Monday, May 31, 2004


"I can't believe it. I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE IT." This was evidently said by my 6-year-old niece to her mother recently at the thought of her auntie and uncle "coming home" (as related by my mother). My mother also informs me that said niece has already decided she's going to live with us.


My mother's here, so: a) posting may be less frequent as I spend my vacation days playing hostess/tour guide, and b) I may spend a little more time on the other blog, so check there if you feel like it.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Secrets & Lies

When I was a girl, I had secret lives. Several, actually. Although maybe I should say secret passions, but I felt like separate people when I inhabited my fantasies for each one.

In one life I was a hand-waver extraordinaire, a la Vanna White. After school, when no one else was home (mother working at department store, father coaching at the high school, little bratty brother mercifully somewhere...ELSE), I'd make my way through the living room and kitchen imagining that I was Carol Merrill on "Let's Make a Deal." (Vanna can't hold a candle to Carol, but that's another story.) I'd begin with the Encyclopedia Brittanica housed in the nice little wooden bookcase next to the front door, move past the large windows in the corner of the room and the huge boxy TV (which wasn't glamorous enough to bother waving over) to the Baldwin Organ, past the fireplace to the Magnavox stereo (the enormous, low, cabinet kind--where the lid on top slid open to reveal a turntable on one side) into the kitchen to the Frigidaire. I used to dream that we'd one day own a fridge with separate freezer and refrigerator compartments so that I'd have two doors to open on that appliance. (But, alas, we owned a huge freezer that was in the garage, much like every other family I knew.) I would repeat this cycle endlessly: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Baldwin Organ, Magnavox Stereo, Frigidaire. It helped that these were actual items that appeared behind doors numbers 1 through 3 on "Let's Make a Deal." If only we'd owned some Broyhill furniture...

No one in my family was aware that I longed to grow up to be a television hand-waver. Carol was elegant and lovely and added a touch of class to an otherwise tacky show. And I was a naturally graceful girl and had great hand movement (my dance teachers told me so). I would seem to have all (two) of the qualifications required for the job, but unfortunately my future held other things in store for me.

In the late '80's I was living in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle had some sort of essay contest. I honestly can't remember what the idea behind the contest was, but I decided to out myself. I submitted a short piece I'd written a couple of years before while visiting friends in Petaluma. It was called "I Coulda Been Vanna" and it was chosen as one of the winning essays. A slightly-butchered version of it was printed alongside the other winning entries. Family and friends were surprised to learn that 25 years earlier I'd spent my after-school time crafting my hand-waving skills.

I no longer dream of hand-waving as a career, but I have fond memories of the hours I spent perfecting my skills. And I've still got skills. I'll match 'em against anyone's. Takers?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


When I was in 5th grade, my mother decided to sign me up for 4-H. Actually, I think she was in cahoots with my aunt (her sister-in-law) because my cousin Debbie (same grade but nine months younger and I never let her forget it) got signed up, too. But this wasn't the kind of 4-H where you raised livestock, although there were plenty of kids in other parts of the county who did that. We lived in town (small as it was), so we were taught cooking and sewing (growing up as we did in the enlightened pre-feminist 60's.)

On Wednesday afternoons we'd head over to Ruth's house after school. She was our 4-H leader. Ruth was a stay-at-home mom with one young son. Her husband, Dale, owned a metal-working business; he built commercial fishing boats. They lived in what was then our town's lone housing development. I thought it was exotic to live in a house that looked exactly like a hundred others in the surrounding blocks. Their house was across the street from the Mormon church, although we didn't call it that. I remember it always being referred to as "the LDS Church" (for Latter Day Saints, a term I still don't understand the meaning of). I used to sit in Ruth's living room and look across the street at the Mormon church and wonder what went on in there. It was sort of a preoccupation--to wonder what went on inside all of the other churches in town. They all seemed mysterious to me. After all, if people were choosing to go to a church other than our Catholic one, it had to be because they wanted to do something different at their church. No one ever explained to me that they were all simply denominations of Christianity. I mean, it's not like our town had a synagogue or an ashram. For god's sake, we only had one black family in the COUNTY, so diversity of any type was not on display.

I can't recall if we spent alternate weeks learning cooking and sewing during our 4-H classes, or if each session held a little of each. My mother had begun teaching me to do a little of both when I was about four years old, so I felt quite advanced for the beginning level of the classes. One of our first sewing projects was to make tiny pillows out of two matching washcloths and embellish them with rick-rack. (Do they even make rick-rack anymore?) My "pillow" was blue with gold rick-rack. Painful.

