‘Tis The Season

This promises to be one of the best, if not the best, Christmas season we have ever had.  It started out with our gratitude from both of us recovering from health problems–not major but annoying and limiting.  For about 2 months, I had been experiencing another round of sciatica, which wasn’t responding to my usual treatment.  I really was considering going back to the orthopedist and insisting on physical therapy (he’s a little too in love with surgery, as are they all).  Then a Panamanian acquaintance urged me to go to a massage therapist, who comes to David twice a month.  He does Swedish massage, which is not for the faint-hearted, but she went on about all the near-miracles he had performed with various people in the area.  I decided to give it a try.

So we went together to David, to a private house that the Maestro uses when he’s in David.  It’s a typical Panamanian setup–we sat outside along with 3-4 other people and chatted with each other and everyone else while waiting.  When it was my turn, the therapist had me walk a little–and then said both to my companion and to me that the problem was a tilted pelvis.  It flashed through my mind that that would explain some other things as well.  Both my internist and orthopedist had immediately focused on a slipped disc in my back, everyone agreeing that it was an old condition, but that’s where their attention was.

The session was painful.  BUT I had immediate relief–no question that I was feeling better.  He urged me to return the next day, which I did, and I went for still another session when he returned in a few weeks.  I’m greatly improved, and will see him next week for another session.

Mary has been doing a series of back exercises designed by Egoscue, highly recommended by acquaintances in Boquete.  They’ve been working well for her–she describes it as similar to the feeling after a chiropractic session.

Neither of us is completely recovered, but we both are far more functional than we have been.  I’ve been walking pain-free for the first time in months, and am able to do a surprising amount of work, which was good, since we had various emergencies, mostly having to do with broken water pipes, last week.

So when we lit our Advent candles on the first Sunday of Advent, we were correspondingly grateful for those among other blessings.

It took me a while to adjust to beautiful weather during Christmas, but this year, for the first time, it seems absolutely perfect!  Probably because of the contrast with the 9 months preceding, but for whatever reason, the weather, the fortunate lives we’ve had, and the season have all combined to bring a great deal of joy to this house.

We’ve had our Christmas lights up since the first week in December and have delighted in those.  They really are pretty and we enjoy seeing them from the inside of the house as well–they make a lovely pattern of colors seen through the windows.

I’ve been baking up a storm.  Yes, the fruit cake is brooding in its alcoholic haze for 4 weeks.  But I’ve also been baking seasonal cookies that I haven’t made in decades.  As my Christmas gift, I’m going to share a recipe that has been in my family for at least 60 years, and probably longer.  I remember my mother making it when I was a teenager, and I’m sure she made it beforehand, except what kid remembers exactly what the goodies were except that they were special and delicious?

Here it is:

Fruit Bars


Forgive the image–I scanned my original recipe into my recipe file.

A few differences–you might want to cut down on the sugar.  Surprise, surprise–I soak the candied fruits in rum for 2-3 hours before baking!  Also, I use a much smaller and deeper pan–an 8″ x 8″  baking dish in which case this makes 2 batches.  You can substitute some other dried fruit for the dates; I’ve used prunes, and that’s been just fine.

We love them and are having a terrible time rationing ourselves, since we’re both on diets (I’ve lost 12 lbs so far with 8 more to go), which we’re struggling to maintain until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, when hey, those are my favorite days of the year, and let the good food make its welcome appearance!

We visited the Espinosas yesterday for the first time in weeks.  They’re almost over their latest round of colds and allergy problems, with most conditions clearing up with the weather (true for just about every Panamanian we know).  I’m going to make tamales again this year, only this time from maize nuevo–fresh corn.  I am not looking forward to getting the kernels off the cob, and grinding is a chore, but Ricardo showed us an ingenious setup he’s devised for turning the molino the easy way–with electricity.  He’s hooked up a motor to the mill via an old bicycle wheel, and both he and Maritza assured us that we’ll have all the masa we need in 15 minutes!  Maritza is also going to check to see if we can get fresh corn from local people–much cheaper.  We plan on going in together, she to make bollos, me to make the tamales for Christmas Eve.  We’re going to make the tamales at their place on Thursday.  It’ll be fun, working up there, and I will be making tamales under the guidance of that master chef, Maritza.

Meantime, we’ve had other visitors and will have more this coming week.

For Christmas Day dinner, we’re having a couple from Abajo who are in the latest agonizing throes of construction, which has gone on for 2 years.  They’re interested in plants and thoughtful, witty, fun company.  I’ve also picked up some tips and information, since they have done a good deal of what we want to do in the way of insulation.  They also have recommended a cabinet maker, an American couple who have set up in Abajo.  I have hesitated and hesitated to have cabinets made by a Panamanian because as wood becomes scarcer, the incidence of using green wood has skyrocketed.  This couple has a kiln, which no Panamanian I know of does.  They’ll be more expensive, but I have heard nothing but raves about the quality of the work.  After the New Year.

So, it promises to be a wonderful end to what has been a hard year, and we are truly grateful.

This is a long post, because it is my last on this blog.  I have posted irregularly for a while now, in part due to the sciatica, which made sitting dificult and painful.  But even after that problem went away, I realized that I was no longer looking forward to bloging.  I’ve always done this blog for my own enjoyment, really, and now it’s turned into an obligation, somehow–“Gee, I haven’t posted in X number of days, weeks…”.  Nope, not gonna do that.  I think that, in good part, when I started this blog I felt like an outsider looking in and commenting.  I’ve realized in about the past month that I no longer feel that way and therefore no longer care to comment about what I view as natural, everyday living.  So, fittingly, this is the end, at this wonderful time of year.

There are about 6-10 of you with whom I correspond regularly by email (in some cases, even see!) or in other venues, such as LT.  I trade jokes with some of you, and that has been fun.  With a few others I’ve shared in both the good things and the sorrow of losing a beloved animal friend (here’s to Mr. Ziggy, well-loved in this life and beyond).  That’s taken on a life of its own, I’m glad to say, and there is no reason why it can’t continue, since we almost never communicate via the blog any more.

For those who have enjoyed the weather reports–and there are quite a few–just bookmark our weather site, because Mary does all the work and will continue to keep that up.  You don’t need any reminders from me.

It’s been fun but it’s time to end this and start something different.

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!




About these ads

12 Responses

  1. New corn tamales are wonderful, My neighbors were making a bunch, and I mean a BUNCH of them last Sunday and invited me up for a tasting. Yummy! That and Serano (sp?) soup. Two of the neighbors were headed to the States. Amelia and her brother Eugenio to attend Amelia’s son’s graduation from the Penn State and they were taking along a touch of home for the celebration.

    It’s really a privilege when;the locals invite you into their home and share a part of their lives with you,

  2. I’m only going to make about 25 tamales this year. However, I’m getting 100 ears of corn, if I can get them locally, so that Maritza can make bollos as well. She also told me the right kind of pork to buy for the filling–last year I had no clue and used chicken, which is fine, but pork is tastier.


  3. Feliz Navidad Joyce to you and Mary and the furry pack. I well understand your decision although I will miss your posts. Keep in touch, thank you for that wonderful recipe. A perfect Christmas gift.

  4. Thanks, Jonna. I have another cookie recipe that is so rich it’s no doubt sinful at any other time of year! Just made the first batch this morning, and clearly Mary and I are going to have to go on starvation rations here soon. I’ll email it to you–why should we be the only ones to suffer? :-)


  5. Dear Joyce,
    We’ll miss your blogs, but, we’ll always stay in touch with e-mails, etc.. I’m sure Mr. Ziggy is so very proud to be mentioned in your last blog, and he’s been busy introducing Buster to the rest of our heavenly furry herd, this week. Our herd is busy adapting to the new norm, and seem to be doing fine. There’s a black/white dog that has been circling around the yard area for a couple of weeks, so no telling when he’ll decide to join our herd. We’re putting out food and water, so no telling when. We know you’ll enjoy the break from blogging and we’re certainly thankful you started this blog so we could meet you, Mary and your furry herd, hope all’s well with them. Hugs all around and special pats to our herd’s southern furry friends! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Mary, and stay in touch.

    Linda and Clyde

  6. Dear Clyde and Linda,

    Everyone is well here, thank God. TOLD you you weren’t through with adding to your herd! :-)

    Don’t worry, we’ll keep in touch.

    Merry Christmas to you and all yours, and a Happy New Year, too.


  7. Good to read of your happenings. Wishing you both well and all of the wonderful joys of the season. Continue to mend sounds like your treatments are spot on.
    Best Wishes

  8. Joyce, I am really going to miss reading of your and Mary’s exploits and life experiences in Panama. I hope the massage continues to give you relief from the sciatica and that you and Mary continue to prosper and enjoy living in such an unusual and special place.

    Merry Christmas Ladies,

    Billie Rhea Seaton

  9. Thanks, Mary. Your photos are wonderful, by the way! :-)

  10. Thanks, Billie, and have a wonderful Christmas as well. Keep well and let me know how you’re doing.


  11. Joyce,
    I will miss your reports on the area. I do understand what a grind it can be.
    Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.
    Take care,

  12. Thanks, Jim,

    It was fun and interesting to me for a long time, but yes, that’s a good way of putting it–it became a grind, a chore. But do bookmark the weather site, as Mary does a great job of keeping that up.

    It has been the best Christmas in decades so far–I just hope others are having as good a season. Thanks for your good wishes–and igualmente to you and yours! :-)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: