Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Falling Behind

Even on an island where everyone thinks we lay in a hammock all day and sip the "beverage of choice" we have, like people everywhere, duties and tasks which are done on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

I'm afraid that my trip to the States threw me off and I have had quite a time getting back into "sink" so to speak. I have yet to do my spring cleaning, I need to get out in the yard and pay more attention to the plants now that we have entered the dry season, I should gather up my recipes that have been waiting to be typed into the computer and complete that task, then update all my documents of importance on the computer, work on the quilt I started almost 2 years ago, burn some CD's that I have put off, and, in general, just get my butt in gear.

Alas, I have not been motivated! Yes, I have to be in the mood to do a thorough house cleaning which means rearranging book shelves, cleaning out and rearranging the closet, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, defrosting the refrigerator/freezer and the solar freezer in the bodega, putting up the winter bedding, washing rugs, moping floors, dusting, etc.

Instead I have managed to complete my Income Tax Form (only because we have a refund coming), update my movie lists to include the new movies I brought back with me, and I am in the process of updating computer information file. And, of course I have photos to go through and identify and a blog to keep up-to-date, to mention a few.

Instead ---

I am spending a lot of time crocheting baby things for the new grandchild due in July to Claus and Annette. I have really had fun crocheting baby things. I have managed to make a hooded baby towel, a bib, a baby cocoon (a bag-blanket to put the baby in), booties, a cap, a jacket, a "onsie" outfit and am working on some little crocheted sandals. I took time out to make a wedding purse for my Grandson's bride-to-be, Brandi, for their wedding next spring. I made a long vest for Annette's birthday which can be worn over her dress to perk it up. I made aafghan for my youngest Grandson while in the States during the final days of the trip and managed to complete it in record time so as to mail it to him before I left. I made and sent to my son's girlfriend a Poncho and a neck scarf for both of them for use in the cooler weather. And then, I just finished a pair of slippers for my girlfriend in Florida!

I have also been busy in the kitchen making new creations from a new cookbook; one of my favorite things to do. I found a delicious and quick sandwich recipe: Chicken Alfredo Stromboli. It was a hit and a "keeper." I have put off making ice cream and have to try out my new ice cream machine and I must thaw a turkey so as to enjoy meals from that (turkey is one of my favorite meats).

I have been busy helping out at Manati Restaurant for a large birthday last week and the week before a group of 15 people booked them for a lunch. Since normally only Claus and Annette are managing/working the restaurant/bar and the fact that help is hard to get on a part-time basis, I volunteered my services to help out.

Of course now that I've started Yoga that takes up my morning hours 3 days a week. At first I had to travel half way down the island to get to class by 8 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Our instructor left for business and will return so now I at least do not have to make the boat trip. I do set aside an hour in the morning on those three days to keep up with the exercises. After all, the instructor will return and will be able to tell who has not been doing their exercises!

We have to go to the Coast next month to renew our residency cards which come due the week of Easter. Because of that timing, we will go before as traveling in this country is a disaster the week of Semana Santa! So travel arrangements have to be made.

My orchids are in bloom and I read that if one cuts them back after the first blooming there might be a second blooming. Since the orchids are early this year I'm going to give it a try. The problem being that they don't say how far to cut the long stem back!

Then, our two boats have encountered mechanical problems at the same time so I have to assist my husband with various "gopher" tasks!

So, this Spring is full of tasks and I am going to have to get in gear and have a talk with myself in order to get on the stick..... or, gee, I just found a really good book and then there is that cute baby blanket to make and oh, that chicken recipe seems divine..........

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

To each their own

The phrase "To each his own" refers to one having a right to personal preferences. This phrase has been credited to Shakespeare, Cicero, a Portuguese saying and versions of this maxim appeared in the late 1500's. But the modern wording was first recorded in 1713.

So, it is not necessary to know just who originated the saying, just to know what it means. Take my recent Blog on "A Desert Paradise." I had a hard time adjusting to the bleakness and brownness of Arizona. I love color, especially blue, and to find myself in a land of monotones and drab coloring was an awakening.

Recently a friend was asked by a visitor to the island why he decided to live here. The friend replied "Look around!" The visitor did so and had to agree it was a foolish question. The beauty of the island, its plants, its colors, its abundant natural state all speak volumes. It is said "Nature herself makes the wise man rich." Well, either wise or ignorant, rich or poor, Nature in any form is beauty to the beholder. Whether it be the scenery, the flora or fauna, I personally feel that nothing can outshine Nature.

