Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Take a Picture?

I was out this morning, trying to get yet another photograph of that crazy gorgeous orchid just getting ready to bloom, a LOT of tries. Because of camera wonkiness, operator error, the limited ability of trying to capture real life beauty or all of the above, it just didn't work out the way I wanted it to. It never does.

And I started thinking about what I did yesterday morning, snorkeling with a group of friends, seeing a world below the world we live in, full of incredible wonder, some of it literally just a few feet from the shore.

There were turtles that seemed almost as big as the hood of a VW beetle. There were big fish, with colors both bright and subtle and small fish that were banded and mottled in colors that, if I wasn't trying to breath through this tube, would have made me gasp, even if I'd only seen just one. There were rays, two in particular, a big one and a small one, that, as one friend put it, were like a little brother tagging after a big one, finally having the inevitable dust up of big brother effectively saying, buzz off, face point to face point. Little brother backed away and swam for more friendly water. Every turn of the head brought a silent oh wow.

One friend had an underwater camera, and I wished I had one in my hands as well, but then let go of that pretty quickly. There was too much to see, with all of my eyes, with all of myself and since I couldn't capture it, or even try, I could just let go and be in what I was in, an underwater living garden.

Which- back to what I was thinking - led me to think about a time before cameras and those writers who looked at the world with relentless curiosity. I thought about how they observed and described the places and people they experienced, how rich some of that writing is, rich enough to last generation after generation, in ways that give us pictures in our minds that stretch our imaginations farther than any image might. And how photographs give us that slight chance to visually share what we can't always say. And wondering if we see less deeply, because of the ease of a snap, versus a thought.

Of course, if you look at say, Rachael Carson, you also have to look at Ansel Adams. And we have Thoreau, who, though I personally think him a bit of a fraud, was a brilliant writer and probably has influenced as many people in how they live their lives as Carson and Adams combined. Plus some. Endless lists, endless possibilities...

Well, I was just wondering.

Have a think about it Thursday. Do something tangible.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

But that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone

This was yesterday.

Ensenada Honda and Dakity were rockin'

This is now.

Bye bye, y'all. Adios.

The photo quality is pretty hideous, being as I am more than a few miles away, but that wasn't the point. Not that there is anything profound to point out, just that we're back to Culebra time and that's never a bad thing. Ok, that's all.

Have a truly tranquillo Tuesday. Do something transcendent. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't Forget

“The thing about remembering,” wrote Tim O’Brien in “The Things They Carried,” “is 
that you don’t forget.”

Laura Youngblood, widow of U.S. Navy Petty Officer Travis L. Youngblood, touches his gravestone while visiting his grave in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery during the Memorial Day weekend in Arlington, Virginia, May 24, 2009. Youngblood died of wounds received in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in July of 2005 in Iraq. (REUTERS/Larry Downing) 

Truthfully, in my opinion? I don't think many, in the huge number of us, American citizens, compared to the number of our population serving in the military, give much of a damn about this holiday except for the three day weekend and time with family around the bbq and sales at the malls. But Laura Youngblood and her family might feel a bit differently. And for her and her children and Travis's parents and oh yeah, the thousands of individual others, killed in what our government tells us is and are exercises being waged in the name of freedom (which I think ended in World War II); for all of them, each of whom have a name and mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and children? Let's spare a moment or two to think of them. 

And then, how about sparing the rest of the years of our lives to work for peace in the world, on whatever level works for you. Clicking, for a petition for peace, or against corporate gain from wars so far away. Getting into the streets. Writing letters. Just that one stretch, whatever it might be, of reaching farther than your own front whatever way you can. That will be something and that something will be enough and then maybe it might be more. Because something is beyond nothing. It's the least we can do to say thank you and remember what the hell this country and this sad and horrible day is supposed to be about. Or used to be, anyway.

Have a memorial Monday. Do something, even the least thing, that means something.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

One Fine Day

On a clear day, you can see almost forever, but I couldn't see St. Croix. A road beckoned and I followed, a road I've rarely been on and I don't think I ever walked on, which is the most right way to be on it at all. Except you have to walk backward going up, with each step changing the view.

