Saturday, June 30, 2007


When I moved to St Croix, I was elated to find on the roadsides trees laden with a fruit from my Colombian childhood: Mamoncillo. Except that here in the Virgin Islands they call it Genip and in Puerto Rico, Quenepas. Wikipedia saved me from trying to figure out how to describe it: "A mamoncillo fruit has a tight and thin but rigid layer of skin, traditionally cracked by the teeth. Inside the skin is the tart, tangy, yellow pulp of the fruit, which is sucked by putting the whole fruit inside the mouth (the seed takes most of the volume of what is inside the skin)."
Wikipedia also taught me some facts I didn't know about Mamoncillo: it's part of the Sapindaceae family, which includes the Lychee, the Rambutan, and the Ackee. The mamoncillo is commonly planted along roadsides as an ornamental tree, and according to Caribbean folk wisdom, girls learn the art of kissing by eating the sweet flesh of this fruit
There is a row of Mamoncillo trees that we pass on our morning walk. We've watched it fill with fragrant flowers and abuzz with bees in the spring. Then the tiny fruit began to grow, and now there are beautiful clusters of mamoncillos. I plucked this one and brought it home imagining the sweet tartness of the pulp. But when I cracked open the first one, it was too tart and not juicy enough. They're not quite ready yet, but soon... very soon...

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Bartender Olympics

Last Sunday we attended the annual Bartender Olympics to benefit the St. Croix Animal Shelter. It was held on the beach at Protestant Cay, a small island in the middle of Christiansted Harbor. It was a fun day. Bartenders and servers competed in popping tops off beer bottles, running obstacle courses, mixing drinks, and so on. Our friend Joe had the tough job of jurying the competition, so he got to taste all the concoctions created by the bartenders, which also sold on auction for $80 to $250. Some of the creations included a Crucian Mimosa, Strawberry Cheesecake and the Natural Pina Colada, made with fresh pineapples and served inside the pineapple.

Rick of Molly Molone's in St. Thomas won Best Bartender. His castaway looks belied a sharp efficiency that left most other bartenders in the dust. Kirsten, his able server, should have won best server, but there was no such category. We stood behind them during the competition and cheered them on, and for our efforts we were rewarded with our very own free Natural Pina Colada, the very same potion that had just been auctioned for $250.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

If You Could See Me Now

I have been convalescing from a cold I caught while in NJ, and today I spent time at the studio regrouping after some weeks away. It's hard for me to jump right in, especially with my current low energy levels, but I wanted to be back in my creative space, even if I wasn't going to be cranking out a new quilt right away.

I sat and leafed through the latest issue of Quilting Arts Magazine and read about the power of sketching to keep your creative juices flowing. The writer of the article also suggested collaging and creating altered books. A light went on in my head, and I was off to the nearby flea market to collect old magazines. I returned with a pile of issues of National Geographic, Islands, Southern Living, InStyle and some others, plus a 2006 ring-bound calendar titled American Impressionism.

It felt great just to sit and play with images, without committing myself to the thought process of designing a new quilt. I let the images call to me from the pages of the magazine and soon I had transformed the calendar's cover photo of Frederick Carl Frieseke's Woman with a Parasol into this:


Friday, June 15, 2007

Grandma Carmen

My beloved grandmother, Maria del Carmen Arango Ramirez, passed away on May 31 at the age of 89. She enjoyed 72 years of marriage to my 96-year old grandfather and was the matriarch of a large family who all agreed on one thing: every single member simply adored her. She conceived 13 children, who in turn had 22 grandchildren and, thus far, 17 great grandchildren (Daniel, the newest member, was born two days ago!).

We grew up living with Grandma, so in every sense she was a second mother to me. I had the honor of being by her side when she died. I spent 10 days in NJ with my family, learning to live without her. I'm back on St. Croix now and the realization that she is gone hasn't begun to sink in. Everything feels surreal. And yet, she lives in the spirit world, and she's visited my dreams smiling, hands on my shoulders, telling me she's happy and everything's alright. And so it is.