Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Lights in Old San Juan

Three Kings Day is celebrated in Puerto Rico on January 6th, so there are many lights alluding to the Kings. Of course, we know the Bible, doesn't call them Kings, but Wise Men, and it doesn't say they were three, but it doesn't say they weren't either. The three gifts gave rise to three, and that is good enough for me. I saw a teleevangelist critizing the Three Kings celebration, and in my opinion he had lost the big picture. The celebration focuses on the Three Kings coming to worship Jesus. What could honor him more?!
In Puerto Rico, children gather grass in a shoebox and place it underneath their beds at night. The grass is for the horses on which the Three Kings ride. In some homes, in addition to the grass they also put a bowl with water. Anyway, I did it too. One day in my late teens, I thought, well I know who the Three Kings are, so I casually asked Daddy if I still needed to put grass for the Kings. Without a moments hesitation, Daddy said if there was no grass there would be no gifts. There was never a question that there would be grass for the Reyes Magos, until I moved out and married. So when I had a family of my own, I continued to follow the tradition. At my house, I had to help the Three Kings out by the disposing of the grass and water. Late at night, around midnight, I would stealthily tuck the grass away in a plastic bag which I invaribly found transformed into a deep green liquid months later while cleaning out a closet. (Trying to do these manuveurs without waking the children was quite a feat, knowing the Kings and horses were right beside me.) The empty shoeboxes were placed under the bed again right next to the gifts the Three Kings left the children. It was always a joy to see my children's faces as they discovered their gifts in the morning. Later as I reflect, I realized it had been a good thing to do even though I had been raised "a la americana." One of my daughters who lives in Alberta Canada, also celebrates Three Kings Day, and it encourages me that my little granddaughters, though very American-Canadian, still honor their Puerto Rican traditions. Ole!!!
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Christmas Lights in Old San Juan

I originally posted some pictures on a grid but I figured most of you would enjoy seeing an enlarged version of each photo, which isn't available in a grid. Aren't they spectacular?

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Lights in San Juan Puerto Rico

Just when I thought I had seen the most beautiful light display in Mount Dora, I turned the corner and came to Old San Juan. I did the best I could to take these pictures from the car I was in, at times stopping the traffic and other times stopped in traffic. You will notice faces and faint outlines of people blended in the background, since there was plenty of activity in Old San Juan even at 7:30 in evening on a Thursday night. We drove right through a concert in Old San Juan with the Police Band. Security was everywhere. It was cute. I hope you enjoy these pictures and pardon the lack of light.

The Canino-Koning Vazquez Week

Lots of fun here with Rosita, Kendall, and Juan. Juan joined us for Christmas eve. Enjoy the pictures. Notice all the different expressions on Kendall's face, but especially the one in the final photo where he is losing to the Canino duo, Juan and Rosita.

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Christmas with the Koning-Canino's

Being with Rosita and Kendall is the equivalent of tons of fun, ideas floating softly or swiftly over my head, the addition of trillions of new words and observing a new form of communication which seems entirely exclusive to them with their phrases full of allusions to previously watched movies or private memoirs. Regardless of that I was able to understand the greater part of their conversations and also enjoy playing Settlers at least eight times with them. Rosita, or Rose as Kendall has rebaptized her, is always more lucky when I am around and managed to beat Kendall off his throne, so you will see a picture with him frowning due to his lack of winningness. Is that a word? We got to go to Winter Park and enjoyed Park Avenue where we ate at the Briar Patch, walked the Christmas decorated street up and down and did plenty of window shopping and then stopped for some wine tasting. It was a neat experience because we could sample different wines for a very reasonable cost. I only sampled one because I had inadvertantly left my corduroy jacket at the restaurant and had to trek back to the restaurant while they did wine tasting. Good exercise. That same day we went on a boat tour which was a lot of fun. Later in the week we went to the Northland candlelight service and since we were at a public school, we were fireless yet illuminated with keychain flashlights. A little corny, but it was about honoring the Light of the World, so we held up our little flashlights.

