I love Easter! The chocolate bunnies. Jellybeans. Black ones. Peeps! The rustle of the cellophane Easter grass. I love it all!
The religious aspect, church, Jesus rising from the dead. I could never get my head around it, even as a kid in Catholic school.
But the Easter Bunny leaving a basket full of chocolate made in his own image? Bring it on! The Easter Bunny also hid the eggs my siblings and I so carefully colored on the Saturday before Easter. It all made sense to me the same as the Tooth Fairy and Santa. A myth we pretended to believe in -for our parents sake- long after we knew these amazing creatures were imaginary.
Well here in La Paz and all over Mexico, Easter is a big deal in a different way. The entire population is on the move. Large extended families camp out on the beaches and some bring stoves, generators and TVs. Folks from the mainland come to the beaches to enjoy their one-to-two week holiday.
The Easter Bunny is not the star of the show here. But chocolate of a dubious quality does show up in the stores.
Since I have completed a 10-day detox diet and have remained gluten, sugar, dairy and alcohol free since then, chocolate is not entering the house.
But I like to mark the holiday. and we are having 10 other folks over for hotdogs tomorrow. Six of those others are kids between the ages of 4-14.
I decided to color eggs. But not with food coloring and vinegar. Oh the colors are lovely, but the mess is not worth it.
MissMeliss mentioned a YouTube video by my protege, Martha Stewart demonstrating how to color eggs using silk ties. That sounded like fun. I watched the video, which is below. And then I asked My Beloved if I could have one or all of his ties to cut up to color eggs. He gave me ONE.
I also found two pieces of silk prints that I thought I would try.
Here are the fabrics. Note the tie and it’s dark color and animal heads.
I tried to center one tiger and one zebra on two different eggs. The Zebra seemed to work:
Here are all of the eggs from the tie. It is interesting the way the colors turned out.
The vibrant rust and cobalt blue Thai silk was a real surprise. The rust did not come through at all. In fact in the picture after the blue eggs you can see that it ran and turned the water pinkish. It is fascinating what colors came through. And how they changed.
And here they are boiling away
These last three eggs came from the beige floral silk. I was a little disappointed in them, but then I added some oil, and now they have a pearly glow.
They are lovely, yes?
I have asked friends to shop in their husband’s closets for ties. And to visit Goodwill. I have two friends that want to do this next year. We need silk ties sent to us so we can be prepared! The ties work best because their colors are intense and their prints are small. With some careful placement and a bit of luck, I think that I can transfer specific motifs to my next batch of eggs.
so tomorrow we will roast hotdogs poolside and eat these eggs!
Life in Mexico is sweet, slow, and warm. When I say warm, I refer not only to the sunny climate, but to the people. Mexicans are among the happiest people in the world. They are gracious, and welcoming. A goodly portion of the expats here have developed a laid-back and open attitude as well. And the food! Oh what a luscious delight is a taco or tostada eaten at a roadside stand. The ingredients are made fresh that day. And each stand has a different taste, depending on the family recipe. Oh yum!
Then there is the other thing… or things. Things that you cannot find.
When one wants to make a new recipe. Try a new sewing technique. Or do a little DIY. Frustration sets in. There are things that you just cannot find. Or have to go on the hung asking others if they have seen such. Or if they know the Spanish word for this.
I have a lovely, snail shaped outdoor bathroom. I hardly used my longed- for snail bathroom last summer and I have no excuse. This year I have decided to use it regularly, and to ask my pool guests to use it rather than track water through the house. I have been swimming in the early morning and then showering out there. The early morning sun is intense, the early Spring air is crisp,The sky is BLUE. It is lovely. Doing this is what I dreamed my Mexican life would be like when we finally retired. We have been here 17 years. I had a makeshift outdoor bath in my first house, a full enclosed very nice pool bath at my beach house. But now I have the dreamed-of outdoor snail bath. I never really decorated it, and made it mine. Who knows why.
I spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning it up, adding sweet yellow pots of jade plants, re-hanging the shell mirror, replacing the inefficient rain shower head with a hand held shower, and then adding Talavera soap and lotion containers. Pouring liquid soap into one was easy-peasy. Done in a flash and not a drop spilled.
Getting the hand lotion into the other dispenser
was a task that drove me crazy and was shelved ( well actually stuck in a corner of my indoor bathroom cupboard funnel and all for over a year).
I like pretty things. I like my guests to have pretty things at the ready when they need them. Like hand lotion in a lovely dispenser.
Last year I tried pumping from a bottle of lotion into the new dispenser. What a mess!
The lotion clogged up, mounded up, and rolled down the sides.
I tried a funnel. That just got more lotion piled up in the funnel and going nowhere. I mean molasses goes faster uphill in January.
I was thinking of nuking the hand lotion bottle, but since my last microwave experiment, My Beloved comes running when he hears the buttons chiming.
So I visited Google. There was a 10 -minute video on filling a lotion dispenser. Skipped that one. Then there was a video showing a cello cone that is like a disposable pastry bag. None on hand in my house, and I am positive there are none available in La Paz.
Next tutorial shows a special icing baster. Hmm, Solution Cake the cake decorating shop might have one if I would like to drive 30 minutes to town and spend another ten parking. Well actuall until after my eye surgery, if MY Beloved wants to drive 30 minutes to town and spend 10 minutes lookingfor parking. Not happening.
Who said “The third one is the charm?” They are right.
The third video said just glop some lotion base in a jar and nuke it. But don’t let it get over 120 F.
Okay, I now had a plan.
Find cooking thermometer in the gadget drawer
Fill larger Pyrex measuring cup with water
Nuke the water for two minutes. Also yell “ It’s OK honey, I am only heating water!”
Check temperature. Note: do not test the water with your finger, that’s what the thermometer is for.
Stand the lotion containers in the hot water. For a little while.
Pump the now-liquid lotion into the funnel (less mess) Voila! The dispensers are filled.
I used two almost empty lotion bottles and part of a new one.
Have a lot of old napkins or paper towels on hand, this gets messy.
Now, how to label the dispensers? I looked through my collection for two small shells, none did the trick. So, I rummage in my button box and found two nice buttons and some silver cord. I tied the cord around the necks of the dispensers, thread the silver through the buttons, and knotted it, and added some small labels with the words soap and lotion in Spanish and English.
I am not religious. Never have been. Despite my Italian-Catholic upbringing, Jesus and all the saints in heaven never took.
But what did stick was Christmas as a time of giving and forgiving. A time of making room for one more place at the table because someone we knew found themselves alone on Christmas.
There were always extra gifts wrapped and ready to give “just in case”.
Singing songs like Silent Night and Joy to the World were no different to me than singing along with Mr. Beau Jangles, Me and Bobby McGee or any Beach Boys or Beatles songs. Just songs that I loved to hear and sing, in my terribly, flat, toneless but enthusiastic voice.
Christmas at our house was noisy. There were four of us. Four kids with arguments. With friends. Four kids trying to wrap presents for each other in secret, but making heavy hints about what might be in the boxes.
My mother was baking, baking, baking. She was making gingerbread and her famous date nut loaves. She would often be swatting my farther with the towel torn from her waist. NOW I know why she was swatting him. Back then I had no clue. I was nine.
My father would bring in the tree from the garage. I was asthmatic and no number of specially treated trees kept me from wheezing. Family photos of us on Christmas always showed me in a blanket looking like I was taking my last breath.
So my father de-boxed the artificial tree one in a line of many that got better as artificial tree technology improved. And told us it had to “warm up” so that the cold, brittle, metal branches did not break when we unfolded them. He taught us how to string lights, and was very particular about spreading the colors around.
What is Christmas without trains? We had them, beautiful Marklin trains that Dad brought back from Germany after the war. We spent days sanding the tracks that corroded over the humid New Jersey summer. We fixed wheels, and shined up the other props. We loved it and we did not fight or argue during the train setup. Years later after his funeral, the three siblings that were left, chose our favorite trains and took them home to be part of our separate Christmas celebrations.
