Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Beautiful Mother

I hope your mother is as beautiful as mine. I'm sure she is. Mine is not only beautiful on the outside but she is beautiful on the inside as well. Mama and Daddy arrived here in Montego Bay last Monday, so they have been here a week. The first couple of days I took Mama to town. We went to both grocery stores, (because you can't just go to one and find everything you need), to Fontana Pharmacy, (like a Walgreens), to Sinclairs, Sona (where we exchange money) and to True Value hardware store. Everywhere we went, the Jamaicans that have come to realize that Todd and I are staying and that we are not tourists, just raved about how beautiful Mama was and they just couldn't believe that she was seventy years old. Bust-a-Crab, who is seventy four and for a JA$10 or JA$20 coin helps us back out of the overcrowded parking lot at Sona's, told Mama that she had to have been a star when she was younger.

By the time Friday rolled around and after sewing curtains for the kitchen, dining room, and our room Mama's osteo-arthritis was about to get the best of her. We checked at Fontana's to see if we could get some Celebrex to relieve the pain but of course we couldn't because it required a prescription. Saturday morning it wasn't any better and she finally agreed to let me take her down to the Doctor's clinic in Freeport where the cruise ships come in. Before we left, I called and Nurse Rose answered the phone. She told me that if we would come in quickly we would be able to see the doctor and get a prescription. We dropped what we were doing, loaded up in the car and took off. Mama brought along her make-up bag but it didn't take her long to realize that she was not going to be able to put on eye liner on these terrible roads without losing an eye.

When we arrived at the clinic Nurse Rose told us to have a seat and that she would be with us shortly. True to her word she called us back to a modest room and had us sit down. She asked Mama the usual questions of why she was here and what she needed. She took her vitals but when she started to take Mama's blood pressure she reached for Mama's left arm to put the cuff on. Mama told her that she couldn't have her pressure taken in the left arm because she had had a lumpectomy and had several of her lymph nodes take out under her arm. Nurse Rose made a few inquiries but immediately changed sides. Shortly, Dr. Suckoo came in, gave us the script we needed, we paid Nurse Rose JA$3000 (about US$45) and we went to Fontana's and got the Celebrex. We were done in less than an hour. That is a miracle because nothing is done in under an hour in Jamaica.

Later that afternoon the Jamaican hard line rang. Todd answered it and the voice on the other line asked for Mrs. Blount. Todd said, "Mrs. Blount?" When he looked at me for some reason I had to remind him that I was Mrs. Hood. I took the phone from him and handed it to Mama. The look on her face registered shock and fear. Why would someone in Jamaica be calling her? She took the phone and said, "Hello....yes, Nurse Rose." We all thought it was a routine follow-up call from the clinic. It turned out to be much more than that. For the next fifteen minutes Mama went through her entire story of when she had breast cancer. She told her all about the surgery and the radiation treatments she had and how the Lord had given her the strength to get through it. Then Nurse Rose told Mama her story. She has had three mammograms with two being positive and one being negative. She said she didn't know what the doctors were going to put her through here. All I know is that my Mama cried with her and felt the pain and fear with her and then she prayed with her over the phone. Mama assured her that we would all be praying for her. Nurse Rose told Mama she would call again this week to talk to her again.

What Nurse Rose did would never be done in America because that would go against office policy and could potentially be cause for a lawsuit and all that other legal mumbo jumbo. But, Nurse Rose saw something in my Mama that made her feel comfortable enough to call this beautiful white woman for a little compassion and encouragement.

I know Mama thinks she came to Jamaica to see us and to especially see Bubby. I think she came to see Nurse Rose...maybe you too could say a quick prayer for Nurse Rose this week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Is What We Have Been Doing - Part II

Friday we went to Coral Cliff to have lunch. They have a buffet that has Jamaican food. It's like any other buffet. Some things are good and some things you can do without. Coral Cliff is a gaming lounge for tourists. You can tell from the picture above.

Saturday morning DeeDee fried biscuits and we ate them with some yummy guava syrup that she made. Actually it was suppose to be guave jelly but it didn't set so we ate it as syrup and let me tell you it was delicious. Then that afternoon we went to the beach at Doctor's Cave bathing club.
We set DeeDee up with a chair and an umbrella. We kept her out of the sun as much as possible and she worried the whole time Nathan and Todd were out swimming. They came back safe and sound though. On the way to school this morning, Nathan told me that his favorite thing so far has been having his DeeDee at the beach and scaring her by swimming out so far and diving down deep.

