Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Rincón?

Maybe it 's waking up to the sun rising over the ocean everyday.  Makes me so energized and happy.   And that feeling is contagious -- there is so much energy here! 

Rincón is a special place with a bunch of people marching to their own drum.   Around here, If you haven't found or seen or done something a little bit off-beat, then it hasn't been much of a day!

Probably best of all  - it is pretty wonderful that for alot of us, part of our job involves strolling on the beach, plucking materials to go to work with...  doesn't get much better than that!

So where does all that Rincon beach-combed sea glass go??

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


There is this noise … waking me.  Is it the wind?  Too loud.  A tractor stuck in low gear?  Too late at night.   It is howling. Several male dogs growling and howling… in unison… at 2 am.   Why?  Because I am a sucker.

There is this puppy. 

Might belong to the folks around the corner… might not.  Puerto Rico is like that.  Sometimes she tags along with our dogs during our morning beach run.  She follows them into the water, a little bit deeper each day.  Soon she is racing ahead and splashes in first. Sometimes she follows us back to the gate and I give her water and kibble. She is always tentative. Any sudden movement makes her startle and run.

One morning I spot her trotting down the road - with a floppy feathered chicken clenched in her teeth, poached from the farm down the way.  I can hear the manic clucking of the other hens.  Then again on another morning, then another. 

I start putting out plates of kibble, one in the morning, one at night.  Now she shows up regularly, never making it up to the farm.  Now she whines at the gate and I open it for her to nap in the shade with the other dogs. 

Now my husband J. arrives home after being away for business. 

“That is someone else’s dog” he says. 

“No one has come looking for it” I say.  

He chats up the neighbors. "El perrito negro está en mi casa y yo le estoy dando comida. ¿Usted cree que el dueño se molestó?"

No one claims ownership.  In fact, she is canine-non-gratis with the farmer, who claims she has stolen 15 chickens, in just this month alone.  The men “en la calle” decide it is best if we keep her, for the well-being of the local poultry population. 

“You have another dog”,  J. declares.

We take her to the vet for vaccinations and to be neutered.  

“Can’t do that right now”  reports Dr. Pino.  “She’s gone into heat.  Make an appointment for ten or so days from now”.   

OK, ten days. No big deal.   

On the second day, there are stray dogs in the backfield, having tunneled in under the chain link.  I shake a broom at them.    On the third day a random local dog is sniffing around outside of my studio.  I throw a bucket of water in his direction and admonish the other dogs for not being better guards.  The next three nights are an ordeal and I am useless during the day for lack of sleep.

“Four more days to go”, I think through gritted teeth.  

As I set out their morning dog bowls of fresh water and food, Nina, as we’re calling her, moves over toward me sideways - shy and still unsure of her place in the scheme of things.  Her goofy ears and happy, waggity tail make me smile.

“What a sweet doggie” I tell her, and mean it.

Support animal rescue in Rincon, PR.



Monday, August 10, 2009

The Power of New

Today was my daughter’s first day at a new high school. Understandably, she was nervous and excited. I was anxious for her and also a little bit green-eyed. She’s at an age that overflows with possibility and memorable firsts. As we get older, an open attitude and the promise of new is fleeting.

Which is why an artisan object or anything with a connection to creativity is so appealing. Celebrating originality gives us that same chance to dream and believe and feel something for the first time. A way to make life a constant interdisciplinary experience; math, psychology, philosophy, poetry and art all rolled up into the everyday-ness.

Maybe not as exhilarating as first love, but it doesn’t come with pimples and geometry homework either!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

set to Broil

How to describe deep summer in Puerto Rico? sweltering and sultry
We brag about how many showers we've taken that day.
The smallest breeze elicits moans of pleasure.
The best parking spot is determined by shade instead of distance.
The dogs stop chasing lizards.

... and then we go for a swim and it’s most assuredly...wonderful.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Feasting on Cobblestones

I’m typing this still slightly buzzed from our three day orgy in San Juan Viejo (Old San Juan). Now don’t blush.. not that kind of orgy… PuLeeze - after 18 years, the only extra there’s room for in this relationship is new restaurants. Hence the indulgent anniversary extravaganza to OSJ.

