Saturday, January 30, 2010

We have been entertained!

This year has started out with several parties which gave us the opportunity to see people we haven't seen in a long time and exchange views and news!

We began with Roland's Topping Out party, which I reviewed in an earlier blog. Roland and his wife, Rody, were married last year on the island and they both work and live in Cayman. Rody stayed behind after the wedding and Roland returned to spend Christmas and New Years with her and his parents. Some day Roland and Rody will move back to Guanaja to live and raise a family. In the meantime they are building a lovely home up in the hills just for that moment. When that time comes, we will certainly welcome their presence here as so many people, since Mitch, have moved away.

Also, it was a month for birthdays! Among our family and friends, my son, Randy, turned 47; my Grandson, Sean, turned 18; our friend, Joe, got a year older; my ex-boss, Ed, got closer to retirement; and my husband's daughter, Debbi, turned 44.

Of course our friends on the island got older too! Annette Rumm's son, Roland, had a birthday the 14th (I think that is the right date) and his Mom turned 48 on the 23rd of January.

There was a birthday party for Annette Rumm. Unfortunately it was on a Saturday, one day out of 6 that Annette works running Manati Restaurant with her husband, Claus. But, never fear, the weather was wonderful and Annette was her usual smiling self! Plenty of people came to the restaurant to wish her the best, some with presents, and all with an appetite and conversation. Annette and Claus were busy fixing and serving meals but had time, as they always do, to socialize with everyone.

Next, we had a Welcome Party for Sabina. Sabina once lived on the island with her now ex-husband, Hanspico, two daughters and son. After the separation, she returned to Germany to work and live and was later followed by her two daughters who wanted to continue their education. Her son went to live with her for a short while in Germany but then returned to Guanaja as he liked the peace and tranquility of the island compared to the hustle and bustle of a big city. After a 5-6 year absence Sabina returned for 3 weeks. Her daughters, Selyna and Jasmine were already here for a 3-month stay and had been revisiting old friends and their father.

Jasmine threw a party for her mother at the airport and, unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me. It was one of the rare parties which began at dark. Most days we throw parties around noon and everyone heads home at sunset in order to have safe passage on the sea. This time, however, Jasmine had invited some of the island folk who work during the day and, thus, the evening hours were more akin to their schedules.

A small crowd showed up and it was delightful to see Sabina and as always she looked wonderful and was very happy to be back among her old friends and acquaintances. Jasmine, Isabelle and Rody had prepared a lovely feast of common island fare along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages!

And just yesterday, Jan. 29th, we attended a 21st birthday party for this lovely young lady - Jasmine, Sabina's and Hanspico's daughter. Jasmine is a lovely young lady with a personality to match. She has a soft, sweet voice and a beautiful smile for everyone. She was very happy to be back in Guanaja and celebrating her entrance into "adulthood." She and some of her friends made Pallela and cole slaw and brownies and friends brought cornbread, conch soup and carrot cake.

Making the Pallela was quite a feat as a huge amount was required for the number of people that would eventually show up. It was prepared in advance, along with the cole slaw and brownies and the Pallela was reheated on a huge tray over a wood fire where the barbecuing is usually done.

As you can tell by now, food is a big part of all celebrations! When we gather, we seldom do so without having some really good food available!

The party started at 3:00 in the afternoon, but as is the custom of the Hondurans, they usually arrive 4-5 hours after a party begins, especially one in the late afternoon. So, while people were still will arriving at 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., some folks had already eaten, visited, given the birthday girl a hug and best wishes and departed for home. Also, as seems to be the custom here, I am sure the party went on until the wee hours of the morning.

So, to all those celebrating birthdays this month and other special occasions, we wish you all the best and say once again, we are happy you are here and if you have to leave, we hope you will be back real soon. I mean, we get hungry between parties!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The ABC's of Island Living

ABC - Ants, Bugs, Critters!

I am sure that I have mentioned in some of my various blogs the abundance of insects on thisisland. When anyone asks me what should they bring when they come here, the first word is INSECT REPELLENT!

