Thursday, December 31, 2009

Delays are Not Denials

A good friend of mine always says, "God's delays are not His denials," and she is right. I believe I was delayed today in order to usher in God's blessings. We have a phrase in Spanish that says, "uno propone pero Dios dispone." Meaning that we make our plans but in essence God orders our steps. It is so true. I had a ticket in hand. My plans were all set, but by a click of a wrong button, what I thought were well thought out plans, were not. And there I was at the airport being told I didn't have a seat on the plane, and that I had to return to my niece's house and not my expected destination. Funny how that word destination, has the word destiny in it. I very well think and believe, some One else other than me really holds the keys to my destination. So for now, I will be enjoying a beautiful day in paradise. I know PR isn't perfect but to me it is a beautiful place, a place with my beloved family, and mi gente and I am so glad I'm here.

A post note: A lot of lovely and other necessary things have happened that confirm that I needed to be here. I am very grateful for the delay.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Palm Fronds Bookmark


This is one in a series of four but I was only able to upload one. When I get back to Orlando, I will put up the rest.
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Christmas Greetings

Latin style.
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El Yunque Dec 2009

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A rainy day in the Rain Forest. Here are some of the pictures I took and liked the most. First the heavenly fragranced White Ginger which is actually more of a yellowish gold, than its name would imply. Next a Panoramic view of El Yunque towards the ocean with Yagrumo and Sierra Palm trees as a backdrop. Then the Huge Mountain with the open rock area with hides an Indian Face. To find the face, click on the picture look at the larger rock area and the last two thirds of the rock shows an Indian face. It's amazing. I wonder if the Taino Indians actually carved it. Finally, the last picture is facing inland perhaps towards Mt. Britton, covered with a misty cloud. It had been a long time since I had the opportunity to take pictures leisurely as a tourist and not have to drive to El Yunque myself. I am so grateful for the friends that took me there and helped me have a good time.
The day was wonderfully cool and full of people while the riverfalls and streams were full of gushing water. I am so thankful.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cell phone Cameras

Thank goodness for cell phone cameras, old friends, God's forgiveness, and tostones.

I left my camera in Orlando. I almost live and breathe with my camera, and I left it. It's a good camera too, and you just can't spend a couple of hundred dollars for a camera for a couple of days, so I am doing with out in a sense. I do have my cellphone camera, but it is never as good as the other one, besides it is so small my finger always gets in the way and it's awkward when driving. But it will have to do. The picture of the old balcony was taken with my LG. Perhaps today I can get more. I really wanted to take a picture of a balcony a day, and I am so sorry, but I haven't been able to. Actually, one of the draw backs is that I have difficulty downloading the pictures with out an adapter, so I text them to my email but sometimes they just won't go through. But I am still thankful I got them.

Old friends, well I ran into some at church this morning. They took me out to eat at a nice restaurant in Los Paseos, called Bebo's. That's the nice part. We talked and talked and I lost track of time, and before I knew it, I didn't make it to a place I needed to go. I'm conflicted, I mean I feel conflicted but I know I was where I needed to be. Things happen. People judge. God forgives. I don't know about certain people forgiving, but God forgives me.

And well tostones. Tostones speak for themselves. I had some.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Feliz Navidad!

An empty nest, removed from children and grandchildren, most of my friends, most of my favorite relatives, all coincided this Christmas. Yet my pity party was cut short, when I saw the sweetest thing today and in a sense the most heartbreaking. I was on my way to see my 88 year old mother who is in a nursing home in Bayamon. I had passed el tunel de Minnillas, passed La Kennedy, and had hopped on route 22 which heads towards Arecibo. I was on the far right lane, going fast. The speed was unknown since the speedometer in this borrowed car was broken, so I was pretty much keeping up with traffic.

