Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflections of Christmas Part 2

As an adult I spent Christmases in lots of places. I remember the year my Mom came to visit me in Los Angeles, 1980. I had a cute little house and it was going to be her first visit to me out west. As I decorated my little tree, TV on in the background, they announced John Lennon had been killed.. As a surviving original screaming Beatlemaniac, I just sat down and cried. Why? I'll never forget that day that put a huge damper on Christmas spirit all over the world.

Above is my mini Christmas tree and my Maine Coone Tigre, saddened that one of our personal heroes had been senselessly murdered. And so this was Christmas.

On a brighter note, I worked in the entertainment biz and my Mom got to meet one of her favorite stars that year, one of my "bosses" Paul Williams.

There are great memories of Christmases at my brother's renovated Victorian house in San Francisco's West End, where my mom drank her first tequila and accidentally ate some of his roommate Bruce's magic brownies set out for Christmas snacks. I remember enjoying many a Christmas gathering in San Francisco with my brother Larry, cousin Higgins, other former Toledoans, and new California friends .

Jumping back to Hawaii, I'd have to say my happiest years there were the ten years we lived in our rented coffee shack. It was affectionately known as the "Halfway house"...because it was halfway between the bay where we all worked on the Fairwind boat to everyone's homes. It was a funky house you'd expect to find in old Hawaii. The 100 year old house was constructed of one-by- twelves, with so many coats of paint, we felt that it was only that paint and the termites holding hands that was keeping the house standing. That coffee shack, where our good friend Dave is smart enough to still be living at $500 bucks a month, was the epitomy of my idea of living in Hawaii. We lived on acres of fruits and coffee trees with a wide open view of Kailua Bay. The coffee trees often flowered at Christmas creating a look of snow covered branches.  The poinsettias bloomed everywhere, big red splashes of color with bushes of white snowflake poinsettias next to them.  It was beautiful and felt like Christmas to me. People say the tropics 'just aren't Christmas' without blinding snow, freezing ass cold and blizzards.  But I disagree.  The photo below of the coffee trees flowering looks like fresh fallen snow but smells like lilies of the valley permeating the air. Give me the flower scent over the freezing ass cold any day.

I kept a patch of globe amaranth that I strung every year in fifty foot strands to decorate our tree.

But first we had to take the trip up the mountain and find our tree.  After a few years of driving up and marking our tree, we lazed into calling in an order. So we'd climb the mountain (in our trucks), walk around the tree farm looking for a ribbon with our name on it,  and came home with an almost identical tree every year. Below are Jim, me, Naomi and Jerry.  There are more pictures like this in my albums with other fellow annual tree seekers.  Not present, who should be, are Jack and Lisa who went up  the hill with us nearly every year for maybe 15 years? My apologies, I started getting carried away with the scanning!

Left to right, Dave Winters, me, Marylei Drake and Barbara.  We made the most of tree decorating parties.  Ok, we made the most of any occasion to party! We were young!

We liked to dance while we decorated.  I came to Mexico to dance more often, but my Hawaiian friends were such spontaneous dancers we didn't need any organized dance time.  Someone would just pop up and say, "Time to dance!" and we'd all follow suit. Dancing below are Robin, Jerry and Naomi. Not in the picture is James Dean, who jumped up and said, "Ok, everyone dance naked now!" and proceeded to strip down to his skibbies and dance on the railings.  He'd want me to pay him for the right to print those pictures.

This half decorated tree below and the above photos might be from 1995, but I'm not sure. The years ran together and.the trees always looked amazingly alike, so our parties every year also had the same constant components.  Lots of friends, food, drink and fun.

Slow dancing to- probably to Ray Charles Silent Night or something like that - (below) are two of my oldest friends. No, that's wrong, they're not old! These are two friends I've known for a long long time.....can you see the love?  Here I see the spirit of Christmas. Dancing a slow song while loving eachother eye to eye.

These are my cousins who come from the beautiful house on the river in Michigan.  They loved spending the holidays in Kona with us, and this is just one family shot of us enjoying Christmas Hawaiian style.  In the shot below we have, left to righ, Bill, Therese, Bruce, Lin, Dave, Megan, Amy, Reina, (behind)Anne, Ian, Chris(hiding), Richard, Renee and Jim. 

My reflections of Christmas really only touch the surface of great memories. Let's face it, at my age one has to have a shitload of memories of Christmases.  Once I started pulling pictures to scan from photo albums, I realized it would be a huge project to actually pull from every era.  So this is kind of a recap of good memories from Christmas seasons past.  I wish I had photos of lots more friends and family gatherings scanned to share here.  For me Christmas is about sharing, and remembering, and showing love and living peace.

The City of Merida spares no expense on Christmas lights or decorations.  The stores are packed with people and traffic is snarled.  For the wealthier residents, I imagine their gatherings to be like a typical American Christmas, with a huge tree in color coordinated decorations, underneath it an excess of expensive toys and presents inspired by US TV commercials.  The poorer people, today, on Christmas Eve, are taking their annual bonuses and scrambling to find a bargain here and there so they have gifts to exchange.  More than likely they will have a great family dinner, but often no Christmas tree.  Instead the priority is to spend time together, eating and drinking and telling stories.  Showing love and living peace....until they get too loaded and start fighting. That's another topic for another day. 

