Check it out–that’s my name! To SIS, I’d like to say: Thanks for having me!
Because no gala is complete without a few gorgeous floral arrangements.
Our new addition: “let me feel,” by Doro Nuyken.
The ornately carved pieces hewn from tropical timber and the rainforest-themed painting make this Suriname in a snapshot.
My offerings: two originals and two prints.
Another work by Soeris Dipai.
My “Birds of Suriname” series. With some 700+ species in Suriname to choose from, I may be adding a few more fowl to this flock in the future.
An atmospheric painting of a white lotus by Soeris Dipai.
A series by Doro Nuyken.
A very tropical collection by Frankie Martodikromo (also a member of Suriname’s Ministry of Defense.)
A macaw taking flight, again by Overdo Berghout.
Beautiful portraiture by Jona Giovanni.
A gala tickets: Cutest event name!
For my artist’s placards, I prefer the term “handwritten chic” to “unprofessional” or “home-made.”
Gorgeous work by Overdo Berghout. The top painting is one of my favorites, as it captures so beautifully the gaiety and freedom of Surinamese celebrations like Owru Yari and Holi Pagwa.
Close-up of one of my paintings: “Mallards at Dawn.”
That red “sold” dot is ours! The artist generously dropped the price a wee bit… but it was still an expensive night for our household!
My first art exhibit! Hence my taking everything but the kitchen sink. You know: Just in case….
On this blog, I’ve mentioned a time or two that I paint. But it’s purely for my own enjoyment (and the occasional gift-giving to family and friends). I make no claim to being a professional artist. Let’s be honest: trying to make it in the arts can be a heartbreaking business. Attempting to carve out a writing career is artistic excitement enough for me.
So I imagine how honored I felt when one of my dear friends in the Embassy community invited me to participate as an artist in the gala she was throwing to raise funds for one of Suriname’s international schools and a cause it supports: a local home for underprivileged children. Internally, I balked a little at being labelled one of “seven of local artists” (I’m not an artist! I just happen to have a few tubes of paint lying around my house!). But the idea of getting to showcase a few pieces was pretty exhilarating stuff. Continue reading “Art, Auctions, & Wine: Oh My!”
So I know it’s appeared quiet around my part of the blog-o-sphere of late. But there’s a flurry of activity under the surface. I’ve been busy firing off submissions (and clasping my hands in supplication before the deities of writing!), contemplating possible future revisions, resuming work on my next novel project after a year’s absence, and most intently, painting up a tempest. (Not literally!) A dear friend kindly invited me to participate in an upcoming art event, so I’ve been busy applying paint to paper so I have something other than prints to show.
In honor of Suriname’s having some 750 species of birds officially recorded (with some others lurking unknown among the rainforest boughs, I’m sure!), I’ve been working on a Birds of Suriname series. Yesterday saw the completion of my Jacana (see feature photo above), a tribute to a species whose cartoonishly large feet enable it to walk on lily pads.Next up: laying hold of my cadmium red, alizarin crimson, and gold ochre paints to begin work on my Scarlet Ibis…
Spring 2017 Update: And here’s the late arrival: A scarlet ibis balanced upon a bit of driftwood.
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Here for purchase: all the colors of the rainbow.
A view of the site of our frivolity: the Palmentuin (or, Dutch for Palm Garden).
The Phagwa necessities: colored powder, water, squirt guns, and Heineken.
A view skyward, at the beautiful day we had for Phagwa.
I may have told the husband he looked like he’d been performing surgery on a Care Bear.
I’m an Oompa Loompa and he’s a grape–a match made in Heaven.
This Phagwa brought to you by Heineken. (About 2 seconds after this photo, my beer was turned leprechaun-green by a well-aimed shot of Phagwa powder.)
Proof we’re not the only multi-colored weirdos.
Exhibit A: Evidence that we did not skimp on the powder.
A successful sneak attack resulted in a rather rosey back.
