Saturday, March 29, 2008

A tribute to Shark... because I miss her so...

I hope you'll forgive me for being so cat focused right now. I promise to blog and post photos from my former trip to the rain forest and my future casita and other things, like the "swell" and surfers braving huge waves, but now I am so worried about Shark's disapperance, I feel a need to talk more about her.

Here is a picture story showing how Shark was adapting to her/my Puertorican digs and to the new kitty in the household, Sweetie.

When my three cats, Missy, Rascal and Shark came to Puerto Rico from Atlanta, they encountered Sweetie. Shark hid in the closet for several days, Missy (the calico) remained indifferent (she prefers people to other cats), but Rascal, who 2.5 years ago played daddy to Shark's kittens, now immediately adopted Sweetie, who often curled up against his tummy.
Here Shark finally got out from the closet. jumped on the bed occupied by the other cats and is assessing the new situation.

'Hmm, who is this newcommer occupying my place?' (Shark and Rascal were lovey-dovey, and Shark used to curl against him)

' Am I going to tolerate this? '

'I do not thinks so' - Shark turns away.

But after getting to the opposit corner of the bed, she sits, there, obviously utterly confused

'Perhaps I should reconsider? '

Shark walks back towards Rascal...

And lies down next to him, but away from Sweetie.

Please, Shark, reconsider again and come home. Here will always be a safe place for you, your favorite pillow and a bowl full of your favorite food.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My heart is broken :-(((

My beautiful, beautiful Shark is missing since Monday, the packing day. My closet was her favorite hiding space, here she had her pillow and spent most of the day.
She has always been so shy, that whenever I had to hire pet sitters ,they always thought I really had one less cat than I told them I had, because she never let them see her. And on Monday I opened closet door wide, TWICE, and the second time was one too many for Shark, so she ran outdoors... and nobody has seen her since. I still hope she is hiding somewhere, terrified, but will come back before I move away, but right now I am sad and worried and heartbroken that a cat, which trusted me with her newborn offspring two years ago, now decided I could not give her a safe home. :-(((

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I broke my New Year's resolution :-((

I resolved to not move for a year and less than 3 month later I am moving again. From the beach to the mountains, to the rainforest. But since I am remaining on the island, I guess I can still play Robinson Crusoe, just a tad more inland :-).

I am planning to move myself - and the cats - during the weekend. But I found out yesterday afternoon that two new friends of mine from Eye on the Rainforest, Javier and Steve, managed to rent a truck and will come today to move all my stuff, that won't fit into my car with me and the cats, to Ursula's casita, located in the middle of route 184 between Patillas and Guavate, that I'll be renting from her, while she is back to London after her winter visit to PR. So I am in a hurry packing today, could use some help... and see how helpful these two are?

Saturday, March 22, 2008


On Randi's blog I found today's theme, Metal. Suits me perfectly, since I wondered what to do with this photo of a rusty metal piece in Arroyo's harbor, that I took on a Saturday, two weeks ago, when I was visiting the south of Puerto Rico :-)
My picture is a lot less exciting than Randi's metal picture is, so go check out hers and the rest of metal pictures. They are fun.

Busily lazy Easter Saturday

Easter in Puerto Rico is celebrated all week long. Just witness the unusual crowds and long line to check out counters at the grocery stores and beaches - judging by coloring - filled mostly by the natives

Playa in El Combate

instead of predominatly blond surfers that descent on them at this time of year otherwise. No, the surfers did not go home, they follow the "swell" and congregate always where the highest waves are right now, while the natives, in whole - usually large - families favor the gentler waved ones.

Playa in El Combate

So during Easter week I try not to compete for space on the beaches either with the natives , the surfers or with weekend tourists: most of them shall leave on Monday, latest Tuesday, and I'll have plenty of beach space to myself then, as usual.

El Combate beach

During Easter week I do chores: yesterday I cleaned the house,

which is the chore I intensely dislike and - to be truthful - tend to behave like a slob,

when I do not have a competent housekeeper, or at least a cleaning lady, and right now I dont have.

