Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

The new pole ... nice, heh?

It’s been a while since I wrote on island life, and with today providing such a classic example of a Monday on the rock it seems an opportunity to make up for the lack of slice-(wrists)-of-life posts.

As my dear friend, Gay, insists, it’s never easy, but it is worth it, and I’m happy enough to agree with her on this, the last day of January, 2011.

The morning began at 6, as it usually does. The routine goes something like this: drag my ass out of bed, make tea, glean the house for all the bits and pieces that are to go to school with the kids, brush teeth, check mail, shower, then do the drive to town, after which I’ll work for a few hours while sporadically enjoying this fab view from the veranda where my computer sits between me and said view.

The routine took a few hits today though since 1) the cooking gas had run out, so making tea was interrupted, 2) the Internet connection was up and down more than a politician’s zipper, and 3) there was no water, so so much for the shower.

Thankfully … very thankfully … I have David here for a few weeks, a man who goes by many titles … Lovely Dave, Handsome Hunk, He’s Helpful (That one from Cj), Cuddle Champ … and Mr. Fixit. He began collecting hero points before 6:15 when he found a gas bottle that actually had gas in it and connected it up in plenty of time for my tea and his coffee.

A stop at the water tank showed damage from a large part of a large tree falling down and pulling pipes out. Dave managed to stop the outflow and round up a part that needed replacing, so after dropping the kids at school we found a plumbing shop that had some version of said part. Unfortunately, it turns out that’s not the only issue, but I’m sure he’ll have it all sorted once he’s back from repairing a completely separate plumbing issue at Gay’s house. (Bonus hero points for that.)

In the meantime, a PUC water crew showed up after only ONE call, diagnosed the problem with the tank and rigged up a temp connection that has the water flowing to the house again so showers can happen.

And then …

a PUC electric crew of about 25 guys pulled into the garden avec a brand spankin’ new power pole they installed in all of about 15 minutes … and I hadn’t even had to call them as they were sent at the behest of yet another PUC electric crew who’d done an emergency repair last week that set me up with power to the house in a temp fashion, then dropped by yesterday to see if I’d manage to get the bloody lines repaired. I hadn’t, so they took matters into their own hands and are apparently sorting it out to be sorted out, starting with a new pole.

Now, I know I do a whole lotta bitchin’ on this blog about the trials of island life and about men, but I am very happy to give credit where it’s due. It is sometimes the case that work seems to happen with glacier slowness, people don’t show up when promised and one can find oneself power/water/phone/Internet challenged for days or weeks on end. The breakdown crews, however, can be wonderful, go above and beyond and I happily tip my hat in their worthy direction.

As for men, I have made no secret of the fact that I really do adore the gender in general. Okay … they can confuse, very often frustrate and sometimes break my heart, but all-in-all I’m in favor of them.

In actuality, I’m a big fan. Not only are they mighty handy, some are truly blessings … especially those that cook.

(Thanks, David. You’ve earned some beach time today.)

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Service animal?

Yeah, yeah …

We all know I live on my own with two little kids, a situation that has many ramifications, one of which involves the fact that I’m a complete incompetent when it comes to fixing most stuff that always bloody breaks so end up having quite a few things around that don’t work they way they were originally meant to.

At the moment, I have a non-functioning oven, no inside handle on my front door, a few light fixtures that are now just fixtures, a mess of broken slats formerly known as Cj’s bed, a puny wire hanging dangerously across my garden supplying a bit of electricity, and … well … other stuff that I’ve become so used to not working that I hardly even notice any longer.

If you think I’m in any way proud of the fact that I can’t repair squat you’re off the mark, because I really do wish I had some passing familiarity with what a drill can do and the difference between a wood screw and a masonry bit. Actually I’m a wee bit pleased with being in possession of the knowledge that there is a difference between a wood screw and a masonry bit. (Do NOT ask me to describe what that might be, however.)

