Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Interview Wednesdays: Papi Martinez

Abraham "Papi" Martinez, on the right
Cover of September 1968 Skin Diver magazine

When I was in the Dominican Republic, I attempted to ask questions to a few friendly faces. They spoke such little English that I really couldn't communicate with them. I was in their country after all. (Mom, I really want to take Spanish from you this summer).

I wanted to tell them how nice their smiles were, and when I asked how to say "smile" in Spanish, I was told the word is contento. My Mom told me that means "content" (as you may have guessed), and she thought that was sweet because in Mexico for example, the word for smile is sonrisa.

On my way home from the DR, I had a long layover in Miami. I decided to go find some dinner. I ended up sitting near an older gentleman with a nice face, a cream colored guayabera shirt, and a beautiful shade of brown skin. I wish I had my camera with me so I could show you. We ended up acknowledging one another, and then we started talking. His name is Abraham, he spoke a little Portuguese to me and quickly determined I couldn't speak it. ('Bufa' doesn't count, right Barb & Lesley)?

Abraham is known as Papi Martinez and he is 73 years old. He has been skin diving for 60 years and is from the island of Curaçao (Coo-ra-sow). He said I should go there someday, and I should learn to dive. He said diving keeps you healthy. Abraham looked very healthy. He told me that his country is beautiful, that it's south of the Dominican Republic and it's easy to remember where his island is - just think A, B, C. Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao.

I asked him if he'd been to those islands nearby and he said Yes, he's been diving at all of them and since Curaçao is near Venezuela he's been there too. I asked him if Venezuela was nice. "Oh yes" he marveled. "They have everything! Of course you wouldn't want to go there now, because of the problems with their government. They produce lots of oil. Curaçao doesn't have any oil, but we refine it and send it to the United States".

We spoke about his diving some more. In 1956, he was on his country's dive team and they beat out all the other international locations in that year's diving championships. He said it was like a miracle. He also did a stunt for television, driving a car into the water.

Abraham was on the cover of the September 1968 Skin Diver magazine. Around this time he became well known in the skin diving community and was invited by another diver to come to California. They dove off the coast of Catalina Island. He thought it was so beautiful and he couldn't believe the bulbs on the kelp, as he had never seen kelp before.

Now, since he is mostly retired, he does some business dealings. Sometimes he and his team of divers catch tropical fish to sell in saltwater tanks all over the world, like Germany and Japan. He said they are very expensive. All the time he was speaking, he had a twinkle in his eyes.

He handed me his red & white diving card and said that if I ever make it to Curaçao, I can call him to go diving. He then stood up to shake my hand and sweetly said that he must stand up for a lady. (Jay he was not hitting on me)!

I walked away feeling like I was very lucky to have had this encounter. There are remarkable people around us at all times, just waiting for us to find out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A unique compliment

I just walked over to Peet's coffee to get some fresh air and a hot drink. The nice folks that work at Peet's always have interesting hairdos, tattoos and adornments. The young fellow that helped me was no exception.

Jamie: Hi, I'd like a small soy chai latte.

Peet's cashier: OK, your name? (I tell him). So how is your day today? It's windy out there huh?

Jamie: Yes, really windy! My day is pretty good, thanks! (I smile)

Peet's cashier: You have really nice teeth.

Jamie: (taken aback) Oh gosh, thanks. I haven't heard that in years, that's nice of you to say.

Peet's cashier: Well I really notice when someone has long incisors and they're very nice. (Stares at my teeth)

Jamie: (taken aback again) Well that's interesting, I didn't realize mine were long. Thank you.

Peet's cashier: Yeah, I'm really into vampires.

Jamie: (what to say...) So, are there any great vampire books out there besides the Anne Rice novels?

Peet's cashier: Yeah I have the Vampire Dictionary. It's this thick.

Jamie: Wow, sounds cool. Well have a great day!

Peet's cashier: Thanks, you too!

Next time you see me, don't be afraid. I'm not going to bite. Or am I? Ha haha Ha!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A little break

Such peaceful waters in the evenings

This was just before I danced the meringue with my lovely coworkers

Mamajuana, the national drink of the Domincans. The bartenders say it's like vitamins, and it makes you strong. The ingredients: Rum, red wine, honey, tree bark & herbs. Tastes like cough syrup. They say it's an aphrodisiac. (Jay, I'll bring some home!)

The sea green waters of Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana
I am going to swim here this afternoon

Holá señors y señoritas! Como estas? Bien? Ahhh, muy bien.

