Monday, January 30, 2006

Disorganized Religion

Travel tip #5 If you're ever in Belize and you see a road on the map that's called "Old... So and So" and it looks like a shortcut. Just ignore it. Maybe the first 15 feet are paved and the rest is mud and giant car eating craters, no gas stations or restauraunts. Trust me on this. Stay on the highway.

Here in Belize we have 3 paved highways. That's right folks, 3 highways. Not your super expressways, but just 2 lanes all the way, and we're GRATEFUL for them. All of the highways are appropriately named and easy to remember. The Northern Highway connects Belize City to the northern border of Belize and to the border with Mexico. The Southern Highway includes the Hummingbird Highway (the prettiest stretch of road in Belize that takes you through lush valleys and little mountains) and connects Belize City/Belmopan to the southern towns of Dangriga, Hopkins, Placencia, Mango Creek and Punta Gorda. The Western Highway connects Belize City to the western border with Guatemala.

Last week, while I was on the mainland at my studio backabush, between torrential downpours, which produced flash floods, Roaring Creek roared and went over its banks for the second time in 2 months, cutting off Eastern Belize from Western Belize. We are near Mile 31, and Mile 8 and Mile 42-44 were under water. We're not talking about a little bit of water either, it was the overturning busses kind of flood, effectively trapping us between floods. Thank goodness we had stocked up on food... or I might have been forced to skin and eat Bigness, although he's way too big for the freezer.

The day after they opened the highway we ventured out to take a look around and I shot some photos I've called Disorganized Religion. I was able to shoot them because Bigness was driving slow enough that I could actually stop him before he whizzed by (again) this old abandoned church in Teakettle Village between Belmopan and San Ignacio. He likes to pretend he can't hear me say, slow down I see something I might want to shoot.

Feeling so confident and impervious to harm, we decided to go on down a side road to Spanish Lookout, a Mennonite community of farmers and builders and get building brochures for a friend who is thinking about building a house here on Caye Caulker, I'm just about to break out in song (Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go, the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh thru white and drifting snow...) OH SHIT! SCREECH! HALT! Back that baby up. You can't even see the bridge for the water covering it.

I get over my heart attack and stroke, and make him let me take a picture, then he turns the truck around and we head back to the main highway. I see another truck barreling down the road towards us. I ask Bigness if we should tell them about the bridge being out. No, he says (and gives a little smile), they will see it soon enough. I say, O.K. den, you are de boss. I turn around and watch them as they whizz by us. Sure enough, brake lights. Screech... halt!


I heard a language tonight that I've never heard before in my life. It sounded like Martian to me. Mentally I went throught the list of languages that I could identify: German - no, Arabic - maybe, Spanish - no, French - no, Italian - no, Mayan - no, Russian - maybe, Dutch - no, Swedish - no, Greek - maybe, Danish - no, back to Russian - maybe, I'm listening closer, trying to not look like I'm evesdropping, thinking that maybe its some eastern European language, we had tourists from Croatia earlier this year. Curious, I asked the couple (in Inglush) what they were speaking and they told me Turkish. The woman then gave me 2 gold safety pins with a couple of charms on it. One of the charms was a tiny ceramic heart with a swirl in the center and the other at first glance looked like a teensy hand grenade and on closer insepction was a cluster of grapes. They were for warding off the evil eye. I'm thinking, do you know something I don't know? I'm so superstitious. I always think that the forces out there are trying to communicate with me. Hey, I can use all the help I can get. And I immediately pinned them on my blouse.

Conversations you thought you'd never hear in real life:

Tonight I was witness to four wicked retorts that went totally unappreciated by the victims they were intended for, but I caught thesarcasm and wished I had such quick acidic whit.

- Lines from Night at the Roxberry-
Mr. Studly Spanish Policeman (with slightly too large booty) : psssssstt (through the walk up carry out coffee window for prisoners)
Middle Child Syndrome: yeah?
Mr. Studly Spanish Policeman: call me later...
Middle Child Syndrome: so is your number still 911?
Mr. Studly Spanish Policeman: yeah.... (with a funny look on his face, like he knows he's being mocked but he's not quite sure why)
Me: bwahhahahahaha (I try to not choke on my coffee

Just Spread the Love
Half Baked Artist: Baby when you cut my sandwich in half could you spread on a little bit of extra love?
Middle Child Syndrome: (deadpan) I love you enough to wash my hands before I make your sandwich and to not lick the food while I'm making it, that's all yur gettin frum me.
(I love her fake hillbilly accent - the best thing about it is when you're using it on a non-english speaker, they have NO idea that you're kidding because they don't have a clue about the North/South civil war thingy in the U.S. at all. - but I totally get it)
Me: how come no one ever flirts with me?

