Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Know Why The Humpback Sings

Not really. Not even the honchos at National Geographic (and they know everything, by the way), know.

"Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world's oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning. It is most likely that humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract potential mates."  From NatGeo on humpback whales (well sheesh, NatGeo, doesn't everybody?)

 What? No good morning, just diving right in to humpback whales? Well, yesterday was an interesting day, starting with baking bread and table time, moving along to town and errand time, sliding right into a fare thee well to Pat as she leaves 25 years of Culebra to head to Arizona time, and ending with the Whale presentation, which I regret omitting the announcement for yesterday. My bad. The word got out though and there was a nice turn-out to listen to and ask questions of Mithriel MacKay and her interns (for info about the study that they are working on, go here).

Beside the fact that they are really extraordinary creatures - I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, 'Oh, I'm not a whale person' unless they were overturned at sea by one and even then, no one blames the whale - the reality is, not a whole lot is known about them. Why do they come to and through Culebra's waters? What do they eat around here? Are we ever going to get a photo of them having sex? That little factoid, I have to say, and not out of any purient interest, amazes me. I mean, what animal has not been captured having sex, on the plains, in the cities, deep in the forests, in the sky? Not too damn many. And here is this literal leviathan, as big or bigger than a bus, uncaught on pixels, film or anything else documentable. I love that fact! Not the bigger than a bus fact either, though that too is pretty awe inspiring.

Size relative to a bus:
from NatGeo link above
So the purpose of the presentation was/is to ask for observers. There are many whale sightings around here, and Mithriel would like people to take photos and shoot her an email ( with them, giving her some info about where they were, time of day, what they were doing (tail slapping, jumping, singing - yes, you can hear them sing without being in the water). Mithriel is doing this study here on her own dime, so you could help that way too; check out the wish list on the web site, maybe you have a hydrophone, lying around gathering dust. Ok, maybe you have an extra outdoor chair instead?

There have been humpback whale sightings all around Culebra lately, but the most I hear about are between Cayo Norte and Culebra, off of Zoni Beach - that little island to the back side of Culebra with no name on it; it's a privately owned island, which is probably why it is not identified.
The very exciting thing to me is that this hasn't ever been done here; it's new ground (or water) and in this day and age, that's a rare thing indeed. And it is going on right here, in little ol' Culebra! So check it out. I'm pretty sure Brad WILL be the one to get the first ever humpback whale sex photo, because he's just that kinda guy. In fact, I'll make a little wager right here and now. No, I don't bet money, but I'll bet some bread and hot sauce to the first clear documented photo sent to Mithriel. C'mon, it's good!

Of course, National Geographic would probably pay you
more than a few thousand dollars for such a photo,
just in case bread isn't your temptation. I'll throw in the bread anyway
(isn't it interesting that slang for money is 'bread' and 'dough'?)
Oh, and by the way? Note the air holes in the bread. All that stress for nothing. Eat that, William Alexander!

Right behind where I set up my table is a plant that the hummingbirds love. This one (or his twin(s)) hangs out there a lot, not seeming to mind the human activity going on around it, so bread people often get a good show (not, perhaps, as cool as a whale leaping up in the yard, but very beautiful and bright nonetheless).

If you know the name of this plant, I'd like to know too!

Slightly deranged looking hummer
 During the town part of the day, I stopped by Dinghy Dock to see how Neil is doing (tests, resting well) and Rob came in with some charter guests and a few good looking fish for dinner.

Two happy customers!

So goeth another Culebra day. Thanks, Mary Ann, for the wonderful opportunity to meet Mithriel and her interns and to get in on such a cool adventure! Thanks, Universe, for making Culebra such a wonderful place to live.

Have an oh what a wondrous world we live in Wednesday! Do something wicked good fun!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Are Friends For? You Might Well Ask..

Since I started baking bread, I've been gifted with a number of bread cookbooks, all of which I've enjoyed reading, even though I know I will never be making any number of the wonderful sounding breads within their pages. Each carries personality of the baker, some more technical than others, but all with the goal of inducing in the reader the breadth wealth of potential, the passions, nay, even the hope to bake bread that will rival at least a photo or two.

Until this last book. A friend, at least I thought she was a friend, gave me what she termed as a lighthearted look at baking bread (52 Loaves - A Half-Baked Adventure); the author's attempt, over 52 weeks, to bake what he considered the perfect loaf of peasant bread, a bread not unsimilar to my own in its simplicity.
He does not believe in simple however. His quest goes over in to the obsession range arena soon enough, due to a lack of air holes. He deals with what he thinks may be dementia, goes to bakers far and wide, builds a wood burning oven, grows a patch of wheat, goes to France, goes to Morocco and then back to France, to bake bread in a monastery, which is where I've left him for the moment, not yet to the Holy Grail being found. He's made me doubt the very tiny bit I know about baking bread (which is, put it together, bake it, hope that people like it) and wonder what I am doing. At least I've never called myself a baker, and now I doubt I ever will. But yes, he's funny and that helped a lot.

