Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breaking News

(and NO! I am not announcing Michael's death! )

Attention all friends:
Anyone who knows me will understand when I tell you that I am submitting these blogs out of order. I am just an out-of -order person. Not orderless, nor odorless, but just a little out of order. So I want to announce that there will be postings below that have been submitted out of order. I started several but had a hard time downloading pictures, so I am submitting them late. You will have to scroll down if want to see them.

Today's forecast: sunny, breezy
I miss: carpet, jelly bellies, and a CD player
I don't miss: the dad gum "dry heat"
I am happy for: Parrots flying over the ocean, 50 mangoes ripening on the porch wall
I look forward to: experiencing Carnival, a sunny, breezy forecast

Count them. Fifty.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A 14th birthday

June 7 Ethan turns 14! with a shaking knee, popping knuckes, and a crackling voice, he is nearly a man, yet still but a lad...

Celebrated at the beach..where else?

Rueben, Ethan, Hillary, and Jaylin (her nephew visiting from Holland)

Hamburgers for lunch....a real treat around here! We even splurged for a jar of dill pickles and a bag Cheetos! Whoohoo!

We had a simple party. We invited all of his friends. That would be 3. And three quality friends!

Ethan, Reuben, and Naomi

(wow, I am a great photographer. Gordon would be really impressed.)

We had a BBQ at the beach and were joined by Ruben, who we believe is the only other white boy on the island Ethan's age, and Ruben's mother, Karla, and sister Catalein, who is 16. They are a wonderful family and we enjoy them much. Reuben is fun. He likes tennis, snorkeling, scuba diving, and will go on a campout with Ed and the boys this weekend. He has a cheerful disposition, even when Sophia splattered ketchup all over his super-hip white shirt. Karla, his mother, is a beautiful red-headed school teacher (instantly entitling her to the highest respect in our family). She teaches the Dutch language and has been here from Holland for 2 years now. Catalien rides the only rideable horse on the island. She is going to equestrian school in Holland this summer. She also works at the Duggins, the grocery store.

Karla and the Dutch-style carrot cake she made just for Ethan! yummmy.
Tina and her daughter Naomi came as well. Tina is American and has over 20 years on the island. She is warm and kind and runs the animal shelter on the island, even though the government won't pay her for it. that is another issue in itself....

Naomi is going to be 14 on MY birthday (29 again for me). So this puts Naomi at the top of my A-list. She's a very very sweet girl and Tina homeschools her since there are some issues with sending kids to the public school. She lives just down the street.

Tina has the cake now. we couldn't get the candles to light due to the tradewinds so we just kept posing for pictures with it instead.

Finally Hillary, the niece of our landlady came. She is going to be 16 soon, or "making 16" as they say. She lives upstairs, but really spends a lot of time downstairs. her aunt keeps her close and out of the wild Caribbean culture, but despite it I can hardly understand a word she says. Her slang is strong! She has a beautiful smile, ya mon, even when she is "vexed".
Seriously, who can resist this smile???

There isn't much to buy or want on the island, so Ethan was the proud recipient of the first and only bar of pepper -jack cheese I have seen in the store. It is his favorite and I don't know if or when it will ever come in on the boat again. I snatched it up so quickly.....but I don't think anyone was in line waiting to get it behind me.

Ritz and chips and bottles of Crush soda , compliments of Connely the Chicken-Killer were necessary to go with it. He liked his gifts so much I was wondering why I didn't start the cheese and crackers thing years ago....I could have saved a lot of stress, time, and money.....

All in all, a great birthday jam, Caribbean style. We'll be doing it again very soon. Maybe for Connely's party we can eat chicken.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Advanced warning!

Hello, Friends.
I am fully aware of the blog that has been published by Connely, which follows this one, so I should preface it by giving you a little background.

The first day we arrived at the island were amazed at the beauty, yet somewhat primative feel of the island. Here, animals walk around the island freely without fear. there are no predators on the island. So there are wild donkeys, cows, chickens, goats and sheep that roam freely, grazing on anyone's garden who is foolish enough to not have a fence.

Now, where we live there is a lot of places for a boy to explore. Our house that we rent has an acre or so, and there is a huge empty field across the road and each house that is in the community here up on the Quill has at least an acre or two. And there is nothing for a boy to fear, because like I said, there are no predators.That is, except in this case the boy became the predator.

See, Connely is the proud owner of a slingshot. And Connely got up early the second day and decided to go about the neighborhood.

There is another important piece of this story. Ed told the boys that meat here is expensive and that it can be handled badly because of shipping so that if they wanted it they would have to hunt it. He was saying it in half jest. But the boy Connely, A.K.A. "The Carnivore" took the challenge very, very seriously!

So that fateful morning he set out for a chicken and within a short period of time (while his mother was sleeping) he got one!

This was much to the horror of his mother and the pride of his father. After all, Ed says, a boy has to hunt. Mom screamed for a good half hour at the horror of a poor dead chicken in the yard, then at the boy for being so disillusioned as to have believed his father's instructions to kill, then to the father for the carelessness of his words and then to all of them for the mess they were making in the yard, and yada yada yada....

