Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Postcards from Paradise

Each year for Christmas I like to send out an "Eat Your Heart out" photo to my parents. Healthy, tanned, smiling. Middle Child Syndrome took my photo this year and amazingly came up with about 8 really nice shots, of which I won't share with you... because I think you'll enjoy the out-takes better. I swear I wasn't trying to act like a 3 year old with ADD.

Just Remember Fugly is the New Pretty.

This one is titled "Thuthe thellth thee thells by the thee thore. Say that three times fast"

This one is titled "Bra Strap? What Bra Strap?"
This photo is titled "Rats in Your Pizza Stink"

This one is titled "Can You make My Nose Look Bigger?" or "Shouldn't You See a Dermatologist About Those Giant Pores?"

This one is titled "Lalalalala I Just Won The Lotto"
This one is titled "Kiss Kiss in LaLa Land" What exactly was I doing here? I think Milld Child Syndrome told me to flip my hair like a supermodel.
This one is titled "Stop Making My Arms Look So Fat - Remember My Instructions - Thinner and Younger Only"
This one is titled "I Hate You, You Ruined My Life, I'm Going To Get You Back For That" O.K. since you've been patient I'll show you the Christmas 2005 Eat Your Heart Out Photo. Its a little bit crazy, little bit happy.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy and Merry

I heisted this off of Natalie Dee's website.

What will I remember the most about today? No, it won't be the list of food my mother ate today, that she will inevitably email me later on, that will go something like this: This morning your Dad and I had decaf and cinnamon buns that I got at the thrift store 3 packages for $1, then we went over to your Aunt Margies for lunch after church and your cousin Yvonne brought her usual cheesy potatoes, I brought my bread pudding. No, your brother M didn't make it again this year. Your Aunts Tina and Dickie asked about your missionary work (she keeps forgetting its missionary position, not missionary work). Cousin Doug didn't bother to make anything, he brought store bought rolls. Your Aunt Tina is dating again. Your youngest daughter forgot to bring her fruits for her part of the fruit salad, luckily I had some frozen berries in the trunk of the car just in case. Your Dad had to take an extra sugarpill (insulin) and I thought he was going to go into a coma... Tonight I'm making meatless chili and serving it with fat free cheese, and all the grandkids are coming over to play board games. I made a diet apple cobbler with fat free margarine for desert. I tried a new cheese-less macaroni and cheese recipe, but no one liked it.
O.K. enough making fun of my mother on Christmas.
What I will remember this Christmas day is the biggest set of big-toenails that I've ever seen on a normal size foot. I first met The Toe on the water taxi between Belize City and Caye Caulker. It was sitting right next to me and French. My big toe nail is about the size of a nickel, at most, maybe between a penny and a nickel. This guy had a normal size 9 man's foot but his big toenails and accompanying big toes were the size of a silver dollar. I had a hard time not staring. I almost pulled my little ruler out of my bag to measure them. And, did I mention the Frenchness? I wonder if that's a symbol of sexyness in France? It reminded me of the movie with Uma Thurman where she played the girl with the giant thumbs. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues(?)

This is also the first year since moving to Belize that I'm baking a turkey. Even though Middle Child and I are working today, it still feels like Christmas. Whoever said you have to spend a ton of money on Christmas? Baby girl loved her plastic tea set from China, plastic jelly sandles, plastic ring floaty and plastic backpack all bought at the China store down the street.

So, everybody, tell me what you remember the most about today. Have you ever seen something really really weird on someone and thought... "I wonder if they know how weird that looks?"
Don't get discouraged if I don't holla right back, its high season right now and I'm working day and night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Letter From Santa

Dear Baby Girl,
Your Grandma is so smart! When you wouldn't take a shower the other night, after you covered yourself in dirt and sand, and she put you in the cooler with bubble water (and then took your picture) I decided to reward her this year for Christmas. Don't tell her, but I'm bringing a new 1 speed beach cruiser bike with big booty seat, basket and rust resistant chain. If she gets real lucky it will be pink with a barbie horn.
As for you, we'll stick with platic toys made in China this year.
Grandpa Bigness doesn't get a new bike this year. He was a very very bad boy and already lost 2 of them BWI (Bicycling While Intoxicated). Grandpa's getting a new paintbrush and hammer.