No wonder I overslept an hour and a half, waking to find my alarm set on 'set' not on 'save'. Oops! So as I type, the second to last round of bread is baking, when I am usually setting up my table and heading out the door. Dementia is the least of my problems. I think.

Ok, back to the Joy of Baking! And it is a joy; what else could I do where I'm at home, filling the air with the various aromas of baking bread? If I could just remember to be sure the alarm is set...

Have a timely Tuesday! Do something thoroughly.

Monday, February 27, 2012


On the way to Sunday Funday out at Dakity, it looked like it might rain, so I cleverly decided not to take my backpack, but rather a large waterproof (sort of) bag for food, drink, etc. Of course, that meant I cleverly forgot to transfer my camera. So you will have to imagine the slashing rain squalls, the sun returning bright on water a hundred shades of blue and purple, John's parents looking wonderful (that previous photo of his father, fie on me!), a group of happy, laughing people.


I am sure more than a few facebook friends of mine are sorely tired of my continuous anti-Monosanto postings. I've been thinking about this a lot, why (beyond the horrid repercussions) this bothers me so very much. And I finally realized that it is the subversiveness of their work. If you, as an educated person, choose to eat McDonald's and drink soft drinks and snack your way to obesity and un-health, I'm pretty much of the mindset, knock yourself out. The uneducated is entwined but a different matter. What angers me is that this isn't about choosing to eat something you know is bad. This is about people who buy something fresh and 'natural', who try to eat well, and feed their families thoughtfully, who are buying food that isn't good already, from the moment it is created, by seed, by feed, by its very nature, be it vegetable, fruit or animal. The guesstimate is that genetically modified foods are probably in 70% of our so called healthy diets. That's a lot of poison we're eating, and it's been going on, unknown to the public for the most part, since the late 80's, and growing (no pun intended) exponentially, long enough that the results are coming in. Cancers, food allergies, deaths, the piper is piping and demanding payment. Countries are getting Monsanto out, but the collateral damage will take decades to eradicate. So, I'll try to hold back on the ranting postings if you will educate yourself and your friends and act accordingly. Because how can you NOT? This isn't about something that doesn't affect you, it is the very thing that keeps you alive and will kill you too early. There are plenty of ways online to find out what is going on. Please. Do. That.

This video is from 2006! (that means a half dozen more years to poison us)

Ok, rant done. I walked to town this morning and this is some of what I saw along the way.

But first, I had to leave my yard, in this place where the harbinger of Spring is falling leaves
Our seasons may be confused, but we do have them!
Pelis are always in season (ok, not always but they are here now)
Until they leave

This was about the light
Carlos' wall. I love this wall.
The El Batey dock
Make your own caption 
Drive through
Purple seems to be the paint of choice lately around here. I like it!
More stairs to nowhere
The man and his goat (thanks, Benjamin!)

Have a Monsanto free Monday (if that's possible)! Do something methodically. 

Best wishes to Neil on a quick recovery!!! (and no, I don't know details, only that he is over on the big island after feeling very unwell but word this morning is that he is resting well and waiting for a doctor there; send your best positive vibes/prayers).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweet Culebra Saturday

What Happened Later: Archie and Janet are back, so you know for sure it's a good time of year. Two of my favorite people who visit here, it was a joy to turn around and see them coming down the sidewalk. There wasn't much of a setting for a decent photo of them, but they are the centerpiece anyway.

What Happened Midway: After I did a couple of errands, I stopped by Ann's store (Paradise) to say hello. Linda and Francie told me I was just in time to help move a fridge...or two. It would have been done but of course, on an awkward turn, the walls were too narrow in the hallway. Take off the fridge doors or 'enlargen' the hallway? We went for the doors, though the potential Two Sisters Demo team should really have been going for the sledgehammer.

One fridge in, one fridge out, one freezer moved to the porch for sale (need a freezer?) Linda thanked us, with a pizza offer for later on, hey, it was a deal! Go to say hi, get some exercise and free pizza? What's not to like?

The first thing that caught our eye on the specials blackboard was the Wasabi Ceasar Salad, yep, we'd get one built for three people. And ok, the Oasis pizza looked good, but how about some pepperoni on that too (I decided not to push my luck asking for anchovies, becoming convinced that I'm going to have to carry them around like sushi snobs do sauce).