My cousin Debbie and I took 4-H with Ruth for four years. During that time, we saw a handful of girls come and go. A few were from our Catholic school, but there was also Polly, a public school girl who lived next door to Ruth. And because she attended public school, she seemed exotic, too. Although how exotic can you be when you're 10 and your name is Polly and you have a dramatic overbite? (In high school, she switched to Paula.)

The big tests for us each year came in two arenas. For cooking, we entered baked goods in the county fair each August. I'm proud to report that both Debbie and I accumulated quite a collection of blue ribbons over the years. (Impressive if you don't factor in the Mayberry-like size of our town.) For sewing participants, there was an annual 4-H fashion show. And just putting those words together (4-H + fashion show) should give you an idea of how glamorous this event was.

Let me digress a bit. My mother was our town's first beauty queen. And although she had relinquished her crown decades before, she held firmly to her vision of herself as the county's most glamorous woman. A tough task, given that the population leaned more heavily toward the livestock end than the glamour end of the spectrum. Still, she looked for any opportunity to glam things up.

My first year in 4-H, Sonny and Cher released a movie. I can remember sitting in the front row of the Pic Theatre with a neighbor girl watching it at a matinee and being in awe of Cher and her wardrobe. The bell-bottoms! The fake-fur vests! She was my fashion idol. An idolatry that had to play out entirely in my head since I had to wear a hideously ugly red plaid wool jumper to school every day. But when it came time to go to the department store to pick out a pattern to make an outfit for the 4-H fashion show, there was no doubt in my mind that bell-bottoms were going to be included.

My mother accompanied me to the department store. She was an accomplished seamstress. We picked out a pattern for bell-bottoms and then my mother selected a pattern for a top that was collar-less, buttoned in the back and had 3/4-length bell-like sleeves. (I've only recently begun to wear 3/4-length sleeves without the assistance of therapy.) She also selected the fabric. She chose a thick hot pink (think Pepto-Bismol) cotton for the bell-bottoms and a hot pink/white print for the top. And in an effort to jazz up the ensemble, she decided that we'd add a strip of the print fabric along the bottom of the bell-bottoms and make the sleeves of the top out of the solid pink with a strip of the print at the bottom of the sleeves, mirroring the pants. There's more.

My mother always had her hair done at Lola's Beauty Nook. The name should tell you everything. It was across the street from my Catholic school and I used to stare distractedly out the window during religion class and watch women come and go in and out of Lola's. It was the mid-60's and the styles in those days involved lots of teasing and back-combing and copious amounts of hairspray.

The day of the 4-H fashion show, my mother took me to Lola's to have my hair done. I was 10. I had a Prince Valiant haircut (which I hated). I wore white cat-eye glasses. (Oh yeah, retro NOW. Then? Just hideous.) What could they possibly do to me? I was soon to find out. I emerged an hour or so later with a giant dark brown hair helmut, with a hot-pink bow bobby-pinned to one side of my head. I wanted to cry. And worst of all, they had teased my bangs to the point of non-existence. And unless you're a skinny 10-year-old with cat-eye glasses and a high forehead, you can't begin to understand the trauma that caused.

But, wait, there's more. My mother had found a way to be the fashion show commentator--a job she took quite seriously. Fashion Week in New York? They've got nothing on my Mom. It didn't matter that we were in the multi-purpose room of a grade school at an event attended only by a bunch of dorky little girls and their mothers. She went to great lengths to write magazine-worthy commentary for each little girl's outfit.

Try to envision my entire look: huge brown hair helmut teased at least two inches higher than my scalp and adorned with a hot pink bow, non-existent bangs exposing high forehead and emphasizing white cat-eye glasses, a hideous hot pink print top with dorky 3/4 length bell sleeves topping Pepto Bismol-like bell-bottoms that were at least three inches above my white Keds. As I made my entrance on the stage, I heard my mother say into the mike, "And here's Marilyn, who's all ready for those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer..." and wished that the earth would please just open up and swallow me forever.

That's all really just a long-winded way of saying that I had my hair done after work yesterday. And whenever I have a plesant experience at a salon, I'm always grateful that I'll never again have to grace the threshold of Lola's Beauty Nook.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Miss Congeniality

Which of the following do you imagine I might have done?