Everyone was hurrying to go to someone else's house to deliver presents left at theirs by Santa Claus, when I noticed some people on the side of the road, wearing red and white furred hats. There were two others coming up a small side road pushing a child in a wheel chair. Further ahead I saw perhaps five or six well dressed people, two of which were also wearing the red and white furred hats typical of the festive Christmas season, with their backs turned to the expressway. They were facing a teal and silver high rise building. Waving. At the speed I was going, I couldn't tell if anyone was seeing them, but there had to be or at least they hoped. It was then I realized what they were doing and it pierced my heart as I realized what the teal and silver barred building was. It was the Federal Prison. And the people waving were relatives of inmates there. They may have made mistakes small or large, but they were still loved and valuable. When I thought about the child in the wheelchair wanting to say I love you and wish someone Feliz Navidad, and probably couldn't get closer than this, I gasped as I realized the gift they bore. It was the immensity of their love. A love that took them outside their comfort zone for someone who could not return the favor. I knew then I had love I could bear and someone to receive it and that was enough.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Wish to You!

♪♫•*¸♥Feliz Navidad♪♫•*¨¸¸♥ ¨*•♫♪Feliz Navidad, ♪♫•*¸♥ ¸¸.*•♫♪Feliz Navidad ♪♫• *¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸♫♪ Prospero Año y Felicidad ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♥ I Want to Wish You ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♥ A Merry Christmas♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ •♫ I Want to Wish You ♪♫•*¨*•.¸ ♥ •♫♪ A Merry Christmas ♥ ♥ ♥ From the Bottom of My Heart! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♥ And A Happy New Year! ♪♫• *¨*•.¸¸ ♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Fondest Memory

As a child, while my father was often transferred from one base to another, I once asked myself, what do I remember the most from Puerto Rico? Sure I remembered my first home in Puerto Nuevo, with its fences that seemed 10 feet tall. Only to become a mere six feet upon my return. I also remembered my brother crashing a perfectly good metal car he was riding down the narrow sidewalk in la Calle Dresde against the retaining wall of our home, totally on purpose. Such bizarre behavior always surprised me. I also remembered getting my foot stuck in the spokes of a bicycle, and as a result almost bleeding to death, but I didn't.

Of course those were memories, but not my fondest. My fondest was the wide open sidewalks of El Parque Luis Munoz Rivera. Luis Munoz Rivera was a poet and grand statesman who struggled for Puerto Rican autonomy during the 19th century. He was also father to Luis Munoz Marin the four time governor of Puerto Rico. But to me Luis Munoz Rivera, meant fun and something beautiful. It meant balloons, swings, flowers, slides, and possibly a nice stroll with my brothers and sister down a shady sidewalk, much as it is today. I always remember the sidewalks being as wide as a street, and when I came back, that hadn't changed. I wasn't disappointed. On the contrary, they are still there, with their rustic benches, wide, open, and carefree.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

One Balcony a Day


Christmas is here and so are the decorated balconies in Old San Juan.
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Sounds. What a Difference!

I wish I could tape them for you. Of course you have them in the North but in Florida in our sound proof home we tend to forget them. That proverbial question: if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there, is there sound? The answer will depend on how you define someone, because we know all the animals can hear it, the plants can sense the vibrations, and even the sounds in space can be measured on earth. So yes someone can always hear them.

But that wasn't why I was writing, because there are plenty of people here. Tons of them, big, small, tall and large, happy and sad, mostly happy. Millions of them in San Juan. So there is no trouble with people hearing the sounds or making them for that matter. The laughter of a child two stories above, a truck's intermittent warning as it backs up, a boy singing, a dropped pot bangs and clatters in a ring, the buzz of a plane flying over head, the thrashing of huge trash bins, the whirling of a siren down the road, and the birds.

Sound pollution competing with a symphony. I'll gladly take the laughter, the songs, and the birds.

This morning, it was the birds that caught my eye, though I saw not one. All I did was hear them at first and then listen. Listen I did to their chirps long, short, and shrilled, as well as, the happy, surprised, and territorial whistles. They are silent now mostly, when the world started to wake up next to them, competing forcefully against them. They muted saving their lullabies and calls for a more quiet audience. Perhaps a mellow moment.

