Monday, January 31, 2011

Look Up! Look Down! Look all Around! Holy Culebraized!

Walking into town today, I was suddenly struck by how insanely blue the sky was and how beautiful the clouds were, with their zizzing shapes of wind made visible.

In town itself, I first attributed the extreme quiet and empty streets to Sunday morning-ness. But when I got to the cart, there were a few guys standing in the street and a rumbling sound coming our way. As it turned out, all the streets had been cleared of parked cars to allow this trailer to come through. Ack!

You know that saying, the sea is so large and my boat is so small? That's pretty much how I was feeling about this trailer and my cart. But, in typical Culebra fashion, this was already anticipated and would be dealt a very cool way.

Okay, at this point they've gone up and back a few times to get fairly lined up to cross the bridge. the present angle, the driver would have been taking a corner of my cart with him. Soooooooooo....

In comes the dozer and literally lifts up the corner of the trailer, scootching it up and sideways, maybe...I don't know, not quite off the road, but not quite on it either. Amazingly simple and brilliant. I could stop having a heart attack. As usual, during these 'leave it to the Culebrense' episodes, I'm the only one ever having a heart attack. The Culebrense are just calmly tap/ballet dancing along with ginormous machines or whatever the case may be (though it often involves huge machines), wishing I'd stay out of the way long enough for them to get the job done.

Black marks are from the sideways scraping (Boy, I need some flowers!)

At last, with little to no fanfare (except for me, jumping up and down and clapping my hands in applause - yes yes, the loco Americana), the crew was off and away to where ever this was going. Soon cars were parked back on the streets, and not long after that, all the blocking barrels were collected and taken away. Just another Sunday in Paradox!

Adios, amigos. That was...interesting
 In the afternoon at home, I was finally able to get a few shots of one of my yard hummers. This one is fairly small. The big ones seem to know I am holding a camera and tease me often by darting off at the last second. I delete many shots of...air. Do hummingbirds snicker? I could swear I've heard them do that...

And that concludes the weekend portion of Culebra from my view. A good one indeed!

Have a last day of the Month Monday! Do something memorable (we only get one shot at this, make it count).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Elephant Seal and Water Moon

This video just felt really Sunday to me. I tried to imagine myself in this and realized I would have not been anywhere as cool and calm as this woman...therein lies the lesson. Or maybe there is no lesson at all, except Be. Which is not a small thing... Thanks, Frank, for sending this along.

song is Adios Ayer. It is on the Cafe Del Mar Series, volume six
In case you get a yen to go to this beach, it is called South Georgia Island, obviously not the US state of Georgia. Here is the site dedicated to information about South Georgia Island.

Early (very early) yesterday morning I was looking at the water, taking some photos, when I saw this odd light, looking like it was coming UP from the water. It was one of those mental gyrations that really only takes a second or less,  but where I was so unable to connect an image to anything in my brain, it was really a cool sort of way. Brain flounder... But then I looked up and realized it was a reflection of the moon and Venus shining brightly in the morning sky. I looked down again...they were right at my feet...amazing. 

Water reflection
The real deal

Have a scenic Sunday! Do something sky full.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

And that was Friday, Culebra Time

I was walking into town yesterday
When I was picked up by jeep of Fay
He was recycling tourist trash
and his honor wasn’t crashed
then we went to drink the night away

That’s not quite how it happened...but that’s how the song went by the end of the night. Thanks, George and Jane! Thanks, Susie and crew!

Jacinto the Expeditor!
60th Wedding Anniversary! Really. Wow.
Two beautiful women
Two more beautiful women
One beautiful Vilma
Too cute

Beautiful lobster dinner and diners!

And there was dancing!
Love you, girl! Congratulations on this milestone.
Four people I never met in my life but they hung out all night and were nice!
The four seconds I couldn't even get four of the crew together for a photo
Ok. That part is about Susie’s 3rd anniversary party. Except...really, Susie, Jacinto, Kate, Vilma, Ramon, Devonn and...soooooooo sorry, I don’t know the other young man’s name in the kitchen!....were so busy, I really didn’t get a chance to take photos of them, except one I pushed, still not getting them as a group. I have to work today, so I couldn’t stay long enough to see what I know went on later...the team relaxing and maybe some dancing and laughter and letting the joy of three years settle in for celebration.

But in the meantime, it was an excellent day, starting with a big turnout for the Flea Market and the veggie guy, moving on to Dinghy Dock where there were more visitors than I have seen all year, a bit of stoop time at Ann's shop and finally to Susie's. A wonderfully exhausting day and evening. Oh yes, a fine day at the cart as well! Life is good. Very good.

Happy Saturday!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Culebra Free Range Friday - From Here to There

First, if you have forgotten, the Sisters' Flea Market is today, in town at the corner by Hotel Puerto Rico. Get there early; this is a popular event and early is better. Double the pleasure, the veggie guy is going to set up there as well this morning, so you can have a one stop shopping experience, see your friends and neighbors, benefit the community via the Sisters' charity, and benefit yourself by reusing some great stuff (while getting first use on some great fruit and veg).

Ok, that's done. Uh, hey, wait, where'd you go??? Well, that's okay, because today's Free Range Friday covers something that has been around a long time...a few hours more won't hurt a thing. Yes, that subject you've been waiting for, a hot spot center of kitchen controversy for decades, the cast iron skillet. Ohhhhhhhhhh, I hear you sighing, FINALLY! Yes, I know.

If you like cooking at all, you have an opinion about cast iron. In fact, there are only two opinions about that weighty line of products. You either love it or you hate it. There's no wishy-washy "Oh, it's ok." or "Sure, I use it...sometimes." Even if you own it and don't use it, it's because you love it. Maybe you don't use it because it has gotten too heavy for your old(er) hands and arms. Um...that would be about the only reason...unless you left yours up North and it's too expensive to ship it all down here. Those are the only two reasons I've used and heard from die-hard fans.

Controversies about cast iron, you non-cooks are thinking? When the world is falling apart, this woman thinks there is something important about cookware? Well, hell yes I do! What is more important, when the world is falling apart, than enjoying how you cook, what you cook and eating it too? Better than having an ulcer, that's what I think.

Controversy #1 - Food sticks no matter how well you 'season' (we'll get to that) cast iron. DING, wrong, not true. If your food sticks in your cast iron, you didn't season it correctly, or you're not using it correctly, which is starting with a warm to hot pan/skillet versus cold. Yes, it's worth the whole minute or so spent heating it up.

One cleaning method, from Men In Aprons
Controversy #2 - Soap or no soap? No soap. Period. Ever, until you go to re-season the pan, which you should do if you find food sticking or any sort of dull sheen on your cast iron. No soap doesn't mean no cleaning!

There is a whole section on the Lodge cast ironware website about the use and car of cast iron that includes seasoning, washing, re-seasoning. In fact, pretty much anything you want to know about cast iron is on that website. I'm a big fan of Lodge cast ironware, the only one made in the US and the only kind I've ever had...until now (I'm getting there, hang on). Sorry, Karen, it's just one of those things. I've tried other kinds, but Lodge really DOESN'T stick, ever! Taken care of properly, it's smooth as a baby's bottom cooking surface is perfect, without machine ridges or warps. Yes, maybe it's a few bucks more - even though right now there are some great sales! - but this is a lifetime investment, like good knives. It's worth it. And that's how I feel about that!

Seasoning. No big deal! You can buy pre-seasoned cast iron ware. OR. Wash it well with soap and water (yes, you can use soap here), getting off any icky stuff. Dry it well. Coat it lightly with some vegetable oil. Put it in the oven for about an hour or so, around 250 (the Lodge site says higher, but that's the temp my Daddy taught me and I'm stickin' (or not, as the case may be) to it). Store in a well ventilated spot. Done. The deal with cast iron is, the more you use it, the better it gets. Sort of like...a lot of things. Advantage to user, you get better too.

The reason this even came up (since I've managed to live in the islands 17 years or so without any cast iron to my own name) is because I was recently given a cast iron skillet. Not a Lodge, which made me hesitate, but it was a challenge, so I took it. It had been passed on to the person who gave it to me, someone who never used it but hadn't gotten around to getting rid of it. It put it mildly, pretty disgusting. Obviously someone of the no soap / don't clean mentality owned this at one time. (Hey, pssssst! All that sticky, rough stuff you feel on the bottom and handle and inside? That's NOT cast iron, that's old GREASE and food...c'mon!! that's gross)

But #1...I was homesick for cast iron! Yes, it's heavy. No, it's not Lodge. And I might not keep it forever. But brings back a thousand memories for me of being cooked for, and learning to cook with my father, who taught me about seasoning, washing and drying cast iron. Something in that ritual of washing it and then drying it on the stove, taking a paper towel with the barest scrim of oil on it to wipe down the inside of the hot pan, letting it cool before putting it away...that's worth a lot. So, the other night, wrapped in nostolgia, I baptized my newly seasoned cast iron skillet with the only thing appropriate in the whole world. Bacon. Of course.

Buying cast iron: In my humble opinion, especially if you live in a more yard/estate sale friendly place (include craigslist in there...I'd love a really active craigslist...alas, ain't happenin' here), the best place to buy cast iron is at a yard sale, from an old woman preferably, who will tell you her cooking stories.