The Bump in the Road

I'm glad I was oblivious of what was going on. I was just ridin de bus and trying to make sure I was there when the plane came into Cancun.
Little did I know what was going down...
Email from Middle Child Syndrome:
Well my trip is off to a great start. I packed up the car and ran into the apartment for one last thing (Halima and my purse) and walked back out to find NO CAR in the parking lot. The shock has not sunk in yet. So I'll call my grandma and proceed to the airport. Lets just hope for a safe flight. So I begin my trip with the clothes on my back and a plane ticket and maybe this is a a chance to start fresh. Things can only get better from here i guess

So here is a holiday toast to new beginings and fresh start
The cavalry was on its way, and someone stole the horse.
Middle Child Syndrome is being forced to dress like me, all boho chic, until she can get some new clothes. Vogue magazine has nothing on US! I've been wearing my clothes inside out with torn hems - FOR YEARS - and I just now find out what a trendsetter I am. She's learning to like tyedye - no really, she said that it doesn't make her want to throw up anymore. Its that or go nekked.

Having no luggage made it easier going when taking the transport from Mexico to Belize.
The bus shuttle from the airport to Playa Del Carmen - 1 hour
The taxi from the old bus station to the new bus station about a mile away.
The bus ride from Playa Del Carmen to Chetumal - 5 hours
The taxi ride from the bus station to the mall where we shopped for new clothes
The taxi ride to the hotel in Chetumal
The walk to the next hotel becasue the first one was full
The next taxi ride to the next hotel because the first two were full
The walk across the park to the next hotel because the 3rd hotel was full
The walk down the street to the 5th hotel and aaaahhhhh, by that time I didn't care if I was sleeping in a whorehouse or not. Hot water and clean sheets.
Taxi ride to the bus station
3-1/2 hour bus ride from Chetumal to Belzie City
1 hour water taxi ride from Belize City to Caye Caulker
Are we there yet?
No, baby girl, leave your shoes on because we're not at the beach yet.
Gramma when are we going to be there?
I have to go potty.

Interesting though, its good to see someone doing their job. We were under deep scrutiny by Mexican immigration when leaving Mexico and entering Belize at the border between Chetumal Mexico and Corozal Belize. The immigration officer actually questioned Baby Girl (3 years old) about "who her momma was". At the time you're going through interrogations, you feel a bit put upon. But after the fact, I realize that they are looking for missing and exploited American children, and human trafficing. Kudos to the Mexican Imigration man doing his job.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Don't Let the Door Hit You On Your Way Out

“Psst.. Miss Miss, how much for a coffee?”

I look around for where the sound is coming from and see the sweet Kriole police officer standing at the vent window next to the café kitchen. The window faces the police yard and is a direct shot into their duty office.

“2 bzd ($1 U.S.) for a small and 3 bzd ($1.50 U.S.) for a large” I answer.
“Its not for me its for my prisoners” he declares.
I look past him and see the backs of two dyed blonde heads in the window.

Bigness’s building occupies most of his beach lot, so when I go to work I pass through the police yard from the beach to the street entrance. This morning I saw two women on “The Bench” but I didn’t notice, or care who it was, I just needed to get that coffee brewing before people were beating the door down. I try not to see who’s in trouble, the knowledge weighs too much on my mind and I’m not going to bail anyone out of jail for what is usually stupidity. When women are arrested they aren’t put into a cell, they have to sit on the bench under the watchful eye of the duty officer until they decide what to do with you. Its like sitting in the principal’s office, everyone knows you’re in trouble. You should be so lucky in the U.S., to be treated so well.

Two mash up ole white ladies got themselves in trouble.
Don’t ask.
Don’t tell.
Cuz you on fakation and don’t nobody know you down here.

But I can speculate.
Smoking weed on the beach?
Fighting with another woman?
Those are about the only 3 reasons a woman would get arrested here. Chasing your man down the street with a stick will only get peels of laughter and shouts of encouragement from the copra.

Decisions, decisions, what to do with 2 mash up ole white leedies who won’t behave.

The sweet Kriole officer reached out and gave me a $5 bill as I passed the 2 coffees through the vent to him. “Tanks Miss Leedy” One small with sugar only and the large with milk and sugar please.

Welcome to our new walk up window.

The two grannies were later seen being “escorted” by a police officer to the water taxi.
Automatic $1000 fine and deportation.
Passport stamped OTL (Ordered To Leave) and shoved back over the border into Mexico.

Welcome to Paradise and please behave.

Update: Middle Child Syndrome and Baby Girl arrived safe and sound. Only one little bump in the road. (next post)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Changes in Plans and Missionaries on the Move

4:30 p.m. the phone rings - Is this Mr. Bigness? Be at the international airport at 10 a.m. tomorrow, you're going to Cuba.
4:31 p.m. What?

With Bigness in Cuba for eye surgery, I'm leaving today to go to Cancun to pick up Middle Child Syndrome and Baby Girl. I'll be back on Sunday. Notice to would-be burglars, I've left the wild kittens and sand crabs in charge of security.