Bubby and Granddaddy have "rustled" as best as they can on these hard tile floors. Here Bubby is trying to stick some tape on Granddaddy's hairy arms.

DeeDee has made 3 valances today for the curtains and I found some celery in the grocery store so Granddaddy cut it up for me so I can put it in the freezer to use in the dressing for Thanksgiving.

More later on what we have been doing...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This Is What We Have Been Doing - Part I

Everyone that has called wants to know what we have been doing since Mama and Daddy arrived. Let me show you.

DeeDee has been hard at work making curtains. They brought a 1950 Singer Featherweight sewing machine with them. Everything is backwards on a Featherweight than from a regular sewing machine. After researching online we were able to get the needle in properly and get it threaded right. DeeDee thinks it sews better than any machine she has ever used.

And, of course you know you have to iron the curtains. DeeDee wouldn't dare just hang the curtains and let the wrinkles fall out from the extreme humidity and heat as I would have done.

Granddaddy has been hanging mini blinds in our bedroom. He has also taken down light fixtures for DeeDee to clean, along with helping her figure the lengths of her curtains.

Granddaddy has taken advantage of Bubby having to practice his reading. Everyone knows that Granddaddy loves to be read to and especially if he gets to hold his favorite grandson.

I will continue this tomorrow. I have more pictures to share but they will have to wait. It takes so long to upload pictures here and sometimes I have to upload them two and three times. Enough is enough for tonight.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Man That Lives In The Drain

Most of the time Todd and I both take Nathan to school. His school is located on top of Brandon Hill and has a most stunning view of mountains as well as the azure waters of Montego Bay. The climb up is mostly good road but has quite a few potholes that require one's undivided attention. In other words it is very hard to drive and take pictures at the same time. It so happened the other morning that I took Nathan to school by myself and on the way up I noticed a drain and it looked like someone had hung their laundry out to dry on the rock wall. It seemed odd to me. Let me show you what I saw.

The road up has a rock wall that divides the two lanes. I took Nathan on to school and brought my camera with me in the afternoon when I went to pick him up. I have to confess that I drove up and had to do a u-turn to get these pictures. On my first pass by, the realization that someone was laying down inside was jolting. It was awkward taking the pictures. I felt like I was invading his privacy. But, the need to share this with you won out.
If you look closely you can make out his leg and arm. You can also see his clothes drying in the sun that I'm sure had been soaked by the heavy rains we have had. You can also see the cardboard that he has placed over the top of the drain as a make-do shelter.

A few days later in the week on our way down the man was sitting outside.

I don't know who he is or if we will ever meet him and have a chance to help him. But, I do know that he is only one of probably thousands that live in conditions like these. A day doesn't go by that we aren't approached by someone wanting help, most always in the form of money. We wish we could help them all but we can't. After seeing these living conditions I am very thankful for my less than comfortable bed, for the roof over my head, and the running water and electricity that we have (which either, at any given moment can go out).

One day soon I will introduce you to Miss Water.

Monday, October 22, 2007

They're Here!!!!!!!!!

I think we are the happiest people in the world. Our DeeDee and Granddaddy arrived today. They flew Air Jamaica from Orlando to Montego Bay. When they checked in, the attendant insisted they get Daddy a wheelchair. And that was the best decision of the day. They were escorted from the ticket counter, through security and all the way out to the gate.
When they arrived in Montego Bay, Throy Durrant met them at the plane with another wheel chair and escorted them through immigration, to the baggage claim where they waited only a few minutes for their luggage. Then he took them to customs for the officials to check what was in the bags. Mama said that there were hundreds of people waiting in lines from several other flight arrivals, but they didn't have to wait in any lines because Throy took them to the front of every line and brought them all the way out to us.
When Todd brought the truck around I helped Mama and Daddy into the back with Bubby between them and I rode up front on the passenger side and Todd drove. On our way out, Mama asked Bubby if Mommy was a good driver and he told her I was. As we continued to drive along I was pointing things out to Mama and she casually said, "You better watch where you are going." I thought she was talking to Todd. In a minute she said it again, this time a little more forceful. It finally dawned on me. She thought I was driving because I was riding on the left side of the car. I told her, "Mama, I'm not driving, Todd is." So, we got a good laugh at her. We decided we need to blindfold her when she rides in the car. For those of you that don't know we drive on the left side of the road and the cars have the steering wheel on the right side.
Until next time...I'm off to enjoy my mama and daddy!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One More Day!

