Friday, September 18, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
A man named Saturnino in Akumal made the first hammock I acquired. I picked out the light and dark blues and stopped off to see its progress on the loom every day for weeks as I walked to my studio garage apartment from the dive shop. Below, Pablo shows it's still usable upstairs outside on the patio. I've been toting it around the globe for over 25 years. It has seen its better days, but it keeps hanging.
When I furnished this house I counted hammock hooks to buy hammocks accordingly. I found enough hooks to hang 25 hammocks, but I settled for ten.
I think the hammock is the most practical and versatile piece of furniture. We watch TV from our hammocks. I wrote this piece in the hammock. Pablo prefers to sleep in the hammock. We roll up our hammocks and can easily pitch camp between two coconut palms OR two monterrey pines!
My research on the history of the hammock produced weird results. First the NYT article puzzled me. Wikipedia said Philipinos invented hammocks, but there was no information to support that theory. Most reports state they originated 1000-3000 years ago in the Mayan world. They were found along their extensive trade routes in all of Mexico, Central and South America. One source reported Amazonian Aborigines (?) wove hammocks from the bark of the hamack, hamak, or amac tree. Thus, its name, the hammock or in Spanish hamaca.
I read that Columbus was credited with discovering the hammock, but all he did was take some back to Europe after seeing how comfortable the Bahamians, or per another source Dominican Republicans, were lying around in them in the tropical heat. The sea faring men found them practical and they became the preferred bunks on many European ships. The ships used canvas hammocks, narrow, uncomfortable, and spaced only inches apart from one another.
Yucatecan hammocks are intricately woven, usually out of cotton, nylon, or a polyester combo. They're all the same length. It is the width and the weave that make the difference in quality. The more threads in the weave the better. A 'familial' (literally big enough for a family) size hammock or a 'matrimonial' (double) is more comfortable than a 'doble' (single) or 'individual'(just barely there). The trick in sleeping in one is to lie diagonally. The hammock supports the spine nicely if you manage to get yourself situated in there correctly. It takes some kicking and pushing and pulling for me to get it right, but I can get there. Pablo is a pro.
The other most comfortable sleeping position is crosswise, like this:
Russell concentrates on a creative moment sitting in the hammock. If I am going to sit in mine, I usually grab a couple of pillows to support my back, get my feet up, and put my work on my lap.
There are hammocks for your personal items. These hammocks are not strangers to anyone in the boating community. Here they are easy to find and inexpensive. I like to use them in a variety of places.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Today on Weather Underground, Merida, Mexico, it says: Today there is a 60% chance of rain. The heat index: 64°C. That translates into IT WILL FEEL LIKE 147.2°F. I will let you know what it feels like if we end up sitting around in a pool of boiling sweat.
The good news: today is opening Sunday for NFL FOOTBALL! The family has a pool again this year, with a few new players, and in just two hours Pablo and I will be hammock bound watching every game we can find. We'll put out the two helicopter fans, and a few others, and get horizontal for the better part of the day. The entire neighborhood will be able to hear the crowds roar and announcers shout; the volume turned way up to overpower the loud fans. I will roast chicken and veggies; if the oven is on it only makes the kitchen FEEL LIKE 130°C - so that won't be noticeable.
Lately I have been more addicted to this computer than the television, but my favorite shows are returning so that may change. Every Sunday through December is now Football Sunday.
I am excited about the fourth season of LATIN AMERICAN IDOL. I discovered it in season two. The contestants are from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. The celebrities who work with the kids each week are singers unknown to me, so I can really learn a lot about Latin music watching this show.
I am anxious to see the new season of AMAZING RACE. This year it airs on the Discovery Channel. It is a Latin American Amazing Race, and it's going to be good. The show premiers on Sept 20th (probably during a football game). This is the first time they have produced this show with Latinos all around Latin America.
Well, ok, we are also taking a little trip to Panama....to the Caribbean side, but that is a good story for another day. Have fun baking in the Sauna City today!
The New York Times, Published July 12, 1881
The hammock is steadily diffusing itself over the piazzas and the front yards of our country. A few years ago the hammock was rarely met except at the South, where it is endemic all year round. A few isolated cases of hammock occasionally manifested themselves in Philadelphia, New York, or Chicago, but they were too few to create any alarm. Now we find hammocks wherever we go, and they are ruining the health and morals of the American people at a rate which must make every intelligent man tremble for the future of the Republic.
