Wednesday, December 29, 2010

After Christmas

We had an extremely quiet Christmas, but managed just fine. Nice to have friends to visit. Didn't hear much from our family, but know that everyone is very busy. We're still in the midst of a cold spell that has been going on for over a month. As I've said before, it sounds wimpy to complain when the temp gets down to 40 here, but that's really cold in the tropics. Last night we had two extra blankets on the bed and closed the shutters. We layer. Two sweatshirts in the morning and then shed them down to a t-shirt in the afternoon. It hasn't rained during this same period, which is a little bit of a concern. This is usually a really rainy time. Hope it rains soon to fill the rotoplas' that I use for laundry. The big cistern is still nearly full, so no real worries. We're extremely conservative in our water and electricity use. Since we had never lived off grid before, we weren't sure how to judge our usage. At this rate we could have put in a regular toilet instead of the composting one. Would have been cheaper and more comfortable. It's all a learning experience.

We are struggling to keep machinery working. One of the good things about the cold, dry spell is that things aren't growing very fast. We have a big weedeater in for repair (has been there for 5 months) and our regular one bit the dust today. It started life as a Truper (made in Mexico) and later the engine was replace with a Homelite. I guess you can only squeeze so much life out of them when they just give up. Bearings jammed and it welded itself into a non-usable lump. With tears and a nearly empty bank account, we had to buy a new one. Found a "deal" on a mid priced one, bro't it home and the darned thing won't start. Art went back to the store and THEY WERE CLOSED! THEY CLOSE ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. It's all right. This is Belize. Get a grip, Gale. Tomorrow is another day.

I did paint a couple of watercolors the last couple of weeks. Nothing great, but nice to get back into something creative besides weeds. I keep thinking I'll break loose and create something bright and splashy, but always end up with realistic something.

I've been hesitant to say that I planted another garden. Moved it down the hill where the marl isn't so close to the surface. Most things are doing ok, but the cold is taking a toll. I'm dragging hoses down there and watering from the gray water tank. That's our shower and dishwater water. Like I said, we're very conservative. I don't sprinkle, but put water only on the ground, not on the plants themselves. I planted carrots and yellow onions and nothing came up. Two weeks ago I planted more of the same seed and they're doing great. This time during the full moon. If I actually get something from this garden I'll post photos and, of course, will have to brag. Isn't it weird to plant a garden in December. My Oregon brain has a little trouble with some of this. Of course, where were lived in the mountains, we couldn't have a garden at all, so this is really a treat.

Ok, I've babbled enough for now. I'm going to dig out some photos I took of interesting fungus that were out before this cold spell hit. More soon. Gale

Saturday, December 18, 2010


It doesn't seem like Christmas this year. Last Christmas Art was Santa for about 650 children in a sweet little restaurant called "Mom's". Sadly Bill closed it down a few months ago. It will just be us this year. Just had a call from a dear friend and we'll have a get-together with several friends this Wednesday. We're so pleased.

I really miss Christmas in Bend and the States. What a storybook place with snow and living Christmas trees all around. Every Christmas, in our house in Oregon, I loved putting lights on the outside of our lovely log home and decorating the inside with a tree, garlands on the stairs and the decorations we've acquired in 50 years of marriage. It was always lonely in a way, as Art was a professional Santa, so was gone from Thanksgiving until just after Christmas. I loved being close to our daughter and two of our grandson's and sometimes spending it with our son and his three children and my brother & sister-in-law. I sure miss all of them.

Christmas is so different here in Belize. It's almost a non-event. Few decorations, people in shorts and flip-flops and almost no mention of Christmas. You can say what you want about commercialism in the States, but what a wonderful time of year. Decorations, music and folks dashing around, trying to find the perfect gift for loved ones. Sharing gifts, food and love can't be all that bad. We're also reminded so often that it's really a celebration of the birth of Christ. I guess here it's more of a private acknowledgement. We try to give our neighbors children a little treat, but don't even hear a "Merry Christmas" from anyone. You don't appreciate the generous hearts of Americans until you're away from it and you realize that the whole world doesn't feel the same way. How sad and how proud I am to be an American, even tho' we live in Belize.

I hope you all have a lovely holiday and are able to share it with loved ones. I know our weather here is lovely, but there's something incredible about snow and lights and generous spirits at Christmas.

Blessings and Merry Christmas.
Gale & Art

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shopping in Belize

This can be EXTREMELY frustrating. I dream of strolling thru Home Depot and Costco with their neat shelves stacked with goods and materials made for the U.S., with instructions in English. Here, it is only a dream. The reality can drive you slightly nuts. We're in the process of plumbing our guest bathroom and planned to install an on-demand, gas hot water heater. We have one in our house and, at the time, we had no trouble finding one. This time, it was like a conspiracy. We traveled to Spanish Lookout first, as the bastion of all things in the hardware line. (Isn't that a hoot that the Mennonites market the best machinery?) Well, this time, the only heaters to be found were huge, ranging from $1,000 on up. Wow, this is for a room that is rarely used and then only for a sink and shower. Come on guys! We used to hear this when we lived in a little coastal town in Oregon - "We just sold the last one and we're not sure when we'll get more." SCREAM! Yesterday I went to every shop & store in San Ignacio and Santa Elena and no one sells ANY hot water heaters. OK, the trips weren't a total loss as I/we had to go anyway to buy more fittings that we didn't get previously. All this is frustrating tho', because I burned $20 worth of gas in two trips to town. Please, don't tell me have to go to Belize City to get one. I really hate that trip and that town. Another problem is that, we have yet to see a phone book anywhere, so we have to gather phone numbers as we visit places. I found the number for Builder's Hardware in Belmopan and gave them a call. It's about 40 miles there and I'm tired of burning gas for a wasted trip. Hallelujah, they had only one, a 6 liter heater for $380. I practically scream at the fellow on the phone, hold it for me. Today, we traveled to Belmopan, and returned with our prize.

