Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.” ~ Criss Jami, Killosophy

super_power_islandWatching the world from my veranda can provoke some convoluted contemplation; it’s big/small,  gorgeous/grotesque, unjust in the extreme, yet inherently fair in the grand scheme.

Birds fly, fish swim and the sea has rhythm, yet there is a Donald Trump and The Riders of the Purple Dildo (with 50 gallons of lube on hand … so to speak) in simultaneous existence and I find that mighty confusing some days.

Those are the days I have power: power to get myself out of bed, make coffee, sometimes even shower and dress as well as contemplate convolutedly. Oh … and juice. Those days I have juice.

Juice is vital. It connects me in ways nothing else can. Passion fruit juice connects me to my garden. Grape juice — that’s been sitting around for a while — tethers day to night almost flawlessly. And when current is current, electric juice connects me to the Internet … which connects me to balloon juice, which gives a handle to lunatics … which is funny. (I’m a fan of funny.)

I know some wonder what possible charm a computer screen could have when the view, the peace, the chirping birds as the only sound, are on offer. They ask how I can pull myself away from puffy, white clouds reflected from the surface of the perfect shade of blue that is the Indian Ocean and why I’m not sitting on the shore of said ocean all day, every day. Why would I even think of opening my laptop in such a paradise?

To these people I say two things:

1) Obviously you’ve never lived decades on a rock in the middle of nowhere thousands of miles from anything even close to the real world, and 2) A girl’s got to make a living.

I sit on Facebook for hours every day (Go ahead. Let the thought cross your mind with the sit/face thing if you must.), not because I find it stimulating (Yeah …  okay …go on.), although it often is, but because it’s my job.

Keeping up with friends, family and global events is surely a benefit, and hopping in and out of conversations, arguments, bombastic bullshit, freaky hallucinations, unsubstantiated claims and such keeps me sharp.

Access to information is vital, and thanks to today’s technology I can educate myself on things other than the tide table, the rapid growth of unwanted greenery and the painfully slow decomposition of granite.

My clients expect nothing less than total up-to-date-ness on travel trends, global economic fluctuations, flight interruptions, international conflicts, and sometimes something as obscure as the price of a cup of coffee in Sofia, Bulgaria.

To say I rely on electric juice is an understatement of understated, yet understandable, proportions, given that my livelihood, and no small part of my social life, can only happen when everything can be turned on, because when the power’s out, I can’t do shit.

I can and do write when my wifi squirrel dies, but having no idea when someone might get around to reviving the rodent has me checking battery levels as often as I insert a semi-colon. Outages going on for full days present a stack of work piled up to the virtual rafters, all needing immediate attention 5 hours ago. (That, btw, tends to delay me connecting with my grape juice, thereby sloshing day into night and pissing me off.)

The power was off all day yesterday … again … for something always referred to by the utility company as: Urgent maintenance on the overhead lines. (We apologize for the inconvenience … again … and appreciate your patience. Yeah … right.)

Ah … island life … in Africa; all juicy tales and the undiluted nectar of nature. Or is it sap?

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I have a lot of Christmases under my belt.

There were those when I was a kid and followed my mom’s tree-decorating dictates demanding tinsel was to be strung one … strand … at …a … time, then collected in the same fashion when the holiday finished, put away carefully, then stored for the next year. (I swear she was still using some 1958 tinsel in 2010!)

The years my first batch of children were little were at times fraught, but we always had a tree with gifts under it and Santa always did his midnight visit. We’d open gifts and such, then go to Grandma’s house for the feast that never varied. (Okay, once it varied; mom made orange jello-mold salad with carrots instead of green jello-mold salad with the alternating pineapple slice/cherry pattern we’d grown up with. She never heard the end of it … nor did she ever again try that sketchy menu change.)

When those kids were older, money was less an issue and the house was much bigger, so the tree was a sixteen-footer and decked to the halls. Gifts were more lavish and home was the gathering place for relatives from near and far. My brothers played basketball in my living room, the turkey was huge and the table could sit 25.

One Christmas found me in Australia with a family that wasn’t mine, but was still family and lovely. It was my first ‘Summer Christmas’ and a pool party was a novel idea in my mind that took a bit of adjusting to, but there were laughs and fun … and the fire to roast chestnuts was a barbecue. I had my first Pavlova that year and I heartily recommend that addition to the traditional meal no matter where you are.

