Archive for May, 2009

Just received some photos Kimmy took of me back in February, and since she’s very good and makes me look not half bad, I’m posting some here.

If compelled to comment, please keep in mind the words of Thumper’s mother …

Photo Credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo Credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

Photo credit: Kim Jade Pockpas

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The Indian Ocean Playground

The Indian Ocean Playground

My post from yesterday on disappearing places that exist only in memory without a time bubble for backwards traveling apparently sent more than a few readers traipsing down the dirt track of memory for some revisiting.

A comment from a long lost friend … reason #396 that I’m happy to be online, the reconnection thing that happens more often than it could without the sort of access to the world a blog allows … (Thanks, Ali!) brought another to my mind.

Even though I’m only five minutes away from the setting for memories galore, I haven’t walked the rutted way to what was once my favorite beach in Seychelles in a couple of years. I just don’t have the heart.

This end of Mahé is in full development swing, so what was my little corner of paradise is now looking a lot like Joni Mitchell sounded.

I could rail against the dramatic changes to my neighborhood, and in fact I have, but there are smellier fish to fry these days that sap energy and … well .. progress is progress and money makes the world go around and sustainable development is an oxymoron in any language, and there’s not a bloody thing I can do about it.

So, instead of spending my days allowing myself to be perpetually annoyed by the sound of cement mixers clanking and huge trucks chewing up roads and blocking traffic and legions of Chinese, Korean and Indian workers wandering down my road looking for coconuts and throwing rocks at my dogs … who are simply doing their job of keeping legions of strangers from my house … I try very hard to focus on the fact that I was lucky enough to know this place before the world caught on.

The area now under rapid and extensive development … and right behind my house, for the most part … was, in 1993 when I first landed here, without a road of any recognizable variety. Yes, there was a dirt track, and some hearty souls with sturdy vehicles did drive it, but only the most intrepid of tourists wandered this far, so I would go weeks without seeing even one person who hadn’t lived down this way for most of their life.

Strangers attracted attention, and those aimlessly drifting would be asked their business, then either aided or warned away if said business was deemed to be possibly shifty.

Back then, those of us considering a stretch of sand to be “our” beach were right piqued to find other bodies soaking up “our” sun and swimming in “our” bay, and a count of more than two or three extras had us grousing on about how crowded the place was.

We were always topless, and often bottem-less, as well, but presently tan lines are de rigueur with construction workers being pretty much of the same ilk worldwide … providing stimulation for hoards of wankers lurking in the undergrowth is neither appealing nor conducive to relaxed paddling.

But I did know it when, and the Anse Soleil of bygone years exists in my mind’s eye. Too bad the present version is more like a poke with sharp rebar.

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Hiding the ghosts ..

Hiding the ghosts ..

A prompt from NPR inspires today’s post … a quick dash down Memory Lane on a Monday morning that goes way, way back … thanks to a project being conducted on places that now exist in Memory only.

There are a lot of those stuck in my head … The Milk Farm (always known as “The cow that jumped over the moon” amongst us Hanks kids), The Golden Eagle Hotel where we roamed at will, Grandma Hattie’s apartment in San Francisco … but what popped immediately into my head was a sometimes stop in my father’s wanderings of the back roads between hunting and camping trips on hot summer days.

Whiskeytown, California … In the 1950s and 60s my father used to drive us through a small Northern California town of a couple of streets with clapboard houses, a store and very little else. It was scenic and pioneer-flavored, being a relic of the days of Gold Fever and expansionist mentality. We’d stop, buy a soda and stroll around soaking up atmosphere and sensing ghosts amidst the minimal hustle and bustle a population of under 100 could manage to stir up.

Dad was big on history, so related much about the time the town thrived, including tales of hardships and hangings, imagination fodder for hot and thirsty pre-teen kids primed for adventure after hours in a car, even with all verses of “Sixteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest” and “The Big Black Bull Came Down From the Mountain” sung loudly while passing the miles.

Sometime in the mid-60s we made a special trip … the final visit. Within a week, the town was to begin the process of being covered by millions of gallons of water that would fill the space behind the new Whiskeytown Dam.

Whiskeytown looked exactly as it always had to my brothers and me, with one exception … there were no people. The houses, rundown as always, stood, but doors were ajar offering a view into formerly private spaces littered with broken bits of furniture and odds and ends of life not worth toting away. Ghosts seemed much more tangible as we walked from building to building, tentative in our snooping but fascinated.

In my mind, the town remains, somehow preserved in all its dilapidation at the bottom of the lake and the ghosts still walk there, unaware of the elemental changes to their old haunt.