To all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Lights at Mount Dora

My dear friend Maria and I went to Mt.Dora and enjoyed all the lights.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

To wrap up my trek from Tampa to Orlando, I couldn't resist stopping at Kim's Cabbage Patch in Groveland. She had a spectacular display of poinsettias that I had to stop and take a picture. It was more than plants, in fact her cabbage patch included veggies of all sorts, Christmas trees and wreaths, and boiled peanuts. Yummm.
Look at these bushes, all spruced up to go home for Christmas. Posted by Picasa

A Leisurely Ride from Tampa to Orlando via Route 50

Look who I ran into at the Cracker Barrel of I-75 and Route 50! Why it's Mrs. Kay Claus ! Isn't she adorable? Mrs. Claus, aka, Miss Kay was so nice to stand with me and get her picture taken
Later on Route 50 near Mascotte, I saw this historical home, complete with centennial oak trees lined with Spanish moss.

Further down the road I saw this huge turkey. Can you guess what it was stuffed with?

Then I saw Mascotte City hall all decked out with ribbon covered columns and a puppy dog popping out of the wrapped gift box. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas is around the corner...ummm

I was reading my daughter's post on her blog and it really got me thinking. She said she was lost in her thoughts. It seems a lot of us are feeling this way these days, I said, though we hadn't necessarily traveled for over two weeks with two precious active little girls. What I find is that this time of the year is very demanding and is layered with layer upon layer of memories past associated with this precious holiday season. To feel joyful, it isn't going to happen with hearing lots of Christmas carols which I have been playing, putting up Christmas lights(partially done), or even decorationg the tree just right (maybe tomorrow). To appreciate Christmas or just to feel right at any time, I think we need to be in contact with the Savior and also be honest about how we feel... I told her that we needed to go sit at his feet. And that I was going to follow my own advice.

Remember Mary and Martha... Martha was going, going, going until she was almost burnt out. True that she had a lot of things to do, but sometimes we need to cry out for help and let others give us a hand. Martha complained about her jobs to him and the lack of help, and even complained that Mary wasn't helping her and Jesus said, Mary had chosen the better thing: to sit at his feet.

To sit at his feet and we wonder how can that help? It does because we look up to him, we listen to him speak to us, either in prayer or through the Bible and he will speak to us if you come to him honestly and in faith. Pour out your anxieties, your to do list, your errands, your losses, your unhappiness, your confused thinking, your sad feelings, your angry feelings, your questions. There is nothing unexpected about them for God. Then after you have given him everything, leave them there. Then listen. Listen then and listen later, and keep on listening. Then praise him even if you do not feel like it. Take a Psalm, like Psalm 91, 93,104, and 105, just to mention a few, and read them out loud, go about your house and say the word outloud and everytime you feel inclined to be negative speak the Word out loud and you will be surprised how your attitude will be changed. You will also be surprised how smoothly that to do list gets done with joy.

On the other hand, if you have had a significant loss of a loved one, that is no small matter, and Jesus is ready to help you carry that burden. He is acquainted with your grief and is walking along side you. Ask him to help you carry that pain. He loves you. Remember He said, "Come to me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The pain from the death of a loved one is not going to go away overnight.' Those are valleys we have to go through and they take time. David said in Psalm 23, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me (God is with you!), your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Though you may feel lost, he is never going to abandon you and much less at the time of your deepest need and he will guide you out of this valley.

I don't know if someone needed to hear this, but apparently I needed to say it.