A) Participated in a hot legs contest in a nightclub in San Francisco where the celebrity (and only) judges were the two guys from Wang Chung on a day when I had called in sick to work because I was too hungover from the night before only to be spotted as the "tease" for the 11:00 news by my employer? (And if I did participate, it wouldn't have been my idea...and said employer instead of asking why the hell I hadn't reported for work would stroll in the following morning and greet me with, "Details!")

B) Appeared via satellite on the "CBS Morning Show" (or whatever it was called in those days) during the '92 election where I made a smart-ass remark about Dan Quayle's (lack of) intelligence which elicited a healthy laugh from the studio audience causing Bill Clinton to miss my jab entirely so that he had to lean over to Al Gore and ask, "What'd she say?"

C) Sat in a Winnebago parked on a residential street in Studio City, California while a B-list TV actress whose infomercial I was producing made her way across the street to the backyard of a woman who was shooting a testimonial for the show only to have said woman ask excitedly (without turning around) when the actress snuck up behind her and placed her hands on her shoulders, "Is it Marilyn?!" causing the actress to make my life a living hell from that moment on?

If you guessed "all of the above" you've just qualified for the bonus round. Come to think of it, I'm still waiting for the bonus round. When the hell is that, anyway?

Being nice is boring. I mean, yeah, it has its points: I'm a loving mate and great Auntie and loyal friend and dutiful daughter. But, man, my life has gotten crushingly dull. But then, it's hard to have too much fun when all of your friends live thousands of miles away.

One thing's for sure: when we hit mainland, I definitely need to get out more.

...but made for a woman...

Joelle cracks me up. Her post about trying to work out next to stinky man gave me a good laugh.


This is one of my daily reads. I don't know which moves me more--her photos or her words. I rarely fail to find a spark or gleam or tug of knowingness here...often just what I needed in that moment.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Desert Beach

Go here if you want to see a picture of a beautiful little girl in New Mexico holding a honey jar containing some beach sand that was sitting on our dresser a week ago.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Door #1

We might move here... Posted by Hello

Door #2

...or here (looks so tiny from the air!)... Posted by Hello

or Door #3

...or here (lots of parks and bike trails)... Posted by Hello

Water Feature

...and they're all an easy drive to this. Lake Berryessa. Posted by Hello

Atlantic Side

Good morning! Sunrise from our balcony... Posted by Hello

Welcome to photo world, baby!

As you can see, Island Fever has finally hopped onto the photoblog bandwagon. I am SO loving the revamped Blogger. Picasa's "Hello" program is so amazingly simple, that even someone as technically un-savvy as moi was able to post my first photo without a hitch.

Jeez, now maybe I'll actually snap a few photos once in awhile.

This is Hans Lollick island. It's uninhabited...not that several people haven't tried to sell residents on ideas for developing it. We see the very top of it from our living room. This was taken from the golf course's famed 14th hole. Posted by Hello

What would it take?...

(You can fill in the rest.)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Misc. Rantings

# Saw a piece on the news the other night that Republicans are making a big to-do about Kerry's French roots. Like this is something to really put him DOWN for. What? The fact that he might travel abroad and experience another culture? Dear god, please don't let us arrive back in the States faced with four more years of Bush.

# I was behind a bumper sticker on the way to work the other day: "DON'T STEAL - The government hates competition." (If you only knew...)

# It's customary in the USVI to preface all encounters with a greeting of either "Good morning," "Good afternoon," "Good day" or "Good night" (the last used upon arrival, not departure.) But this isn't West Indians being friendly. Because if you address them with anything other than the above (e.g. "Hi" or "Hello" or whatever) they'll stare off into space like you're invisible. It's not about courtesy or friendliness--it's a steely stubbornness that says do it OUR way...or else.

# These basketball playoffs are wreaking serious havoc with my sleep cycle. I've stayed up way past my bedtime too many nights in the last couple of weeks. (But the Pistons won! I still love Rasheed Wallace. Y'all can be playa-haters...I'll take 'Sheed any day.)

# I recently had to obtain a criminal background check for my employer (to renew his Notary Public license). One does this by paying a fee to the Police Department for a printout stating that the applicant has no criminal record. The licensing agency that handles Notary applications requires that the criminal record be for all three islands--and you have to specify that in your request to the Police Department. My question was: Why the hell would they keep separate criminal records for each island? Either you have warrants out in the USVI, or you don't. (There's only one Police Department serving all of the islands.)

# On St. Croix this week, there was an emergency response drill. Post-mortem? "Communication problems." None of the responding agencies can communicate with each other via radio. Brilliant.