In the 80s, my daughter and I left an abusive situation and found ourselves alone at Christmas in Modesto, California. On Christmas morning, my sweet daughter presented me with a box covered in glitter. Inside were tapes she had made from albums she had borrowed from the library and recorded for me.
She had taken to heart her grandmother’s adage: “A gift of the hand is a gift of the heart.”
There are so many cherished moments from Christmas past, but that one I cherish the most.
The La Paz Farmer’s Market; Open All Year, Come Taste, Talk and Buy.
Come Saturday morning, after our years-old tradition of breakfast with friends, my Beloved and I head over to the La Paz Farmer’s Market. It is part of our Saturday thing. Not only are we loading up on wonderful fruits and vegetables, salsa, pesto, artisan Tequila, homemade breads, we buy plants, organic pest killers and fertilizer, jewelry, greeting cards, and healthy Chinese treats.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market is a social occasion and we spend time chatting with the vendors and the other buyers, meeting new people, and just being out and convivial. But the market is also open for your convenience on Tuesdays.
Have you tried any of Linda Shawyer’s Greek yogurt made from the milk of local, grass-fed cows, zesty Italian sausage, or any of her magnificent quiche? Linda always has a smile and kind word and scrumptious goodies. Her cinnamon rolls are dangerously addictive. Linda says that, “…I like to make food that makes people happy…”
Martin Loubet always has a long line at his produce table. My Beloved is dispatched to stand in for me and choose the goodies. Martin has land and a farm in Pescadero. After Odile, he showed up with what few things did not get blown away. And we bought what little fare he had, in praise of his efforts to pick up and keep going. Always smiling, and helpful, Martin and his wife and daughter walk the line at their table and ensure that everyone is served. You never know when different fruit or veggies that you have never seen before will pop up on Martin’s table.
When we first moved to La Paz, I whined a lot about not having a farmer’s market. Our not-so-little market has grown to encompass many different items, home grown and homemade. And on any given visit, there will be the mainstays of the market and newcomers. The presentation of goods is a rich, colorful motif in creativity and the bounty of Mother Nature.
And then there is Kayle, a laid-back guy from Pescadero that also has a groaning board of interesting and hard to find items, like luscious blueberries, dates, organic popcorn, shelled, fat, sweet green peas and the most wonderful selection of greens for salads and juicing. Kayle treks up to La Paz on both days of our market.
Cathy Smith, the Gardening Guru, also hails from Pescadero. Cathy’s products are certified by the Baja California Sur state government as 100% ORGANIC. This is not an easy designation to come by. If one could bank Cathy’s enthusiasm and know-how, they would be rich as Midus. Cathy has an array of organic pest killers, mosquito repellants, fertilizers, and is happy to advise and consult.
Not all the vendors mentioned here are out on the street. There are one or two shop owners that are important threads of this wonderful tapestry of food, plants, and crafts. The market has provided the traffic and interest in things other than the commercial and homogeneous. These shops are a wonderful addition to your Farmer’s Market visit and to the town on any day.
Got Baja? Enrique Sanchez #2 and his wife, Cecelia, certainly do. They are the owners, and creators of the gift shop, “Got Baja” and the espresso café, “Doce Cuarenta” (1240 Madero), named for their street address. This wonderful little shop, café, and garden is the center of the Farmer’s Market. My Beloved is hooked on their Ruben sandwich and I will never get tired of their signature salad, Doce Cuarenta. All things La Paz and Baja, from stunning mounted large photographs of Baja scenes, feed sack throw pillows that say “Cuddle with this pillow if you miss La Paz too much”, to t-shirts and mugs. Whether you want a rich pastry, a light lunch, hot or cold-brewed espresso, this is an important part of your Farmer’s Market experience.
Lolita Pie Boutique on March 14th, my number one daughter sent me an email saying it was Pie Day and had dispatched her Beloved to find a luscious pie. March 14 is 3.14…get it? Well, you do not need to wait for next March to experience decadent, delicious, warm-from-the-oven pies. Just step around the corner onto Constitucion near the Aramburo parking lot and visit Lolita’s Pie Boutique.