I dropped by to tell you that I'm sorry I've been a little out of touch this month. But it is because I've been working extra hard to help coordinate an engineering conference in the Dominican Republic (with my wonderful co-worker Lisa, from Long Island, NY). Well the time has finally come and yes, I am in this beautiful country that is commonly referred to as "the DR".

Today I stared up into the palm trees and nearly became a poet. The word "glory" kept pushing its way into my thoughts.

I am doing work while I am here, so I will be taking a break from my usually scheduled blogging events this week. My goal is to interview a local Dominican while I am here and post that next Wednesday. I love hearing Spanish being spoken everywhere, and the Dominicans I have met have such beautiful smiles.

For all of you, I will take a swim in these sea green waters. Now I know why that crayon is called sea green. As a child, didn't you ever think that color was not really like the sea? Me too, until I came here.

Adios for now my friends...I shall be back in touch very soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Surf Fridays!

To all you beautiful hula girls out there, and to the men who love them. May you have a beautiful Friday and a happy weekend. Take a moment to listen to the Brothers Cazimero singing "Sweet Pikake Lei". Hear in the introduction how he dedicates the song to his Aunties. Hawaiians love and worship women. Don't you feel that when you watch a hula dance or felt it if you've visited the islands? That's why a woman can feel beautiful wearing nothing but a muumuu and a flower in her hair. Women, let us worship ourselves on this fine day and all days forward.

Thank you for visiting today. Your visits mean a lot to me. Me Ke Aloha, Jamie

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Interview Wednesdays: Marilynn Welsh

Miss Marilynn Coles with her Gamma Phi Beta sisters
bottom row, far right

Marilynn Welsh (in the green dress) at the "Bum Party"
warning: photo on the left is rated PG-13 (that's my Dad in the blue baseball hat)

In my previous post, I mentioned that my mom helped Kristi and I put together those ridiculous outfits, because she was an "expert" at that sort of thing. This led me to think, well why don't I interview my own mother and see what kind of stories she'll share?

Jamie: Mom, will you share a couple of your wild and crazy experiences? (They were pretty much like bed-time stories for me when I was a child).

Marilynn: (Laughing and wondering aloud if she can tell a particular story). OK, how about the one about the chocolate cake.

The Chocolate Cake Story

Marilynn: Freshman year of college, I lived in approved apartment housing with Mary C.

Jamie: What the heck is an approved apartment?

Marilynn: It's the kind all the parents wanted their kids to be in because there was a curfew where you had to sign-in and sign-out, and once a week your apartment was inspected to make sure the floors, stove and bathrooms were cleaned. I hated that.

So one day after classes, Mary C. and I decided to bake a chocolate cake. We were both wearing slips. We started laughing and getting silly, and we started to put the chocolate on our teeth. We were laughing and laughing and then we put chocolate on our faces and on our arms too.

Then we wanted to make the next door neighbor girls laugh, so we knocked on the door and when they opened it, their first thought was that the chocolate was blood. We all started laughing but were trying not to make too much noise, because the apartment manager lived underneath us. We were still laughing and heard a knock on the door. We thought it would be more of our friends so I opened the door and said, "Hellooo!" with chocolate everywhere. It was the apartment manager and she looked at me and said, "You're campused!"

Jamie: Ooo what did that mean?

Marilynn: It meant I was in trouble! I had to stay in for the whole weekend and sign people in and out.

The Shrunken Mattress Story

Marilynn: Another time while I lived in that apartment, we stole our girlfriend's mattress and left a kotex in its place. We left a note that said, "Sorry but your mattress shrunk when we washed it". We hid out and waited to see her expression when she came home.

Jamie: What did she do?

Marilynn: Oh, she was surprised! We all had a good laugh! You know after this, whenever a prank was played on someone, they all blamed me. That was not good!

The Water in the Vases Story

Marilynn: I'm not sure if I should tell this one (relays a little of what it's about).

Jamie: Yes Mom, I think you can tell this one!

Marilynn: Junior year in college, I was living in the sorority house. The house was in the shape of a square, with a back balcony and an open inner courtyard with a pretty garden.

It was a boring Saturday afternoon, and usually on Saturday afternoons the girls were either studying, or with their boyfriends, or at home with their parents. So a lot of girls were studying in groups.

Jamie: Mom, why weren't you studying?

Marilynn: Well I tried that and I got bored (laughs). There were all these empty vases in the bathroom from flowers that the girls got from their boyfriends. So I said to my friend Dana B., "Let's do something fun. We can fill those empty vases with water and throw them on the girls. Furthermore, if we do it in the nude they will be so shocked that they won't retaliate"!

We ran into the first bedroom and everyone's mouths dropped open! We threw the water all over them and ran out to do the next group.

