Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Weather Report for Caye Caulker

Just taking a break from Theservingofthecoffee to let you enjoy what today is like here on Caye Caulker.

Santa came last night and brought UNBaby a unicorn head on a sitck so she can have her own pony to ride up and down the beach, new school shoes, a plastic golf set to whop all the boys over the head with, the game Candyland to practice counting, a baby carriage for all the nekkid babydolls (where do all the doll clothes go?). The package from Merica hasn't arrived yet, so there's more Christmas probably later this week.

It was a relatively quiet night last night. I only had to bawl at the police once last night, to SHUT UP WITH THE FIRE CRACKERS MON, people are trying to sleep (they took it well). The sarge is like the dad over there, and was off the island. So you know how boys like to play shoot-em-up cowboys, even big ones.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

One More Day 'til Christmas

I am the DJ today.
Today, I make all the music decisions.

I have decided that if I have to listen to another freakin Christmas carol, I'm going to poke my eyes out with an ice pick, and you KNOW how important eyes are to a painter, so with no more ado,
(drum roll please)
We're back to our old roations.
Cafe Del Mar
Gotan Project
St. Germain
etc. etc.

Supergirl: But it reminds people its Christmas and they might buy more gifts.
Me: I don't care.
Supergirl: You don't care about store sales?
Me: People vacation at Christmas because they don't want to DEAL with Christmas back home.
Supergirl: No they don't they come here to get away from the frozen north.
Me: well that too, but this is about as non-traditional Christmas as you can get without it being a muslim country.
Supergirl: I'm not changing the music.
Me: Do you want me to chase you with the scissors?

Its time for a nap.

While I'm sleeping holla back at me.
Why do you think people vacation at Christmas time. Do you think they expect a traditional American Christmas? Do you think that if we play Marvin Gaye they will forget about Christmas?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's in Store for Christmas in Belize

Contrary to many local businesses in Belize and on Caye Caulker, we WILL be open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I'm not sure when we're opening presents yet, its kinda hectic Christmas morning because we're up early and getting ready to open the cafe at 7 a.m., Supergirl and I have already exchanged, each of our presents wrapped lavishly in the black plastic shopping bag it came in, but I'll get to that later.

We're playing the James Taylor Christmas CD, Jessica Simpson's Christmas, Smokey Robinson's Christmas and my favorite, the Jackson 5 Christmas, to remind ourselves that it is indeed Christmas time again. No snow here, not even any rain, the weather has cleared up and its balmy and warm with a gentle breeze. A couple of days ago people started putting up lights and decorations, its strange to see them. We put up UNBaby's decorations she made in Miss Sue's Preschool and they look just nice.

For UNBaby, this year Santa (Bigness) is bringing Uncle Ivan all the way from Canada coming via Miami. She's enraaaaaaaaaaaaptured and has been chattering away for the past few weeks about Ivan this and Ivan that. I have to admit that sometimes I use it as leverage. Santa's coming with Uncle Ivan, be a good girl and don't scream and hollar. Santa's coming with Uncle Ivan so pick up your clothes and toys off the floor. Santa's coming with Uncle Ivan so eat all your dinner, and so on, you get the picture. Bad grandparenting? Who cares, its working. Last year she and Supergirl had just arrived and all her gifts had been stolen along with their luggage (and the car) just prior to leaving for the airport, so it was a sparse Christmas. This year we have been pecking away at getting little things here and there for a while and puting them up. Actually, they are wrapped up already with paper and ribbons and distributed around the store as decorations and camoflauged to keep her from finding them. Bigness said he was going to get her a peice of PVC pipe, a length of rebar, a block of wood and an empty cardboard box to have since that's what she plays with anyways. Mom and Gma have other ideas, we think that she would like a new barbie, some slippers, some new school shoes to go with her uniform, a unicorn head on a stick to ride around on (instead of the peice of PVC pipe and rebar) and the Shoots & Ladders game and Candyland game we found at the Hofius Hardware store in Belize City.

Bigness and I don't really exchange, because Christmas is every day since we love each other so much (O.K. you can barf now) Supergirl and I don't really exchange either, so we put a $15 limit and our gifts tend to be jokey and unwrapped anyway. I got her a bath gel and spritzer set and her response was typical "Are you trying to tell me something?" Her gift to me was a giant $5 bottle of the generic version of "White Diamonds" called "Odelia" which is what all the whores on Caye Caulker wear. I asked her if she was trying to tell ME something. I decided to regift the cologne spray to Bigness, maybe he'll be able to regift it to someone who really needs it.

We have the turkey and ham, and someone besides me will be cooking them because I'm working from early to late that day. Other than a few mystery cans which may or may not be pumpkin pie, we're going to have pecan pie made with walnuts, so I guess that would make it walnut pie, and other seasonal goodies like Rum PoPo which is the Belizean version of Egg Nog and eating Black Cake.

Recipe for Rum PoPo
9 eggs
1 pint strong rum
1 oz cinnamon stick
5 large tins evaporated milk
1/4 lb raisins
4 nutmeg grated
3 tins sweetened condensed milk

Wash dem eggs!
Soak cinnamon stick and raisins in rum for 2 days.
Beat eggs well for 15-20 minutes removing the beater and rinsing in clean water several times to remove stringsand eye of the egg. (Yummy, doesn't that sound appetizing and make your stomach jump flip flops of joy?)
Add evaporated milk and beat again
Add condensed milk and check for sweetness. I don't know what you would do if it was too sweet, but if its not sweet enough, obviously add sugar.
Add grated nutmeg and the rum used for soaking the cinnamon and raisins, strain out the raisins and cinnamon sticks
Mix again and store in clean bottles in the refridge.