The salad was perfecto. Just enough wasabi to brush it into a higher gear of Ceasarness. And the pizza? Well, three old ladies, who have eaten a fair share of pizza, declared it one of the best pizzas they'd ever had. For true! What's on an Oasis pizza beside spinach, and in this case pepperoni? Good cheese, and uh...I'll have to get back with you on that. I only know I ate three slices, topping my normal one slice, and it was all good, including the crusty edge. Thanks mucho, Linda, I'll help you move a fridge any time. Next year.

I have no idea why I didn't take a photo of it, but I think it was because it just seemed to want to be eaten very, very now!

But our plates looked like this!
photo credit: unknown
What Happened Before That:

This Mama hen got a wee bit too close to Ms. Horse's hay - with a swipe of that big head,
the chicken took  brief flight, unaided by wings. It didn't stop her from dining nearby.
And just in case you don't know but wondered, how exactly do coconut trees grow? This is how. The 'seed' can be planted in the ground, but sometimes, many times around here, they will just decide to grow where someone throws them.

It is windy out there this morning! The sun is just touching the edges of the clouds in gold.

Have a Funday Sunday! Do something sea-worthy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lola and Lucy Time

With two of my favorite winter visiting girls here and not being at the cart corner, where in years past I'd see them every day, we took some time to hang out at Dinghy Dock and Zaco's, finishing with ice cream at Willy's. Ok, they had ice cream. I was stuffed full of nachos and tacos (I ordered the goat special, if you'd like to know, and it was good!).

Lucy kept the tooth fairy busy this year! We were at Dinghy Dock for a sing-a-long,
but Lucy wasn't in sing into the mic mode. Hey, when you have a grin like that, that's song enough for me.
My present of sea glass and a couple of pretty shells, complete with a sweet note.
 Lola and Lucy know what their Island Woman likes. Thank you for that really sincere smile, Lola! 
We watched a mama and her babies in Zaco's backyard. Good camo.
Except for this brilliantly white chick.
It had a worm and no intention of going with the crowd. Mama gives chase.
The nachos at Zaco's are really good (no, Lucy, they aren't spicy (unless you put some hot sauce on 'em)!
The mojitos are pretty fine too, report David and Molly. 
On the way to ice cream, we ran into Computer/Balloon John and his wonderful parents
(I know they are wonderful because of the over-the-years worth of stories John has told me about them).
I'm looking forward to having a bit of time together before they head back home. 
Another day dawns in Paradox, where every day holds the 'what will happen next?' potential. I'm ready. Right after this next cup of coffee.

Have a slow it down Saturday. Do something softly.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Free (de)Ranged Friday

This has been a wonderfully busy week for me, between seeing yearly visiting friends, getting some crazy calls (good calls, mind you, but crazy), the showing of the documentary Windfall, and adding an extra bread baking day plus a couple of other jobs. Truthfully, it would be less than average for a typically Western world person, but my life here is not exactly in that mold, so for me it has been a whirl.

The showing of Windfall was a success. A full house (meaning the 27 seats were full, minus one or two maybe) and some eyes and minds were opened to some of the 'other' side of the green power of wind turbines. If you have the opportunity, please see it. Both sides of the issue are presented by people in the midst of the issue pro and con and you can form your own opinions. The consensus for Culebra is pretty much, not so good for us in the commercial form. I say pretty much because I'm sure some people think it would be good and plenty. I want to thank Nancy, Lolly, Molly, Claire, Al, Mary Ann and all who showed up for making it a worthwhile moment in time. We're approaching the producer about a Spanish version, as has been requested; we'll see what happens.

Right now I am literally surrounded by bread, but just took a few minutes to go outside and look at the day a little closer up.

Some clouds, and some spits of rain, but don't let it ruin your parade!
The tide is OUT
A little birdie cries it's going to be a good day

And now off to sell some bread, hoping the rain holds off (though it was nice and cozy under the umbrella last Tuesday during a heavy shower).

Have a family (by blood or by heart) Friday. Do something fraternizing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just Another Morning in Paradox

Life is good, don't forget it!

Sometimes island beauty isn't about the spectacular
Sometimes, it's just about the weird!
Have a wonder full of the weird Wednesday! Do something watchfully.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Works!

Adding another day of baking here. Which, if it goes as planned, means getting up hours later! So here's a shameless plug about the bread for you bread people: if you can all divide up between Tuesday and Friday (what? You don't know each other? You can't just divide up magically? I think you can!), that would be awesome!

What I had time to do...are these the cutest rolls you've ever seen?
One of each, rosemary garlic, rye and hearty grain.
I call this....breakfast. And samples, if you get here on time.
Yesterday I headed to town to put up posters for the documentary Windfall, which (she says again) will be playing at the Cine the 23rd, Thursday. Along the way, there were machines and saws and people around the house caty-corner from Happy Landings. I asked what was going on; apparently trying to fix a drainage pipe that was emptying into the airport area instead of out to the bay. Yes, we can make water flow uphill here. I believe!
Maybe you've noticed all the new DRNA vehicles around, but this one...I want it! Ricky (our interim mayor) was there and I asked him if I could have a job with DRNA so I can drive this. He laughed. I don't think that was a solid yes, but it wasn't a no, so there is always hope.