Middle Child Syndrome to Slightly Baked Artist: Dude, I'm not your girlfriend, I just make your coffee.

Note to the world: we don't speak to real customers like this, well not usually. Maybe I'll change the name of my business to Cafe Las Punishment, where you pay to be abused.

4th Conversation - last night
Phone call from Outer Space
RIng RIng, the phone rings at 1:30 a.m., geez... are the police not answering their phone again?
Bigness: wha? then rolls over because he realizes its the phone, the object that he never touches or speaks on.
Me: Hullo? then I drop the phone base on my foot.
Middle Child Syndrome's Ex: Is MCS there? (calling her from the U.S.)
Me: hold on I'll check.
I hobble over to the door that adjoins our apartments and peek. Yes she's there - alone - snoring (after all its 1:30 a.m.)
Me: psst! Phone for you, its your ex.
MCS: What?
Me: Phone for you.
I leave the phone off the hook and go back to bed, and try to not appear that I'm listening, but you all know... I am. I could only hear 1/2 of the conversation
Bignesss: zzzzzzzbbbbbbbbbggggggggpppppppp (snoring right through the war)
MCS: yeah? What are you calling me for?
MCS: what?
MCS: that's junk mail
MCS: they send that crap to everyone in the U.S.
MCS: well answer it then
MCS: they are just trying to get you to buy something
MCS: I don't care if the Publisher's Clearing House says I'm a winner and you think they really mean it this time... do you know what time it is here?
MCS: its the same time it is there you idiot, its 1:30 a.m. and I have to get up at in 5 hours and go to work.
Click, down goes the phone.
Me: snicker
Bigness: zzzzzzzbbbbbbbbbggggggggpppppppp

The cool cartoon above was heisted from Natalie D's website

Sunday, January 29, 2006

2006 Bloggies

My online buddy Guyana Gyal was nominated for a bloggie. Best Latin American weblog. Click on over and check it out, and of course VOTE for she!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Illustration Friday - January 27 - Glamour

Leila Vernon, Belize's bruk down and calypso legend is a stunning 50 something woman with knee length dreads and performs to a turtle drum beat swaying in her satin bustle with not a bead of sweat to be found. Glamourous in her own way with smooth chocolate skin she sashays around the performance tent extolling the virtues of a Lover's License. To get a lover's license you must first get a learner's permit and practice practice practice.

Photo Friday - January 27 - Vanity

I shot these photos about 3 years ago with an old Sony Mavica 1.6 some of them were shot through a dusty mirror. Interesting real life filters that you can't get in Photoshop.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ta Ta Dahlinks

I'm headed off to my studio for a few days. I''ll be backabush with no phone, no TV, only Love FM to keep me company, and Bigness to scare away the jumbies.
So again, to any would-be robbers, the wild kitties are in charge. They think they live here anyways.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Photo Friday - Jan 20 - Pink

Illustration Friday - Jan 20 - Cats

I didn't think I had anything for "Cats" this week, and had no time to create something because we are in the throes of high season for tourists here in Belize. And then I remembered that I did a series of peices on hand painted silk called World Beat Belize, several years ago. The Cats illustration is a detail from a side panel on this series and is only available as a small print. The center panel (below) I've merchandised as a ceramic tile, mug and other stuff and is available at

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lest We Forget...

Bigness put wheel casters on the diningroom table and the kitchen work table. And then he greased them. A commonly heard sound coming from the kitchen now is Sh*t-whoa-thud-jeezuzchrist!

Forces of Nature

Something strange happens, every time I go out on a sunset wedding cruise. No matter how sedate, sophisticated, and conservative the evening starts out, the groom and the best man ALWAYS get nekked and jump in the sea. Lower the boom man! Well, for now you can keep it right there, not everyone wants to see your peepee. Forces of nature, add to it a couple of cases of beer and the fact that They is on Baycayshun make the primevil urge irrisistable. I would NEVER nekked myself in front of strangers! NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER! Somehow women never feel the urge, or even hear the call. I wonder why? Could it be sanity?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Don't Do That Again

That phrase is the first English response that our non-english-speaking Cuban doctors learn when they arrive in Belize to staff the free clinics.
Think about it. What is the most valuable advice a doctor could give you?

Don't do that again.