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There are any number of temptations that have me wishing I could get my cute, straight ass to the US this summer, but the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall and the festivities that will ensue during New York City’s Pride Week next month would be enough to have me jumping a plane if that were anywhere near an option.

Forty years.

I wonder what the reaction would have been back then to predictions that in 2009 the city of NY would be puffing up and strutting its PRIDE.

This year’s 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion adds more significance to an already action-packed New York City Pride Week, when even the iconic Empire State Building swings into the spirit by turning its nighttime lights to lavender.

And how cool is THAT?

Having grown up in restaurant kitchens under the eyes of my father, a man who put no more stock in someone’s sexual prefs than in their pick of a fav color, my world has always had the benefit of a significant number of people of the homosexual persuasion, so any bias against has always puzzled me.

From the very first, prejudicial behavior based on what one consenting adult does with another consenting adult has indicated much more about the person spouting the prejudice than whomever was being spewed toward.

As a straight chick with all the usual man troubles, my gay friends have blessed my life … they know and accept more about me than almost anyone … and I don’t even want to contemplate where I’d be now without Robbie, Andy, Dan and many others.

Sure, I’ve had my run-ins with a few shit-mean drag queens, but they are a breed apart, and I have had much worse from shit-mean women, not to mention straight men who set their weapons to ‘stun’ then flipped the switch to ‘kill’ without warning.

So, although I won’t be there, in spirit I will be celebrating Stonewall and the fact that the world is now different … not different enough yet, but better … remembering those who left before this party, thanking all those who fought the good fight, loving all I love so much, and looking toward the day I can join in the dance.

If you’re in the area, please take in an event or 5, hug a bunch of people joyfully and remember what it has taken to bring the changes that have New York … and many other cities … proud.

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More music

Here’s Ernesto Cortazar playing my song last week in Germany:

Enjoy …

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About as dangerous as wildlife gets ...

About as dangerous as wildlife gets ...

Although I live in what is technically Africa, and there are many trés African elements ici, wildlife on the continent takes far different forms than on this rock.

Across the thousand miles of Indian Ocean to the west, lions, leopards and hyenas hunt, venomous snakes are legion, rhinos stamp out fires and elephants munch bouquets of wildflowers at the end of the rainy season. Caution is vital under all conditions, and lone random wanderings by the novice in city or wilderness are rarely a good idea.

Thankfully, it takes no special vigilance on the part of the tourist to successfully navigate Seychelles … on land. The sea is rife with dangers, and even more so now that pirates have joined the list of maritime threats, but terra firma? Nah.

We have no poisonous reptiles or insects, and although mosquitos may be annoying there are none of the family anopheles, so no malaria.

My visitors get a very quick orientation before I send them out exploring. If they’re not British and driving, they get an X marked on the back of the right hand to reference on which side of the car the middle of the road should be positioned. If swimming or snorkeling is part of the agenda, I warn about sunburn, stonefish and the need to rehydrate.

If deciding to walk in what passes for jungle here, this is what they hear:

1) This is a fairly small island, so getting lost isn’t easy. You can see the sea from just about anywhere, so if in doubt either walk toward it or away from it, depending on where you’re heading.

2) You can run into people just about anywhere, so if you come upon folks in the bush, assume they are either, a) out for a stroll like you, b) collecting fruit, or c) looking for a place for a quick bang out from under the gaze of significant others.

3) When walking through the forest, if you hear a rustling in the undergrowth it can only be, a) a chicken, 2) a lizard, 3) a hedgehog tenrec, or d) the above mentioned tryst seekers


Of course, there are dangers and bad things do happen … bags get stolen from the beach, people drown, car wrecks do great damage … but far too often the disasters occur because folks tend to think they’re in some Disney version of the world where the very fact that it’s a holiday somehow protects and makes common sense unnecessary.

It may be possible to leave a backpack full of money, passports and camera unattended while on the Jungle Cruise through Adventure Land, but on a public beach for two hours while snorkeling happens? Getting soaked sitting in the front of Thunder Mountain Railroad is not the the same as taking on the Indian Ocean. And anyone thinking Somali pirates are anything like Johnny Depp needs to give yacht rental a second thought.


Thankfully, my friends are, for the most part, sensible. Sure, they come to Seychelles to swim, hike, dive and partake of all things island, but so far they’ve all managed to make it safely back to my veranda where cocktails and conversation are the biggest dangers.

