Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
No, I do not participate in the general shopping madness - but am pondering a question whether to buy furniture. If I want to move to the unfurnished apartment I need to either buy new furniture (which seem rather ugly here: the preferred furniture color here seems to be all the "lovely" shades of poo: from beige to brown. Brr... And the shapes are either too countryish crude or too twisted ornamental - definitively not me. I am afraid I would have constant nighmares surrounded by this type of furniture) .. or get my remaining ones shipped.
Yet - less than three months ago - I promised "kids" who help me with my countless moves, that there would be no more moves with furniture and stuff. And I sold and gave away most of my Finnish and Swedish well loved arctic birch pieces, my white Italian leather sofa and armchair. And now I am dreaming of IKEA - something light, simple, unassuming, unpretential, unserious even - something that would function perfectly as furniture but did not feel confining.
Uh, huh, why oh why IKEA aren't you here? Shopping would be so easy - and so enjoyable.
Without you I have to wander among many small local furniture stores with really, really heavy, dark and ugly pieces, almost crying... yet I can't move to the apartment I like and sit, eat and sleep on its pristine white ceramic floors!!!
Monday, December 24, 2007
I wished that I could paint like Heather, photograph like Carina, write like Jen or Sara, etc. etc.
But when a time came to post it.... the monopoly cable company operating in Aguada, Choice Cable, the most incompetent, uncaring and, perhaps, corrupted cable company in the entire world, gave me - and everybody else here a Christmas present we are likely to remember a long time: 4 days so far- and counting - without internet!
(I finally got connected through a slow like molasses, but working! oh miracle! dial up connection. )
So my top priority wish is a different cable company! What's yours?
Friday, December 21, 2007
So I spent a moment this morning in front of my closet trying to figure out what to wear: evening wear being too "evening" for the occassion, party cruise wear too "cruise party", resort wear too "resort": the western coast of Puerto Rico has a - difficult - style all of its own: not the San Juan Puerto Rican smart dolled up in the absolutely latest fashion, but either a very sporty casual (wore mostly by surfer guys) or if more festive, than " I pretend I don't care about fashion or elegance... yet I don't want to look dorky" ( wore mostly by gals and local guys).
Finally I noticed a long, Caribbean sea blue silk dress with a deceptively simple cut, which I bought for myself in July, because I loved the color, even though the dress was at that time " a tad" too tight for me - and in a size I wasn't able to wear since 1999.
I tried it again just before Thanksgiving and - despite having lost 16 pounds - the dress was still too tight for me. 'Oh, my', I thought, I would never have guessed that I was that much of an optimist when I bought it.
But this morning the scale showed an 19.6 pounds of a total weight loss during the two months I have been here trying on this Living Food Lifestyle. So I tried the dress again.... and finally it fit me like a glove! Hurra!
I added a strand of discarded corals of the same azure shade of Caribbean sea, which I got for my nameday ot the beginning of this month - and voila, I was ready to "dazzle" and dance salsa, merengue , bomba and whatever else we were going to dance today... and no matter whether I knew how to dance it or not (women my age can get away with a lot, lol)! Who needs food when you feel good!
Merry Christmas partying everybody!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
But this year I have been celebrated on my birthday in balmy Puerto Rico, so a beach bar was appropriate - and this particular one - Shipwreck Bar and Grill was perfect! It is fun and colorful during the day and fun and imaginatively illuminated by night, its menu is creative and the food really good. But I am getting ahead of myself fast forwarding to the evening party, while there is still the whole day to be described.
We stopped at three different sights, one most suitable for divers, the other two for both divers and snorkelers. I was with a couple of friends, one of them an avid diver. He claims he spotted a large nursing shark, but nobody else in the tour group of 12 - 6 divers and 6 snorkelers - seen it. The whole tour was a such a quintessential Caribbean experience: the azure water, corals in all shapes and sizes, balmy weather, international company. We returned to port at 2 pm - after lunch of sandwiches on board and had to scramble to the next secret birthday destination, which turned out to be one of my most favorite places in Rincon: the Secret Garden Art Gallery!
