Friday, November 26, 2010

Black-as-Night-Friday

Oasis Feature: Scenes Around Town

The long evening wait for the big sale!
Puerto Ricans border on being shopaholics-it's a consumer driven culture where everyone spends whatever they have on Christmas. Saving? Tomorrow will take care of itself! After a nearly five year recession - it started two years before the United States- you would think everyone would be broke, and Post- Thanksgiving-Friday would be like the fireworks that failed to go off. But no! The line is like a Ricky Martin concert event!

Is it true that last year a person was trampled to death at a Wallmart store in the States? Imagine all of that rushing in to save and spend a pile of money!   These people in the photograph are waiting in line at the K-mart in Rexville Plaza shopping center in Bayamon until the store opens at 3am. I asked the boys in the front, "What are you waiting for? What do you want to buy?" The older one said he was waiting (with his mom) to buy a flat screen TV and a microwave. I asked the younger boy, again, and he smiled and said " es muy divertido- it's very entertaining!"  Not to me!! I prefer to run the other way!  I'm off to bed!

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful time sharing a meal with family and friends. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to say thank you for reading Oasis Writing Link (TM) this year!
Oh ! I'll let you in on a secret. It's my birthday!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Snowing in Puerto Rico!

Oasis Feature: Scenes Around Town

It's Snowing in Plaza Las Americas!


Crowds wait in anticipation for the first snowflakes to fall from the mall sky. Children wear Santa caps and imagine visits from the North Pole. Hey, wait!! We're in the tropics-palm tree, light breeze, bright sun...
Maybe it's the best of both worlds-a  Disney World Christmas without the cold? It reminds me of Christmas Up North and it's a bit confusing too: Where's the cold?  As suddenly as it starts, it stops. Parent's say, "Snow's over" and the children let out a loud groan, "Ohooo!"

Plaza Las Americas Shopping Center 
F.D. Roosevelt Ave 
San Juan PR 00918
(787) 753-5960

Friday, November 19, 2010

Puerto Ricans Enjoy Celebrating the Traditional Quinceanera

Quinceañera (or quinces) is a right of passage celebrated in Puerto Rico and many other Latin American cultures. A young girl turning fifteen, prepares for a special party with professionally applied formal makeup, hair, nails and a great big fancy dress! (often it's white) When my daughter was celebrating hers, we went to the older part of Rio Piedras to look around for traditional gifts and mementos to give the guests who were arriving from all over the island and the United States.
The atmosphere in this part of Rio Piedras gives you the feeling of being in another time, a more romantic Puerto Rico.
Maria Perez stands next to a "fancy dress" in her aunt's Trajes Finos  (refined dress) store in Rio Piedras.

 Arzuaga Boutique 
Calle Arzuaga 105
Rio Piedreas, PR 00923
Tel. 787.764.3337

Monday, November 15, 2010

Prisoners Released for the Day

Oasis Feature: Scenes Around Town

Urban Train Artisanos in Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Prisoners carve and craft objects to sell to daily commuters.

What do you think of this rehabilitation program idea? Prisoners learn to create and market folk art. I was surprised that conversation with customers was allowed. I was able to barter for a unique Don Quixote but decided to buy it later.  Unfortunately, they were already gone when I returned in the afternoon. Mr. Oasis won't get another Don Q for his collection!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Break for Chickens!

Oasis Feature: Scenes Around Town: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

Remember? Question: Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: To get to the other side!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Trouble with Chickens

Point of Inspiration Chicken/Cock

Chickens Were Once Chicks

Chickens have wings but don’t fly.
Chicks are baby chickens.
Chicks are small, soft, and make a gentle peeping sound.
And are found in Easter baskets wearing
baby colors; powder blue, pink, yellow and green.
Chickens are domesticated and designed for consumption,
often cultivated with large breasts and small brains.
(He’s a thigh man. I like breasts.)
Chickens cross the road, chicks follow and flatten.
Do you want to play chicken? It’s game where
we drive toward each other at high speed,
the one who wants to survive the most? What a chicken!
Chicken soup, a healing broth,
Chicken Soup for the Soul, a sweet comforting story,
A chick flick, movies made for girls with predictable plot lines,
paint-by-number characters, mostly pink.
Chick lit, not solely romantic, empowering
Jane Austin and Bridget Jones.
And Hen Lit, matrons wearing red hats
and hot flashes. We're no spring chickens!
Chicken Little?   
Walking around like a chicken with her head cut off!
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Crazy chick disease, it’s a softening of the brain.
Chick magnet/chicken coop
Many chickens but only one
Cock, a member reference, substantial,
Cock-a-doodle-do!
He’s no chicken, nor is he a chick.
Chick, an American slang term for a young girl.

Cynthia Pittmann


Audio Recording  (Does the recording work for you?)

Written for Magpie Tales

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Apple Charlie; a Memory

Bill Grover at Apple Charlies

I just wanted to see some pumpkins!