Christmas dinner at the coffee shack in 1995 with Mom and the Nolands.  

I guess I get nostalgic for Christmases past.  Although I've been in Merida for over three years, I'm going to have to say it's not that easy for me to make friends.  There isn't the comradery that I felt in most other places I've lived.  But this is a big city and I think that makes a difference.  When I first moved to LA I found it difficult to find a circle of friends.  It took a while there too.  Unfortunately this place is unique in the way that the foreign population doesn't socialize much with the local population, so that creates limitations I'm not familiar with.  I haven't bonded well with the expat community here, it's a tough nut to crack because I don't fit their mold.  I've gotten used to it and look forward to Christmas being quiet time at home together, eating well, and letting the madness go on outside and all around us.  Peace to all.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflections of Christmas

Merry Christmas, Everyone. Feliz Navidad. Mele Kalikimaka.  I have many half written blogs but haven't had the brain to write.  The cat bite has set me back.   There are no words to describe the pain involved in a punctured achilles tendon. I'm learning that pain and brain power are very closely connected.  I have bouts of either the pain or the brain.  It sucks. 

My "agenda" in moving to Merida was personal rebirth.  I needed to overcome grief and sadness and reinvent myself.  I've had a difficult time reviving Christmas.  Our Christmases in Hawaii were special and unique.  First of all the cost of living there  is high, so the spirit of getting together and creating delicious meals together, enjoying each other's company, and in most cases not exchanging gifts other than a sweet tasting dessert was our norm.  We didn't live a typical American material life in Hawaii where Christmas was purely commercial and trendy and designed to impress.  The people there were more artsy and spiritual.  Besides, when you have to do all your Christmas shopping at WalMart or Costco your options are limited.  My forté wast to made ornaments, baskets, chile powders, etc.....I even hand made the tons of Christmas cards I sent out. I loved doing it.  Christmas made me happy.  We always had fun and friends around and often even family came out to the islands for a tropical holiday. We would go up to the top of Mt. Hualalai and pick out a Monterey pine tree at the Christmas tree farm. It was so much fun to don our hideous Christmas socks some aunties sent us the year before, put on our Santa caps, shorts, and hiking boots and head up the mountain a'carroling. 

I'm finally getting back into the spirit of the holiday.  We've had a decorated tree lighting the house for weeks and filling the air with the scent of pine, and the plan is to have a nice quiet time at home with the cats.  We received  little care packages and all have a few gifts to open, plenty of Christmas music to keep us in the mood, TV in the background with football, and plenty of turkey to overeat.
I dug out some old photos! Here I am meeting Santa the first time in 1953.

Mom and me in front of the aluminum tree.
I used to love Christmas.  As a kid in Toledo we had this tacky aluminum tree with the revolving blue, yellow, red and green lights behind it.  Mom and I would take the bus downtown to Christmas shop at the big department stores.  I loved to wrap, so that was always my job.  We always had presents to open, practical things like socks and sweaters, but fun things too.  I remember my brothers coming homr from college and going to midnight Mass together at St. Hedwig.  I think the service was in Polish and Latin.  I loved those Gregorian chants and trying to sing along with the Polish songs.  I never did take the church part too seriously.  I liked the singing and socializing. We could open our most of our gifts after church at 2am and have one egg nog.  In the morning we had a couple more presents to unwrap.  One year first thing in the morning my brothers had to play their new albums, I'm remembering the Righteous Brothers and Del Shannon at this moment, on my new record player.  Later we'd drive north to Monroe, Michigan, where we'd have a huge family dinner with my cousins Bill & Therese Noland and their gang of six.  Every Christmas day we'd wake up to the dirty snow of the city and spend the afternoon on the pure white snow covered river bank, a picture postcard of rural winter. 

A look down Lagrange Street toward St Hedwig Church taken in front of the house where we grew up.

Cousins' Noland house along the River Raisin.  The river is on the back side of the house. This shot was taken from the road. The house probably looks much like this photo today, decorated, snow covered.  It looks a lot like Christmas!

When I started reviewing photo albums of Christmases past, I remembered so many memorable Christmases that it cheered me up from the moment I started this post. I decided to publish this in installments.  I'd like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to reminisce on some of the great old family and friend Christmas gatherings you've had, in order to recreate some of the original intention of the spirit of the holidays.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm So Lame

When my friends read the above title, they will sigh, and ask themselves- probably out loud - "Will she ever get past these ridiculous insecurities?" But when my acquaintances read this, they'll chuckle and think "Tell me something I don't know!"  Well, friends, the good news is this is a different kind of I'M SO LAME.  To my acquaintances, you're wrong, I'm not a lame brain.

