Monday, December 31, 2012

Year of Culebra!

While not officially beginning until February 10th, this year in the Chinese calendar is the Year of the Snake, which of course means it is the Year of Culebra, or Culebra de Anos. Or maybe it's Anos de Culebra; my Spanish grammar is mala.

credit: Saya Behnem

However it is said, in whatever language, I'm going to look on it as a good sign for Culebra, for our struggles to keep her out of the hands of those who would use her beauty for their own greed regardless of the destruction they would bring upon her.

And that pretty much sums up my wishes for all of us, everywhere. Up with beauty and peace, down with greed and corruption in 2013, for you and yours, our neighborhoods, our countries, our Earth. That should keep everyone busy for awhile.

I'll be in the plaza with our Culebra family and friends, doing the New Year's Eve walkabout to places varied and celebrating. Where ever you are, quietly bringing in the New Year on a mountain top or in the middle of Times Square, across the sea where the party will be over long before ours has started, or out at sea in timeless land, I wish you all the best of good things in this New Year. Thank you for all of your support, patience, kind words, donations, corrections and caring this last year, dear readers! Happy New Year to you.

Have a make the most of your life this year Monday! Do something that matters.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

So That's What Happens on a Full Moon Friday Night!

To say I don't stay out late is a bit of an understatement, and an old joke around here. But last night was a wonderful night to break the norm. A great dinner at Zaco's (glad I got in early to snag a table), where, across the street the house I took a photo of the other day was all lit up and Christmassy.

Then it was a stroll down to Blue at the Spot. Which is the Spot, including the stretch of sidewalk from the Chinese restaurant to Heather's Pizza and a bit beyond. If you are inclined you can mosey down the street and around the corner to Sandbar, but we didn't do that last night. There was plenty going on right where we were, including a fine time catching up and just enjoying the company of two friends down for the holidays. Thanks, Sue and Keith, for being so you. I'm still smiling.

We stood and sat around,  talking, laughing, getting hugs from and giving hugs to friends who wove in and out and around, like a magically choreographed pas a deux except a lot more than deux. Or dos. Or two. With only one spilled drink (the usual way I spill drinks; there it is, sitting on the table, and I fling my hand in gesticulation, hit the straw and there it goes, which is WHY I should stick to the sippy cup) but I think only the table got splashed. If not, sorry!.

Out of that richly thin magical air appeared some music makers, hand drums and a sax player. I knew three of them but who was playing that sweet saxophone? Caroline's father! After knowing her all these years I'd never met him before; what a nice introduction. My new camera, hooray!, is in the mail - thank you, Sarah, for doing what Amazon won't, ie sending electronics to PR - and I wish I'd had it last night, but hopefully, you'll get the feel of the moment(s).

I loved seeing Caroline making music with her Papa!

Culebra Street Life
Moving inside Blue...

Gretchen and Caroline belting out some tunes

 A good full moon night. Shine on, Culebra!

Have a soul sated Saturday. Do something sweetly satisfying.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Free Range Friday ~ Already?

For all the people I  know who are experiencing that thing called winter, meaning cold, cold weather and for some today, snow!
I forgot it was Friday today. I mean, I remembered it was Friday but I forgot just WHY I was cooking a Cornish game hen and thus, forgot to take photos of the dear little bird, all golden roasted and fragrant. The remains just really aren't that pretty, and they are in the bay feeding the fish anyway, so...instead, I'll share with you the recipe I use. It's simple simple simple and so am I. Though the name isn't simple; this is neither a game bird and can be a male or female, despite the hen part of the name. Read about it if you want to know more!

Garlic Rosemary Cornish Hen(s)
(just multiply the ingredients according to how many you are making

1 Cornish hen
salt, pepper
Olive oil
1 lemon, quartered
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves
White wine is good too (I didn't have any white wine, but it's better with it; sherry works too)
Pre-heat oven to 450. Rinse off the hen, and pat dry. Then rub the hens with olive oil and season with s & p. Put one lemon wedge and the sprig of rosemary inside the chicken (you DID take out the giblets, right?). Circle the bird with the garlic cloves. You can also sliver some of them and put them under the skin; I like garlic, so that's what I do, with one inside to boot.
credit: unknown
Turn down the oven to 350 and baste the bird. Roast for 25 more minutes. Baste some more (as you know, I like to play with my food, basting is fun).
Take the pan juices and garlic cloves and boil until melded nicely, maybe 5 minutes or so. If you have some white wine or sherry, this is a good time to toss in a splash.
Put it on a plate and make it pretty with more rosemary. If you have them, cherry tomatoes look good too. And parsley. You get the idea. 
(Roasted baby potatoes (which you'd put in with the hen after rubbing them with butter/olive oil) are excellent with this. And a salad. See? Simple.) Buen provecho!

Today, in the Christian church, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Need I say more? I don't think so.