# Lately we've been seeing an ad campaign on (national) TV promoting USVI tourism. Let's see if they got it right this time. Last time they ran these ads, they included an 800 number...that wasn't staffed.

# The phone just 1:30 am. When I answered, I could hear women talking in the background. Must have been the boyfriend's sister again. (He has three.) Several times in the last six months or so her cell phone has gotten bumped in her purse and it dials our number. Girlfriend needs to move someone else to the top of the speed dial list.

Show me the funny.

Know what I miss? Funny people. I haven't met a god-dam person in these frigging islands who makes me laugh. Not one. In four years. Jesus, no wonder I'm in a pissy mood. Thank god for my boyfriend who can often be counted on for a good the most unexpected ways.

Coworkers tell what they find to be amusing anecdotes and I (fake) "laugh" politely. Actually, I'm a horrible fake-laugher, so what they really get is a forced, hideous smile with a mechanical almost-chuckle behind it.

I'm starved for funny. Positively STARVED for it, which is why I spend as much time as I do searching for it in words (either the hand-held or internet kind). (And why we never miss "The Daily Show.") It's also why I'm such a sarcastic wench at work. Sometimes I have to go for the funny...just to entertain MYSELF.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


My mother's parents moved around a lot. She went to seven different schools during her 7th grade year. My grandfather did different things for employment. For awhile he mined for gold. That always sounded so fun and exotic, if you don't factor in that they lived poor.

My mother was born in Ashland, Oregon. She lived there during much of her childhood, but not continuously. My grandparents never lived in Ashland after my brother and I were born. We visited them in a few different places, but my favorite was Weed.

Weed is a small town in Northern California on I-5, not far from Mt. Shasta. My grandparents lived in a trailer in a trailer park...right next to the railroad tracks. And I thought it was the BEST! When you're 7 years old, what could be more fun than to spend time in a trailer where everything's compact and sized perfectly for someone your age? AND, to watch trains whiz by just a few yards away?!

It was later, in adulthood, that it dawned on me that most people would consider that a pretty less-than-desirable lifestyle. Trailer + railroad tracks = poor. But I never thought of my grandparents as poor. Ever. I don't ever remember them lacking in essentials--they just liked to move around a lot. And since I've been blessed with a healthy dose of wanderlust, I never saw that as a bad trait.

There was a wooden fence that separated the trailer park and the railroad tracks. I can remember my grandfather walking my little brother (who was maybe 2) and I over to the fence to wait for the train. I stood on the fence to get a better look as it went by. It was so fast! I probably counted the cars (or tried to) because that's something I still do. To me, it was better than Disneyland. The only thing better than spending time at that trailer park would have been to be on that train.

I've traveled by Weed many times in the ensuing years, but I've never ventured off the freeway to take a look around the town. I don't remember anything about the place except that trailer park. And maybe that's why I've never been back to visit. I'd like to keep that memory intact, rather than ruin it by seeing it through judgmentally-adult eyes.

My mother's parents were not warm, fuzzy people. They weren't overtly loving or affectionate. And that's probably another reason I choose to let that memory live untethered to reality. It's the best moment I shared with my grandfather.


You may have noticed that the right half of my blog has gone missing. (The other blog is fine.) When I published my last post, I got a weird error message that said something had gone awry and I should contact Blogger Support, which I did. I'm kind of curious to know what kind of turn-around time they have on support questions, since this was the first time I've needed to contact them. The couple of emails I sent to GMail Support were answered almost immediately, so the folks at THAT part of Google are really on top of it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Elvin Jones R.I.P.

It's a sad day in drummer world...Elvin Jones died yesterday. He was one of the boyfriend's drumming idols (as he was for many, many jazz drummers). I hope he's kicking some serious drum ASS wherever he is. He was a monster.


I must report that I burned my left about 12 hours. What the f***?! Last night I took a baking dish out of the oven and (even though I've learned this painful lesson several times before) used my bare fingers to peel back the foil. I got a major steam burn. I ran my hand under cold water (and wished I lived in a place where the cold water actually ran COLD) and followed that with ice packs and aloe vera gel and a couple of Advil. I couldn't believe how much it hurt. I've done that several times before, but it never hurt like THAT! I must have really gotten a good blast of steam.

Fast forward to 7:15 this morning...I was at the deli near my office grabbing a muffin and cup of lemongrass tea. I put the cup under the spout of the hot-pot and (I guess because it was really full) it blew out of the spigot as if it were a hose. It hit the cup with such force that it splashed out all over my left hand (which was holding the cup). I let out a bit of yelp, grabbed some napkins to dab away the scalding tea, finished filling my cup and headed to the office. But I hadn't made it across the street before it started to really burn and turn very red. I flew into the office, right past my boss, saying as I flew by, "Gotta get ice...I burned my hand." He immediately jumped up from his desk to follow me into the kitchen. But when he opened our tiny (dorm-size) fridge we found that the ice trays were buried under inches of freezer frost. So he chipped away at it to fill a bowl so I could soak my hand.

What are the odds? Well, yeah, 50-50 that it would be the same hand...but what are the odds that one would burn themselves in the same spot back-to-back like that? Is there some planetary weirdness putting a hex on my sign this week?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Relocation Assistance

When we phoned our respective families last weekend to deliver the news that we're definitely heading stateside early next year, my 6-year-old niece was absent from the proceedings. She was spending the weekend at a friend's house, so I wasn't able to personally deliver the news...yet.

My mother spoke to her a few days later and said that my niece pronounced our move plans: "Cool!" Then added, "I can see her (me) every day! It'll be back and forth and back and forth and back and...I just might LIVE with her!"

So I phoned my niece yesterday to personally share the news. I reached her via her mother's cell phone; they were in the car en route to a birthday party. I asked if she understood that we'd be moving somewhere near her. She said, "Uh huh. Dixon or Davis." (The towns we're considering. Actually there's a third town but it doesn't start with a D, so it maybe it's less interesting to her.) I asked her where SHE thought we should move. "Dixon!" (where she lives) I started to tell her when we'd be moving and she interjected, "I know, after Christmas next year." Just to be clear, I said that actually once we have Christmas THIS year, then we'll move a few months after that. "Oh!" Then she suddenly put 2 and 2 together and excitedly told me, "You could be my next-door neighbor! There are some people who live at the end of the court who are moving out!"

That's when I decided: I'm going to let my 6-year-old niece plan our entire move.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The Fred Thread

There are few musical artists my boyfriend loves more than Fred Hammond. For the uninitiated, Fred is a titan in the contemporary gospel field. Back in the day (80's?) he was a member of Commissioned, one of the leading groups in contemporary gospel. It was my boyfriend's favorite group (before I knew him). When Commissioned played Portland, boyfriend was one of the musicians who opened for them.

When we met, boyfriend introduced me to Fred's music and Fred quickly became one of my all-time favorite singers. We have several of his CD's. He's a monster singer, songwriter, bass player and arranger (he always has a killer choir). He's also a minister and is based in Detroit. Now I'm not a religious person, but I do have my own quirky form of spirituality that works for me. Regardless, I think almost anyone would be hard-pressed to listen to Fred Hammond's music and not be moved and uplifted by it. Substitute whatever words you need to for his lyrics if they don't work for you--or just tune out the words altogether and focus on the music. He's a great singer regardless of the genre.

If you're curious and want to check out some Real Audio samples, here's Fred's site. Go to his Discography and you can use the arrows to go back and forth between his albums. "Pages of Life, Chapters I and II" is one of my favorites. (It's a brown cover with a tight close-up of Fred's face.) It's a double album with Chapter I recorded in the studio and Chapter II performed live in a Detroit church. It was released in 1998, so we've had it in rotation for six years now.

Once in awhile, I joke with the boyfriend that what he really needs to do is go get himself the Fred Hammond gig. (And if you knew how my boyfriend is capable of playing, you'd know that's not an unthinkable option. I believe he could get any gig he wanted to. You may not have heard of Fred, but in the gospel field he's as big as it gets.) My boy LOVES his Fred Hammond, okay?!

