Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Art of Collecting Art

Isn't the whole point of things, beautiful things, that they connect you to some larger beauty. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

I am an art collector and I am an artist. Those are two identities that I claimed with a bit of self doubt at one time in my life. First came the title artist. As a child, being an artist was one of three potential chosen professions. But being an art collector; hadn’t crossed my mind until years after I had begun to collect art. Like calling myself an artist, thinking of myself as an art collector somehow seemed too high blown for someone like myself raised in a working class family from Iowa. Both the title artist and art collector beg the question of definition. Being an artist is easier to define, whether we are talking professional or amatuer, an artist is someone who makes art. But then does it follow that an art collector is someone who collects art? Of course that is the case. But I think what is even more important is to differentiate  an art collector from someone who buys art simply for decoration. An art collector is someone who loves art. Whether it is the beauty or the perfection of design or a myriad of other emotionally and intellectually scintillating effects, the work of art sets the heart afire. The pulse increases, the air you breath somehow seems lighter and more invigorating. As Donna Tartt's character in The Goldfinch says,

A really great painting is fluid enough to work its way into the mind and heart through all kinds of different angles in ways that are unique and very particular, 'yours yours I was painted for you?'

Historically when I've purchased art, it was not something I expected to do at that time. In fact when I have gone looking to purchase, intentionally from an artist, I've rarely done so. For example, I was at an art opening of artist Stephanie Molstre-Kotz and had made the circuit around the gallery to see her art. I thought it was very nice but nothing particularly hit me. About a half hour later I was standing talking to another attendee looking over the shoulder of this person and I semi-consciously saw one of the paintings, a nude lying on her side that I had seen earlier. But this time it hit me, wow! That's's great! I have to have it. Another time, I was at an artist’s reception for a group art exhibit. The artists were asked to talk about their work and while Richard Brown, a sculptor, was talking about his work I suddenly realized that I had to have one of his sculptures in the exhibit.  I felt anxious and was concerned that someone else was thinking like me and would purchase it before I could, before he even finished his ten minute talk. Irrational I know, but those are the sorts of impulses that drive my collecting.  Another time I saw one of Derek Davis’s paintings online, on facebook!  It made me feel something...more than simply being impressed with his skill, the image struck me; the way the light of the winter day refracted off the fallen tree so crisply and the cool and warm shadows that were cast onto the snow.  I had to have it.  It was the perfect melding of mind and body response. Entirely positive.  Again, Donna Tartt describes the phenomenon,

Images that strike the heart and set it blooming like a flowers. Images that open up some much larger beauty.

There are many types of art collectors and many different reasons and methods. Some more planned and intentional, others more economically driven and another more driven by emotion. As varied as humans are they can range from the famous art collectors such as J. Paul Getty to the humble art student who trades with her fellow  student for works of art.  Interestingly, a collector like Getty actually manipulates the art market simply through the act of collecting art. A piece of art that finds itself in such a vaulted collection can easily double in value simply by the association with such a highly respected collection. The provenance of the painting is golden!

Provenance is everything when it comes to the economic and sometimes emotional value of a piece of art and provenance includes many things but especially the history of the painting, from its creation through its sales history.  Even the title of the work of art is important in its provenance.  Two paintings being equal; the painting with a title is worth more than the one without.  And too, an interesting history, a unique story associated with the story can also have a positive influence on the value of the work of art; for who doesn’t love a good story. The veracity of a good story is important and of course, proof of provenance includes bills of sale and additional associated records. Below is a list compiled by myself and  Art Business News of recommended documentation to include with an art sale and painting records.

* Receipts, certificates of authenticity and other relevant written or printed materials.
* What the art means or what its significance is, either according to the artist or to the gallery that sold it to you.
* Date and place of creation.
* Any stories the sellers/artist tell you specifically relating to the art.
* Any memorable moments about making the purchases.
* Biographical and career information about the artists.
* How or why or any other information about the ways the artists made them.
* Materials and methods of the work.
* Exhibition history of the work
* Save all related books, exhibit catalogues, gallery brochures, reviews and the like.
* Whenever possible, photograph the artists who you collect, especially photograph the artist with the art. Have them sign or inscribe catalogues or gallery invitations for you.

Another distinguishing feature of a good collection is its intentionality or focus.  Is there a theme or a purpose to the collection. A theme may include such things as winter paintings, a certain subject rendered in various media, such as trees, or marine subjects such as the Minnesota Marine Art Museum is centered around.  Or maybe you are intrigued by a certain school of work such as the Northwest US glass artist’s movement.

A collection can be organized in many ways including by date, artist, style, or region. Or it can also be divided into subtopics. For example:
* Pepin County Wisconsin artists organized by date.
* Still life painting of Pepin County artists.
* Still life painting of Pepin County artists including  native trees, plants and other forms of vegetation.
* Nineteenth century paintings of Pepin County artists.
* Modernist painting by Pepin County artists.
* Small format paintings of Pepin County artists organized by size.
* Watercolors of Pepin County artist.