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Recent news puts me in the mood for dumb blonde jokes … sorry Sis, Shrone and anyone else who is blonde enough to possibly take offense, but you, too, have had your moments.

Q: What do you call 10 blondes at the bottom of a pool?
A: Air Pockets

Q: What do you call a blonde with half a brain?
A: Gifted!

Q: How do blonde brain cells die?
A: Alone.

Q: What do you call a blonde with 2 brain cells?
A: Pregnant.

Q: What’s the difference between a blonde and a supermarket trolley?
A: The supermarket trolley has a mind of its own.

Q: How do you get a blondes eyes to twinkle?
A: Shine a torch in her ears.

Q: Why should blondes not be given coffee breaks?
A: It takes too long to retrain them.

Q1 How can you tell if a blonde’s been using the computer?
A: There’s white-out on the screen.
Q2: How can you tell if another blonde’s been using the computer?
A: There’s writing on the white-out.

Q: Do you know why the blonde got fired from the M&M factory?
A: For throwing out the W’s

Q: How do you know when a blonde has been making chocolate chip cookies?
A: You find M&M shells all over the kitchen floor.

Q: How can you tell which blonde is the waitress?
A: She is the one with the tampon behind her ear, wondering what she did with her pencil.

Q: What happened to the blonde that was tap dancing?
A: She fell in the sink.

Q: What do you call a brunette with a blonde on either side?
A: An interpreter.

Q: What do you do when a blonde throes a hand grenade at you?
A: Pull the pin and throw it back.

Q: What do you get when you offer a blonde a penny for her thoughts?
A: Change.

Q: Why did the blonde get so excited after she finished her jigsaw puzzle in only 6 months?
A: Because on the box it said From 2-4 years.

Q: How do you amuse a blonde for hours?
A: Write ‘Please turn over’ on both sides of a piece of paper.

Q: How do you get a one-armed blonde out of a tree?
A: Wave to her.

And the inspiration for today’s tirade …

Carrie Prejean … taking dumb blonde all the way to the bank.

Last week Ms Prejean announced that she would star in new $1.5m ad campaign funded by the National Organization for Marriage, a group that is opposed to same-sex marriage.

Oh … and one more …

Q: Why do men like blonde jokes??
A: Because they can understand them.

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I was actually feeling rather festive this morning with it being Cinco de Mayo in Mexico still … Feliz de Cinco de Mayo! … starting off the day in a chipper enough mood, until I started trolling for blog fodder. (Yeah, I should know better.)

I had even managed to divert a bit of my horror and amuse myself in the reading of this report about child rape and murder in the UK.

Okay … it’s a terrible story of abuse of the worst kind involving a mother and her boyfriend and rape of a two-year-old and death and unimaginable savagery , but provided some some relief by pointing out that the “government’s expert on children’s services” is a guy named … get this … Lord Laming.

So, yes, already heading downhill mood-wise, I then come across this shit:

A court in Dubai has found a woman who lost her unborn child in a traffic accident guilty of manslaughter in what is said to be an unprecedented ruling.

The Lebanese woman, who was nine months pregnant at the time, was also ordered to pay blood money. She said she had not caused the accident.

Now, that just pisses me off.

This is, of course, a ruling based on Islamic law, or someone’s interpretation of that sees women as a vessel, a baby-growing container with no more right to a life of her own than a thermos jug.

Bottom-lining the thought process is this from the head of traffic prosecution:

… women in the third trimester of pregnancy should avoid driving altogether to protect their own and their foetuses’ lives.

Since … what? … men don’t get in accidents when pregnant wives are in the car? Or is the point really, with the prosecutors arguing that the sentence should “act as a deterrent,” that women should blady well just stay put until they pop?

Women in Saudi aren’t allowed to drive at all … I’m sure this case will be trotted out as justification for keeping chicks wheel-less … and in some Muslim nations anyone female out and about without a male relative of responsible years can be tossed in the clink, so a pregnant woman driving alone has trouble written all over her.

Of course, the “blood money” version of punitive damages really grates my cheese. As if this woman hasn’t paid in blood already! And I can’t help but wonder if the fetus had been a boy if the father wouldn’t be suing her, as well.

We really need to stop putting up with this crap, girls.

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When sitting down to compose a new blog post, I sift through a variety of sources. From personal experiences to global events, there’s almost always something that strikes whatever part of my body could be referred to as my “fancy” and gets me typing.

Today, however, I’m spoiled for choice, so rather than pick one topic, I’m bouncing from one to the other like a barefoot tourist on hot sand.

