Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time to start getting ready....

Every year, while we lived in Curacao, I followed the island's tradition and cleaned the house top to bottom. Oh, well, who am I kidding? The housekeeper did that, but I directed her.......back to my point. Homes need a thorough cleaning to welcome the New Year. It is an absolute MUST! So as soon as Boxing Day was over with, we started.

Furniture was moved to really clean underneath, cushions were aired and covers washed, blinds and verticals were dusted or wiped, floors were vacuumed and then mopped, cabinets and cupboards were emptied and cleaned, things were thrown away. Then the garden was tackled, with the help of the gardener ......of course!! Trees and bushes were pruned, lawn was mowed, the roof was checked for dead leaves from our big trees. Everything was hauled away to the dump. All this was nothing in comparison to what others did. Some people painted their homes or tackled bigger repair jobs, anew roof, or a new fence, others washed the walls inside and out with power hoses. The whole island gets into this.

At our home, on the very last two days of the year, sheets and towels were washed, mattresses aired and kitchen scrubbed. It was exhausting...even if I was only supervising! It was also very important to do this right. The New Year had to be welcomed in a spotless home. You are not going to believe this, but I am missing that flurry of activity, the sense of urgency, the sense of accomplishment. Never mind the fact that a clean house means good luck in the New year!

Today I have been gratified to see that the windows of the building are been cleaned!!! There are two men out there...hanging from ropes: very scary! I will not think about it....but it goes well with the cleaning I am giving the apartment on the inside. A lot less to do, but still a big job: more than ever I miss my housekeeper! I still maintain that a good housekeeper is a treasure.

By tomorrow, the place will be ready to welcome 2011 as it should be. Now if I could get my hands on some of the special incense blend from the island and some firecrackers...the Gods of Smoke and Noise will protect this dwelling properly!!! BON ANJA - (HAPPY NEW YEAR) EVERYONE!!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Condo Living....

I have no clue how condo living would be in Curaç high enough buildings there, so I am speculating! Now, I do now how condo living goes in Miami...not that great these last few days.

Since moving to Miami, almost 8 years ago, we have lived in condos. A splendid idea: no garden to tend, no lawn to mow, no preparations for hurricanes,......the list is endless. So much nicer! Of course, this also comes with getting along with one's neighbors, putting up with annoying ones and knowing when do one's rights end and the neighbors start...not always easy.

In our first building, we were isolated, sort to speak because our apartment was on the corner. Most times I had no idea what was going on anywhere on our floor, above or below. There were the usual moving days, the renovations here and there, but it was rather quiet. The problems there were of another nature: management, foreclosures.... Anyway, it got bad enough that we needed to move.

In March, we moved to the building next door. We are now much higher on the thirty first floor with absolutely magnificent views of the city skyline; as opposed amazing views of Biscayne Bay. Management is helpful, reliable and efficient. Neighbors have been polite, pleasant, friendly.....until these past few days.

The apartment above us has been a source of the noise at all hours of the day for days. Furniture is dragged, doors slammed, things thrown. Last night, it was midnight and they were moving things around. Repetitive complains have made no difference. Here I am sitting at my computer trying to get my messages is being dragged I am becoming rather miffed.

Today I left for the day. Spent my time walking up and down the mall...something I do not enjoy! Visited my sister and then came home, thinking that all will be over. After all, I was told the people upstairs had bought a new apartment and were moving!!! It was on my way in that I learned that they are just visitors: absolutely inconsiderate ones as it is. The apartment has been lent to a family with three children! What kind of children are these? and what kind of parents? Can't wait for them to leave!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas celebrations.....

Yes, it's time to celebrate. As magical as this season is, celebrating here on Miami is a challenge for me. I keep thinking back to Curacao where the celebrations start early: late November with the arrival of Sinterklaas. The sight of the old saint in his bishop robes is so much fun! His trusted helpers with their black faces are a sure sign that the Holidays are at hand. Then there are the early Christmas parties, and yes...they are still called that back there: not much of Happy Holidays, Winter Break and other ways of calling the Season. It's old-fashioned. I like that!

Visiting friends, having a drink or two....a ponche crema (an island version of eggnog, but much better!) for sure, delivering presents and going to the beach are favorite activities. There are parties to end all parties and cozy get-togethers with friends and family. Preparations for the New Year's are on their way early since everyone has to make plans for the celebrations after the tiro (an actual canon shot that heralds in the new year!). Fireworks need to be purchased and kept ready to usher in the New Year with smoke and noise. This assures good luck for the rest of the year.

All this makes the Season just perfect and I miss that. The last few years, since moving to Miami, really, we have traveled during this time. There has been no time (or we have strive not to dwell on that) to miss the known rituals of celebration. This year staying put is making it hard. Aside from our building's party, that was full of life and entertaining.....not much activity in the party department. Lots to do in the city, but with a sense of detachment, sort of impersonal...not very warm. We adjust to everything and enjoy what is offered, but I like traditions this time of the year.

So, what to do? Adopt the traditions offered here? after all that is what I did when I went to live on the island! Or better yet, start new traditions...... It's about time!!! I'll let you know.....

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's been ages...!!!!

I am sorry for being absent for so long. It's not that I forgot this blog, it is almost always the back of my mind. I know I should be posting, but I let deadlines, family matters and other things get in the way. No excuse, I hear you! So here I am again. Trying to keep this up....

The last month was very hectic, but so nice. Camille made an unexpected visit to Miami. Having vacation days she needed to take before the end of the year......she decided on a Tuesday and was here by Halloween. it was wonderful! we had a ball just laying by the pool, going out to dinner, visiting family. We even made time to go to Marco Island on Florida's West coast. Just a couple of days, but so nice. What a way to spend some time. Walks by the beach, sunsets to die for, good food and company, everyone should go to Old Naples, trust me.

As soon as she left, it was time to go to Panama...again. Taking care of an older parent long distance is not easy. Still, my sisters and I managed to have fun while we replaced nurses, ran errands and visited family. We laughed until we cried at old jokes and new situations. The only drawback: it rained every day! It was humid and the mosquitoes were out in full force. Never mind the gnats....there was water everywhere, it got dark early and we ate too much. We should do it again soon!

Back in Miami, I started with my Christmas preparations, got decorations and started buying presents. Camille is not coming for the Holidays and we are not traveling. That is a first in a long time; so Miami it is and we'll make the best of it! Today we went to our building's Christmas Party. It had a Brazilian theme and it was fun. The food was excellent, the drinks abundant and the company interesting....more about the celebrations in my next post!