Jamie: Mom! What did they do?!

Marilynn: Well they were laughing and they were pissed! So we ran to the next bedroom and one of the girls was getting ready for a date and she had her hair in those beer-can rollers. We threw the water and her hair got wet. We didn't mean for that to happen but she was pissed! They started chasing us! Dana and I ran into our room and locked the door. Dana hid in the closet and I hid behind something. Little did we know they had a key. To my surprise the door opened and six girls grabbed me (since Dana was in the closet) and dragged me to the back balcony that overlooked the inner courtyard...and locked the sliding glass door.

Boys started coming and going, picking up their dates, and here I was, nude on the 2nd story! I scooted as close to the sliding door as I could, and lay flat so no one could see. Whenever the boys were out of sight I yelled, "Let me in"! The girl with the wet hair, Barbara R., was so mad. See, she had a hot date and there were no blow dryers in those days! They had hair dryers that you sat under, but her beer-can curlers were too big for those. After about 30 minutes, they finally let me in.

Jamie: (Both laughing) Mom, did you and Barbara make up?

Marilynn: Oh yeah, really soon after.

The Bum Party Story

Jamie: Mom, will you tell the story about the party where you, Dad and your friends dressed like bums?

Marilynn: This was in 1977 when we lived in Michigan and your father was in the Navy. We got an invitation to attend a "Bum Party" at the Air National Guard station at Selfridge. All branches of the service were invited - the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Airforce and National Guard.

It was held at an old, defunct train station at the base. Bales of hay were scattered around and part of the party was in a caboose. Your Dad and I and the Kinneys, decided to dress to the nines like bums. We got plastic flies at the joke store to put in our nostrils and that rubber turd. We got Japanese toe shoes - they were cloth with no soles, and size 18 dresses (Mom was a size 4 at the time).

Carol Kinney and I both had long hair and we washed but didn't comb it. We blackened some of our teeth and put lipstick on like a cheap waitress in a diner, and it was an ugly color. Dad wore the blonde wig.

We were the best dressed bums there. We were hard to look at Jamie, we were ugly. The rest of the people wore clean jeans and freshly pressed shirts. People are afraid to be creative, I guess they are too vain. Carol and I put big red kisses on guys' faces. We put that turd on the plate of the commanding officer when he wasn't looking. Commander Bird wasn't too pleased! He took life too seriously.

One guy came up to me at the end of the night and said, "I can't take it anymore. Can you please take that fly out of your nose"?

Oh that was a fun night, Carol and I laughed so hard. I'm glad your father did it too. As you know, he was usually more reserved. Boy was I full of the dickens!

Jamie: Mom, this was great. This is going to be so much fun for people to read. I'd like to do another interview with you later, because I know you have more great stories to tell!

Mom: (Laughing) Certainly honey, it was fun thinking about all of these memories.

one of my favorite photos of my Mom, from Christmas Eve

I hope you all enjoyed reading about such a special lady. After I typed the stories I had my own 'a-ha moment'. I realized that one of the most important things I can learn from my Mom is never to take life too seriously. Because I do sometimes, and boy is that silly.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

With lampshades on our heads...

Presenting Kristi and Jamie, of Covington, LA

With lampshades on our heads, we were unstoppable! Well really, we were silly high school girls looking for a way to have fun on a Saturday. My Mom, who is an expert in this kind of thing (I might have to ask her to share a few of her stories one day), helped us get these outfits together.

We decided that we were going to drive off in Kristi's little blue convertible and head downtown. We got some good honks and waving on the way there, and then double-dared each other to walk into Wal-Mart. Which we did.

Kristi has a better memory than me about these sorts of things, so I've emailed her to see what her recollection was. She is an absolute sweetheart and one of the few friends I keep in touch with from high school. She lives in New Orleans, survived Katrina, and is married with two beautiful boys. She makes me drool each April after writing to tell me all the yummy things she ate at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. One thing is for certain, I was lucky to have a girlfriend in high school that knew how to have this kind of fun.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Surf Fridays!

surf contest

big wave surfer

Last weekend I got a call from Janet at Habilitat, a successful drug addiction treatment facility in Oahu, HI. For the past 8 years, Habilitat has had a Luau and Art Auction to raise money for their good cause. Jay has been donating prints to the event for the past 3 years.

He was on the phone with Janet recently when she told him they needed more art. Jay told her he bet his wife would love to help out. I got so excited when I spoke to her, because I have never had the opportunity to donate my art. Plus when the conversation ended, I got to say "Aloha" and hear it back with smiles in our voices. I chose these two monotypes related to surfing and shipped them very carefully to Oahu earlier this week.