The hammock is, perhaps, fair to the eye, but it is deceitful above all things and desperately crooked. No matter how easy and luxurious it may seem during the first five minutes that one occupies it an aching back and weary legs are the sure result of lingering in its lap. It is more treacherous than any beast of the field. Unless the greatest care is taken it never fails to throw its occupant out. Nature has mercifully constructed woman with back hair, as a protection against hammocks, so that when she falls out of a hammock and alights on her head she seldom sustains injuries that are fatal to herself; but even the strongest man who walks down a street bordered by Summer cottages and listens to the dull, monotonous sound of female heads striking on the piazza, and has his helpless eyes dazzled by red, pink, or parti-colored flashes that shoot into the air like the swift and evanescent auroral streamers, cannot but have his holiest feelings harrowed to a most painful extent. When a full-grown man drops from a hammock he is either stunned, in which case his wife rushes out and begs him to tell her if he has hurt himself, or he rises up and expresses by implication his strong disapprobation of the introduction of that unsatisfactory word "Hades" into the revised edition. Children who have read Capt. MARRYATT'S novels and have thus learned that one of the principal duties of a Midshipman in former days was to place a pile of cannon-balls on the deck immediately under the hammock of a fellow-Midshipman and then to cut the hammock lashings, frequently practice this feat of seamanship upon their brothers, sisters, and grandmothers, substituting piles of stones for cannon-balls. It is, perhaps, a beautiful but certainly a demoralizing sport, and the hammock is plainly responsible for thus affording lessons in cruelty and murder to the rising generation.
The worst feature of the hammock is, however, its agency in producing what are usually called malarious fevers. In former days physicians believed that in warm, damp countries, where a lack of drainage existed, an invisible poison, called malaria, developed itself and produced disease among men. This theory has not endured the test of time. Year by year malaria is spreading into districts where what were formerly considered the necessary conditions of malaria do not exist. It is found in the Rocky Mountains and among the granite hills of New-England. Dr. CHADBOURNE was recently asked to explain why malarious diseases have latterly appeared in Berkshire County, Mass, and he has just written a long letter in which he lucidly explains that neither he nor anybody else knows anything about it, and all that can be said on the subject is the old theory of the causes of malaria is untenable.
Now, in the growing use of hammocks we have a full and sufficient explanation of the cause of so-called malarious fevers. They exist only where hammocks are found. The home of these diseases was originally in the tropics, where the entire population spends its time in hammocks, if the pictures in the primary geography are to be believed. All over Central and South America the women never get out of their hammocks, and the men only rise from theirs at intervals of a week or two, in order to take part in a revolution. In our Southern States malarious fevers are only less common than they are in the tropics, and it is notorious that hammocks have been popular in the South for generations. In New-York and Philadelphia the spread of alleged malaria has kept pace with the spread of hammocks, and in New-Jersey, where the natives have long used the hammock as a place of refuge from the ferocious mosquitoes that lurk in the grass, chills and fever is the normal condition of these people. Summer boarders from the cities have carried hammocks and malarious diseases to New-England country towns, and miners who sleep in hammocks in order to avoid the company of rattlesnakes have introduced the same diseases into the Rocky Mountain regions. It is the hammock and not an imaginary malaria that is undermining the livers of our fellow-citizens.
Why is it that the hammock produces a class of diseases all of which are intimately connected with a disordered state of the liver will be evident if we remember the attitude in which the hammock compels its occupant to lie. It forces his body into a curve, thus compressing the liver between the diaphragm, the waist-band of the trousers, and other contiguous organs. The consequence is that the liver, squeezed and bruised, declines to perform its functions, and some one of the various fevers hitherto called "malarious" attacks the unhappy victim. Where hammocks are used "malaria" exists; where hammocks are not used "malaria" is unknown. Instead of dosing people with quinine and arsenic, let us adopt the prophylactic measure of casting our hammocks into the fire, and we shall preserve our health and our morals.
Published: July 12, 1881
Copyright © The New York Times
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Busmo enjoys playing in the garden but he stays pretty close to home most of the time.
Friday, September 11, 2009
We headed into Telchac Puerto and found a popular spot on the beach, one we hadn't seen before. (I forgot to take pictures.) We chose a table down in the sand, our table was in the shade, and the seabreeze was refreshing. We had a couple of cold beers and split a whole fried fish. They brought other seafood botanas. The ambience was relaxing and we sat there a long time . We enjoyed the families playing in the water close to shore on the last day of their official summer vacation.