Perhaps you don't know my feelings about missionaries, unless you've heard me rant and rave at the giant spectacles in the village park where happy (American) teenagers are bringing "The Word" to heathen children, several times a year. Maybe you've seen me scowl at the big evangelist production shows that come here to entertain the savages and to "Save" Belize. (Given my status of Missionary that I've been elevated to by my Mom and Dad - I might seem like a hypocrite) I watch in horror - teen missionaries painting faces and clowning, doing big Jesus shows, and I think - how much medicine could have been bought with one of those plane tickets, how many people donated so that their teen missionary could have a vacation on the beach?

If you want to be a missionary bring: medicine and tools. Be ready to help. Bring skills that we don't have here. Build a school, build a clinic, even build a church as long as it has a school or clinic atached to it.

Well these guys are doing that. They made a side trip stop on Caye Caulker for a few days of R & R and needed to drink some Iced Cafe Mocha and Chai Lattes - that's how I met them. But are leaving for Honduras via Guatemala today. I'm sure they will find plenty to do in Guatemala.
Interesting kids (anyone under 30 is a kid) They aren't afraid of anything.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Photo Friday - December 2 - Experimental

This photo is called Market Day in Belize City.

Hallooooo, You Reach Da Caye Caulker Compleeyn Depaaatmen

I'm thinking about putting a comments box and questionaire outside my door so I can stop answering the phone. I'll paint a sign that says "Comments? Suggestions? Complaints?" with a big arrow pointing to the box.

The police choose from time-to-time to not answer their phone.
I can hear it ringandringandringandring until the phone company shuts the ring off after about 20 rings.
How can nobody be home at the police department?

Then my phone starts to ring.

Frantic Caller: Miss Miss I'm sorry to bother you but can you look out your window and see if the police is home.
Me: uhhh, one sec K? (I wrap a towel around my drippingness)
Me: I can't tell, the lights are on, but I can't see if anyone is there. Maybe they are out on a call. (I'm squinting because I don't have my glasses on)
Frantic Caller: well blah blah blah and the police doesnt do nuttin about it blah blah blah and he be harrass me and I jus wan he outta my house blah blah blah. What's da numba ova der anyways, mebbe I dialed wrong.
I think to myself - uh... no they just aint answering.
I look in the phone book under Caye Caulker and Police and it says refer to page 109 - I go to page 109 and Caye Caulker ISNT EVEN LISTED. But they have 20 numbers for Orange Walk, 30 numbers for Belze City, 10 numbers for San Ignacio, 15 numbers for Belmopan. Why can't they just print the number?
Me: Have you tried dialing 90, its the emergency number for the phone company and they will put you in touch with whoever you need.... or you could walk the block down here, or you could call Belze City.
Frantic Caller: and I said blah blah blah and he said blah blah blah and I said blah blah blah....
I'm recalling my "Reach for the Top Training by Roger Mellot" for stress management and dealing with people who are over the edge - from 1989. It was a cassette series that I listened to, while working as a supervisor of a graphics/marketing department at a major university full time, having 3 small children at home, single mom, no help fropm the ex, and trying to cope with a boss that would call me at home on Sunday screaming at me.
Do not give back emotion.
Be a brick wall and it will bounce off.
Apologize without owning the problem.

Me: I'm sorry you have to go through this, uh huh, yep, I'm sorry that this is happening to you. Try the 90 number, if the operator can't get through, then they will forward your call to whoever can help you.
Frantic Caller: O.K. den.
Bigness: who dat?
Me: nobody, you don't even want to know.

I would have Bigness answer the phone, but he doesn't know how to lie (except to me) and say... "I'm sorry but she's unavailable at the moment, may I take a message?" He just hands the phone to me anyway.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Illustration Friday - Dec 2 - Blue

This peice is called Eyes of the Medicine Woman its 45" x 45". It is hand painted silk using the French Serti Technique of fencing in areas you want to paint. You first stretch the silk like canvas on a stretcher frame, then you treat the silk and paint. Its controlled chaos. The results are usually surprising.

A few years back I went to see a medicine woman. A real live Belizean medicine woman way out in the bush, because I needed help. Something was going on within myself and I had no idea what or why. Before I went to see her I had a dream and painted this image. I saw a mature woman, with eyes coming through the jungle and blue behind her.