I brought along the phone to play with the camera (learning that it sucks at zoom even more than I thought, but I won't throw it out for that - it definitely has some good features. Like, it's part of a PHONE! which I hope will continue to stay ridiculously strange to my mind for a long time).

In real life, you could see the sands of Vieques with extreme clarity.
Zoom still pretty bad, even at this distance
But from here! Not so bad, if you like the road. And I do.
Coming back down the road
On the other hand, for closer captures, it ain't so bad!

Another ponytail palm
Seriously gorgeous
There is a lot of this around here. Walls and walls of it. Retaining walls, not house walls.

It makes my arms tired just looking at these walls of stone, even while being awed by the beauty and the craft. I think this is how one knows one is growing older; instead of thinking immediately, 'I could do that!' one thinks, 'Who could I hire to do that?'

Have a sensation full Sunday. Do something sagacious.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A funny thing happened...

Of course, around here, funny things happen all of the time, depending on how you define 'funny'. I was getting ready to head down the hill when I saw these beauties meandering out of the bush, along with their egret escorts.

I just happened to have with me and not my camera, so I got to play with it a little bit.
I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me.
I have a lot to learn. First was getting them off the phone, onto the computer.
It was THEN I noticed things like zoom and all the other adjustments. Ah ha!
Just in case you've always wondered why it's called a ponytail palm.
This one is actually in the ground and thriving.

Anything else you are wondering, you'll just have to ask. It's a beautiful day here and time to get back out in it!

Have a searching Saturday. Do something soul satisfying.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Culebra Free Range (Foodless) Friday

While I have been up the hill, we had a blessed event next door that I only realized this morning. Remember that big, sturdy, but rather fat horse of whom I've taken lots of photos? That wasn't fat.

Mama and baby were, for a moment, alarmed when I came around the hillside. I was pretty surprised myself.
No, it wasnt fat, or extreme sturdiness. It was this darling one.
She or he (I didn't check and can't quite tell from this photo) starting heading over to me,
but then ran, in that giggly coltish way that seems to barely touch earth, back to Mama.
Where a snack and safety were waiting.
 It was that time of morning where the sun, barely past the horizon, was blazing off of everything, making the world sharp and still golden at the same time. 

Gumbo limbo, junk trees and mangroves in the sun
Chanticleer and his court don't care about new baby horses or how the sun sparkles on the water. Their life mission is food, sex, babies, repeat. Excepting his mission of prideful crowing and strutting, and I must admit, he does them both very well.

In full voice. 
The ladies and children heed and obey. As they will, until a worthy challenger comes along.
I'm off to spend some time playing with a new toy. After years of just saying no, I've finally chosen to join the world of real (versus way too expensive throwaway type) cell phone users. Having put down requirements quite a few years back - that it would do everything I wanted it to do - allow me to be connected to my computer, for a biggie - and be less expensive than my land line, they've been met now, and so far beyond. With Claro becoming the telephone company from hell, I was nudged over the edge. Ok, more like I bodily threw myself over the edge and am waving Claro a one fingered farewell. 

Just so you know? You really CAN buy used phones on  ebay that are exactly as described (in this case, 'mint condition and works perfectly'), for less than half the price of a new one. That's what I did.
Of course, make sure there is a return policy available and that your seller has a good reputation.
Thanks to Computer/Balloon John, who took over from my fumbling attempts to set it up, I now am almost functional to get and make calls, and a bit more (which just reminded me I forgot to ask about voicemail...oops). 

He rapidly ran over the pages he'd set up for me; the phone, the camera, email, different web applications including two for weather; music, scanning bar codes and texts for further research, and others that get me out of trouble if I screw up, which I shall, no doubt. But the best one, the one I have to say makes me eat my 'I won't need a bunch of apps' words, is the metal detector. Yes. A metal detector on my phone. I have always wanted a metal detector (I know, I'm such a nerd, sorry to down all your 'she's cool' visions, I've tried to tell you!), especially growing up on the beaches of Florida where I bet fortunes have been made metal detecting. Well, I'm not looking to make a fortune (there is no lie detector on the phone, thankfully), but it would be fun to find something interesting. I'll let you know when I make my big score. Of course I will. As long as none of you are involved with the IRS. Now, what's my number?