We have sand flies, no-seeums (both of which I firmly believe are the same nasty invisible bug), bottle flies, mosquitos, "ankle bugs" (or, for those from the South - something akin to Red Bugs), and then there are your wasps, bees and nasty white and black caterpillars that drop from the Almond Trees and deliver a nasty sting!
This is a partial photo of the caterpillar that drops from the Almond Tree. You DON'T want to be under when he hits you as the sting is powerful and almost paralyzing.

Our friendly mosquito - carrier of Malaria, Dinghy and itchy areas!

This is a photo I found of a no-seeum, but I'm afraid this one is a big monster!

Photo of a bottle fly, but this is not the one I'm talking about. They are almost invisible and leave a large hole with a small red, swollen area around the hole. So, while everyone refers to them as "bottle flies", I doubt that is their real name. Although we have plenty of flies around too.

In the U.S. State and/or County officials load up tanks of spray and go through neighborhoods periodically spraying for bugs. They spray orange, cane, wheat and corn fields by hand and by plane. They spray for flies and mosquitoes and anything that proves to be damaging to crops or an irritant to people. Well, here, we are on our own. You can spray and spray and spray, rake the beach and keep your property trimmed so as to discourage pests, but they will always be there. I often told my husband that if humans were ever wiped out, insects would take over because they seem to tolerate anything!

Right now we are battling ants! Ok, ok, maybe they can't do what is pictured here, but they are strong, energy packed and have a mean bite. The ants, however, that we are fighting now are teeny, tiny sugar ants that have, after 12 3/4 years, invaded our house.

Up to now we had have no ants in the house and maybe, on a rare occasion, a roach. It seems that the little geckos take care of a anything that happens to sneak into the house, which is fine with me. The only thing I have to deal with concerning them, is the excrement they leave behind - and they leave plenty.

Anyway, back to the ants. We were invaded early last year and my husband got the poison powder out and sprinkled it under the house, at every support beam, every step bottom, every hole that might look like it was home to the ant. Well, it seemed to work and we were, basically, ant-free again.

I have small ant mounds in the backyard and of all the bites I get, I hate ant bites the most. They sting and itch and if the right one bites you, a small pustule forms and is there for days! I will be hanging clothes on the line and invariably they go for the spot between my third and fourth toe, just where I have my surgical scar. I don't know why they love that spot so much, but they hurt like the dickens when they bite. I don't even have to stand in one spot for very long before they will be covering my foot. And, it is worse when I walk into areas of the yard that are not "fully developed" shall we say. Man, you step into one of their almost invisible mounds and you've had it.

Unfortunately, the recent rain must have driven these little suckers back into my house and, in spite of the poison, which has now washed away, they are back and in greater numbers than before. Every morning, before I do up dishes, I rinse all the dishes and they sit on the counter awaiting the final cleaning. Before I know that, especially when my back is turned, they are all over the dishes, even though there is no evidence of food in them!

So, lately, I have been tearing cabinets apart and countertops, cleaning with bleach and vinegar where possible, and putting down more ant powder where I can. I know that the bleach or vinegar won't kill them, but it makes me feel better and, temporarily, seems to wipe out their trail scent. Now, I know some of you are going to say - kill them with "natural" ingredients. Sorry, on this island, there is little of any of the things you all will bother to mention if you post a comment! The people on this island have depended on chemicals for effective slaughter of insects and are not interested in "natural" stuff. Oh, I could put down borax but THEY DO NOT HAVE IT HERE! When I do use chemicals, I make sure that my pets do not have access to it and it is in a container so as not to contaminate my food.

I have an on-going battle with the termites who have decided to dig under my sidewalk leading up to the house. They haven't exactly dug under the sidewalk, more to the edge and then start building their long tunnels overnight across the walkway. Every morning I come out and destroy the work from the night before. And it continues on this way until the rain comes. The rain seems to discourage them from building and, for now I have had a reprieve. I put down poison designed specifically for termites and it has no effect on them - too many I guess.

I also find that bugs are subborn. Just today, after soaking some dirty rugs overnight and then putting them through the wash/rinse cycle in the washing machine, I unloaded the rugs into my basket and went outside to hang them up. Lo and behold as I picked up one bath rug there was a huge black scorpion clinging to it and still alive! I shook and shook the rug to make him lose his hold and finally had to hit him off with a stick and then, yes, I stepped on him (I had a shoe on my foot). It is amazing that not only scorpions but other bugs have managed to live through the wash/rinse cycle of my washing machine. They must hold the world record for holding their breath!