God bless all of you.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my dear friends and family, Happy Thanksgiving! Happy actually started yesterday since my students and I had a fun day at school learning about the pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe at where you can have an interactive experience learning all about the first Thanksgiving. Later in the day, I was transported from chilly Florida to mild PR where my big sister, Doris, picked me up and the fun began. We visited Mami, and got into the flow of Thanksgiving by marathon cooking. I loved it! First we had a light salad with shrimp, and then on to cooking. I had brought some cake mixes from Orlando and we made a beautiful and tasty spice, yellow, and pumpkin cake spiked with extra vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon. We had a little bite, and it was yummy.=). While the cake cooked, Doris and I worked on the turkey and stuffing (mostly Doris) and the time just flew by as we talked about life, broken hearts, family gossip of course, many things we enjoy. That was good, too. We didn't get to sleep until twelve midnight, but it seems I am on my school time internal clock and woke up at 5;35 like clockwork.

Isn't this the way we should spend Thanksgiving? See the parade, hug your family, laugh a little, give a toast, and in our case play some Bingo.

Love to all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Recent Visitors with Real Happy Feet!

The Fluits-Canino's came to visit me, Grandma Elba, for my birthday! What a treat when they went with me to Leu Gardensand later to Tampa to visit Uncle Juan and Papi Jean. Posted by Picasa. Here you can see the girls dancing, playing with Uncle Juan, pooped after the pillow fight, and searching for turtles in the lake at Leu Gardens.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

La Casa de Las Lomas

I was thinking that I have hardly written anything here lately and really what could I write about? First I thought, well, I could write that I am going to PR and "that my bags are packed and I 'm ready to go. " Sounds like the Carpenters, doesn't it? You had to have been around the 70's to remember that. Anyway, what is taking me to PR these days, is la casa de Las Lomas. I really didn't want to let go of that house. Too many memories are unneatly piled there. Let me clarify that it wasn't my first home. In fact, it didn't become home until my family and I, had concluded our stateside and international rendevous in Virginia, Texas, and the Panama Canal Zone. We most unwilling came to Las Lomas, after mom and dad separated after daddy was transferred to Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan. He chose to go to that solitary place, rather than face a probable death in VietNam. He said it was not his idea to "swim so long to end up dying on the shore." Loosely translated version of "tanto nadar para morir en la orilla." So he went up north and we went to the Caribbean.

It was not a piece of cake for any of us. First of all nothing had ever been done to that house to improve it in all the years my parents had had it. After living in a three story house in the officer's quarters in Ft. Clayton, which included a covered garage and a maid's quarters downstairs, we moved into a tiny run down little house on San Patricio Avenue, which had two adjoining thin doors held together by a doornob serving as our front door. It not only was not safe, but it was noisy and small! The buses went up and down the street all day long, and you couldn't step out of the house without someone hooting and yelling piropos as if they had never seen anyone in shorts! Well, they rarely had, and who could blame them. We were las gringas in the neighborhood. Our only friends who understood us at first were los coloraos or redheads, who were also Army Brats that lived next to La Gabriela, several blocks away.

My first impression of Las Lomas was not good. It didn't even have hot water and at first, I had to share a double bed with my sister Doris, since we no longer had our own rooms. Fortunately, mom expanded the whole house, building a fabulous huge kitchen, a new living room, garage, and expanded the front bedroom, where Doris and I , were able to get in some bunk beds. Since I was younger and more agile, I slept on the top and Doris on the bottom. After we discovered the Teen Club in Ft. Buchanan, we spent many a Friday night talking about boys till one in the morning or until Mom came in to tell us to stop since we had a busy day before us on Saturday.

Saturday was clean up day. So every Saturday morning, Doris and I had pretty much the same routine. We had to clean the living room and remove all the grime from the nine or ten windows that faced the street. In order to clean that room spic and span we'd move all the furniture either out into the garage or into the older part of the house with its dull grayish floors. Next we gathered brushes, mops, and brooms and dipped them into foamy soapy water. After scrubbing everything down we would hose the floors and windows and walls, and end up soaked but refreshed. Then we would dry the terrazo floors and lie there for a while until the coolness revived us as we talked about going to visit our friend Maria Quintero or our cousins, Evie, Mayra or Damaris, who lived down the street or going shopping in Santurce.