The farm is well taken care of by the new owners.

I carefully scanned the pavement looking for signs of Mom left on the driveway.


Coming back from Michigan, I again thought of the life that was made for me there, and all that has changed because I left home at seventeen (and didn't look back). The years of separation and absence have provided an unbroken memory that continues to be alive in me. Though the events and relationships are long gone, they exist completely intact in my memory.  I continue to feel close to people I have not seen for three decades. My unbridled affection is surprising because I'm essentially a stranger who has unexpectedly popped up from the haze of the 1970's. 

Bill is a friend from Huron High School. He is connected to the fall season the same way apple cider, orange pumpkins, and leaves caught in the wind or crunching under our feet are connected. He was a football player and champion wrestler who celebrated with us after the games with pizza (and sometimes beer) in Flatrock. I was a drum major, flag captain, clarinetist, all around band member and team supporter. He was protective of my sisters and me, and I believe he had a special deal with our father, Richard, to guard our honor; however, an unforeseen event wedged a terrible break in our friendship and we could no longer be friends.

It was my sixteenth birthday party and all of my family, friends, and their friends were there. The house was open, and traffic flowed in teen party fashion. People were drinking, smoking, and talking too loud. My sister came up in a car with her boyfriend. She had disappeared for many months, running off with her older boyfriend in the middle of the night, packing her clothes in large black plastic garbage bags and storing them behind the evergreen bushes that lined the front porch. Her arrival to my party was tense and unexpected. My father was quietly ignoring this turn of events. The couple was arguing in the car, perhaps about coming in the house or leaving before there was trouble. The discussion became physical and one of my cousins ran into the house yelling, "He's beating her up and she's in labor!" My father sprung into fierce action; he ran outside, grabbed the man and pulled him out of the car. My sister started screaming for everything to stop. However, it was too late and a fight became the main event. Yelling party goers crowded around shouting, "Fight!" Bill tried to break the two men apart, but it was impossible. They rolled into the field next door and it started to get bloody. Mom went into action, picked up a two by four board, and slammed it down just when they flipped over. She nearly knocked Dad unconscious, and it was all he could do to maintain awareness. I was appalled at her mistake! "She almost killed Dad", I thought. Mom came running back with a hammer, and I blocked her by grabbing her hand, "Don't you dare!" I was ready to get physical. Suddenly, lights were flashing, and people scattered. The police broke up the fight, and began taking reports from witnesses. "Who started it?" was the critical question. When Bill was asked he reported what he had seen, and so Dad was taken off to jail. Later, Bill stood as a witness for my sister's boyfriend, and that is why we could no longer be friends. It was as if he disappeared. He was completely removed from all interactions with us, all contact. My father felt he was disloyal to our family because he told the police exactly what he had seen, and in Bill's version, Dad was the angry aggressor. My sister went to the hospital, had my nephew, and decided to stay with her boyfriend because children need a father. Mom went to the hospital to be with her, and later helped her get settled but Dad remained stoically detached. He felt betrayed by family, friends, and society. A father is supposed to defend his child, isn't he?

The farm is well cared for now, with the exception of the circle driveway, which somehow seems appropriate. I stood looking down the drive for several minutes trying to find some remnant of my mother, a darkened area, a bit of the chalk that outlined her body but all that remained was broken cement. I feel sorry I challenged her when she was "defending" Dad. She wasn't ever a bystander, patiently waiting and helpless. She was a powerful participant- abet with a poor aim. She continued to be brave, running out to try to help her partner, Christine, after she was shot by our neighbor, Brooks. I wish she had stayed inside and waited for the police to arrive. I wish she were still alive. I wish we had just celebrated her birthday on Halloween, instead of her being murdered at fifty five years old.  Dad made peace with my sister and she escaped the domestic abuse situation. (He died when he was forty-nine.) Dad never knew about Mom's lifestyle changes.

I don't know if Bill remembers this story; we didn't talk about it. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know that he was "Apple Charlie" -or rather that was the name his father used. My cousin, Tammy, was just taking me to an apple orchard and a place to see a pumpkin patch. (Living in the tropics makes me yearn for signs of seasons sometimes.) We drove up to Apple Charlies, I got out and started taking lots of poor quality photographs with my cell phone, then I started chatting with one of the workers, "So who is Apple Charlie? What's his last name? What's his first name? I mean, people don't call him, Apple, right?" I was just bothering a stranger with questions when I discovered that this was Bill Grover's place. I had forgotten his family owned an apple orchard. I wondered if he wanted to see me again. I decided to be bold, and when I saw him heading into his house, I called out, "Bill! Hey, Bill!" I'm glad I did. I feel as though a new bookend has been placed on that past disturbing phase of my life. When I left, he said, "Thanks for stopping by and looking me up." Bill's okay. I'm okay. Life goes on.