Christmas in England encouraged every Dickensian fantasy I’d ever had, and my daughter’s decision to spend the holiday with me over the pond made it pretty perfect. We were introduced to crackers and crowns and the weather gave us a bit more perspective on poor old Bob Cratchit’s issues with coal.

By the time the holiday rolled around in Seychelles I was accustomed to the Beach Christmas concept and surrounded by friends. Christmas gatherings were huge affairs attended by people from many countries speaking often up to 10 languages, all bringing their own flavors in food, traditions and entertainment. One year we had Shetland Island folk songs played on mandolin and fiddle by an authentic Shetland Islander, and a fabulously funny game of euphemisms … another word for the male member, the sex act, etc. … which allowed submissions from any language.

Once Sam and Cj joined the family Christmas was again about kids.The tree went up, the house draped in various sorts of holiday tat, gifts went under the tree. We’d host a party Christmas eve, then trot up to Gay’s for what had become the traditional food Bacchanal with participation of people from all over the world. The last time this happened was 2 years ago and the festivities of the Eve and the Day included folks with roots in Seychelles, England, Kenya, South Africa, the USA, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Italy, and probably a few I’m not recalling.

Last year I was back in England to celebrate with the kids in their home-from-home. To say there was a bittersweetness to it would be an understatement, but the ‘sweet’ was very and the ‘bitter’ was easily swallowed. To Cj’s disappointment, it didn’t snow, but it was cold enough to warrant extra coal on the fire. The circle of family had expanded wonderfully and embraced all.

Yes, so many Christmases under my belt.

This one, however …

For the first time in my life I am alone for Christmas. I have already watched the 1951 version (my fav) of “A Christmas Carol” AND “It’s a Wonderful Life” as tradition dictates, but must admit that big a dose of the ‘spirit’ didn’t help much.

Yeah, yeah … I know there are a load of songs on being alone for Christmas, but listening to any of them is not on my to-do list. I’m at loose ends, confounded, stuck between I-don’t-give-a-shit and bawling.

But I’m a grownup, FFS, fully aware that for millions of people this is just another day, and millions of others haven’t one-tenth-of-one-percent of what I have to be grateful and happy for.

Thanks to the age we live in, I will Skype with my kids on Christmas Day … a gift beyond measure! I can take a bottle of wine to the beach and toast the holiday, the ocean, the sky above me and the Earth beneath my feet … and be thankful. I can reflect on Christmas Past, ponder the years, remember those who are no longer reachable by technology, and I can set my focus for the positives.

And I will do all those things. But today, the day before Christmas Eve, I’m indulging in a bit of some whine in the sun. (Poor me. What a bummer. If wishes were horses I’d be elsewhere. Etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam.)

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas filled with love and food and making merry. I will raise a glass to all with love and hope and to Christmas Yet To Come!

Read Full Post »

Sunset feet

One of the things …

Having received requests to work my way toward the 50 things about Seychelles I sounded off about in a recent post, I’ve found time today … after scrubbing mold off kitchen walls, jettisoning a bunch of items I’d not bothered to look at in years, cleaning tenrec dens, picking up after poopy dogs and feeding the birds … to add another 10 to the list.

Since an election happens … again … in a couple of days, and since I’m sick to death of politics both here and abroad, it’s good to focus for a while on the weirdly mundane for a while.

So, here are some aspects of life for people in Seychelles that may seem a bit odd to inhabitants of other places, but are completely normal here …

12190030_10208223474013724_3256839163126993599_n1) We know our bananas. There are many varieties that grow here, and everyone can spot the difference between gabo, fig and San Jacques. We have big bananas, tiny bananas, sweet bananas and bananas for frying, yellow bananas, red bananas and green bananas. They are picked green, because we all know the aphorism:

Q:  How do you know when your      bananas are ready to be picked?          A:  They’re gone!

We have a bazillion uses for bananas. A regime (what a whole, huge bunch is called here) can contain anywhere from a dozen to a multitudinous slew of individual fruits attached, and all go ripe within days of each other. ‘No waste, no want’ being a dictate, putting all to good use is no small feat. From the usual banana bread to the more exotic katkat banann and banann ladob to cream pie to chips to ice cream topping, there are many options. A ripe regime inspires no little visiting, either, as we share out what we have, knowing full well it will come back to us bountifully in no time.

bug copy

Rhino beetles are cute!