You can imagine that- when the cleaning was done - I could hardly refrain from checking in the mirror whether an aura od sainthood appeared over my head - so noble I felt. ;-)

Today I was less ambitious. I started with my kitchen gardening: hanging out the bags of sprouts outside in the shade so that they would green somewhat, harvesting half of a tray of buckwheat greens, removing old compost mat with the remaining tchach of roots, filling in a new compost, covering it - densely - with soaked unhulled sunflower seeds and watering.

I finished the kitchen gardening chores with thinning my basil container - carefully: replanting most of them into the flowerbed for my landlords or a tenant that might come after me (I am moving again, next weekend, to the rainforest).

Then it was time for breakfast

somewhat Easterlike (ham, eggs):

After breakfast I took on another delightful - like gardening - chore of doing laundry al fresco. My laundry room is basically outdoors: a closet type space with a washer and dryer and doors opening to the side yard.

There I hang a picturesque (I think) clothes line between the wall next to my laundry room and the neighbor's chain link fence

and enjoy doing laundry, hanging wet clothes, watching them sway in the breeze and then picking them up all smelling sun and fresh air.

I have to admit, though, that Puerto Rico is not Italy, and mine is not a usual behavior in my neighbourhood of $500 000 + beachfront villas and $ 250000+ beachfront condos.

I know that hanging laundry outside instead of using a dryer shocks some people and I do try to be understanding to the insecurities of the nouveau riches, or nouveau-would-like-to-be-riches, who, unlike old money in America , or old titles (nobility) in Europe, fear being extravagant in anything but a show of their - true or pretended - purchasing power.

But I would not succumb to their fear that anybody, perhaps, might think of them - or of me - as a creature unworthy of living in a posh neighborhood.

As a compromise between sensitivity to their insecurities and my firm belief that doing laundry al fresco is not only great fun but also both economically and environmentally sound, I hang my line and my laundry out for only a few hours a week, even if it happens on an Easter Saturday, if I feel like it.

OK, enough of that childish "I dare you" statement of unashamedly simple domesticity.
It's time for lunch:

- on the patio, of course - the weather's great, 82 and sunny, time for enjoying the sea and garden views and for watching cats roaming in the garden.

I wonder if they think they are on an egg hunt?

No, their usual lizard hunt is more likely.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Easter Lily

Insprired by Zooms I am posting here my Easter lily - blooming in the garden just outside my patio (actually, I think, this is a spider lily) - wishing everyone a happy Easter, a happy Spring!

Today's temperature here is now 77 degrees Fahrenheit, while the expected high is 79 (later in the afternoon) and the expected low (at night) no less than 75!

It's sunny, few cirruses decorate the blue sky, the waves are high, very high, my beach full of surfers... (but I leave this topic for the next post), a friend invited me for a Good Friday's "fasting" lunch of a delicious lobster sallad at El Galloway in Boqueron...

In sum = a perfect spring and Easter weather.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gardeners fighting global warming