I guess the rum will kill off any stray salmonilla germs that might be floating around from the eggs, but we don't try and think about such things, tut tut.

Recipe for Belizean Christmas Black Cake
This recipe will make 2 9" layers and is a very dense and heavy cake that will last years and years and years.
2 lbs of flour (900g)
2 cups of stout beer
2 cups of strong rum
2 peices of cinnamon stick pound in a strong clean cloth
3 tsp. allspice
1 cup of flour for the fruits
1-1/2 lbs brown sugar
1 pt blackening for cake to get desired color
1 tsp baking powder
8-10 eggs
1 lb margarine
1/2 to 1 lb. each of raisins, prumes, dates, pecans, cherries and mixed fruit
1 nutmeg grated
1 cup syrup or brown sugar for stewing fruits.

Stew fruits the night before baking. Use 1/4-1/2 lb brown sugar for stewing fruits. (Let fruits simmer for 5-10 minutes) then let set and cool.

Next day, prepare cake tins. Grease with shortening and line with brown paper bag. (Set aside)

Cream margarine or butter with sugar.

Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well.

Add flour alternately with black coloring. Mix well each addition

Add stout beer. (about 3/4 of a pint). Mix well. (notice we only used 3/4 of a pint, the other 1/4 is for the cook to sip on to bring Christmas cheer)

Cover fruits with 1 cup flour. Add to mixture. Fold in fruits.

Bake for 2-3 hours in oven at 250-300 F/145 C , place cake pan in a pan of water. Cake is done when knife inserted into center of cake comes clean and dry.

You can make this cake at least a month in advance of Christmas and "Feed" it a little rum each day to make it real nice and toxic.

So what are you doing this year for Christmas?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mr. Badlucky

With my head wrapped in toilet paper to keep the hair dye from running down my face, I’m sitting here writing this post. I’m still having a little trouble with the correlation between what the box says in Spanish and the picture of the girl on the front cover. Either that or the box is lying to me again. You choose.

Today Mr. Badlucky visited us, three times.

We woke up to a newly rebuilt fence sneaked back up after midnight by Cousin Rage. Like a little rat in the night, to block beach access, its family feud time again. Bigness had just broken it down 2 days ago because it limited beach access, was an eyesore, and an illegal fence bordering the property and WORST OF ALL, on Queensland. And you KNOW how we love the Queen here. Back and forth, fences up and fences down. Bigness is much more patient than me, I would have had the chain saw warmed up by now (vroom vroom vroom). But with high season on, and working in the gallery and cafe like it’s a REAL job, I really don’t have time to study those people. Bighness is right though, his bad mind will catch him and if you give a person enough rope and they WILL hang themselves.

I say, the pendulum swings up and the pendulum swings down.

The second thing Mr. Badlucky did today was to kill the new well pump, and all the “plumbers” on Caye Caulker decided it was their day off. (read drunk/hungover) If necessity is the mother of invention, then Bigness and Supergirl were reinvented into plumbers today and figured out the problem and fixed it, once they believed in themselves and bought a new pipe wrench.

The third thing Mr. Badlucky did today was to create an unnatural waterfall after the well pump was fixed. I was in my office getting my email, with my feet tucked up under me, If they had been down I would have noticed the puddle of water sneaking under the door. We live on the second floor above the store, so you know what water likes to do… run down. I’m hearing the sound of a waterfall tinkling in my ears, I looooooooove the sound of water. Its so relaaaaaaaxing.. Ring ring the phone rings and breaks the spell. Its Supergirl “What the hell are you people doing up there (Is that any way to speak to your mother?) YOU’RE FLOODING OUT THE STORE!!!!

EEK! I say and slam down the phone (nicely of course) and realize now what the waterfall sound is, and see the water seeping under the door. I fling open the door to the verandah and our totally manual washing machine is spilling water everywhere because the hose has flipped out of it. The person holding the hose (Bigness) has disappeared to do something really important like make a hamburger or fry something and didn’t hear the waterfall noise over the sound of sizzle. On the upside, the floor is really clean now.

Mr. Badlucky likes to come in 3s, his work is finished here for a while. If you see him, tell him I said so.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Photo Friday - Dec 8 - Fresh

A bride's boquet with hibiscus, fragrent frangiopanni, bird of paradise and sweet plumeria on the edge of a Caye Caulker dock at a sunset beach wedding.

Check out more Photo Friday submissions.

Illustration Friday - Dec 8 - Mask

Hand-painted silk inspired by an antique Benin mask. I painted this several years ago for the fashion empress of Detroit, Sharrone Mitchell. This painting became the back of a man's coat.

A photo illustration using a clay mask by Belizean artist Felipe Zetina, a grass mat and habanero peppers and various photoshop filters.

Check out more Illustration Friday submissions.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Photo Friday - Dec 1 - Stillness

The breeze drops and the water turns glass flat, palm shadows freeze their movements on the sand. The sun is hot and singing on the top of my head.

Check this out for more Photo Friday submissions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mars & Venus

A motorized garage sale came to town on this quiet day in November. Click on any image to enlarge, the viewing is much funnier full size..

The Thanksgiving tourist rush is over and we’re getting ready for the Christmas season which starts in mid December. Business has slowed down, we’re taking a little breather, but, times like these make me wish I had my camera strapped to my back at all times. If at first you can't catch the act in progress, you can at least document the aftermath.