I detest being so bloody girly that power tools freak me out and hand tools have only proven to be very effective weapons against myself. I can guess why my father never took it upon himself to teach me jack about any of this … him being an impatient man and me having the upper body strength of a sparrow most likely had him thinking just getting on with it would be SO much easier than trying to explain the proper way to begin a saw cut to his only daughter and my childhood happening in a time when people still assumed such a thing as “man’s work” and “women’s work” and some wisdom in the division.

Whatever …

It’s ended up that shit breaks, I don’t have the foggiest how to fix anything and I live in a place where hiring people to do so just ain’t easy.

I’m prompted today by broken stuff and a photo I came across to consider the concept of “service animals” in relation to my situation. No, I’m not handicapped in any of the serious senses of such a label, but I’m thinking maybe we should move beyond the idea of guide dogs and helper monkeys to things bigger and more powerful with opposable thumbs.

One of the best friends I’ve had in my life was an adult male oran utan, and thinking back on him now I have no doubt he would have been happy enough to take a hammer to a broken bed and could have easily strung electric cables WAY up high through the trees between my meter and my house. Sure, getting his huge fingers into the little divot where the oven pilot light sits would be tough, but some stuff would be a breeze, like changing bulbs beyond my reach and removing large branches that might fall on the roof.

Of course, there would be issues of training and care, but … sheesh … that’s just part of it, isn’t it? Animals are trainable … well, some animals … and what the heck? If they can help a frail and girly human like me, why not?

Then again, there is that idea that a male human could be as helpful … fringe benes might be a factor, too … but it could be an issue when it comes to the “trainable” bit. Treats only go so far and they don’t seem to easily get the hang of that most basic of commands: Stay!

(Thanks, David!)

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2010 was not a great year. It wasn’t the worst I’ve had, but certainly didn’t live up to my wish that it be a complete turnaround from the previous 365 days. Although I was extremely fortunate to get through those twelve months with no one I love dying, disappointments were rife and some great plans proved to be little but dust in the wind that often lodged in my eyes and produced prodigious tears.

Because I am who I am and I do what I do, the fallout also produced words, some of which rhymed or scanned, and in an effort to produce something to show for the year I’ve put them together in an eBook.

Some of the work included has been seen here on the blog, some hasn’t, and all in the book come with images, so even if some may have seen the words before, they’ve not seen them quite like this.

Titled, “It’s Gets Verse”, the book is dedicated to those who touched me in one way or another over the course of last year:

If you’ve made me laugh,
this book’s for you.
If you’ve caused me tears,
it’s for you, too.
Each hasn’t depth
without reversal,
and life, we know,
is no rehearsal.
For all who’ve had me
feel so much …
the good, the bad …
I’ve loved your touch.

In an effort to establish some value in my own mind for the collecting of all the bits of soot and ash from 2010’s burnt offering, I’m offering my offering for all of $5 a download. (PayPal works — sandra.splash@gmail.com — or cash through the post.)

I’ll be well pleased if I find that all the shit I went through last year was worth fifty bucks or so …

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Not exactly an iPhone ...

On a rainy Friday in Seychelles I get a call from Mexico informing me that the Chinese calendar will be bringing me a year of good luck starting on the 3rd of February, prompting me to share that possible reprieve with friends in the US, England, Germany, Italy and South Africa.

Yep. Within about 30 minutes eight countries were buzzing about my radar, and that was without going anywhere near facebook.

It never ceases to amaze me how this world of ours has gone so tiny, yet stays so bloody big. Yeah, sure I can conference call … for free … with a half dozen people in as many countries when effectively connected, and that’s wonderful, but getting up-close and personal with anyone off this rock? That’s not so simple, is it?

It wasn’t long ago the Internet and its wonders were beyond the scope, but within a few short years it’s more common in my world that peeps have it than don’t. Not only can we now communicate globally easily and far more cheaply than in the days it took a pricy phone call to reach out and touch someone, we now have Internet ON our phones. Just take a moment to imagine how shocked we would have been had we been told ten years ago this would be at our fingertips? And with a touch screen, yet!

Yes, we’ve seen HUGE changes, but at the same time so much stays the same.

Ease of communication has leapt and bounded, but transport? Not so much.