I had had a series of mishaps, a devastating run of bad luck, jam packed into a 6 month stretch.
- was brutally assaulted.
- contracted spinal meningitis and became very very sick, and couldn't walk for a while. Or do anything except lay in bed very very still in excruciationg pain, except when I was sleeping knocked out from the narcotics they were giving me to control the pain.
-had a gun held to my head as I knelt on the side of the road in Mexico while 3 cops shook down the driver of the vehicle for mordita.
- won't even begin to describe the revelations regarding my now ex-husband.
-2 near drowning experiences.
-lost everything in a fire which turned out to be arson (landlord didn't want to fix the property so he burned it down) Lost Every Thing, 3 years worth of artwork, 53 original paintings, etc. etc.

I was in such a funk when I moved to Belize that I was afraid for the other people on the plane, because I was sure that it would crash because I was on it.
I'm not being a drama queen.

A close friend in Belize (a massage therapist) recognized some of the symptoms and referred me to the medicine woman. Beatrice Waight is her name. She practiced with Rosita Arviga (Rosita wrote the book Sastoon and 100 healing Herbs). Beatrice's father had practiced with the famous medicine man Don Elijo Pante, although he wouldn't teach her anything because she was a woman, she learned from her grandmother who was a Granny Healer.

I took the 8:30 boat from Caye Caulker, then the 10 a.m. express bus from Belize City to San Ignacio, arriving at noon. I caught a taxi to Bullet Tree Falls and 45 minutes later arrived in a little compound. The place is magical. Its like you're transported to another place and time.
Beatrice took me into her stick and pimento thatch examination room and had me lie down on a massage table. She lit copal which is an aromatic resin that produces a white smoke when placed on charcoal embers. She placed some herbs on my wrist and took my pulse. After a few moments she started praying in Mayan and Spanish and moved all around my body placing her hands and chanting. I felt a big rush of emotion and a gushing release. She ended the treatment with cupping her hands and blowing onto my chest.

Her diagnosis: a hex had been put on me and I needed to take the cure.

The cure was 7 herbal baths, over a period of 7 weeks, a herbal tincture with woman's herbs that you drink every morning (in a ginger wine base) and special prayers. The 7 baths were a ritual and had very curative effects. Some of the herbs were fresh white sage, marigolds, john charles, polly redhead, hibiscus, basil and the secret herb which I didn't recognize. I would pick a pigtail bucket full of herbs then add water and shred and crush them, letting the power of the sun soak into the mix. I would go into an outdoor wooden shower stall and pour and rub and scrub, leaving the herbs on my body. There was also 1 session of uterine massage to adjust my uteris and place it back into the proper position and to change my menstration so that it did not fall on the full moon. (does the picture of coyotes howling at the full moon come to mind here?) I would leave the sessions with grass in my hair and with what looked like oregano all over me, drying in the bus on the way home. Quite a site.
She told me who had placed the hex and why.
She sent it back.
The person died of stomach cancer 3 years later.
True story.

I feel so self conscious

I've been nominated for Best Caribbean Latino South American Blog
Vote for me!
Vote every day!
I want that free trip to Good Mornin Uhmerika!
I guess I'm over my shyness.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shake It You Won't Break It

BLAM! I hear, and the house shakes.
What happened? I call from the bedroom where I'm uploading files on my computer.
Nothing. Bigness answers sheepishly.
A few minutes later I walk out to our kitchen and look at the sliding glass door that leads to the verandah. I see a greasy face print about 7 feet up the glass. He's lucky he didnt break his nose, knowing how he walks full tilt all the time. I realize too late... Oh, I forgot to put the tape X on the glass after cleaning it this morning. It was just like the windex commercial.

I'm frustrated, I can't get into my Yahoo email account. It keeps telling me that my computer is rejecting cookies. I've checked all the settings and restarted a few times. Anyone else have this experience?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More Gorgeous Sunsets (Yawn)

Photo Friday Nov 26 - Yellow

Yellow Hibiscus. Shot in the late afternoon in Placencia, Belize with a Canon Digital Rebel EOS.

This could meet the yellow challenge also. The photo was shot on November 24, 2005 and was the sunset view of the wedding reception. By the time I hauled ass down to the split (the channel between the north and south part of the island) the boat had sailed off into the sunset. Oops! You can barely make it out on the far right at the horizon line. I'm hoping the couple will like the "creative use of whitespace" technique. What else could I do except try and make the best of the situation.

Illustration Friday - Nov 26 - Small

The original 24" x 24" art is hand-painted silk using te serti technique. I've made it into tiles and boxes that are available at http://www.cafepress.com/caribbeancolors/636708

What inspired me: This little froggy was hugging up my screen door one morning in October. He was eating the insects that had gotten stuck to the screen after the outdoor light was on all night

Sunday, November 27, 2005

False Advertisement for Getting Married

On Thanksgiving, I photographed a wedding for a Canadian couple (judging from their accents) People who get married here on Caye Caulker aren't looking for a traditional wedding, so it follows suit that their photos won't be traditional either, which is a good thing, since my photos are left of center.

