with a slight breeze and a spit of rain a while ago. It just upped my thankfulness for winter months. Walk on.

New Year's Eve here is so special, a family affair of gathered parties, from Abuella to the smallest baby scattered up and down the closed off road (don't forget, if you don't get your car off the road from about the Chinese restaurant down to the ferry dock you're going to get a ticket) with their tables and chairs, food and drink. The photos I usually take show the party, but it's hard to see, if you don't know Culebra, exactly where the main event is taking place. No longer!

At the plaza, preparations pre-New Year's Eve - or Old Year's Night - were hot afoot; pressure washing the street and plaza, the trash cans (thank you, Yoli, for making sure the only trash blown into the sea was sand and not anything else) and the parking area which will be the dancing/listening to the bands area. 

The stage. I don't know who is playing this year, but I've not heard a bad band yet.

One of my favorite views of town and beyond to Vieques. The winter boats are in!

My sea grape tree is really starting to take off. I like to use these leaves rather than  lettuce leaves when preparing a plate for a party. Lettuces should be eaten!
Dawn this morning made it look like the hills were on fire. Luckily, the sun isn't that close.
Have you been thinking about what you hope for in the New Year? What you want to do to make your dreams come to reality? Some may call them resolutions. Some may call it planning and working hard. Some may call it hope, with elbow grease. Call it what you will, this date that the universe blithely ignores is a time for humans to clean the slate, a good thing in the way of marking and renewing time in your lives.

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
~Thomas Hood

Have a think-about-it Thursday. Do something truthful.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Was That?

Light around here has some interesting ways of distorting what is right in front of your face. So that saying, I'll believe it when I see it? Don't.

I don't use photoshop. I'm not against it; I have seen many photos that stunned me in the good way, when someone with skill wields its powers. It's just not for me.  I use a small photo program that lets me straighten out a horizon (sometimes I forget - I have a bit of a hitchy shoulder from breaking it, so my horizons are almost always aslant), cropping, deepening color or around here, lessening it sometimes out of its wild intensity, sharpen some edges. It can do more, but I usually don't. Point being. sometimes I do not much at all because it's okay that somehow, the camera and light and subject just look like I want them to, even if that's a bit or maybe more than a bit, different than reality. And sometimes, it's the subject that is just plain caught out strange. Which is what is fun about taking photos. Surprise!

 And then...there is just what fits into the 'I like that, I'm posting it' camp. Which is most of the time.

I like the way the docks look here in the late afternoon light. The peli can stay too.
The truly discerning observer will note that pelicans sit on this dock. A lot.

One day, when I have a better camera I might not get these odd effects (and will catch a lot I miss now). Until then, the twist from reality to camera reality well reflects my Culebra life compared to any other place I've ever lived. Slightly askew, aglow with odd contrasts. Maybe I don't need another camera.

Have a world-view Wednesday. Do something waist-deep.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boxing Day Futzing

Yesterday was a day for futzing, which is pretty much all I did. No photos, no parties, no projects completed; in fact, it seemed there was a mini-conspiracy going on to keep me from completing any projects. No - well, here is the definition, in case you don't know what futzing is (and who knew there was an offical definition, but there is):

  1. Waste time; idle or busy oneself aimlessly: "mother futzed around in the kitchen".
  2. Deal with (something) in a trifling way; fiddle with.
On old photo reprisal, because I like this spot.
Today is another kind of day indeed, with tasks to be accomplished. I can do that.

What my  world looked like one year ago today

Have a total Tuesday. Do something teachingly.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Culebra Chrismas Parade, Not Quite All There

The video uploaded but to my horror, the memory card must have been filled up before the greatest float from Randaluz Ferreteria. And I even saw them when I was coming home, stopped outside my house for some reason, but no way to photograph them. I'll look for some photos online and see if I can share them, because it was a GREAT float! Rats !@#$%^!

Ah well, you'll get the idea, it was a fabulous parade!

Thanks for the goody bags, Santa and crew!