When riding this ride, don’t forget your safety googles….
Because you’re going to need them if you want this chic reverse raccoon-eyes look!
My purse may never be the same.
A different type of “tan” line.
Hard to believe this T used to be pale blue….
A week later and some of this pink ink is still hangin’ ’round.
Being in the Foreign Service has meant living in and traveling to lots of unique spots. I’ve had the immense privilege of enjoying many adventures. Among these, some stand out as particularly cool: visiting an ice festival near China’s border with Siberia, holding a baby tiger, and tromping around the Great Wall definitely make top tier
Last Monday saw a new addition to that list: celebrating Holi Phagwa, Suriname-style. It might not have been quite so adventurous or once-in-a-life-timey as scaling ancient Chinese fortifications, but it was just so fun. Because what adult doesn’t enjoy an excuse to fling colored powder on friends and strangers alike, sans repercussions? Continue reading “Holi Phagwa 2017: Hilarity & Hues”
This gorgeous, peculiar thing is the pod that holds all that cacao goodness.
Chocolate tea & a chocolate cupcake. Hard for me to be a happier girl.
Those purple beans (aka nibs) are the fresh, natal version of what becomes chocolate.
Cacao tree flower–from which the pods apparently grow.
Our work table. Let the cacao-powder producing fun begin!
Cacao nibs, empty husks, and chocolate powder (post-nib-grinding accomplished via mortar & pestle).
Spices to adorn our cacao powder (from the spoon and moving clock-wise): cinnamon, ginger, anise, cayenne, cloves, nutmeg.
Our chocolate bar tasting score card–just like a wine tasting!
Half a cacao pod, looking kind of like a mangled space-ship. The flesh around the nibs is actually pretty tasty–a flavor akin to lychee.
Because what would a Dutch/Surinamese-run business be without a pair of wooden shoes?
Our baby cacao trees! (Note the nibs on the stem of the nearer plant.)
Our tree to bar chocolate treats.
Chocolate-crafting in action.
I may have mentioned this before, but my writer-self tends to make me a bit of a homebody. Left to my own devices, I burrow anti-socially into whatever authorial project I’m currently engaged with, avoiding distraction (i.e. people) at all costs. Upon taking a quiz to determine which of the six types of writers I am, I scored as 100% weird recluse (with only a 33% dash of Ray of Sunshine to cut the Yikes!). That kind of says it all, I think.
But these last few years, I’ve made an effort to try to prioritize people, experiences, and adventure, as well as my writing. So I’m always grateful when friends who are cooler than I am come up with un-pass-up-able activity ideas.
A few weeks ago, this meant a visit to Tan Bun Skrati, a chocolate-making operation run by Rutger (Dutch) and Ellen (Dutch-Surinamese), a husband-and-wife duo. Built upon traditional cacao-processing techniques bequeathed to Ellen via her Surinamese mother and grandmother, Tan Bun Skrati offers workshops as well as various cacao-oid products (teas, chocolate bars, wine, vinegar, etc.). This operation is run out of their home, a quaint dwelling set behind high flowering shrubs and heavily-leaved trees–so well hidden, we passed it twice before realizing where it was. Continue reading “Cocoa & Craftsmanship”
The pagara, pre-unrolling.
I’m thinking red’s a theme color for New Years in Suriname.
Fernandes: Suriname’s #1 ice-cream brand.
Suriname’s flag proudly waves.
When sparks fly!
With their excellent view, these rooms have to be booked a year in advance. Ideal spot for releasing confetti!
This bell-based instrument was a new one to me.
An ambulance, carefully pre-staged.
Pagara in action.
Paramaribo’s fire department, making way for the lighting of a pagara.
A multi-person job, setting out the pagara.
As those following this blog may have deduced, I’m not exactly a party animal. I like the occasional night out, dinner with friends, etc. But a lot of my free time is spent doing quiet, pajamas-are-appropriate-attire kinds of pursuits: reading, writing, painting.
