Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wild Chickies in Puerto Rico

These are Puerto Rican chicks.

Born to a wild hen.

We put them in a box in the house and covered them with torn strips of paper.

They lived through the night.

Puerto Rican rats would have killed them if we hadn't been so proactive.

Our breakfast came from the back yard.

See the dark orange yolk? Wild hens provide organic eggs which don't look like produce from the store.

Take a second look at the photo.

What is sitting on the small plate in the upper right-hand corner?

Jamon Serrano!

In English: a tasty mountain pig leg

Not cooked, but salted and hung upside down until it's cured.

These delicacies come from Extremadura, Spain.

I ate slice after slice in Mayaquez, Puerto Rico. (I'm turning into a pig!)

Mostly because I adore Spain. . . and everything Spanish.

Furthermore, I am not vegan.

Here I am, sitting on a hammock with Oliva, in her back yard.
She is Puerto Rican, cien por cien.

More importantly, she has a big heart, so common among island people.

Thanks for hosting me dear Colones. I will miss you a ton.

Adios, Puerto Rico. Adios a las gallinas salvajes y gente buena.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Paso Pacifico

Not long ago, Dr Sarah Otterstrom was featured in big lights at Time Square in New York City.

Even President Clinton thinks she's hot stuff.

Is it because she's my niece?

Maybe. Or perhaps it's because she founded

Paso Pacifico .

. . . which is a Gold Rated* non-profit organization, dedicated to decreasing the deforestation of Central America's rainforests and protect threatened species. Sarah has worked ceaselessly as the executive director of the program.

Check out their site: PASO PACIFICO

Also, see what they are accomplishing : Inspiring Paso Pacifico You-Tube Video

Paso Pacifico is a now finalist in NatGeo's Geotourism Challenge on Ashoka's Changemakers website. The organization must gets votes in order to be selected. If they win this challenge, they will receive nearly half a million dollars which will do A TON to fund this important work.

FEBRUARY 2nd , 2011 is the deadline to vote.

nearly half a million dollars.

Please help Paso Pacifico get desperately needed funding by taking the following steps AND posting the info onto Facebook pages and blogs:
  1. Click on link Learning, Leadership, Adventure, and Stewardship - Nicaragua
  2. On right in "Take Action" click "vote"
  3. Register (only 4 input fields)
  4. Login to your email to confirm email
  5. Go back to site and Vote!

The whole process takes only 90 seconds of your laptop time,

yet means means so much for Paso Pacifico -

a hard working, truly innovative, boot strapping organization run by my dedicated relative.

Thank you for helping!

Ginger & Paso Pacifico

* The highest "Gold Rating" comes from the evaluation of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coming Home From Galapagos

In 2006, one of my brothers turned the Big Six O.

It was decided that our family would all go to the Galapagos Islands to celebrate his birthday

. . . and have an adventure together.

(A rather poor photo of the six siblings, standing behind a land turtle.)

When we were not traipsing around islands,
we were traveling in a fairly nice sea vessel which took us from place to place.

Here is a better photo of the siblings - with spouses - on the boat.

(Well, most everyone with spouses.)

The Galapagos Islands are the home of the famous

The islands are also the home of several kinds of


Some of them are really ugly or really beautiful,

depending on your perspective.


So, that's actually just the background for my story.

Heading back to the U.S., we embarked from Guayaquil, Ecuador. As I was showing my passport before getting on the plane, I became acquainted with this little gal (below) and her brother.

How old do you think she was?

Not yet two - in diapers. Her brother was three - also in diapers.


In fact, she and her brother were hollering with the screams
that children only do when they are IN EXTREME TRAUMA.

An older woman was yanking on the kids' arms and giving them regular swats on the behinds.
Obviously, she was increasing the problem.

I asked the woman (in Spanish) the name of the children.


I quickly discovered the basic elements of the story.

First of all, the mother was gone by the time I came on the scene. Apparently, when the she couldn't get her little ones through the checkpoints without an accompanying adult, she picked this older Ecuadorian woman and asked her to get the children onto the plane and left. (Perhaps she paid her a tip?) Their grandfather was waiting at the other end, in New York City.

