Monday, March 30, 2015

Hidden in Plain Sight; or More White Walls

Sometimes when you are unsure about life, just ask yourself, What Would Henry David Thoreau Do?
Heaven is beneath our feet, as well as over our heads.---Thoreau
If you aren't sure, the answer is he would say go enjoy nature.

(of course, if you aren't into nature, you can just go enjoy beer and make Ben Franklin happy)
That's just what I did last weekend. Instead of school work (boo!!!), I worked on the yard. 

I finally ventured behind the fence. We live on the edge of a bluff over the Bay. I haven't bothered to see what's behind the fence until my mini adventure, when I found this: 

Those are coconut trees. How did I miss that there are coconut trees right by my house? They are hidden in plain sight. Maybe, one day, we'll have our own coconuts.

You really have to look down sometimes to see what's around you. Last weekend, I had a 2 ft Cuban racer snake slithering down the walkway towards my front door. It was my second encounter in a week with a Cuban racer at the new house. While walking on the beach, I have found so many strange and wonderful things---pieces of old pottery and sea glass (some with "Cuba" written on it), dozens of types of shells, old buttons and silverware and other strange things that are somehow connected to the US Navy or to Cuba. 

You also have to look up so you won't miss bats and birds, huge moths and even bigger tarantulas. Ever present turkey vultures. There is a pair of kestrels that have built a nest in a tree right outside my class door. I love to watch them bring back the bounty of their hunts (usually lizards). If you know where to look, you can find the nocturnal banana rats sleeping high in trees during the day. 

Much more obvious than the coconuts are the banyans. Oh, how I love them---even if they house nasty banana rats (one plowed through my potted plants---so they are most definitely on my hit-list). 

While I am working in the yard, I am tempted to dig holes and move plants around. I am also tempted to hang up some of the dozens and dozens of pictures we have framed, many of which we never put up in the limited wall space of our last house. 

I have a nice entranceway begging for pictures. It's so tempting, but. . . I am back to white wall mentality

We are waiting for the 2 weeks (or longer) for transfer announcements. If a move is not in the cards, pictures will go up, plants will be moved, and I will feel more at home. 

More waiting and waiting, trying not to obsess on the future and live in the present. If I haven't learned anything else here, it's to try to live more in the present and not listen to conjectures, rumors, and "what-ifs."  I've also learned to enjoy the simple hidden treasures of GTMO---coconuts and tarantulas, snakes and sea glass, banana rats and mangos. And the list goes on. . . 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Magic 8 Ball Says. . . ; or, So it Goes

This week has been all about paperwork.

I filled out paperwork for the house we recently vacated as well as for the new house.

I spent a loooong time filling out the NINE page document to sign each kid up for soccer. Recreational soccer. Seriously, y'all. . . nine pages each, for recreational soccer.

Then I spent hours getting all the paperwork signed and passed around base so my parents can come visit for Spring Break. I am so excited to have visitors! And in our new house!

The most time has been spent on the paperwork for the transfer round. I am staying optimistic, I am future focused, I am staying the course. This will happen! (Okay, this may not happen, but keeping with my optimistic theme of the day, THIS WILL HAPPEN!).

I have so much to be thankful for right now. I have finally connected with my pal Nicole's mom, and twice in a month we have talked. It's always a treat to talk to someone so upbeat who has been in the DoDDS system (and as an English teacher). I reconnected with some girlfriends I haven't seen in a while and met up with them for dinner this week. I got to see my beloved former neighbor (we had a trail of lights between our houses so we could find each other---with a bottle of wine---for our many back porch philosophy sessions). We hung out with one of my new neighbors. I've had conversations right here in little, tiny GTMO with one person about her trip to Antarctica, and another about his humanitarian work in South Sudan. We've had friends stop by the house almost every night this week. I have had friends overseas and in the States tell me that they are praying for us during the transfer round. I never quite know what to say when people tell me that, other than "thank you." It's so flattering (and overwhelming).

And of course, I am thinking about the future so I consulted my Magic 8 Ball. As far as all the stars aligning for a great 2015-2016 school year?