Karuna Tea House is also just around the corner on Constitucion, a charming and welcoming place to rest and enjoy. Husband and wife team Ines Garcia and Hector Jaime Felix offer private tea tastings and a few tables for you to enjoy a cup of one of their specialty teas. Ines also has a table at the market and offers refreshing iced tea and some cakes. Stop in and sip a cuppa and meet these lovely young people.
Talking on the phone to precious daughter, the other day she said she was running low on her Baja salt collection and hoped there was still someone selling flavored salts at the market. I told her not to worry.
La Parcela Productos Gourmet. Visit their booth or their shop. It is a treat for the senses. Shop owner Christian, displays his aderezos and especias (herbs and spices) beautifully and is knowledgeable about his products. He carries everything from cacao, vanilla, various salts, and Himalayan salt tabs. Visit him at the market or at his store on Allende between Revolucion and Serdan.
El Jardincito. Owned by Enrique Sanchez #1 (the other guy’s father) is the place to buy healthy, organically grown plants, herbs, and a few gifts like blown glass hummingbird feeders and some handmade fiber pots. Want a ready-made herb garden? Enrique has them. Looking for a particular plant? Enrique will try to find it for you. This spring, he had the most gorgeous, vibrant, and long-lived tulips. Enrique has two passions in life: running and raising organic plants. In fact, he came in first in his age group in the half marathon and first again in the triathalon in Cabo San Lucas.
Queen Bees owner Juana Agudo sells honey, honey drops, and lollipops (better than a cough drop). Always ready with a smile, Juana is happy to offer a sample. Her products are diverse and well-priced. Not just a pretty face, Juana is a bee expert. She came to my house, suited up in a beekeeper’s rig (scared my chihuahua) and very calmly and professionally removed a hive of wild bees.
Dora Burgoin of Organicos Cabo Natura comes from Cabo San Lucas twice a week with her wonderful, colorful, purple and yellow cauliflower, flor de calabasa (squash flowers), heirloom tomatoes, and greens. You cannot miss her in her Mexican gauze dresses, colorful scarves, and straw hat. Her produce is beautiful and tasty.
Bella. When I was a kid, my Italian mother always called me Bella. Beautiful. Well, French food at the level that Bella makes it, lives up to her name! I have heard that her gluten-free Tarte Provencal requires that you sign a release form in case you become addicted. Oh, and her lemon squares have an equal reputation. Provecho!
It is a good thing there is not the most convenient parking at the market. Hoofing it a little bit will help to burn off the calories from all of the food you have tasted. I mean, I do not want to be rude, if someone offers, I taste!
La Lei. Lei Tam, chef and Asian food genius, has caught me hook, line, and Pad Thai! I have tried most of her offerings. Her Chow Mein made with wide brown noodles and an array of vegetables is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. Oh! And those Vietnamese Summer Rolls… Well, they are a mainstay at our house. Lei makes all of her own noodles and sauces. She can even make the Chow Mein and Pad Thai vegetarian and gluten free. Lei, with advance notice, will make dishes for you to pick up at the market. Or she will be the private chef at your next party. But, please invite the Press!
Dear readers: Many of you may remember the trendy Café Milano on Izquierda Street. Lei was the chef. Her husband Michel, the bread maker, helped her. We watched their beautiful daughter Asia (“Ahs si ya”) grow up. Lei says “Italian design, Chinese built!”
Grateful Bread, Michel Milano, artesanal bread maker, arrives on a Vespa. Sets up his breads, round and long loaves. Crusty on the outside, white and delicious on the inside. He tempts me every week. I have to resist, once on the lips, and boom it’s on the hips! But others give in and I see his wares flying off the table.
They started calling it “Eat Street” because so many restaurants have made their homes on Madero Street. But on Tuesdays and Saturdays, it is Meet, Greet, and Eat Street. La Paz, this Farmer’s Market is yours. These are your friends and neighbors. They are cooking, baking, stirring, and harvesting to bring wonderful foods to you. Please continue to support them. The market is open all year.
