Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bailey's escape

Since we're not doing any building, our lives seem to center on the weather and our road, and the dogs.  With two growing pups it's easy to overlook some of Bailey's signals.  Being an Akita, he's quiet, but extremely opinionated.  We were disappointed, but not surprised that he hasn't been thrilled with the addition of two energetic pups to the family.  He's never aggressive with them, but doesn't tolerate their attentions. 

When we came to Belize, over four years ago, we drove from Oregon to Bullet Tree in our Toyota Tundra.  Bailey was in heaven and loved every minute of the trip.  We bo't this truck specifically so he'd have a comfortable ride.  Now, four years later, we rarely have occasion to take any of the dogs in the truck.  Well, Bailey never forgets and boy did he make it plain.  All of the dogs needed their rabies shots and a general checkup, so we started by loading the pups in the truck and taking them to see Dr. Isabelle and her wonderful interns.  They're so caring and thorough.  Afterwards we stopped to see Peggy at her restaurant and the pups layed down next to us just to show that Irish Setters can have manners.  The next day we loaded Bailey in and repeated our trip.  It's always interesting to see the affect our 135# boy has on others.  He's so quiet, but huge. 

OK, so we've done our best to make things equal, right?  Wrong.  We put the fence collars on the pups first thing each day, but Bailey rarely goes off the veranda unless we take him down with a leash for a walk so we don't usually put the collar on him.  A couple of days after our vet trip, Bailey wandered down off the veranda,  stopped by the truck, looked up at us and calmly walked up the driveway, thru the gate and headed down the road.  It was so obvious that he was mad at us about letting the pups in HIS truck.  If he could talk in human words, he'd have been swearing big time.  Art headed after him, calling his name and I tried to head him off.  Two points.  1 - When he doesn't want to come, Bailey is deaf and just keeps going.  2- Art and I are neither young or very athletic, so our dashing is more of a pathetic toddle, so we didn't stand a chance of catching him.  He veered off down a track thru a neighboring plot.  I went back and got the old Trooper and followed him, worried both about him and Art's stamina. 

Our property is surrounded by bush and this area is owned by a man from El Salvador who doesn't speak English and we don't speak Spanish.  There had also been some problem between this fellow and another neighbor over land rights, so I was intimidated when he approached the Trooper with his machete.  I did my best to try to indicate that we were just trying to find our dog.  Thankfully, just then, Art came out of the bush and Bailey appeared several feet away.  I hoped that this gentleman got the picture.  Darn Bailey, he just looked over his shoulder at us and went back into the bush.   Besides all the critters that are in the bush who can do you harm, Bailey had on his regular collar, which can catch on every vine and bush.  We were so upset, but had no choice but to return home and hope that he'd find his way back.  It was getting dark, so I made food noises (dropping kibble into his metal dish) and eventually he strolled back in and came up the stairs.  I guess he showed us. 

Now, if he's near the truck and the pups come close, he sits by the door, as if to say, it's mine and you're not going. 




Saturday, December 14, 2013

Irish Setters

When we decided to get the Setter pups, we heard comments about them being dumb (how wrong that is) and extremely hyper.  Well that one could apply to Shannon at times.  She's small and thin, no matter how much food she eats, and has lots of energy.  Rusty is much more laid back.  It's been such a blessing to have the fence as they can race around the yard, playing together, burning off some excess energy.  They've picked up on some many things that we say and continually surprise us with their responsiveness.  They both just want to please.  Shannon's one trait that is annoying is that she gets so excited to see someone (anyone) that she jumps up on them.  We're working on breaking her of it, but will take time.  They so much want to give and receive love that they can be annoying, in that they both vie for attention.  Firmness is working to get them to sit and with two hands, they each get a good scratching.  Works for me! 