Wait there they go again, perhaps not as loud as they were when they were trying to wake the sleepers, but now more softly, signaling to friends and foes, greetings and warnings. All of this is taking place in Carolina. The birds I am referring to live in the trees next to the lagoon, La Laguna San Jose, near Laguna Gardens which in reality should be declared a sanctuary for wildlife before its too late. It is a breathing space teeming with life not far from the conglomerated city with concrete piled in little houses not more than four feet from each other in Villa Palmera or the high rise hotels and condos in Isla Verde. The whole Lagoon should be protected by Recursos Naturales, from water contamination and unrestricted growth of building and private properties. The fowl, flora and fauna, that surround the beautiful mangroves or manglares which keeps them healthy also needs to be protected.

The sounds of the area are a wonderful sound of life, human and animal. The concrete, don't get me wrong, provides safety in storms, but we need a balance and the Laguna San Jose provides it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sand Hill Crane?


Frequent Campus visitors of the best kind. They exude beauty and don't talk back. Come any time and visit!
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Twenty Dollar Tree

Here's my twenty dollar tree that I told you about. It's a cute little tree and frankly I think it is perfect for the price. I have a lot of soft ornaments that make it practically kid safe but all my granddaughters are far away, so I will have to pretend.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

No Geminids Spectacular Tonight

In Central Florida we woke up to a thick blanket of fog, and already at seven o'clock this evening, fog again had come in on little cat's feet overlooking... every bar and city... just trying to make Carl Sandburg's poem fit in. But yeah, no streaking sky visible with all this spongy cloud cover. So we will have to wait till next year! So no Geminids Meteor Shower spectacular tonight, at least just not from below. We know the light show is full blast just up above.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Florida Snow


And no I am not talking about grits. It's actually these bushes that you see along the road. Last week we had a very foggy morning and gray skies, and when you looked at the side of the road you could see hundreds of these bushes which seem snow capped. Just lovely. Of course the one I am showing here was taken around noon so it is no way illustrative of the many I saw that morning but the white caps can clearly be seen. Florida snow in balmy weather.
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Chirbit | Share audio easily | northlandchurch | The Hallelujah Chorus, featuring Northland`s...

Chirbit | Share audio easily | northlandchurch | The Hallelujah Chorus, featuring Northland`s...

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Geminids Meteor Shower

If you enjoy cold sleepless nights and seeing fireworks of the natural kind, it might be worth your while to bear the cold to see a meteor shower that can be as many as 20 meteors an hour streaking across the sky. Another source says since we will have optimum conditions this year for viewing, that there may be 120 to 150 meteors per hour, granted some may be faint. Nevertheless that is significant.

The expectancy and then the surprise is worth waiting for, really. I once went to a lightless pier in Villa Taina in Boqueron one night with my kids, covered with insect repellent mind you and laid down on the splintered boards, chatted, and enjoyed looking up at the star filled sky with an occasional misty cloud passing overhead, and watched for meteors to pierce the night. If I only saw two or three, it was memorable. Imagine twenty or 120! My niece shared on Facebook information about the meteor shower and I am passing it on to you. Follow the informational link to the Geminids, since the showers are coming from this constellation. Get those star maps out!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches. When I was growing up in Virginia, I loved walking home through the scenic route, where I invariably would get lost and end up taking a wrong turn, but it was always with one purpose: to see a beautiful 30 foot tall Blue Spruce that made its home on an immaculate green lawn in Little Creek, not far from Meadowbrook Elementary School. The School is now closed down, but the tree I think is still there. Tall, beautiful, and regal, with fragrance galore.

So that was when I started falling in love with fir trees. Later, when we moved to jungle surrounded Panama and tropical Puerto Rico, we never lacked a fresh cut Christmas tree every season since the Army made sure there were always some to be purchased at a reasonable price. After my children grew up, I drifted away from buying a "live" tree because they were so outrageously priced at 45 and 60 dollars. Sometimes, I would end up snatching broken branches for impromptu festive decorations. Mostly though, I bought a Christmas wreath from one of the larger food warehouse stores in order to have the scent of pine. But I stuck to the familiar artificial tree.