It's going to be great, "without a doubt." Whether it's here or somewhere else, who knows.

Just in case the Magic 8 Ball isn't infallible, I am looking to Kurt Vonnegut for guidance. Who can go wrong with a little Vonnegut? From one of my very, very favorite books:
I am going to work on not looking back so often. Vonnegut (as usual) got it right. It is human nature. There are a lot of components to the story of how I got here (this literal geographical place as well as metaphorical place). There is a lot of work to get where I want to be (again, geographically and metaphorically). I am going to try to spend less time thinking about the "how" and "why" of my time in Cuba (the past), and focus on the "what" (the present). I still have lots to accomplish. It may take 4-5 months to finish my time here, or it may be that I will be here another school year.

Who knows? Today I can focus on today, by doing my best job of the here and now. I can also focus on what I can change down the road---thus the paperwork. So I promise---no more transfer round talks until we hear something (the antici---pation is killing me!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Digs; or, Happy Diversions

We have moved!

(Yes, this even includes Rodney).

Poor Rodney forgot his seatbelt. 

After schlepping boxes and furniture (and taxidermied animals) from point A to point B, we are officially living in our new house.

It's a lot more spacious than our last place---we can spread our furniture out, unpack those boxes that were tucked away in closets and the garage until now, and the best part is we have our own banyan tree!

When I first moved to Cuba, instead of unpacking and sorting (which I am doing now, and REALLY wishing I would have done a better job of 2 1/2 years ago), I dug up trees from a stranger's yard.

The seeds from that coral tree (under the banana tree, left) have produced several other trees, and I left that original tree in the front yard, but dug up the babies populating my backyard. They are now living in front of the new casa.

As I always do, I am working in my yard and sorting books instead of unpacking and sorting clothes. It's all about priorities, y'all. 

I am still category F. I have contacted everyone I can and begged people to go to bat for me, but I guess it isn't going to happen. The transfer round has been postponed, but it is coming up fast, and I am not being a pessimist (or cynic) but a realist---I have a very, very slim shot of leaving here this summer. Bummer.  It's not a great feeling. There is a definite feeling of claustrophobia that comes with living in a small, isolated fishbowl of a community. Many people here love it, despite this fact. The one thing I have learned about myself through this experience is that I am most definitely a city girl at heart. Despite having a lovely home, a great childhood, and wonderful, loving parents, I could not wait to get the heck out of small town Mississippi  at 17 years old (and after a few days back visiting every summer, I am very ready to go again). Give me traffic and let me live somewhere where I have to lock my doors any day. Mayberry is great to visit, but I am not the kind of person who can live there. My teenager has the same feeling, too. 

In the meanwhile. . . I am enjoying the happy diversion that is moving. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thank God it's broken; or, Pedro's (finally) on the move

Today's weather in Naval Station Guantánamo Bay: 88º and it's hot, y'all! 

Being a tall person my entire life, I am often called upon to "come here and get this [such and such] from that top shelf." The problem with our house is the kitchen cabinets are over a deep set counter, which means I have to really get on my tip toes to reach the highest shelf. This problem became apparent when, upon grabbing a pyrex casserole dish, another glass dish hidden inside it came crashing down, narrowly missing my head in the process.

The crash was horrendous, the mess was heinous. Glass slivers and chips and chunks sprayed EVERYWHERE, thanks to a tile floor that had the dish bouncing like a ball before its demise. I swept, I mopped, I swept again, and I vacuumed. Twice. Even after finding dead (and live!) scorpions in the house, I have an aversion to wearing shoes indoors, but I now find myself wearing flip flops in the kitchen.

My thoughts?

Thank God. That's one less thing I have to pack.

And just like that, I've been secretly wishing that everything I don't need would just tumble out of a cabinet and end up in the garbage. That would make the process of moving to another house oh-so-easy.

Some good news. . .

Pedro the Yard Chicken has a new home.

We got keys today for our new digs! Stay tuned for the Continuing Adventure of Tacky Lawn Art (Bottle Tree, you are next) and inevitably, more broken dishes along the way.