Soursop

Our neighbor Jimmy has been described as an 85 year old hooligan. I can’t comment as to his hooliganism, but I do know that he’s appointed himself the local fruit distributor. He has trees of his own, and friends with trees, and checks on the trees belonging to people who aren’t here all year. A couple of times a week, he pulls into our driveway in in his creaky old Toyota, his creaky old dog Peanut perched on the seat beside him. He climbs out of the truck on his creaky old hips and hands us a paper bag containing that day’s loot. Sometimes it’s a cutting of green bananas. Or maybe sweet Meyer lemons. It could be papayas, a deep orange variety that giggles its way down your throat. Or a pineapple that fills the kitchen with its perfume. He sometimes brings the creamiest, smoothest avocados I’ve ever tasted.

And one day he brought a soursop.

They’re odd, lumpy looking things, discolored and prickly, which rather appeals to my own odd, lumpy, discolored and prickly self. Just as you mustn’t judge me by my foul mood, you mustn’t judge a soursop by its cover. The magic is on the inside. But getting to it involves peeling off the skin, removing the toughest of the fiber and squeezing out the slippery seeds. The first time I did this, I used a fine mesh sieve and a suribachi pestle and was ready for a massage and a long nap when I was finally done.

The second time around, though, I discovered that my friend Leah, who has excellent taste in kitchen ware, had a food mill she was willing to lend me. This is also brings back childhood memories of old ladies processing fruit for applesauce and I think my hippie aunt used to use one to clean the seeds out of her her pot so I am in good company. I did have to drop by the University of the Internet and take Cuisinart 101 to figure out how the spring load mechanism worked, but I learn fast and was quickly on my way.

In two shakes of a gekko tail, I had a bowl full of creamy pulp, both tangy and sweet.

Now, what would I do with it? Most of the recipes I found were Jamaican in origin and involved sweetened condensed milk. While this was interesting from a cultural perspective, it was not what I wanted to do with my soursop.

And so we hop onto the limited express bound for Smoothieland. I’ve been making these for years, long before the word Smoothie became part of the popular lexicon. I always called it Super Juice and it was really just a sensible way to use up borderline bananas. Since moving to the tropics, though, my Super Juice has moved into the big leagues. The current batch in the fridge is a blissful blend of papaya, pineapple, mushy nectarine, coconut milk and a touch of turmeric for color.

I used to be an Olympic sleeper, perfect 10’s across the board, neither night owl nor early riser. I just prefer to be in bed. But over the course of the past year, I have morphed. I go to bed early because I am sleepy and I get up early because I want to. I never before lived in a place where the sounds of morning could entice me out of bed, where the list of things I need to get done seems less daunting because I want to open my eyes and see what the day has in store. Tomorrow morning, the sun will rise, the birds will sing and, among other things, I have soursop to look forward to. I can think of worse ways to start the day.

Tick Tock

As I lay in bed last night, I realized that despite the p0lyphonic choral performance by the tiny coqui frogs in the woods behind our house, I could still hear my alarm clock ticking. And then I realized that I have not set that clock even once since I’ve been here. I still have to get up early sometimes–that’s never been my strong suit–but getting up early in paradise is so much easier than getting up early in Tokyo. Mulling that thought, I fell asleep and dreamed of tiny frogs waking to tiny alarms and getting out of tiny beds and eating tiny pancakes with tiny blueberries and packing tiny sandwiches into tiny paper bags and getting into tiny cars to commute to tiny jobs.

I woke up just before dawn. I could no longer hear my alarm clock ticking because of the joyous twittering of dozens of little birds in the garden outside my window. They seemed to be celebrating something momentous, as they do every morning. I smiled a quiet smile, wished them well and went back to sleep.

Jiggle Emancipation

I was on the deck the other morning and Nutball was skulking under the eaves of his house, pointing a smartphone at me and narrating how he would post the video of the horrible woman next door on Facebook.

Just how many people does he think will watch a chubby, middle aged, single breasted woman do yoga?

If he wasn’t so sad, he’d be comical.

I have come to think he is the price I have to pay for all the wonderful in my life. That price might seem steep but it isn’t. Near and far, I have my family and friends, people who genuinely care about me and I feel the same about them. I have my health and what looks like a pretty good care network to look after it. I have the house and every lovely thing in it, the garden, the car, the cats, a fridge full of food and wine in my glass.

But even more than all that, today I got…a bed.

Oh, what a bed.

I am grateful for the beds that came with the house, but they are jiggly and they had jiggled me out of sleep every night for the past four months. We spent 30 years sleeping on a futon on the floor. Unless there was an earthquake, no jiggles. I realized I could no longer bear the jiggles. But for once, along the bumpy, rutted road of the past two years, here was something I could fix.

Girding our loins and clutching a credit card, we approached the bed store. “Firm,” we said. “Extra firm. Solid. Absolutely anti-jiggle. Sleeping on rocks.”

We bought a bed. It arrived a virgin, swathed in plastic, untouched by nightie nor pajama, longing for human contact, eager to embrace our weary bodies, unable to suck us into the depths of saggy back-aching foam and jar us awake with endless jiggles.

At bedtime tonight, we will have a jiggle exorcism ceremony and then sleep the sleep of the just.

I don’t know if we deserved all that we went through last year. I don’t know if we deserve all we have now, this beautiful life in this beautiful place. But I’m pretty sure we deserve a decent night’s sleep.

All men, women and children deserve to be jiggle-free. So here is my blessing to one and all: May your belly be full and your bed unjiggly. Happy Thanksgiving.

new bed