Monday, October 5, 2009

All things Cayman: We are on island time! (Part II)

_MG_3406-Edit Whether you are a new resident or a tourist enjoying a few hours in Cayman as part of your cruise experience, it likely won't take long until you hear someone say something about "island time". And chances are you will love the concept if you are a tourist, and not always so much if you are a resident from a country in which the concept of island time only applies to students, the retired, or the unemployed.

Island time denotes a certain relaxed outlook on life - hey, it'll still be sunny and warm tomorrow, why do we have to get it done right this minute? Many years ago, I read about a study which concluded that one reason northern countries may have developed into such efficient and 'busy' societies is because they need to get all their work done in half the time that is available to, say, someone sitting on a beach somewhere in southern Greece, Italy or the Cayman Islands. On intuitive level, it certainly makes sense. If winter is breathing down your neck, quite literally, you would of course feel a need to find more efficient ways to complete your projects and stock up on food and fuel before winter. Because if you do not, you may die. In southern Greece on the other hand, if you don't get it done today, there is always tomorrow, so what's the big hurry? Let's sip some ouzo instead.

If anything, it's trying to get it all done today that'll likely kill you because of the darn heat! Which might just be the other reason islanders or those living in very warm climates are more relaxed about things. It's just too hot to be moving around in such a busy fashion. The Spanish knew what they were doing when they started the siesta, something I remember very distinctly from my own time spent in Spain, when the entire city closed down from 2pm to 5pm and the only things moving around the empty streets were stray dogs and sunburnt tourists trying to get in all the sights on their busy schedule....

And so, between having all the time in the world and not being able to physically exert yourself for a good portion of the day, it's no wonder that many a hectic Westerner comes here or a Northern European shows up in Sicily and declares the locals 'lazy', all anthropological niceties aside. But it's a bit like the now famous story about the rich American who runs into a local fisherman relaxing on the beach, and proceeds to tell him about all the things he could be doing to get 'busy' and rich and then he would have all the time in the world, whereupon the fisherman correctly points out that all he would be doing in the end is exactly what he is already doing now....relaxing on the beach.

So it is really a difference of attitudes, isn't it. Judging by this story, the rich American obviously needs the security of money (and status) to achieve a sense of relaxation and enjoyment at some point in the future while the local fisherman is undoubtedly less secure on a material level because he quite literally lives from day to day, yet he seems to have accepted this fact and instead places a higher value on enjoying those hours of the day that are available to him. In the end, both want to arrive at the same place, but the ways in which they go about it are vastly different. And while today's Caymanians are no longer the fishermen of those days, I still notice that contemplative and very dignified streak in some of the older residents I have spoken to.

Which is precisely why I have always found it somewhat interesting that this country would hitch its economic wagon to an industry that could not possibly exist in island time - the global financial industry, where work hours are long (because you must always know what's going in in Singapore), status is important and the money or bonus better be good. Now there's a topic for another day...


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Who ever does things in order.....

....well, definitely not me! I left you off impatient for Part II of things annoying, delightful, different - you name it - about the Cayman Islands, but I decided to take a little detour and post some of my new pictures instead.

I am actually not the photographer in the family, as it is both Richard and Mimi who have been blessed with a great eye. However, living with two people like that, you do inevitably pick up a few things here and there. One of the things I have always wanted to do was to create a portfolio of all my knitted projects over the years, and below are a few samples of my more recent creations.

I was not always an avid knitter, on the contrary, I hated it when I was younger. Back in Austria, girls (not boys) started to learn to knit, crochet, needlepoint, sew etc. in Grade 3. I was completely useless with a needle, and I still remember one of our first sewing projects, a kitchen apron, most of which was done by my mother ... No matter how much I tried and measured, my hems were never straight, and what was supposed to be pretty embroidery looked like the dog had just chewed it. Knitting was not much better, but I must say, I am not impressed that our teacher did not at least try to ease us into the craft by knitting simple things like dishcloths or scarfs. No, we were doing socks and mittens from Day 1, hardly beginner's work.

I found the whole thing extremely frustrating and swore I would never go near a needle again....never.

'Never' came in the 1980's while I was in university and looking for something to do to relax from all that mental work. I actually don't even remember how I got onto knitting again, nor do I remember my first project from back then, but I was hooked and haven't stopped since. My tastes have changed of course, and I would like to think I have become somewhat better at picking out patterns that actually look good on me rather than only on the stick model in the magazine, whose expression suggests the last thing she'd ever do is pick up a knitting needle....

Project: Garnstudio Poncho
This was a bit of a spontaneous project. Usually I research for hours trying to find the perfect pattern and yarn, only to do something completely different when the yarn arrives and I decide it would look much better in another pattern. I have noticed that for me, knitting is not so much a destination but a journey, as I never regret spending time knitting on a garment which I end up unravelling umpteen times (while my husband shakes his head), and I have also noticed that I often enjoy picking out the patterns, yarn and knitting more than I do actually finishing or wearing the garment. Sometimes it's as if I didn't care that I will wear it, ever. I recently found pieces of a jacket, which was about 98% done, with just a few rows left for the sleeve. It appears I lost interest in it and just left it for another day....

But back to the poncho. This was actually knitted from leftover Lana Grossa yarn called New Cotton, and it has a lovely and very soft texture. This poncho was knit up in about two days, and it looks great on just about anyone. (Garnstudio patterns are free, they can be found here: )



Project: Verena Knitting Stripe It Dress

This was knit with Classic Elite Allegoro yarn (it's an organic cotton/linen which is apparently named after Al Gore, a well known environmentalist who was a vice president and presidential candidate in several previous lives....). I paired it up with left over orange/pink cotton yarn. I was not altogether happy with it, as it tends to stretch a lot, but we fixed up nicely for this shot, I think:

Striped Dress1.VerenaKnittingSummer2009

Project: Rowan Poncho
This was one of my few (or was it the only) knitted birthday presents for Mimi. She likes going through my Rowan ( ) magazines, and she mentioned how she liked this little poncho. I managed to get my hands on the exact yarn in the magazine, and knit it the night before her birthday (things just fly with 15mm needles!). She still loves wearing it.