On our drive back, Pablo chose an offroad that passed a marina, and led to the passage where the inland marsh water headed out to sea. Like a river mouth...it seems so odd to describe one since there are so few above ground rivers in all of the Yucatán.
The road was a perfect dead end, its sides collapsed by some past gushing high water event, so we parked the car on the partial road and ourselves on the beach.
The water was moving at a good clip toward the gulf. The warm sea was crystal clear and other than the current it was very calm. There was a family enjoying this spot down the beach from us. You can see a lighthouse on the point.
A pensive Pablo, probably trying to figure out how we will obtain our own strech of beach some day! Lost in thought, at any rate. This shot looks inland, but the road is still farther back.
These were interesting Nopal cactus full of tuna (fruit) all along this stretch of beach. They are a hearty plant. I didn't risk injuring myself by taking any of this plant. I already have a little nopal, and a little goes a long way.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Sweet Lorenza. She is tiny and delicate, quiet, shy and yet independent. She is the tiniest of the litter, and she has a different personality than the Siamese. Lorenza can usually be found sleeping in this corner (below) in the basket where she was born,
or on a cushioned seat next to me when I work at the computer. Lorenza isn't as demanding about her affection as the others. When she wants to be petted, she starts licking my hand. So she is more of a give and take cat than the Siamese. She loves junk food! Doritos, Chicharrones, Cheetos, Chips, Cookies! All of it! She hears one CRUNCH and she comes running. She enjoys her trips to the other side, and more often than not she returns with a lizard in her mouth, ready to play.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
They were colorful marigolds and the butterflies liked them. Were they worth waiting five months or more for them?
The general concensus was that this would be their only appearance in the garden. I tried to let them go to seed but Mother Nature interfered (or simply solved the problem).
They were so tall they got top heavy. And with a bit of wind and an afternoon rainstorm, gravity got the best of them and they went down. All the way to the ground.
You can see them leaning here. I didn't get outside quickly enough to get a shot of them on the ground. Pablo had always seen them as an intrusion to our lovely garden. He was the happiest of all to see them go... he cut them down as soon as they bit the dust.
And the other seeds, you might wonder? They are still growing giant leaves. They look more like comfrey than a flower. Maria called them barra de San Jose, which means nothing to me. I am interested to see what they are, and really, how much longer can it take before they decide to flower? This is the largest one, and the one most improperly planted, because it has stunted the growth of the noche buena (poinsettia) behind it. The noche buena will probably make it, but it is dwarfed next to its two relatives , barely visible behind the non-flowering plant.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
He is so photogenic I can't stop clicking sometimes.
He was in a dead sleep in this weird contortion.
Who'd have taken Mokito for an addict and a killer? He is addicted to adventure and THE OTHER SIDE. He comes home to eat, sleep, and to receive his required petting. He's the bravest killer of the litter! Although the slowest kitten to learn to climb or hunt, he has improved drastically. Last week he brought us a big rat. He left the rat in HIS play corner. We noticed he was meowing more than usual but didn't realize he needed to present us with a gift. I'll be more attentive because a two day old rat...oh never mind, it is just plain gross. Two days after that he brought us a very unlucky bird. This time he left the gift in OUR play corner, the foot of the pool entrance.
He looks too sweet to be the tough cat in the hood.
Like Buster, he has a savage appetite. If we don't make him a plate of our food, he harrasses us until he gets his way. He jumps onto the kitchen table prepeatedly. None of the other cats are so rude, except Moka who feels she has to inspect even the kitchen table, but she is usually not begging.
He hypnotizes me with those bright blue eyes and his little bandit mask and I end up opening a can of tuna for him, a staple he has decided must be in his daily diet. He's a brat, but it is impossible not to love him.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Our first stop is always Los Pampanos Restaurant on the beach. There are several cozy spots like this, and I imagine the seafood is equally fresh and delicious, but once we tried Los Pampanos we never strayed. They have the best white conch ceviche! The fish is always fresh. Sometimes we sit there for hours just enjoying the view. We have also been known to spend an entire day there playing a game of Risk or Dominoes.
After lunch we found this road to the sea. The gray blob you see in the background where we turned onto the beach road is a makeshift home for a group of several squatter women. They invited us to come back and camp out there. Tempting.