Edited 10-27-07
My brother wanted me to add the picture of me pointing
to the calendar on the wall. He has a picture for every
memory and occasion. Thanks Howie!

Growing up in Paraguay, at times we felt a little isolated from our families back home in Florida. We so looked forward to the day we would get to go home even though our family members played tricks on us and would hide behind a pole when we came out of the jetway or some of them didn't even "know" us (April). So my brother, Howard, and I quickly learned how to mark days off on a calendar. We had a huge wall calendar that was probably 2'x3' and it showed all the months of the year at a glance. Mama and Daddy always tried to argue with us about the way we counted the days off. You see, we didn't count today (because it had already arrived) and we didn't count the awaited day either. So, according to them they always counted two extra days than we did.

This past month I have imparted the gift of "marking days off" on a calendar to Nathan. After all DeeDee and Granddaddy are coming. That is a day to anticipate! We found a calendar that was left here in our apartment and got busy. If you count like Mama and Daddy do there are two days left until they get here. But, the way we count there are no more days left because today is here and they arrive tomorrow.

You can tell from the above picture that Nathan had to show off his cursive writing a little. I guess I will compromise since I am grown-up and mature and say, "One more day!" All I know is, at DeeDee's house the garage has been mopped, the hedges have been trimmed, the house has been pressure washed, the lamps are on timers, the suitcases have been packed and re-packed, and I think the ceiling fans will be dusted today, and regardless of how anybody counts, DEE DEE AND GRANDDADDY WILL BE HERE TOMORROW, and we can hardly wait!!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reasons I Make My Bed

As a child I never had to do any household chores because we had a maid that did them all. We weren't rich, we just lived in Paraguay and all of the missionaries had a maid. Domestic labor was inexpensive and it allowed the missionary wives to be more active in the ministry. However, my mother being a Hinson, thought that it was necessary that I learn a little responsibility and despite the fact that we had a maid, I had to make my bed every morning and put my clothes away after the maid washed, dried, and folded them. My brother and I have often joked that we even had to make our beds on the mornings that the maid was going to change the sheets. Go figure! So, when I left home and got a place of my own, I decided that I didn't want to make my bed every morning. After all, what was the point?, I was just going to get back in it in a few hours. Even after I got married, Todd didn't really care whether I made the bed or not.

But, here in Jamaica I make my bed every morning. Now some of you probably make your beds every morning because it makes the room look clean or tidy or whatever! My reasons are very different than yours. I really could care less if the room looks tidy or not. Let me share with you my two reasons for making my bed everyday.

Reason #1 is the lizard (mini-iguana) and reason #2 is the centipede. All of our windows here have slat boards on each side of them as shown in the picture below.

They are suppose to seal tightly when they close but unfortunately they don't. Some of them have one inch gaps in them allowing any flying or crawling creature to come and go as they please. Needless to say we frequently have lizards and centipedes come in the house. One morning I went to get in the shower and as I was about to step in, I almost stepped on a lizard that was in the tub. Thankfully, Todd got out of bed and came to my rescue. Todd has been able to staple some screen on the outside of Nathan's windows. These Jamaican mosquitoes love that sweet white skin of his. So, his room is sealed fairly well.

It is my fear that one of these creatures will get in my bed if I don't make it. It would not be a pretty sight if I were to crawl in bed with one of them.

I would love to hear your reasons for making your bed. That is, if you are a bed maker.

And by the way, now that I am older and wiser, I am thankful mama taught me how to make my bed. But, I still hate any kind of housework!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Air Conditioner Installation

Kenroy Drummond. He was my hero last week. He installed our air conditioners. Kenroy was a kind gentle man with a beautiful smile and everything he said he said with a grin. To my knowledge there is no such thing as central air here. We have no need of central heat so that is not an issue. Central air would be nice since that is what I am use to but I have found that I can survive without it. For the past few months we have had air in our bedrooms but we only run those at night. Up until last week we didn't have air in our living room and dining area. But now we do. Thanks to the sweet people at Pleasant Grove Assembly who sent us the money to purchase one. We will be forever grateful to them. Now, we can watch TV and be comfortable.