Starting with news from the world of medicine, this story on the potential viability of a contraceptive for men has me hoping that they work out the bugs and that men will actually line up to take responsibility for reproduction.

I worry, however, that big doses of hey-you-ain’t-touchin’-my-sperm may come into play, and that may be happening already.

Despite the injection having no serious side effects, almost a third of the 1,045 men in the two-and-a-half year trial did not complete it and no reason was given for this.

Moving right along, and sticking to the body … or not, as the case may be … this possible revelation has me all ears …

Vincent van Gogh did not cut off his own ear but lost it in a fight with fellow artist Paul Gauguin in a row outside a brothel, it has been claimed.

It has long been accepted that the mentally ill Dutch painter cut off his own ear with a razor after the row in Arles, southern France, in 1888.

But a new book, based on the original police investigation, claims Gauguin swiped Van Gogh’s ear with a sword.

No shit? That’s a tug at the old lobe, now, isn’t it?

Moving from medicine to law, here’s a story that’s so nuts I can’t begin to follow it. (Sorry about that … )

And speaking of nuts, for contenders for the title see this.

They’re well known because of these pickets which they’ve been doing for at least 15 years now. The pickets weren’t always of soldiers’ funerals, but it got more extreme as it went on. Originally it started as pickets of places where gay people congregated – a local park becoming a cruising area which they objected to, and then when Aids came along they said it was punishment for homosexuality and they began picketing Gay Pride parades and marches and also then the funerals of people who died of Aids. And they didn’t originally use offensive words like “fag”. They would say “homosexuality”, but then it just escalated.

Great. And they’re getting press in the UK where they LOVE watching American loonies … and there never seems to be any shortage of good-value-for-money fodder across the pond

And while they’re at it, the Brits have published their “least wanted” list of nuts they don’t want in their country.

The names of some of the people barred from entering the UK for fostering extremism or hatred have been published for the first time.

Islamic extremists, white supremacists and a US radio host are among the 16 of 22 excluded in the five months to March to have been named by the Home Office.

Please. Please. Don’t let the radio host be Rush. I’ve been wishing for more twenty years … way back when he was selling diet plans on Sacramento television — yes, he’s been fat for that long … that he’d move to Wigan and drive a milk float.

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Saying goodbye to Julie

Saying goodbye to Julie

I’ve been writing a lot lately about friends … new, old, near, distant, physical, virtual … the value of all and the fact that I welcome them into my life with gratitude.

One advantage of life on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is the diversity of friends and the fact that with so few people here, I usually end up meeting a lot of those with common interests that come to Seychelles and stay a while.

People come from all over to work or play, and as the shots I posted of more recent additions on the “people I’m fond of” list shows … eleven countries represented in twelve photos … my friends are from all over the world.

That is, indeed, a lovely aspect of island life. Conversations are fascinating, parties are a hoot and the bottom line always ends up under what what we share, not how we differ.

What is not, however, quite so lovely is the fact that most of these lovely friends also go.

Holidays are short and work contracts usually last only a year or two. Getting close to people comes with the caveat: This will not last for long.

My first few years here had me ducking-and-covering to a great extent, careful to keep myself a bit aloof, forgoing close bonding with those I knew would move along long before I would be ready to say goodbye.

That, however, is not a natural posture for me … my tendency is to give my heart, care much, share all, and I’ve learned to enjoy while I can.

The Internet has helped immensely, of course. I can now see people off at the airport knowing that we’ll be chatting on facebook in a few hours. This is not the same as having them in arms’ reach, but it does make a difference.

There are many, many people I miss daily and desperately, but I would not give up the time we did have together for anything, no matter how big a hole is left when they go.

The up-side is that I have friends all over the world, and although I don’t travel as much as I would like to these days, the biggest issue when thinking about going somewhere is deciding who I’m going to visit.

I spent some of yesterday with a family I’ll be waving adios to tomorrow night … Jakob, Lisa and Julie.

Jakob is from Denmark, Lisa is Swedish and Julie is 10-months-old and a heart-stealer. They going to Stockholm, and although I most certainly hope to share space with them again someday, there is no guarantee that will ever happen.

Although we didn’t spend a lot of their year here together, their departure will leave a blank space in Seychelles and I will miss them.

Thankfully, Lisa keeps a blog … today’s post is full of photos of me and Julie (Thank you, Lisa!) … so I will be able to watch a little darling grow, if from a great distance, and follow their lives as well as Bablefish allows me to understand Swedish.

Friends come and friends go, and I’m thankful.

As that great sage Anon once said,

“You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your ‘friends.’”

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