You have to remember something about me. I do not go out seeking entertainment, it comes to me, right at my own front door. As usual, Supergirl and I were just minding our own business admiring the super fantabulous electricity hook up we have on this building...

. . . when a golf cart rounded the
corner on two wheels WWWWHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

The wife/passenger wasn’t so excited about this fete of kinetic energy and demanded that her slightly sloshed husband, put down one of his beers, slow down, or let her off. He, however forgot to clean the wax from his ears that morning and thought she was really asking him to go faster.

So, she thought she would fix him.

She: STOP! or I’m going to throw these here clothes off the cart.

He: (balurp!)

She: See here? (fling) there goes your speedo (just like a slingshot)

He: … WTF


He: … vroom vroom (how fast can I make this little buggy go, gee this is fun watching her get mad in front the whole world)

She: You’re going to be naked tomorrow

He: … (I wonder if I can jump off real fast and catch another beer) (This is more fun that getting drunk and dancing with a stranger)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Positive Feedback

BLAM! High season is on! And not a moment too soon. The big 3-bedroom Alamina Beach House is 80% booked up until Easter (woohooyeah!). The little efficiency apartment is still available though, but I'm confident that it will book up as I'm hearing positive feedback from the other hotels that this is going to be a bang up year. For the past 2 years our Village Council has actively worked on marketing Caye Caulker as a dive and vacation destination for families with developing an equal opportunity website and attending trade shows like DEMA the largest dive show in North America. As the market changes and Belize becomes more and more expensive to live and do business in, we've had to change who our target customer is. We're losing the backpackers, who have been our bread and butter since the dawn of tourism 30years ago (way before my time here), when the first hippines arrived on Caye Caulker on Chocolate's fishing dory. I have my theories on why this is happening, although I won't whine and whinge on them. Change is like a train, you can't stand on the rails and try to stop a train, it will run you down. You have to jump on it and enjoy the ride.

So, no more messing around in my studio on the mainland, I'm back on Caye Caulker, more or less full time, until after Easter. I'm grateful though that I was able to take the time this year and produce another collection, this time in oil. This new series is called Village Life. I already have an Island Life series in watercolor that I did in 2000.

On Caye Caulker, people come here for vacation year after year for weeks at a time. If you spend any amount of time here, the next trip, the local people will remember you. They might not remember your real name, but they will have your character down pat. ("Hey big lady wid de pretty hair did I just see you? - that IMPRESSED me!) A woman came into the gallery the other day and we struck up a conversation, she was here 10 years ago and even though there has been some building up of the island, it still feels the same. No shirt, no shoes, no problema!

Christmas is coming, its time to change the marley and curtains. Marley is the thin vinyl flooring that we all use in our little wooden houses to cover the floor. Curtains are curtains, but its a tradition to change them once a year before Christmas. I think, because the sun is so harsh most of the year, it fades the color and rots the fabric.

Bigness and I went to the city today to get some house fixer up stuff. He's repainting (neverending) the interior of the house and is back on construction duty. The electric drill is charged and ready to go and we've located the hammer. We'll have to find a replacement door stop though, Supergirl made pumpkin spice cake with the mystery can, so we were using his 10lb sledgehammer that he uses to smash tings with as a door stop/opener. It worked perfect, but alas, construction begins again. In my opionion, there's nothing sexier than a big man with a sledge hammer in one hand and a drill in the other.

He usually goes to Belize City before me on the boat, to pick up the car from his house there. And, also, after years of commercial fishing, he's up before the crack of dawn and itching to get the day started. I'm a confirmed slow poke. I figure why get on the boat before 8:30 a.m., the stores are just barely open, the clerks haven't even cleared the sleep from their eyes.

Going here, going there, first to 3 banks, then to the central market to buy produce for the cafe, I ended my shopping at Mikado Textile Palace. For Christmas the store is resplendent with sample satin fringy and lace curtains on show from ceiling to floor. The only thing is that the curtains run right along the fronts of the fabric racks, so to shop for fabric you must paw through the curtains to peep at the fabrics. I felt like I was in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When you enter the store a doorman asks you if you're having a nice day, and "Welcome to Mikado" You check your bags at the front desk and as soon as you touch a peice of fabric a clerk is there lifting it up for you, asking you how many yards you want of it. I'm the typical Amurrrrrikin shopper who wants to be left alone to comtemplate the beautific colors and hues of stretch polyester all on my own, but I've had to change my ways to accept the help of an earnest clerk to avoid being siungled out as that strange-lady-who-won't let-anyone-help her. The search was on for purple cotten sheeting and "Dive Belize" purple-turquoise-green fishy fabric to replace bedspreadsi n the beach house that had become damaged. Also, I had a bet with Supergirl that I could find blue camoflage stretch denim. I found it, she lost. Sucker's bet. I ask you, how do all these girls wear jean pants and skirts that look painted on...? STRETCH DENIM!

We're here and we're ready. The coffee's made and Supergirl made a rum raisen pound cake and triple chocolate espresso brownies, so come on back Big Gial Wid De Pretty Hair.

UNBaby is getting over her cold because finally we were able to tape shoes on her feet and zip up her sweater. She spent most of the day yesterday in prison, upstairs with Crompa. He got the fun job of wiping green baba off her face awhile Supergirl and I worked. She's better now and reading me the pictures from the story book "Midokio," which is Pinochio said with a cold.

The weather isn't looking too great for the next few days, but any day in paradise...