There are scorpions in our bodega which my husband has found loaded with babies all over their back. He calmly scoots them into a container (a man thing), and then takes photos of them for his blog! He then releases them somewhere on the adjoining property. He does not kill them, nor does he kill any tarantula that he happens to find because they eat scorpions. But they sure are doing a poor job of it in my bodega!

Then we have nests of wasps which build homes under the eaves of our house or in many of the bushes surrounding our home. Many times my worker has been stung by a wasp while trimming back the hibiscus bushes!

We have beetles, snakes, huge green horn caterpillars that destroy tomato plants, san po po ants that can literally clean a bush of all its leaves overnight. We have mice, possum-like critters, stick bugs and spiders of every size.

So, Paradise is not the lovely place you see in the movies, or the jungles that people travel through totally un-bothered by any biting insects. No, in the movies that depict "Paradise" or "Jungles", those people are being eaten alive by insects that are so small you cannot see them.

So, come prepared and informed! They are here and out to get you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Busy Year Already!

New Year's eve party, topping off party, and visitors coming to the island for their Christmas vacations.

We always get part-timers" returning to the island to stay. Some return every two months, some come once a month for a few weeks and some come during the winter for 3 weeks or the summer for 2-3 months. Whether it is for a few days or weeks, we are always glad to see these people return. We can catch up on news and what has been going on in their respective lives.

Also, we get a lot of "sail boaters" here after Hurricane season; some are returning after visiting here in past years, others are new to Guanaja. All are interesting and fun to talk to.

Recently we had a good friend return after a long absence from Guanaja. Sabina, a German woman who was once married to a German and lived on Guanaja, bore her children here and remained for a number of years before she and her husband parted ways and she returned to Germany. She was followed later by her two daughters, Saleyna and Jasmine who returned to Germany to finish their education. Later, her son, Hannas, spent a year or two in Germany pursuing his education but he returned to finish school here on Guanaja and now lives with his father.

Sabina arrived her last week for a 3 week stay and her daughters threw an impromptu party at the home of Capt. Al at the airport the day after her arrival. I had visited Sabina and her girls while in Germany last May and it was wonderful to see her again. Her daughters had arrived here in October and are spending a few months visiting their "home." They are delightful young ladies and we have enjoyed their presence immensely.

A small crowd showed up at the gathering at the airport to greet Sabina and we had a warm conversation about what has been going on with her since I last saw her. We hope to see more of her in the weeks to come but I know it will be limited as we only get out on the weekends, when most of our visiting is done. I know we will run into her before she leaves and I can spend more time visiting with her.

Plus, by blogging I meet people I would never otherwise run into. A couple from California, Peter and Jane, arrived here for a week long stay. They found me through my Blog and we had a short visit with them when they made an appearance at Manati. Unfortunately, I was visiting with a regular visitor to the island who had been away for almost 7 months and was catching up with her. Peter and Jane were kind enough to bring me a watch I ordered and had sent to their home and I thank them immensely for handling this for me. It would have been nice to spend more time with them but, as I said, it was not good timing and I was engaged in conversation with another friend whom I hadn't seen in a while.

But, Peter and Jane came by our house on their way to the West End. The guide scheduled a stop at our home to pick up some line for the weed whacker that was sent by means of another friend in the States. It had been sent to us via DIP and we were seeing to it that it got into his hands. So, you can see how important it is to have connections with people in the States when we are trying to get items we cannot get here! Peter and Jane did not get off the boat even though we offered to walk them around our property. They were heading off for fun and, apparently, had a schedule to keep. If I were them, I, too, would have wanted to see the sights rather than looking at someones property! I certainly hope they had a good vacation here as the weather was beautiful.

As I said, we have people returning to the island every year; Dick and Jennifer, Joan and David, Martha and Bill, Terry, Diane, Jack and Darien, Linda and Jim, Charles and Cindy - enough people so that with their visits we learn news of their lives in "civilization", how things are going with them, how their homes here on the island are doing in their absence, etc. It is wonderful to see them return and we look forward to spending time with them.

