Saturday, November 26, 2011

When Turkey is King for a Day!

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It combines two favorite pastimes - visiting with friends and eating!

Of course the main ingredients of Thanksgiving are 1) people, 2) TURKEY, 3) Mashed potatoes and Gravy, 4) Cranberries, 5) Green bean casserole, 6) Pumpkin bread (at least in my house) and 7) Deserts. Of course one can throw in salads, appetizers, sweet potatoes, etc. But the basics are a must (#6 is an absolute in my house).

This year there did not seem much enthusiasm for Thanksgiving and no one was talking about having a get together. No dinner invitations were being handed out, so rather than miss out on the fun, my husband and I decided to host a private Thanksgiving Dinner at a public restaurant. We made sure the party took place from Noon until 5 p.m. when the restaurant would officially be open for business. We ordered a couple of turkeys from our local store and I sent out invitations asking people to sign up to contribute various dishes to the celebration. The response was great. All invited wanted to attend and everyone was willing to bring a dish.

We set the dinner for Friday, November 25th as Thursday, typically, is grocery shopping day in town and sometimes it can take most of the day depending upon what you are waiting for. This was not a problem and no one had a problem with celebrating on Friday as opposed to the official Thursday of Thanksgiving.

The turkey(s) I ordered arrived. I thought they would send 2 12-13 lb. turkeys, as that is the usual weight one gets here. But, no, they sent two 21 lb. turkeys! So I kept one in my freezer and took the other up to Claus at Manati who said he would cook it in his outdoor oven and make the dressing. I was to make the gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin bread. At the last minute I decided to make a salad for a friend that had given me pure maple syrup for a special dressing I make and a special salad to go with it. Since he gave it to me a few months back, I figured it was time to pay up.

The day of the dinner dawned and wonder of wonder, we had sunshine, calm seas and beautiful blue skies. All October and part of November we have had lots of rain and we were just glad to see it brighten up to make traveling easy.

I had taken the time from a couple of my crochet projects to make myself a new shell with a cowl and was able to finish it the night before the party (see photo above). We went to Manati early to help set up but Annette had most everything under control, along with the help of her worker, Jessica.

The guests started arriving, appetizers were set out and the feast began.

As an extra, my husband recently has gotten back into the geological history of Guanaja and brought maps and a paper written by two geologist in 1963. They came to the island to research the topography and cataloged the types of rocks found here. Locals have assumed for years that his island is formed from volcanic rock. However, this is not true. We have a rock here - at Black Rock - which looks live magna but it is not. This island is located 40 miles from a fault and the island itself was formed by the constant moving and shifting of plates under the sea. Utila is the only island that has any remnants of a volcano. Pumpkin Hill is the sight of an old cone. Anyway, Mike has always been interested in rocks and took some time from activities of the day to explain the island's makeup to those who were interested.

About 2 p.m. Claus, who had been cooking the turkey for almost 6 hours, declared it to be ready and brought it in. George was elected to carve (and what a grand job he did too. We got our plates and lined up for the food.

We also had bottles of champagne donated by myself, Kate, Gar, Bryan and Uli and we drank a toast in remembrance of people who were special to us or meant a lot. Each individual called out the name of that person when we said "A toast to ........" I gave a short synopsis/history of what Thanksgiving means for Americans and we dove in to the food.

I wish I had remembered to ask my husband to take a photo of the spread but, alas, I did not. Fortunately for me, Kate brought a camera and took a picture of the turkey - the main attraction.

We were about 18 people in all and we managed to clean up almost all of the food! With the exception of some turkey, green beans, salad and still lots of mashed potatoes, we managed to show our appreciation for the efforts of those donating by eating up the goods! Of course we were then lucky enough to have Joan make 3 beautiful pies; cherry, apple and pumpkin with whipped cream to top off the meal! Fantastic! And a special big thank you to Claus who did a fantastic job cooking the turkey. For the first time ever, the white meat was actually juicy and moist! Just the way it should be. It would not be appreciated, however, by the islanders who are accustomed to their poultry fried and dry. When they get juicy poultry they think it feels "slimy" and send it back to be cooked until there is no moisture left in it! To each their own.

I thank all those who attended and especially those who contributed to our beautiful dinner. I especially want to extend my best to all my friends and family and I hope they had just as wonderful a Thanksgiving as we did on the island.

Now.......on to Christmas and more food!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's that noise?

About 3 weeks ago I was sitting in my bed either reading or crocheting (both of which I do every evening) when I heard a definite "chewing" noise coming from the wall opposite the bed.

