Sunday, June 30, 2013

Simple Sunday ~ Fare well, Super Claire

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

For some reason, this is my favorite photo of Claire. Spiritual yoga girl, lover of light. Most of all, for me, very funny. Go well into the next chapter, Claire! We'll miss you as much as we are happy for your adventure. Balance, it's a beautiful thing.

Love and light, MJ

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Look Out the Sun's Gonna Hit You in the Eye (Cowboy lyrics)

After what seems like weeks of grey sky pouring massive amounts of rain out of itself, the sun came out yesterday in full force. It was, only a smidgen off literally, painful to adjust my eyes to it. We're so used to brilliant sun that the lack of it sends us into a weird zone. Mud sucking sounds become familiar. Mold spores explode. Mosquitoes, long denied puddles and pools, have larvae orgies and emerge to suck all of our blood, Vampires of the Caribbean.

One day = hooray! Two days = Oh, we can make soup! And great! the cisterns are full and the ground is quenched. Three days = I think I'll just stay in bed. Four days = I think I'll just stay in bed. Forever.

And then o glory! The sun returns and we sing! Out came the sun and dried up all the rain and the itsy bitsy people come out to play again. 

Thankful for the rain. Thankful for the sun. Not thankful for the mosquitoes. And how does an enlightened person, the most publicly enlightened person of our age, deal with these mini demons from hell?

My flicks might be a bit more...aggressive, shall we say, while I'm being thankful for so much we have here. Maybe the karma will balance out. Maybe I won't go to mosquito hell. One can hope.

Have a sensational, soothing Saturday. Do something smacking.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra

A quick follow up to yesterday (it's okay! don't run away yet). I wrote Josh Fox, the guy from whom I bought my phone on ebay, to tell him how much I'm enjoying the earbud listening thingies - hey, they aren't really HEAD PHONES anymore, are they? - and I got an email back from him this morning.

it's so cool to hear this. Glad you're enjoying it. But just remember, you aren't ignorant.
PS -- If you want some good music, I'll put it in the mail to you.

I'd told him I felt ignorant (unaware, old fashioned, behind the times); that I didn't realize how cool listening to music/movies/etc. with little devices stuck in your ears could be. Why? Because I am usually incapable of not being able to hear everything going on around me, inclusive of whatever I'm listening to as well, without feeling claustrophobic. Paranoia? Awareness? Aural multi-tasking? Dunno. But with lots of street noise here these little things are invaluable to not miss dialogue or lyrics that are pretty relevant to understanding the whole. Ok, it wasn't so quick, but if you need something electronic on ebay that Josh Fox is selling, he seems to be a good'un and I endorse this message.


This food post is locally approved
In Northern California, it is berry season. The organic berry farm where my daughter is working is still deep in strawberries and the raspberries are coming on strong. I won't be out there this year to plant and pick and, best of all, eat the bounty, but hearing all about how much she is enjoying it is a good thing.

This weekend is an event called the Strawberry Jam Fest. There is a contest for the best strawberry whatever; it can be a drink, a dessert, a savory something. Sarah and I talked about what she could do that might be different.This is an adaptation of a recipe from Driscoll's, a berry growing company who look to be doing things in a good way, for the most part. I wish they were 100% organic, but most is better than none! I don't know for sure what she is going to really make, but this looked pretty good to me, with a few changes...

Strawberry Chicken Salad with Hoisin-Sesame Dressing
(adapted from Driscoll's)

Hoisin-Sesame Dressing
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic soy sauce (since most soy beans are genetically modified, I'm using either organic soy or tamari or Braggs Liquid Amino - which sounds weird and isn't. An inexpensive, good tasting soy sauce substitute! Around here you can get it at Vibra Verde)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon organic hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cups thinly sliced fennel

Chicken Salad

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 12 ounces cooked, smoked chicken breast, chopped
  • 8 ounces mixed baby greens, washed and dried
  • 3/4 cups julienned jicama (pronounced hicama, if you need to ask for it in your market)
  • 2 scallions, sliced 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, chopped cashews
Hoisin-Sesame Dressing (makes about 1 1/3 cups)

Place olive oil, vinegar, organic soy sauce, sugar, organic hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, Dijon mustard, ginger, shallot, garlic and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (Or, grate the ginger and mince the shallot and garlic then whisk all ingredients together.) Refrigerate in a covered container. (Makes about 1 1/3 cups)

Chicken Salad

Hull and slice or quarter strawberries. Combine strawberries, chicken, greens, jicama, fennel and green onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with about 1/2 cup dressing and toss gently until evenly mixed. 
photo credit: Driscoll's
Make it look pretty on the plate, scatter cashews on top, serve and enjoy!
Buen provecho!
And one more thing before you go. This site, called Food Facts, is good for seeing what is in the foods you buy or already have on the shelf, the pros and cons (and it includes organic stuff, some of which isn't so organic as you might hope). Of course, it doesn't cover everything but it's pretty good! Check it out.

Have a fine food filling Friday. Do something feastable.

p.s. you can ask Diane at D's Garden (or where ever you are!) for strawberry plants and grow your own! They are easy to grow, prolific and delicious!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

If I Could Show This to Everyone in the World...I Would

(caveat: I had no intention of writing anything more than a bit about the article that is linked below - something took over and I'm blaming the rain. Skip to the link if you like)

I had to buy a new cell phone the other day. My other phone has been doing the slow death dance, phone death by degrees. First it stopped charging. My phone guru gave me another charging thingy. It worked 3 times and then didn't. I went back to the old one and did this:

 How to Resuscitate A Cell Phone. Maybe.

Take the uncharging phone apart, unplugging its seemingly useless or maybe not charger cord, peeling off the rubber-like protective casing that goes over the hard plastic casing that goes over the actual phone. 

Slip a fingernail into the little slot to take off the backing, remove the battery. Stare at it awhile. Shake it gently. Pleasepleasepleaseplease, you might say.
Take the other battery that is now charged up and put it back in the phone 

Published 1914

(after I bought, from a helpful and all too understanding friend, her extra extra new battery because she has a phone just like mine, but not a problem like mine: her phone had other leaping into the sea. Her phones need a support group for harming themselves while in her possession. Or something to stop them from running away from home; they need a leash)

Reverse the process (be sure the phone is not upside down with the coverings) and prop the phone up on a pen/a pill bottle/a thin book/a slice of toast because it will finally charge, but only in a semi-upright position, as if being totally prone is killing it not softly. 
It will charge, but be ready because then it will uncharge. Again. 100%  bright and shiny with the last blink of closing eyes and in the morning, blocking out the sun, the first thing seen, it will be dead. 0 but lit. Gasping enough to give insane hope. Sort of dead. Perform PBR regularly.

I was afraid to answer the phone, because it was charged and if I touched it, it would uncharge. I spoke to people on the speaker, tapping it feather lightly, wondering, should I wear gloves - maybe it was my fingertips the phone disliked, maybe it was me. I felt stupid explaining why I was using the speaker 'My phone is rebelling. It hates me.' so I didn't. Much.  Easier to just not answer the phone.

Consuming way too much of my time, this phone. It was a colicky baby, an unhousetrained puppy, an unkillable mosquito in my ear. It was a demon laughing from phone hell eternity. If The Phone had been paying me by the hour for its attention, I could buy three iPhones. It was not an iPhone. It was a reverse whore. It still is.

It was time for a trade in.

credit: unknown
The new-to-me phone came in the mail yesterday, thank you Josh Fox, whoever you are. It has three extra batteries. It has two chargers that glow wonderfully green for charging and blue for charged, with the same unearthly glow of Skip Wilson's brand new 1970 Plymouth Satellite lit up dashboard gauges, a stoner's delight when the rest of the auto world was black and white. Woo.     Hoo.