We're having Carlos, Rene's youngest son do the plumbing. He usually works in Placencia, but there isn't work for them right now. It's so nice to not be climbing on the ladder and trying to figure out what goes where. This time I'm just the gofer. Within an hour of returning with our purchase, Carlos had it installed and water running. Oops, we forgot the gas line and regulator for the butane. Oh well, another trip to town, but we're almost done. Whew!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just wandering around the place

It's still hard to wander around our little Dreamer Farm when the temp is in the 70's and realize that it's so cold up north. I love the blue vine that winds itself around our veranda, with the double hibiscus at the bottom. We've cut the brush in about an acre below the houses and are creating paths and planting for our "park". Right now it's not that impressive, but it is a quiet refuge where you can look up at the trees and watch the birds. We've planted some dwarf palms near a winding path that I created. I'll add more plants and flowers as we get them. I was going to have Art bring back some impatience seeds as they love the shade, but then I realized that it's December in Oregon and they're selling snow shovels and mittens rather than seeds. I'd love to hit the local nurseries, but the budget is a little tight, so will see what I can snip and start from scratch.

As Rene chopped and cleared, he'd find medicinal plants and I asked him to save them. He tells me how each can be used, but I'm a very poor student. He laughs when I tell him that his wonderful stories tend to go in one of my ears and falls out the other. I feel like the little boy who said "teacher, I need to go home because my brain is full." I'm trying to write some of it down. He knows so much of the Mayan methods. I'm trying to come up with a way of labeling these plants so that we don't accidentally cut them down. I'd like to get a printer and put together a book of photos and a map of where things are.

These are just random photos. The darker single hibiscus is near our guest house. The photos doesn't show the deep red center very clearly. The light purple bougainvillea is a dwarf plant and now full size.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Art's home

Art made is safely back on Friday. What a shift in gears he had to make. From nearly 4' of snow in our back yard in Oregon to 70 degree weather here. He had a safe, but long trip back with 18 hours of travel time due to long layovers in San Francisco and Houston. I had to have William of Belize Shuttle pick him up at the airport as I'm, once again, struggling with a broken tooth. I had a temporary in place, but it fell out Thursday evening. Luckily she could get me in Friday morning for a replacement. Get a permanent filling on Tuesday and then a crown. Luckily, it's not hurting me as it seems to have missed the nerve. Bailey is sure glad to see Art. He was wonderful company when Art was gone, but I could tell that he was confused that his special person was missing. He now seems content that his family is back in place again.

I'm excited to hear that my brother, sister-in-law and two of my cousins will visit us in Feb. In over a year, this will be our first visit from family. We'll be busy sprucing up the place.

Right now, I wish we had visitors to share the wonderful smell outside. There's a tree that has tiny blooms on it that smells wonderful. It's such a tall tree that we can't really see the blooms, but they fall to the ground and create a beautiful carpet. We're also starting to see some of the migrating birds from the north. Caught a glimpse of a toucan today, heading for a trumpet tree, but they're too fast to photograph. Rene stopped by with the Trooper today and brought a bunch of plants to add to our "park". He's so proud of it and wants to help make it pretty. As soon as I can get some decent photos, I'll share with this blog. He told me that when he worked on Friday, he saw 4 Great Curassaw birds cross our yard. They're seldom found here, but he thinks that Hurricane Richard pushed them here from the Tikal area. He's heard that the Ocellated Turkey has also been seen in the area. Talk about a funny looking bird. It has a bright blue neck and then bright orange bumps on it that look like pieces of plastic. Don't you just love the bright colors of the jungle birds?

I know reading my ramblings would be more interesting with photos, but right now I've not had much luck. Will try to be more obliging soon.

Hugs from the jungle, Gale

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Art in Oregon

Poor Art, I talked to him last evening and the snow is still falling. Over 2' and more coming down. He spends most of his spare time with the snow blower. Our house is about 25 miles south of Bend, Oregon, across Lave Butte, adjacent to Sunriver. (Not in the resort as their rules and costs would drive us crazy). We're at an elevation of 4200'. Bend is closer to 3200'. Anyway, Art went to Bend yesterday and there wasn't any snow there. Our place is the perfect location for skiers as Mt. Bachelor ski area is less that 1/2 hours away, but can be tough on us. It is extremely beautiful there tho' and our handbuilt log house is like a lovely small ski lodge. Oh well! Art will be glad to get back here to our 60 to 80 degree days. (I know there's a degree symbol somewhere under one of these keys, but I don't know where). Bailey and I will sure be glad to have him back here, safe and sound.

I'll post more about Belize, but right now it's just maintenance and putting one foot in front of the other. We sure can't complain about our weather here tho'.

Blessings, Gale