Thursday, January 27, 2011

trim colors

Yes, I'm still struggling with bronchitis, but doing ok as long as I'm up here, away from folks where I can cough and complain and no one to hear me except poor Art, Bailey and the birds. The trouble with bronchitis is that it takes so long to go away.

In the meantime, I've decided to spruce up a little of the trim on the buildings. Not going to paint too much, but the screen doors on the house are getting mungy (not sure if that's a real word, but they are anyway) and the trim on the little house looked really bad. To paint something here in the tropics, I think you have to use the pretty local colors. If you look at the bright green and then the bush you see that green everywhere. The lovely peach color on the little house, is actually around in the trees and is called papaya down here. Have used more of the blue on the guest house on the inside of one room and the bathroom, but love it on the little bench. Love the crumby table on the guest house veranda. Got if for $15bz at an auction and it's perfect for jigsaw puzzles. Now we just need guests. LOL!

Just want to let you know that we're still here. Art is in town getting a new cord put on the generator. Things sure wear out fast here. Life can be tough and we're getting our share right now, but the sun, warm breezes and wonderful folks help us to keep plugging away and to enjoy these beautiful colors.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just another day in paradise

Hi guys,
Nothing exciting happening here. Art's been keeping our new weedeater busy, trying to keep up with the weeds. We don't have grass, but actually some of the weeds are low growing and make a presentable lawn. It's hard to grow grass up here because of the hot, dry spells and we don't have expendable water for sprinklers.

I'm spending most of my time trying to spruce up the place, preparing for a family visit. Pretty exciting as this will be our first company in 1 1/2 years. I'm anxious to share our wonderful place with them and also let them see that we've not totally lost our minds. I'm painting some of the trim on the houses. Hadn't planned to, but the weather and wear & tear have made some of it look shabby. (I'll add a couple of photos later)

One of the reasons for my silence is that I'm, once again, struggling with bronchitis. Had hoped that I'd left this behind in the mountains of Oregon, but not to be. Not sure if it's the humidity or what, but sinus trouble haunts everyone and for me, it leads to bronchitis. Darn! I keep going, but have to push myself. I'm drinking lemon grass (fever grass) tea hoping it will help.

Never fear, dear friends, we're here just plugging away. I'll share more in a couple of days.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Wow, from my fingers to God's hear. Not quite. They've been predicting rain for about 3 weeks, but none appeared until Tuesday night. We're not getting lots of rain, just sporadic and quite a stiff breeze.

Sandy, bless her heart, sent me a comment about the fact that the rainy season is actually during summer months. That's because that's the hurricane season. It doesn't rain really often then, but when it does it comes down in buckets. (I have to tell you that most of my info comes from Rene, who has lived here all his life and has taught me so much about the land). During December, January it is often overcast and there are periods of drizzle. That's the good time to plant a garden. The dry spell was devastating to lots of gardens. Not sure how long this cloudy spell will last, but we do appreciate the little bit of rain.

Well, I'm off to the dentist. I get my crown put on today. I think I already mentioned that we have a wonderful dentist here who is gentle and VERY reasonable. My crown cost $350bz total. In Oregon they're $1k US at least.

Have a great day dear friends. Gale

Monday, January 10, 2011


I know the weather in the U.S. is really awful in some places. Unusually cold and lots of snow. I just looked at the road cams in Central Oregon. Lots of snow and cold. I loved the snow when we had lots of wood stacked outside and food stocked up. I could just savor the beauty of it all in the mountains. It is always a time of worry tho' about folks driving in icy conditions. Sunriver is a resort area and folks visit who are there to have a good time skiing and enjoying the winter, and have no concern for the hazardous road conditions.

Our concern here is Belize is just the opposite. We're having the most gorgeous weather, which I'm sure the tourists are enjoying. It's in the 80's during the day and high 50's at night. Sounds ideal, but our big worry is that this is supposed to be the rainy season. Usually it rains most of December and on into January. We haven't had rain for several weeks. The ground is dry and cracking and any of the trees have started to lose their leaves. We do have the morning mists, but they're not enough to provide water to the earth. Farmers have planted beans and corn, staples here, and what has sprouted is drying up. The Mennonites are trying to irrigate some fields, but most will be a loss. I hear that the government is trying to find sources outside of Belize to get folks thru this tough year. Prices will go soaring. Because of the weather and struggling economy here, most of the population is out of work. I worry about how families can survive.