Buckwheat greens

Yesterday Ewa posted a couple of really cool (check them!) - and dramatic - pictures from Korea and their "We are drowning" appeal to fight global warming and invited all gardeners to share ideas what they do to protect the environment.
OK, I am game - to the point. I compost, eat mostly organic greens, vegetables and fruit (which helps - in a small way - to advance pesticide free organic farming, which in turn helps the environment, though I am not sure what effect - if any - it might have on global warming). I do eat meat, poultry and seafood,( also preferably organic, hormone and pesticide free) though in moderation, trying to keep my diet plant based in preferably 85%, but no less than 50% of the diet as living- and raw food.
I do mostly grow -organically - my own sprouts and baby greens (like the buckwheat greens pictured above), using very few resources: growing sprouts requires only organic seeds and water (+ reusable sprouting bags or recycled and recyclable jars), while to grow greens I use shallow trays (reusable), own organic compost and seeds. And I eat them as sallads mostly, but some blended in green shakes. Greens, sprouts, flaxseed, plantains, papaya are staples in my breakfast shakes, then I add other fruit and sometimes avocado - a lot healthier than cereals and use less energy than cooked breakfast.
Both sprouts and greens in my climatic zone require less than 5 days to be ready to eat - some of them as few as days, but they take about 7 days in colder climates.
I admit, the sprouting bags hanging in the kitchen do not look esthetically pleasing, so I need to find a better place - or a better way (automatic sprouter?) to sprout. At the moment it is a sacrifice of esthetics.
I also grow my own - organic - herbs and vegetables either in a garden (if I have a piece of land disponible) or in containers on a balcony or a patio, using many of them in addition to - or instead of - merely ornamentals.
But even ornamentals - if they do not require too much resources - can help fight global warming, because green areas clean up the air.
I don't have a dehydrator like a true living- or raw foodist should, and I would never use an oven to dehydrate food, because it takes about 18 hours! at a low temperatures. I haven't found info on how much energy it uses comparatively to a short few minutes of baking seed and veggie crackers, for example, but it seems to me it takes more energy than baking, so I bake my crackers. Perhaps a tad less healthy (= less enzymes), but I compromise for the sake of the planet ... and taste: baked crackers taste a lot better to me than dehydrated ones. OK, so I am not a saint. ;-)
I admit I love well lit, mood lit gardens, so it pains me having to cut down on lighting for the sake of saving energy. I try to compromise and light the garden only when there is someone outside to actually enjoy it - either me or passersby on the street - usually between 7-10 pm.
I use airplanes, because I can't imagine life without mobility, without far distance explorations. However, I would be willing to accept a longer flight if it would mean lower fuel consumption.
I use a car for local mobility as well, but it is a fuel economy model. Although, I have to admit I drive quite a lot (about a 1000 miles per month) just for the pleasure of entertaining myself and visiting interesting places: beaches, mountains, gardens, waterfalls, cities, towns, musea, art galleries, libraries and bookstores. I try to limit my footprint by cutting off air conditioning when not driving on a highway, but keeping windows open instead.
On the other hand I consistently save resources on housing - living in a McMansion of any kind has never been my dream, so it is not a big sacrifice for me. And I am into minimalist furnishing and equipment, minimalist purchasing of clothes, shoes, etc., being careful with using energy (lights, air conditioning), recycling everything recyclable whenever possible - it all saves resources and limits global warming. And it is practically painless for me.
I also often work for a sustainability oriented environmental protection - social profit (= nonprofit) - organizations, helping to promote research and experimentation into sustainability.
But what I think we all should MOSTLY consider doing, because it would have the most dramatic impact on environment and global warming in even one generation's lifetime, would be to LIMIT PROCREATING OURSELVES.
Hipothetically, If every living couple on earth would have only one child, we would lower the world's population from 6.6 billion to 3.3 in one generation to 1.65 billion in the next one and less than 1 billion in the third one. Imagine the impact on global warming, on environment within 25-50-75 years!
I know that it is an utopia to think everybody would be able to limit their joy of procreation (no matter how much burden on the earth the additional babies are going to have, and how much they would have to sacrifice to even be able to survive on the tremendously overpopulated planet), but it can be done, I hope, even if in a somewhat slower tempo, and despite of all religion or habit based appeals and reasons to procreate.
I have read the statistic of significant population decline in predominantly catholic countries like Italy and Spain, as the countries became more affluent.
I have seen it in my own, mostly Catholic, family: my granfather had five siblings, my grandmother none, so they were 7 total in that generation. The two of them had 3 children, and they ( the 3 children + their 3 spouses=6) had a total of 4. That's my generation. The four of us + our 4 spouses (a total of 8) have 5 kids (one of us, the poorest and least educated, happens to have 2, all the others have only one each) and the trend of having only one child - or no children at all - continues - so far - in my daughter's generation.
In my late spouse's family, a few generation ago Lesthadian (=tons of babies), now mostly protestant, the effect of cutting down on babies in has even greater impact: His father had 10 siblings, his mother had 11. The two of them had 5 children, and those 5 children + their 5 spouses produced together 6 children. Of those 6 children and their 6 spouses none, so far has more than one child, while half of them have none, despite being in their 30s. So there is hope that a population explosion in Thirld World countries also can be tamed with increased affluence and higher educational achievements for both boys and girls.
So, gardeners or not, please let's give it a serious thought! Don't let your procreation urges make your children - and the planet - suffer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