 

2) We don’t mind critters. One cannot live in Seychelles for long without developing a tolerance, often even an affection for the small creatures who share our homes. Bugs and lizards are ubiquitous, so getting used to seeing them is a must. Skinks and geckos are quite entertaining, as is watching visitors go crazy at their presence.

I have been asked on occasion to write informational inserts for in-room packets for hotels because the panicked phrase, “There are BABY CROCODILES climbing the walls in my room!”, has been heard by those manning the night desk far too often.

geckobaby

Awww … baby gecko!

I’m still no fan of big spiders and ants are a pain, but I’ve developed a fondness for rhinoceros beetles and stick insects and an appreciation for the skill of mason wasps.

3) We sometimes even share critters. My tenrecs love crunchy bugs and juicy worms, so I have been known to ask for donations from friends. Gay has a compost heap that is full of worms … which reminds me; I need to get up to her place and see if she has enough now to spare a dozen.

4) We organize our complaints. Service isn’t always what it should be, so after a spate of crappy Internet or an erratic electricity supply friends put their heads together and coordinate gripes.

5) We talk about death. Our own deaths, to be exact. Since most of us expats have little-to-no family, no next-of-kin, within a few thousand miles, planning for our eventual demise is just part of what friends do. Our out-of-country connections are shared, as well as the details on what we want done with our empty husks.

6) We obey the laws … sometimes. Seychelles has as many laws as anywhere, but some do seem to be more like suggestions. For example, it is illegal to park on double yellow lines, to overtake on a solid white line, to use a phone while driving, yet every shop along the road has cars and trucks parked on double yellows, any drive at the speed limit will have you passed in no-passing areas by dozens of cars, trucks and busses, and it seems every other driver has a phone stuck to his ear. It is also illegal to have tinted windows on a car. (Who was that? Don’t know … the windows were tinted.) Legislation was passed a few years ago banning building on mountaintops, but that apparently does not apply if you happen to own one of the United Arab Emirates.

7) We entertain other peoples’ visitors. No one visits Seychelles for a weekend; even a week is far too short a time for many. It takes a couple of days to get here from most places, so 10 days is routinely calculated as the minimum stay. That’s great, most of the time. Since this place is so very different, very few guests are up to getting out and about on their own. For working people, this can put quite a strain on their time. Then, of course, there are the difficult guests … grumpy parents, that weird uncle, the school friend you dropped who is just dying to see you again since you live so close to a beach. Sure, you could book them into a hotel, but you won’t.

No worries. Your friends here will pick up a lot of the slack, because we know you’ll be there for us when guests-from-hell send flight details and a long to-do-on-holiday list.

8) We are casual. Although I’m sure there are people here who own formalwear, and perhaps even dress to the nines from time-to-time, but for most in Seychelles dressing up is more a matter of putting on your best long trousers, preferably jeans. There was a private school headmaster who kicked off holy hell by insisting teachers not wear jeans to work, his days in England giving a bias that saw denim as too devil-may-care laid-back and loosey-goosey for an institution of learning. Little did he realize that most here would wear their ‘good’ jeans to have tea with the Queen.

b-1520.JPG

Sparky in her harness …

9) We leave empty and come back full. Going overseas is a big deal for anyone anywhere, but when traveling to big places from a small place it’s not just a holiday … it’s a shopping trip. Packing is easy, as our big suitcase contains only our smaller suitcases on the way out. And it’s not only ourselves we shop for. Nope. The suitcase within a suitcase within a suitcase is sure to have at least three lists of stuff to get for friends. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have blood sugar monitoring sticks, batteries, print cartridges, flip flops, flea drops, tenrec halters, tequila, clothing, dog collars, a toilet seat and many, many other items delivered to me by friends returning from a vacation abroad. It’s a courtesy we acknowledge and value highly.

12314140_10153592769231928_4916937812862847645_n.jpg

We have great sky!

10) We look at the sky … a lot. Views here are big, wide and impressive, and unlike in more confined spaces we have a big chunk of sky over us. By day, we watch clouds move around and can see rain coming from miles away. By night, the distance between Seychelles and mega-cities allows the stars in the southern sky to shine and twinkle by the thousands. We know the season by the placement of Venus and are known to stay up all night for meteor showers. The moon in all its phases is as familiar as the 6 o’clock news is to those who live indoors most evenings, and an eclipse is an event bigger … and more entertaining … than the Superbowl.

So … that’s now 20 things about Seychelles, and many more have come to mind while putting these down. More to come. Don’t touch that dial. Film at 11.

