Saturday, August 30, 2008


The Caribbean is alive with deadly rain and killer winds. Two enormous storms are churning, slowly moving towards the US mainland: GUSTAV and HANNA. One a CAT 4 hurricane aiming at the Gulf of Mexico and the other a strengthening tropical storm closing in on the Bahamas. I hate hurricane season! This time of the year the Tropics become so active and we are all nervous. This week was sixteen years since ANDREW, three since KATRINA...always around Labor Day.

It's been rainy and windy, on and off all day here in Miami...and we are not even close to any of these monsters. We took in my plants and secured the Adirondack chairs in our balcony. It depresses me to no end. While in Curaçao, I never felt any need to be prepared... If and when a storm came close to the island, things were decided at the last minute. Such is Life in the least outside the hurricane belt! I miss that!

We have been told that HANNA might present a problem for South Florida. GUSTAV will hit somewhere on the Gulf Coast (from Texas to Alabama) on Monday afternoon. With the so called cone of uncertainty, we now can look forward to see how the storm could or would affect our area. This can be perceived as progress, to me it's just another scary thought. Do I really want to know minute by minute what could happen? Didn't do anyone any good during that awful season three years ago. So I hope all goes well this Labor Day. May the storms dissolve and the winds die down. May the damage be small if they continue on their path and may all be spared!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Something amazing has happened....well, amazing for me. Tropic lover that I am, laid-back lifestyle that I crave and all the writing about and talking about and missing the Tropics, I have NEVER been one for a SIESTA. Don't get me wrong, I could lay down after lunch every day while living in Curaçao. Catch up with reading, the news or just rest, yes, sleeping was something else. I never could, and if by chance fatigue overtook me....I woke up in such a mood, you wouldn't want to talk to me....

All that has changed, I am happy to report. Since my mother's stroke and my endless trips to Panama, a siesta has become part of my daily routine! My sister Laura, who always lived in Latin America and is a firm believer in the power nap, has been traveling with me more than a couple of times. After a morning full of activity, having waken up at the crack of dawn...another first for me!...we would have lunch, and go to bed. Yes, to bed, turn on the air conditioning and she would sleep for fifteen minutes to half an hour. That was all. Laura kept telling me to try to just close my eyes and let go of the tension. Easier said than done.

After a few tries and having no other mother and her nurse where taking a siesta too..I gave in. Besides, the heat would make it impossible to be abroad at that time of the day. You need to be inside, in the shade. I am happy to report, taking a siesta really works and it is not so difficult. Now I am into my relaxing little time everyday. I guess it involves more than just giving in and let go. It involves the fact that I have nothing to prove to anyone, I have no sense of urgency about the chores to be performed and I know I can achieve what I have to and complete what needs to be done.

Age, more than anything, I gather has come to my rescue. When we aged...did I say that?... we just know who we are, what we want and where we want to be. It is liberating and in my case it is wonderful. When I wake up from my half hour rest, all seems right and I feel so much better. Who would have know? When I was in the Tropics, SIESTA was not part of my hectic life, now that I am not......I cannot do without it!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

End of the Summer, Conventions and Moves

It's all over the papers, television and magazines, Summer 08 has come to an end. Well, living in Florida that can hardly be major news. Here it's mild and humid and hot and sticky all year long. Still for the rest of the USA, things will slow down, children will start school after Labor Day and the days will grow shorter in September. County and State Fairs are a thing of the past, the ice cream man will stop coming around and long days outside by the pool, the beach or the barbecue will end.....many get sentimental about this.

This year, tough, there is excitement in the air that can replace that deflated feeling: it's Election Year! Both parties will have their conventions back to back in Denver and St. Paul and the political ads are heating up on television. The candidates are picking their running mates and you cannot watch anything but....politics! Being an independent, and not an American citizen, I look at all this with a critical eye. It is maybe not my place, but I do have an opinion of this show.

Americans are tired of the war, the economic picture, lack of affordable health care, jobs lost overseas, immigration laws that are not enforced, people that think they have the right to come and stay because they need a better name it. I think each one of these reasons is enough to promote change......I just don't see what is the change proposed. Call me skeptic, but I need specifics. Change needs to be spelled for me. Huge crowds yelling and carrying on are not my thing, I need substance. On the other hand, trying to get anywhere by promoting things that have not worked so far, can leave me uninterested. So, Obama or far neither. One thing, though, Americans have to elect whom they want, not what they think the world wants.

For a while, I thought this country needed a woman. Hillary was the presumed candidate and she just couldn't hold on to it. Of course the fact that she couldn't treat her candidacy with a feminine touch was a big disappointment. Here you need to proof you are harder than a man, more ruthless and less sensitive......what a joke! Women get elected all over the world and in the land of opportunity you need to be more like a man to be awarded the highest prize. Even small Curaçao has had several Prime Ministers and Governors. So much for equality here. I came to the conclusion that a hard Hillary would not have been what was needed and that is very sad. Regardless who gets elected, this is still a great country and will survive!

Now that that is out, I want to discuss moves. Yes, that is also in the air these days. I was talking to a friend that just moved back to the States from Curaçao. After years there, Vickie and Mitch are relocating to Las Vegas! They find this an adventure. So at the end of the Summer they will go there, buy a place and move. She is excited, but she is a realist. If this doesn't work, she said, they can always move somewhere else. I totally understand her. It seems that once you have lived broad, move several times around the country or the world, another move is not hard to contemplate. I love it!