At the end of the day we had chicken soup. I only ate it because Connely was sooo proud, I couldn't let him down. But I confess, it was pretty tasty. And Connley was elevated halfway to the status of manhood .

The better 40th birthday party

Could it be..........Big Bird?

Ok so last night Ed had REAL party! Friends at the medical school decided to throw him a surprise party, doing it jointly with Anh Thu, another student and friend whose birthday just passed. I had to get Ed to Renee's house and tell him it was a party for Ant Thu. I thought there would be about 15 students there, but I was shocked. The entire school was there and wow, was he surprised!

They had all the music hooked up and more food than we have seen in months! Oh, food...the can't imagine how great to have all that food! Since there are a lot of students from all over the world, there were a variety of dishes from other cultures none of us have tried. The Indian food was Amazing. Ed loved the steaks someone brought in an hour late. There were plates of brownies and cakes. But the best was the giant dish of fruit salad! There was a buzz and a stirring within when that giant dish was set down.

Connely curled up in a corner with some wings someone brought. He was silent in that corner most of the night. A few times he got up to refill his plate, but other than that he couldn't be heard except for the silent sucking the bones of a chicken wing.

If he died right now, there would be no regrets.

Pinder and I, one of our first friends here. She is from Riverside CA.

The kids had so much fun. The students are great with them. They spoil them with attention.It has made the transition much easier on them.

Mohommad "AZ". He left a brave wife and two weet kids (temporarily) in Canada to do his studies out here.

They let the boys play volleyball with them and cheer them on. They are very kind.
Charles is the new school mascot. After this party I don't know if either he or his parents will recover....I mean, just how much attention can one little boy get? Throughout the night we heard hooting and hollering and usually Charles was in the middle of the crowd for hours, either fighting some big burly- football -player -type student or break dancing on the dance floor.
Gary was seen multiple times running through the house with Charles slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes yelling like cowboys and indians. Rayon taught him some good dance moves. All the women adored him and fed him Cheetos and soda like a monkey at the zoo. Others swung him around their heads to funk music. Sophia ran around taking pictures and videos of everyone.

Connely purchased a 9 -inch pinata. He stuffed it with lifesavers and everyone had a blast trying to kill that thing.

In the end we had to take the kids home at 10. the party went on long after that, and eventually everyone walked up to Smoke Alley, the local bar, but Ed and I took a nice evening stroll on the beach and wondered why it took us 40 years to get here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

a Caribbean funeral

Today was a noteworthy day. It was the funeral of our friend and teacher, Dave Shaw. Dave was our landlord and lived upstairs from us with his wife, Inez. We rent the bottom level of their home in the best neighborhood on the island.
The first time we met Dave we were drawn to him. He was a man with a really wonderful legacy and a remarkable wit. He was elderly, but was as sharp as could be. As we visited with him we learned that he had a remarkable life. Dave was originally from Boston. He got two masters degrees; one in music education and one in French literature. He went to the New England conservatory and Boston University. He got a bachelors in French and one in music composition. He was also a professional jazz musician and a teacher. This instantly caught our attention and when we told him Ethan played the trombone he really got excited because that was one of his instruments. he started teaching a very excited Ethan lessons in composition. His goal was to have Ethan compose his own hymn before we return next year. Ethan studied every day for his lessons and came to be very fond of him. Dave was also a ham radio operater. He spoke with people all over the world! This was pretty cool to a 13 year-old.

A few days ago Hillary, his neice, woke us in the middle of the night. Dave was a heart attack and the phones were down and their cell phone went dead. We called the hospital but ours was down too. Thirty minutes after the phone call the "ambulance" showed up. It was actually a pickup truck. The ambulance was out of order. The hearse was broken, so they sent a back up hearse, a pickup truck. It was to Hillary's horror because Dave was not dead at all! He was alert and talking! Ed and the driver had no stretcher so they had to put dave in a chair and carry him out to Inez's car. They took him to the hospital, which by the way was only 3 minutes away....
Dave survived the heart attack but they sent him to St. Martin the next morning. Then he had a massive attack the next night and passed away. We were all devastated.

The funeral was held at a beautiful, historic Catholic church on the oceanside, and the program was wonderful. In particular the music. It was hard to believe that such a small island could produce such fine musicians. There was a barbershop qauartet, an amazing solo from an older woman who was obviously professionally trained. There was a few other small groups and there was to be Hillary singing, but she was so broken hearted that she couldn't sing, so the song was just played on CD.

In the eulogy, Ethan was mentioned as the last student Dave ever had and how much he had enjoyed Ethan.


In the meantime, we still had to celebrate Ed's birthday. It wa a small party, just how Ed likes them. We had a cheesecake, his favorite and a few small gifts

"Dear Dad, I love you

Happy Birthday to you

May all you Tropical dreams come true

I stick to you just as glue

Even though we were away from you

So Happy Birthday to you!

It's true dad

Love, Sophia Charles"

Raise your hand if you've ever had a Pim's!