Read Full Post »

I’ve not had the energy to post much lately.

Yes, feeling a bit the dim bulb these days as I look for a light at the end of the tunnel, unlike a dear friend who is an energy-making machine!

Aside from her inborn facility to generate no end of sunshine exuding ion after ion of positivity, she is not only a powerhouse … she is now a power plant.

Between a collection of photovoltaic panels, a new wind turbine and a battery of batteries, she’s almost completely off-grid now, producing enough power to run her house on her own power 22 out of 24 hours on cloudy days. She also collects rainwater in a series 5,000 liter tanks, so her needs for water are satisfied by what falls from the sky.

She is, of course, careful, conserving rather than wasting, with low energy bulbs she flicks off when she leaves a room, not allowing water to run freely down the sink without reason and such as we all should be. (The bright idea that illuminated us for years is now being replaced … as should others.)

Unlike almost everyone else on this tropical island with its 12 hours of daylight year round, frequent rains and almost constant breezes, this friend is harvesting all, and so very happily.

On hot, sunny days, she’s over the moon. Blustery days are a breath of energy-laden fresh air to her. When it’s pissing down rain and the tourists are groaning, she is happy as a clam.

No matter what the weather, she has it covered.

Granted, none of the setup came cheaply. The original outlay was substantial, installation was … well … drawn out and riddled with frustration. But …. what’s done is done and it’s done. She now faces low maintenance, free power and water and … well, power and water.

When the electricity goes out, as it does, her lights are on.

When “weather gets into the pipes” and water doesn’t flow, her toilets flush.

When ever-growing bills come, they don’t come to her in any size other than extra small.

Seychelles, so far, is not an petroleum producing nation, yet our electricity comes from diesel-powered generators with fuel coming to us on ships that also require huge amounts of diesel to get it here. Our water catchment systems can sometimes not meet demand and during times of little rain need supplementing by desalination plants that run on … you guessed it … diesel.

Does this sound just plain silly to anyone else?

How much would it take to require new construction … and some of this involves huge projects that cover many acres … to include the technology my friend has voluntarily installed?

Sure it would add some cost to construction, but putting more pressure on already stressed systems is expensive, too, and in more ways than financial.

If individuals were also encouraged to invest in retrofitting homes with energy producing equipment and water collection systems, and helped with those investments, the country could move closer to self-sustainability, save a fortune on importing fuel, reduce pollution and increase the ‘green’ factor by a huge margin.

Our tiny island nation could set the bar by which other countries would have to compare their own commitment to sustainability, the environment and forward thinking, just has my friend has in her small, yet significant way.

It’s only old fossils who insist we continue to rely on old fossils … we can be reNEWable!

Gee. Seems just writing about energy has given me some ….

Read Full Post »

Photo credit: Wiki imagesA long-tailed tropic bird lifts and turns and swoops over my valley, sculpting shapes from the morning breeze while brandishing a glint of the rising sun on white wings.

It’s going to be a hot one today; clear, yet steamy with the infusion of last night’s rain upping the humidity ante considerably — not a bad thing, being good for the skin and all.

And so begins the last day of my decade that starts with a five.

In reading over words others have written on approaching senectitude I find myself nodding in agreement with some, railing against others, and taking some comfort in the idea I’m far from alone in my ponderings and in interesting company.

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. ~Oscar Wilde

I’m sixty tomorrow (Did I just write that?), still too young to use the word “spry” when self-identifying, so figure Judith Regan’s line can be useful: The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.

I can do that. Most of the time.

Anniversaries of my birth, however, have long been cause for itchy, scratchy contemplation, and the round numbers ever more so.

There is still no cure for the common birthday.
~John Glenn

As I write, the kids are off with Gay plotting something for the occasion, their enthusiasm bubbling over, excitement erupting in giggles from Cj and admonishments from Sam to keep the bubbles as thoughts so as not to spoil surprises.

Cute and wonderful as it is, the numbers stick in my throat as Cj’s six years get multiplied by ten in my mirror and I check out my reflection for its giggle factor. Single-parenting at 60 was not in the draft of any plan I recall making, but for the life of me I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if I didn’t have these two marvels keeping my giggle factory up and running.

It’s funny how life loops around, where a wonky trajectory leads, and how stacking decades fashions unexpected architecture that manages to weather storms, deflect shit asteroids and remain standing even with foundations set in jello.