In our shopping adventures we found no store that sold window units. Here they only sell what they call split units. I don't know the names of the two separate parts but I do know that the quiet part is inside and the loud part is on the outside of the house (that is good for my nerves). But, you need the loud part in order to run the quiet part and so we are praying that no one steals the loud part. Todd had Kenroy put a lock on the outside part of the air in the guest room because it is close to the ground and could be gotten to easily.

We live on the third floor of our apartment building and it was amazing to watch Kenroy install these air conditioners. He had a very loooong flimsy aluminum extension ladder and showed no fear in climbing three floors up. When he was working on the one in the dining area Todd opened the window and tried to tie Kenroy's ladder off but Kenroy told him it wasn't necessary.
As Kenroy hoisted the heavy loud part onto his shoulder I realized he had to climb up that very long flimsy aluminum ladder and maneuver it onto the brackets he had installed on the side of the house. I stood on our walkway and snapped pictures.

While I was watching the long climb up the ladder I said, "Kenroy you are making me nervous!"

He said, "You are making ME nervous!"

"You mean taking your picture?" I asked.

"Yah, Mon!"

I quickly added, "Goodbye." And ducked into the house because I didn't want to make him nervous which in turn might cause him to drop the loud part of my air conditioner.

Kenroy grinned that beautiful smile as he positioned the loud part on the brackets just as he had done hundreds of times before. He never doubted, as I did, that he would make it safely to the top without dropping the loud part of my air conditioner.

"Tahnks Kenroy!" (That's not a mispelled word! That's how you say "thanks" in Jamaica!)

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Day Our Furniture Arrived

Buying anything in Jamaica will cost you an arm and a leg and the quality will not be the best. We found that out from the first week we were here trying to find a vehicle. When we arrived, the apartment we rented was unfurnished but our landlord was gracious enough to let us use the furniture from another smaller apartment he rents furnished. This was with the understanding that we would purchase our own furniture as soon as possible.

We began to shop and to our astonishment all of the furniture we found that we liked and that was comfortable was so expensive we knew we couldn't afford it. The furniture we could afford was both ugly (and as you can tell what we decided on will never win any awards for beauty) and very uncomfortable. Okay, it was just plain hard. So, we began to explore other options like getting some made, garage sales, classifieds, we even searched on JamDeal, the Jamaican Ebay. It was just as expensive to get some made, we couldn't find the yard sale even after speaking to the man 3 times for directions (I guess we turned at the wrong yellow house) and we didn't need the barstools on JamDeal.

Finally, the principal of Nathan's school referred us to someone who had helped him. Steven is from India and is a devout catholic. When we arrived at his store he was blaring praise and worship music from these loud speakers. To make this story a little shorter he made us a package deal and really saved us a lot of money.

The day came for the furniture to arrive. Short of the hurricane, it came the worst rainstorm since we arrived. Needless to say the attempts to wrap the furniture in plastic was done in vain and the couch, love seat and chair were soaked. As they began to bring the items in, they started with the stove and refridgerator. They came in fine and only needed to be dried off with a towel. But, then there was the livingroom furniture. They started with the loveseat and it got stuck in the front door and wouldn't budge. I suggested letting the rest of the furniture over the landlord's balcony above ours with some rope. Which is what they did. As you can tell by the following pictures the rope was more like twine and we almost lost the couch when it slipped on the railing because of the rain.

The above picture shows Todd and the 79 year old man the delivery guy brought with him to help unload the furniture as they wait for the first drop.

The first drop was the chair and it was no problem to catch because the twine was big enough to hold ONLY a chair.

But, then there was the issue of the couch. Here we see what it looks like from our balcony as the men above start to inch it over the railing.

When the couch slipped all I could see was it crashing to the ground 3 floors down. By an act of God it swung in close enough to our balcony that Todd and the old man were able to reach out and grab it and pull it in safely.