Paintings: Click on any image to enlarge
Untitled (located near the Split where Destiny Tours used to be is house #69, although we don't have house or street number here, I always wondered what went on in house #69)

Spin's Bike leans up against Tia Ilna's fence

Miss Ophelia's House (right across the street from us) was put together by Bigness's father from the parts of 5 houses after hurricane Hattie blew them down in 1961. Bigness's sister isin her late 70s and still lives in this little old house.

The peir on the west side of Caye Caulker near Motel 1788

Laundry Day at Pepe's

Peach on the Beach, Tia Ilna's House, UNBaby and Jakey play in the sand as Mariette (the massage therapist for Caye Caulker) looks on.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Weather Report

Its cold
Its supposed to get down to 61 degrees F tonight after midnight and a high tomorrow of 72 degrees F.
Thanks a lot you frozen northerners.
Uh huh.

Bigness is excited. He calls it free air conditioning. (He said we'll HAVE to snuggle tonight)

I'm wearing my hoodie sweatshirt to bed, and the only pair of socks I own (pink sweat sock)
Oh, way sexy, I know!

I'm not complaining though, these "cold" days make us sell about 4x the amount of coffee we usually do.

I remember as a kid going to Florida with my parents for Christmas and swimming in the oceanwhen it was only 65 degrees F outside and seeing the local Floridians walking around in their winter coats and hats, thinking, how strange that they would feel cold when it feels so warm to me. Now I'm one of the cold people.

How cold is it where you are?

Question for the Cosmos

Why oh why is it, that out of the 10,000 hairbrushes we have in this here house, the only one in MY bathroom is the Bob Marley Dreadlock Rasta Ripper brush? You know it... its the one with the tiny stiff pirannah teeth bristles meant only for short hair or brain torture. The one that you THINK you can use if you're real careful, cuz you're in a hurry and can't find the 10,000 other hair brushes or wide tooth combs. But alas, you can't use it, because it wraps those pirannah teeth bristles around your hair and yanks it out by the roots, and you end up CUTTING it out of your hair. (OUCH! DON'T DO THAT AGAIN! big frown)

Note to self: I wonder if UNBaby using my soft, cushy, long-hair brush on stray dogs again? Maybe my non-torture brushes are in the same location as the 5,000 pairs of flip flops, slippers and tennies that she's lost this year.
(Big Sigh)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Garifuna Settlement Day

"Iunraha Wamei Irisini Higiru Wayunagu Waba" means "Lets Uphold the Values left to us by our Ancestors" in the language of the Garifuna. Its BRUKOUT time on Caye Caulker and in all of Belize on November 19. This commemorates the 174th anniversary of the Garifuna people landing in Belize. Garifuna Settlement Day started as a national and bank holiday in 1943 with big celebrations, drumming, traditional food, and dancing. This weekend we're also celebrating Neice Rosanna's big four oh and MY birthday with a family celebration. I'm actually a turkey baby, born the day after Thanksgiving, but I'll use any excuse to party. The photo above is part of the early dawn (Nov. 19th) ceremony where a reinactment takes place of the landing in Belize.

We'll be drinking Pantyrippers, a delicious combination of fresh pineapple juice and coconut rum over crushed rice and eating traditional foods like fish seri and hudut. Fish seri is a spicy stew with a coconut milk and white achiote base poured over dumplings made of grated and boiled green and ripe plantains.

The Garifuna originated from the Yellow Island Caribs who occupied the Orinoco Basin in Venezuela, South America. In 1220 the Caribs invaded and conquered the islands in the Lesser Antilles and parts of the Greater Antilles and intermarried with the Arawaks. This mixture gave birth to Island Caribs.

In 1635 African slaves were shipwrecked in the islands near St. Vincent. They intermarried with the Island Caribs; this resulted in the birth of the Garifuna. The Caribs and Garifuna populated these islands but soon after encountered many conflicts with the Europeans. The Garifuna strongly resisted European control, maintaining the tradition of the earlier Caribs. They fought against the Spanish, British and the French. The Europeans had guns and were eventually able to overpower them and they were forced to move to the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras.

In 1832, many Garifuna left Honduras after a civil war there and settled in Dangriga, Belize on November 19th. They were led by Alejo Beni. Between 1832 and 1900 the Garinagu in Belize consolidated their settlements and spread from Dangriga to Seine Bight, Monkey River, Punta Negra, Punta Gorda, Barranco, Livingston, Hopkins and Georgetown.

The Garifuna have their own language, music, dance, food and religion and are very distinc from any other culture in Belize.

This year, Pen Cayetano, Belize's most famous Garifuna painter and musician, along with his wife Ingrid, is having an exhibition at the House of Culture in Belize City. Its titled Ubagari or Life Art. The centrepiece of Pen’s collection is called “Belize 2005” a rendering of the civil disturbances that rocked Belize.

Delvin “Pen” Cayetano, Artist
“These pieces that I brought along is mostly about what happened the other day among the cultural and political movements that happened last year, 2005. And I did also some paintings pertaining to the deaths of the kids in Belize as well as Garifuna paintings and historical paintings like the landing of Lindbergh. For the total exhibition here, I want to show the people here that yeah, life is not a dream, it’s a hard reality and we are passing through it right now.”

Check out this link to hear music samples from Andy Palacio, Belize's most famous and accomplished Garifuna musician.

The Story of My Life

I was born
Then I had computer problems
--- to be continued ---

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Oh, So That Explains It...

Full Moon... the next day

Did you hear de joke bout de hit and run?

Me: No, what?

