Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Redecorating Visions!

Every now and then I get a bug to "redecorate". I seem to forget about all the aches and pains and endless days of preparation associated with the last "decoration" attempt and with visions of a "new look" in my eyes, I forge ahead.

Well, forging is not quite the word. I think about my new project for a couple of minutes, decide that yes, something needs to be done, go about obtaining the proper supplies (which, on an island is another chore onto itself), and then put the job off for a while in order to contemplate a little more of what it is that I have in mind. In this case it was contemplation for a full year!

So, here I am, painting my bedroom floor and now how I wish I had a crew to do this job so that I would not have to do it. But, that is not going to happen and so, after putting it off for too long, I'm on my hands and knees applying paint.

The bad thing about a project of this scope is that my house is small .... well, it is perfectly fine for the two of us and I love the size, normally. But when one has to move one's bedroom furniture to another "holding" area, the house suddenly becomes cluttered. Now, I'm a very organized person and basically tidy so this upheaval (of my own making unfortunately) is very disturbing to my sense of having my house look neat and tidy at all times. My husband keeps commenting that I must be expecting House Beautiful to show up and photograph it and I say "one must be prepared."

When we built the house the first floor was exposed to the sun longer than we anticipated and the floor boards dried and shrunk up thus causing larger than wanted seams. Then, I had the original job of sanding and applying varnish to all the louvered windows before they went in and we chose the bedroom area to do that job. Well, of course some varnish spilled on the floor and there are a few unsightly spots that would not look well if one varnished the floor. So, the long and short of it was that we did not varnish any of the floors and left them bare to do later (big mistake).
Ultimately, my son, who was visiting us about a year ago for a month, was encouraged to take on the duty of preparing and varnishing the living room/kitchen/laundry area floors. He took it in stride and since he was here with free room and board for a month, he did the job in his usual happy, efficient manner. Those rooms look beautiful and I am eternally thankful for him taking on the job and sparing me the aches and pains.

However, now I'm stuck with a bedroomfloor that has to be painted because of the stains on the floor. Well, I purchased a can of paint about a year ago and found out, upon opening the can, that one cannot keep paint that long and expect it to be in the same state as it was when purchased.

Problem #1: thin out the paint and make it workable. Again, living on an island causes more time to be spent on any project than one would normally expect. We started thinning the paint and ran out of paint thinner. This required a trip to town to obtain the thinner and that is an hour job in itself. Got the thinner and mixed it with the paint but the paint still maintained a grainy look. Ok, I said, I've got to work with this because to get another can of paint (expensive I purchase I might add) was out of the question.

I swept and mopped the bedroom floor and prepared 1/2 of the room for the onslaught. First, my husband decided that we needed to caulk the seams in the floor so that dirt would not settle down inbetween boards and the all-over appearance would be improved. Ok, I said, and we began that process.

By the way of preparation, one must painstakingly remove 8 years of dust that has accumulated in these cracks by using some sort of tool (a nail or screw driver) and scrape the debris out of the cracks and sweep it up. Then one must bend over (ugh) and apply the caulk which has been sitting for a couple of years and in spite of still being plyable, takes a lot of strength to get out of the tube. Of course we ran out of caulk and I had the challenging duty of calling a hardware store in LaCeiba, getting someone who could speak English, determing that they had the caulk and explaining that I wanted it shipped via the airlines to Guanaja. Of course they were happy to oblige, after I went to the bank, transferred money to their account, faxed them a copy of the transfer and then called them to inform them all of this had been accomplished. Then it was a two day wait while they made sure they had the fax and then took it to the airline office who also had to wait a day before putting it on the plane!
We finished the caulking job with sore backs and decided we would wait a couple of days to paint and give my back a chance to strengthen itself for the next job.