We have had many people leave permanently and that is always sad. With time, it is inevitable that we lose touch, but at least we were a part of their lives while they were here and we shared good times with them.

So, to all those that have "moved on" we hope you will some day return and to those who continue to come to the island, we look forward to reuniting with you.

It's Always Something - Right?!

2010 has started off differently. First the weather was unusual being still and rather warm. This was replaced by a cold front that came through and put us back to a normal rhythm.

Then, our propane tank in the bodega which supplies gas for my stove started leaking. One of the connections evidently had weaken over the years and my husband had to address the problem.

We once had a small tank of propane which he used for his welding torch, but it has been empty for a while. We were unable to find a replacement on the Cay and so he tried other ways to fix the problem, none of which were successful.

While in town last week he questioned one of our friends who happened to have a spare tank which he was willing to sell us! Hooray, now my husband could re-weld the weakened connection.

He proceeded with the task at hand; cleaned the connection made what he felt was a good weld. He was successful too, however, the gas tank gremlins were not happy and decided that the second connection needed to come loose too!

Mike tackled this job with perseverance and re-welded that connection too. However, the little gremlins decided that they would make this job a little more difficult and twice now his new weld has failed. Our worker was in the bodega this morning and came up to tell Mike that, once again, he smelled gas and the tank is leaking. He is now, at this moment, downstairs dealing with the problem.

But that's not all. Yesterday, while sewing on a tablecloth I am making for a present for a friend's birthday this Saturday, I tried to use my zig-zag stitch. The knob one turns to establish the required stitch was sticking and to my dismay I discovered that no matter what fancy stitch I selected my machine would only do a straight stitch! I was not a happy camper as I wanted to finish off the tablecloth by adding some appliqu├ęs down the middle with my zig-zag stitch.

I wrote to the manufacturer asking for suggestions as to what the problem might be, but in the meantime I decided that my husband should take the machine apart in case something was broken. Another friend was planning on leaving the island today so I thought if I found a broken piece, she could order if for me once she was in the U.S.

Thankfully, nothing was broken. We found that the shaft that a lever moves along which then fits into the cams to create the required stitch was rusted and the sleeve riding on it needed greasing. Since the machine is over 5 years old, we were not surprised to find rust. We tackled the job in typical fashion; I held the light while my husband did the deed!

We finally got the sleeve moving but the lever still wasn't engaging in the proper place. After about an hour at work on the cleaning and greasing, my husband decided that we would put aside the task and finish it today.

So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that 1) his weld on the gas tank will finally hold and we won't lose any more expensive propane and 2) the greasing of the shaft and sleeve will render my sewing machine operational and functioning to my satisfaction.

If you are going to move to an isolated island in a Third World - make sure you have a working knowledge of machines and understand how things operate. Otherwise you will be spending a lot of time pulling your hair out. If you want a good example of hair pulling, read La Gringa's Blogicito today!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Topping Out Party

Well, we have started the New Year with a couple of celebrations. The first one I will relay in this blog.

In building construction,topping out,or topping off,is a ceremony held when the last beam is placed at the top of a building. The term may also refer to the overall completion of the building's structure, or an intermediate point, such as when the roof is dried in or the last beam placed in place. A topping out ceremony is usually held to commemorate the event. While common in England, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland, the origins of the ceremony are obscure. The practice of "topping out" a new building can be traced to the ancient Scandinavian religious practice of placing a tree on top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits of their ancestors that had been displaced. The practice migrated to England with Scandinavian invaders and took root there. Its practice has long been an important component of timber frame building. This tradition also migrated to America with European craftsman. A tree or leafy branch is placed on the topmost beam, often with flags and streamers tied to it. A toast is usually drunk and sometimes the workmen are treated to a meal.

My husband, having retired from a lifetime profession in the construction industry, has held had many topping out parties for the buildings he has been in charge of constructing. It is a common practice in the States, but generally it occurs when a skyscraper or other large building has its last structural piece of steel in place. As a matter of fact the only time a tree was not placed on top of a building was when when Space Ship Earth at EPCOT, a project at Disney World Florida, was completed to this established. Since that building was round the workers hung a tree upside down at the center bottom of the building!