Collecting art can also be an intellectual exercise.  If you don’t personally know the artist, research the artist and their sales history.  A well organized collection can often be more valuable as a whole than the sum of the individual works.  One new art collector was told by the great collector Chandler Coventry to try and amass as many diverse pieces by an artist as possible, and these include incongruous works, so by the time your collection is mature, you have depth and breadth.

Head and heart. Someone once said that when you look at art that moves you, you see it with your eyes but that it goes directly to the heart, bypassing the brain.  Another says, ‘it’s like falling in love’, which may be the closest to the truth yet.


Donna Tart, (October 2013), The Goldfinch, Little Brown and Company, Art Provenance: What it is and how to verify it. Art Business News, How to Collect & Buy Art, Art Business News

Friday, May 27, 2016

Deep in Art Events

Just finished a week with thirty artists in my gallery painting within the area, a culminating exhibit and now more show and sales. But moving on to the Fresh Art Tour next weekend June 3-4-5. I'll be exhibiting many new pieces painted while in Grenada this last winter.  This is one of the more unusual ones. But very intriguing. Title?  36 x 36 " acrylic.

Jean Accola
Accola Gallery
502 2nd Ave East
Durand, WI 54736


Sunday, March 6, 2016

I Got an Oildown

No I didn't get a massage with oil, and no I didn't get an oil change, but instead finally found one of the last three servings of Oildown, the national dish of Grenada at Babes.  Oildown is a culinary staple of the island, and the reason there were only three servings left at Babes restaurant is because when they make Oildown, there is, as Andre our driver said, "never any left".  If Oildown is available on the menu, that is what the Grenadians have.  Unfortunately for Andre who took us to Babe's we got the last three servings.  It was better than I expected. I'd heard about it; how you layer assorted meats or seafood, breadfruit or root crops, green bananas, yams, coconut milk and greens and stew it down until what remains is a savory stew with a coconut oil sauce.  I asked Babe how she made it and this is how she described it. She sauted the green spices: green onion, celery, thyme, possibly dill, and any assortment of green herbs, but very likely Shadon Benny the cilantro-like leaf. Then she lays that in to the stew pot with the chicken and pork, adds a West Indian curry, breadfruit wedges, green bananas, yams wedges, coconut milk and tops with callalloo leaves.  It was perfect, the meat and vegetables tender to the bite, not mushy; the sauce a golden gravy, not too salty or under spiced.  Babes is a sweet roadside bar and restaurant on the highway near LaSagesse area of Grenada. The shady verandah at lunchtime is a pleasant oasis. Babe cooks and serves her customers with a smile and a joke. As we were leaving, happily content, another woman came out of the kitchen, quietly standing in the doorway as if to see who these folks were who were raving about the Oildown.  When we asked her name she too said, Babe!  We figured that that is why the place is called Babes, not Babe's. It's Babe One and Babe Two.

I had wanted to be sure to have Oildown before we left and I figured I could probably get it at the Friday Night Fish Fry in Gouyave.  Luckily I got it at Babe's because there was no Oildown in sight at Gouyave. The Fish Fry is a weekly event in the fishing village north of St. George's.  Canopies are set up over the street where vendors stand over stovetops frying fish and grills for lobster. There is every type of side dish you'd expect such as fried plantains, Johnny Cakes and much more.
Gouyave Fish Fry
Picnic tables between the food vendors when not filled to capacity are the place to sit while you eat  your lobster topped with garlic butter wielding a plastic fork.  It's a unique experience and something everyone must do at least once while in Grenada.  Buses ply the routes between Gouyave and St. George's, packed like Sardines we return to the capital city sated with piscean pleasure.

I celebrated my fifteenth birthday this last week on Leap Day, February 29th.  Our friends Jim and Martha came down from Minnesota to spend the week and help me celebrate. We went to the Beach House Restaurant.  This highly recommended restaurant was in a beautiful setting, on a beach south of us, with open air, white napkin service.  Very special and romantic.  I have to admit that the day or two leading up to my birthday, I was feeling strange, sort of depressed.  At odds with my normal 'even keel'.  I questioned what I want to do with my future.  I just felt strange.  But the nice dinner with friends and my loving Yata and I was back to normal.
Birthday Dinner
 We had also gone snorkeling that afternoon and that is one of my favorite activities.  I saw a turtle, a pair of French Angelfish, and many more unique underwater corals, gorgonia and more.  It was lovely. We revisited the Underwater Sculpture Garden but this time, with a guide to be sure we found all of them.  Although it's a really unique concept I realized, that you just can't beat a beautiful healthy reef for beauty and awe.