I never look at the groom, it doesn't matter what he looks like, its the bride that's the most important thing in wedding photos. He could have a big ole green ting dangling out of his nose and I wouldn't catch it until I'm editing after the event. Thank goodness for photoshop.

Lots of factors affect shooting these weddings. The first is the low light at sunset and my reluctance to use a flash. Flash adds bounce and looks so fake, makes shiny faces. The breeze, which direction its coming from, and at what time. Usually the breeze comes from the east, they couple is facing west and so the bride's hair is blowing over her face, the flowers are flying away, dresses are flipping up. I've photographed more than one bride's lacy panties (oops!)

The moment is here and gone, never to come back again. The kiss, the kiss, the kiss, don't miss the kiss, is my mantra. Don't invade, is my rule. Leading up to the event I'm probably more nervous than the bride. I have to take 2-3 hours before the shoot, lay down, rest and meditate, or I feel like a wreck inside. I need to be aware, alert to capturing these moments, and not mentally fatigued. I don't operate very well on empty. I'm looking for that one moment, that one special feeling, the one photo you would pay $300 for.

Is it worth it? Yes. When I give them their photos, they ooh and aaaawww over them (and then they pay me) I relax.

I've come to realize I'm not a photographer, I'm a painter with a camera.

What I did on my birthday

45 is a big one, in my opinion. Half way through the decade, where you're still rising, haven't quite arrived yet - still have a little bit of energy, but are smart enough to not make the same mistake 3 times.
A good friend came over from San Pedro (the next island) for the night, plus bigness's oldest daughter and kids were here for the weekend, we all went out for dinner. My friend brought a cake and a bottle of wine, Bigness had already ordered a cake, which was a fete in itself, because he had to use the phone, and had to dial it himself.
A week before my birthday I decided that I wasn't going to ignore it this year. I told Bigness my birthday was coming up in a week and what I expected. I wanted a chocolate cake, sex the way I liked it, and a nice dinner out. He complied and didn't grumble too much.

Me: I want you to call Mr. Whyo's sister and order a cake for me.
Him: I'll get it when I go to the city
Me: You're going to bring a fancy cake on the water taxi? What if the seas are rough?
Him: You want a fancy cake?
Me: YEEEESSSSSSSSSSS. Just get it from Mr. Whyo's sister, she makes the wedding cakes I've eaten at receptions here - I like her cake. (Whyo isnt his real name, his real last name is Reyes)
Then I added with emphasis: Its MY birthday
Him: What's her name?
Me: I don't know, I don't know anyone's real name, she's Whyo's sister.
I see the wheels turning and the gears grinding, the far away look, then he snaps out of it.
Him: Oooooohhhhhh, Loite, she was my sweetheart in college, she was in luv with me, but I was bad back then, lawless.
Me: You're still lawless and every female over 55 - in Belize - was your sweetheart in college, tell her to not poison me.
A side note: Belize's speaker of the House of Representatives (Mrs. Zabaneh) was his girlfried in college, along with the lady from Tobacco Key who makes the dolls I sell in the gallery. Bigness was a basketball star. At night we're laying in bed watching the local news and they will play a clip from the House of Representatives session, he'll give a big sigh and say... "That gial luved me you know."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

High Season has officially started

Middle daughter isn't here yet, we're still trying to make arrangements. The hurricane that wiped out Cancun/Playa Del Carmen threw a monkey wrench into the mix. Its a question of time vs. money now.

This season promises to be a great one, with many other Caribbean and Mexican destinations ripped to shreds, if we can keep from killing off the tourists. Belize has had a rash of tourist deaths in the last few weeks. The body count is at 5 now (plus a pilot), which is more than we have in a whole year.

A honeymooning couple's private charter plane crashes into the mountainside on their way up to Francis Ford Coppola's resort Blancenaux.

A cruise ship tourist floats out to sea, right here off the reef of Caye Caulker, on a snorkel tour from Belize City. I watched the search and rescue ship right from my verandah. 20/20 hindsite Bigness said "I don't know why those Belize City bwais dive there, its right tricky, next to a cut in the reef, you notice no local Caye Caulker divemasters out there, its because the current is too strong. To add to the stupidity, the seas were too rough because a hurricane was churning off the coast. That day on the water taxi coming from Belize City I thought I was going to lose a kidney because the boat was slamming around so much, I couldn't imagine getting into the water.

Divers disappear off Placencia during hurricane Wilma. Complete stupidity there, go on a dive on a boat with no cell phone, no life preservers, no working radio, then abandon the boat and try and swim for shore. 3 made it 1 died. The tour guides have lost their licenses for LIFE. The same 2 guys had an incident in January, and their licenses had been suspended.