To honor St Patrick's day: about greens

Iceberg rose and bleeding heart vine outside my patio

During the last weekend of February, after my assignment at Ann Wigmore ended, I decided I should now have enough time for both the beach and the garden, so on my way home from the last day at work I dropped in to a local nursery, purchased a big pot with a pretty white "Iceberg" rose ( I remembered it doing fabulously in Sweden and I wondered how would it perform in the tropics) and three smaller pots of bleeding heart wine (no, it is not the same as dicentra spectabilis, called bleeding heart in the USA and a "lieutenant's heart" (loejtnanshjaerta) in Sweden - not even close botanically, but a similar visual concept, although in different colors).
I planted the rose and one of the bleeding heart directly in the border, just outside my patio.

I planted the other two bleeding heart vines at the opposite ends of a long, white flower box and between them put a few sprouted seeds of moon flower vine (Ipomoea Alba).

After five days the first moon flower plant emerged cautiously, but grew fast.

Already the next morning the first plant had two well developed leaves and the second one emerged

Today, after less than three weeks since planting, that's how they look.

In the second long, white flower box I decided to have some herbs. So I planted the seeds of three different kinds. Here is dill- you guessed it, right? OK, it is shy after only five days

but two weeks later it looks much more lush, doesn't it?

And here is basil - five days after sowing

and again today, after two more weeks.

But the third herb, chives, looks exactly the same as it did when I planted its seeds. I know it has a lot longer germination time than both basil and dill, but I am started to resign myself that there will be no chives, if I do not plant them again. :-((

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday night at la lechonera

This is the star of la lechonera: roasted suckling pig
When you take Guavate exit from highway 52 and follow road 184 down towards Patillas, after a few miles you'll come to a place where several lechoneras are operating side by side serving whole roasted pig, like at the picture above.
All those places are - as the locals tell me - most crowded on sunday afternoons, when carloads and busloads of hungry people descent on them.
We = some of the people from Eye on the Rainforest, 3T , Andres, Ursula, Steven and I went there on Suaturday evening. There was a crowd, blaring music and plenty of food, though ordering had to be done by pointing, due to the noise.
I forgot the name of the one my local friends unanimously declared the best of them all, but it is easy to find, as it is located on the right hand side of a structure with humongous Tres Reyes Magos columns gracing its front.
Andres, Ursula, Steven

I was planning on ordering some of this famous Puerto Rican specialty, lechon asado, so lovingly described by a fellow blogger, Speaking Boricua, just with salad, but there was no salad to be had. Instead there were all those starches I was walking around at the grocery stores: batatas, yautia, malanga, name, yuca, and some others, and I was persuaded to try at least a bit of each. Not sure if any of them is actually healthy, but I liked yautia (not particularly caring about any of the others - perhaps they are an acquired taste), and when compared to roasted pig, yautia should win hands down a healthiness contest - I presume.

Andres, 3T and Steven

The food was good and inexpensive - a dinner for five with drinks came to under $40 - an incredible bargain in pricy Puerto Rico. The company was superb and I finally - after almost 5 months in Puerto Rico - managed to try this local specialty.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On the way south

Driving south from the west coast of Puerto Rico is easy: highway 2 all the way to Ponce, where it becomes highway 52.

It is also very pleasant: the hills and the mountains surround you all the time, although already around San German the lush tropical jungle of the north-west gives way to a drier, Mediterranean type flora, a Puerto Rican Tuscany. No wonder so many Sanjuaneros have summer vacation homes at the south: the Caribbean sea is calm and it is not nearly as humid as either in the North or the North-West.

Just before Ponce highway 2 dips down to the sea, skirting the easter half of Bahia Tallaboa, where several eateries tempt not only with food

but also with a relaxing atmosphere and pleasant vistas

on their seafront terraces overlooking a group of small cays, of which the longest is Cayo Maria Langa.

The small sandy beaches under and near the restaurants look tranquil
inviting for a dip before a meal.

I stopped for lunch of a freshly caught local fish at one of them, Pito's Seafood Cafe & Restaurant, where I took the pictures.