Wednesday, December 30, 2009

At the Year’s End

Well, 2009 is coming to a close and it has certainly been an experience this year!

The highlight, of course, was the political crisis here in Honduras with the President of the country being legally removed (and I stress “legally”), a new President elected and a standoff as to what to do about the exiled ex-President who is sitting in the Brazilian Embassy still trying to keep his country in chaos.

Meanwhile, at home we have lost pets (not literally - but our lovely dog died this past May), I traveled to Europe for the first time in my life. I found a very close friend (JoAnn) in the States after losing touch for more than 20 years and flew back to Florida for a visit with for 10 days. I had a wonderful time and managed to spend time with other friends and family. I thank them all for the wonderful time I had this year both in Europe and in Florida. Now, however, we continue to meet new challenges at home on the island!

I have been busy with a new found interest in my crocheting skills - filet crochet. I have produced many items (not dollies however) to hang and have begun quilting projects. In the meantime, I continue making baskets, cards and creating books/calendars through an internet connection to give to friends and family. One such effort was a recreation of my family tree to share with my family.

We have had a few dinner parties this past year and one large party this week as a prelude to New Year’s Eve. We have made side trips to the coast for medical checkups and found a great clinic and doctors to go to in La Ceiba. My husband had his cataracts removed and his eyesight sharpened; his gout has drifted into the background, thank goodness, and my cholesterol level is at a good number! We both celebrated getting older by another year recently and look forward to continued good health.

We trimmed the hedge in our front yard (heck cut it down by ½) and it just recently returned to its former glory. We cleaned up the back of our lot to create, eventually, a lovely place to walk through. I’ve put in plants to boarder the sidewalk coming up from the beach - and they all lived! Hooray.

We lost about 8 palm trees (there’s that word again) on the beach which we were most unhappy about. This was due to lethal yellowing which we have been trying to avoid by injecting the palms 3 times a year! We have more sun on the beach now and can see part of the dock from the house, so I guess it was a good thing - sort of! We have replanted the palms and will continue doing so until we are past this however!

Our dock lasted 12+ years but is now in danger of falling down. We will have to replace it next year, repaint the house, start more planting up the hill and I must have a “discussion” with my husband about a new method of placing screens on the house - a few of which must be replaced. So, 2010 looks like it will be busy.

We had gotten a new computer this year and, unfortunately, this morning I found out that our old spare computer may have died! I turned it on and nothing! A computer, I feel, is an absolute necessity if one wants easy contact with the outside world and I will now be looking for a spare!

On the island we have lost two airlines (we sure lose a lot here don’t we?) and were down to one for a while. A a second airline, Rollins, made a return to the island, but it only flies when it has enough people! The internet server to the island, Globalnet, decided to abandon Guanaja and now the only thing available at the moment is TIGO - a small card internet connection which comes through a cell phone service, but is very SLOW….and I mean slow. We are just glad that we have our satellite service!

The island has lost more and more of its tourism, mostly due this year to the political crises. We have a new resort (Clearwater Paradise) fully operational on the “other side” and wish them the best of luck with their business. Of course it is always hard to start up a new business and usually takes several years to gain a foothold. It will be more difficult for them with all the problems the island has encountered but we are keeping our fingers crossed for them!

We had a few deaths this year; Marianne, Capt. Al’s ex-wife and companion passed away, and a former resident of the island, Ivey, died. We celebrated many birthdays and the addition of a new couple; Laurent and Elaine who are from Switzerland. They bought a house here and are ready to leave their sailing days for a more permanent home!

Overall, the majority of your friends remain healthy and happy, enjoying the peace and serenity the island has to offer. I hope to do a few more Blogs before the year runs out, but with everything coming up in the next few days I may have to save them for 2010. At least it will give me one more goal to look forward to!

In the meantime, to my friends on the island and in the States, to my loving family, especially my daughter, Tami, and my son, Randy, I send all my love, and special attention to the Grandkids with wishes for a wonderful year and many more to come in the future!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Visitor

On the day before Christmas, we awoke at about 8 a.m. to the sound of one of our parrots squawking over and over and over and one of the dogs barking in a different tone than usual. I got up and looked out the back door trying to figure out what in the world was in the back yard!

There just near my clothes line was a large, fully grown Pelican starring down our dog, Desi, who must have caught the bird briefly before I went to check on the commotion as he was missing some tail feathers.

The bird seemed not much the worse for wear but we feared something was wrong with him. We have never seen a Pelican up this far on our property and this bird had walked all the way from the beach!

We finally got the dogs into the house and went outside to check on the bird. He was slowly walking up the hill and as we approached he would turn and snap his huge beak at my husband. Our presence did not seem to bother him to any extent except that when we got too close he would make a short flight to another area. He did not seem capable of long flights and appeared exhausted. We did not see any blood or apparent injuries or fish line tangled in his wings but it was evident that his behavior was highly unusual.