Back to the celebration! I don't know if this practice is something celebrated in Honduras or not but that did not deter Roland and Rody, the newly-married couple, from celebrating the completion of the roof on the top of their new home. Roland, being German, has fond memories of this custom and wanted to celebrate the building of his new home by having a "topping off" party, or Richtfest. Friends and workers were invited to partake and lucky for everyone a cloudy day was not ruined with rain.

While Roland and his Father looked on, in a few minutes they were joined by Roland's wife, Rody.

What were they looking it? This -

With the final beam in place and the tree located in the central position on the roof, one of the workers, Daniel, climbed to the top to make a toast in German which basically blessed the house and gave thanks for its completion thus far.

Everyone watched and listened with smiles and cheered at the end of the speech. Daniel, who is Honduran, lived in Germany for a few years and is fluent in the language but due to nervousness he had a few problems with his speech and finally had to resort to reading it. But it was a wonderful, heartfelt speech which we all enjoyed.

This was followed by a lunch for all the celebrants, with typical German fare, beer and soft drinks.

From their home, the newly-weds will have a spectacular view of the sea and, on a good day, the coast.

With the culmination of this celebration we want to wish the new couple a long, happy life in their new home and thank them for the opportunity to be included in this celebration.

Thanks to Anke for providing the above photos for my Blog.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Plans for 2010

Into the New Year and I began reflecting on what it has in store and what the years past have brought me. I have been lucky in that my husband and I remain healthy and live a relatively stress-free life here on the island. We have learned not to take things for granted and are pleasantly surprised by simple things in life. Just the other night, while returning from a restaurant where we had dinner, a beautiful ray jumped out of the water in front of our boat. I had never seen a shooting star until I came to the island and the ever changing colors of the sea is inspiring.

Like today, for instance. We were expecting another front to come through. About one and one-half weeks ago, we were hit by a cold front that swept through the U.S. leaving all 48 states with freezing temperatures! It hit us and we got overcast skies, rain and chilly temperatures. If you have been reading any Honduran blogs you will know what I mean. To us, anything below 70 is cold! We have no insulation in our homes, no heat source (except clothing and blankets) and in my house the windows are always open. Having louvered windows is a plus for air circulation and they look nice. However, when wind and rain comes there is no protection like a glass window! We got down to 62-66 degrees Fahrenheit, which means we wore socks to bed and used two blankets instead of one sheet! Now, my thermostat is stuck on high so initially the cool temperatures did not bother me. By the third day when it got even colder - yes, I am using the word colder - I had to put on long pants, socks and a top with sleeves!

But to get back to the point. We were expecting a front and it stalled and turned to Cuba. We had a beautiful sunny day with flat, calm seas. So, because we were treated with a lovely day after so many gloomy and cold ones, off we went to Bo's Island House for lunch. After lunch I strolled along the beach; a lovely stretch of beach that I had all to myself. As I walked I thought about how wonderful it was to hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the sand and the stillness of the air and the beauty in the colors of the ocean. I know why oceans are so soothing. It almost forces calm upon a person and as my mind wandered I reflected on how peaceful it can be here on the island. I definitely recommend a walk along an un-deserted stretch of calm beach where the ocean is gently rolling onto the beach with a soft, sound soothing. Gee, you can't find one where you live, well, come on down we have plenty to share!

Now, back to reality. At present this year is bringing hard times to the people of the island. Fewer jobs, more men leaving to work on ships off the coast of South Africa or to jobs on Cayman and some pulling up stakes and moving to the Mainland. There are far fewer tourists coming here and, thus, the resort owners are suffering. The few people that do arrive have the reefs to themselves and can snorkel or dive in solitude and enjoy the vastness of the ocean.

This year may present a problem for the reefs off Guanaja. Many people have discovered Lionfish in our waters. These fish are not native and if not brought under control may very well cause a chain of events that eliminates some of the native sea life here. The Lionfish is a highly venomous fish and though not fatal to humans the venom can cause extreme pain, vomiting, headaches and possible breathing difficulties.