It was 40-some years ago James T. Kirk and Co. were stepping up for getting around of the dissolve/stick-together-somewhere-else sort, but the only real change in how we’re able to move about that’s happened over all those decades is the size of the planes that cram us in, then subject us to endless hours of torture.

Oh! You can now make calls from your own phone on some airliners and connect to the Internet, but that seems just rubbing it in if you ask me.

I’ve been waiting for that Beamy-uppy thingy ever since I moved halfway around the world from my roots and shoots, but in vain.

So, what is it with all the sticking-to-the-planes deal? I admit my lack of science-y expertise may be tricking me into thinking it should be an easier row to hoe, but since I was equally clueless on the WorldWideWeb, I’m in no mood to allow any excuses.

Look at it this way …

The first telephone … the precursor to our modern communication wonders … was patented in 1876. The first car … the beginning of travel that didn’t require draught animals … came along about 200 years EARLIER, and the first gasoline engine cranked over almost in sync with the phone.

An automobile powered by his own four-stroke cycle gasoline engine was built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz in 1885, and granted a patent in January of the following year under the auspices of his major company, Benz & Cie., which was founded in 1883. It was an integral design, without the adaptation of other existing components, and included several new technological elements to create a new concept. He began to sell his production vehicles in 1888.
A photograph of the original Benz Patent-Motorwagen, first built in 1885 and awarded the patent for the concept

In 1879, Benz was granted a patent for his first engine, which had been designed in 1878. Many of his other inventions made the use of the internal combustion engine feasible for powering a vehicle.

I know there’s a huge difference between the internal combustion engine and the Star Trek transporter, but so is there between the gadget you see Alex G. Bell mouthing into in the photo above and instantaneous video calls around the planet.

“I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget.” ~ Dr. McCoy

Yeah, yeah … it’s a bit of a scary concept, but if Bones could get over it, anyone can.

So … get on the stick, folks. I hate flying, always get a fuckin’ cold when I’ve had to freeze my ass off for 12+ hours and ingest the breath of 250 other people who are as just as uncomfortable as I am, and I don’t like the food.

But …

If 2011 actually IS my year … me being a metal rabbit and this being the year of the rabbit and all … I’m not wasting any of the luck that may come my way on R&D for rapid-er transit.


I’ll be keeping all that for health, wealth and wisdom for me and mine, thankyouverymuch. And if that puts my ass on planes, so be it.

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Christmas 2010 is history and we’re now at New Year’s Eve … the traditional day for making lists and checking them often, adding, subtracting, watching hopes multiply and dividing the wheat from the chaff.

MMX was not a great year, but since death didn’t intrude into my immediate world, it wasn’t terrible, either. It was what it was, and it’s over.

Before flinging my arms wide in welcome to 2011, I’ll say goodbye to the old year and dance with its ghosts for a while.

Although I love Burns’ Scots version, a translation into modern English helps make the point:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


To all dear friends, to those I love and who love me, to the casual reader who pops in on occasion, to everyone who wandered through my world over the past 365 days … although seas between us braid hae roar’d, I offer gratitude, my hand and a right good-will draught o’ kindness.

Adios 2010 …

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I have something I need to get off my chest, and I need to do that now if it’s going to be out of my system by Monday. If you’re not in the mood to listen to me whine and watch me wallow, click here now and come back in a few days when I’ve managed to pull myself out of my own ass long enough to write about something interesting.

If you decide to stay for the train wreck, it starts with:


The kids come home after a week with their dad day after tomorrow … that will be the 13th of December, more commonly referred to as 11 days before Christmas … and before they rush in all excited and ready to put up the tree I must exorcise the ghosts of Christmases past, work off my Grinchy Scrooginess, or Scroogie Grinchishness … whatevahhhhh … and be ready to put on some semblance of a show of festive cheer.

Oh, goodie.

Pathetic, aren’t I? And what a crap mom.