Don't do that again, was what I told myself this morning when I used a new hair product for taming my wild locks, which didn't work, all it did was make my brush get stuck in my wet tangled hair - for a 1/2 hour. Don't do that again. Too frustrating and I don't enjoy ripping my hair out of my scalp at 6 a.m., it interferes with the zen of good coffee. It makes me edgy.

Don't do that again, (and then, get the broom) was what I told United Nations Baby this morning (formerly known as Baby Girl) when she poured a dumptruck load of sand onto the gallery floor. Bigness was suppoed to be babysitting while MCS and I worked the morning cafe shift, but he conveniently let her escape from prison (our upstairs apartment). I've never seen a girl that loves dirt so much. She lays down in the dirt, o.k., to the casual observer it looks like sand, but its really dirt, let's not fool ourselves. She serves customers dirt tea with her little pink plastic tea set, pourting dirt from the teapot to the tiny cup and placing it on a little saucer and saying to the tourists, "Want some?" To which they always answer yes. Middle Child Syndrome has to soak the dirt out of her scalp at night in the cooler bathtub. Instead of United Nations Baby we should have renamed her to Dirt Gurl.

Don't do that again, was what I said to Bigness this morning when he coughed ON my face, and I reminded him about the oral transmission of disease. We are getting germs from all over the world, and no flu shot is available in Belize. If I get sick I will lose my sense of humour.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Oh.My.Gawd. I Would Totally Wear This!

And I may have... in my recent past. Except I would nix the black stockings and pumps in favor of Teva androgenous sandles.

Those of you who know me really well... remember the black-and-white polka dot two peice bathing suit from hell? I still have the top, and I swear if you make me mad, I'll wear it... in public.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Spanning Three Generations

3 year old Baby Girl: Crampa, what's that? (pointing to the brown moles on his chest)
61 year old Bigness: Chocolate chip decorations.
Later that day...
Bigness reports to the complaint department: She won't color nice. I was trying to color nice and she keeps going outside the lines.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Illustration Friday Dec 30 Flavor

Ring Ring the phone blings and its my friend Eden all in a panic.

She: a man is standing here on my verandah and said he hated everything in the art gallery but wants to buy my sign, what should I do?

Me: sell it to him and I'll paint you another sign.

She: what should I charge him?

Me: what's the highest number you can say without laughing?

She: I dunno.

Me: start at 400 bzd, because when I made that sign I think I ate about 200 in free lobster right there on your verandah.

She: o.k. den

The deal finished, everyone was happy, I painted another sign and took it out in bbq chicken dinners.

How I Do It

People have been asking me how I make the hand colored photos. I shoot the pictures digitally with a Canon Digital Rebel EOS in raw format. I make a print on either an acid free linen cover stock or Arches handmade watercolor paper so I can pick up a texture. The printer is an Epson 1280. I color the photos with very soft oil pastels, prismacolor pencils and watercolor pencils. Sometimes I use an irridescent oil paint crayon. I use my finger or a tissue to smooth the backgrounds. Each hand colored photo is a very limited edition run of 25 with the artist reserve being numbers 1-5 and 25. Most of the photos are printed on 8" x 10" format and matted in 11" x 14".

Monday, January 02, 2006

Ruling #3 by the Fashion Police

Exhibit A
The local anthropologist here on Caye Caulker told me that wooly manmoths in speedos were extinct.
He was wrong.
See Exhibit A - caption: The wooly manmoth seeks partial shade whilst sucking down a triple dip ice cream cone.

This could also be a case of Opposite Anorexia - I've diagnosed myself with this before, I look in the mirror and think I'm thin. Maybe he has that.

Middle Child Syndrome wasn't satisfied with just laughing behind her hand and discretely pointing with her pinky finger, like me. She screamed "Mother Get Your Camera" at a decible a tad louder than the launching of the space shuttle, which was almost loud enough to snap me out of the trance.

Click on image for individual folicle viewing.

Tropical Wedding Tip #1

Brides, unless you really love hurricane hair, you better tie it down.
I realized too late (about 3 hours later), that the bride's my-hair's-a-little-bit-messy look, when magnified in photoshop took on the realm of I'm-a-scarecrow-bride genre. It was like I was seeing it, but not really seeing it. The more I examined the photos, though, I was able to convince myself that it was a desired look, planned, carefully thought out and executed. Like how the last time I dyed my roots, the picture on the box showed a red-haired woman but the tube in the box was called obscuro, even as it was going on my hair, I kept saying to myself, geez, this is a dark red, wow, it looks more like BLACK, but the picture on the box shows...
Now people ask me if I'm Italian. I'm going to hate to see how this grows out.