Twice a month, we would get our allowance from Mom which for me was twenty dollars and in those days went a long ways. Next we would a catch a bus to Santurce and scout the stores for shoes, and cloth to make pretty dresses. We would usually get off at la Parada 18 near what used to be Garcia Commercial, a very safe store since mom had always worked with Los Garcias. I am sure if we had gotten into trouble we could have easily gone in there for help. Yet we never needed to, not then. Instead, in those days we were headed for Bakers, Thom McAn, Capri, and Spanish shoe stores, which had the finest shoes around. At around 5:00 we headed back home with our tired feet and hands strained under the weight of new shoes, ribbons, lace, and future granny or empire dresses.

It was in Las Lomas, that I greeted my long line of boyfriends. Mind you, "boyfriends" that lasted at first only a week, because I really wasn't very tolerant of guys that thought they could score a homeroom, when I only wanted to check them out from the bleachers. Okay not the bleachers, but I was still noncommittal. Later though I met some really nice guys like Bob Hurd and Augie Ingellis. Two young men who were very much like me, raised in the States, military dads, and spoke my cultural language. Not only were they bilingual, but about as easy going as they could get. When I was dating Augie, I had just met a young man at the UPR and to my horror they both showed up at Las Lomas at the same time. How I got out of that jam, I have totally erased from my mind. But yeah, I later did break up with Augie and then dated Clarence. What a life!

Las Lomas, the home of my youth, my carefree teenage days, the days also of when I started to pay attention to my spiritual needs, where Mr. B (for Brenneman) came to pick me up to go to Grace Brethren Bible Church for Teen Time. He always picked me up first, and took me on the circuit through Bayamon, Guaynabo, and surrounding urbanizations in his Volkswagon Van. It was from there that with trembling knees after a real hearbreak, I walked from Las Lomas, crossed La Avenida Central to Summit Hills, and turned a new leaf and dedicated my life to Christ. Las Lomas, a place where I went from being a young girl and lived through my parents difficult marriage, my sweet sixteen with live music that Edwin brought in with all his friends, graduating from "La Santa" Gabriela Mistral, my brother's addiction, going on to college, falling in love, falling out of love, falling in love again, and working for Campus Crusade for Christ. Later, where daddy had me read his law exam results because he was too scared to do it himself. He passed! What joy! Where I met and dated Jean Canino who became an important part of my life. Where Edwin and Jazmin lived, and Edwincito was born. And where Edwin passed away. The house was never the same without him. It has been basically shut up since then. That is why it is hard, so hard to let go. So many memories tightly wrapped together. Thank God for the memories.

Thank you, God, for the memories.

Maybe now someone will open the windows and let the light shine in. It's too bad it can't be me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Annie's Family

When I wrote about Annie's birthday being in October, well Aay's was a little disappointed with her microscopic pictures. So here goes a collage of the family and company, just a little big larger. It is a busy household and everybody pitches in to help. From feeling chirpy or feeling poopy, making cookies, laughing, dancing, visiting, taking pictures, or just relaxing, it's all part of a day's worth at the Flutes and Canines. Hope you like the pictures, Aay!


Grandma Elba Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tomorrow is October 19th!!! Has it Been 30 Years? Impossible but true!

Top Left to right and around: Annie in Fair View, reflecting on our trip in Stratford upon Avon or is she trying to see her future just around the corner?, hugging Juan in Rome, hugging baby Rosita in Fair View ( is this a pattern?), in Switzerland with me, a composite of her busy life loving Arwen, Chris, and Zanneke today in Brooks, Canada, and much earlier with Nana, Tito, y yo, at six months in Villa Nevarez, and finally with her Wesleyan Academy jacket in Montecarlo. She is all heart! Happy Birthday! Posted by Picasa

Has it been 30 Years?

Annie, has it been thirty years since I first met you, well, that I first cuddled you? Thirty years... the emotion swells up inside of me when I remember talking to you once you were born, in a sweet soft shrill voice I told you that I was right there with you and you stopped crying. You stopped crying when you heard my voice. What an amazing thing it was to have that connection with you, seconds after you were born.