The trip had only one stipulation: nada traditional Comida Criollo. We have nothing but fine examples of it over in the Porta del Sol. No, this was to be strictly cuisine we cannot normally have by reason of ingredient or technique. Over three days of architectural and historical wonderment we had nine meals. Of those, these were really memory making:

Breakfast at La Bombonera, (259 Calle de San Francisco)
Cavernous, fluorescent lit, replete with formica and vinyl. A little care-worn. PACKED with patrons. Why? - Mallorcas - a testament to the power of Sweet and Salty. Fresh, lightly eggy bread, buttered. Layered with a bit of ham and cheese. Griddled till gold, pressed hot and melty. Dusted with powdered sugar. Cheap. Heaven on a plate, sugar dust in my lap.

Lunch at Pikayo, (Museo de Arte, Santurce)
Having been three times in under a year, we are no longer making visits, but pilgrimages. Replete with fabulous, beautifully presented food in a spectacular room, each has been a treat.

Highlights of this meal included an appetizer special of squid and chorizo in a light broth of cilantro, butter, garlic and white wine with slices of crisp green asparagus. A meaty and tender hunk of swordfish with a slick of tamarind fruit glaze and a crispy pan fried snapper fillet bathed in a smoky paprika sauce. For dessert we were sharing the ethereal chocolate soufflé. Instead of bringing the normal portion with two spoons, the kitchen very thoughtfully prepared two petite soufflés and presented them individually with small shots of crème anglaise. A nice touch. Bourbon Man, (a.k.a. my husband), had his usually menu-perusing drink, followed by bottled water. I was drinking Spanish Cava that I never learned the name of. A by-the-glass recommendation of the waiter; light and dry and well paired with the meal. But then again, wine with lunch is just about my favorite “on vacation” signifier.

Dinner at Trois Cent Onze, (311 Calle Fortaleza)
The Moorish tile and glass rosette on the front of the building only hint at what lies inside – a really pretty and comfortable dining room and one of the most well-prepared meals we’ve shared. One word to sum up the food, décor and staff? Genuine. The food, flawless without being precious. The décor, alluring without being pretentious. The staff, warm and helpful without being intrusive.

We enjoyed everything, especially:
Foie gras laced with raisins, honey and served with brioche toast. A Caribbean lobster tail broiled, split and sauced with a champagne beurre blanc. Lovely little rack of lamb, perfectly cooked medium rare and accompanied by a salpicon using local squash that’s been cubed and baked with broth, butter and herbs, finished with a touch of cream. For dessert we shared the crème brulée of the day - a nutty, sweet pistachio. Capped off by an outstanding glass of Sauternes.
A delicious and flawless evening -- very nearly worth waiting 18 years for!

“For years my wedding ring has done its job. It has led me not into temptation. It has reminded my husband during parties that it's time to go home. It has been a source of relief to a dinner companion. It has been a status symbol in the maternity ward.” - Erma Bombeck


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Grill Master

I have been thinking about the men who buy my work, typically as gifts. Our reputed female penchant for retail therapy may hold a grain of truth, but women expect a lot from the shopping experience.

The purity of the male approach is admirable. Men go to a store, get what they need and come away feeling as though they've done a good job, simply because they’ve purchased something. I don’t know if it is fair to pin blame on DNA, but there is a difference between the way men and women shop.

For instance, my backyard barbeque grill; 150 lbs of hulking black cast iron and stainless steel. Takes me two hands to open the lid, has a side burner with its own shiny surface area, and a bright red temperature arrow that spins around precipitously when the beast is fired up. The most telling detail: wheels, like it is a giant toy truck. How did we come to possess such a monument to smoke and flame? My husband bought it.

During the last 5 or 6 years we have done just fine with a basic Weber kettle grill and some “cowboy chips” from Trader Joe. All the summer staples cooked nicely: hamburgers, vegetable kebabs, even toasted marshmallows. The kettle grill was a big trade up from where we started long ago. A miniscule apartment in NYC with an equally tiny hibachi perched out on the fire escape. But the Weber had started to rust out and did not come with us when we moved. A replacement was needed.

Off my husband goes, one fine day. And back he comes with not just a grill, but nearly an off-road vehicle packing 50,000 BTU’s, roughly the equivalent size of that first NYC kitchen. And he’s happy. Really, really happy. Men, it turns out, are not complicated to sell to. Now if only I could figure out how to make my work bigger…
…and put wheels on it.

Hope yours is a sizzling-hot Father’s Day!