What do you do when you find a horse in your as yet not made garden area, eating tree seed pods? You take a photo of the horse, of course, of course.

Have a feed your fancies Friday! Do something festive.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

There's Gotta Be a Holiday Today

It seems impossible that there is not a holiday today in Puerto Rico, but I can't find one. Instead, I have to fall back on other traditions, which, as of course you already know, means that today is National Fruitcake Day. Really.

 Poor fruitcake. No doubt we all have our own experiences with them. Some people claim to like them. Or swear if we'd just try Aunt Mabel's recipe, we'd change our mind. My own fruitcake life was thus: My Dad raised us kids  and we didn't have grandmother's or aunties that would even consider making a fruitcake, so the idea of one didn't hold much association, good or bad. Then, when I was a teenager, my Dad remarried. This was a family that liked its fruitcake at Christmas time. Our good upbringing would come to bear and we would all silently chew and chew, while sneaking rolled eyes at our Dad. Then we'd say our thank you's and move on to something good to eat. I'm sure you have your own stories and you're welcome to share them here!

During Christmas in the Virgin Islands, a traditional treat is sweet bread,something like a fruitcake, but actually delicious. I haven't tried this recipe for it but if it is anything close to the various ones I have eaten, all made by older local women on St. Croix and St. Thomas, it's a great replacement for fruitcake! The writer of the article, Carol Bareuther, is steeped in all things VI, so I'm trusting she got the real deal recipe!

What I spent the early morning doing, instead of making fruitcake, was to finish putting together a hot sauce order. They all looked so pretty that I dragged a little table on top of the hill and took a photo of them. Alan, they'll be in the PO today, promise!!

Tomorrow is another official holiday, as we wind down the year and look forward to New Year's Eve, or Old Year's Night, choose your name.

In the meantime...this is my favorite fruitcake cartoon and my official acknowledgement of National Fruitcake Day.

Have a tasteful Thursday. Do something traditional.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

Boxing Day. As sure as the 26th follows Christmas Day, we'll always have Boxing Day. Well, we won't have Boxing Day, since it is a British holiday, when tradesmen are supposed to be honored by their superiours (can that be any more British?) with small gifts, ie. 'boxes'. Of course, in many households, it is simply the day after Christmas, sighs of relief as mad shopping resulted in hoped for smiles...or not. The birds were cooked, the pies were baked, stomachs were overfilled, Or not. For families in Newtown, CT an especially odd Christmas with families united in bizarrely shared grief resulting from madness. Merry Christmas.

Here on Culebra, the sun, after playing shy, came out, the water painters arrived a bit late, as is allowed on a holiday, with deepest greens and blues getting priority, banks of dark clouds never bringing rain to us, thankfully.

I got to spend the day with friends aboard the Purple Houseboat, where good food and drink kept coming in with each arriving welcome guest. Thankfully, there were no unwelcome guests, not even a mouse.

In case you are wondering, not all of the Seven Dwarfs are ticklish. 

There was noshing and taking quick dips 1) because the water felt wonderful, if a bit cool and 2) to pretend we'd done something exerciseful -am I the only person that took a mini nap? I think so - water and boat gazing with chats in between. And then it was time to head into town for the parade.

There are two large ships in the harbor. The Amistad and the Virginia
If you are into nautical history, and some present good work, it's worth your time to read a bit about these ships. We arrived just as the lowering of the flags was occurring, and for a flash second, it was a 'taken back in time' moment.

The parade was supposed to start at 5, which we knew meant we could expect waiting until at least around 6, so we got there around 6:30-sh. As it turned out, there was still plenty of time to wander around seeing friends and people watching. The question, 'are they really coming?' became more frequent as 7 neared, arrived and passed. Getting onto 8, we could hear them; yes, they really WERE coming!

Santa and his entourage were, naturally, the first to arrive, with salsa filling the air, along with the horns of vehicles blaring and a lot of laughter.

Cartoon characters came next. I'm not real tuned in to cartoons, so I can't say exactly what was going on here, but it was, as most things go on Culebra, interesting and fun.

Mocko jumbies danced

The children's float was great. After waiting for hours, the kids were still happy and tossing candy for all they were worth. I don't think anyone got hurt by the handfuls of sweets tossed, but I'm pretty sure if you are in need of a candy cane or six, you can find them all over downtown today.

Yes, I love the mocko jumbies! Thank you, Norman, for working with these guys!

It all dissolved into a party at the plaza. Of course.
One man asked how they would get the floats and many, many golf carts driven by, as one driver said to me, crazy people, out of the plaza. It was a question none of us who live here had thought about and I'm sure he wondered why we all started laughing while trying to explain, and then giving up assured him that it would just happen as it happened.