NOT ALL OLDER WOMEN UNDERSTAND CHILDREN. At least, this one certainly didn't. She mistook their parental separation trauma as being "misbehavior". This resulted in her swatting, cursing and great annoyance.

So, after the Older Woman forcefully hauled them onto the plane, plunked them down in their seats and we took to the skies, she felt her duty was done and she was thrilled to "check out". The kids were still in trauma.

During decades of doing child care, I dealt with many young children who were separating from their parents for the very first time. I knew certain ways to help them feel safe during that frightful transition.

I moved into the empty seat next to the children, still crying, now exhausted. At that point, they were in basic survival mode. I held the little girl and provided her with the pacifier I found in their carry-on. The boy leaned into me, staring into space. He was full of bewilderment and fear, but he was pretty sure I wouldn't hit him and so he leaned into me. The Older Woman moved away.

Well, it's a long trip from Ecuador to the U.S. and I ended up with a lap soaked with urine because there were no clean diapers in the bag. When the kids got restless, we walked up and down the narrow corridor.

My siblings LAUGHED when they saw me in the aisle. I laughed too. These little ones were sticking with me like glue. I gave them at least a tiny sense of safety and, as a result, they clung tightly to me. Sometimes the little girl would smile and oooooh what a beautiful smile!

The children were still "attached" to me when we de-boarded in the U.S. The Miami airport was chaotic and scary, by any standards. I nurtured them the best I could through this upheaval.

Then, when I got them to the baggage claim area, another Ecuadorian woman rushed up and asked me to take care of HER little one because she was alone and had lost her bags.

Thus, another baby was dropped into my arms and THAT mother was out of sight, in a flash. I didn't even get the mother's name before she hurriedly left. My new acquirement was about six months old.

Here I am with all three of them @ Baggage Claim.

Now my sibs were laughing even more!

"Where did you get THIS one?" they inquired.

It happened so quickly that I quite wasn't sure how I got her.

What was the mom's issue? Was it baggage? Is my Spanish fading away? Am I tired?

It seemed like it was hours and the mother of Child #3 did NOT return. I hauled all three traumatized children to the place where people were lined up to resolve issues with their carriers. Fortunately, I found the mom. Apparently, she missed her connection (not her baggage) and she didn't know what to do. It was HER first time flying. I translated the problem to the American Airline representative and we got her straightened out with a new ticket for later. Then, I said Adios to Child #3 and THAT was good.

Unfortunately, I didn't know what to do with the other two.

Our bags still hadn't been unloaded. An hour HAD past. Older Woman showed up and said she was suppose deposit these "charges" in New York City.

(Maybe another payment on that end?)

For obvious reasons, the kids didn't want to go with her.

I encouraged a more positive connection with the woman, promising that I might be able to get her a real job in the U.S. Truth was, I only wanted her U.S. contact info and her full legal name. On the plane, I had jotted down the kids' passport names and numbers. Armed with all this info, I finally gave her my dear little ones and they cried miserably once again.

Promptly I notified the authorities of the ENTIRE situation and giving names, numbers, and the Older Woman's contact info. I could hear the children screaming as they were hauled away by the O.W.

Did the Ecuadorian Mom #1 think she could simply drop off her two little ones at the airport and the people there would manage getting the kids to their grandfather in the U.S. ?

I'm guessing she had no concept of the issues involved with such a journey. Perhaps she thought that flight attendants would care for children as a part of their responsibilities.

One can only guess what she was thinking . . .

I want to believe she didn't understand.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One Degree Above Zero

These icicles are hanging from the edge of my garage roof.

They aren't spectacular in any regard. You can see much larger ones from other roofs.

However I took the photo to illustrate a point:


My spine and internal hardware do NOT like this winter weather.
(In case you didn't know, I have 19 bolts + 2 rods attached to my spine. See HERE.)

I dream of the tropics.

Instead of lying on a beach, I get to witness gorgeous sunsets like this one. It DOES compensate - sorta.