El Maestro Parrillero

La pureza de los hombres a la hora de comprar es admirable. Los hombres van a una tienda, consiguen lo que necesitan, salen y se sienten como que han hecho un buen trabajo, simplemente porque han comprado algo. Yo no sé si es justo culpar la presencia de un gen, pero hay una diferencia en la manera en que hombres y mujeres compran.

Por ejemplo, la barbacoa en mi patio, 150 libras de hierro sólido negro y acero inoxidable. Se necesitan las dos manos para abrir la tapa. Tiene un quemador lateral independiente a la parrilla. Una flecha roja que indica la temperatura y gira que precipitadamente tan pronto se enciende. El detalle más revelador - las ruedas - como si fuere un camion gigante de juguete. ¿Cómo hemos llegado a tener un “monumento” de humo y fuego? Mi esposo lo compró.

Durante los últimos 5 ó 6 años tuvimos una parrilla básica Weber y algunos "cowboy chips" de Trader Joe. Todas las comidas de verano se cocinaron muy bien: hamburguesas, pinchos vegetananos, incluso malvaviscos tostado. Esto parrilla es un gran cambiosi lo comparamos con el principio: un minisculo apartamento en Nueva York con juntamente con diminuto “hibachi” encaramado en la escalera de incendios. Sin embargo, el Weber comenz, a corroerse y no pudo venir con nosotros cuando nos mudamos. La necesitabanos un sustituto.

Un buen día, mi marido fue a la tienda y regresa acompañado con una parrilla, y un equip de 50,000 BTU's, más o menos del tamaño de nuestra primera cocina en Nueva York. Y él llegó feliz, muy, muy feliz. Los hombres, resultan no ser tan complicados a la hora de comprar. ¡ Ahora, si tan sólo yo pudiera averiguar cómo hacer mi trabajo más grande ...
... Y poner le ruedaspara que asi los hombres lo comprarar…!

¡ Espero que pasen un buen Día del Padre en la parrilla!

Translation assistance by Magha
Muchísimas gracias!
(any errors the responsibility of oceano)



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Perfect Day / Día Perfecto

Saturday was my daughter Emily’s birthday. The way she chose to spend the day was happy for all of us.

Mid-morning we grabbed water, towels and chairs and left our house to visit a pretty stretch of beach in Isabela called Playa Jobos. Along the way, we stopped at a great snack kiosk on Carr. 4466 and ordered up lunch: two empanadilla de pizza, one empanadilla de carne and two potato dough rellenos. We decamped and had the perfect beach picnic while looking at the calm water and the cloudless sky.

The waves are gone for the season, so we spent the next several hours walking, swimming and lounging in the sand. We rolled out just ahead of the afternoon thunderstorms and headed back home with a side stop to our favorite coffee and smoothie shop, Banana Dang. Later that night we grilled and ate homemade cake, while Myra Loy and William Powell figured out who-done-it in “The Thin Man”.

Sunshine, ocean, cake with a candle and a dog named Asta…it doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you Emily, Happy Birthday!

Día Perfecto
El sábado fue el cumpleaños de mi hija Emily. La forma en que eligió para pasar el día fue feliz para todos nosotros.

A media mañana agarramos agua, toallas, sillas y nos fuismos a la Playa de Jobos en Isabela. Este tramo al la izquierda de nuestra casa es muy hermoso. A lo largo del camino, paramos por una gran merienda en un kiosco en Carr. 4466 y ordenamos el almuerzo pra llevar: dos Empanadillas de pizza, una Empanadilla de carne y dos rellenos de papa. Desempacamos y tuvimos perfecto el picnic en el playa mientras observamos la tranquilidad en el agua y miramos el cielo sin nubes.

Las olas se han ido por esta temporada, así que pasamos las próximas horas caminando, natando, descansando en la arena. Regresamos justo antes de las tormentas eléctricas de la tarde, y nos fuimos de regreso a la casa luego de tomarnos, nuestro café y frappe favorito, Banana Dang . Más tarde en la noche himcimos comida a la parrilla y comimos un bizcocho hecho en casa por Emily, mientras Myra Loy y William Powell descubrian que-hacer-en "The Thin Man".

Sol, mar, bizcocho con su vela y un perro llamado Asta... o encontraras nada mejor que esto. Gracias Emily y ¡Feliz cumpleaños!

Translations by Magha
Muchísimas gracias!
(any errors the responsibility of oceano)