American girl killed in Mayan Indian Village, was traveling with a group, left them and went on her own to a little village where she befriended locals at a bar and was found strangled the next day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Zee Zzzwizzz Beckpeckers Hev Arrive

Zey kyam fram Ondurazzz end r so heppy to find a kleeen playz to itttt.
Ja vole.
Vat tiiime do you epen in ze morgen?
Veeee vill be heeeer.
Vee heeere about zee koffeeee.
Vee loooffff Koffeeeeee.
Strongggg Koffeeee.
(I'm sure they make fun of my accent too)
Zaye loook at me and vonder isss she spenish or is she amerikanish?
Note to self: time to get the NO SMOKING in six different languages sign out again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I fell asleep and when I woke up...

... there was a giant tropical storm right in front of me. Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore.
Anyone else watching the weather channel out there?
Where the heck did this big ugly thing come from? ... and why?

As of 9 p.m. central time (Friday night) the storm has organized and moved northwest. The stopped running the boats at 5 p.m. today, so whoever is left here isn't going anywhere. No diving trips, no snorkeling, no laying on the beach.

All that's left to do is to sit in my shop, drink coffee, eat blueberry cake and buy art.

Tonight I dug my floater jacket out of the bottom of the closet (closet is a very loose term for the spot between two rooms that I chuck my clothes), from inside the double hefty bags I use as mildew resistant storage, because the rains have started. We're supposed to get 10 inches in the next 24 hours.

Saturday Morning Update:

The storm turned and is heading more north than west, the seas are more calm than yesterday, the wind has died down and they started running the water taxis again at 8:30 a.m. Its directly west of us now and moving slowly north.

Another near miss, let's hope its the last of the season.

May people have asked me this question. Can you get insurance? The answer is yes, but only for contents of the store. After Hurricane Keith in 2000, buildings on the beach are no longer insured by the local companies. Bigness and I have discussed this at lengh. What would we do if we get hit and this building falls down? Build again, but in concrete? I say, retire again!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And they said it couldn't be done

Bigness: Babes, how many of this do I put in the jello (holding up a 14 ounce coffee mug)
Me: how many packages of jello?
Bigness: 2
Me: big or small packs
Bigness: big
Me: well that's 14 ounces, so each mug is 1-3/4 cups and each package takes 4-8oz. cups of water ( I whip out my brain calculator) so you should put 4-1/2 mugs of water to make 2 packs.
Bigness: Oh...
Me: What
Bigness: I put 8
Me: do wehave any more jello in the cupboard?
Bigness: no, but its o.k., it'll work
Me: no it wont
Bigness: you watch
Me: ... ( I silently say to myself, NO IT WONT)
Skip to the next day... it worked, it wasn't jello water, but was light and fluffy jello, not hard set but it didn't slip off the spoon either.
We ate it all. Being grown up means that we are allowed to eat things like jello and chocolate cake for breakfast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You know you're living on a small island when...

The owner of Dreadlock Pasta tells you that you're not allowed to serve any kind of pasta since there's the word pasta in the name of her business.
--Bigness chased her down the street with the machette for that one. Any of you initiated into Belize know which crazy house I'm taking about. I changed the name to protect the guilty.

I'm in the hardware store yesterday and the drunk policeman (there's one in every small town) told me that he heard Bigness bawling like a cow the night before. I guess that meant he heard us gettin busy - I didn't realize the acoustics in our apartment were so good. I've stopped getting embarrassed about this stuff anymore. I answered him back with... "Oh, that musta been when I was whipping him with a stick" Big guffaws from everyone in the store. I didn't even turn pink. I didn't have time to chat because I was racing around trying to get all my chores done, pick up cargo from the airstrip, send packages on the water taxi, on my bike, and my pants were giving me plumbers butt.

Meet Jennifer


Jennifer came into my store last night and is traveling for 5-1/2 months. Costa Rica to Belize to the Cook Island to India to Vietnam to Paris to London, and I'm sure I've missed a place or five. Check out her blog as she posts her travelogue, don't forget to tell her I sent you. She's had some great adventures so far, and told me a story or two last night over veggie lasagna.