That brings me to a quote from Rabbit Kekai, a legendary surfer from Oahu. He is surfing in his mid 80's and hopes to do it until he's 100.

Rabbit contends that the ocean is the key to eternal youth. "The water is so good," he says thoughtfully. "It keeps me young while my friends are so old. I tell them to get in the water. It calms you - no stress - and brings you back to earth."

Beautiful isn't it? The ocean brings you back to earth.

A quick note for your movie list - if you want to feel good, I highly recommend the documentary, Surfing for Life. You will just love it, no matter if you surf or not! Have a wonderful weekend and with a smile in my voice, Aloha!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Interview Wednesdays: Bill Ackerman

Bill and one of his early boards

Bill's Wheels on Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Bill Ackerman is the owner of Bill's Wheels Skateshop in Santa Cruz, CA.

Jay and I were staying in Santa Cruz a few weekends ago and Jay said, "Let's go to Bill's Wheels - this place is a skateboarding institution". We walked in and I immediately felt this really good vibe. There were 3 guys working there. 2 of them looked to be early 20's and the other guy maybe old enough to be their dad. They were all friendly and helpful and the older guy looked so cool. I wondered, is that Bill? Yes it was.

Jay struck up a conversation with him and told Bill that when he was a kid back in Baltimore, he got skateboarding magazines and remembered the ads for Bill's Wheels. Around this moment, I got a scary feeling inside and knew I had to ask Bill if I could interview him. A very small interview, I would make it 3 questions. He is a kind person and he obliged.

Jamie: What is your favorite thing about your job?

Bill: Working with kids.

Jamie: What inspired you to open your own shop?

Bill: A love for skateboarding. When I was younger I worked in a sport shop. The shop started carrying skateboards as skateboarding was just becoming popular. I ran that department and I enjoyed helping the customers. When the shop went out of business a year later, I started my own skateboard shop. That was 31 years ago, in 1977.

Jamie: What was your first skateboard and when did you get into the sport?

Bill: My first board had metal wheels. I think one of my first boards is in a closet somewhere in the shop.

I started skateboarding when I worked in that sport shop. I used to compete, doing high-jumping. I jumped cars too. My idol at the time was Brian Beardsley.

Jamie: Thanks Bill.

If you're ever in Santa Cruz, be sure to stop by this awesome skate shop and say hello to Bill and his friendly employees. Make sure to check out the collection of old boards in the front window, and ask Bill to show you the photo of him jumping that yellow car, behind the cash register. Also, you can't go wrong if you pick up a Bill's Wheel's t-shirt. They are too cool.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Surf Fridays!

Sometimes I like the combination of having serious facts mixed with something funny. So I wanted to share some facts I just learned from the amazing Surfrider Foundation, about plastic water bottles. Then end it with a very silly scene of Batman and the Joker surfing - from the 1967 episode, "Surf's Up, Joker's Under".

- Every piece of (petroleum-based) plastic ever manufactured still exists.

- Plastic in the ocean may be one of the most alarming of today's environmental stories. Plastics, like diamonds, are forever because plastics do NOT biodegrade - no naturally occurring organisms can break these polymers down.

- Over 300,000 pieces of plastic per square mile have been found in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Eighty percent of the plastic comes from land-based sources.

- 100,000 marine mammals and 2 millions sea birds die every year after ingesting or being caught in marine debris.

- Plastic is the most common type of marine litter world-wide.

- Americans consumed 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, 167 for each person, made of totally recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. Recycling rate for PET is 23%, which means we pitch 38 billion watter bottles a year into landfills - more than $1 billion worth of plastic.

- North Americans spent $15,000,000,000 on water in plastic bottles last year ($46,000,000,000 spent globally).

- Bottled water has massive hidden costs; think about the process to enable a New Yorker to drink water from Fiji.

Alternatives to plastic water bottles?
- Aluminum bottles (such as these pretties)
- Multi-use plastic bottles (like this cool one)
- Other bottle alternatives (like Klean Kanteen & Biota)

"But watch Batman trimming!"
"Batman's doing a nose pullout!"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How about...Interview Wednesdays!

I've been looking for a little cha-cha in my life, a little merengue, a little lively up yourself! So I thought it might be fun to add a little pizazz in the middle of the week.

I've had a deep desire in recent months, to do short interviews of anyone I meet. I think it's going to be really fun and each time I post an interview, it will be on Interview Wednesdays!

I have a special one for you next Wednesday, but today we'll start with an interview that my husband did with me. Here it is on the Linden Street Warehouse blog, I hope you enjoy it.