No food today, sorry! I was busy eating technology.

Have a find something new in your world Friday! Do something that moves you forward.

Update: I figured out voicemail! Some woman lives in my phone and walked me right through it! Thanks, chica!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Did It Get to be Thursday Already?

Looking up. The cool factor doesn't stop in this place. 
Between housesitting and working (painting, sanding, oiling, more painting, coming home to feed critters and taking care of up the hill critters, for the most part) I've managed to do more sleeping than much about blogging. Then, today, I woke up with my back saying 'Walk slightly sideways, hitch your leg a fraction forward, ok, now the other one' which amounted to sort of walking. Apparently, last night while I THOUGHT I was sleeping, I was out practicing for the Olympics, throwing those big and extremely heavy balls for the distance! I hope I won a medal. If I find it, I can hang it from the ceiling and and watch it catch and reflect light, from my prone position. It will be beautiful.

So what follows will be a ramble of not much in the way of photos, but random moments of the last few days. The weather has been funky, grey then sunny, hot and cool, rain spits and dry. In other words, just about normal for this time of year, except for being a few weeks too early. With less rain. Never mind. Point is, the few moments I've seen really pretty 'view' photos have been inopportune to take a photo and the rest have just been hazy. So what you see is what you get. Unlike real life.

View from another housesitting hill. I keep waiting for a super clear day, but...not yet
The porch I've been living on, pretty much. See that chaise lounge? I'm taking it home with me. Sorry, house owner.
A peek into the cool, serene bed room (it's really a bed room structure,
very Caribbean, very awesome) where I do my best Olympic workouts.
I took this photo because Walt wanted me to. For a beer can, it's pretty wonderful.
I expect to see many tattoos that look just like this. 
On my way back up the hill, these horses were all hanging around.
The baby was my real interest but there was a car behind me and the photo ops got limited real fast. 
See that rope? It's not connected to anything. We see that a lot around here.
See that baby? He's soooo cute! We see that a lot around here too.
Yes, this is popcorn popping in a glass pot. Well, sort of.
I know, contain your excitement. This is stuff I actually (and obviously) take photos of, usually for my own entertainment - and yes, I've told you, over and over, I'm easily entertained. The reason I took this is because the person who lives here has these glass pots (what is the difference between a pot and a pan anyway? You want to know? Go here) and I like them. I also like popcorn and eat a lot of it, and thought, that would be neat to see it popping (easily entertained, remember). Except, in case you want to try this, it doesn't work. The popcorn burned on the bottom and only about half of it popped. Maybe my old pyrex pots/pans were different, but apparently this sort has a different temperature thing going on. Experiment failure. Next.

Last but obviously not least...if you need your fix of pre-dawn Culebra's riotously cacophonous bird song, rooster crowing, cat mewling with twinkling lights, you've come to the right place. If not, you know what to (not) do. Sorry about the clicking noises, my camera is loud.

Have an un-troubled Thursday. Do something terrifically triumphant.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday Funday and It Could Have Rained All Night

This morning's weather was supposed to happen yesterday, overcast and rainy. But instead it was breezy and beautiful, so Sunday Funday went on as hoped for. It's always a surprise as to who will show up and yesterday could claim that one well. Cruisers and locals, kids and cops. Ok, one cop. With a new tat.

If you can't guess, that's Culebra and surrounding islands. I'm not big on tattoos, but this one is pretty great!
This really happened but I asked him to do it again. How could I not?
Just another beautiful day in Paradox
Fish swimmer jumper diver boy with a great grin
The afternoon came down and everyone slowly headed home. Except the one who was already home. Thank you!

The weather map is not supposed to look like this, but it does, as Tropical Storm Alberto does its slow move off the East coast of the US.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Culebra Simple Sunday

Late in the day, but the cybergods were at bad it goes.