Girls Gone WIld

I am really really trying to get a picture of the police woman in combat boots, really I am, if they would stop looking at me. The Seargent is very suspicious of me with that camera hanging off my face most of the time.
"Saaaage, may I please take a picture of Girls Gone Wild on the desk" hoping to shift the camera a bit and take in the edge of big momma's combat boots.
"What you do with that komra ever day? Ever day ever day I see you wid dat komra pinting it da we"
"I report the weather on the internet" I said to him trying to fathom what's going on behind those reflector sunglasses, I see the faint curl of a smile. I'm a bad liar, a nervous liar, my mouth goes dry, my heart is about to pop out of my chest. I could never pass a polygraph test, even if I was innocent.
"How you know bout Girls Gone Wild?" he asks gruffly
"I noticed Girls Gone Wild carved into the police desk when I was making out the report against Freaky White Granny's crackhead boyfriend when he threatened to burn the place down ecause of the eviction - but you were on leave"
"Oh, ok den"
He watches me, I snap snap snap. Combat boot momma crosses and uncrosses her big thick hairy legs.
"Why you want dat picture for the weather report?"
"Oooooohhhhhhhh" I say, stalling for brain time, "That one's for a story I'm writing about white girls who come here and hook up with the wrong kinda people and get themselves in trouble." My face is burning.
"Girls Gone Wild been on dat desk from ever since..." he said as I scuttled away.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Near, Far and Cant Stop Playing This Game

Weather Report:
its 85 and sunny

I've had the weird headache again - all week, which is very unusual for me. I never get headaches, well hardly ever. Its behind my eyes and at the base of my skull on the left side.

And I can't stop playing this game
My high score was 2470.

So amuse yourselves for a while, its like opening a bag of potato chips - or in my case, a bag of Hershey's kisses, I can't stop until they are all gone.

About the headache, it might have been a mild case of the flu (we are getting germs from all over the world coming in here now), or stress (who me?) or it might be my eyes, I think my eyes are changing again and my glasses prescription is too strong. I'm nearsited and they say that as a woman approaches men-o-pause a nearsited woman can become farsited. Well whatever it is, its annoying and I can't think straight.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Illustration Friday - Nov 4 - Night

This peice is titled "Midnight" and was on exhibition at the House of Culture in Belize City July-August 2005, then moved to the George Price Center for Peace in Belmopan, Belize. The GPC is where all the big government meetings take place in Belize. The inspiration was from vintage erotic photography from the 1920s. The peice is oil pastel, prismacolor pencil and oil paint.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fashion Police Ruling

Spanish man wear man-prix pants nice,
White man just look silly.
Photos later.

Speaking of Fashion Police. Our female officer here on Caye Caulker has taken to wearing combat boots with her skirt uniform. The first time I saw that I was... huh? Is that what I think it is, and not the fashionable black ankle socks and black oxfords that we've come to know and love?
I think I'll bribe her with a brownie and ask her the classic question... Did your momma wear...?
But she might accidently shoot me.
I WISH I had photos of this.
See what happens to me when I'm just minding my own business?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Rastaman Russell

Russell stopped by last night to have waaaa lee chat. He was telling me about how he eats grass and leaf and stick and tings. He told me that most fat girls with big belly comes from backway batty. I wonder what he meant.
I asked Bigness if Russell eats grass and leaf and stick an tings, he said yeeeessss mon, he see Russell graze like cow and enjoy it.
I'm still puzzling over what he meant by back way.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Price List for Answers

The tourists are coming, we're getting traveling refugees from all over Central America and the Yucatan because so far... we've been lucky with the weather. Its like a wave of foreigners hit the island yesterday. This year I've made up my new price list.
I get asked the same questions over and over.

Where are you from? $1

How long have you lived here? $2

Do you like living here? Dinner and drinks

Think anyone will be offended if I add this to the bottom of the menu right after the desserts?

The electrician was in the store working on the lights. His name is Birdegg or sometimes he's called Dirty Cash. His real name is Eggbert, I think. But you see where I'm going, things get reversed, like poles. He's getting better at his work though, this time we only have 1 mystery switch, 1 light dangling with no apparent way to turn it on and 1 zzzzzssssshhhhhttttt sounding light cracking and popping like a special effect in a horror movie.

I have Tiger Eyes. I found this quiz on Caroline's blog


Positive Traits:
Determined, Passionate, Loyal, Strong,
Negative Traits:
Aggressive, Ambitious, Domineering, Possessive,

Your eyes are the windows to your soul. What type of eyes do you have?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween 2004

This is what happened to me last year when I lost count of my drinks at Popeye's Beach Halloween Party. The thought of going through this again is really repugnant. File this one in "Most Embarrassing Moments" I lernt my lesssson.