That is why on my most recent trip to the U.S. towards the end of my travels, I found that I was becoming anxious and restless. Yes, there is a lot to see in the States. There is beauty in the scenery when one explores the out-of-doors. But I have come to feel uncomfortable in the big cities. The tightly packed buildings, the miles and miles of roadways, the thousands of cars with thousands of people traveling at every hour of the day and night, the artificial entertainment centers which try to mimic Nature, the Giant Malls, the strip malls, the businesses all crowding one on top of another try to sell you their product. Nature is taking a back seat in the States and people are not able to stop and admire the beauty of millions of stars in the sky, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a waning or waxing of the moon, the activities of Nature's creatures nor the beauty in a single flower. They rush to and fro with schedules and appointment to keep. They wake up to horns honking, TVs blaring, sirens screaming, helicopters flying over head, garbage trucks making their rounds; an endless amount of noise, none of which is natural and quite unpleasant to the ears.

When I lived in the States I, too, was rushing around, working long hours, being exposed to the pressure of working and living in a modern society but I did not have time for myself. I had a job to do, a home to keep up, children to raise, meals to prepare, bills to pay, and on and on and on. The only time I got to enjoy Nature was a 2 week vacation once a year and maybe a Sunday afternoon (Saturdays were devoted to cleaning, laundry and shopping) of leisure, mostly spent at home.

So, once I retired and moved to Guanaja and after all the hurry and scurry of building a home, I was able to finally observe and enjoy Nature and its wonders. The island has opened me up to its beauty but, like all things, I began to take it for granted. That is until my last trip to the States.

I went for the sole purpose to visit family and friends I had not seen in many, many years. I was able to do this along with obtaining items to send back to the island to make life more comfortable or to, at least, allow my husband and I to live with the necessities of life.

I had a great time and my family and friends were wonderfully accommodating. I enjoyed a Art Festival, a play, some shopping, traveling, visits to beautiful spots created by Nature. I ate at wonderful restaurants and enjoyed meals cooked by family and friends. All in all, I could not have asked for a better trip.

However, I also was also exposed to the every day pressure of just living there. Besides the hustle and bustle of people on the roads, in the stores and the miles and miles of traffic and row upon row of buildings, I found the least tolerable thing was the stress of decisions and advertising!

On the island, as I have stated before, we have a limited number of items to chose from. When we buy a shampoo, for example, we have 3 types of usually one brand: Normal, Oily and Dry. Problem solved. Yes, at times it can be frustrating when we have grown accustomed to one particular brand which one feels is the ultimate product for one's hair. To have one brand and only 3 choices, brings a reality that all those choices are not essential to a happy life! My hair is fine, it is no worse off than when I lived in the States and the stress of choosing among a whole aisle of shampoos has been removed. People can live without the things they THINK are so important. I talked with a gentleman while in the States who "could not live without TV and football games." I looked at him and said "yes you can." He was adamant, however, and insisted that his life would be nothing without those TV games! People get so wrapped up in "things" and having what they feel is absolutely necessary, that they forget that years ago (and I mean when I was young) people managed to live without computers, cell phones, air conditioners, 17 pairs of shoes, fast food restaurants and TV. Yes, even with the advent of TV I, as a child, was limited to about 3 programs a week. We played outside, invented our own games and fun and did not look to our parents or devices to entertain us.

The next thing that really got to me was the amount of advertising one is exposed to in the U.S. and, for that fact, quite possibly in all advanced countries. You are bombarded on the radio with ads, on the highways with bulletin boards, on the TV with more ads. As a matter of fact, I feel there are more ads than actual programming.

When one goes to a store you cannot even pay for your purchase without being exposed to 20 Questions! What is your phone number, have you found everything you wanted, do you have our Store Credit Card, would you like to apply for a credit card, do you want to keep the hangers, did you see our special on .......? I remember when I went into a store, found what I was looking for, went to the clerk, paid for it, received it in a bag and was out the door. I went to a liquor store to buy some wine while in the States. As I checked out the girl asked to see identification. Now, one can tell by looking at me that I am over 18 (yes, I know that is hard to comprehend) and I asked her "If I didn't have a driver's license, what would you do?" She replied without hesitating, "I would not sell you the liquor." So, if one wants certain items you must have I.D. (preferably a Driver's License in Florida) to prove your age. Does this mean people who don't drive should carry a copy of their birth certificate? Again, I understand the law and that no one under the age of 18 can buy liquor and that clerks, in the past could use common sense. But, does this mean that clerks are no longer trusted to use common sense?

Even on the airplane and in the airport, one is bombarded with decisions. What do you want to drink? Do you want to buy a snack? We do not take cash, do you have a credit card? Since 9/11, the airlines found a way to save money by no longer serving meals. For a while they served a free snack and a soft drink and you could still get an alcoholic beverage for free. Now, there is no snack, no free alcoholic beverage, food is only served in First Class (I guess they can be trusted with a fork and knife and not the riff-raff in the back of the plane) and never, never try to go to the bathroom in the First Class section if you are not seated there!

So, it was with mixed feelings that I left my friends. I did not miss leaving the cities, the traffic, the fast food restaurants, the pollution, the crowds. I will miss my family and friends but I will also feel a little sorry for them as I have returned to my Paradise and the sweet sound of nothing! I am sure they love where they live and enjoy their lives as they are ........

So - to each their own!