Guilt is only one ornament dangling from the just-slightly-too-green branches of the fake tree I’ll be un-boxing (Thankfully, the tree spins, so is tacky enough to be mildly amusing.), although its multifacets do make it impressive. From one angle it looks like memories and regrets over past Christmases, those occasions when Jenn and Jaren were small. From another, it’s Christmas present, this one right here, right now … the one Sam and Cj and I were supposed to be in Mexico for, but instead will find us opening gifts on the morning, then … who knows? Then there’s the future angle that will have me writing a summation of the year on Christmas night to go in the box when I take the tree down just in case this is the last one I’m around for.

Loneliness is another decoration pulled out for this fucking holiday, reminding me Christmas Eve will see me putting the gifts out, turning out the lights and sleeping alone … again.

Isolation, that dull, lead lump I’ll stick on a bottom branch, brings to mind the fact that all of my family but Sam and Cj and everyone I shared my life with before moving to this rock is thousands of miles away.

Worry is a particularly unattractive bit of fluff, but comes along with gift buying and the realization that the next Christmas will come around faster than a kettle boils.

Annoyance is bright and shiny and made in China. It hangs everywhere making shops here look like the aftermath of an attack of vomiting elves. What is it about this holiday that has people thinking astoundingly ugly sparkly shit all of a sudden has esthetic appeal? And what’s with that fucking music?

Yeah, yeah … I know how lucky I am. I have a roof over my head, wonderful children, amazing friends. I can walk and talk and write and drive. We’re not hungry. We don’t live in a war zone and aren’t likely to find ourselves forced into refugee status. I live in a beautiful place. And if I just focused on all that instead of the negative crap … if I quit indulging in self-pity … if I embraced the holiday … if I pulled myself out of my own ass and aimed my energy at Sam and Cj and at making this a joyful, happy time they will incorporate into their memories of a happy childhood … if I did all that stuff … this just might end up being a not-too-bad Christmas with some fun to be had with hugs and love and laughs going around.

But first I needed to get this out of my system. By Monday I’ll be ho-ho-fucking-hoing. In the meantime, please excuse me from the festivities.

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I’ve spent no little time taking on men in a WTF-is-with-them-anywhoo? sort of way over the past months, so it’s time I set my blaster on stun and turned it toward my own gender.

As this article suggests, as it is, “Holding Up a Mirror Along with the Bullhorn: Why Women Can’t Lay All the Blame Elsewhere”.

When we consider issues of gender in this country, we tend to assess the progress and prospects of the American woman through an amorphous sort of “look how far we’ve come” or “look how far we haven’t come” analysis, eyes trained on the Man and related cultural influences that have historically beaten us back. It’s a legitimate exercise. And yet, as we do this, I think it’s also valid to consider a related, if more elusive and controversial, component to the contemporary female experience, one we’d much prefer to sweep under the rug. And that’s the degree to which girls and women are — or are not — nurturing each other’s ascent.

To be fair, it’s not a one-side thing, this accusing.

In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on woman. ~Nancy Astor

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rise above, does it, Girls?

Yes, Madeleine Albright got it right when she said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”, but another woman who made it big in the man’s world that is politics, Bella Abzug, references another issue …

I prefer the word homemaker, because housewife always implies that there may be a wife someplace else.

Ay, there’s the rub.

So much of my yammering on the duplicitous nature of men has rather ignored the huge part played in those dramas by women only too happy to bounce on someone else’s trampoline.

Although it’s sometimes merely circumstance that leads women into a dally with another’s dolly, there are those who prefer to play with a Ken who has a Barbie:

The hooked and booked man is like a forbidden temptation. That’s what makes him irresistibly attractive to a woman. He stirs a challenge in her. She feels a sense of power in attracting a man who is already taken. What makes him the catch for her is his confidence, experience and authority. The excitement stems from the fact that he’s already taken.

Having seen infidelity from every angle … yes, I admit to taking a wander over posted ground where “No Trespassing” was writ large a few times … I have first-hand experience on both sides of the fence. Although I never set out with an intention to encroach, it happens, and since the end results vary between a shrug, a sly and secret smile and nuclear holocaust I’m not recommending a hop into that pasture to anyone.