It has ear buds, this new phone. It has a waterproof little bag. It has a rubbery case and a plasticky outer case. I marvel at all of its thrown in because Josh Fox is a good guy accessories, feeling like a little girl getting a Barbie doll with the house and the car and Ken and Midge and Skipper, the ultra shiny almost patent leathery pink case full of all her clothes and tiny high heel slippers, even the gold ones all at once instead of for every birthday and Christmas for 7 years. I only had one Barbie doll, the one with short brown curly hair, bubble head Barbie. She creeped me out, truthfully - I buried her. Literally. Raggedy Ann was much better; Barbie had no heart. This phone has four hearts, if I can keep them all beating.

My new not new phone and its entourage

Memories of Skip Wilson ~  RIP, Skip, coolest of surfer boys with your Carl Wilson hair
And then, with the powers of the internet, I read this article by Jonathan Safran Foer - the author of Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud among other books (which got really mixed reviews; I happened to hate it I loved it so much, like that) - that he wrote in the New York Times a few days ago. He said so eloquently everything I feel about cell phones/smart phones/too smart phones. Eloquently and farther up and further in (sorry, C.S. Lewis).

credit: unknown

I wanted to send it to my children and grandchildren. I wanted to send it to friends. I wanted to send it to everyone who owns any device that communicates, like this one that I am typing on right now. I wanted to send it to myself.

I wanted to copy it to this blog and then I thought, if you want to read it, you will. If you want to think about it, you will. If you want to act on it, you will. If you don't you won't.

Life sometimes is that simple. Even if (or when) I want to shove something into the brains and hearts of the people I love and the people I don't, I can't. Only myself, and toss the Shoved out as bread on the water. Maybe only seagulls or frigate birds, pelicans or terns will come. Slow learner that I am, I'm learning that's okay.

This rain better stop soon...

Have a telephone free Thursday. Do something talky talky.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Feelin' Groovy

Waking up rained in feels like yippee! can't go to school day. Of course, the rain will stop and choices will open up again, choices and life demands, but for a little while after waking, I could almost hear the ring of a rotary dialed bakelite phone, with my Dad calling me back saying it was okay to stay home. Delicious.

By the time I slog through this to get to the chickens, slip sliding in my sandals, I'm either cursing or laughing. Pretty much the same thing.

How much has it rained? Fungi on the tree stump under the orchid how much.

This is spectacular grass. And when the crepe myrtle blossoms rain onto it...ahhhhhh.

A bird bath. See the feather?

Ok, the breeze shifted things, see it now? Rain art. More rain art.

This orchid...yes.

Simple is never really simple here. This intricate window set into concrete blocks...Culebra!

Down at the public dock, one of the island artists was painting.

Birds were like teens cruising Main Street on a Friday night, looking to score.

Moon, rain, fish weather!

2 points for Name This Man

Some more glorious mangoes

And now the rain has taken a break, so mud slogging I must go. A cat and chickens await a late breakfast.

Have a warmed Wednesday. Do something whistling.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Rambling Randomness

After a weekend that saw the start of Summer, a Super Moon, Noche de San Juan and a slew of celebrations, farewells and music, I think we just might be back to what passes for normal around here. Though I did see some spontaneous dancing in the street last evening. Wait, that's normal.

Wandering around some mangroves yesterday, feeling like I should have on a palm platted skirt to match the primeval ambiance (because as most know, I'm all about fashion, even if it is prehistoric), I came across an egg. It was perfect. Sort of.

The big mangrove clinging mass is a termite ball

It's hard to judge the size of this egg here; it's about 6 inches by 3. The size of a small dinosaur egg would be my guess. I picked it up because it called to be seen close up. Then I realized why it was on the ground, abandoned. Abandoned a long time ago. Just thinking about it makes me want to wash my hands. Again. With bleach. Still very cool though.

Land crab portals, the top one very freshly made

And that was about enough of that. Bring on other tropical beauties of of travel writer lore.