Juanita: Miss Puneesha stone Cousin Rageo with her slipper, on de street, lasss night pon midnight.

Me: What?

Juanita: That's the joke.

Me: What joke.

Juanita: She call he chancey beca he live with he wife AND sweetheart.

Me: She took up for her daughter.

Juanita: That's the other joke

Me: Tell me...

Juanita: Dey say wife no noh bout de sweetheart. Hmp! Must be he like young ting!

Me: I was asleep at 8, I didn't hear a THING! I always miss out on the action.

Illustration Friday - Nov 3 - Smoke

I painted this original on silk a few years ago and it is based on a Mayan glyph of a female ruler.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Domestic Goddess

As high season approaches in a few weeks, we also celebrate the American Thanksgiving here in Belize. No, really we do. Maybe its the fact that the American Thanksgiving week is the first really busy tourist week we have in the new season, or its just fun to have an excuse to eat turkey. Its not quite the same, take a plate of turkey and mashed potatoes and gray, add plenty of rice-n-beans and stovetop stuffing and canned cranberry relish, and voila! Last year I made pumpkin pie from almost scratch. I found cans of the filling in Belize City, opened them, added the ingredients listed on the recipe on the LABEL, (poured into the frozen pie crust cuz I'm lazy, then baked for 50 minutes) found some cool whip at the same shop that the King of Coolwhip shops at and again... voila! I bought two extra cans in the hope that I would somehow make it again, and just in case the next container ship with imported canned goods from the U.S. didn't get here for 2 more years, we were set. Well, we have the cans... but they have joined the ranks of cans-sans-labels (thanks to UNBaby's prying fingers) and we are now using for doorstops. So, I'm steeling myself for what looks like a round of Russian Can Roulette. It could be yams, it could be whole kernel corn, it could be... salsa casera. At any rate, the food won't go to waste because we eat everything here, (except I don't eat the feet or eyeballs of anything) after all, its a 3rd world country, and we can't afford to be too picky here.

Tales From the Evil Waitress

I bet you're wondering where I've been. Last time I disappeared for this long I came back married. I stopped announcinng my departures a few months ago. Too many people on Caye Caulker read this blog and behave badly if they know for certain we're off the island. We never intended to be gone so long, but the check in calls went just like they did the last time I left to paint and paint and paint.
Me: Sooooooooo what's goin on...
Supergirl: Nothing
Me: How's business
Supergirl: sloooooowwwwwww
Me: Uh Huh, so do you need anything sent on the water taxi?
Supergirl: No
Me: You sure?
Supergirl: Yeah
Me: O.K., well you know where I am if you need anything. (Note to self: nexst year we're closing down and going somewhere to let our brains cool down)

High season starts in 2 weeks, so... in this interim slow period I've figured out

What Women Want
...on their bagels, of course.
French women want peanut butter on the side
Englander women want jam (sorry we only have jelly) or cream cheese and cucumbers
German women want cream cheese, not so much of it
Dutch women want cream cheese, lots of it
Italian women want cream cheese on the side and then seconds for free
Belgian women want cream cheese and salami or tomatoes
American women on the east coast want a schmear (what's a schmear?)
American women from the west coast want the cream cheese spread on then scraped off so there's only the essence of cream cheese. Is that too much work? Is this non-fat cream cheese? Do you have skim milk? I answer no to all of the above. However, I can put water in the milk and make it like skim milk if you want...

What Men want...
Something with meat and quick

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Spanish Lesson #2

I feel lazy to do nothing. Even the dogs are sleeping in the middle of the street in the heat of the day under the shade of the palms. Its funny to see, they don't even lift their head sometimes as golf carts and bicycles swerve to avoid them.

To break up the monotony of magga season we took a little trip to civilization (Chetumal Mexico) to go to the Mall Las Americanas, eat McDonalds, see a movie dubbed in Spanish (Nacho Libre) and shop in Chedraui which is the Mexican equivalent of Kmart, Target or Walmart. After shopping (marveling over this and that, that is totally unavailable in Belize) and walking around in air conditioned comfort we head off to the little hotel right across from the Nuevo Mercado which is the open air market complete with a chicharrone stand. For $25 U.S. we get a double room, with cable TV, private bath, hot & cold water and air conditioning. We rest up and then head out for dinner at El Buen Gusto.

Bigness: Order for me, I have to use the bathroom.

We've been to this family run restaurant in Chetumal Mexico before, so I know what to order. If you want to order the soup you have to ask for calderon and not sopa. If you ask for sopa they will misunderstand my Spanglish and bring me some very nice thick corn tortillas with shredded chicken, cheese, tomato and cream poured on top, when what you wanted was chicken broth with a plate of chopped onion, cilantro, peppers and tortilla chips on the side to add to the broth.

Supergirl and UNBaby were with us. Supergirl makes a lame attempt at reading the Spanish menu and when the sweet little Spanish girl came to the table, I decided to be mean.

Me: Order what you want.

Supergirl: uhh... (mouth opens and closes, eyes squint then open real wide like if she did this it would all of the sudden appear in English)

Me: Stop acting like you don't speak Spanish (this is what I hear from Bigness every time we go to Mexico)

Supergirl: MOTHER... I DON'T speak Spanish. (I know when she addresses me as MOTHER, she's irritated)

All this time the sweet Spanish girl is just watching the exchange, waiting patiently for Spanish words that she can understand, and UNBaby is hiding under the table untying her mother's shoes.

Me: What's the Spanish word for tacos?

Supergirl: Tacos?

Me: Right!