My husband decided that we should get behind him and try to get him to go down the hill and back to the beach. We were successful for a short distance and then Mr. Pelican decided that he wanted to go in his own direction. Because my husband felt the bird would be better off closer to the water, he approached speaking softly so as not to frighten him. Then, with the aid of a long pole, he managed to place it in such a position that the head and neck were to one side while he approached. He finally grabbed the bird's beak and picked him up. I had thought that there would be a struggle and the bird might flay about injuring itself; but it was relatively calm once in my husband's arms.

We took the bird down the hill to our dock and set him down to see what he would do. He stood in one position for a while and then settled down to rest. We later left to go to town for some last minute shopping to arrive home about 1 1/2 hours later only to find the pelican still resting on the dock.

We kept our dogs in the house for much of the afternoon so as not to disturb him, but later in the day some stray dogs came through the beach area and the pelican panicked and flew out into the water, paddling around leisurely. After that we did not see him again.

At the end of the day, we still did not know why he had appeared as he did. Maybe he was old and getting ready to die, or exhausted from some long flight or just sick. We just hoped that it was nothing serious and that he would rest, renew his energy and continue on with his life.

Another Birthday Has Come and Gone

This year my husband informed me that he absolutely did not want to celebrate his birthday since he was turning to a year with a Zero at the end and was not enthusiastic about it!

Usually that falls on deaf ears because I love to prepare for and give parties! However, he had such a strong tone in his voice I decided that maybe I would just tone it down. Rather than have a lot of people at our house and announcing the festivities to others, I simply decided that he and I would go to our favorite restaurant, Manati, and have dinner with Claus and Annette there (they run the place) and if anyone happened to show up, they could join us.

His birthday falls on December 13th which was a Sunday this year. Generally there are not a lot of clientele at Manati on Sunday so my hopes of celebrating with a lot of our friends was cut dramatically! I was not dissuaded, however, and planned on bringing appetizers, a light pasta salad, bread and birthday cake. I made enough so that if 10-12 people showed up, we would have plenty of food.

On his birthday, Mike had consented to going to Manati and simply hoped there would not be a big crowd. Fortunately for us, several friends showed up and we enjoyed a lovely time with great weather and good conversation.
Part of the birthday group.

Lucky for us, Selayna and her friend, Markus, joined us. They are visiting from Germany and we were happy to see them as Selayna grew up on the island and we have known her since she was a child.

I presented Mike with his presents, which after opening he decided were pretty "nifty".

I bought him a special hat to wear at night. When he goes out to take evening photos, he often has a small flashlight in his mouth in order to see the settings on the camera. Also, when we return home at night and forget a flashlight (which, fortunately, does not happen often), this hat with its 3 LED lights under the visor would allow him to see the camera settings with one or two or three of the lights lit and see his way up the sidewalk to our house at night with his hands free to carry all the cushions, boxes, etc. that we have to remove from the boat! The shirt was just something I found in Florida during my visit this past November, and I could not pass it up!

We then enjoyed our meal and without the fanfare of singing "Happy Birthday". I made a special pasta dish I use to have in Minnesota as a child in which the main ingredient is teeny tiny macaroni rings I've only found in Minnesota. While in Florida in November, my cousin (bless his heart) sent me 5 boxes of small macaroni rings and for which I will be forever grateful. On the island, the types of pasta we can get is limited and these are really special. Combine them with any kind of raw or partially cooked vegetable, some cut up chicken or tuna, mayonnaise dressing, etc. and you have a wonderful feast. I topped them with sliced avocados and home made French Bread. Yummm.

All in all, my husband has eased into his new age and has found it is not half bad. We have a beautiful, simple home, a lovely place to live with beautiful scenery, activities to keep us busy and out of trouble and friends to visit and share our passing years with.

So, maybe next year he won't be so hesitant to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Holidays Are Upon Us!

I have been amiss on keeping up with my blog and decided to bite the bullet and sit down and write.

Once again a year has passed and we are into the season of reacquainting with old friends, attending parties/dinners/get-togethers and wishing each other health and happiness for the New Year.

This year the season has brought more than that. It has been an unusual winter season with temperatures still hanging in the upper 80's without a breeze. Normally it is a lot cooler this time of year with the wind picking up and the seas rolling in in waves of 3-5 feet! We have had rain but not the normal amount, which in a way is good as sometimes it rains a little too much.

My plants are happy and growing well, especially those I put into the ground beside the walkway up to the house. My tomatoes have expired and are not doing as well as they did in the past; our two lime trees are not producing as many limes as they did last year and we have yet to figure out why. We put in citrus tree spikes to fertilize but the trees, evidently the trees have other plans and are not willing to give up their fruit.

Regarding plants, I have one of the few Rosemary plants on the island (at last count). The poor thing is struggling to keep alive and I don't know what to do for it. Maybe I should pay more attention to it, but when I do try and "take care and baby them," things usually croak. I was recently in Florida celebrating my birthday with family and friends and, while visiting a wonderful dear friend of mine, I happened to walk out into her back yard. What did I see there but the biggest Rosemary plant I've ever run across. My friend raises a variety of herbs (although her herb garden did not get planted this year due to unplanned events) and this particular bush she has had for a few years. I was amazed! As you can see from the photo - it is quite healthy. My daughter, who is about 5' 10 1/2" is standing next to it, so you get an idea of how tall it is!