Of course, an intentional invasion is a declaration of war and there are none-to-few who quite happily lob a grenade into a mine field, sit back and wait for the massive explosions one would expect from such a provocative act. Sometimes the earth settles and they plow it for a while, but they’re always on the lookout for new incoming that can rip apart their tidy furrows.

Truth be told, women don’t like women much, and trust them even less. Sure, we have girlfriends … and FFS! we do need and treasure them … but women in general? Not so much. If to men we are the sugar and spice of life, to each other we are arsenic; in controlled amounts helpful and healing, but otherwise poison.

Divide et impera, hey, Ladies? That is the result the lack of sisterhood leaves us with. Playing into the hands of men … in any old way … has done us little good as a gender, and it’s only when we make the effort to join hands and hearts and minds that we have any luck at all in climbing ladders or breaking ceilings or gaining control of such basics as our own bodies.

So … Girls … maybe it’s time we developed a new perspective. I suggest this thought: You wouldn’t think of using another woman’s douche bag, so why in hell would you use another woman’s douche bag?

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Funny how that happens, the serendipity thing, but some friends are so close … even from 10,000 miles away … they know without knowing how things need to fit.

What am I on about?

Last night, just before turning out the lights — at about quarter after one — the following verse spilled from my fingers … heart … whatever … because that’s the way my heart and fingers cope.

He Calls

He calls
he says, Please …
don’t tell
Don’t tell about the history
Don’t tell about the future

He calls
he pleads, Please,
don’t let them know
the truth in the history
the vision of the future

He calls
we laugh, Please!
don’t forget
Don’t need to hear the history
Don’t need to know the future

He calls
we fight, Please!
don’t cry
Forget about the history
ponder on a future

He calls
we kiss, Please …
don’t judge
Glorious was the history
nebulous is future

Waking up this morning, what waits is music from Robbie, my cosmic twin, who has a keen grasp of my heart and often knows my mind before I do. (He’s a bit spooky, he is.) …

Now, I write a lot of poetry, and most is for therapeutic purposes, very little seeing the light of day, but on this bright, sunny morning in Seychelles, it seems this must.

Serendipty do … or something …

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Tolerance. I’m all for it, or was. Embracing diversity, respecting the views and beliefs of others, giving plenty of room for different strokes, live-and-let-live and all that hooey.

Yep. No expectation that folks should think like I do just because I’m right, now is there?

I’ve managed a lot of years on this attitude, but I’m just about done with it and feeling a need to start drawing lines in the sand; un-crossable, non-neogtialble lines dividing me from them.

What’s brought on this uncharacteristic lean toward leaning away? Short answer: I’m reacting to reactionaries. I’ve had it with different strokes reining down on heads, arms, legs, and those who limit “let live” to only their own ilk.

A far too steady diet of news stories like this has strained all limits of forbearance.

The attackers forced the man to strip to his underwear and tied him to a chair, the police said. One of the teenage victims was still there, and the “Goonies” ordered him to attack the man. The teenager hit him in the face and burned him with a cigarette on his nipple and penis as the others jeered and shouted gay slurs, the police said. Then the attackers whipped the man with a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat.

This, of course, following right on the heels of the deaths of Alec Henrison and Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Billy Lucas … and on and on.

I’m done being shocked and sad. I’m through cutting slack to those who are just too invested in whatever-it-is-stupid-agenda that makes it okay to label gay people as “less than” or “abominations”, to carry signs insisting that “god hates fags” or to judge in any way something that has NOTHING to do with them.

Although I will continue to be amused by kind-hearted and humorous get-backs like this video posted on facebook … ‘like’ them here … and I’ll wear purple on the 20th in support of efforts to raise awareness, I will no longer sit back and listen to anyone wax on about being entitled to harbor even the hint of condemnation for a segment of the population that has been segmented off because of who they choose to love.


People like the moronic Andrew Shirvell get nothing by my wrath and “anti-gay activists” are deemed evil incarnate, especially those who who use their stance to hide behind their preference for behinds.

