Saturday, February 22, 2014

#GTMOproblems; or, Crotch tarantulas and Toad-licking dogs

Today's weather in Guantánamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba: high of 85º and sunny. 

1. The worst thing your parents can threaten you with is not letting you play outside. (It works like a charm)
2. You have flip flops for every season---and don't understand why you can't buy more online when it's the middle of winter.
3. In an effort to keep up with your &%$ keys, you realize that the best place to keep them is in the ignition. That way, you'll always know where they are. Also, if your neighbors need to borrow your car quickly, they don't have to knock on the door and disturb you for the keys.
4. You know the exact dates of the six flights off the island every month, even if you don't plan on going anywhere. (Must have an escape plan!)
5. You can't get fresh tomatoes some days---but you can always get lemongrass (and know how to cook 2-3 dishes using it).
6. You have to bring your own grass to the golf course.

7. You have a Keurig, because everyone here has a Keurig.
8. Don't don't price shop. You don't even flinch at the checkout (anymore).
9. You don't think it's weird that Pizza Hut is out of pizza, the ice cream machine is broken at McDonalds for a month, or Subway is out of bread.
10. You go to rent a movie and realize you've already seen every single new movie. For free. Under the stars.
11. You get your local news on the "roller," a local station that runs a PowerPoint. If you miss an announcement on a slide, you have to wait 30 minutes for it to roll back around.
12. You find information on the roller about what to do if your dog licks a poisonous toad, or a notice that your neighborhood is going to have a power blackout for 8 hours, and you don't find it weird (or even alarming).
13. You find it annoying when all four windmills aren't turning at the same time. You don't know why this is; it just is.

14. You can't figure out how to turn on your cell phone you haven't used in a year.
15. You own a checkbook---and use it. You can only pay cash or check for your phone and cable bill (no credit cards).
16. Your local bank doesn't have cash. You think it's normal to get all your money from the ATM.
17. Finding your neighbor on your couch or back porch waiting for you when you get home from work isn't a strange thing. They let themselves in because the house is always unlocked.
18. You always have a couple of bottles of wine in the fridge because, well, there are always those neighbors stopping by. . .
19. Although you suspect it's an urban legend that you can be fined up to $10,000 for killing an iguana, you are extra careful and check under and behind your car every time you get in it.
20. Your sunglasses cost $80, your purse cost $150, your running shoes cost $100, your cheap ear buds cost $20, and your flip flops $40 (all with a shipping tariff tacked on), because with one store, you get what you get and don't throw a fit.
21. You don't have any idea what the most recent viral videos are, because you really don't have 30 minutes to watch that 2 minute video that everyone is posting on FaceBook.
22. You spend a fortune on razors. Nothing like having to shave EVERY DAY because you will definitely wear shorts and may also end up at the beach.
23. Tarantulas really do jump straight up, right about crotch level, if you run on top of them at night.

Don't ask me how I know this.

24.You've got 99 problems---but traffic ain't one.

Meme pics from the facebook site Guantanamo Memes---funny stuff if you live here. If you don't---you probably won't get it. But it's still funny. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yard Work; or, Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow

Today's weather in Guantánamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba: high of 86º and SUNNY! 

The youngest and I were talking this week, and he says the following:

"So, mom, my friends and I were talking at lunch and [classmate] wants to write a book. It's like Captain Underpants, but he's calling it Captain Butt. I tried to explain to him that he just can't do that. You know, he has to get permission from the writer before he writes a story that's almost the same story."

Two things:
One, my 8 year old gets the concept of copyright better than most students (and several adults) that I know.

Second, OH. MY. GOD. Seriously---do I talk that much librarian stuff around him that he just spouts it out at random moments, like in the lunchroom???

You never know what kids are going to say. It's the beauty of parenthood---those moments when they say something unexpectedly clever and funny (especially if you are having a bad day) or when they pledge their undying love for you and it's not even Christmas.

You never know what habits or hobbies of yours that kids will pick up, either. I wish my kids had picked up my love for working in the yard. I wish my husband loved working in the yard.

Unfortunately, this is one activity I have to go at alone. And I'm okay with that, too, since my entire lifetime, starting at picking huckleberries and blueberries in the early summer mornings while in elementary school, yard work has always been a meditation of sorts.

I love how time stands still when I garden.  I spent hours outdoors as a child and I can do the same today---I realized after I had dug, raked, weeded, transplanted, and watered Saturday that almost 4 hours had passed, and it really only seemed like an hour, tops.

I love getting tan. I know, I know, I shouldn't say that. Skin cancer is a serious thing (and to some people, so are wrinkles). I have had three sunburns in my life, and those were for crazy, 8+ hour excursions in the burning hot sun. I try to remember sunscreen, but honestly, I'm awful at remembering it. (I am religious about my kids wearing it, although they both tan, especially the youngest).  I have weird suntan lines from the various shirts I wear every time I am outdoors, and if remembered to wear shoes, I would probably have killer flip flop tan lines like my husband.

Most of all, I love transforming something plain and ugly into something much more attractive. There is something very zen about taking a cutting and being able to transplant it into a flowerbed a few weeks later. I've managed to give quite a few potted plants away, and I'm very proud that they have all been from cuttings or seeds I planted myself. We can't buy seeds or plants here, so seedlings from a neighbor or our nice volunteer-staffed nursery is the only way to garden in Gitmo.

Houses here are typical base housing---I am thankful for a sturdy house that is safe during hurricanes and keeps us cool in the hot days of eternal summer. It is smaller than anywhere we've lived. but it also have very efficient storage space (and has forced us to weed out our unneeded "stuff"). People here do one of two things---they embrace being part of a cookie-cutter neighborhood and do very little to personalize the outdoor space, or they landscape as much as you can in such harsh conditions (and with limited resources), and find a way to bring a little of their personalities to their yard.

The second would be me---in addition to Pedro the Yard Chicken, I have Lola, the flamingo. Both are made from 55 gallon drums and came from Mexico via Canton, Texas. Lola got a new coat of pant this weekend and looks fantastic (fantastically tacky, right? Because that is sort of the point of having a flamingo in your yard).

The bottle tree got a few new bottles thanks to the seemingly never-ending party this holiday weekend (two birthdays, one bounce house, many new bottles to choose from). I transplanted plumeria and coral trees and gave away some ornamental pineapples. The coral tree came off the tree I dug up from a stranger's yard when I first got here---so far, I've gotten 7 trees from that one. Talk about a giving tree!

After 20 minutes of watering, I swear the sparse grass grew a few inches. It's not perfect, but I do love living somewhere where I can work year-round in the yard.