Now to the paint, remember it is a year old. I found out that the paint will work except that one has to brush it over an area far longer than normal to work out the small capsules of pigment that seemed to have clumped together. Now, being a "Senior Citizen," getting down on ones hands and knees for prolonged periods is quite a feat, not to mention a "Senior Citizen" in menopause. I soon discovered that I was dripping large drops of sweat onto the floor and this would not do. So I put on a bandanna around my forehead and had another one in my pocket for quick face wipes and continued on with the job at hand.

Finished the first half of the floor and waited two days for it to dry. As luck (thank goodness) would have it, the weekend was upon us so I got two more days reprieve before applying the second coat. However, sleeping in a room freshly painted was quite an irritant. The first night after painting, I awoke at about 1:30 a.m. (probably due to the smell, my hot flashes and the need to go to the bathroom) and could not fall back asleep so plodded out to the computer and kept myself occupied with various catch-up jobs I had put off!

Now, after the second coat to the floor, here I am again, this time at 3:30 a.m., at the computer, because I could not sleep. At least the first 1/2 of the floor is done and now, lucky me, I get to move the furniture from one side of the room to the other and tackle that part. Plus, I should do the closet and apply another coat to the bathroom (off the bedroom) which is the same color and was painted about 4 years ago. The job gets bigger and bigger and I have no choice but to finish or have my house in total upheaval, and this I cannot tolerate! So, no excuses, back to work.

At some point this week, I hope to have most of this job completed and I can return my rooms to their normal appearance and admire my accomplishment. I will take a photo so I can share my accomplishment with others and sit back and be happy with a job well done.

One problem, however. Because the paint was thinned out so much it went from glossy to dull and now I feel I have to apply a top coat of polyurethane to give it a shine.......or maybe not!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

You Gotta Have Friends

Living on an island and being away from family and friends is difficult at times. Family cannot be replaced, nor friends. At least, however, we are able to make new friends thus creating a cocoon of security. I say security but not meaning just having someone as a safety net to help out, but someone to share your thoughts, hobbies, compassions, time, or just to joke around with or have a serious discussion on a topic at hand.

Friends come in many categories; those you take into your confidence, those you share everyday events with, those you just greet with a hello and small talk. It is said that if one has one or two true friends you are indeed lucky. True friends are people that you can count on at anytime for anything and who will do everything in their power to be there for you.

We go through life with a variety of friends beginning with immediate families. We branch out to school chums and, as life rambles along, our co-workers join our group. We are introduced to new people and from them gleen relationships and/or friendships. Finally, at the waining years of our lives, we have hopefully created a final, strong friendship with a chosen few.

I am indeed blessed as I have 2 terrific friends I can count on for anything at anytime and 2 friends I can count on to support me in times of trouble with emotional support.

I have made new friends on the island and enjoyed the companionship of many diverse people. I have learned a lot in the 10 years I have been here and had my eyes opened to the world. I hope that the friends I have made here consider me someone they can count on too.

Living in a culture different from the one you were raised in can be frustrating at times! It is also educational and, I think at least for my part, teaches one more compassion, understanding and the desire to help others. I've always been a fairly giving person and to extend my help to others in need is my immediate reaction in situations where I see help is needed.

There are givers and takers in this world; I guess the balance of the two is what is necessary. I know a lot of takers and they seem to outnumber the givers, but that is who they are and that is what I am.

My husband often says, "You can't save the whole world" and in this he is right. However, in attempting to save just a few, one gains more than he or she puts into the effort. This is not just an attempt to gain friendship, which usually happens, or have someone "beholding" to you, but the fact that people continue to reach out gives me hope that man will not spiral downward never gaining any foothold on what is important in life.

I also believe that everyone has friends, albeit family, someone outside their circle, neighbors or people they grew up with. It would truly be sad to hear someone say they have no friends because that is indeed a lonely place to be. Thankfully, I have never run into such a person.

So, never forget to tell your friends how much they mean to you and that you love them. A true friend does not need that reassurance but it is always nice to hear.

So, I take this opportunity to tell my wonderful friends that I am thankful for their presence and how much I appreciate having known them. My life has been enriched beyond belief by each of you. I would post photos of you on this site but you know who you are and the photos would only be of importance to you and me!