I have visited the galery before, shopped there for a few of Christmas presents and had my eye on a couple of Roberto Ortizs (who runs the gallery) paintings for myself...and today I was going to get one of them as a birthday present. Wow, was I elated! (If you browse through Roberto's paintings on the Secret Garden's web site, you can see it: the painting of a fan like cliffs of Cabo Rojo) .
But we could not linger at the gallery or in the garden this time, since we had to hurry (hurry, hurry!) to a third secret location this day: a sunset whale watching sail with Katharina Sail Charters on a sailing catamaran.
Well, we haven't seen any whales, but the trip was lovely and the sunset amazing - as usual.Hungry we disembarked and entered the Shipwreck Bar. Their menu is inventive, but we haven't hesitated much ordering our appetizers: mussels in white wine sauce, shrimps won-ton and calamares in a spicy sauce.
We wolfed all this accompanied by a bottle of wine... and discovered that we were completely satisfied with just appetizers. (Their portions are for very young and very hungry surfers). But for the sake of a birthday tradition we order one piece of cake for the three of us and I was reminded that I am not young any more, when my friends started discussing with the waiters how to squeeze the appropriate amount of candles on that piece of cake. Finally, a compromise solution was reached - just one candle! Suits me perfectly.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The day would be glorious... if only the natives could celebrate Christmas a lot less noisily!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
and ginger snaps (pepparkakor), while the visited families would offer them an (alcoholfree) gloegg, otherwise usually a strong concoction of red wine, vodka (or cognac), spices, raisins and almonds.
Monday, December 10, 2007
First, however, I promised to spend part of the weekend in question with a visiting friend and was showing her all the local beaches from Aquadillla to Anasco, when near the Table Rock beach in Aguada I spotted a large white villa overlooking the beach, that bore a discrete sign of two apartments for rent. The owner was inside so we went exploring.
My friend tried surfing in Rincon with a guide (she is my daughter's age), while I had fun snorkeling - there are coral reefs here and great visibility. We played too long and when we were done, all car dealerships were closed. We went home, where we found that our neighbors were hosting a parranda - a Puerto Rican - more temperamentful - equivalent of Christmas caroling with all kinds of Caribbean music, all kind of instruments, song, dance, food, drink - a loud and rowdy, deliciously fun party to which we were instantly invited.
So we went car hunting on Sunday morning. My visiting friend proved invaluable here, since I know next to nothing about cars, while she could even spot if a part of the car was repainted after an accident and such some - boring yet important - practical things. So after visiting about a dozen of car dealerships on highway 2 between Rincon and Aguada, and her turning up her nose at everything she saw, we narrowed it first to two possibilities and finally settled on a nice looking 2002 Mazda Protege.
I offered to pay with American Express, which has no spending limit, but they did not accept Amex - nor any other credit card - so I - a bit in a culture shock, since I am oerhaps too used to pay by credit or debit cards for everything - finally agreed to give them two checks: one for $1000 to be cashed right away and one for the remainder to be cashed 10 days later, to give me time to sell some shares from my brokerage account ( which I would have done to pay an Amex bill within a month anyway - I do not carry any debt) to my checking account.
I could have gotten financing for the car from the dealer, but learned that it would cost me 18% in annual interest (yes, yes, financing in Puerto Rico is definitively not cheap - and neither are cars) and the average return I get on my stock portfolio ( save for the international part of it, due to dollar being practically in free fall since the beginning of Bushe's and Cheney's Iraq misadventure) is less than 18% a year, thus a no brainer was to sell some stock instead of financing the car - and negotiating a lower car price for a cash deal as an additional sweetener.
(My daughter, however, an MPA and CPA that she is, became so horrified by my check postdating routine that she immediately tranferred the amount in question from her savings to my checking. We have our differences: I keep everything in stock while she keeps about $20000 - $25000 in cash as a buffer. Perhaps wise - and sometimes very convenient I have to admit.)
So, after a purchase agreement was finished and I got my temporary vehicle licence ( the permanent one is supposed to arrive within 30 days), I got my new car to take with me.