But if anybody knows how to party, it’s the Surinamese. At no time is this more evident than around the New Year. Tradition here has it that the lighting of firecrackers (particularly long–and I do mean loooong–strings of crackers called pagara) will scare off evil spirits. Practicing this tactic at the turn of the year allows for the new calendar to begin on a zen-like note.
For us, this has meant a week of our neighbors firing off firecrackers at all hours of the night and day, in literal rain and shine alike. Ex-pats’ dogs, unused to the auditory barrage, are losing their minds. The percussion of these blasts is forceful enough to set off security alarms. And there’s always this thought: was that more fireworks? Or a gunshot? Continue reading “Breakin’ in 2017, Suriname-Style”
Giant Christmas Tree in Paramaribo’s Independence Square.
I don’t have much time to be domestic these days. But I’m glad to have made a few hours to bake Christmas Even sugar cookies with husband. (Note the flour stains.)
You can take the girl outta Texas (and transplant her to Suriname). But you can’t take Texas outta the girl.
Christmas wishes a la Surinamese lights.
A penguin and buffalo-riding Santa make a temporary home of the bookshelf.
Husband and me, aboard Christmas Lights-viewing party bus.
Christmas came a day early! On Friday, we were reunited with the books we sent to storage, pre-China move.
This particular Christmas setup may become a year-round feature in my office. Nice inspiration for my Prohibition-era novel.
Full bookshelves at last!
Some incongruous Christmas decor. Local Surinamese orchids, and exotic, cold-weather Christmas penguins.
It’s never easy being away from home during Christmas. My in-laws very graciously let me bawl my eyes out with no judgement the first time I spent the holiday with them in the Mid-West–my first Christmas outside of Texas. And bawl I did.
But being countries, rather than states, away can feel even stranger. I’m happy to report that Christmas is more of a thing in Suriname than it was in China. It’s more organically part of the culture, rather than a recent, Western addition. (China appears to have adopted Christmas in a mode similar to the way it’s adopted Starbucks). But no matter where you are, Christmas overseas has its side-effects, if you will. In the photos, you’ll notice the scrawny nature of our Christmas “tree.” (I’ve taken to calling it our Christmas shrub.) This sad little tannenbaum is a bi-product of my forgetting to order a tree from the States until it was too late, and there being no real ones locally available in Suriname. Similarly, I think my Indiana-born husband is having a tough time squaring 85°F with its being Christmas. (This is pretty typical for me, being a Gulf-Coast Texan.) There are lights in the house, eggnog in the fridge, presents and stockings wrapped up brightly… so why is he wearing shorts instead of sweaters? Continue reading “Christmas in Suriname”
Dolphins, framed against the river’s far bank.
A “skiff” similar to ours.
Husband and me, soaking it all in.
An action shot.
Good night, Suriname.
The start of sunset.
A two-canon salute.
Note how near the waterline those roofs behind the dike are.
Egrets, winging home.
So on Friday, we finally did it–my husband and I got out there and did something Surinamesey. (Yes, I’m aware that “Surinamesey” is not technically a word. But I hereby nominate it for official recognition by Misters Merriam and Webster.)
Truthfully, I’m a bit embarrassed that it has taken us so long to get out there and be adventuresome. After all, we’ve been living in Suriname for about six weeks now. We’ve even gotten most of our boxes unpacked and put away around the house. (Though I’m still eagerly awaiting the additional 4 boxes of books headed our way from our D.C. storage unit. To say I’m a little excited for their arrival would be a fine example of litotes.) But with both of us working full-time at the Embassy, and large chunks of my weekend absorbed by writing time, it’s been tricky to carve out time and energy to take the advantage we should of this place we currently call home.
But thanks to some colleagues who are far more organized than I, we finally found ourselves on the sunset Paramaribo River cruise, dolphin watching. Continue reading “Relaxing with River Dolphins”