As I said, I was in Florida to make purchases for my home on Guanaja, visit family with special thoughts of reacquainting with a friend of mine that I had lost contact with for over 20 years. Living on a remote island, it is difficult to stay in touch with loved ones in the States. Since the Internet finally became available here, it has made it much easier. I have ready access to a lot of people, but there are still some who don't utilize the Internet as I do and, so, sending them a note is not a sure sign that they will read it anytime soon! My Grandsons are a good example. The oldest is in the Marines and the youngest just graduated from High School. They, evidently, do not have a lot of time on their hands and because they live in the States and contacting people is so quick, painless and easy I don't believe they have time for the Internet. Others are generally too busy and by the time they get home from work, the last thing they want to see is a computer. So, communication with these people is a once-in-a-while thing. Still, I do not give up and keep hoping that they will suddenly find the time some day to write.

However, as I was saying, I had been out of touch with my friend, JoAnn, for years and this past year, on my return from Europe and while I had a few days in Florida, I picked up the phone book and through a little searching finally found her. Unfortunately when I did get in touch with her I was leaving the next day but we promised to write one another via e-mail.

Imagine how wonderful it is to be in touch with someone on a weekly (or in our case, daily) basis after many years of separation? She is retired and even though she is an active woman teaching students Raw Uncooked Foods as a certified Chef and keeping up her attractive lake front home, but she still manages to find time to correspond with me! Of course we had years of events to catch up on and, so, our e-mails have been filled with reminiscing of days when we lived in the same neighborhood. She and I are so much alike in dislikes, likes, hobbies, opinions of things that it is simply scary. The advantage she has over me is that she has a memory like a steel trap and can recall things that I still don't remember!

JoAnn, my daughter, Tami, and I met one day for a lovely lunch in a Tea Garden! I have never been to a Tea Garden for lunch and it was the epitome of femininity! Lace, flowers, old china, etc. graced the restaurant - even the bathroom was feminine! We had an amazing lunch with the most delectable food imaginable! We went shopping in quaint shops in Mt. Dora, Florida and had the nicest day I've had in years.

A good friend of my husband and mine, the best man at our wedding, Joe, took me in for a couple of nights at the beginning of my trip and was generous enough to help me with the planning and execution of a "family gathering" for my relatives and friends. He had recently moved into a lovely home, which he is fixing up and doing a wonderful job of it, and the area he lives in has a clubhouse, swimming pool and cookout area! The clubhouse was perfect for my plans and he and I shopped, cooked and set up for the affair. The weather was perfect and everyone that was able to come had a wonderful time.

I spent several days with JoAnn shopping, going to lunch, gossiping and staying up late to chat! She showered me with unexpected gifts "welcoming me to her home" and went out of her way to see that my trip was the best ever. And it was! I have her, my daughter and my friend, Joe, to thank for a wonderful vacation in Florida.

I then spent time with my daughter, Tami, in Plant City. She and her husband took me a Gator game in Gainesville, Florida (the Gators won, naturally) and I was given the honor of baking pumpkin bread (a family tradition during the Christmas season) for her. My daughter assisted by assembling the ingredients and waiting by with a finger and spoon to lick the bowl! I had fun with my two adorable Grandsons, Ryan and Kyle, who have anointed me with the the awesome title of "The Nana that can fix anything!"

When my birthday came around, some of us met for dinner at a really unique restaurant in Mt. Dora (they are filled with unique restaurants there). Joe, my stepdaughter, Sharon, JoAnn and her husband, Brad, enjoyed a delicious meal and wonderful conversation.

I managed to get quite a bit of shopping in (due to JoAnn's willingness to drive me around) and bought enough to pack into 4 large boxes to ship to myself via DIP. In checking, the boxes are due to arrive this week so we will have Christmas early.

All of the celebration and fun I had was due to the fact that I have Internet in my life. I can do so many things I could not do before. I can check on-line for medical problems, I can access information about various plants, I can keep in touch with friends and family and people I don't even know who stumble upon my Blog write me from time to time. I can even keep in better contact with people on the island who have Internet. We now have cell phones, but they don't always work well and the only sure thing seems to be Internet connection.

Anyway, we are looking forward to a wonderful holiday season here on Guanaja. Some of the people that live here part-time will be returning and some, like me who had to return to their home country for one reason or another, will be returning to the island. We all plan on meeting at Manati to celebrate the Christmas season and even, when it is time, to usher in the New Year.

I want to take this opportunity to wish the best of the Holiday Season to all who read my blog. My original thought was simply to keep track of things that happened to me while living on an island, never thinking so many people would read it! Thank you for hanging in there with me and providing me incentive to continue blogging!