I wondered a bit about insurance, but was informed that a basic insurance is included in a sticker that every Puerto Rican car must have on their front windshield - if a police spots an expiring sticker, the car is towed away and the owner/driver fined. I only had to purchase a full coverage insurance separately.
Now, armed with two cars, my friend and I went to the car rental agency to return the rental. And there she spotted a tiny, abandoned kitten, no more than three months old: white and grey, with blue eyes, skinny, hungry for both food and affection. My friend said "hey, kitty, kitty" but the kitten took one glance at her and then one glance at me and...without a slightest hesitation jumped into my arms. Thus I became a "foster mother" of yet another kitty and had to stop at a store, purchase kitten food, litter, box, carrier etc. etc.
Before the nightfall the kitty ate an inordinate amount of food, made a lot of use of her new litter box, groomed herself meticulously and fell asleep on a pillow next to mine.
The local vet is closed today, so tomorrow we go to have her checked out, treated if need be and given all the protective shots a kitty requires.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Isn't she magnificent? So vibrant and so peaceful, so supple-bodied and so delicate facial features.... my baby!
Well, yes, I know that Frederic Leighton painted Flaming June in 1895, and his model would have to be about 130 years old by now and thus could not have been my baby. But she is so much alike my daughter, a thoroughly modern contemporary woman, a vibrant auburn haired, highly intelligent beauty. Venus in every woman is eternal!
Both Daughter and I love Flaming June not only for that likeness, but most of all for the sheer beauty of the painting, its lines, colors, its very, very subtle shading.
When we found out that the original was in Ponce's Museum of Art, we had to include a visit to the museum in our trip around Puerto Rico. There, Flaming June is prominently displayed framed by other striking pre-Rafaelitan paintings. Yet, she dominates, subtly but certainly.
Just like my baby, wherever she finds herself ;-).
Thursday, December 6, 2007
At luzcace blog I became dangerously exposed to the menus of their lavish Christmas Eve and Christmas Day buffets, which made me salivate and dream of - be it unhealthy - but familiar FOOD!
And - to make things worse, I became exposed also to images like this:
The night started with a dream of a desk drawer in my office, full of pastries, typical Puertorican French puff pastries with guava, almonds etc. They filled my entire drawer, pedantically arranged on white paper-lace doilies. Nibbling even on a single one would ruin the whole esthetics of the composition, so - in the dream - I kept looking into the drawer every now and then - and kept closing it without touching any of the pastries.
But after this exercise in food lust and food restraint I - still in a dream - went to a party.
There, a lot of elaborate - and yummy - appetizers were served by waiters in tuxedos on huge silver trays, but whenever I felt tempted to taste any of the appetizers, they would all explode like geizers or vulcanoes!
My - once - favorite bef bourgignone erupted into a vulcano of red wine sauce with pieces of beef falling down like rocks. A cheese fondue with herbs - another - once upon a time - cold weather favorite food of mine - kept bubbling like a cheesy Old Faithfull in Yellowstone, then suddenly erupting and overflowing in its creamy goldness, too hot ( and too scary?) to even dip a breadstick in it. And so - da capo al fine .
I admit that this seemingly endless food 'dance' was increadibly fascinating, but I became sad, nevertheless, realizing that I might stay hungry for the rest of my life - being able only to look at ordinary food, but not eating it. :-((
Finally, early in the morning, after I killed the alarm clock, to keep sleeping for a while longer, I had a final dream about a simple, organic, soft boiled egg from a free range hen. It was made viennese style, in a lightly buttered glass, topped with young sunflower greens and dulse flakes. Even this simple egg, however, is not a part of a 100% "living food lifestyle". Yet, on account of celebrating Saint Nick's birthday I gave in: during a lunch break I went to a store, bought 6 organic eggs from free range hens (they would not sell me just one) and enjoyed one for lunch exatly the way I dreamt it! Ha!
....But it is only December 6 - how on earth am I going to withstand all the other temptations of December??? and with FIVE more tempting eggs in my fridge??? I might even be tempted to create a zabaione.... ;-)
Saturday, December 1, 2007
the lushness of its flora, the richness of its fauna, the magnificent waterfalls
and its natural swimming pools
El bano grande