This Christmas, for some reason, I was rebellious. I was tired of settling for a fake tree. I wanted to splurge. For the first time in many years, I finally got a real Christmas tree and for the unbelievable price of $19.95*. I know what you are thinking and the answer is no. No, it is not missing an arm or a leg! It is a plump little tree, 5 to 6 foot, and it smells like Christmas. It is adorable and looks just right where I set it.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to decorating it with a hot cup of cocoa and marshmallows. I will take a before and after so you can see I am telling the truth. It looks so good just as it is, but a tradition isn't a tradition, if you don't do it, is it?

*Where did I get this lovely tree? At Lowe's Hardware Store, at the corner of Alafaya and Lake Underhill. Thank you!

Extravagant Christmas Lights

Do you want to see some really cool Christmas lights that are engineered to light up with music? Click on the link to see them. On this second link you can see their gallery and click on Amazing Grace. See the coolest 12 Days of Christmas here.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

One More Bookmark

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Some New Bookmarks


A Flurry of Bookmarks. A Barrage of Bookmarks. There are more but these are the ones for now.
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Finished Product


This is what a pastel looks like after cooking in salted water for an hour. It tasted good, too!
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Conquering Pasteles


The Pasteles recipe
was something so revered in my family, I thought I would never be able to make them. It would be impossible, I thought to even come close to making them like Titi Sarita. Then I got the funny idea of making some with my daughters when I met up with them for Thanksgiving. It was a struggle. I wanted to make them, but I was scared to. My first attempt many years back had resulted in rubbery pasteles. So it was no wonder that I was hoping they would forget it. Just when I thought they had, my two daughters mentioned the pasteles again and that we had to be up early to make them. I really didn't have the complete recipe, but we did have all the essential ingredients including the pork (pernil), plantains (platanos), yautia, we had to forget the green bananas because they started to ripen, but we had sofrito, garbanzos, plantain leaves, achiotina, adobo, garlic, etc. There was no way getting out of it. It was doom or die, more or less. How could I disappoint mis hijas? They wanted so much to do them, and deep inside, so did I. So we started grating the 7 plantains, two yautias, and one potato. (The potato I felt was a sacrilege, since I never recalled one in Titi's recipe, but a good friend (she's a great cook) swore by it so I decided to try. I managed to grate half of one plantain, and Rosita took over my grater. Ana had one, too. I wanted to help grate more, but Rosita would not hear of it. Frankly, it was hard work and they were enjoying it!

So I ended up supervising. Checking and seasoning the filling, peeling the one potato and yautia, the latter being as slippery as soap, cleaning and preparing the leaves (with Rosita) by searing them over the hot stove. When you are making pasteles there is always plenty to do. I consulted the simplified hand written recipe, my Aunt Sarita, had given my mother. The recipe said, the ingredients to the recaito, and basically said what you had to do the day before, and then added the words that we were to "pegar hacer pasteles!" In other words, get to making the pasteles!

It was then that I had to rely on my memory of the several times I had helped make pasteles with all the womenfolk in the family. How they used a tablespoon filled with achiotina (annatto heated with olive oil or lard)to make a shiny circle on the plantain leaf, then scoop some masa on the leaf, make a little indentation and place the meat filling, add two garbanzo beans, one or two olives (Ana insisted I not be stingy with the olives), fold the banana leaf, then fold the parchment paper over it, and place the pastel on the string, loop the cords and tie it up. I thought we might be able to make 7 to 10 pasteles if we were lucky. To my surprise we were able to make 18, and after boiling them for an hour, to my utter shock and joy, they actually tasted pretty good! Modestia aparte!

What did I get out of this experience? First of all, it was a reminder of how much I love my daughters; they are the best girls in the world and with family we can do almost anything. And that I am no longer afraid of making pasteles. Gracias a Dios!
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See my previous entry to Pasteles

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mark Harris at Northland


Mark Harris, lead singer for many years for the group 4Him was leading worship at Northland today and it was wonderful. Some of the songs he has written have been long time favorites, so when he sang a couple of them, well, I had to pull out some tissue. One of my favorites is the Christmas melody, A Strange Way to Save the World which I had always sung with my whole heart. Then he sang the one I sang when each of my kids left home, who were like beautiful birds I had perched on my hand. For each one, and I had to open my hand to release them like I was releasing a beautiful bird testing and then growing strong to fly far away. The song that embodied that reality was Find Your Wings So thank you Mark Harris for expressing so well what was deep in my heart.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Something Random and Funny

If you search on Google you get the funniest message. It used to be that you hit Chuck Norris on Google and hit Get lucky and it would come out but no more. So try the link, just for fun.

