Tag Archives: Copyright © 2016 Mitchell Geller

Flutterby House



One doesn’t grow old in Costa Rica, they grow young again. This is a “blue zone” country where life expectancy is enlarged to accommodate her Pure Life slogan to its maximum potential. This is a place to water your roots and revive the child within. Arrive and thrive…

Costa Rica, whose main source of income is tourism. The large population of ex-pats who live here full or part time contribute to its health. Such is the case with the Flutterby House near Uvita. Pam, a gringa from California, conceived her hostel concept while traveling and opened in 2009. Joined later by her sister, Kim, the place is in full swing now. Bar, restaurant, walk to the beach… Tropical everything, where it’s always Summer—rain or shine, night and day, all year long. The volunteers are priceless. The grounds are kept immaculately clean. Exotic plants line the pathways to wooden cottages and tree houses. Ping pong and corn hole games are in play. Quiet conversations are held on chairs swinging under a tree house. Books are read on hammocks in the shade, or at a table over a fresh sandwich and cold drink. A group clothesline drapes towels and swimsuits to remain perpetually damp in the humidity. With a slight breeze, they are playthings for the kitten.

From what I’ve seen, twenty-somethings are the bulk of Flutterby’s business. That’s my daughter’s generation. It was only recently I learned that in order to be “up” for something I now need to be “down” for it. With this international crowd there’s no need for lexicon updates, we’re all too busy trying to understand each other’s accent, or their limited English, or our crappy Spanish, or all of the above with a few beers mixed in (or maybe that’s just me). We’re here to rejuvenate ourselves, right? I’m down for being up for a party!

Whew, I had to rest my eyes for a minute. I leaned back on the couch and saw a replay—a short vid clip in my head—of a girl walking up (or down) the street. It was pouring rain when we left Flutterby that Saturday after softball, making us run to the car. Fat drops slapped the windshield as she made her way toward the hostel, as if emerging from beneath a waterfall. For the sake of my companions, I poked the driver as he fiddled with his seat belt, “Quick, windshield wipers!”

She walked leisurely, oblivious to the downpour. It’s the tropics. Having just come from the nearby beach, you’re in your bikini already. The fresh water rinses your hair and body of salt. With a bar of soap, you could be showered before you walk in the door. If it were me, I’d drip dry at the bar with a shot of Irish whiskey, neat please (but I’m not in a bikini). Even though this girl had a beautiful, swaying walk about her, it was her expression that caught my eye. Was she really as “in the moment” as she appeared? It’s something I’ll never know, but to sense its presence is perhaps good enough to go by.

My wife wouldn’t have had that vid clip in her head, but she may have one of that hunky Dutch guy with the intricate tattoos, ripped abs and playful accent, but that’s not the point. The point is, you don’t have to be broke to stay there. Flutterby House is a hostel environment (no pun) whose intentions are well defined. Be kind to the Earth. Live simply but comfortably and cleanly. Make wholesome food. Be of good cheer. Be nice. Be close to the surf. Only a short walk away, let the kid in you play softball on Saturday (or come watch). Shed the cocoon of your everyday life and rejuvenate here. As a baby-boomer, I can’t think of a better place to hang out (or in, as the case may be). Thanks, Pam, for making your vision chrysalis clear (pun mandatory).

See for yourself: Flutterby House


Tropical Cancer—Remembrance

“No one is useless in this world who lightens
the burden of it to anyone else.”
—Charles Dickens

I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the past five years. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if all of them had stayed. We’d still have a webmaster, a pilot, a handy-man, a couple more nurses, an EMT, a bee master, a few permaculture specialists, an IT person, a scientist with brilliant ideas, yoga instructors, chefs, massage therapists, various musicians, a psychologist, an extra bartender, a Reverend, over a dozen children, and a couple fire spinners. Some of these people have simply moved on to other places, while some have passed away.

Brad was the first to go. Poor guy… I understand he was manic-depressive or some such thing. He must have been in his forties. Big guy, and somewhat over-bearing. He had trouble wherever he went, it seems. In Sierpe, where he kept his fishing boat, the locals didn’t like him because he owed them money. Brad referred everyone to Gazpacho, saying he’d pay them because Gazpacho owed him money. The locals care more about soup than Gazpacho, of course, and beat the hell out of Brad for stiffing them. He was busted in Jaco for walking out of a store with fishing supplies and telling them he was from the CIA (and to send them a bill). As a matter of principal, the locals beat the hell out of him there, too, then shipped him back to the States. Back in the US, Brad showed up in a Huffington Post sidebar after having gotten busted for skinny dipping in someone’s pool and stealing a car. He told the cops that he only had 100 beers and they promptly hauled him away. At least he didn’t get a beating for it, as far as I know. Not long after, he took his own life.

Then Dan showed up to inspect his newly purchased lot. A very nice man originally from Uruguay and living in the States, a father of two teenage boys, he went in the ocean and never came out. I had just spent an evening with him at the bar the night before, and waved the next day as he drove to the beach. I said Hello, he said Goodbye—giving new meaning to the Beatles song.

My good friend Kevin… a self-diagnosed manic depressive with suicidal tendencies. Medicated in binges, washed down with alcohol, a bad love affair finally pushed him over the edge of a tall mango tree on a short rope. This man was a walking, at times stumbling study in human psychology. Brave enough to look for work in a foreign country and smart enough to teach himself Spanish by watching television and immersing himself in the culture. His intellect was keen, but discipline… that was his challenge, and it led to severe chemical imbalances in his physiology—which directly affects a person’s psychology. I guess things build up over time in a person’s heart and mind, to the point where one feels that no one cares about them so why go on? I cared about you, Kevin, but you were too far gone to ever recover.

Anita had physical problems before she got here and they continued to plague her throughout her stay. She finally returned to the US after her insurance company complained that they needed a test of her water or they’d stop paying her medical claims. Shortly thereafter, she died. The once proud Shaman, who beat the drum for divine inspiration and promoted enlightened communication in an unenlightened world, succumbed to the rigors of her uncooperative body.

Irene passed away suddenly, even though she had a history of physical problems, leaving her husband with a new house in Costa Rica he can hardly bring himself to visit. Poor Harold (her husband)… When he comes to Costa Rica now he is already in tears. When he returns to the States he’s greeted by Lucky, the Tico dog Irene insisted they bring back to Florida. Poor guy can’t make a u-turn without running into himself, and Irene, all over again.

And there was Ron McDonald, whose jeep rolled into a river—killing him and a local girl. Who doesn’t have a story about Ron, one of the funniest persons I’ve ever known? When we first met I admit I snickered at his name. He was okay with that and almost seemed to relish in the humor, which impressed me right away. He was proud his parents named him after an iconic American clown (better than Bozo, which was my nickname in high school). As two clowns, we were instantly compatible. When he told me he was conceived at Woodstock I mentioned that I had been to the concert. He immediately threw his arms out and said “Daddy!”

Ron… you had the whole package, almost (let’s be honest). You could be obnoxious to the humorless, but you were sharp witted, clever, absurd and even brilliant all in one afternoon—in time for happy hour hors d’oeuvres. What you lacked in discipline (at times) you made up for with laughter, personality, character and pura vida in the best possible sense. I hate that you’re gone (I’ll work on it). To imagine myself in your parents’ place is deeply painful. You had quite a heart, hermano. But such is Life, as they say. It’s not your fault. It’s karma, destiny, whatever…

Ron… who would gladly buy the house a round, then put it on someone’s tab he didn’t like. “Fuck ’em!” he’d say, raising a toast (fist bump), and laugh. Ron, who told prospective buyers he was coming to live with them as their son. Ron… fond of women, animals and children (in that order). Ron… for whom no couch, chair, hammock, car seat or kitchen floor was too uncomfortable to sleep on. Ron… at times inappropriate to the point of hilarity. Over the top, irreverent, some say wild, always smiling, kind-hearted, great-souled Ron. I’m going to miss the hell out of you. There’s nothing I can offer to those who miss you except time heals. Ronny was a gift to my life and to many others. We thank your parents for that, Ron. And a big thanks to Max Yasgur, without whom Ronald McDonald may have only been a gleam in his father’s eye.

(Musical interlude: Woodstock, 1969)


The good news, Ron, is there’s still a bartender on the mountain. The bad news is there’s no bar at the moment. For now at least, provide your own merriment and cheer. You were good at that, Ron. You too, Kevin and Anita and Dan and Irene and even you, Brad. Maybe you had personal issues and troubles (or not) but you added to my merriment and cheer. I would add, Mr. Dickens, that to lighten someone’s load is its own reward. He would have loved you all, and grieved after your passing. Rest assured, you are in fine company.

For those who have left the building, memories of lost friends may soon fade like an old photograph. For some of us here, they are as fresh as today’s bok choy. As for the community, there’s a position open for fire spinner. Apply within.

Random Writings—The American Pastime

April, 2016.

Without taking attention away from the Bay Area’s OAKLAND Warriors and their fabulous repeat 2015-2016 season, a season in which they’re better than last year, shattering NBA records along the way, it is the opening week of baseball and there’s a great story that began 140 years ago, in 1876, and continues as the longest story in National League baseball history.

Since then, a time when the Giants had the exceedingly cool name of The New York Gothams, they’ve  played the Dodgers (Brooklyn and Los Angeles) 2414 times. Think about that… If I played softball every weekend it’d take me 46.42 years to play that many games. I’ll be 106.42 years old by then and probably wondering where I am at the moment.

I can see it now, “Where do you want to play, extremely old Mitch?”

“Just a salad, thanks.”

In all that time, the Giants are ahead 1222 to 1192, a difference of 30 games. Runs scored (in about 22,000 innings of ball), Giants 10,483 and Dodgers 10,399, a difference of 84 runs. Giants 653 wins at home, Dodgers 569 at home. The only skewed stat of their storied history is the World Series Championship, where the Giants have won 11 (three this decade) and the Dodgers 6. Year after year, for decades and generations, they’ve pounded each other with devastating, season ending upsets.

So here we are, 2016, only four games into the season and the Dodgers have opened the first three with shutouts. Their pitching card is a list of a dozen guys with 0.00 ERA. With six more scoreless innings they can tie a Major League record set in 1963 for best start without giving up a run. But they’re playing the Giants, in San Francisco. They get five of those innings before the shinola hits the wall. The Giants didn’t just shatter their hope, they scored 12 runs on 17 hits, including a grand slam—something they haven’t done in roughly 125 years! They re-wrote that 0.00 ERA pitching card, chewed it up, spit it out, then peed on it.

Roaring back the next day, the Dodgers put a rookie pitcher on the mound, who proceeded to toss 7 and a third innings without a hit. If he can hang onto a no-hitter, he’ll tie a record for rookies set in 1894. On his 100th pitch, he gives up a walk (barely) and they bring in a reliever. It was the right call by the Dodger manager. The kid left on cloud nine, having totally earned the respect he deserved from both the players and the knowledgable fans. Seven plus no-hit innings in your first game, in a rival park (against an excellent, well managed team), is earning your money. Trainers caution against blowing out a young arm and making a mistake with an investment like a pitcher these days can jeopardize a manager’s career. (Baseball learns from its history.) Cloud nine lasted about five minutes for the young Texan, before another rookie for the Giants crushed a liner over the 382 wall off a 6 foot 13 inch reliever who looked like he was in a hurry to get back to his stromboli in the dugout. It was his first home run in the Majors and it tied the game. Final in 10 innings, Giants win 3-2 on a walk-off homer.

So baseball isn’t only about 162 games in an interminable season; it’s much, much more than that. It’s watched by history, and haunted by countless individual stories.

On the American League side, there’s really only one story and that’s the Yankees. Since 1903, when they were The New York Highlanders, they’ve played 17,576 games and won 10,004 of them. (Skip the math on playing softball once a week. You’ll find you have to play 338 years to catch up to that number. By then, all you’ll be good for is chalk for the base paths.) The Yanks have a lifetime winning record over every team except the Philadelphia Phillies, who are ahead 14 to 13 after only 27 games. (The Yanks are also tied with the Dodgers at 5 games a piece.)

With numbers like the Yankees have, odds are you’re going to lose no matter who you are or where you play. They dominate over nearly all their fiercest rivals by hundreds of games. They have 27 Championships out of 40 attempts. If an overall winning percentage of .569 (skewed by a few tiny numbers) doesn’t put you on your heels, try facing a .675 average in the World Series. This is a team who has retired 22 numbers, most of them Hall of Fame players. If your Field of Dreams were to come alive with Casey Stengel managing Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Mariano Rivera, Babe Ruth, Billy Martin and Yogi Berra, you would have to pick superstars from the rest of the league in order to compete.

If you think this team rests on its laurels of old, it was the 2000 Mets who snapped a Yankees 14 game win streak in the World Series. Fourteen straight wins in the World Series… Who’s going to do that again?

Some may argue that American football is the new national pastime, but it’s got a long way to go to put together a history like baseball has already.

Ref.: http://www.baseball-reference.com/games/head2head.cgi?teams=SFG&from=1876&to=2016&submit=Submit

Aquarius or Armageddon?

Aquarius or Armageddon?

So which is it, The Age of Aquarius or Armageddon? If there was another “stranger in a strange land” come to stay on Earth they’d think this world considerably more bizarre than during Heinlein’s time. I see placards to defund Planned Parenthood because “Abortion Kills a Person” but no signs to defund a military who routinely does just that. The same people who vehemently defend the unborn life can somehow support the death penalty. Save the unborn but fry the adults! Even I think that’s strange, and I’m no stranger to this stranger-than-it-used-to-be world. I read about people who migrate to other countries and command their hosts to change their ways or risk having their families decapitated with a fish knife. Excuse me, what? Is this not excessively rude? There are pharmaceutical companies who spend more time than I do thinking about my boner; doctors more interested in prescriptions than cures; psychos, killers, zombies and embarrassing surreality shows on television; and there are politicians who dismiss man-accelerated climate change as unproven. Government without enlightenment has become no less than willing slavery. With Nero on the fiddle, the world spins toward an untimely demise.

On the other side of the astrological coin is the Aquarian Age, an age some claim we are now entering—consigning Armageddon to no more than a Grimm fairy tale written for dinosaurs. The Age of Enlightenment is characterized by a higher state of human consciousness. A wise man likened this evolution into an enlightened age to that of childbirth—where there’s labor and pain. Mama has to push in order to deliver. There’s blood involved and cords to cut. There’s trauma, and crying to clear the lungs. Let’s face it, it’s gross—but necessary, apparently. (Thanks for that process, God. Why, btw? Character builder? Is it so we can grok the concepts of C’est la vie and It is what it is?) From this process comes the newly born Child of Man who understands that to be metaphysically Still is to be God.

Someone knows what this questionable constellation means as well as anyone who believes Armageddon is around the corner. Everything is true, on some level. In my mind, our time is likely one or the other—or both, with Aquarius following Armageddon (or maybe the other way around). Some day we’ll find out and I’m not sure I want to be around for the event. Like Humpty Dumpty, I’m content to Be Here Now on the fulcrum of Live or Die, the tipping point for either evolution or retribution. My job, at the moment, is to stay balanced.