We're so pleased that we decided to bring these guys into our family.  I can't say that Bailey would agree to that, but he does find his own space and tolerates them, but that's an Akita for you.  I just want to go on record that these Setters, besides being absolutely gorgeous, are smart, loving companions. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Birthday babies

Our beautiful pups turned one year old today.  What a blessing (and maybe a tiny curse) they've both been.  They make me laugh and occasionally want to scream, but their beauty and generous affection has brought so much joy.  I've just been watching them tear around the yard, playing chase.  We've never regretted getting two pups as they play together and keep each other company.  They both love Bailey, but he doesn't really return the feeling.

We finally got them their rabies shots and they're both healthy.  Shannon weighs 44 lbs and Rusty weighs 60 lbs.

The only treat I gave them was a small bag of Cheetos, which they really love.  After all, can't they have junk food just this once.  How often does a guy turn one.  Anyway, Happy Birthday babies and keep those hugs coming.  We love you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three on a clothespin

What a glorious day we're having today.  It rained last night, but today it's in the high 80's with a few clouds and just light breezes.  I'm being a total sloth and loving it.  I've been intrigued by the appearance of tiny hummingbird nests attached to clothespins on our veranda.  They seemed incomplete and I finally took them down.  A few days ago a new nest appeared on the next line.  It's not much bigger than a large egg and beautifully made.  They always seem to include bits of lichen and are beautiful works of art.  


Today, as I sat reading on our porch swing, I caught a glimpse of a hummingbird flying to the nest.  Wow, this one was the real thing.  It took me a long time, trying to stay out of the way, but watching the nest to see that there appeared to be two tiny babies in the nest.  I wish I could get higher to see down into the nest, but am thrilled with the gift I've been given of seeing these tiny beings.  




I hope I'll be able to catch more views of this wonderful little family before the babies leave the nest.  



I feel so fortunate to sit at my computer and watch a little yellow warbler, hear a red-headed woodpecker and in the distance the howler monkeys are letting us know we'll probably get more rain.  This truly is a paradise.  Blessings!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rainy season

It's been raining almost continually for three days.  It's hard to complain as this is the rainy season.  We haven't been down the hill today, but this once again makes me really glad to not live by the river.  It had dropped a little, but all this rain is bringing it back up again.  It's hard to imagine that some local folks take canoes across to get home.  There was one fatality in Succotz of an older fellow trying to cross to his farm.  The water is really roaring.  I've traveled to town several times lately and haven't had any problems with our hill.  I have to thank both the truck and the Trooper and their four wheel drives.  In order to make it past the couple of muddy spots I just put the peddle to the metal and zip up the road.  I'm sure if I drove slower it would just dig in and we'd be stuck.  Anyway, no problems.

We've been thrilled with the new fence for the dogs.  Bailey isn't testing it much as he's never like the rain and definitely doesn't like to get his feet wet.  I think he's also leery of the fence.  We take his special collar off and Art walks him across the fence at the driveway, reassuring him all the time that "it's ok" and they take their walk.   Bailey is so smart, he get's it.  The pups do too as they will follow to a point and then turn around and come back.  I especially liked this Sport Dog system as the collar takes a 9-volt battery, but it's in a sealed, waterproof box. Given our climate and this rainy season, that was a huge selling point.  This particular collar gives us the ability to set each independently.   We also bo't a surge protector.  I questioned our electrician about that and he highly recommended it.  We get so many storms passing by and we want to be sure that the collars aren't affected.  He told me that if you can hear the thunder, there's a chance of a power surge that would affect the transmitter and then the collars.  We don't get that many storms that actually affect us, but we have lots of storms that pass by on their way to Guatemala. 

For today we're fine.  I ran the generator for an hour this morning and we'll probably have to run it for a bit this evening too as it's very gloomy and we're not taking in many rays.  As long as we have gasoline, it's not a huge hardship.  I can faintly hear a neighbor who doesn't have the batteries and his generator is running all the time.  I'd hate to live with that constant noise.  

Today is my brother's birthday and it was lovely to be able to call him.  It still is exciting to me to be so far away but be able to stay in touch.  We both have November birthdays and are astonished that we've reached this stage.  We're both so thankful that we're reasonably healthy and feel blessed. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hundred year rain every five years?