Oh, if old boats could talk. And lizards too.

I took a lot of pictures of this old broken boat, thinking about what stories it could tell. Then, looking at them later on, I saw this lizard that I hadn't even noticed. And I realized, while thinking of the history this boat held, this  was in the now, telling its own story. And that is how it is, so much of our lives. Out of the past, into the now. It's good to go with that.

A little giftie from another island I would love to visit one day.

Have a Sunday of sweetness. Do something deep breathingly so serene.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'll Follow The Sun

I'm not as wild for this as for the children's paintings that used to be here, but it certainly says welcome.
Tomorrow, while a few gazillion people from Eastern Asia, across the Pacific, right up to our very own Western shores and a bit beyond (sorry, New Mexico, Texas, et al, for calling you a bit beyond, but I must move along here) get to see the solar eclipse, we farther east will not. But! With the magic - yes, magic - of online abilities, you can follow the sun's drama from start to finish if you are so inclined, by reading this article and following the links.

This is another great page on all things solar eclipse, including the safest way to watch one. Yes, Elijah, I'm talkin' to you! Love, Mama

Who cares if your friends call you a box head? At least you'll still be able to see them laughing! p.s.
They will want to use it too, trust me on this.
The dinghy bottom has been finished awhile now, but I forgot to post the photo. A big decision is to NOT put it in the water until I return from the states. Why? you ask. Because it weighs about 7000 pounds and takes four people to move it, and it would only be in the water a couple of weeks, just long enough to foul up the bottom. Then I'd have to find four people again to drag her out for my gone away time. With too many projects going on, this is, after angsty deliberation, the better course. Instead, we will move her to her safe spot and in the early fall I'll be ready to play. And I have to give you something to look forward to, because, gentle readers, in the end, it's all about you. Really. There now, you don't need sugar in your coffee.

She turned out right purty, even with the industrial looking bottom paint.
Minus her #'s and sticker; might as well keep them shiny and bright until launch.

The weather has been strange, sunny and hot, but cloudy too, with the radar showing dribbles and bits of rain but most of it missing us. A mist hangs in the air, a combination of Sahara dust and Montserrat ash, from what I gather. When my rain bucket gets full it is a distinctly reddish color, like someone threw in a handful of Georgia mud. The plants like it; there are all sorts of scientific reasons for that but you can read them for yourselves if you like, dust and ash alike.

All of which has nothing to do with this lobster trap that sits near the water in my yard, but it made me think of all that this morning, in the watery rising sun. A lobster trap isn't always just a lobster trap.

Have a solar saturated Saturday. Do something screeningly safe.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Culebra Free Range Friday - All Over the Place

Yesterday was one of those that got tumbled, dryer-like, and when the door opened and all the aspects of it wafted out in that clean fragrance, I could only go to sleep smiling. And slightly dizzy, in the good way like when you were six and were twirled just a little too much on the playground by your best friend.

In no particular order at all.

What decorates my outdoor bathroom wall
which aren't really decor but my favorite baby shovels
There is also a huge old trimaran in my yard that will never set sail again 
All around her are boat bits and pieces, sinking into the ground.
The links on this short chain are bigger than my hand.
 In the afternoon, Teresa and I were going to set out live traps to see if we could capture Cretin. I walked down the road to meet her and passed by a wonderful yard where the bananas have gone rampant; a banana jungle.

We met up with Ann to decide where to put the traps, and that is when the afternoon began to take a turn for the exploring side; where I put down the camera to look and listen but now of course, wish I had captured at least a small token of the memories. Because despite our angst over Cretin being missing, we also did what we don't do often enough, touring around the back ways and by ways. I learned about mahogany seeds, which, frankly, resemble horse poop, in the individual bit look, but open up in thick woody skinned petal like pieces to release feathered seeds for the wind to carry. We don't have a lot of mahogany trees on Culebra; they are beautiful.