The little girl starts to write.

Me: Now how many do you want?

Supergirl: Four?

Me: And what is the word for four in Spanish?

Supergirl: Quatro?

The little girl writes again, then looks at me.

Quisiera Dos tortas con el jamón y el queso (I would like 2 ham and cheese sandwiches on a bun heated on the grill)

Me: ...Y Quatro Salbutes (and four little corn tortillas that are fried and puffy, then they put shredded chicken, cheese, and tomatoes on top)

Me: ...Y Tres pollo calderones (and 3 bowls of chicken soup)

The little girl reads back the order and quantities and at the end of the sentence it ends with an upside down question mark.

Me: Está para mi esposa (I just told her the food was for my wife)

The little girl's eyebrows go WAY up and she tries to not laugh

(IT GETS WORSE) Then realizing my mistake I try to correct myself
Me: Soy embarazado está para mi esposo (I just told her I am pregnant and its for my husband)

The waitress cracks up out loud and goes off to the kitchen to put in the order for this massive quantity of food.

Me: I'm glad someone thinks I'm funny... (I'm wondering if its something I said...)

I know I've made some sort of word mistake, but have no clue and am not going to dig myself in deeper. I should have said "me desconciertan" which means I am embarrassed, but I didn't realize my mistake until days later. See... this is my punishment for being mean.

Bigness came back to the table just as the first round of plates is arriving and prepares himself for the feast. Reviewing the order with me he comments "Gial you order too much food."

Me: I know how you like to eat too much (and he DID eat it all)

The bill for the whole dinner including fresh juice to drink came out to $15 U.S.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Illustration Friday - October 13 - Smitten

Acrylic on masonite board.
"Love is an Empress and not a Begggar"
I painted this quite a few years ago after breaking up with a boyfriend that I thought was the love of my life. Hmph!
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Photo Friday - September 13 - Destruction

Bigness to Me: Gial... your coco done bite up the seat.

I call this photo "Bad Planning". I shot this in Livingston Guatemala. I have no idea if it was a hurricane or earthquake or mudslide from too much rain that caused this house to tip and slip down the hill. What's strange is that it looked like people were still trying to live in it. Imagine what your diningroom table would look like. This reminds me of one of those crazy funhouses where the floors are tilting as you walk through.

This October is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Iris that hit Placencia and the awesome forces of nature that tipped this giant concrete cistern on its side balancing it like a sculpture on the edge. Its hard to tell the scale of it in the photo, but its a BIG cistern, taller than me. There it sits right beside the sidewalk main street in Placencia these 5 years. I wondered as I passed it why they would leave it right there all these years, andother than the obvious (being a ginormeous hunk of concrete) it could be a reminder to never forget what a hurricane can do.

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Interview with a Vampexpat

By the time they edited out my vacuous crap Expat Interviews made me sound pretty good.

Now if I could just figure out this YouTube stuff, I have a wicked video clip of a drunk Bigness slow dancing with himself in his tighty whiteys. Complete with sound track.

Can we start the bidding at a dollar?

Disappearing Act

This is the time of the year that I try and turn limon into limonaide. I EXPLOIT the fact that there is no one here. I REVEL in the idea that I could shoot a cannon from one end of the island to the other and not hit a single soul, except for maybe a sleeping dog laying in the middle of the sandy street. I BEGRUDGE anyone bothering me (well that's kinda true throughout the year though).

September and October are our slowest months for tourism, following close on the heels of May. Every year we say, September is gonna catch you with no money in the bank, so we save and save and PUNISH ourselves throughout the year so that we can GLIDE through these months, and mostly we do, but always there are a few BUMPITY BUMP BUMPS. This year our bumps were the water system and well pumps that went out in late August, and major car repairs at the last minute. Plus, major construction can only happen when we're not busy, but its a catch 22 situation, we noh bizzeee, we noh mek moanee.

So, the past 2 weeks I've taken ADVANTAGE of the fact that things are slow, we've reduced our open hours to 7-11 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. - your prime coffee drinking hours, Supergirl is handling it on her own quite-well-thank-you-very-much get-out-of-my-face-please-mom.

Supergirl: Please go somewhere
Me: Where?
Supergirl: Don't you have a home somewhere?
Me: Yes.
Supergirl: Well go there then.
Me: Why?
Supergirl: Aren't you supposed to be doing something else besides nagging me?
Me: What?
Supergirl: Ummm.... PAINTING? Getting ready for the new season? Filling orders for San Pedro? Doing inventory of backstock? (blah blah blah she went on and on and on)
Me: Oh yeah...

I left the island for a few days and decided to paint in oil, I guess I lost myself in oil paint, the smell of mineral spirits and varnish. A few days turned into a few weeks incommunicado with the exception of the occasional call to/from Supergirl that should have been recorded the first time and then just played back for me every other day.

Me: so what's goin on?
Supergirl: nothing
Me: How's business?
Supergirl: slow
Me: how slow?
Supergirl: very
Me: that slow huh
Supergirl: yea
Me: Do you need any produce? Bigness is going to the city to pick up food for us. He can send it on the boat.
Supergirl: No
Me: Need anything from Brodies?
Supergirl: Nope
Me: Sav-U?
Supergirl: no No NO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (click)

Bigness: Who was that?
Me: Supergirl, sez everything's cool

This is the first time that I have painted in oil effortlessly. I had almost given up and given them away but gave it one more try. I'm glad I did.