It started and stopped and started and stopped and I finally got out of bed and walked over to the wall to try and determine where the sound was coming from. As you can see by the photo, our wall is a display area for a lovely quilt I bought before we came to the island. What you don't see are all the wires running for the phone antenna, the TV and the computer, etc. When the house was finished and we moved in I expressed my distress at the sight of the ugly cords hanging for all to see. My husband said those famous words that I tremble at when I told him I wanted to cover up the ugly cords - "I'll take care of it." When those words are uttered I know that it will 1) be a long, long time before it gets done or 2) it will never get done and/or 3) he is not interested in the project as he doesn't think it is necessary. So, I offered a suggestion. I said I wanted to hang my quilt "temporarily" to cover the cords. He agreed and 14 years ago we proceeded to hang the quilt and, as you can see, it is still there!

Because of this step, I saved myself a lot of stress worrying when the job would be done and I saved him from having to do a lot of work he felt was not necessary at the time. Behind the quilt, besides all the cords, we have shelf after shelf of books - so the quilt served a dual purpose.

Now, however, the chewing noises that distracted me from my past time seemed to be coming from behind the quilt. I could not pinpoint the source and gave up. Off and on, for several nights that whole month the chewing would commence and quit. It would wake me up at 3 a.m. and once out of a sound sleep there was no chance of going back to that blissful state and I would get up and listen and search.

I walked up the stairs on the other side of the bedroom wall to see if I could pinpoint the sound. I even went to the outside roof above our bedroom, checking the outer wall to see if something was trying to chew its way in. If you have been a constant reader of my Blogs you will remember that one year we had an invasion of little "pocket possums", mouse like creatures with a mask across their eyes. I certainly did not want these creatures back in my house so I was being very diligent in my search.

Finally, the other day, my husband announced that he found the source of the "chewing".

I hung these little metal creatures outside my bedroom window and being metal and exceptionally light, when the wind would pick up at night they would bang against the house creating the chewing noise! Who would have guessed?

I have since secured their little flippers to the house proper and they should remain silent and still. A big thank you to my husband!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Boats R Us

Well, it is November and we have had a couple weeks of learning to live without a boat for transportation.....or, stay at home and enjoy what you have!

About the beginning of August we encountered problems with our smaller boat (the Skiff) and had to take it in for engine repairs. There is a mechanic who works near the airport, Almicar, and everyone goes to him. Due to the fact that there are virtually no parts stores on the island, we had to order parts from the States to be shipped down. We waited 6 1/2 weeks for the parts.

While waiting we used the big boat but then it, too, started giving us problems in September so we ordered a new engine for it. The big boat then sat at our dock awaiting the new engine. Fortunately, by this time the skiff had been repaired and we had transportation.

The 19th of September we took the big boat to Andy's to get some fiberglass work and repainting done to the it. The new engine was delivered awaiting installation when the work was completed.
Unfortunately the end of September and October were months with daily amounts of rain and, thus, the fiber glassing and painting had to be put off. We felt lucky that we had the skiff running and were at least able to get around, that was, until the 4th of November.

We went out to Renate's house on Hendricks Cay that day to help spread a tarp over her roof. She had experienced bad leaks over her bedroom and needed some relief. This, we felt, would be a temporary solution to a long standing problem. The tarp was laid out and secured to the roof and we had a nice visit. We left to go home but when my husband started up the engine something must have broken when we shut it off upon arrival and so, when starting it, it was stuck in full throttle and we had to make several adjustments just to get it to run we thought.

We dropped off Kate who had gone with us at her house and when we went to start the engine again, it would not start. After some concentrated work on it by my husband and Bill, Kate's husband, they found that the throttle was stuck in forward and it was impossible to start the boat. We called Renate and she sent her worker to haul our boat home with her larger boat. We dropped it off at the airport to have it fixed and went home to order another part. So, now we were stuck with boat boats in the shop and no transportation.

Andy, the worker assigned for the big boat, finally managed to get the fiberglass work done, repaint the boat and install the new engine. It was delivered Monday the 14th of November. Almost 6 1/2 weeks waiting.

We originally wanted a deep purple color as we were planning on calling the boat "Amazing Grape" but since the store on the Cay did not have the proper base color the mixing was haphazard and what we got was this:

As you can see, it is not exactly purple and, as a matter of fact, this picture does not show the true color which is shocking pink! Because the paint was not dried totally and it rained soon after applied, the paint job will have to be redone as it is pitted and rough looking.

In the meantime, we now have both boats running (still waiting for a part for the Skiff but the mechanic managed to rig it up so we could drive it in the meantime) and back on our dock.

We are hoping that the new color on the big boat will distract from noticing that there is a new engine! Heck, someone said, no one will steal that boat because of the color!

Well, at least it is a Caribbean color!