About a week or so ago, there was a message left on our answering machine. I didn't listen to it--just fast-forwarded through it--because it was someone I didn't know calling boyfriend for a gig. It was a minister asking him to play a wedding this afternoon. He took the gig and yesterday he went by the church to pick up a CD of four gospel songs they wanted him to listen to. They also wanted him to attend a rehearsal this morning at 9 am, which he did. So he went off to rehearsal (after he'd spent his waking-up time listening to the CD in the bedroom), came back for a short while, changed clothes and went to play the wedding. When he returned this afternoon I asked how it went and he said it went fine, but that it was certainly a different kind of wedding than what he's used to--LOTS of music. Then he told me that the keyboard player (who's the one who called him for the gig) toured with Fred Hammond for four years. My jaw dropped. I was shocked but also laughing because it seemed so unbelievable that he would run into such a person HERE--on this tiny island. The guy's name is Jason Jordan and he's been the Minister of Music at a church here for three years. He and the boyfriend had never crossed paths until now. I asked how Fred's name came up in conversation and he said they were talking about the music each of them likes and the guy asked him if he's ever heard of Fred Hammond. Boyfriend just laughed and said, "Heard of him?! Man, ......" and proceeded to regale him about his huge love for Fred. Turns out we've been listening to this guy play organ and keyboards on Fred's tunes all these years. (Which means I probably saw him play live when I went to one of Fred's concerts in Portland. Boyfriend missed the show--he was on the road.)

I asked how the minister came to live here. After touring with Fred for several years, he went to Bible College, became a minister and was assigned to a church here (it's an offshoot of a large church in Detroit). He has a studio downtown and he and the boyfriend think maybe they'll make some music together. I'm just sorry they didn't meet sooner but everything happens when it's meant to, I guess. It's just too good for words. It may not sound big, but for the boyfriend who hasn't found any musical peers here who he really clicks with? It's HUGE.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


My earliest memory is of having a tonsillectomy when I was three. I remember two scenes vividly. In the first, I'm lying on the operating table with the doctor and nurses standing over me. Someone puts a black mask over my nose and mouth and tells me to begin counting backward from 100. (I swear!) I mean, I was a precocious kid, but do most 3-year-old's know how to do that?! Doesn't the use of ether seem rather archaic now? Oh well, it was the 50's. (But not as archaic as my coworker's contact lens fitting.**)

In the second hospital memory, I'm standing in a crib in the hospital room. A crib! (I was a toddler, for god's sake!) My mother is telling me that I can have all the ice cream I want (was this before or after surgery?) It's like that classic Bill Cosby sketch about the same thing. They don't tell you that your throat will be so sore you won't be able to swallow it.

Fast forward 14 years...I'm 17 and my brother is 12. He's recently had his tonsils removed. He had a rather rough time of it, actually. (I guess it's harder the older one is.) But don't feel sorry for him just yet. I pull back the covers one night and find a small jar sitting in my bed linens. It's his tonsils floating in formaldehyde.


**I should interject before relating this next story that I have a "thing" about my eyes. I have very, very sensitive eyes. It's why I've never worn contacts and why I can't even get eye drops in my eyes.

In the 70's, I briefly worked with an older woman named Pat. She wore glasses when I knew her, but one day we must have been telling gross-out stories or something because she told me about her first contact lens fitting, where the optometrist propped her eyelids open (I nearly fainted at that part) and then...used PLASTER OF PARIS to MAKE A CAST OF HER EYEBALLS!!! (It was in the 40's.) Okay, I think I have to lie down now...

Fourteen dollars...

As we were leaving to head into town to grab a bite to eat this evening, boyfriend grabbed a handful of cassettes from his stash. These are tapes that he had stored at his parents' house when we came here; we shipped a bunch of them back from Portland when we were on the mainland last October. There are some real gems. I've never even heard a lot of them, so I never know what to expect to hear coming out of the car speakers. The first tape was a studio recording of his buddy Paul deLay (see post from a week or so ago). We listened to a song or two on each of the tapes he'd grabbed and then put Paul's tape back in on the way home. As we were nearing home, Paul started singing a jaunty blues tune on the tape, "I got 14 dollars in the bank...fifteen hundred worth o' unpaid bills..." Paul writes some fun tunes.

Thankfully we have more than 14 dollars in the bank*, but it sure is hard to be patient as we plan the next 10-1/2 months or so before heading to the mainland. Hard not to just wish that we had all of our (planned) savings NOW, so we could just...GO. But everything in its own time.

*(My mother always talks about the time she made 18 cents last three weeks. Amazing how resourceful we can be when we have to be...)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Because we have our sliding glass doors and windows and shutters open 24/7, we hear all of the nature happening right outside. The last couple of weeks we've been regaled with a particular kind of bird-chirping. Boyfriend reminded me the other day that these birds only sing like that at this time of year. Every year I tell him how much I love to hear them--how happy their chirping makes me.

Yet I could never own a bird. First of all, it just seems innately cruel to confine a flying pet to a cage. And if I owned a bird, trust me, it would be caged 24/7. I like long as they keep at a distance. I think my (sort of) fear of them stems from sitting in my friend Liz's apartment when we were 17 when she'd let her parakeet out of its cage and it would fly across the room and sit on my head. I'd freeze and say through gritted teeth, "!" I hated that damn bird. He probably knew that and always picked MY head just to annoy me. I also couldn't take the constant chirping inside the house--that would for sure drive me batty. I took a phone call at work the other day from a woman whose bird was so loud in the background it nearly drowned out her voice over the phone.


Since we're in our last year here, I thought maybe I should make more of an effort to write about tropical life in this space. Having spent my first three years here sending "tropical update" emails to friends and family on the mainland, I got rather burned out on writing about all the quirky eccentricities that come with living here. They can be entertaining...but not necessarily when you're living with them. But I will try to make more of an effort to include some anecdotes about these islands where we live.

Here's one to start: With a new book about Alexander Hamilton out, here's something that's usually not written about that native son of the Caribbean (and maybe you didn't even know that!) He lived on St. Croix from the ages of 9-17, where he worked for his uncle, learning the trading business. Local legend has it that patrons and benefactors on St. Croix were so impressed with him that they got the money together to send him to New York to study. The St. Croix portion of his life is usually left out of his history. (Poor St. Croix...always getting shortchanged...)

Monday, May 10, 2004

Spruced Up

Like Island Fever's new look? I'm thrilled that Blogger's relaunch yesterday included a bunch of new templates. I was pretty tired of that big ol' orange banner (not that I don't like orange). I've also enabled comments--let's see if they work. I may tweak things a bit as I play around with Island's new look. The email link is under the Profile section to the right.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Crystal Ball

Check out what recordofagirl's horoscope said in her "A Dose of Truth" post. Truisms for all, eh?

And I love the site (mentioned many places, but I linked to it through Sabrina).

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bugs and Nightmares

I fell asleep early last night. Woke up about 2:30 and came out and got on the laptop. My mind's been racing the last several days with thoughts and questions about our impending move next year. First order of business, of course, is deciding WHERE we're going to move. We're in the midst of that decision right now. We know the general area where we want to go--now we're researching various towns. So I found myself between 2:30 and 4:00 this morning reading about demographics and public schools and rental prices, etc.

I couldn't have been on the computer ten minutes when a big flying bug landed on the laptop screen. I'd never seen a bug like this. One would have thought it was some sort of moth because when I got up to get the fly swatter and returned it was flying between the light canister above the computer and the lamp on the credenza. (Because by now I had flooded the area with light to keep an eye on him.) But it didn't look like a moth--and if it had been, I wouldn't have been trying to kill it. It looked like a huge earwig on steroids...and it had these long antennae. It looked like a bug with bad intentions. I finally managed to kill it, but there was much squealing involved as I chased it around. I was hoping my tortured cries would wake the boyfriend and he'd come to my recue. No such luck--he slept through the whole encounter.

I went back to bed at 4 and eventually fell back asleep...and proceeded to have a nightmare. Boyfriend and I were in one of the towns we're looking at. We'd gone to visit my brother's family and driven over to the other town. (My brother lives about 10 minutes from this town.) In the dream, we hadn't moved yet--we were just there for a few days to scope things out and then had to return to the islands. We spent the day wandering around the town and then ended up in a huge library/dining complex (it's a university town). It was quite crowded and we decided to sit for awhile since we'd spent most of the day walking. There were some wooden benches along the walls, but they were almost fully occupied. Boyfriend took a seat on one and I had a seat on an adjacent one, at a 45 degree angle to his. At one point, he yelled over to me, "I like all kinds of music, don't I?" I said "yes" and then realized that he was having a conversation with the gentlman seated next to him about music. I left him to his conversation and turned to look around at all of the books and diners. When I turned back to the boyfriend, he was gone. GONE. Nowhere in sight, in any direction. I figured he had to be nearby because he wouldn't just leave without saying anything. But time passed...and then a lot more time passed. I got up and looked around the immediate area. There was a men's room near his bench and I started lurking outside of it hoping that was where he'd gone. Meanwhile, it had gotten dark and the dining area had emptied and started to fill up again with dinner patrons who all seemed to be quite dressed up. Then I realized I had a giant stuffed bear in my left arm. It was huge--almost as large as me. Boyfriend had bought it for me during our wanderings that day. So here I was, lurking around a men's room in a university building in the semi-darkness with a huge bear, trying to look inconspicuous. I began to wonder if he'd disappeared and gone into hiding because he liked it so much there he didn't want to come back to the islands, even long enough to move. I began to get so distressed that I woke up, and as I was waking I could feel myself tossing and turning in sort of a tortured fashion. (I know, it sounds quite melodramatic...and corny.) I was so happy to be awake and realize it was only a dream and that he was waking next to me. And then I remembered that before we went to the States six months ago, I used to joke that we'd stayed stuck on our little island for 3-1/2 years because the boyfriend feared that if I got on a plane (anywhere!) I might not want to come back. I'm not going to make that joke anymore.