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A picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture says it all!
In years past right about now, we would be packing, and preparing for our annual visit to the frozen north, well Dallas or Thousand Oaks to spend Christmas with one or both of our kids. For us the temperatures in Texas and California are chilly to downright frigid.
We soldier through the torture of multiple airports, and plane changes, and arrive dragged out and hungry. But the ride from the airport is alwaysa nice re-entry. Christmas lights are everywhere, and we love turning into Miss Meliss’ neighborhood and circling the park that is ablaze with lights.
Once we get past the exuberant welcome from the million, well three dogs, and sometimes a foster dog, the delicious aroma of slow cooking food enters our consciousness.The house is beautifully decorated and the tree is lit waiting for its ornaments. Decorating the tree is something Miss Meliss and I do together.
We take our coffee and dessert to the living room and sit by the fire and plan our days.
We always have a shopping list, things like underwear and shoes top the list. For me visiting fabric stores is an absolute.
We talk about who will be dropping in, and who will be staying for dinner.
Then it is up to bed where we bury ourselves in the quilts Melissa has laid out for us.
“It’s not cold!” she says. And we grumble back that we are freezing!
One year we had snow on Christmas Eve, it was romantic and the house looked gorgeous with the lights shining on the snow and the decorated tree in the window. Earlier in the day we drove around in the snow to finish up some shopping, I was nervous. Not that my Beloved could not handle snow, he grew up in Chicago, snow he knows. And we were driving a Subaru with its famous all-wheel drive. It is all the other drivers that have no clue how to handle the snow that made me nervous.
This year? Events conspired against us. We are not going north and no one is coming south for the holiday.
We are all disappointed of course. BUT! As we watched Dallas become a frozen snow globe, and saw travelers stranded in airports across the nation, we felt relief that we are not going to be part of THAT.
Just last week I was swimming in my pool, and drying off in the sun. I sat in the sun to do some hand sewing, and had coffee outside. We have had some stiff breezes, well, okay, wind, so I have not been in the pool or done much outside. But, the winds will lie down, and the sun will shine and I will count my blessings…and have several Facetime moments with Miss Meliss.
It was still dark, but the sky was starting to lighten.And the remnants of last night’s storm gave us this gorgeous sky.
Something woke me. A bump or the sound of something being dragged. I saw a flash of lightning, so I turned over and tried to sleep a little longer.
There it was again, like someone was in the house or on the roof.
“ Did you hear that?” I shook my Beloved awake. “Someone is in the house!” “ Get up!”
He took a moment to pull on some shorts and slip his feet into slippers. I got up to get dressed and find a weapon to help my Beloved. The dog jumped off the bed, but did not bark. He was following me into the dressing room. I pulled on a robe and a pair or mismatched flip-flops. I grabbed what was at hand for clothing and shoes in-the-dark. No time to be a Diva when someone could be robbing the family silver.
My Beloved was already in the front of the house, I could still hear bumping but not a word from him.
I grabbed the heavy flashlight from my bedside and went out to the main part of the house. He was there looking out the patio doors.
“It was probably that bucket right there.”
The little blue bucket was sitting upright, exactly where he had put it the night before.
“ No way that little bucket made enough noise to wake us. And it is right where we put it last night.”
“Well it is windy.”
This is male logic: A tiny bucket that has not moved from its place near the pool made noise loud enough to startle us awake, twice. In other words he had no idea what made the noise and illogical as it sounded, he blamed the bucket. Once when we still lived in San Jose, CA our backyard sensor lights came on in the middle of the night.
I called to him:
“ Sweetness, there must be someone in the backyard, the lights came on, go check!”
“ No dear, don’t be silly, it must have been a cow walking by.”
I am not making this up! My scientist husband, said a cow walked in our back yard. We lived 2 miles from downtown San Jose. Ours was an urban neighborhood with nary a cow, nor a plot of land big enough for a cow to turn around in.