He also asked what I thought about having a law that all vehicles on Culebra have to be this size...I said that would be the right thing to do...weight restrictions for trucks, etc. I think Bermuda has the right idea, one vehicle per family, no rental cars (this isn't personal, I count Carlos, Jerry and Dick as friends...well, I did). Or, I just read about an island off of Panama almost exactly fitting Culebra's description and there are NO cars, only golf carts. I know we couldn't do that as 4 wheel drive is an absolute necessity on certain roads, but...

Really, how cool is this?
One other thing I asked him was about the area when heading out to Zoni, where the cattle pens used to be and that were trashed when the guys were clearing the side of the road. Instead of a charming, picturesque spot (and you can't stop there, it's too narrow, that makes it even more special, to glimpse the little waterfall when going by), it now looks like a tornado hit it. He promised it would be addressed, a good thing. Certainly not the top 'need' priority of Culebra, but for a random moment on a walk, I'll take it. Especially when we see it get done. Now, about that water spillway across from the panaderia...

A couple more moments along the way:

Walking your friend's goat...that's a pal!
Woody, you rock! (there, friends of Woody, he's IWCblogger-cized now & forever)
I wanted to show a photo of Jane's arty trousers (that's for you, Karen), but the photo just didn't do them or her justice. They reminded me of that guy from St. John who paints clothing for a quite impressive sum. Jane got hers like that for real. Some people can just wear anything and look classy and Jane is one of them. I, truthfully, am quite the opposite, and deeply appreciate people with any positive, natural characteristic I don't possess. Some things you just can't learn. I'm so glad I have friends like that!

It looks like it's going to be another gorgeous day today, according to the radar. Since it is still dark, I'm just guessing. But all you short-time people here, you've been weather blessed! Enjoy.

Have a pick up your trash and take it with you Tuesday! Do something tidily.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday Funday and Monday Morning

Yesterday, against my expectations, turned out to be a beautiful day on the water with friends. The water that seemed would be too cold turned out to be just some more beautiful, after the initial shock of it. Because I was so cold in the morning, chili seemed like the thing to make, using some ground beef from some friends butchered cow from Connecticut that was brought down frozen awhile back (thanks, Jim and Lorraine!).

MJ's chili

1 lb. ground beef
1 large can red kidney beans
2 medium or one large onion, minced
2 leaves racao (or regular cilantro), minced
1 barely there dash of cinammon
1 head of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or any hot pepper of your choice, I like the smokiness of chipotles)
2 large cans whole tomatoes (use fresh if you've got them, that's what I had on hand)
1 medium can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
Salt to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese / chopped onions optional
(no more cheese for the photo, sorry!)

Brown the beef - because this beef was so lean, I used about 2 tablespoons of some bacon fat I had in the fridge to help it along - and sauté the onions. Toss in the rest of it and let it cook on a very low heat as long as you can (don't be silly, two hours is enough, 4 is better!) Buen provecho!


We've been having splendid weather lately. I thought Spring had up and sprung, but we're back to warm without being too warm days and lovely sleeping weather. When I say I'm cold, I'm really not complaining at all, it's a novelty and makes sleeping wonderful! It's just a bit of a shock to a very warm weather acclimated me.

The clouds were amazing. At one point, we saw this cloud that looked exactly like
a woman's face in profile., a woman with her hair in a bun and a rather severe mouth.
She morphed into Samuel Clements, keeping us entertained for at least 7 minutes. 

I know it's really hard to tell, but this is a big ray who swam around us for awhile.

Most of the star fish have left, but this guy has stayed around for now
This morning's sunrise. Oh glory!

We were sitting chatting when we noticed that the area where the fire was the other day had started up again. We debated heading up there but it seemed the smoke was waning and it would be a good 45 minutes or more before we'd actually be there. So we made a few calls instead for others closer to get up there to help the bomberos and home owners. I'm not sure what started this one up, either smoldering embers or whether it was a new fire. Either way, it seemed to be gotten under control fairly quickly (never quickly enough if you are there). Please please please! Even a car's muffler can start a fire when it is so dry here, so take care where you are driving, and what you do with any potential fire starting materials. 

By the way, it's President's Day, happy birthday George! It was obviously a holiday, made clear this morning when there was plenty of parking in town! I'm not sure what is open or closed except the schools. The PO doesn't answer the phone, so they may or may not be open; I'd guess not but I'm not sure. 

Have a memorable birthday for George W. party Monday! Do something honestly meaningful.