Last week while taking down items from the clothesline, little did I know Lorenza was under foot....and I came down hard on my right leg, having reached up high for my dry suede slippers.  This time I didn't just step on her tail, I came down on her body with my full weight.  In her instinctive defense she bit me. Of course I jumped three feet in the air and it was over. She cried, I cried, and I reminded her to stay out from under foot.  Hopefully she learned the lesson this time. She seems so remorseful.  I was again reminded to check for animals under foot since the cats follow me around like puppies.  Lessons learned by all.

Or so I thought.  I am aware that cat bites bring certain risks, even by a domesticated cat who was born in the other room, is vaccinated, flea and worm treated, etc.  The problem starts with the cat's saliva.  It's toxic bacteria (visions of komodo dragons) starts to grow infection in a deep puncture wound. She bit me on my achilles tendon. Ouch! There were 6 entry wounds.  When did I have my last tetanus shot? Hell if I know. It could have been for the trip to Australia and Bali by sailboat in 2004.  I'd email my former family doctor in Kona but I know my files are just unorganized stacks of paper. By the time he could tell me, I could have a damn tetanus shot. 

I looked up cat bites, tetanus, and everything I could think of online. I emailed the veterinarian telling him of my plight and asked his advice. He responded with: clean the wounds thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide, then put iodine or mercurichrome over them.  He didn't think tetanus was necessary. 

I did what he said. As the days passed I cleaned the wounds in all the ways I could think of.  I covered my leg in a tattoo of gentian violet, a great infection inhibitor.  I tried drawing salve.  Finally yesterday the pain, the cramps and spasms crawling up my leg became too intense to tolerate.  I filled a clean bucket with all the sea salt I had and the hottest water I could stand.  After that treatment the swelling and little red bumps had subsided and it begain to look like a wound on the mend! 

This is gross, but here it is. My normal dry-skinned (damn this cold dry weather) ankle is on the right, it looks a little weird cuz I took the photo myself. The photo on the left is the scary one. The purple stuff on the periphery is gentian violet stain.  The puncture wounds are kind of visible, but there may be a little drawing salve left over too. I wasn't feeling too well when I took these pics. Let's just say it was nasty.

Thanks to the increasing spasms, cramps and pain, I gave up on my homeopathic remedies. When it comes to infection, you really need to move on to modern medicine. So off to the doctor I went.  I took photos of how bad it looked in the morning before my TLC, and the doctor agreed it was time for agressive treatment.  She wanted me to take penicillin injections, but that's part of an unresolved childhood needles in the ass, sorry. So I have to take two kinds of antibiotics three times a day for a week, and the doctor sent me off for a tetanus shot. 

The shot was available at no charge at the O'Horan hospital.  If I were sick I wouldn't consider going there, but for an injection, I hobbled two blocks over, limped up the stairs, and was told to go around the block to the other entrance.  I was on a mission and hobble I did. Once I found the Preventive Medicine Office, I was pleasantly surprised.  The nurses were very friendly.  They admistered the tetanus shot and offered me a flu shot. The main nurse, a nun I imagined, sternly told me I'd come back on Jan 14th for the tetanus booster. She issued me a vaccination card and off I went, gimping my way down to the street with two sore arms, one lame achilles tendon, in a daze, making a beeline for the homestead where I took my meds and crashed.

I am on the mend now for certain.  The antibiotics seem to have begun to work, I am not worried about tetanus now.  I've got the foot up while writing this blog, and plan to work from the hammock today...reading, writing and sleeping.....and see if I can be less lame for Christmas.

"I was just hangin' out and my favorite human stomped on me, I had no choice but to sink in my teeth and save myself! I feel awful seeing her limp around because of our little mishap!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peace Restored at Cat Commando

As a follow up to the lost Mokito - found Imposter Mokito - saga, let me just say that miracles do happen!  Below are a couple of photos of "Coqueta" taken Dec.4th, more than two weeks after she was rescued.  She'd lost most of her savage ways and had learned to co-habitate with other happy cats. 

We named her Coqueta because she seemed to respond to the k and t sounds in Mokito.  The word means 'flirt', and once she let down her guard and relaxed after fending for herself on the street, she was quite flirty.  She really wanted a loving female human. Unfortunately it appeared she'd moved into a cat hostel where she'd have to vie for proper attention.

When our vet came over to deworm and vaccinate her, and confirm that she was spayed, I asked him if by any (fat) chance he knew someone looking for a cat.  He told me he thought he DID know a lady looking for exactly this kind of cat!  Grety and Raul came over yesterday to meet Coqueta.  She put on a good LOVE ME show and they ate it up!  We sat and chatted for a while before they took her. That's when I found out they were taking her home to their neutered male (Siamese) cat BUSTER.  Thank you, St. Francis of Assisi!

Dreams can come true!  Coqueta as queen, Buster as will(hopefully) be good in their world.  Here at Base Cat Commando, Moka is again the reigning queen, and Buster is finally acting like he owns the place! Having the cats at peace makes me feel more peaceful.  Now, what are we going to do with these raging savage humans?