Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guns in schools

I realize that this is outside my usual posting of things about our life in Belize, but I don't know how else to express my extreme sadness about the recent shootings in the US.  It was upsetting enough to hear of a gunman in Clackamas Town Center in our home state of Oregon, but I'm still having trouble trying to fathom the devastating  deaths of those sweet children in Connecticut.  There don't seem to be any real answers to one human thinking he has the right to destroy another, especially children.  

Now we get a solution from those deep thinkers in the NRA, stating that the answer is to put guns in the schools.  Right!  Can you imagine the fear that those guns will create?  What message will that send to our children?  Guns are the answer to everything?  How do you tell a child to run from someone with a gun, but trust the people in the halls with guns?  How do you know that the person guarding the school with a gun isn't the one who's going to go off and use it? 

This puts me in mind of a dilemma that my husband dealt with as a mall Santa for several years.  Parents would get so upset when their little one cried when forced to sit on Santa's lap.  A child just knows that they don't know this strange man and Mom & Dad have told them to be afraid of strangers.  Now Mom's upset that the child cries.  This is Santa for lands sake.  No he's not, he's a big stranger.   How about someone with a gun?

There isn't a perfect answer in this unperfect world , but it seems to me that locking the schools from the outside and monitoring who comes in would be a better answer.  Even years ago when I attended school, we had bar door openers that allowed children to go out, but were locked from the outside.  I'm not sure about the effectiveness of gun control, but  can't fathom any reasonable answer for anyone to have an assault rifle or machine gun.  Target shooting isn't enough justification.  What's the purpose?  They're just designed to kill people.   I sure don't have an answer, but I do know that we can't let our children grow up surrounded by guns.  Please don't destroy the rest of childhood from our children. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yellow-jaw / fer de lance

We've cleared or underbrushed about three acres around our house as a deterrent to the snakes.  I've taken a somewhat cavalier attitude about this, since we've only seen one snake in that space and it was a rat snake, which was huge, but they're not a threat.  The parameters of that comfort zone just diminished a lot when Rene had a confrontation with a yellow-jaw.   Rene has worked in the bush for most of his life and has killed about 50 of these snakes, but the closeness of this call truly upset him.  

In the early part of the morning Rene was using a new machete down a row that had been cleared for mahogany's.  The new machete made a ringing sound as it hit.  We're assuming that this sound attracted the snake as it struck the machete as Rene swung to cut vines.  There's a mark on the blade about 8" from the handle where the fangs struck.  Thankfully Rene is familiar with their habits, so he threw the machete to detract the snake.  The yellow-jaw doesn't usually chase you and this one remained in place.  Rene then grabbed a large stick that he'd just cut and used it to kill the snake.  He came to the house to get some water as he was shaken and then went back and brought it up to the house to show us.  Wow! A couple of years ago he'd shown us a small snake, but this one seemed huge.  It was a male, about 5' long and as big around as my arm.  Ick, ick, ick!  I'm not one to go running and screaming, but this guy gave me the chills.  It wasn't so much the looks of the snake, but the fact that I'd just walked Bailey down those paths the day before, really gave me the creeps.  I'm usually busy talking to Bailey and daydreaming.  I do carry a small knife and walk with a good diamond willow stick, but I'm not nearly cautious enough.  The thing that really creeped me out was that the snake that we tho't was dead, moved.  Yuck!  Rene, bless his heart, killed the snake and then burned it to keep anything from coming in contact with the venom. 

I've learned a lot about the habits of these snakes from Rene, but anyone can be bitten.  He identified this snake as a male because the tail was short.  The female tail is long and whiplike.  He also told us that if you see one coiled, you follow the direction of the head and the other will be about 25' away on that line.  He looked for the second snake, but didn't find it.  A lot of our neighbors are clearing lots and lines so we suspect that this snake was moving.  Whatever, I'm not going to wander into the bush, but will stay to the road and our open, cleared areas.  Bailey isn't a help either because he's a hunter and has a nose to the ground, trailing anything and everything.  If he ran loose he'd probably be dead the first day as he isn't afraid of anything and doesn't know the ways of the bush. 

These confrontations are wake-up calls to all of us that there are dangers in the bush, but if you're vigilant there's fantastic beauty too. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The old Trooper

Life for most of us seems to be one step forward and two backwards.  Our current dilemma centered around our 1990 Trooper.  She's old, has nearly 300k miles on the odometer and looks like she's ready to collapse at any minute.  But the truth is that she's straight and just keeps trudging along.  (kindred spirit?)  Our road (which we're hoping will be repaired soon, Belize time) has taken it's toll on both of our cars.  The Trooper steering has become pretty loose and the front end sounds gave me the feeling that her parts were going to head in separate directions at any minute.  Also, the brakes would occasionally fade.  Not a good sign.  With a heavy heart we took her to Herman Peters in Santa Elena.  This was our first visit to Herman, but our good friend, Dave, has been taking cars there for years so we gave him a try. They pulled the front wheels off and gave the front end a tug.  Aha, everything was loose and rattled.  They started rattling off the parts that would be needed and I was getting a huge sense of doom.  These parts couldn't be used, had to be new.  More doom.  Art looked at me and shook his head.

We keep the Trooper as an extra vehicle, Rene uses it on the weekends for family errands and we like it to sit in the yard as evidence that someone is home, even when we're not.

The fellows phone around and priced parts.  We decided that we had to  go ahead and keep her running.  The incredible part is that Herman had all the repairs done the afternoon of the next day.  They replace most of the front end, the master cylinder and rear brake pads for, drum roll please, $660BZ.  Yes, that's $330US.   Can you imagine what it would have cost in the US? It was a sad hit to our limited bank account, but we're blessed that we had it.   The little champ trudged home minus lots of her rattles and brakes working great.  She may not be pretty, but she is a Trooper.    Blessings,   Gale

Monday, December 10, 2012


I know I've said this before, but we've finished most of the projects we could manage and are now faced with TIME.  I've worked at a job, not a career, most of my life and am figuring out who I am.  You'd think by now I'd have it figured out.  I'd love to garden, but my attempts have been futile.  My brother sent down lots of flower seeds from the States and absolutely none of them germinated.  I really miss my trailing petunias, pansies and lobelia.  The only bedding flowers that seem to thrive here are zinnias and impatiens.  I am thrilled tho' with my hibiscus and bougainvillea.  Being from Oregon, these are so exotic. 

I'm also in a quandary about cooking.  I'm not a great or inventive cook and I really miss the foods that I knew.  We definitely have gringo tastes.  Strange that we don't get peas down here.  I finally found some frozen and won't make that mistake again.  The package was hard as a rock and when thawed the peas were grey and as ugly as canned.  Ick!  I've tried to grow a vegetable garden, but the bugs and critters defeated my efforts.  I'm going to see if I can cobble together some kind of a raised garden and give it another try on a very small scale.  

I think right now I'm just missing family and familiar things.  We have a few wonderful friends, but I think about how either of us will handle the farm if left alone.  Not a lovely tho't, but realistic.  I have also talked to our oldest grandson and he's graduating from high school a little early (January) and has enlisted in the Air Force.  He's such a treasure.  We spent several years with him and his brother with us much of the time and now he's grown up.  I know he'll do wonderfully in whatever he chooses, but we miss them all so much.  Be prepared, if you choose to move away from your family.  Emails are wonderful, as are phone calls, but they don't replace hugs, laughter and shared moments.   

Well enough of this sitting here on a lovely day and feeling blue. I have to take the old Trooper in for repairs and then back home and maybe dig in the dirt.   We are blessed, I just have to remember it.