Illustration Friday - Broken - Oct. 28

Photo Friday - Oct. 28 - Delicate

Photo Friday submission for Oct. 28. This photo was shot in Southern Belize, west of Punta Gorda, near the Maya site Lubantum. We were at a butterfly farm where they breed blue morpho butterflies and others (can't remember the name of this one) for export to England. My friend's 4 year old daughter held perfecly still while butterflies landed on her and the red hibiscus. It was one of those magical experiences. Photographed with an old Olympus Comedia.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bread Baking, Pasta Salad Making and Impossible Spinach Quiche Pie

A big thank you to Google, without it I would be lost. I can't believe I'm in the food business - again.
I grew up in the food business, when I was a child and young teen my parents had a catering company. Weekends were spent with my brothers (Einstein and Charles Manson) peeling 100 lbs. of potatoes and serving coffee to blue haired ladies at wedding showers. When I was a teenager my parents actually bought a turn of the century hotel and restored it into its original elegance and had a very nice family style restaurant and old fashioned hotel. I was mad though, because we had to move from Detroit to rural Grand Rapids, Michigan, away from the crime and smog and congestion. What I was really mad about was I had to move away from this boy...
Oldest daughter remembers grandma's Olde Kent Inn located in Kent City, Michigan - a business that they worked with my mother's parents. Grandpa was a Mr. Fixit and grandma made the peach and apple pies. Oldest daughter was about 7 when my parents sold the place in 1986, ready to "retire". My Dad went back to work in automotive and my Mom came to work for me in publishing - as my bookkeeper - which was no retirement at all. When I left home I swore I would never be in the food business, but here I am. Everything comes full circle. My mom is one of those recipe encyclopedias. She's the person I email when something's not turning out right or we can't get the ingredients here. When I lamented that Brodies in Belize City wasn't carrying the Java Ice syrup anymore for our cafe mocha drinks she said to me "Well, just make it... here's how: equal parts of espresso and sugar, for every ounce of syrup add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder" Easy. Well, easy for her because she's one of those food geniouses. I got the "Art" gene. Bigness got the "Boss" gene.

I have a lawyer friend who says "Smart people don't make the same mistake 3 times" She also says "Libel is written, slander is spoken, but its only libel or slander - if its NOT true" So those of you waiting for stories about Dreadlock Pizza, keep the faith, they are coming. But back to the bread. First try: Bigness thought the bread was finished but it was in the final rise when he poked it (not so gently) with his (very clean) finger, and plop. The second try was better, but still I had 2 kilo brick, although it was a very tasty brick, bread shouldn't make you lose a capped tooth. So, I added more yeast and cut the whole wheat flour with some of our very dense white flour and... perfection. Wow, I really feel like supergirl now because I also fixed the espresso machine - sort of. Let's say, it functions. Back to the sandwich. One giant thick slice of whole wheat honey bread, smear it with cream cheese, layer sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumber, onion, green pepper, grated carrotts and topped with white cheddar. Broil and serve open face.

Recipe for Impossible Quiche Pie
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet green pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb of fresh spinach
2 tbl. real butter
1/2 cup of media crema or half and half
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 cup baking mix - like Bisquick or Jiffy
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese - or Dutch cheese like Gouda or Edam
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
dash of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 12 baking pan.
Wash, chop and drain spinach, sautee it in real butter for about 2 minutes with the onion, garlic and sweet pepper, add a dash of salt. Sautee it just long enough to take the crunch out of the veggies. Do not use the liquid from the pan, just the sauateed veggies. Put spinach mixture in the bottom of the baking pan, top with cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. In a blender mix the eggs, media crema or half and half, milk, salt pepper nutmeg and baking mix. Pour on top. Bake uncovered in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. You'll know its done when a knife inserted in comes out clean.
I added 1/2 tsp more of baking powder, since we are at sea level and the air is so thick, we need extra levening to avoid brick-like food, but for anywhere else in the world you probably wouldn't have to do that.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Secrets of the Jaguar Woman

I'm not into words today, just pictures and captions.

This is a new release. The original art is created on hand-painted silk. I started by tye dying silk and hanging it out to dry, then I stretched the silk on a stretcher frame using a staplegun and the drew the mask using something called gutta. This style of silk painting originated in France and is called Serti technique which roughly translates to building fences around the areas you are defining.

Influences: stragely enough, this giant moth on my front door. The mask is roughly based on a famous Benin mask from Africa. Look how furry the moth is.

Its amazing how 1 day can make a difference. Remember the photos of the water whipping up onto our beach? Well, hurricane Wilma moved off and took the storm surge with her (and dumping 5 feet of rain on Cancun), leaving us with low low tides, so low you can see the seagrass flats right in front of our place. Bigness told me that when he was a young man, lobster was so plentiful that his father would send him out to the sea, and he would just lift up the edge of the seagrass and pull out lobster that his mother would grill up for dinner. Amazing.