So This is Christmas

How Boxing Day should be spent
Christmas 2011 will go down as one of the stand out Christmas's on Culebra for me. With the exception of not getting to hear my son's voice, even though I heard his heart in his message.. It was a day filled with music and horses and friends. Even waiting the hour plus for the parade was just turned into a good time. There were new friends and old friends who literally blended in harmonies. There was the amazing parade (at last) that I'm uploading the video for and it might take the rest of my life day, so I'm going for the now thing. But as a teaser, I will say I think it's the best parade I've ever seen on Culebra, well, except for Francie and Linda's shared 60th birthday parade, but that's a different story.

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Incoming horses! It's about 5:30 in this photo, the parade starting at 6. Things were looking amazingly timely.
Naturally, this horse and rider caught my attention
And then I knew why. This is not a one-trick pony!
The rider was nice enough to give me a little show
That is one beautiful horse and good rider (and not a crop in sight; I like that a lot). Gracias!
Ah, here is the float for D's Garden (our only nursery here and a good one). Still not yet 6 o'clock...could it possibly mean this parade would start on time?
A trickster, both rider and horse

*somehow, half my blog got poofed away, this is the re-do, sorry!*

It was getting later and darker, so I decided to walk to town...

 A colorful house along the way

 The lights were bright and the street lined with people waiting for the parade
and having a fine time doing just that (deja voodoo Culebra time)

 Hooray!!! The parade was on its way. Hi, Santa!

 Horses coming in first, of course. Have you noticed that horses play a big part of Culebrense culture? If you haven't, I can fix that.

 Looking fine!

And BINK! After this shot, I video'd the parade and filled up the memory card, without a spare. The night doesn't care, and so I didn't either. On we went to Molly's party, where there was music and food and laughter and friends, some old and some new. There were guitars and a ukulele and Violin Guy was there too! It was good. Very good. As has been every party I've gone to in this season full of them, leaving memories shot through with diamond dust and still New Year's Eve ahead to make some more.

Yes, I sung. No, not alone, except for the 'I love you' part of What a Wonderful World where I might have gotten carried away a wee bit; sorry Doug!! But I woke up smiling and not wishing myself totally invisible, so on we go!

Especially for Doug, especially for all of you. Thank you!

Have a memory-making Monday! Do something marvelous.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Catching Up on Christmas (Eve Day Eve)

I have a feeling if I don't do this right now, before I head out for the parade, I'll never get it done. So for those of you not here for Christmas, this is part of what Christmas Eve (day and night) was like. For me anyway!

Grace graced

Waiting for Santa

I love this moment!
And here he is! (elf) hats off to Hector and Sandra, who do this for the children every year!


Look at her face!
A little bit of live action here (or Santa time you won't see in a mall)
And now, a pause as I go blow some time before the parties begin. Not enough time to go home and come back so I did a town walkabout instead.

Benjamin painting a New Year's sign on the wall

Other worldly - Culebra's front yard
While back at Zaco's Taco's, I got to hang out with Alicia and Fede before they went to Blue for a evening of fun (they are open tonight too, by the way)
We thought we might see the green flash. No green flash but a gorgeous sunset. This is from the vantage point of party #1
The ferry dock, all lit up and looking good. Great music too. I took a video but it wasn't working (not that I take very good video's but the whole point was so you could hear the music and what was mostly heard was wind. Not the same)
Hostesses of Party #1 and a fine fine time it was - 7 layer salad? Shrimp? Friends? Not necessarily in that order, of course. A water view of the world? What's not to like?

Party #2 with live music...and some incredible food and coquito too. Oh my!
And the band played on
Side band kazooing (she's GOOD!)
Sylvia in her Christmas vestments
Dee (Hostess #2 along with others) and Linda's gorgeous smiles
Kids just havin' fun. I tried to 'fix' the horses not really white eyes, but they looked so creepy I just left them as is. No, our paso fino's do not have ghost eyes!
Mary Ann, Hostess #3, with...hey! Sylvia's at this party too! With a hat.
I know, that's a lot of photos. But you got off the hook easily, this is about a fourth of what I tussled over. Hopefully, your Christmas day is full of what you want most (which I hope you have most days, really). It's gorgeous here, cool and breezy, sun shining after a little rain earlier in a sky so brilliant. All day long I've been hearing (and seeing) horses being ridden up and down my street, along with the occasional live music happening. The paraders are getting ready, and so am I.

Happy Christmas! Peace. Over and out for now.