I won’t limit myself to simply encouraging people to support organizations like The Trevor Project, but now take to vilifying any and all who don’t.

My tolerance is gone, and I don’t give a flying fuck if someone thinks it’s within their rights to disagree over the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality … it’s NOT. Don’t like the idea of gay? No one cares. Keep it to yourself, or, better yet, get a grip, stop spending time conjuring mental images of acts that are none of your damned business and get it through your head that gay people are not only as good as you are, they are very often a whole lot better in all the ways that count on the goodness scale.

Here are some truths that might help with that:

1) Homosexuality is NOT a choice. Some people are blond, some people are Black, some people are gay. (Some are blond AND black AND gay … not always a good look, but nobody’s place to judge.) And who the fuck would choose to be gay in this world? Anyone worried that they might make that “choice” may just want to take another gander at their motivation for condemnation.

2) Gay people could give a shit whether or not you approve. What is important is whether or not you deny rights, and if you do, you’re an asshole.

3) For those who fall back on religion as an excuse to cast aspersions, keep in mind that the story goes that Jesus had two dads, and he turned out okay, and any belief that any god should care what people do with their god-given bits shortchanges that god by reducing him to pin-headed moron status.

Feel free to add to this list …

Yes … I’m pissed off today, even more than I was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. I’m afraid for so many I love so much, terrified someone will hurt them because of who and how they love. I’m crushed with the thought that fear is growing around them, turning them into hermits when they should be flying free and joyfully. I’m furious that some are forced into hiding themselves behind a mask of heterosexuality, denying their true and lovely natures and their loves.

I’ve tried it other ways, but it’s not worked out so well, and now I’m fighting intolerance with intolerance. So, to anyone who disagrees with me … fuck you. Sandra hates self-righteous homophobes.

Line drawn. Cross over to the good side or stay well away.

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Cry babies: men and tears

Andy, Gay and I were on the veranda recently, talking, as we do, on the familiar topic of the differences between men and women when the issue of tears came up.

Gay’s sister had phoned from California bawling her eyes out, an immediate cause for concern right up until the time Gay realized she was crying for joy at a bit of good news; an emotional response to which Gay and I well relate, but put Andy at a bit of a loss. Having no recollection of ever shedding tears at happy moments, a revelation that had us pondering the possibility that going all weepy when all goes really right just might be a girl thing, he found the whole reaction familiar as an observer, but still odd.

Remembering moments from my daughter’s wedding, a joyful occasion, I know I was leaking like a garden hose, while her dad … having supplied me with a brand new hanky, correctly predicting precipitation … smiled broadly through the ceremony, managing to walk back down the isle sans the red nose I snuffled on my way out.

I cried more than my babies when first presented with each one, dripped my way through their graduations, dissolved when greeting people at the airport, blubbered when given wonderful gifts and dehydrated myself on many of the happier occasions life has kindly offered up. Even a story of someone else’s happiness can get me going glassy-eyed.

The thing is, I love those tears that spring from joy, and found myself feeling more than a little sorry for guys if, indeed, they miss out on this version of waterworks.

Coincidentally, a couple of things have crossed my radar this morning that give some hope … or not … that guys do go all squishy from time to time without having lost a World Cup match.

Although it seems to be sad stuff that jerks the tears when it comes to movies, at least some guys do drop immunity when sufficiently manipulated:

I’m a 48-year-old man, ex-rugby player and motorcycle racer and I admit that Babe did it for me. Right at the end when the farmer says “That’ll do Pig”, I start welling up at the thought of it.

There's always the butch smart ass, of course:

~David, Glasgow~
The bit in The Italian Job where the Mafia smash Michael Caine’s Aston Martin and the two E-Types had me crying like a baby.

For real proof of joy, however, a video making the rounds lets us listen in while one mountain man … well, a man in mountains, anyway … overflows.

I have some suspicion that there may have been an illegal substance or two involved in his reaction, and, given the duration of his outburst, a bit of slammin’ the salmon going on … but maybe that’s just me being hardhearted.

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