So, get up and go out and make some friends or just renew old friendships by writing or calling someone today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Woke up this morning to a beautiful day with calm seas. There had been a small squall that went through last night with some wind and rain but not overpowering. Then I learned that one of the supply boats to the island had sunk. The Captain Andrew which brings us propane, vegetables, building supplies, etc. has gone down. At this point I do not know where it happened or why but certainly the sea conditions were not a factor as the sea is flat calm.

Boats have been going by our house by the hour and I have to assume rushing to rescue the crew or gather up whatever supplies are still floating on the sea. We also assume that they went down not far off the south end of the island as the boats keep scurrying back and forth. I just hope that no one was injured or killed.

Life on an island where your only transportation is by boat is dangerous. We have had many lives taken in boat accidents but only about 8-10 in the past 20 years plus. So, if you look at the number of people killed by cars on the mainland, this is not a bad record. The majority of the accidents happened within the last 10 years with the advent of larger boats with bigger motors and more people driving drunk! When someone is involved in an accident usually at least one of the group drowns if not more. We have had many injured and again, being on an island, this is a catastrophe as it generally happens on a weekend (Saturday evening) and there are no planes out of here on Sunday.

Now we will be down to one boat for our supplies plus, most recently, the option of getting materials, food, etc. shipped over on the ferry that runs between Trujillo and Guanaja. This accident will hurt many people in many ways and those with a bigger share of the investment will have to deal with whatever insurance they had for the items on the boat. And there, again, lies another big disaster!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Manual Needed!

Why can't life come with an instruction manual? Of course, would anyone read it, take it to heart and follow its instructions? I think not.

It seems to be human nature to stumble on in life ignoring advice. We always say that one only learns from their mistakes, thus confirming my thoughts on this matter. Of course, our parents loved us because we were fresh and easily molded and showed promise. When that didn't work, they continued to love us even though they could see that the job ahead was going to be long and arduous.

Our friends, who many times see that we are heading for danger, try to head us off but, at some point, I feel they even give up on trying to give advice as they feel it will be ignored. So, once again, through our own faults, we are left to our mistakes.

Our teachers try to guide us and drill into us the learning necessary to get along in life, be someone, set goals, and, in general, be a productive person. I wonder if it is because it is an institution that grades us that we pay a little more attention to what is being taught, or, is it because a new world has opened up and we are curious as to what we can learn? At some point, some people decide they know more than their teachers and, unfortunately, arrive at a point where they feel they have all the answers. So, once again. we are back to making our way by living by our mistakes.

The Church tries to provide us with a soul, honesty, love of our fellow man and a belief that all is possible. Then those very same religious leaders tell us that their Church is the only Church (or religion) and that if you do not follow their rules you are damned to hell. They wage wars on other religious groups (all in the name of the same God) and try to control the flock by setting rules to live by which limit a person's ability to be a true individual. I believe there is a "God" or some entity guiding our lives; I do not believe in the Church or organizations who have decided they are the true religion. I use to love going to Church just for the solitude and peace it gave me but refrain now because of the animosity shown by all religions towards one another. So, maybe in this case I am learning by my mistakes or the only choice I feel is open to me at this point and I can only hope that I am taking the right path that life has offered me.

Governments try to teach us by setting laws to help us when problems arise, or to guide us in the way we run our lives, or to offer us a means of education. What goes wrong here is when Government all of a sudden leans more towards those who are breaking the laws; they show them more concern and attention to the extent of totally ignoring those who have not broken any laws and are suffering because of the action of the few. Now we learn by the mistakes of others which are directed at us!

So, I guess it is what some people would refer to as "human nature" to continue on making mistakes - learning and trying to teach others by our mistakes. I know I have made plenty and tried to pass on my knowledge only to be met with a smile and nod and a "thanks" or "mind your own business". But, I continue to try with family, friends or people who seem to need help. After all, some day I might just get through and in the process I am learning indeed from my mistakes!

Don't you just love life?