This hanging from above bloom had to almost bop me on the head, but brilliantly got my attention.
It's a one sided love affair. 
I'm sure there are upcoming events I could mention, but right now, the world outside this jungle I temporarily inhabit is far away. And so is that very ripe egg.

Have a textured Tuesday. Do something tidal.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Super Moon ~ Super Weekend

It was all super until yesterday; the afternoon and night planned - a fare well party for our Claire and Noche de San Juan - turned into a stay in bed and wonder why of all times, well, details aren't needed, but I wasn't going out and about. I did go down the street to catch the Super Moonrise, hidden by clouds but for a moment or so. Maybe later it was bright in the sky but sleep had taken me off to Super Dreamland by then.

Not even close to looking Super here, but it is what it is and it was what it was.

In the meantime, rather than people partying and walking backward into the sea, we have a lot of really wonderful puppies. Have I mentioned we have a LOT of puppies on Culebra waiting for that forever love and home? Maybe so. If one of these beauties strikes your fancy, get in touch with AWC (Animal Welfare of Culebra). Mama is a German Shepard, Papa a traveling salesman and we didn't get his name. The guess is some sort of Lab. These will be medium to big dogs, and AWC is working to make sure each one goes to the right sort of family. Maybe it's you!

Butt shot because Nature decided to decorate!

Kisses!! Lots of kisses!

The one in the blue collar is the only boy.


The girls are not included, so don't even ask.

I had this little fellow pointed out to me the other day. There were a few around but this one was the best of the bunch. No, he's not up for adoption. Adoration, perhaps, at the wonders of nature. 

Weighing in at pretty much weightless and a strapping 1 inch long, Grabber takes the stage.
Have a mind your manners Monday! Do something more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Free Range Friday ~ Eat Up Summer

The summer solstice arrived at 5:45 a.m. here. It woke me up, or maybe that was my house sitting cat, who felt impelled, at that moment, to leap over me and stare longingly out the window, watching summer arrive on a drifty invisible breeze.

Wouldn't this be great on the beach?
One of my favorite days of the year, for all it meant and all it means; in the old days, school was out, marathon beach days were in. My bike that trudged me to school flew me to the woods and beach and rivers. I liked school, but I loved being outside more. Much more. What better classroom, playroom, adventure course was there than our own beaches, our wooden bridge, our fishermen and boaters, spending endless shining days climbing what seemed like cliffs, down to the water to see hundreds of horseshoe crabs mating (and if you think you are quite the experienced and sophisticated sexual voyeur - of the not human variety, thank you - you haven't seen some weird until you watch horseshoe crabs procreate), tossing fish we just caught to dolphins, making bonfires on the beach...summer.

These days, it's more like this...'this' being a very full weekend that started last night: a flea market in town tomorrow, parties and birthdays, music, and more parties, culminating in Noche de San Juan, where at midnight we will walk into the warm sea 3 times. Backwards. For good luck.

When we were young and my father made all of our breakfasts (yes, I've done eggs before, so you can skip out now if you've already read this, because I'm doing them again), he would carefully spoon bacon fat over our sunny side up eggs, barely cooking the shiny yolk with the heat of the grease. I made this on Father's Day, a tip of the pan to my Dad.

These days, unable to buy decent, as in not raised grimly and full of antibiotics and god knows what else, bacon, I rarely succumb to its lure. But the other day I did and used it in about five dishes to enjoy my very guilty pleasure. Premier among them, simple bacon and eggs. Ok, the deviled eggs with shrimp and bacon in them were pretty good too.

Bacon cooked over a medium heat until crispy. Right before you burn it, stop!

A paper towel to absorb excess fat off the already not exactly heart healthy meal

At least I know the eggs are organic and delicious! Gently tip the pan and spoon the hot bacon fat over the tops of the eggs.

Serve. With rye toast. I replaced Dad's obligatory giant glass of milk and another of OJ with a cup of tea and a small glass of OJ. Buen provecho!
 Have a feed your frybaby yearning Friday. Do something feastable. Happy Summer!