It not native to the tropical regions of the world, but various species can be found worldwide. Due to a recent introduction, the lionfish has been spotted in the warmer coral regions of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and also in the Caribbean Sea and Red Sea. They have no natural predators, however, they have been found in the stomachs of certain groupers. They generally range in size from 30-35 cm. (12 inches) but In the Caribbean where lionfish aren't native, they can grow to a size of up to 55 cm. Since the reef system is so delicate, the introduction of this fish may cause havoc. Some people visiting Guanaja on their sailboat have caught and killed at least 4 of these fish and have seen many more while diving. They are appearing in many areas around the island. Hopefully the fact that they have a low breeding system means they reproduce at a slow rate, but I have not read enough on this fact to say for sure.

Have no dreams about living here, however. Visiting and vacationing are wonderful experiences, especially if you like diving, snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing un-bothered by the hustle and bustle of the world. The atmosphere here is definitely laid back and for the vacationer, it is heaven. However, dealing with this same type of attitude can be daunting for anyone trying to build a home or establishing a business. One must have a great deal of patience and if you can't join 'em, don't try to beat 'em. You will lose!

I have a lot of plans for this year. Some trips to the Mainland, hopefully a trip to Guatemala, a definite trip to Germany in the fall to attend a wedding of a young lady who grew up here among us and projects that seem never ending!

I have taken on the task of making a double wedding ring quilt for the young lady that is getting married. My quilt making is limited but I saw this pattern and wanted to do it. However, after buying the material and laying everything out, I again read the instructions which informed me that this was one of the most difficult patterns to tackle! Well, at least it did not say impossible! I spend every afternoon sewing on this quilt (or cutting and pinning) so as to accomplish the task by the first of July. In the morning I tend to housework, cooking, laundry and yard work, but the afternoons (except today) are reserved for quilting.

At night, I crochet various projects to give as gift. I just finished a lovely wedding purse for the bride to be. I recently made the project to the left as a gift to a very good friend of mine in the States. Other crocheted items I make as panels to be hung on the wall. I make small clutches, shopping bags and afghans. I still make baskets and greeting cards to round off my activities.

One of my favorite pastimes is reading but I have to set that aside because of my plans. I want to make a tablecloth for my good friend, Annette, whose birthday is this coming Saturday and I have plans to crochet a throw for my couch - as soon as my package arrives from the states with the pattern and yarn!

I relish my retirement and am glad we took it early. But do not let anyone ever fool you into thinking that retirement is boring. Unless you have absolutely no interests or hobbies or skills, you might be bored, but here that is an impossibility.

So, I look forward to a new year of challenge and education! I truly believe that it is important to constantly be learning and opening yourself up to other ideas and this year, I am sure, will be no exception.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Learning by error - basically, Experience!

Here it is - 2010! Ten years have passed in the blink of an eye as the expression goes. Of course, one hopes that with the passing years our minds will gather in more useful knowledge, we will become more tolerant of irritating situations and be at peace with ourselves.

For the most part, yes that has happened to me. My life changed drastically upon our retirement and relocation to Guanaja and we’ve become really more tolerant of life’s little and big irritations. I am continuing to learn and grow, even at my age, but sometimes it is very aggravating - that’s when tolerance comes into play to put one at peace!

Take for instance the preparations I made for our “After Christmas But Not Quite New Year’s Party” on December 29th. I asked about 25 people to come to our house for a get together, mainly to greet part-timers that have returned to the island or people that had come back for visits after long absences! I planned on serving appetizers, soup, homemade bread and chocolate chip cookies. Not a challenging menu, but one that would be easy to work with to serve a large crowd.

I started the day before by preparing the soup. That went well and I was pleased. I then, while cooking the soup, started the French Bread and that, too was going well; I was pleased. I progressed on to chocolate chip cookies and everything was running like clockwork and I was pleased.

Well, the proverbial sh__t hit the fan when just before putting the bread in the oven, I remembered I forgot to put the salt in the dough! I’ve done this before and contrary to what I said at the beginning, I should have learned from past experience and to add the forgotten ingredient that was now HIGHLIGHTED on my recipe card! But, no, I guess because I was doing 3 things at a time and in a hurry, I forgot! Well, I decided I would use the bread as a base for my appetizer and proceeded to place the bread in the oven. I recently purchased a new French Bread pan specifically for the baking of French Bread (2 loaves). Since it is shaped like a curved “W”, it is a little difficult to handle when putting it in the oven.