As I walked home, a few elf driven golf carts flew by, with waves and smiles, back to the Elf Cave, I imagine. It was a good Christmas. If I had someone who brought me newspapers, acted as a doorman, helped make my life better working for me, I'd give him or her a box of something, no doubt preferably filled with a certain greenish paper item. Instead, I gave CWIM an extra helping of wet food in addition to her dry and re-strawed the chickens nesting boxes. They were gratefully puzzled.

Life is good. Be nice.

Have a know it's still a wonderful world Wednesday. Do something wisely.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Little Island Festivus

If you aren't familiar with the holiday called Festivus, you can read all about it right here.

There are a few traditions associated with Festivus, but sometimes you just have to wing it. I had the aluminum pole - ok, I really didn't have the aluminum pole, but I did have an old century plant that worked just as well.

I didn't record my List of Grievances into a tape recorder, but I did have some good listeners. Best of all, they don't tell anyone anything.

I didn't have meat loaf or spaghetti, but I should have, since I did something horrible to a tooth on the pork chop I was eating. Yes, I'll be seeing the dentist next week, since of course Christmas is on a Tuesday this year, which, for those who don't know, is Dentist Day around here.There is also supposed to be no alcohol involved in the meal, but with the Tooth Incident, that prohibition went out the window. Quickly.

The Feats of Strength was a bit harder to pull off. With no one around to physically challenge, I figured going out and finding someone to tussle with would probably be a bad idea. Instead, I did a different sort of Feat which involved seeing this bird, going back for the phone camera, getting back to the dock and managing to somehow not scare it away. Truly a Feat of Strength, in my book anyway.

I even got my Festivus Miracle.

So there it is, another Festivus celebrated and done, disdain and dislike for the commercial insanity of the Christmas celebration physically and emotionally accomplished.

Which leaves me free to enjoy Santa at Milka's later on today! If I can get all of those pesky kids out of the way, I've got a thing or two I'd like to ask for.

Have a multidimensional Monday. Do something magical.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Simple Sunday ~ Culebra

Santa will be at Milka's this afternoon.

The Christmas Parade will start around 5-ish, tomorrow (I think it's tomorrow!!!)
starting from Happy Landing's and heading into town
(if I'm wrong about that and it is ON Christmas Day, I'll let you know)

Happy Christmas!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Oh Dear

Since the world didn't end yesterday, I suppose I have no excuse for all the Christmas cards I didn't send or the presents I didn't buy or the decorating I didn't do. But how was I to know? It seemed such a sure thing! I mean, if you can't trust 56,1487890  interpretations of the Mayan calendar littering the internet, who can you trust? Ah well, I suppose I can still use the trusty 'It's in the mail' line. Please don't mention this to anyone.

Unlike myself, some people went right ahead and did all of the above. In fact, some did it over and above, decorating even their chicken coops. Do beautifully colored caterpillars count? Will my chickens be traumatized forever? After looking at these coops, I'm pretty traumatized myself. What sort of a substitute mother am I? Next year, darlings!

These photos and more come from the wonderful (if you are into things chicken) blog Community Chickens.

Bernie Kosman's coop in Ohio

Jolie Larson's hens

Becky Neville's coop-scape in Arizona
I don't think I've decorated anything that much since my children were reaching high to put ornaments on the tree. And I bet all of these chickens have names too. I suck.

Another giving idea came across my email desk yesterday, about the USO, an organization I haven't found anything to carp about, ever. I'm sure there is something somewhere, but please keep me in the dark, if so. I think they say what they are about well enough themselves:

"As a nonprofit, non-political organization, the USO is now, and always will be, about our troops. Wherever and whenever they go, the USO will be there, until every one comes home."

I haven't paid much attention to the USO in the years since Bob Hope was alive and making his yearly visits to military hot spots around the world (this link is to a wonderful Library of Congress site covering Bob Hope, On The Road, with radio and video as well as writings). These many years later, with the winds of war pretty much unceasing, they are still out there, doing good work. 

The item I came across is The USO WishBook. To give troops a package from 'home' ranging in price from 15.00 for a Comfort Food Package to the 6000.00 Build a Bike For a Wounded Warrior, and many choices in between, (sending a child to camp, resume writing help, books, etc.); check out the site.

We saw this on the way out to Zoni yesterday. I'd seen bits of it before, but now the area is all cleaned up around it (apparently there is some land here for sale). Once upon a time, before plastic, watering spots and cisterns were made with beautiful stonework like this. I've always wondered why we don't have more stone homes on Culebra, we've certainly got the rock to use. If you're wondering, which of course you are, what the difference is between a stone and a rock, it seems that a rock is big and a stone is smaller, and sometimes 'dressed' as for walls or other building uses. To read all about it, I found this article pretty interesting, with some good humor as well. If a writer can be amusing when writing about rocks and stones, it's worth a read to me!

Have yourselves a stellar Saturday. Do something seasonal.

And let's all keep working toward that day - until everyone comes home.