The next night we went to YOLO Sushi Bar & Restaurant at the Port Louis Marina near our apartment. Yata was unsure about this choice as he associated Sushi with raw fish and isn't interested in eating raw fish.  But we were very satisfied and delighted by YOLO (You Only Live Once). I had the signature Volcano rolls served with a cup of flaming rum in the center of the rolls.  Like many of their rolls, they were wrapped in crispy salmon skim instead of seaweed.  Yata had the Alaska rolls which had Shrimp tempura wrapped in rice and seaweed.  Excellent.  We also enjoyed a bottle of Montepulciano wine.  Dining was al fresco, lit by the harbor lights of the marina, the carrenage and the port of St. George's, wow!

We realize how fortunate we are and strive to appreciate all we are able to do, eat and enjoy.  If only everyone was able to do the same.

We return home this Tuesday and we will definitely miss this lovely island. It has been great. Unless we are deluding ourselves somehow, we'd say this is the best destination in our seventeen years of travel in many ways.  Especially for us at this age.  It's safer than anywhere we've been, including the US, I believe.  It's very clean and relatively litter free.  The poverty is minimal. Education is good. There aren't lots of feral dogs running around like so many countries we've been.  The telecom/internet is excellent. The public transport is excellent. The healthcare appears to be excellent (there is a large medical college on the island, St. George's University). The climate is warm with a rainy season. There is abundant fresh water due to the mountains as well as abundant fresh fruit and produce. The sailing/cruiser culture is strong and brings a nice element to the island. There are a few things that could be a problem, such as hurricanes (this island was seriously damaged in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan), it gets really hot in the middle of the day, public transport although it's prolific, can be a bit dangerous with aggressive driving on narrow roads (we saw the aftermath of a serious crash not far from our apartment).

But it'll be nice to get home and see our wonderful grandkids and their parents, our friends and to sleep in cool comfort (we've been sleeping in temps from 75 to 87 every night here).

We will be back, maybe next year. We are thinking we might like to spend more time too on the island of Carriacou, just north of here.  And maybe some sailing around Cuba???

Two paintings

In the Year 2100, 12 x 12 acrylic

Azure Tube Sponge, 24 x 36 acrylic

Friday, February 26, 2016

Butternut & Brie Ravioli

Looking at the menu for one of the best restaurants in Grenada I noticed that they offered Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce.  I've made this a few times in the past and always enjoyed it, improving on my technique each time.  I had some Brie cheese that was near expiration so I ventured that that might be nice to incorporate into the ravioli as well. It was a great combo!

Butternut and Brie Ravioli

Makes about 20 to 24 raviolis

1 small Butternut Squash (when cooked you'll need about 3 cups of squash)
Wonton or Eggroll Wrappers (you can make four raviolis with 2 Eggroll Wrappers
1/4 pound of Brie cheese
salt to taste
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
Olive oil
1/2 stick of butter

Steam squash until soft. Mash it in a bowl adding the spices and mix well.
Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the squash mixutre in each corner of the Eggroll wrapper.
Place a thumbnail sized slice of Brie on each squash.  Make an egg wash with the egg, whisking.
Brush the eggwash liberally around each spoonful of squash.  Lay another Eggroll wrapper on top and press down onto the bottom wrapper, sealing around each squash laden corner.  Cut the dough around each ravioli discarding excess.  Lightly oil plate and lay each ravioli on plate, lightly oiling additional raviolis added to the plate to avoid sticking.

Toast butter in a pan until the milk solids are a medium toasty brown.  Remove from heat. Avoid scorching.  Set aside.

Bring a 4 qt. pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add four raviolis at a time gently to the water.  If they stick to the bottom, gently loosen. When they float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon, set in strainer to let water run off.  While still warm, arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with the browned butter.

Tip: If you make more than you need at a meal, they can be frozen (keeping separate until frozen) for
a few weeks. Simply boil, slightly longer than when they are fresh.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grenada Paintings

Calvigny, 24 x 36"

Self-portrait, 12x12"

Venus' Nipple, 12x12"

Conch, 36x36"

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cocoa Tuna with Passionfruit Ginger Sauce

 This recipe is almost entirely from the book The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof

4 Tuna Steaks cut about 3/4 inch thick
4 T ground cocoa powder ( I used the cocoa balls which are infused with spices and used for a 'tea')
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 T brown sugar
1 T coconut oil

Rub steaks with the spice/cocoa mixture. Heat pan with the coconut oil. Sear steaks to desired degree.  Turning once. (about 2 minutes per side for medium/medium well)

Passionfruit ginger sauce:

4 T butter
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
2-3 inches peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
3 T coconut milk powder
2 T flour
3/4 c. passionfruit juice
1 T dark rum
1/4 tsp tumeric

Saute garlic and ginger in the butter until lightly golden. Add flour and coconut powder and stir the resulting paste until it's a nice dark gold.  Then add the juice, rum and tumeric and cook until it thickens.  Serve over or alongside the steaks. This is also good on steamed provisions such as yams, plantain, etc.


I haven't updated my paintings in a while.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, they suffer from a bit too much inspiration in that the subjects, and approaches are all over the place, from palette knife to decorative borders; from a colorful tropical palette to a subdued tone on tone grey piece.
Jazz in 4/4 Time, 36" x 36" acrylic, with collaged fabric from Artfabrik (Grenada)

Reef Impressions, 12" x 12" acrylic

Fall Edge, 6pm, 36" x 36" acrylic
Rocks & Waves V, 12 x 12 acrylic
Flotsam, 24" x 36" acrylic

North of Gouyave, 12" x 24" acrylic

Grenada Cottage, 12 x 12 acrylic
Homage to Breadfruit, 12 x 12 acrylic

Sailin II, 12 x 24 acrylic, a tone-on-tone palette knife piece.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day and Key Lime Pie

Stovetop Key Lime Pie
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  It was a Sunday. We decided to take a bus to the Carenage and treat ourselves at the Grenada Chocolate Company Shop.  We got off early when we saw the gates to the Botanical Garden were open and we’d not been there yet.  We’ve seen some great botanical gardens over the years but this one we would not recommend for any reason. It didn’t even have much in the line of picnic benches to sit in the shade under while escaping the sun’s rays.  It had no labelled specimens, nor collection of native trees.  It essentially was the groomed front yard to a number of government buildings.

We left there and walked through the Marryshow area to the shore, a two or three block stretch which was the site of the riots and rebellions of the youth groups and nurses during the 1960’s led by Maurice Bishop.  Like current day Tunisia and other countries of the Spring Revolution, the revolt is usually led by the young idealistic and then co opted by the extremists who corrupt and threaten the original impulse.  

We made it to the port and the Carenage, which is simply a strip of buildings that encircle the harbor. In the past they were bars and brothels to serve the sailors and now it is an assortment of things such as an eyeglass store, a casino, bars and deserted buildings.  It holds a certain charm in that you can still see the ‘bones’ of it’s past.  
The Carenage
There is a ten foot bronze sculpture of Christ called, Christ of the Deep which was a gift from the people of Genoa Italy in gratitude for assistance by the Grenadians when a Genoese boat sunk due to an on board fire.  Normally the Carenage and the associated Young Street where all the art galleries, boutiques and chocolate shops are, is bustling with tourists but today we had the advantage of having it to ourselves since it was Sunday and there were no cruise ships in port.  The disadvantage was that all the shops were closed. So we grabbed a number one bus back to Wall Street.

Wall Street is an area on the main road, behind Grand Anse Beach which is a retail and office center.  There are a number of banks, restaurants, a mall with an IGA, a hardware store and street vendors.  We walked then to Umbrellas, the famous beach restaurant.  This was our third time there.  The first time was great. Although we only had drinks, since we went to watch a football game, it ran like a well oiled machine.  Staff seemed so efficient. The second time we went with four other friends. It was a Saturday night and it was busy.  It was a complete disaster.  Music so loud it literally hurt, staff in a complete kerfuffle about who was serving who.  Orders mixed up, bills inaccurate.  You wonder why we’d try it again?  Well it was Valentine's Day and they have live music on the beach.  So we sat and waited for service and waited some more.  It wasn’t especially busy with customers, the music hadn’t started yet, maybe too few waiters.  But we waited about twenty five minutes and never even got the eye of a waiter.  So we left and walked down the beach where we got a drink at the Radisson Bar so we could use their beach chairs.  This was a lovely location, relaxing under a sea grape tree our fingers sifting the silky soft sand listening to a damn East Coast American loudly bargaining for a tour of the island with a local tour guide, for a good half hour, repeating himself over and over; did I say loudly?  

Off we went up the beach to the end of Grand Anse, where we live.  We were getting hungry and so we stopped at the Clam Bar, a local little street restaurant which serves great cheap food.  Randy and Dixon are brothers and they recently leased the place from Captain Harris in hopes of making a go of it. Captain Harris’ is a rather large complex of Cottages on the shore owned by a real retired Captain, of what, I’m not sure.  He rents mostly to younger couples from Venezuela, the Spanish, as Randy calls them.  Randy and Dixon make local fare such as the Oildown which we as yet have not managed to get.  On Valentine’s they had no special romantic offerings, just burgers and fries. But the burgers were amazing!  Huge for one thing.  We each only ate half.  They dress the half pound burger with cabbage slaw, lettuce and a sauce and then put it in a panini or cubano grill to toast the bun.  They also finish their wraps in the grill. Nice touch.  We discovered that there was a back deck overlooking the sea so both times we’ve had our meal there; the million dollar view of Grand Anse Beach, balancing our clamshells on our laps.  Although we told Randy that they should fix this up as an eating area he agreed and said they are ‘working on it’.  This time he brought us a table made from an old sign board (something about For Sale by Owner) but it was an improvement.  Nice guys, good cooks; I hope they make it.

Sunset from Fall Edge (our digs)
We made it home in time to take a swim at sunset, shower, watch the moon set over the water and watch a good movie ‘Chef’ before tucking in.  

This morning the water taxis plow through the water taking the cruise ship clients to Grand Anse Beach where they can ‘relax’ for the day under their rented umbrellas with over-priced drinks.  

Actually the two drinks on the beach cost us more than the whole dinner and drinks at Randy and Dixons, yesterday.  

Oh I forgot to mention that I made Key Lime Pie for us for a Valentine treat.  It turned out great! I don’t have an oven so I had to google ‘stove top’ recipes.  And I had no pie plate so I had to rig up a stainless steel bowl instead.

Key Lime Pie

crust: Crumble enough cookies or graham crackers ( I used Digestifs) to make about two cups or more of crumbs.  Melt nearly two sticks of butter.  Pour into crumbles. Mix until all are moistened and press the mixture into the pie plate.  Refrigerate to harden.

½ cup (or slightly more) fresh squeezed lime juice with zest of lime
1 can (14 oz. ) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks

Combine egg and milk until smooth.  Add lime juice until smooth. Pour into crust.  Place in refrigerator for a minimum of four hours.  I did it overnight.

Topping: whipping cream
¼ tsp vanilla
Whip cream to soft peaks, add vanilla whipping a bit more.

To loosen pie if it’s stuck to pan, set it in a some warm water for a minute or less making sure to not spill any water on the pie. Cut piece, remove and top with whipped cream. Serve.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

West Indies Shakshuka

This recipe is originally from Tunisia and I altered the ingredients  to turn i into a West Indies style dish.  The curry replaces paprika and the coconut milk replaces water.  Cilantro for parsley (which I'm allergic to anyway).  Otherwise it's pretty similar.

West Indies Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 3-4
2 T coconut oil
2 green peppers sliced
1 med yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon West Indian Curry powder
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 T tomato paste
4 medium tomatoes chopped
1 cup coconut milk
salt, to taste
3 eggs
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Warm pitas, for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, curry, tumeric, cayenne, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Add tomatoes and their liquid, tomato paste to skillet along with 1 cup coconut milk, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.
Crack eggs over sauce. Cover skillet and cook basting the eggs with the liquid in the sauce once or twice or until yolks are set, about 5 minutes.   Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and cilantro and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tropic of Pasta

My paintings as well as my cooking suffer from a bit too much inspiration and possibilities. My pantry is well stocked now and I've been reading a travel book with recipes that takes place in the Caribbean including Grenada, The Spice Necklace. The following recipe is an amalgam of her Starburst Salad and a Yummly recipe I saw. 

The Tropic of Pasta

I avocado
2 T fresh lime juice
1 chopped tomato
1 c chopped cucumber
1 T banana ketsup
1 T pepper sauce (opt)
1/2 cup fresh coconut meat coarsely grated
1/2 c cilantro chopped
1/2 pound cooked and cooled pasta
1/2 cup or more dry roasted salt peanuts

Mash the avocado adding the lime juice, banana ketsup, pepper sauce and cilantro. Combine well with pasta. Add remaining ingredients and top with crushed peanuts. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gettin' Kicked Around by Jenny

Sailin’ past Kick ‘Em Jenny
The swells were as big as a small house, with winds gusting to 28 knots…..

I had downloaded Windfinder to my phone and it turned out to be perfectly accurate in its prediction of 25 knot winds (with gusts to 28) for Tues and Wed of our trip.  Yata and I being neophytes to this sort of sailing; we had only sailed on Lake Pepin and the Great Lakes a time or two; didn’t quite know what to expect.

We sailed Sunday to Sunday, Jan 24 to 31st on the Chinook, a 42” mono-hull Bavaria yacht with three berths with Kay Hamilton, Dwight Jelle, Jeri and Dave Erickson.  Dwight was the captain and he and Kay have had a lot of experience including racing as well as weeklong trips through the British Virgin Islands and the Grenadines.  Dave and Jeri purchased Kay and Dwight’s Tartan sailboat and have it at the Pepin Marina. So they too have years of sailing experience.  

We departed Sunday about 2pm after a couple hours of loading and instructions.  We were also told that it was unlikely we’d make to the north end of the Grenadines in the amount of time we had.  And we were leaving from the south end of Grenada which meant that we only made it to Dragon Bay, just north of the port city of St. George’s (Grenada’s Capital) and the bay closest to the
Underwater Sculpture Park.  We anchored here so we could snorkel the park the next morning.
This was one of my ‘top of the list’ things to do but I was disappointed with it.  I guess I’d rather snorkel a great reef instead.  The concept of the underwater sculpture was a good one and it had grown some coral which made the sculptures a part of the environment and a more interesting concept.  But some were damaged and neglected.  I think Grenada should grow the concept and make it much more. Maybe invite a competition for designs.  And then if they were mapped out or a map was provided...that would help as well.  We may have missed some of the sculptures that were there for lack of a map. (PS I just found a map online and realize that we did miss many of the sculptures on the first go...will have to try again.)

We got a late start Monday morning. We left for the sister island of Carriacou at about 10am.  We were bucking some strong winds already on Monday and realized about mid day that we risked not making it before dark to the island. As there were no good anchorages in between, we back tracked to what became a sleepless night in a bay that we named Toilet Bowl bay or Monkey Poacher Bay.  It was a very small bay at the base of a mountain valley that funneled the strong winds down and around the base of the bay.  When you anchor your boat, you set the anchor in sand and let out the line. The anchor hooks into the sand and you then put the engine in reverse to really set it hard.  Then you snorkel over the anchor to see if it moves at all.  I checked it with Dwight. I thought I saw it move a few feet. He didn’t think it did though.  We had an overhead power line above and we were in about 13 feet of water. The keel is six feet deep.  Dave set an alarm that would squawk if the boat moved much from it’s original placement.  At about 1am the alarm went off and it turns out that the boat had floated in towards shore, closer to the power line and was now swinging in a completely different direction in shallower water. Dwight sat up on board for hours keeping an eye out.  Dave didn’t get any sleep that night either as he listened to the alarm squawk.  Yata slept through the whole deal.  By morning all was fine, we were back in our original position in the toilet bowl.  By the way, the Monkey Poacher Bay name was due to us watching flashlights spotting up into the trees in the hillsides around our part of the bay for a while.  We don’t think they found any monkeys though.

We were determined to get to Carriacou the next day so we left plenty early.  This was a very high wind day with a crossing near the underwater volcano, Kick ‘Em Jenny. Dave’s wife Jeri’s monicker became Kick ‘Em Jeri, and inspired a new song from Yata and his guitar.  The seas were huge with swells up to 25 feet high at times. We rocked and rolled our way all day over this 19 mile crossing.  Only one meal of sandwiches was sacrificed to the floor of the galley. Not bad considering.  Everyone handled the waves without trouble but with the help of some Bonine and motion sickness wristbands.  

-Although two days after disembarking from the ship, I’m still wavy in the head. The sound of the sea invokes the sway of the boat as does sitting on the toilet! Makes me wonder if I should take some Bonine!-
The Sisters, just off of Kickem' Jenny

We arrived late afternoon in Tyrrel Bay on the south west corner of Carriacou. There were already about eighty boats anchored and we had a bit of a challenge finding a spot that wasn’t too close to another boat and yet not such a long dinghy ride to shore.  We found one spot in front of a Catamaran hailing from Germany.  
Tyrrel Bay

Klaus, as we named him, came over to inform us that our boat would move differently than his.  If our anchor wasn’t set well enough it would come loose and we’d bang into him. But it was set fine, and even so, we moved the next day to an new opening. Tyrrel Bay was a great spot. A marina for taking care of basics such as bathroom, shower (if you could sweet talk them), garbage disposal, ice, etc.  There were also a number of good little restaurants, a couple dive shops, small supermarkets and bars, of course.  We ate at the Lambie Queen (Lambie is Conch) and had a exquisite homestyle Key Lime Pie.  Although we got the last piece and even though they said there would be more tomorrow and we checked each of the two subsequent days, it never materialized.  We also ate at the Lazy Turtle (or is it Horny Turtle?) where we had the most fabulous pizza. The star was the Category Five: Smoked Fish, sun-dried tomatoes, horseradish cream, all on the basic margherita.   Another memorable meal was from the Gallery Cafe where they served sumptuous salads smothered in fresh vegetables and savory seafood.

One of the best things about Grenada is the public transport and even on Carriacou, there were the mini-van buses.  We took an island tour to the port city of Hillsborough. The route took us over to and along the east coast where is was sunny, dry and picturesque.  Goats grazed in the long grasses with the Atlantic as a backdrop.  Local woman climbed aboard to greet ‘good afternoon everyone’. Passengers answered our musings.  We had seen men picking from a tall shrub and when I said, ‘that’s the plant’...a gentleman informed us that those were pidgeon peas.  Kay asked how they were prepared and he said, cooked or raw.  Later we bought some and made a fried snack with them and later added them to an egg and potato breakfast.  We also found the well regarded Patty's Deli where we purchased top shelf sliced cold cuts for sandwiches.

Hillsbourough port
Hillsborough, was a small but bustling town.  Later the boys took a bus to town while we women stayed on board, and found a great sunset bar, the Eclipse.  Upon returning we heard about the craziest driver EVER.  The bus was full and when Dave said something about there being 25 people on board (including babies and children) the driver said no, ‘it’s 25 people but only 19 people units’.

On the third day we hired Lumba Dive shop to show us the snorkeling reefs.  Again, it was still extremely windy and they took us to Sunset View Reef outside the bay.  But the visibility and waves made it a struggle.  Dave and Jeri are new to snorkeling but they were intrepid and although their gear was rented (from the sailing charter, not the dive shop) and was not making it easy for them, they hung in there.  Dave even said, ‘ I think I’ve found my new favorite sport’.  We did see, though, a lionfish which they hunt to extirpate because they are non-native and destructive of the local fish population, a couple stingrays and other assorted coral and fish.  We took a break and then went to another reef inside the bay where conditions were much better.  Visibility was good and we saw some very intriguing filefish and eels. The next day we left for Petit Martinique, the third sister of the Grenada islands and along the way stopped on Sandy Island, a marine park to snorkel as well.  

We arrived along the shore of Petit St. Vincent (PSV) and anchored.  It is about 3 miles from Petit Martinique (PM).  PSV is not part of Grenada and thus is technically part of the nation of St Vincent.  Since PM and PSV are small and fairly far from the customs office on Union Island, they don’t really enforce the customs rules.  But PSV is mostly a resort for the rich and famous so we weren’t able to swim ashore as most of it is private. Dwight went to snorkel the anchor setting and check the reef nearby. He reminded us that this may be our last chance to snorkel so Jeri, Dave, Yata and I decided to go in.  We observed a lobster diver trying to find lobster on the reef we were on. He had one long fin, and one boot on and a full wet suit.  We didn’t see him have any success though.  I thought I’d try to drive them toward him in hopes of of being rewarded with a lobster but to no avail. As I was returning to the boat I spotted some eyeglasses on the bottom, about ten feet down, about my max free dive. I managed to retrieve them from the bottom and thought, “great these are better than the ones I just lost overboard, if not a bit masculine for me”.  As I climbed aboard I said, “ look what I found “ and Dave said, “those are mine!”  Turns out he didn’t even realize he lost them, must have dove in with them tucked in the front of his shirt.  What are the chances I’d find them?  Yeah!  

We were hungry and reading in the guide book that the restaurant Palm Beach on PM was good and had a boat that would pick us up and return us. So we called and they said that their boat wasn’t that dependable for evenings but that we could use their mooring ball for the night.  We lifted anchor and went to PM to use the mooring ball. We had a lovely dinner under a palapa pavilion near the shore, under the starlight.  Seafood including lobster since this is a fishing island. The next morning most of us went ashore to hike the island. We climbed to near the top and could see to the east north east and to the island of Cananoan and Tobago Cays.  Again more goats, wind and panoramas.  The local man who encouraged us to climb up this way had a new enterprise; making flour from bananas.  

We reboarded about 9am and departed for a heavenly sail back to Grenada.  The Jimmy Buffet tunes and sun and wind were all a perfect combination for making it a perfect sailing day covering 40 miles.

We arrived back in the area just offshore from our Grenada digs by about 5:30, a dinghy ride to Grand Anse beach and dinner at Umbrellas.  Our king size bed was only yards from our boat where our cramped berth was.  I felt like a deserter but when I asked, ‘ would it be cheating for us to sleep on shore tonight’, our captain said, “if I had a good bed that close, I would”.  So we slept in our apartment and Dwight picked us up the next morning by dinghy at the beach below our place.
Our apartment, lower center

We needed to be back to the True Blue Marina by noon so we set sail after another great breakfast by Kay.  I think we went through a pound of coffee this week.  We were all drinking and making it stronger each day.  The final sail into the True Blue was a sunny day with just the right amount of wind.  Yata and I learned so much...the vocabulary of sailing, first of all (it’s line not rope).  We also began to ‘get’ some of the concepts.  I’d say that there is a real art to sailing as well as the physics of sailing.  You have combinations of two sails, a head sail or jib and then the main sail.  You can use one or both, you can have them working in tandem or in point where they are going in opposite directions.    There are lines and pulleys, winches, masts and sails. Port and starboard, fore and aft.
Jean at the helm with Yata

We ate a lot of delicious meals on board with Kay as our chief chef, but everyone pitched in during the week.  At night, Yata brought out his guitar and we sang under the stars.  Everyone took photos and I made some paintings in my watercolor sketchbook.  

This is one thing to take off my bucket list but in some ways it’s adding a couple more. It’d be great to come back again and visit St. Vincent and its Grenadine Islands.

Our mates were great to spend seven cramped days at sea with.  They were so relaxed and competent...and fun!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kay's Boatbabe Curry

An excellent recipe by 1st mate Kay. Or should I say galley wench!

Boat Babe Curry by Kay

2 onions chopped
3 fingers ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper chopped
Sauté above in 2 T coconut oil. 
1 c chicken broth
1/2 can coconut milk
2 T tamarind sauce
1/4 c peanut butter
1 T turmeric or more
1 T cinnamon
 1/4 c coconut cream
1 T fresh thyme

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Last painting before we sail

January 23, 2016
Here's an update on our current adventure:

Grenada is one fine place for so many reasons.  We're on the water on the lee shore (quiet side) on a very private section beach cut off from the rest of the masses due to private property, rocks and a cliff.  We swim everyday and catch plenty of rays.  We're also on the bus route into town so there's easy access to shopping.  The island is very clean, no litter, and the people are friendly and not trying to hassle you with selling stuff.  You simply say "no thanks" in a nice way, and they leave you alone.  Anyway, we leave tomorrow for a week long sailing voyage up the Grenadine Islands.  We've never done something like this before, so it should be quite an adventure.  There's a full moon tonight which will be amazing to see from the water.

Jean is working on her 7th painting since we arrived two weeks ago.  I've written two pretty good songs and am writing lyrics, as well.  All is good here.

Peace and Music,

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Black bean Burger with Avocado salsa

Lunch today for the two of us
1 1/2 cups black beans slightly mashed
1 egg
2 slices white bread crumbled
1/4 c West Indies green seasoning
1 large clove garlic minced very fine. 
Form into patties and fry in coconut oil medium hot. Turn after a couple minutes and cook until both sides are golden crisp. Plate and top with

Avocado Salsa

Combine gently
1 lg avocado cut into 3/4 in cubes
1 tomato cut into 1/2 in pieces
3T Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 T honey

Monday, January 18, 2016

One of our Most Freaky Travel Experiences

We were woken on Saturday morning by our neighbor Noel who were  going to go to the Honey Nursery with; he and his wife Lorna. Noel's first words that day were, " I think Bev is dead". What?
Are you sure?  "I touched her, she's cold".  What a strange, literally shocking thing to hear.  

Bev or Beverly Modder was our landlady, living upstairs.  She was about 65 years old, slim, medium complected with dyed black hair.  She was originally from Sri Lanka but currently a resident of Canada with a home in Vancouver.  Lorna had heard from Brian, the caretaker here, that Bev had been blacking out periodically and wouldn't go to the doctor.

Bev had taken Lorna and Noel's laundry to wash on Friday afternoon and would normally have returned soon thereafter to hang it on the line.  But Friday night there was no appearance of Bev or laundry.  Lorna tried calling via phone and emailing to no avail. They could hear the television though.  In the morning after having knocked on the front door with no answer, they jimmied the locked door from their apartment to the laundry and Lorna went upstairs to find Bev on the sofa apparently deceased.

It's a couple days later now. The police have been here to investigate and remove the body.  We've all been somewhat concerned for security as the police hadn't secured the upstairs back doors very well and we thought it'd be too easy for someone to break in up there and get into our apartments.  And what about guests who are coming this week to stay in the room that Lorna and Noel will be vacating?

We've heard that the autopsy said she had a massive heart attack. Brian arrived this morning and says that Bev's daughter from Canada is coming and that he will take care of our accommodations for now. 

So maybe it will all be status quo while we are here, til March 8th.  We leave to sail for a week next Sunday.  Kay and Dwight, our fellow sailors, arrive tonight

Rest in Peace Beverly

Jessamine Eden

We've come to Jessamine Eden with our neighbors Lorna & Noel, our Irish neighbors at the Seaglass place. It is in the Grand Etang Valley, a multi acre apiary/ nursery. Jessamine Eden won the UK NHS Best Honey of the world! So nearly every dish has some touch of this liquid gold. There is also beautiful grounds, where the nursery started from chaotic bush just six or seven years ago!

Jerry took us on a hike of the grounds while Val prepared lunch.  We were seated in a what appeared to be a long greenhouse in the shade nestled next to a bubbling stream just 20 feet away.

Lunch started with 3rd*** season honey with lemongrass and nettles tea. Next was Cream of Tania* soup topped with fresh thyme. Everything so well presented and intriguing.
Third course is: avocado, goat cheese drizzled with honey hot sauce on a bed of fresh spinach leaves.
So good I feel a hint of guilt! What?

Avocado, goat cheese salad
Main course is  fish baked in a banana leaf with okra & Calaloo**.  Sides of  white yam, pigeon peas, home maid whole wheat bread. 
Baked fish with star fruit and tomato garnish.

Dessert includes Nutmeg Honey Cake with nutmeg flesh (the outer layer around the nut) preserved in honey .  It is soaked for one year creating a slightly fermented flesh and liquor. 

We were fortunate to be served in the large kitchen/family table instead of the public area. It's a real way to be introduced to the culture here in a foodie heaven sort of way. 

Now the honey tasting. We tried the 1st , 2nd and 3rd extractions.  Each gets darker and more complex.  Only the first, the honey of the Glerry Cedar tree and wildflowers, mostly was as light as we are accustomed to getting in the US.  The 2nd seemed just perfectly balances. Not to heavy or strongly flavored. But then I suppose it depends on how you are using it. It's one thing to taste in on it's own but another to combine it with other foods, right?

After this the hosts, Jerry, a compliance lawyer for a day job and honey man with Val Jessamine, an ecological engineer for a day job, hosted us on the verandah with wine and Yata's songs about islands (Cocobutter) and Ireland (I am of Ireland & The Lake Isle of Innisfree, where there can be found 'a bee loud glade') on Val's guitar. A local wren sang harmony!

*Tania is a root a type of Taro root.
** Calaloo us a leafy spinach like green used extensively in southern Caribbean cooking.
*** Third season means its the third extraction of the growing season, when many plants are in flower for the bees. It's darker and more complex in flavor.