The Minimalist Challenge


“Simplicity is complex. It’s never simple to keep things simple. Simple solutions require the most advanced thinking.”
― Richie Norton

I’ll confess! I don’t walk willingly into the minimalist world. I constantly fight it because I am a collector of artifacts, travel mementos, of everything! My life is one big collection of memoirs! Yet, living on a small island, in the middle of a huge sweet sea, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America, I have been forced to reduce and reuse because: we have NO trash pick-up, there is no Super Wal-Mart or even a mall on Ometepe Island, and life is undeniably simpler.

I guess that can be a good thing. Right? I am forced to reduce my carbon footprint. My neighbor, Marina, cleans my house three days a week. She constantly reminds me that I have many “chunches” (things) as she waves my dirty old underwear, used as a cleaning rag, under my nose. “Look at this dirt!” she says shaking her head and waving my old underwear.

So, I will…reluctantly…take Annette’s Minimalist Challenge because I know I must figure out a way to actively reduce the amount of plastic and tin we collect around the house.
“I would like to challenge YOU, my reader, to think of at least one action you can adopt in 2015 that will reduce plastic and other throw-away products; that will bring down energy usage; and/or minimize unnecessary consumption of any kind.”

I started feeding my dog and cats a little canned dog food every day as a treat. These tin cans add up, so this year I made a Christmas tree out of them.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Micro-moment of Warmth


“Love is that micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being”
― Barbara L. Fredrickson

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge is warmth.

We had a micro-moment of warmth today. Suddenly, the skies opened and the rain sliced through the air like panes of glass falling to the ground. The air chilled.  Cappy and Queenie enjoyed a micro-moment of warmth and connection.

IMG_6030From our little family on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua to our friends and families throughout the world, we wish you many micro-moments of warmth, love, and connections shared with all living things in the New Year.

Blessed be the peacemakers in this troubled world.

The Dream Dome


“Create with the heart; build with the mind.”
― Criss Jami

 

Ron and I have known Francheco for over ten years. When we first moved to Ometepe Island to manage a youth hostel, Francheco worked at the hostel. In 2012, Francheco’s new yellow house and property were expropriated by the Nicaraguan government to make way for the La Paloma airport. He dismantled his house, brick by brick, dug up his newly planted saplings and flowers, and relocated to a beautiful piece of land south of the airport, near Punta Jesus Maria. The House that Francheco Built.

He married a beautiful Nicaraguan woman. They have a little son, now. Francheco built a temporary house for them and started a restaurant, Dos Mangoes. You would think this story has a fairytale ending, right? But, not so quickly.

Francheco’s dream was to build a dome home. He is extremely talented, which translates to his ability to create from the heart, yet build with his mind. With the help of one worker, he began building a dome home two years ago, one row of bricks at a time.

Francheco’s house from the back of the property.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow


The Weekly Photo Challenge is: Yellow

Yesterday, I was sweeping my porch and swept up a beautiful yellow male Io moth. At first, I thought it was dead, but when threatened he flipped his forewings forward exposing the large eyespots on his hind wings.

Most people in Nicaragua are afraid of gusanos, or caterpillars. I had no idea why, until I researched the venomous sting of the Io moth caterpillar. Virtually the entire bodies of larvae are protected by venomous spines. When spines penetrate the skin, the tips break off and release the venom.
IMG_1397His eyespots have white highlights resembling reflections of vertebrate eyes.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle


The Weekly Photo Challenge is Twinkle.

The night of Purisima in Nicaragua, there were a few twinkling lights, but the lights weren’t working in the star at the top of the Christmas tree. Instead, I waited until the moon was just right to light up the star.

IMG_5568By the way, if you are trying to get your pingback to work, try dropping the s from https:// in the pingback link. Thanks to Ambitious Drifter. 🙂

A Natural Christmas in Nicaragua


“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

 

There are a few traditions that I cherish on Christmas, but not many. We haven’t decorated a real Christmas tree for over a decade. My old Christmas decorations are sitting on someone else’s mantel, hanging on someone else’s tree, or given to Goodwill long ago.

In Nicaragua, our lives are very simple during the holidays. I still have icicle lights hanging on my front porch, but they hang year-round. Instead, I find Christmas colors and surprises in my natural surroundings.

Our hot peppers become festive lights, swaying in the tropical breeze.
IMG_5651I know it’s corny – but I love ‘Jingle Bells!’ ~ Dolly Parton

That Dolly! I agree with her, but instead, our Jingle bells are on a long, pendulous banana stalk with dusky purple bracts.

IMG_5668“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
― Roy L. Smith

My favorite mango tree gifts us with small flowers in December. In January and February, we will be picking delicious Rosa Mangoes.
IMG_5670“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still.” Rachel Cohn

Yet, Christmas in the tropics delights us with soft tussles of feathery snow-like grass.
IMG_5658Christmas comes in many forms and colors. I’ll still make my Christmas cookies to share with all my neighbors and friends. I’ll still sing Jingle Bells. And most importantly, I’ll remember that Christmas doesn’t come from a store.

International Human Rights Day in Nicaragua


“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
― John F. Kennedy

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. In honor of this day, a great March Against the Nicaraguan Canal is scheduled in Managua. This year’s theme is Human Rights 365.

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The Decay of Dignity


          “Life is not a matter of place, things or comfort; rather, it concerns the basic human rights of family, country, justice and human dignity.~Imelda Marcos

 I’ve been musing about the decay of human dignity in the United States. I can’t open a website or newspaper without reading about the lack of respect given to President Obama, the life and death of Eric Garner, and other enraged incidents that demonstrate the decay of human dignity in the United States.

However, the decline of human dignity is not isolated to the United States. It’s like a cancer spreading worldwide, eating away at the crumbling foundation of respect for our human race.

When I opened my Facebook page on Black Friday, I saw this post from Lucha Libro Bookstore in Granada, Nicaragua.

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The Nicaraguan Piggy Bank


Have you ever wondered why the pig is associated with saving money? Some say the origin of the piggy bank was derived from the type of clay 15th century European potters used, called Pygg Clay. In the early 20th century, potters began to shape the clay in the form of pigs and people would save their loose coins in the pygg jars.

However, in Nicaragua, the piggy bank is literally a piglet. They call their pigs, the Bancos de Chanchitos, which means piggy banks. The Nicaraguans buy the piglets when they are 8 weeks old for about 800 cordobas ($30). Then, when they are 9 months old, they are ready to butcher for Christmas nacatamales and chicharrón, a dish generally made of fried pork rinds.

Earlier this year, we bought Marina one of Theresa’s piglets. The piglet is now 9 months old and ready to be butchered for nacatamales and chicharrón for the Christmas feast.
Raising piglets for Christmas dinner is a long tradition in Nicaragua.

The process starts with an hembra (female) in heat. Chela, Theresa’s huge hembra, is ready for Barracho the Boar.

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