Once we got it in the house and set it upright, the water drained down and as it dripped onto the floor made puddles. We had to set the couch on towels to soak up the water that was dripping out of it. After most of the water was dry we unwrapped the couch only to find that our brand new couch had a glaring defect on the back cushion.

A lovely cigarette burn adorns the back cushion of our couch. Someone, somehow burned through the multi-layered plastic to leave their mark forever on my couch.

Todd called Steven that sold us the furniture and told him about the burn and he said that it wasn't there when it left the store because he had inspected it thoroughly. The delivery man said that none of his guys smoke and we don't smoke so it is a mystery to us all. Steven was willing to take the couch back and send it to Kingston across the island and get it repaired. That was kind of him but I wasn't willing to try and get the couch back out by taking it over the balcony again. So, I will live with it. Such is life on the island.

Hey...maybe I can get Aunt Ruth to make me an afghan to drape across the back!!!!!!!!!

Packing and Unpacking

Part of the fun of traveling is packing. As stressful as the packing has been for our last two trips, I have taken the job as a challenge. I enjoy trying to see how much stuff I can cram into any little space I can find. It's amazing what you can fit into shoes for example and especially what you can fit inside of cowboy boots. Anyway, on our first trip here to Jamaica we had 15 suitcases and on our last trip here we had 12. The above picture shows some of the twelve before I got them unpacked. I like the unpacking better than the packing because it's like Christmas. Especially when you come across something you forgot you packed.

Our biggest challenge this past time was packing a grill to bring back. We came back just after hurricane Dean came through so we didn't know if we would have power when we arrived. Thank God we did but we were ready just in case. Todd found us a grill at Walmart (my all time favorite store) that had a side burner on it. Of course he couldn't find one in a box unassembled. All they had were assembled ones and the boxes had already been discarded. But that wasn't a problem because Todd and his dad took it apart and we packed the biggest pieces in a box we paid $6.99 for and I distributed the other pieces throughout the twelve suitcases.

Nathan actually took time out from playing his Nintendo to help his daddy put in a few screws and now we are able to enjoy grilled food. I was getting real tired of FRYING porkchops. I never got tired of eating them but they weren't worth the heatstroke I had to go through to get them.

Mama and Daddy are coming in exactly 16 days and we are starting to get excited about having our first visitors...not to mention helping them unpack. A few weeks ago it dawned on us all that they didn't have any suitcases to use when they come because we had them all with us. So, we had to figure a way to get some suitcases back home. It just so happened that we had a construction team here from Bonifay, Florida that said they would be more than happy to take them for us and UPS them to Mama and Daddy. Upon further review of the situation, the leader of the group said he would drive them to my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Layne's house in Tallahassee, Florida and they would take them to Mama and Daddy tomorrow to the Hinson family reunion. So, now Mama and Daddy will get the suitcases they need thanks to Pastor Jerry Moore from Bonifay and Aunt Sharon and Uncle Layne from Tallahassee.

Happy packing Mama!!!!!! Bubby and I can't wait to unpack them for you!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

And...We're Back

Hello everyone. It's so nice to be back in contact. We have been able to upgrade our internet service here in Jamaica and at times it seems to run a "likkle" bit faster. That's patua for "little." I'll save the Jamaican phrases for another post.

We have accomplished a lot since my last entry. Fortunately for us here in MoBay, hurricane Dean did not cause much damage. The power was off for about 3 days, so when we arrived back we did have to throw away everything in the fridge. Our friends in the middle of the island suffered minor damage and friends in Kingston at the City of Refuge children's home suffered severe damage. Thankfully no one was injured. To my knowledge, none of them have had phone and internet service restored.

The most important thing we have done is get some furniture and other household items that make living a more beautiful thing. That day will be saved for another post. Nathan started school and Todd and I are doing the music at our humble church. Believe me it is better than singing to the beat on the microphone. Nathan has joined the football (soccer) team at his school but has only had one practice due to the afternoon rains...and the afternoon clouds...and the morning rains. Jamaicans do nothing if it even appears to be adverse conditions. They cancel practice because they think it might rain. At least that's what it seems like to us.

Well, let me go ahead and see if this will post and then I will attempt to do others with pictures. I have lots of pictures to show that will help me communicate much more effectively. Until then...