Up in the hills we looked at homes, some where we knew the owners, some not. We looked at the views and stopping to leave a trap (using a mahogany seed pod as a spoon for the stinky cat food, and yes, sectioned, they do make a good spoon, thanks, Ann!), looked at the growth around us, other local trees and flowers, the creek beds waiting for summer rains, and once, high above us, red tailed hawks in synchronous flight, mating in the sky.

It was then that I first heard and learned the term synchronous flight, a term at once poetic and descriptive, especially after being eye-stunned by the aerial ballet we were watching. I looked it up later on and found only dry words that didn't work, until I remembered a poem I found many years ago and treasure for its combining science and love in a rare way. Oh, and that it's about hummingbirds too.

The Hummingbird:  A Seduction

If I were a female hummingbird perched still
And quiet on an upper myrtle branch
In the spring afternoon and if you were a male
Alone in the whole heavens before me, having parted
Yourself, for me, from cedar top and honeysuckle stem
And earth down, your body hovering in midair
Far away from jewelweed, thistle, and bee balm;

And if I watched how you fell, plummeting before me,
And how you rose again and fell, with such mastery
That I believed for a moment you were the sky
And the red-marked bird diving inside your circumference
Was just the physical revelation of the light's
Most perfect desire;

And if I saw your sweeping and sucking
Performance of swirling egg and semen in the air,
The weaving, twisting vision of red petal
And nectar and soaring rump, the rush of your wing
In its grand confusion of arcing and splitting
Created completely out of nothing just for me,

Then when you came down to me, I would call you
My own spinning bloom of ruby sage, my funnelling
Storm of sunlit sperm and pollen, my only breathless
Piece of scarlet sky, and I would bless the base
Of each of your feathers and touch the tine
Of string muscles binding your wings and taste
The odor of your glistening oils and hunt
The honey in your crimson flare
And I would take you and take you and take you
Deep into any kind of nest you ever wanted.

~ Pattiann Rogers

It's fun hanging out with a biologist who loves the earth and sky and sea and all the creatures in all of that with a passion, who doesn't teach as much as casually impart jewels. Thanks, T!

Of course, the object was and is to tempt Cretin home. Hopefully there will be a good word today.

We headed over to Dinghy Dock for a drink or two and Culebra magic lingered. There was just the right group of people there, in just the right weather, with just enough of everything to make it feel like older times, except it is now and the only thing older is us. Older friendships, older stories, older unspokens like the joke about jokes where old friends say "Ha! number 9" and everyone starts laughing. It was like that.

Yes, yes, we're at the food part now. Finally!

The other day on the big island there was a bag of naturally raised chicken thighs. I imagine the whole chicken was naturally raised but I only got the thighs, which, I confess, is my favorite part of the chicken. They were tiny thighs compared to some of the massive ones you can get and I don't know if that is the 'natural' part or not, but four of them makes about one and a half of a monster thigh.

After a few (more) discussions about adding sauces and marinades with my non-marinading friend, I decided to be simple and just sauté the thighs, with salt and pepper and call them done. But there, right in front of me on a heavily laden spice and herb shelf, was this concoction I knew would be great on them.

Whenever I order Penzey's Spices (great company, check it out and no, I don't get paid to say that. I wish!), they send a little sample container of a spice mix. This one is wonderful for chicken, with salt, garlic, cumin, Tellicherry black pepper, Turkish oregano, paprika, sumac, cayenne red pepper, and cilantro in it. And that's all. I have almost all of those on my shelf, but here it all is, nicely balanced and blended and only calling for a shake shake shake.
 I can do that. So I did. 
I also threw in a few sprigs of rosemary and basil from the garden.
The juices from sautéing the chicken went into a couple of cups of water, which, when it started boiling, I tossed some orzo into. Maybe 1/2 a cup, maybe a little more. When it was done (8-10 minutes), I drained it, added it to the now cut into bite sized pieces of chicken, added some parsley and yum!

Add a salad and give it a try! If you don't have the Penzey's mix, and the herb and spice list seems too formidable. at least go with the salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic and cumin. And if you haven't already, get some rosemary, basil and parsley growing! You'll feel so good!

Have a find fun in flung expectations Friday! Do something fortunate with friends.