Monday, February 23, 2009

Literate and Social

I belong to the ULTIMATE BOOK GROUP.
We meet at MY humble abode,
which makes it very convenient for moi.

Actually, we've met at our place for about ten years. At least.

The book group motivates me to read
a great diversity of literature.

This month's selection =
Deep Economy by Bill McGibbons

I'm a better person for having read it.

Here are a few of my favorite books
that we've tackled recently . . .

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Stiff - The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Would I have ever chosen to read about CADAVERS
without the charismatic biologist in the group who pitched that book?
Definitely not!

But I am scientifically improved, due to Stiff.

In addition to a stimulating discussion,
the gathering provides other niceties.

Like, FOOD.

We each toss some little potluck snack onto my dining room table
and the combination is always satisfying.

And then a roaring fire in the living room.
I DO like that!

But, most of all, I like this bunch of women!
They are smart.
They are funny.
They are dear friends, as well as fellow readers.

(AND, they are non-exclusive, if you want to join.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!


When my children were just little tykes, I started holding extended family parties where we'd decorate gigantic heart cookies for Valentine's Day. More than 25 years passed since we started this tradition and the kids in this shot (ABOVE) now have little ones of their own. (Between the five children I can identify in the photo, they have become parents to fifteen more kids of the next generation.)

From the beginning of time, I've used the same cookie pattern. It used to take DAYS of baking, because only two of these mammoth cookies would fit in my oven. Now, I get a little help from my local bakery where they still use my pattern.


Old folks as well as the youngsters
enjoy decorating their cookies.
Here's my gorgeous 83 year-old mom (taken in 2005.)

For our 2009 party, there were FORTY-EIGHT members of our extended family in attendance. Before decorating, every person - big & small - shared something EXCITING from their lives. THEN, it was time to CREATE!

Bacon & Eggs!
This was created by my brilliant brother-in-law in 2008
and I just HAD to toss it in,
because it's SO INGENIOUS!

Some cookies carried a message,
like this one made by my son.
As you can see,
it's time to potty-train his first-born!

Or this one, by my niece, who just got engage.
Her cookie illustrates the temple where she'll be married.

Some are made in dedication to others,
like this one by my daughter-in-law . . .

Some are just artistically pleasing,
like this one by my godchild (who lives with me.)
Do notice her festive head decor!

I'd call this CLASSY ART!
Yeah to the preschoolers!!!

And then there are those
who just love to

Notice - she won the award for
Everyone gets an award at this party.

Some people like
eating the cookies
more than decorating.
I'm not naming names here.

Some like doing gymnast feats
instead of decorating OR eating.
these two gymnasts entertained the little ones
(Thanks, Kelty & Duane!!!)

At the end of the party,
all the cookies & clan members GO HOME
and I collapse on the couch, happy but tired.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tropical To-Do List

Part Two - Belize
(Be sure to see the LAST post about Belize FIRST!)

The Activity Agenda on a tropical island is minimal.
It includes things like watching birds for hours.
This is a great way to de-stress.

The above shot was taken as we munched on our ceviche.
(The restaurants are mostly OVER the water or on the beach.)

The post-dwelling birds were highly entertaining,
because they played a PERCH SWAPPING GAME
with their high-end real estate.
One would decide that another bird
had a better perch and would seize it,
causing the 1st owner to snatch one from a different post dweller.
Within a few minutes, everyone had a new home!

Kelty spent far more time in the water than her mom,
since I'm still recovering from my spinal reconstruction.

She did a full-day dive and a half-day trip
in addition to our snorkel dives together . . .

. . . and saw a sea turtle, a nurse shark and a million tropical fish!

We did four mother-daughter snorkel dives.
One from the beach and three from a boat.

Kelty held my arm while we worked our way
through some strong currents, pulling me along,
almost in a motherly way.

Although I don't have a photo of her guiding me,
I DO have a great little shot of a snorkel trip almost a decade ago.
My son took this shot of my two daughters and me.

(Our family has a long history of heading to the beach
- always 'on a dime' -
during the long Utah winters.
Snorkeling is undoubtedly our favorite activity.)

During one of the dives during THIS trip,
we were swarmed by manta rays.
Like, dozens of them.
And they had no qualms about coming

Kelty enjoyed experiencing the ocean from the top-end
and did some kayaking.

She paddled along the shoreline,
but she also went WAY OUT THERE!

In fact, you might not even be able to see her.
She's a RED SPECK in front of the sailing vessel.

Speaking of sailing vessels, we had quite an experience
doing an evening sailing trip.
We were awestruck by the night sky
with a gzillion constellations, in all their glory.

Patrick, the captain of the boat,
let Kelty steer the vessel for a while.

Patrick and Kelty did some fabulous dancing
to Reggae music under the brilliant stars and wanted me to join it,
but I'm certainly NOT fluid like my daughter!

The highest price we paid for getting a boatman
to take us outwas $25 U.S. dollars.
That includes drinks & some food as well as snorkel gear.

No-cost entertainment was abundant.
Since the island was only about 1/4 mile wide,
we could enjoy BOTH the sunrises and sunsets over the water.

BTW, this shot was taken at sunrise in front of FRAN'S GRILL . . .
our favorite place for dinner.
(I woke up for the over-the-top sunrises almost every day.)

These bikes provided a fabulous way to explore the island.
They were given to us as an "amenity" with our room.

We found little paths to take us through the island nature preserve
and all kinds of funky places.

Whether on foot or bike,
there's always a feast of COLORS in Caye Caulker.
Belize it or not,
I carefully bottled them up
before heading back to Utah's winter clime.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You Better Belize It!

Just returned from 10 fabulous days in
B*E*L*I*Z*E !
I exchanged flyer miles for tickets after missing a $75 airfare deal
and scouted out the cheapest corner in this little country,
a small island named Caye Caulker
. . . a great place for backpackers & budget travelers.

Kelty, my youngest daughter, was First Mate
on this adventure.

En route, we flew over lots of little uninhabited islands like this one.
(Photo taken from the plane window.)

Then we arrived at the bustling Caye Caulker airport.

If you look closely at the sign on the building,
it says Tropic Air.
This IS the airport, I promise.

Our room looked out to the sea,
where we could soak up a dozen different shades of blue.

And there was a dock right in front of our 'pad'.
(This shot was taken by Kelty.)

On our first day,
my daughter decided to have her hair braided in cornrows,
just like the natives on the island.

She added a sea-blue scarf
and had an instantly manageable hairdo!

There was spectacular (and affordable) seafood on the island.
Lobster was our all-time favorite. (Naturally!)
The Belizeans cooked the seafood on BBQ grills set up along the beach.

Below - my favorite chicken taco stand.
The tacos were $1 each and very savory.

There are no cars on Caye Caulker.
Bikes are the major mode of transportation.

Even the "Dollar Store" moves around on a bicycle!

Homes are built up high,
to prevent flooding from hurricanes.

Most are very modest (like the one above) but not all.

About half of the Belizeans are from African descent.

And rest are Mayan or Meso-American.

I became fast friends with this little babe (ABOVE)
along with her very young mom.

This preschooler was playing with a collection of little fish
- not quite dead -
just like American kids play with plastic dinosaurs.
Guess ya use what ya got!

* * *

what did we do on Caye Caulker, besides EAT & BIKE?
Part Two Coming Soon!

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