“ A cow? A Cow?” I asked him twice.
He just looked at me as if I were speaking an unknown language and walked away.
So why am I surprised that he would say that a little plastic bucket we bought to keep near the pool so we could empty the strainer into it instead of piling dead bougainvillea leaves on the side of the pool that would only blow back in when they dried, that little bucket woke us? No Way!
Seeing that in fact we were not the victims of home intruders, I went outside to take pictures of the gorgeous morning sky. The breeze was heavenly. Well actually the wind was heavenly.
I opened up all the doors and windows to let the fresh air in.
When I opened the door to our “Spa Terrace” I saw this:
This is what went bump in the wee hours.
This terrace is my refuge, I like to meditate here, I like to sit and enjoy a coffee, the city lights, the moon, the silence. It is always beautifully arranged in a cozy grouping. The chairs have lime green cushions with striped piping(they blew away, but I found them). Because of the storms, the umbrella was closed and sitting where it belongs in it’s GRANITE base. It is a very big and heavy umbrella. Did I mention that it was closed? The potted palms were in new places as well. It is almost impossible for me to move those potted palms.
And this is what a little wind did.
Well I guess, not such a little wind. The wind was strong enough to lift this chair, move the chair flip the rug and drop the chair on the folded edge and rearrange all of the furniture, and scoot the potted palms around.
Why did all of this stuff move and not the famous bucket? The Spa Terrace is funnel shaped so any wind becomes a vortex. The bucket sits on the main terrace in front of the pool. It is surprising that the lounge chairs near the bucket moved in the wind. The cushions on the other patio furniture were tossed about, and one throw pillow is missing, but the bucket did not move.
Those must be some heavy bougainvillea leaves!
Here is what the grouping should look like. Well the cushions are now safely inside until the wind stops:
Hurricane John is well south and west of us, but we have had rain and thunder storms for days. This morning’s wind is a wonderful refresher after all of that humid air.
So now I know that if there is a hurricane looming even my potted palms need to be secured. And Mr. Stubborn “you don’t have to move everything”, may not even argue with me when I insist on battening down.
Just as a goldie-oldie on the radio can bring your teen age summers at the beach rushing back with the smell of suntan oil, French fries and the salty sea, so can other sights, sounds, smells or objects.
After a couple of wonderful, but long rainy days in El Comitan, my Beloved and I were hankering for some time in town.
We went to town in the early evening and decided on a cold drink, and a light snack.
As we were waiting for our food I snapped the picture you see above.
It feels like an old port on a windy coast after a storm.
It brought back memories of Half Moon Bay or Princeton, California before they became chi-chi.
We would walk on the beach , the wind so strong we could lean back against it and be pushed along. When our faces ached from the cold, our glasses fogged over with salt sea spray, and our hair was full of sand, we would head back to Nancy’s Fish Trap in Princeton, or one of the cafes in Half Moon Bay.
Once we sat in the first location of Main Street Sushi, the weather was wild, windy, slashing rain, it was cold, it was summer. The windows rattled and the wind wailed. We enjoyed a wonderful sushi platter. The streetlights came on, the streets glistened in the rain, the lush flowers and trees were whipped by the wind and their blossoms stuck to the window.
We felt truly alone and isolated like castaways washed up on a foreign shore.
It was romantic.
This picture took me back to that wonderful day in Half Moon Bay.
It was a balmy night, there had not yet been any reain in La Paz, but the clouds over El Mogote created a magnificent sunset.
This is a light on a post on the Tailhunter at street level.
Did you guess it?
Please leave a comment here on the blog ( upper left there is the word COMMENT) telling me whether you knew where the picture was taken, or if you had to read to the bottom.
Beach, just seeing or hearing the word takes me away to a place of salt, sand, sun and peace.
I grew up in New Jersey, and Fort Hancock on the end of the sand spit called Sandy Hook was where I spent many a summer day.
The only day I did not go to the beach in August 1970 was the day my darling daughter Melissa was born. That was August 17th.