My news is that I am also in the moving mode. I feel like I can accomplish another and still have the energy to make it work. That is just good news for me. I am not adventurous, but I do like change that I can understand...for the better, for the more exciting. Miami has been hard to adjust to and hard to love. I have made in rows, and think I have done quite well. This blog has made my days so much interesting...but I don't picture myself doing this the rest of my life. Besides, things are really getting out of hand in this economy. There are alternatives, and I am out to explore them. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Yes, this is the tropics, in a matter of speaking. FAY, which, I thought was just fading, has made a comeback. The rain leaden storm is making a third landfall in Florida. East Central areas of the state are being soaked...some places have seen as much as 30 inches of rain in the last 24 hours!!! If it continues its deadly path, it will bear West again and make another in the Panhandle. By the weekend it could be in Mississippi and Alabama raising havoc.

I tell you, things can change in a minute in this part of the world. Not a reassuring thought for anyone. Ginnie was right, rains have to be a priority forecast. High winds are blamed for a lot in a Caribbean storm, and they do cause the most damage in a big storm...but rain can be just as deadly and more destructive because rain lingers and then takes so long to retreat. Flash flooding gives no advance warning and most insurance doesn't cover flooding automatically, as people in the aftermath of KATRINA found out three yeas ago. All we can hope for is that we are seeing the worst of the season here in Florida.

Moving is suddenly again on my mind. The fact that we are getting older, Florida weather can be so unpredictable and everything is going up fast from gas to food to everyday things you count on to live pleasantly, gives me a sense of urgency. The expat in me can take another move, I am sure, and sooner than I thought. Planning will be fun! who cares about FAY!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Nothing much to report on Tropical Storm FAY. It came and went with lots of rain and some high winds, but nothing to get too excited about, at least not in Miami. That is a good thing! Miami has had its share of storms since I moved here. We all get prepared and we all get excited in advance of the storm. I think the weather people have a lot to do with that. They need to make sure everyone is aware that things can get bad in a matter of minutes....but, please....the overload of information....can get you down.

FAY started with a destructive path through Haiti and the Dominican Republic that left several dead, but mostly flooded. My friend Ginnie in Puerto Plata, says there was not enough information about the amount of rain and the strong possibility of flash flooding. That is always the case, I feel. Forecasters concentrate a lot in the strength of the winds and the course it takes. Most of the time, though, the rains and flooding cause the most damage and deaths......what to do!

So after a dark and rainy day, lots of wind pounding my high rise apartment windows, FAY has faded. All I feel now is a mild wind, the skies are gray, but there is no rain. The storm is moving up the state and is pounding Central Florida. It will be a messy and wet week for the Sunshine State, but not too much destruction. That is a blessing. Children will start school a few days late, routine will set in and hurricane season will continue. So far, it's been good. Let's hope this is the worst we are going to see this year!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Joys of moving a parent....

Yes, I'm back from my latest caretaker adventure. This time, as much as I tried, things did not run smoothly. To be expected, most of you will say. Living so far from an ailing parent is one of the hardest things. You try to get life organized, bills paid, domestic service lined up....the logistics involved can be overwhelming......and this time they were!

We have been lucky so far, but the fact that we have taken professionals out of the main working force and given them a new invaluable experience presents problems. Everyone in need of the same kind of service, is looking to see if they can snatch them away! From higher salaries to better benefits all has been tried. Fortunately, so far, they seem to prefer to stay with my mother.....who knows? We are just grateful!!!!

Now the move went relatively well. Packing was done quickly and efficiently; maybe because we didn't ask too many questions and packed what we thought was necessary, had some sentimental value or we just loved. Utilities took a while since we needed the deed to the property and it was delayed for about a week. After that, the installation went well. Blinds and curtains were installed, bars put on windows and moving day approached.

My time to get back arrived sooner than I wanted, and I had t leave without actually completing the move. My sister Laura is still there holding the fort...she has been a real trooper. Today they are moving all the small boxes and potted plants. Hopefully, the gardener will be there to put on the grass and plant anything too big for permitting. It rained cats and dogs most of the time, but in between we had some sunny moments, maybe they'll have some today. By the weekend, everything should be there and my mother will have time to adjust to her new house.

It has not been easy to please her. She would have rather stayed in her home of 40 years, big and old fashioned as it is. What to do. She has refused to even take a look at the property since we bought it! Can't blame her, but cannot understand her attitude either. I am counting on her good sense and the fact that she'll be so much more comfortable in the new house. If not, that is her choice, I think. I am keeping a diary of this, hoping to show it to her when she is in a better frame of mind...or to remind myself when the time comes that I cannot be so hard on my kids!!!!

On a personal level, things were difficult too. It was hot and so humid, I developed and asthma attack! can you believe my age? It was just so annoying, still on medication and hoping for the best. I also broke a toe.....tripped on a box and fell. Very painful and still black and blue....oh, Joy!!! The fact that I was away from a computer, no time even for a short visit to an Internet cafe...made my life very limited. So, yes, I am glad I did my duty for now, but I am so happy to be back!!!