Usually that sort of cast iron is the best (because when she bought it, there wasn't a bunch of crap substituting properly made cast ironware on the market), it's been seasoned a hundred times, and...hey, some old women are just pretty cool to talk to at yard sales. But if you can't get that going on, I really do recommend Lodge (who isn't aware I'm promoting them and I'm not getting anything from them, but they  can send a #8 skillet to me anytime they like).
Do you think they will notice this?? I hope so! 

Now. Finish your morning abalutions, get thee to the flea market/veggie guy (in your head or on your feet) and think about how cool cast iron is.

Happy Friday!

p.s. This has nothing to do with cast iron. Really. I've been meaning to put this in for a bit...this is for Jeff's friends, to let them know he really does live here in this slightly crazy place and that he hangs (never very late) out at a great bar. Thanks for reading the blog! We're glad he's here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A very surprising Culebra thing..maybe even a miracle

It isn't often things like this happen. About as often as unicorns show up in the middle of Rodeo Drive in LA. Oh...that happened last week? Sorry. But I got this in my email and had to share it with you is short and miracles are few and far between. Are you ready?

"MJ, someone spotted a Llama in Flamingo and took a photo, check it out!!"

And there you have it. If you are unaware of the llamas on Flamenco beach, it's a long story, most likely best told over a glass of an alcoholic beverage. Probably the third glass of that beverage. It's a bit early in the day to tell it here, now, but suffice to say - it's a very spiritual thing. It's about the vibes of Flamenco and the calmness and longevity of llamas (though frankly, I have no inside knowledge as to the life span of an average llama, I do know that the ones who live at Flamenco are a few thousand years old). It's about being able to see the llamas of Flamenco and why you can or cannot see them. Are you getting the idea? If you are, you might be one who can see the llamas. If you aren't, you're probably not reading this blog anyway.

So ponder miracles today. And thank you, gentle reader, for sending in that photo. I really never thought I'd see the day they were captured 

Have a tantalizing Thursday! Do something tolerant.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Do We See What We See?

I was walking on the little stony beach at the bottom of my yard yesterday, avoiding thinking about politics, lunatics, rhetorics, and just plain icks. A not very difficult task when at my feet are rustic Nature jewels of varying sizes, compositions and colors. It also helps to have the attention span of a locust, an analogy you'll just have to work out for yourselves.

People who take lots of photos tend to play with visual distance like sailors, astronomers, baseball players and high jumpers do. Ok, like anyone does who needs to see each stage of where one is looking to find out how to get there (which is pretty much everyone, or it should be). Really, that does make sense, just drink some more coffee...or something.

So there I was, looking at this playground of Nature's - well, mostly - flotsam and jetsam,  trying to put them in my little black box, stealing away with images like I do, and not thinking much except how green and soft this plant life looked. How fragile in the tough mangrove roots, rough rocks and broken whelk shells.

When the photos were loaded up, I looked at what I was looking at (she expressed awkwardly) and realized that I'd been looking at everything like this all day long, internally and externally, depending on how close I wanted to get to whatever was passing by my mental or visual screen.

Obviously, I wanted to get closer to this. Rocks and water and plants speak a language I want to listen to, most of the time (maybe need to listen to...ok, no maybe on that one).

Of course, you can flip this whole thing around, too. Sometimes the close up is better viewed from a distance..and that's about all I know about that. Sorry, no big point here; there is no climactic (another ick) denouement to splash on the screen. Just a(nother) random rambling from Culebra. And a few photos. And the wish for your good day, along with mine.

Have a wending Wednesday. Do something wonder full.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where Was I, take dos

So...let's see if they have taken my five dollars and given me a bit more photo space. Who knew this day of paying to play, after 20 + years online, would come? But we'll (not quite the royal We; I include the cat) keep kicking the ball around awhile longer, because most of my world is too spilling over beautiful to keep inside one brain and soul.

A couple of days seems like more but I'm pretty sure it wasn't, I was sitting at the cart when I heard a 'flapflapflap' and looked to see a large bird flying toward the bridge. It's pretty normal to see a pelican doing stunt moves, playing on the air waves at the bridge. One will clear the water pipe by inches, getting a bit of lift to flirt with the bridge supports and glide down the canal, but...something was not right. Grace was not this bird's middle, first or even last name. It was a peacock! The Milka peacock, if I'm not mistaken.

Even the visitors were noticing

I tried to wait until he flew away, but he was pretty scared I think, not ready to go anywhere until he figured out how he possibly could have landed up there. He wasn't there yesterday morning, so obviously he got back to terra firma at some point. Funny bird.

So I think I'm finally caught up. We've had some incredibly beautiful weather, a good amount of people milling about the beaches and the streets, the stores and restaurants. Almost all of the old familiar faces are back - most have smiled during a few traffic kerfluffles on the corner - so I know it must be winter. This is a good thing.

Have a tapping Tuesday! Do something ticklish.