When we were kids growing up in Atlantic Highlands New Jersey, we lived a few blocks from the Sandy Hook Bay beach. My mother did not drive. So she gave us each an inner tube to carry, lined my brother, Merrell’s wagon with an army blanket, plopped La Princessa Patti ( my younger sister) in the middle and surrounded her with our lunch, our towels, change of clothes and beach toys.
Off we trekked to spend the day at the beach. And we loved it. Every second of it. And of course we collected shells and lots of other flotsam that washed ashore. My mother, as mothers do, had to limit what we could carry home, so we were told to only collect perfect shells. Otherwise we would have carried home every fragment, shard and sliver of shell.
Now I live on the beach in La Paz, Baja California Sur. I collect shells of every size and color. For years I was addicted to collecting what we call jingle shells, gorgeous fragile, oddly shaped shells that range in color from pearly white to yellow, golden yellow and vibrant orange.
I love the gorgeous spiral curves of the inside of shells that I will dub “snails” anything that had a creature inside that spun their gorgeous homes.
These gorgeous yellow and white striped shells came from El Mogote, the sandbar that forms the La Paz harbor. We were wading and started to see these gorgeous shells lying on the bottom. We fulled bag after bag with them, and had to float the bags as we walked back to our chairs.
My friend Mary and I spend hours in the winter collecting shells, and we are always surprised what we find. And certain days big shells attract us and that is all we will pick up, others it is small to tiny shells. And always oddly-shaped shells. Mary makes the gorgeous shell wreaths pictured in this blog.
I take credit for inspiring her.
We would collect the shells and take them home to pile around the house, or stored them in jars and otherwise drop them and forget about them. There was no mother to tell us to only pick the perfect ones, or to only take home five.
Then I decided to see how many household objects would look better adorned with shells. Out came the glue gun, and nothing was safe! I glued shells on mirrors, picture frames, I wrapped a yogurt container with fabric then glued shells on it. It was to hold a roll of toilet paper in my outside bathroom.
Soon Mary and I were having shell contests.
But she has created the most amazing objects, including seashore Santas, modeled after the Victorian Santas that are so popular. But hers were standing on a base of sand, garbed in pieces of Mexican cloth, and some palm bark. Slung over his shoulder was a bag of shells.
Mary’s work has evolved into gorgeous wreaths. I am proud to say my small wreaths pictured here are the prototypes of Mary’s ongoing work. She gave them to me for my birthday a few years ago.
Now when I need a gift, I call Mary.
Her wreaths grace the homes of friends and family all over the US. They are in Denver and Dallas. One large wreath made just for her, was the centerpiece at my sister’s wedding in Amagansett. And there is the all black one. Mary dyed all the shells and turned her fingers black, they stayed that way for weeks. From Minnesota, to Idaho, South Dakota, California and New Jersey, someone I know and love has one of these wreaths. And a few years ago, one of Mary’s shell wreaths went to Paris with Madam Francine Cousteau.
Francine was here to dedicate the Jacques Cousteau memorial at Centro Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR).
And here is the wreath that is always on my dining room table it is really very big abut 12 inches in diameter. Take your time, look closely, and you can see hundreds of different shells, a sea star, and some broken shells with gorgeous shapes. If you would like to know more about Mary’s shells contact here here Mary’s Shells: bigfishes2@aoldotcom
What shall I write in my blog today?
I am always talking about the gorgeous view from my terraces, and my office and my bathtub.
I never get tired of the colors and textures, and the ever-changing sea and sky and in winter the colors are pastel in morning, and silvery for part of the day. Very different from the fire-y summer mornings, and hot sun drenched azure sea.
This morning as on many mornings, the sound of gulls and other shore birds squawking woke me, long before dawn. The birds, sea and shore dwellers fly by all night and honk, and squawk. I love the sound.
One particular great blue heron flies right across our terrace and honks, loudly! He has no care that people may be sleeping inside. He loves the updrafts that the shallow X shape or our house create. And I assume that the honk is one of sheer pleasure. Although it does not sound much different from his imperious honk when he is chasing other birds from his feeding grounds…or waters, I should say.