Before we moved here full-time we planned to visit the end of October, five years ago.  We had to reschedule our plane tickets because so much of Belize was flooded, including the bridge over Roaring Creek.  There is one spot on Paslow Falls Rd that was also under water for a short time.  Well, here we go again.  We haven't had flooding here in Bullet Tree Village, but much of the savannah area along the coast is suffering.  I also just heard from some folks in Succotz that the lower bridge there is under water.  I was also told that a man drowned after losing control of his kayak. 

I am so happy that I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get any laundry dry, so on Monday I took our laundry to town to have Sylvi wash & dry it.  Also took advantage of the trip to stock up on some groceries and gas for the generator.  We're now happy to be sitting on top of our hill, away from all that water.  Riverfront property doesn't look so appealing now. 

The Mopan is running fast, high and very brown.  Looks like the chocolate river in the Willie Wonka movie.  Lots of debris, but, so far Paslow Falls Rd is fine.  One blessing we can be thankful for is that both Paslow Falls Rd and our road up the hill have a rock base.  They might be rough, but are nearly always passable with 4 wheel drive.  Have been down in both the truck & the old Trooper and both did fine.  I just don't dawdle, but put the peddle to the metal and climb up our hill. 

The forecast is for continued rain all week.  We'll be fine but I pray that the rest of the country gets some relief.  Even if the rains subside here in Belize, we have to be concerned about the rains in Guatemala.  There has been so much deforestation in the Peten and that's where most of the Mopans flow originates.  The Mopan starts in Guatemala, crosses into Belize at Benque, past Succotz, to Bullet Tree and then joins with the Macal at Santa Familia to become the Belize River. 

The little ferries at Central Farm and Xunantunich aren't running and the low bridges across the Belize River are under water.  That leaves the only access to Spanish Lookout via the "back way" which is thru Bullet Tree.  The stream of huge trucks lumbering thru the village is upsetting as much of the road is dirt and the heavy traffic is causing major damage as well as being extremely noisy.  

This is indeed the jungle and we need the rain to maintain the green, but enough already. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Dog fence report

It was with a lot of hesitation that we installed the electric dog fence, a SportDog inground system.  One of my big concerns was that, being on a fairly small solar system, the system might use too much power.  After talking with Elvis, our electrician, he said that it should take less than one of our small wattage light bulbs.  

I took all the dogs out on leashes to let them see the flag that alerts them that they're near the fence.  At the flag line they hear a chirp.  If they continue they will feel a zap.  It gets stronger if they continue towards the fence line.  I had to let them go to the line and allow them to feel the jolt.  It breaks my heart to have them be hurt and afraid, BUT it would be much worse if they roamed into the bush to get bitten by a snake or some other creature, or get trapped in bushes and vines, because they all wear collars, or have someone pick them up.  They are all so beautiful.

Well I finally told the weeny part of me to toughen up and I let them loose.  I started with the two pups.  Shannon wouldn't even leave the porch.   They all seemed to recognize the flags and realize that they were the cause of their pain.  I let Bailey loose and he was very hesitant also, but walked around a little, so I turned all three out together.  It turned out to be perfect.  Bailey's calmness reassured the pups, who now are doing exactly what we'd hoped.  They run and tear around the grass area, never going near the fence line. 





Bailey is a big concern right now.  He's so heavy and our best guess is that he's nearing 10 years old.  He doesn't want to play with the pups and when turned loose now he just goes out ant lays down.  Art is continuing to take him on his short walk twice a day.  To cross the fence line, which goes across the drive, we take off the SportDog collar and then Art just tells him that "it's ok" and Bailey will walk across.  He's so smart!  



I did research on various systems and settled on the SportDog system because we could set the collars themselves to different levels, thinking that Bailey would need a stronger deterrent.  As it turns out, all three collars are set on the lowest setting that gives the chirp signal and the lowest zap.  The SportDog collar also came with a set of longer posts to allow for Bailey's very thick coat. 