You made it so easy to be a parent, Annie. (Except for the gastroenteritis and colics. But that didn't last long.) So I learned my lessons with you and as a result, I improved with Rosita and Juan Daniel. I was very fortunate to have you as a daughter! You were obedient and respectful and a good example to your brother and sister. Any way you have added so much to my life with all your love and carinos. So many wonderful memories of seeing you smile, fight hard, and succeed at most everything you set your heart to do! I am so proud of you! I want to wish you a wonderful 30th birthday, and we have a raincheck to go shopping together for your present when you come in November, si Dios lo permite. Un beso y un abrazo, amor. Que Dios te bendiga.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Stormy Weather and Miscellaneous Antiques

Just this Saturday, we had really stormy weather here in the Orlando area as a cool front moved through and knocked our temperatures down a notch, specifically 10 degrees cooler for a couple of days. It was late Saturday and I was shopping with Cassandra, she was buying shoes and a dress for her cruise, ooh la la, to the Bahamas, and I was just blowing money, when it started to pour. We could hear the rain pounding on the metal roof of the shoe warehouse. Getting out of the store was another challenge but it was nothing compared to the drive home. In fact, a tornado touched down in Apopka and blew some roofs off an apartment complex. Fortunately for me, I was driving the other direction. I managed to get to Waterford before the bad lighting storm pulled through and got Pup out of the rain and into safety. I had to enter Mesha, Juan's little tabby cat, first from the porch to the garage and then bring in Pup. Yesterday, Juan picked her up, yea after boarding with me for a week!!! Now I have more freedom of movement and don't have to worry about a feline on little cat feet with silent haunches watching the fog roll in. Oops that is another story...

Talking about animals, I saw the funniest thing today and if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. Pup was barking at me to feed him, so I did, as I have been trained. Ha ha. Anyway, when I took the food out I heard this strange small like barking coming from the narrow forest next to my house in my miniscule back yard. When I took a closer look, it was a squirrel barking, believe me, barking and staring at Pup. And there it stayed for five minutes, and finally realizing that Pup was too busy eating to come out and play, it scurried on up the tree. What I would have done for a camera at that moment. You will just have to trust me on this one.

Got to run and smell the roses!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bill and Jessica's Wedding

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Meet Bill and Jessica Sneed

Here's Jessica and Billy being declared man and wife!

Here's Jill with baby Dylan.

Pat, who is visiting from Arizona was able to make it to the wedding, and found a good dance partner in Norman, Cassandra's newphew.
My good friend Cassandra had a wedding in her family just Saturday. Her son Billy married his bride, Jessica right here in Altamonte Springs. Here are some pictures of the fun we had that night. You can see him dancing with his sister, Jill. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Today as I was about to leave Cypress Creek, there were four herons frolicking around the grounds. This one in particular followed me to my car and in fact waited behind me until I got in. I figured it was there to be photographed. What a regal figure and to have it pose so close. I thought it would fly away at any moment but it waited patiently for me as I erased other pictures from my disk. I just couldn't believe how blessed I am. Notice it walking in steady step and its little red forehead. Beautiful!
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Florida Sky and Savannah

Last Sunday, Juan Daniel told me to go and meet him and his fiancee, Brandy, out on Route 50 and I-95. We were so fortunate to spend around 2 hours talking at Cracker Barrel. For those who know how much he dislike CB, it was quite an accomodation.

After he parted for Miami, I was driving home and saw the St. Johns River. I would love some day to travel on a boat down the river, but Sunday was not going to be that day, but I decided to turn around and park my car on the road and take a picture near the bridge. But I was able to do a lot better than that. There is boat ramp and even benches to see the river flowing north. North because I think it reaches the ocean in Jacksonville and traverses the whole state. So enjoy the view.

The picture of the beautiful sky was from last week out side my house in Waterford. Isn't that a dramatic scene? Hope you like them as much as I did taking them.

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