Saturday, May 01, 2004


Okay, this was unexpected. I was sitting here a short time ago typing with one hand and flipping the remote with the other. (Boyfriend's at a gig.) When I got to the PBS station, boyfriend was playing! On St. Croix, the town of Fredericksted hosts a Friday night series called Sunset Jazz in a park right on the water near their cruise ship dock. Boyfriend's played it a couple of times. Our local PBS station films and airs it.

I quickly jumped up to grab a videotape to tape it. I only caught the second half of the hour-long show, but the part I taped included boyfriend's drum solo. He'll be pleasantly surprised when I spring it on him later tonight.

I Go Zoom

Boyfriend offered to make breakfast today. He whipped up a killer batch of homefries and served 'em with scrambled egss and toast with blackberry jam. Yum!

I felt like listening to some music. I pulled out a CD we hadn't listened to in a long time. Every once in awhile I get nostalgic and feel like hearing a familiar voice and some familiar playing. So we ate while listening to Mary Kadderly's "I Go Zoom." (Boyfriend played on the entire album.) On one tune, I asked over a guitar solo, "Is that Dan (so-and-so)?" Ironically, both guitar players on that album were named Dan. But when boyfriend heard a particular lick, he said, "No, that's Faehnle." I laughed and said, "Oh my god, I forgot about Dan Faehnle!"

A couple of Christmases ago (it may have been a Christmas Eve morning) I was flipping channels while boyfriend was still in bed. As I passed CNN, I saw they were running a Larry King show with Diana Krall playing in the studio. Suddenly they cut to her guitarist...and it was Dan Faehnle! We'd had no idea that he was touring with her. I yelled out, "Come here! Quick!!" It was kind of surreal, looking at the TV and suddenly seeing a familiar face. Dan moved back to Ohio about the time we moved here. He and boyfriend used to do gigs together at Jimmy Mak's (just about the only jazz club still left from our days in Portland). We'd sit around the table while they'd be on break and lament that sometimes there just wasn't an appreciative enough audience for jazz in Portland, especially considering the depth of talent there. Fast forward two years...I'm flipping channels in my jammies and there's Dan playing on Larry King. Weird.

When Mary's CD was over, I was still in a Portland mood, so I put this on. If you consider yourself a blues fan but have never heard Paul deLay, you don't know what you're missing. He's a world-class blues harmonica player, great songwriter and a helluva singer. Boyfriend didn't play in his full band, but he used to play in Paul's trio. It was Paul, boyfriend and Janice Scroggins on piano (a monster player). A tasty trio indeed.

Boyfriend's cousin does a duet on the Paul deLay album I was listening to. Her website doesn't feature the CD boyfriend played on. Too bad because there were some good tunes on it. When Paul deLay went to prison for dealing coke (no big secret--he talks about it onstage and wrote tunes about it), she fronted his band until he got out. Paul's funny--he used to say onstage , "Yeah, I was a big-time dealer. I was the only dealer I knew who rode the bus..."

She also fronted this guy's band when he left Portland one summer to tour with Carlos Santana's band. Boyfriend played in this guy's band for seven years. He played on the three CD's on the bottom row of the discography. It's weird--this guy used to be one of my very best friends and we've hardly talked in years. Sometimes I miss him as a pal. We could always make each other laugh. He was sometimes my best audience. I'd heard he had cut off his hair and dyed it blond, but this is the first time I'd seen it. Never thought I'd see the day he'd be blond. The other artist on "Hit It and Quit It" (a James Brown saying that boyfriend used to say right before they took the stage--it used to irritate me that he copped it for an album title) is Terry Robb.

Terry's one of the best acoustic blues guitarists anywhere. I'm listening to his "Stop This World" CD right now. Boyfriend played on that album, too. It's probably out of print. I liked the review I saw of "Stop This World" in a blues magazine. It said, "And the very fine ____________ on drums." Because that's how I think of my boyfriend--very fine! Oh...they meant his playing... :)