This is what happens when you hang out with your funny kids on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving in Lansing


The recipes, the kitchen talk, the games, grandchildren, and Uncle Juan and all around fun. And a time to give thanks and laugh. Enjoying every minute.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Today

Thanksgiving celebration began with the Pilgrims thanking God for his divine provision which revealed itself in many crucial "coincidences," that it proved to be truly remarkable. Yet how does that event in 1621 translate to our every day experiences?

Frankly, the act of giving thanks did not start with the Pilgrims. Being thankful is a natural response to others being kind, good, and generous with us. Someone was always good first. In our personal lives our parents primarily loved us and showed us the goodness or virtue of being thankful and we know God approves of us being grateful. Once the Lord Jesus encountered 10 lepers, and healed them all, but can you believe only one came back to thank him? He asked that one, but "where are the other nine?"

Truly, being thankful and having a heart full of gratitude is something our own hearts confirm. How many times have we done something for some one else and they don't thank you for it? Of course we are not kind in order to receive thanks. The word doesn't have to be uttered, a smile, a hug, a wink sometimes will do, won't it? But it is that acknowledgment that that act of goodness has not gone unnoticed, that just seems to make the act complete. So today is a good day to say thanks.

I give thanks for
for my children's kindnesses
free plane tickets,
time spent together,
family together,
grandchildren play,
chasing each other,
stores filled to
the brim with
and shoppers,
with children donating
so other don't go without,
Salvation Army voluteers
still ringing their bells,
I'm thankffor
soothing music,
fun games,
advancing studies,
challenging jobs,
and church,

But most of all,
Dear Lord we are thankful
for You in our lives
for forgiveness,
for purpose.
We, I, give you thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pleasant experience

I was on a low cost no frills airline today and had a very pleasant experience. Is this possible? Yes, if the Airline is Air Tran Airways. They have comfortable seats which are roomy enough from the person sitting in front of you and they serve complimentary drinks, too. Today, I took a flight from Orlando to Detroit, and had a very nice flight attendant serve the people in coach as if it were first class. She was first class and that made all the difference.

I know airlines are aware that there is a lot of competition out there, but this was different. For example, there was a young man sitting next to me, traveling alone to Detroit. He couldn't have been more than than 14 and he took a nap and when he woke up, he was hungry. Drinks and snacks had long been served, but he looked around wondering if he could get something to eat. I suggested he ask one of the flight attendants. Before he could do so, a flight attendant came by and asked him if he needed help. He was all smiles when she came back with two bags of pretzels. Her kindness made a difference. When I had a chance I told her, and she just laughed as she was pleasantly surprised. I'm glad I told her because I think I made a difference, too. Way to go Air Tran Airways. I think I might use you more often.

Monday, November 16, 2009


After about ten pictures, I finally managed to catch this wily butterfly in a decent pose. Then out stepped this elegant egret, notice the shape of his beak the the streaks of orange and grey, just like a Bird of Paradise. That should be his name, don't you think? Just having fun in the sun.
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Despega El Trasbordor Atlantis

A las dos y ventiocho de la tarde despego el Trasbordador Atlantis con destino a la Estacion Internacional Espacial. Segun el narrador del despegue, la mision del Atlantis es de Construir, Resuplir y hacer Investigaciones Cientificas para la Estacion Internacional Espacial. Cuando el lo dijo, sonaba mas imponente con la fuerza del combustible en el despegue. El comentador en un momento dijo que el Transbordador Atlantis habia alcanzado una velocidad de 2000 millas por hora. Eso si que es rapido!

Pueden ver videos del despegue y leer sobre la mision en

Aqui tienen otra vista del despegue de la estacion WKMG

Mt Dora Again

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