We're extremely conservative in our water and electricity use. When we came down we were prepared to have our cistern go dry, so we developed ways of recycling our water. We collect our gray water in a tank (this is from showers and washing dishes) and use that to water plants. We also use composting toilets. As is turns out, our 10k gallon cistern is still 90% full. This dry weather will be a test for our usage. If we continue to maintain our water supply, we may opt to install a regular toilet here in our house. I have to say we're not fans of the Biolet toilet system. We much prefer the homemade composting toilet in the guest house. Anyway, right now we're just concerned about water.

We had standing water in a spot near my garden. This is curious as we're at the top of a ridge. The ground slopes down quite seriously behind the guest house. Art & Rene decided to dig down to determine the source of the water. Rene dug a hole about 3' across and maybe 4' deep and water is leaking below the topsoil at the top of the marl. The water is clean and odorless. Rene remembers as a boy they used to hunt in this area and there was a spring fed stream around here in the bush. When our "ship comes in", what a laugh, we'd like to dig a well and hopefully supplement our water supply.

Moving to Belize is such a fantastic experience. To develop our little place with limited funds and off-grid is a little like pioneering. Of course they didn't have solar, so we know we're pretty lucky. We also couldn't do most of the work on the land without our good friend, Rene. He's a wealth of information and common sense and he works extremely hard. He's so proud of what we've all accomplished here and doesn't hesitate to take credit for much of our success.

This seems to be a very confused year weather wise, everywhere. None of the usual conditions are happening. I hope the spring (that's for the U.S, there really isn't a spring here) will bring a gentleness back to the land for all of us. We're praying for a little rain here before the expected dry season hits.
Blessings, Gale

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Aracari - little toucan

This little fellow visited a few days ago and I tho't it might be interesting for anyone who doesn't get the opportunity to see the differences, to see the little toucan also. I've found that the keel-billed toucan stays high in the canopy, where the Aracari has come down to eat berries very near the house. This little one visited the same trumpet trees as the big toucan. Wish we had lots of fruit trees so that we'd see them more often. I'm just pleased and excited about these visits. Even tho' folks here call it the "little toucan" it's still a fairly good sized bird at about 16". The keel-billed can be about 21". (I love my "Birds of Belize" book).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finally, toucan photos

I've been so frustrated trying, first to catch a glimpse of our toucans and then to try to get a photo. They fly in and vanish into the trumpet trees. My photography skills leave a lot to be desired, but I keep trying. I'm slow and so is my camera, but today I finally got a shot of our elusive friend. He seems to come in and just get one piece of fruit and then fly off, out of sight. It's hard to realize that so many incredible birds visit our yard. I'm including a couple of less than perfect photos to show the colors on the body. What an incredible gift.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Ok! Like I told you, I keep thinking I'll break out of my rut, but I keep trudging away, doing my birds and critters. I do love them tho'. Maybe I'll surprise myself and try something different next time.

I don't see many watercolors down here, probably because the humidity is so hard on paper. They would all have to be archival matted and framed to keep out the moisture. Also, the truly frustrating thing is that, at least here in the Cayo District, I have yet to find a place to buy supplies. Got excited when I passed a place in Belmopan called the Art Box. Silly me! It's full of ticky tacky and not much else. Oh, a few of Caroline Carr's painting on the 2nd floor. Doubt that an art supply store would do a booming business, but sure wish someone would be able to stock paints, brushes, etc. Luckily I bro't quite a bit when we moved, so can keep busy, when my lazy bones get ambitious.

Happy New Year

Hard to believe that it's 2011. Seems as tho' the millennium was only a couple of years ago. Hope this is a good year for all of us. We stayed home for New Year's eve and watched a couple of videos. It's hard to go to sleep early here because they celebrate everything with fireworks. Not pretty ones, just noisy. We did have a great time yesterday tho'. I decided to make pizza and ten of us had a great time just visiting, eating and generally enjoying our lovely weather. (Sorry all you up north). It's now gotten quite warm and today is threatening rain. It's still warm with a wonderful breeze. It was hard to make the pizza because we have a really small oven, but managed just fine. Lots of lovely desserts found their way up also, so we were all pleasantly stuffed.

Today was back to normal with laundry and watering the garden. The really tough part was then sitting down and reading a really good book for the rest of the day. I truly savor not marching to the demands of the clock and employers.

Happy 2011 dear friends.