When I indulge myself and send up birthday wish-shaped smoke signals they look like more conventional structures with security struts, corridors that lead somewhere predictable, doors that open and stay that way, closed doors with working locks, storerooms stocked with other than anxiety. But after 59 years of sending such into the cosmos I’m not expecting much more than an ash blowback.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
~H.L. Mencken

Have I lived 59 years and 364 days unwisely? I can hear the “You betcha! You’ve done some really stupid shit!” from here, yet regrets, I have a few, but, then again, too few to mention. Rather a waste of time and energy at this point in the journey.

When looking at it all backwards it’s hard to feel remorse when what could be considered mistakes in judgement manifested in some wonderful ways. None of my children are acts of contrition and some of the dumbest things I’ve done have wrangled themselves into experiences it would not have been good to miss.

The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it.
~Arthur Schopenhauer

Seems turning toward 60 I’m still gathering material … commentary to follow if there’s ever the time … and although it’s with neither enthusiasm nor delight I hit this wall — more trepidation and its accompanying angst — I have always been a fan of irony.

Read Full Post »

There are some days a blog topic just can’t be avoided, no matter what. Like that proverbial sack full of nickels that whacks me upside the head from time to time, something will jump up, then hang on like a chihuahua on a cuff and not let go.

This is one of those days, and doggone it if I’m not going to bite. The news has gone to the dogs cheek by jowl and there have been no few personal nips as well.

I’ll start with this really annoying bit from the NYT:

Don’t call her a guard dog. When she costs $230,000, as Julia did, the preferred title is “executive protection dog.” This 3-year-old German shepherd, who commutes by private jet between a Minnesota estate and a home in Arizona, belongs to a canine caste that combines exalted pedigree, child-friendly cuddliness and arm-lacerating ferocity.

Great. Now, thanks to Navy Seals, Bin Laden and the kennel ration of crap that comes with, designer dogs have been elevated to a whole new breed.

I’m all for well trained canines who do a job, as those pampered pets like Leona Helmsley’s intended $12 mil pouch are notoriously useless.

Yes, that millionaire lapdog is now in doggie heaven, a circumstance I’m guessing was quite traumatic for the minder-of-Maltese for all these years. I’d venture a guess that pup wasn’t offered any easy exit, but lived until the last possible pant.

Being as I am dogged in my determination to revert to my previous puppy-less state, I’m about done with the creature that came to me just post-eye-opening requiring three-hourly feeds and poop scooping. Yes, Lady Gaga Snowball will very soon be shifted to Andy’s house … as soon as I can find him and do the hand-over. I know some were convinced I’d fall under her spell, but I’m dog tired these days and not subject to the charms of chewed shoes and having my house TP-ed. I’m also not big on another set of slobbery flews and four more muddy feet, so call me a hardhearted cur if you like, but the pooch is soon to be passed.

More significantly, I’m haunted today by a Ghost of Dog Past … a small black mongrel who came to our family when I was about three I dubbed Snowball.

There’s almost too much to tell about Snowball, being that he was my first dog in a long line of four-legged family members, but some of his story packs most of the weight in the sack of nickels prompting this post.

Just yesterday a friend on Facebook resorted to social networking about what he saw as a shocking observation … a gay dog.

I took it upon myself to illuminate, explaining that homosexuality is common in most species, and that I once had a gay dog … the aforementioned Snowball.

This morning I awoke to find a message on my fb fan page from a woman I haven’t seen since I was about 9-years-old, a childhood friend and neighbor who just happened to own a dog … his name was Sam, if I remember correctly … who died in front of all of the whole court because of Snowball’s ardor. (My dog had hers pinned as the ice cream truck made its rounds and … well … it wasn’t pretty.)

I am thrilled to have Sue back in my life after 50 years and have so many memories I would be happy to share, but can’t quite get myself to face again the fact that my dog killed her dog back when we were five.

I’m sure we’ll get through this.

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives. ~Sue Murphy

Read Full Post »

Treading water while burdened by worry prompts a shutdown. A bit of verse and some photos on offer, though:

Hue Cares?

Not ice, nor powder
no robin’s egg,
no nothing royal
neither slate nor steel,
electric or baby
Cyan’t and indon’tgo …
just BLUE

Thankfully, there are kids!

Cj in her birthday crown

Birthday Strawberries

Beautiful Girls! Cj and Amber ...

Sam waters Alex

Photos by JP and Christine Larose. Thanks!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »