On the rock, we have sunny days and cloudy days. We also have “clean” days and “dirty” days.

A clean day means I take a shower, wash my hair, and put on clean – if not pressed – clothes. The impetus for such rare occasions is usually an invitation to have lunch out with  the “girls.” Why waste all that personal hygiene on my husband? (OMG, did I really say that? Well, we’ve been together a long time. Besides, he cleans up as infrequently as I do.)

It’s not as if we don’t have running water. We even have hot water – at least when the power is on or the generator is running. It’s not as if we shower outdoors, although we have two of those, and it’s lovely – if you like cold water. It’s just that life is so laid-back here that getting clean – really, really clean – consumes a considerable amount of psychic energy. Too much energy, in my opinion.

Consider all the steps involved:

  • Embark on a shower with water pressure not much stronger than a 4-year-old’s tinkling
  • Shampoo hair, rinse, apply conditioner, rinse
  • Shave (if the razor hasn’t rusted since my last shower)
  • Dry off (if there’s an inch of skin still wet)
  • Put on deodorant (if it hasn’t solidified)
  • Brush teeth, remembering not to swallow water from the cistern, abode of frogs and snakes
  • Check chin for emerging whiskers
  • Apply moisturizer and sunscreen
  • Blow-dry hair and hope you don’t blow a fuse
  • Put on eye make-up (if it hasn’t mildewed or melted)
  • Put on underwear after checking for scorpions or sand burs (ooooh!)
  • Find clothes that can at least be Febreezed into smelling less moldy
  • Apply clothes to a body already smelling suspicious
  • Search for shoes that still fit feet flattened and enlarged by going barefoot all the time

So many steps! So much time!

todaying meme

In my previous life, when I had a career, lived in a home with central air, and resided on paved streets in cities with stoplights, I was accustomed to morning routines that involved  all that or more. Every day I wore a designer suit, white blouse, pantyhose, 2.5-inch heels,  and several pounds of silver jewelry. I’d turn around and drive back home if I’d left the house without earrings. If I’d forgotten mascara, I’d buy it at a drugstore on the way to work and apply it in the company restroom. Now that scenario seems as distant as bell bottoms and tie-dyed shirts. All that rigamarole is jarring to the island soul.

Far more comfortable – and frequent – are the “dirty” days, when I roll out of bed, sweep my hair into a ponytail, slip on rubber clogs, and head outside to work in the yard, my favorite hobby. Sometimes, truth be told, I sleep in a T-shirt and shorts and go from mahogany bed to flower bed without changing at all. I’ve even been known to run to the local grocery in my pajamas.

My work clothes usually consist of paint-splattered, mud-stained cotton slacks, a color-gone T-shirt with more holes than a colander, an old Cleveland Indians baseball cap, mismatched socks, and Timberland work boots without laces. I look like a cross between a homeless person and an electric company lineman.

The heavy boots are perfect for digging holes and shoveling dirt. Here, homes are built on sand dunes, coral, or a combination of the two. So good rich dirt is hard to come by. My husband Dave just shook his head when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas one year.

“Black dirt,” I replied.

I was tickled to return to the island after the holidays to find a beautiful, soft mound of dark, rich dirt behind the generator.

dirt love

I try to not mix my clean days and dirty days. Why waste all the effort to get clean in the morning, only to play in the dirt after lunch? Why short-change a productive day of gardening by cleaning up midday? It’s much more efficient to keep clean days and dirty days separate, I’ve found.

However, there is a perverse progression from clean to dirty days. A shirt that’s freshly laundered is perfect for going out to lunch or dinner – on top of a clean body, of course. After that, it’s good for going to the grocery store, island farm, or nursery. Then the shirt’s cleanliness quotient heads downhill to the point that it’s suitable for cleaning the bathrooms. Finally, it’s bearable only for working in the yard.

Thus, the cycle begins anew. With a caveat: I’ve been known to put off washing a shirt by turning it inside out to get one more day’s wear out of it before washing. Or maybe two. After all, what would a dirty day be without a truly dirty T-shirt?

–   –   –

Do you have clean days and dirty days in your island life? Or do the two generally tend to merge into a type of “Island Casual“?

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

Eleuthera, Bahamas

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


“Why can’t you live in Alaska?”

That’s what Kay’s dermatologist asks her with annoying regularity. But despite removal of at least a dozen skin cancers (and half her bottom lip), Kay and her husband continue to live on Eleuthera, where the Bahamian government promises 300 days of sunshine a year.

Kay loves the tranquility of her island home, even though she rarely has electricity, water, phone, and cable at the same time. Three out of four is a good day indeed. (Maybe she shouldn’t even count the phone; sometimes weeks can go by before she makes or receives a call.)

She goes to great lengths to avoid inside chores like cleaning or cooking. So she works in the yard, washes windows, and paints while her husband does the grocery shopping and food prep. The role reversal works nicely, even though it confounds some of their Bahamian friends.

Driving a poppy-red pick-up, sporting work boots, and wielding a machete, Kay often hunts in the bush for native plants. She’s a little more careful these days, after having been caught on video camera “tiefing” (uh, stealing) plants from the yard of a home she thought was abandoned.

Gardening is her passion (aside from three grandsons stateside), but for fun she’s also been known to watch ants and converse with her pet curly-tailed lizard, who stops by the screened porch every morning for his share of her granola bar.

(And she isn’t sun-stupid. Despite residing on a pink sand Atlantic beach, she does appease her doctor by wearing a perpetual coating of SPF 60 sunscreen.)

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