Bigness finished my verandah office to the point where I could move my stuff into it and out of the bedroom/hallway where I've been stuffed for 2 years. Its so nice. I have screened windows that open and close, doors that shut and lock and a sign that says DO NOT DISTURB.

House Swap Proposition

We would like to swap houses for a couple of weeks next year in May, September or October. And we're talking about the Alamina Beach House, the posh apartment, not our half renovated side of the house. No joke here, we really want to do it. Europe, America, Canada, Central America, South America, Caribbean, you name it... I'm up for the adventure.
Any takers?
I'm new at this... any suggestions?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What I've been doing in my spare time...

It started out as just a sideline, relaxing, fun almost like a board game and its turned into what I do in the store when I have spare time. Bigness made a cabinet for me to work on and I'm cranking out strands of beads and pearls and semi precious stones, neclaces, bracelets, earrings galore. The great thing about making jewelry is that when its finished, if you don't like it you just cut it apart!

Freshwater pearl, silver, semi-precious stones, hand made glass

Amber, freshwater pearl, silver, glass beads

Amber, freshwater pearl, silver, glass beads

Silver tube, silver bead, freshwater pearl and magnet clasp

Silver wire, freshwater pearl, glass bead and bali bead.

Silver wire, freshwater pearl, Swarovski crystal and pewter.

Last man standing…

There’s an old Kriole saying, “Maaga dog gawn turn round and bite ya.”

Loose Translation: when you try and help and skinny starving dog, you better watch your fingers because it will turn around and bite you.

What to write about, what to write about…

Caye Caulker is like a deserted island right now. We are in Mauger (pronounced Maaga) season, where everyone is out in the street fighting tooth and nail for the meager tourist dollars trickling in. Most of the restaurants have shut down for vacation, (they are the smart ones) we have continued to stay open mornings and evenings because of our loyal local coffee clientele and will continue to do so until we can’t stand it any longer and finally shut our doors for a few weeks for vacation from our vacation.

Tour guides are fighting over customers, getting the police involved. A slightly drunk guide raises his voice to a police officer and is thrown in the slammer, he decides to try and bust the 4” thick cell door by kicking it and the thumping reverberates through the sand up into our house and shakes the bed.

Supergirl says I should blog about the “Canadian Professor of Weights and Measures” that came into the café this week and loudly (in front of customers) accused me of serving a 14 ounce coffee in a 12 ounce cup. Accused me of cheating him out of 2 ounces of coffee, because we charge 1 bzd (50 cents) for refills and he wanted his for free. I think she wants me to get to the part where SHE had to ask his rudeness to leave, he was disturbing the other satisfied customers, who were just grateful that we were open serving as usual our awesome coffee, bagels and cakes, WITH. A. SMILE. She wants me to also get to the part where she politely gave him the directions to another restaurant where she informed him that he will be eating THERE tomorrow morning and drinking pisswater.

Something like this happened last year in September with a Starbucks Generation customer complaining about our prices. I guess because it’s a 3rd World Country, she thought everything should be free. I should be grateful, this seemingly only happens once a year.

But I think better to blog about the positive.

In the category of weights and measures UNBaby has her own opinion…


Me: so who has a bigger belly, me or Grandpa?

UNBaby: ohhhh… Crampa.. he hev wan beeeg belly! (she opens her arms wide to show the width)

Me: so who has bigger chi-chi’s me or Grandpa?

UNBaby: (screws up her face and little shiny eyes dart from me to Grandpa and back again) Whale Cronma, your bras is big but your chi-chi’s are LEETLE!

Grandpa: CHO!

On a happy note also, this year we’ve had NO hurricane threats come even close. Another 2 weeks and we’ll be past the danger zone.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Illustration Friday - September 29 - Quiet

So quiet the day was you could barely hear the breeze through the palm trees.
Hand colored photo of The Inn at Robert's Grove, Placencia, Belize was created by making a print on acid free linen cover stock and coloring it with oil pastel & prismacolor pencils.
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Monday, September 25, 2006

And the Winners Are...

...for the Second Annual Caye Caulker Cool Art & Tastefest

Each winner was decided by popular vote. 132 ballots were cast in 3 categories. A big thank you to all the participants, tasters and prize contributions.

First Place – Caribbean Colors-Coco Loco Café – Curry Chicken Waldorf Salad on a Whole Wheat & Herb Bun.
Prize: One Night's Accommodation at Chaa Creek
Second Place – Barrier Reef Sports Bar – Vegetarian Sushi.
Prize: Round Trip Tropic Air Flight into International, Bottle of Tropical Spice Perfume from Belize Perfumes
Third Place – Lazy Iguana – Mexican Dutty Rice.
Prize: One Night's Accommodation at Crystal Paradise includes some tour activities

First Place – Caribbean Colors-Coco Loco Café – Kahlua Drenched Tiramisu.
Prize: One Night's Accommodation at Victoria House in San Pedro
Second Place – Ernie – Ernie’s Oat Energy Bar.
Prize: Round Trip Maya Island Air Flight into International, bottle of Tropical Spice Perfume from Belize Perfumes
Third Place – Syd’s Place – Bread Pudding.
Prize: One Day Car Rental from Crystal Auto Rental
Honorable Mention – Oat Chocolate Health Bars – Lazy Iguana Bed & Breakfast.
Prize: Round Trip Airfare to Municipal

First Place – Jennifer Sullivan (Teacher Jenn) – Homemade Ginger Ale.
Prize: One Night's Accommodations at DuPloy's and includes some tour activities, $50 Gift Certificate to Habaneros Restaurant, $50 Gift Certificate for Jewelry at Caribbean Colors Art Gallery
Second PlaceSeaside Cabanas – Mintini.
Prize: One Night's Accommodations at Crystal Paradise and includes some tour activities
Third Place – Barrier Reef Sports Bar – Mojito.
Prize: $50 Gift Certificate from Atlantic Bank, Bottle of Wine.

My acceptance speech:
Thank you thank you thank you to all the wonderful people of Caye Caulker that voted for me. I couldn't have done it without Bigness defrosting and cleaning the chicken, Supergirl making the mocha creme (of which she won't give me the recipe) and UNBaby for keeping her hands off the food at all times.

A quick flashback to Last Year, the night before the competition, after going to the Wine Tasting and smoking about 4 ciggys I was making the sauce for the Shrimp Salad Nicoise and Cous Cous Salad:
11:30 p.m.: I can't taste the garlic yet
11:35 p.m.: I can't taste the garlic yet
11:40 p.m.: I can't taste the garlic yet
The next morning...
I go out into the kitchen and open the refridgerator door...
Needless to say, last year's entry was heavy on the anti-vampire juice.

The next Tastefest is going to be in January and will be a Chili Cookoff, so get those crock pots warmed up!

Photo Friday - September 22 - Girl

Its a brave new world.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In Ter Es Ting

In the past month I've experienced this phenomenon 3 times. But before I tell you what it is, let me first say that we hoard U.S. dollars. The Belize dollar is not an openly traded currency, we are not a part of the IMF, it does not float, it is artificially pegged 2 to 1 to the U.S. dollar, and guess what its worthless beyond our borders, hence hoarding U.S. dollars that come into the store. Needless to say, we don't give out U.S. dollars as change usually, unless we are completely out of Belize dollars, or someone has a gun to my head. Well, 3 times this month when I've had to use U.S. cash, its been refused as change. Refused? Yes.

The exchange has gone like this: I hand the young yur-o-pean woman her change and she hands back the U.S. dollars with a sick-horrified look on her face and says, "Uuuuuggghhh! Don't you have something else?" with a shudder.
"Sure," I say, and hand her a cup full of Belizean shillings. "Money is Money."
The first time it happened, I just blew it off to hippy chic fickleness. The second time it happened, It piqued my interest, although I was NOT interested in asking WHY? Its obvious WHY. The third time it happened, I'm wondering is this a grass roots movement? The only other person that I know of in te world that doesn't want U.S. dollars, is Fidel Castro.

O.K. now talk amongst yourselves, I'm getting ready for the big Caye Caulker Cool Art & Tastefest this Saturday.

As a side note, I was on the radio this morning (about the Tastefest) and Supergirl said I didin't sond like too big of a hillbilly. I think that's great, being that I'm FROM THE NORTH and have been a DAMN YANKEE my whole life.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Recipe for Bamboo Chicken

Me: so how do you catch the Iguana?
Bushman: with yur hand you keychit. You got to be ready dough wid de machet in de rih han kaychim wid de lef han. You see mi machet? I shawp on de tip and on de bottom. Chop he hed offn wid the bottom ah de machet.
Me: Oooo Keeeyyy (he shows me his 30" machette is sharp at the tip and by the handle only)
Bushman: Den you stick de nife in he belly just like wan fish yew gut he and peel de skeen offa heen.
Me: Oooo Keeeyyy
Bushman: afta you skin he, mek I tell yu sonting, you mek suuur you gat wan greeeen guana, not like wat you hav pon de Caye, dems noh good eatin, wha big greeeen guana what we like.
Me: how do you take the skin off?
Busman: you do eet just like you do wan fish, just skin it. Den you gat to hang it by de tail from de tree to let all the slime come out.
Me: Slime?
Bushman: yes gial, you cyan eet de guana wid de slime.
Me: What does the slime look like?
Bushman: eet look like slime. Gial, yew see de slime yew noh wantta eet de guana, yew tew delikate like dem Merikan laydeez.
Me: What color is the slime?
Bushman: gial, slime IS slime me no noh wha kala is de slime.
Me: How long do you hang the iguana in the tree by its tail?
Bushman: kupla hours. Den you gat to lime it real good.
Me: how do you do that?
Bushman: You gat to squeeze de lime all over it and rub he wid de lime and let he soak for a coupla hours.
Me: O.K.
Bushman: den you ken bubbakew he.
Me: O.K. how do you cut the iguana up?
Bushman: whaaaaale, I brek he showda and chop off he feet and chop he on de elbow. Den I chop he belly in a couple peese, and chop he tayl.
Me: how do you barbeque him.
Bushman: Gial you just bubbakew he (I sense he's getting frustrated with having to explain everything to me.)
Me: what spices do you use when you barbeque?
Bushman: salt n peppa, gaaalik, tarrey yakki soy sawce, an peppa sawce.
Me: what does it taste like?
Bushman: chicken

Photo Friday - September 15 - Bright

Friday, September 08, 2006

Photo Friday - September 8 - Boy

Adam, son of MalibuMalMal (my youngest daughter). I shot this photo last year in June. Adam is the first boy grandchild in my family, so that makes him the Prince. He has the very chilled out personality of his father.

Me: hey Adam
Adam: mew
Me: its me, Grandmafromthejungle
Adam: mew mew
Me: awe coochi coochi coo
Adam: fffffffffffffppppppppbbbbbbbbbb mew mew mew
Me: What ya doin there?
Adam: grunt (you figure it out Grandma)
Me: Um... Mal? Mal?.... Mal?