I walked 200 steps from my front door to snap the above photo when the thermometer said 1 degree above zero.

On the back side of this mountain, there's a ski resort where my kids learned to slalom.

My son still loves skiing with his cousins. He sports this Nevada license plate: BORN2SKI



Doing activities with the lovely lassies from my church group.

I recently piled them into a 12-seater van and we headed off to sing for the residents at a local nursing home.

One spunky patient wanted to set up a photo shoot with my little gals. Well, she had VERY specific ideas about WHO should be positioned WHERE and how I needed to form a BRIDGE with one of the girls . . . of her choosing.

Immobilized and obese, her physical life was definitely full of limitations. However, she was in COMPLETE CONTROL as she directed the placement of each one of the girls.

Our musical renditions did not hold her interest in the slightest. That was okay. She had a blast being in charge of the photo shoot and we knew it. Here's her composition:

The Alzheimer's patients DEARLY LOVED our singing. Some were dancing, others were mouthing the words of familiar tunes. A few cried . . . perhaps from the beauty of these young voices. Truly, my little gals are darn good singers. More significantly, they are simply good to the core. They all wanted to return to the nursing home and sing once again.

"Can we do this every week? Please???"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holiday Wrap-up

Overlooking Chicago's harbor from K & D's dining room. Quite dramatic, don't you think?

I certainly was treated to an EXTENDED Christmas holiday, by all standards.

Here's the parting shot with my wee grandchild RELLA on the morning of New Year's Eve.

(I am wearing festive socks which Ms. Claus of Illinois provided.)

Around 2 p.m. I hopped on a puddle-jumper flight to Ohio
to celebrate with Leah and her gang.

We played Christmas once again,
presents and all!

Here you see my granddaughters, modeling the 5-toe socks
which were a real hit.

Then we went out to bang on pots and ring in the New Year

. . . at 9 p.m. on the 31st. Hey, there are NO RULES on this matter.

The next day was the Sabbath and I neglected to get us photographed in our Sunday Best.

However, I DID get shots of the little imps in the bathtub that evening.

Below, Ms. Aspen with her moist curly locks hanging down in her face.
She is now past her whiny phase and only demonstrated 1 fully-blown Terrible Two Tantrum.

Quite a delightful toddler - and becoming verbally adept!

Ms. Avery is a true clown and reminds me of ME,
in both my childhood looks - especially the smile -
and a sunny and spirited (translation: hyperactive) personality.

And finally, Ms. Brinley,
who broke my heart when she bawled herself to sleep the night before my departure.

Also pretty darn good at funny faces.

I always looked forward to this Grandmother Stage of Life.

However, I couldn't have anticipate the depth of FEELING I would have for these little sprouts.

Tears are falling at this very moment.

I didn't get a photo of Leah nor Cody. Well, I'll honor Leah with a recent photo,
which shows a more serious side.

Truth is, we laughed A LOT together and had such a fabulous Mom + Daughter Time.

Well, maybe this shot IS appropriate, since Brinley wasn't the only tearful gal at my departure.

Besides, it's a fabulous shot of this dear girl. Yikes - I mean, woman.

Good paternal genes.

THANKS, DEAR DAUGHTERS, for the tender care you gave me during my time at your homes. Also, BIG hugs to loyal son-in-laws who stayed up for late night activities and chats even though they needed to leave early the following mornings - DUANE with his demanding job at the Chicago Board of Trade (a walking or biking commute in ridiculously cold weather) and CODY with hospital responsibilities far beyond what the law should require of medical resident. You guys never once made me feel like an imposition. Actually . . .

I felt truly welcomed and fully loved.

In Chicago, there was a stocking full of dear little things, so thoughtfully collected.

In Ohio, there were bedtime munchies waiting in the guest room.

Oh. Last thing, even tho I'm running overtime on this post. I must mention THE MEALS.

For example, a TACO BAR at Kelty's . . .

. . . and the healthy soups and salads at Leah's, such as the SPINACH & PASTA DISH below.

Today, my goddaughter got Trader Joe's soup and toast.

Unfortunately, I've forgotten how to cook.

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