There are some birds whose calls I have dubbed “Jurassic Park” sounds. They sound as if they are huge and calling from deep in a distant jungle. You know the sounds that are background for jungle movies? That’s what some of these birds sound like…and I am charmed.
There are over 60 identified species of birds living in our neighborhood. We are surrounded by a biological preserve. We have a pair of Great Horned Owls. They are huge, and their haunting “hoo-hoo” can be heard throughout the area.
This spring we heard a lovely birdsong that sounded somewhat like a burbling creek. We looked around to see where this sweet warbler was. To our amazement, a plain, scruffy black, bird was singing that perfect song. On the sill outside our eight-foot kitchen window were two of these plain birds.
The male, the one with the voice was strutting and preening for the not-so-interested female.
She would ignore him, and walk to the end of the sill. He would hop in front of her and puff up his chest and sing. She was not interested. She would turn and march to the opposite end. He would fly off and land in front of her and sing his heartbreaking song. This went on for days in front of this window. Showtime was just around our breakfast time, we would hear the first chirps, and drop what we were doing and head to the kitchen window.
Call us voyeurs. But we were also rooting for the little guy, hoping his beloved would accept his attentions. And finally, after many repetitions of the song, the puffing and preening, his lady love succumbed.
More than once I would hear the screeching of what sounded like a bird in distress. I would run out to the terrace with my binoculars, and there would be a baby osprey perched on a dead palm. Some baby, its talons were longer than my fingers, and it’s wingspan over six feet. I asked an ornithologist friend about this, and he said the bird had been pushed from the nest. It was able to fly and deemed ready to go out on its own by its exhausted , yet doting parents. It was screeching for mama or papa to come feed it. Mama and papa were clearly done with child–rearing, but baby was not happy. After an interminable time of pathetic screeching, the parents would fly by and coax the baby down and show it one more time how to hunt. The baby would learn to feed itself or die.
I have never seen a dead osprey on our beach or in the mangrove, so I believe that baby went off to feed, and soar, and mate and train babies of its own.
Soon I will write about “Eddie the Eagle’, that turned out to be a very sick baby osprey that turned up in our patio once many years ago.
Do you recognize this gorgeous, exotic bloom?
It is an anthurium, and it actually is native to Central and South America. Wikipedia says nothing about how it got to Hawaii, but that is how I think of it.
And Cecilia, a flight attendant friend of mine says cut anthurium are popular take home gifts for tourists leaving Hawaii. She has seen them specially packaged in small bunches for a lot of money and they are carried right on the plane.
Well, back to my anthurium.
My dear friend Maria gave me the plant for Christmas this past December 2011. It had much smaller leaves and was bursting with many blooms and some tightly rolled buds. I thanked her profusely, and wondered if it would survive my three-week Christmas vacation, with the maid caring for it.
To my surprise, it survived, and flourished. It had pride of place on our kitchen island where it was kissed by morning sun. But it grew so large and full, my beloved asked if I would consider moving it.
I was sure that moving it would mean certain death. But here is another picture showing how shiny and healthy the leaves are
And this is not the first time it has produced buds, here are two making their way out to the sun. It has been in constant bloom since December. It is still in the plastic pot. I am afraid to re-pot it and kill it. It s so healthy and shiny, and happily blooming, that I think I shall keep it right where it is!
One of the nicknames for the anthurium is the “boy plant”. Well it does have a big, yellow, penis, Uh, excuse me, it has a big erect, knobby spadix.
And when the flower starts to die, the red bract turns muddy green and the big, erect, spadix develops yellow bumps and lumps, I call it gonorrhea of the plant world.
I am sure my grandson Patrick aged 11, will just love seeing photos of this guy:
Before this bract withers and dies it will be covered with the yeloow bumps, which get uglier and uglier. The firts time I saw it I thought the plant was diseased! I am going to try to propagate the plant by laying the withered bract with it’s blistered spadix on a nice bed of potting soil. Stay tuned!