You guessed it, while sliding it into the oven, it tipped and both loaves fell onto the oven door; well, one fell into the crack between the door and the oven. A few choice words (not printable) slipped out of my mouth as I screamed in frustration. I managed to salvage one loaf, but the other was in such a state that I decided it would be worthless to bake it! I then proceeded to start the whole process over again and make two new loaves. All went well except, for some reason (and yes, I put the yeast in), the bread did not rise as well on the second rising! The final loaves were passable so I at least had bread!

Of course, years ago, I learned a lesson. When I put bread dough into a shaped container so as to have attractive shaped bread to use for appetizers, I got too much dough into the pan and this was the result. I never did that again! The second loaf turned out fine!

Next, after the bread was done, I started putting the cookies on the baking sheet. I had two sheets ready to go into the oven and, in fact, on the racks when I said to myself in my most intelligent way “Hmm, these racks are too close together so I shall move one up a notch.” Not difficult you say, well, normally no. But if you have decided to leave the cookies on the rack while pulling it out and while replacing the rack the angle has a little downward slant to it - you guessed it, cookie sheet tipped sending 4 cookies to the floor and the others sliding into one another. So, I rearranged the remaining cookies, cleaned up the 4 from the floor, threw them away, and continued baking the cookies!

Of course, lessons were still to be learned when later that evening, after completing all my tasks for the next day’s gathering, I made myself a refreshing alcoholic drink! I put it in a shaker, shook and then went to pour it into my glass. Well, the pressure had built up in the shaker causing the liquid to burst forth in an arch and, yes, you guessed it, 1/4th of the drink splashed onto the counter! Grrrrrr. This learning by one’s mistakes had reached their limit.

Thankfully, the party the next day went well. Except for the weather. Up to now we had been having unusual weather for December: no breeze, calm seas, sunshine and no rain! Aha! The day of the party, clouds rolled in, the wind picked up and it rained! Most of the guests showed up and were a little damp from the ride in the rough seas; a few guests did not show because they either forgot about the party (hmm, maybe age related) or were tired from previous partying (guess they were showing their age too) and could not attend. Still, we had a fine group and everyone had a fine time.

Now that the New Year has dawned, I had hoped that this irritation business would abate, albeit for a short interval. Aha! It was not to be.

While in the States this past November, I purchased two sets of sheets for a Queen Sized bed. Our friend, Joe, who put me up at his house had some wonderful sheets on his bed in his guest room, offered to take me to the local store to buy a couple of sets. I bought one set of gold and one set of cream colored sheets, Queen Size.

The first set fit beautifully and, as a matter of fact, the bottom sheet was a little too oversized but very nice. Today I put on the second set of sheets! Do you know what is coming next? Hmmm, the bottom sheet was not fitting quite right and by the time I made it to the last corner it appeared that it would be a battle to the death. Since the bed is an inanimate object, I felt it would be my demise! I struggled and struggled and finally got part of the corner on. There was still a gathering of material that would not go over the corner, so I turned the whole darn mattress so that it was at the foot end. I know, I know, why turn the whole mattress by oneself when it would have been less strenuous to take the sheet off and put it on again? Why? Because it was such a battle to get the darn thing on and once I had it on I was not removing it! After a struggle, I finally got the mattress turned and decided that those people in India who sewed this sheet had made an undersized queen size fitted sheet. I put on the top sheet and discovered that in the queen size package with the undersized fitted sheet they had put a regular bed sized top sheet! At least the pillow cases fit!

Being that I am in Honduras and the purchase was made in the U.S. of A., I am stuck! Guess I’ll have to give the sheets to my good friend as I’m not up to struggling with this again.

So, I may not have learned anything from my mistake this first day of the New Year because, in reality, there is absolutely nothing I can do to rectify it. I did learn that I must take all of these little irritations with a smile and that is why I’m blogging - to make light of the whole matter and, therefore, put a laugh into the situation.

Gee, what can I tackle next and learn from experience?