It has made it so much easier for me to get up in the morning, turn on the system, put the collars on the dogs and let them out.  No more getting up at 5:30am and taking the pups out to the enclosed fence in my pj's.  (Good that we don't have close neighbors).  

It's still new, but I have to give the whole thing high marks as it's given us all more freedom.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Family visit

We have been having a wonderful time as my cousin, Roger, has been visiting us since Saturday.  It's so seldom that we have family visit and Roger is very special to me.  Even tho' our families didn't live really close, we grew up seeing each other fairly often.  As adults, Roger moved to New York and our visits were very infrequent.  I'm so thrilled that we've been able to reconnect so strongly and this is his third visit to us here in Belize.  This trip he came alone, telling us that he didn't need to tour and see the sights, but wanted to relax and visit.  Boy have we been doing a lot of both.  We've been talking non-stop and doing a lot of nothing special.

The weather has been perfect, up until today.  Scattered clouds and not too warm.  We had a sprinkling of rain last evening and Roger asked if it ever poured rain all night.  Not really.  Well last night it didn't rain all night, but it felt like it did.  It dumped off and on all night.  Now for us, all growing up in the Northwest, rain is soothing and just means you don't have to work in the yard today (which I didn't plan on doing anyway).  I checked the satellite weather channels and this isn't a particular storm, just lots of rain for the next couple of days.  Roger heads back to New York on Sunday, so I predict lots more visiting the next few days.

The only real downside I see to this rain is the dogs.  Of course, they all hate the rain.  They're also still very afraid of the new inground fence so I'm having to lock them in the regular fenced area a couple of times a day.  I'll write more later about the electric fence experience, but I'll say here, it's going to work great, but does take training and time.

Well, it's back to reading, visiting and eating.  What a delightful, loving time we're having.  Love you lots, Roger.   


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Truck, dogs & new fence and tree

I very seldom plan much ahead because my plans always go awry.  Today was a perfect example.  I had planned to go to the market this morning and then grocery shopping with my good friend Diane.  Well, first thing this morning I had a call from Bedo about our truck.  He had the body work done.  He'd ordered a new tail light assembly, but they sent the wrong one.  He got it yesterday (which was a holiday here, Pan American Day) he finished painting the fender and installed the light.  Of course, the light didn't work.  This morning we picked up the truck, had to notify the insurance company of the problem and then took the truck to an auto electrician.  Yes, there are some fellows who specialize.  Since we were across the river anyway, I did my grocery shopping first.  Times like this make it great to have the old Trooper.  Art & I each had to drive a vehicle.  We left the truck with Mr. Matus and drove back home to put away the groceries and have a bite of lunch.  

Now came the hard part.  Yesterday I finally got up enough nerve to introduce each dog to the fence.  I hate it so much.  They each have a collar with a control box.  The fence is a buried wire and then we put flags at the edge of the warning zone.  A tone signals the zone, then they'll feel a shock if they continue.  I have all of them at the lowest  shock level.  I led each of them around the perimeter to familiarize them with their new area.  Each of the pups, Shannon & Rusty, got a jolt and then wouldn't go near any of the flags.  They figured it out immediately.  It was a little slower with Bailey.  He got hit three times and then I had to stop.  I couldn't stand to have him hurt any more right then.  I was very satisfied with this first session and felt sure that it's going to work.  

Today, after we got back from town, I took each dog back out.  I was surprised to say the least, that none of the three dogs wanted to even go out into the yard.  I finally was able to get the two males to walk around, but poor Shannon was totally upset and wouldn't go with me.  In reading I find that there is a lower setting that doesn't shock the dog, only emits the chirping sound.  I'll now reset all the collars to this level and
work with them the next few days to get them more comfortable with the area.  In a few days when I hope they'll be more comfortable, I'll set them loose and then I'll reset to the slowest shock level.  I'm so impressed by how smart all the dogs are and how sensitive.  I do talk to them constantly and feel that they understand everything I say.  Wow!

Then it was back to town to pick up the truck from the electrician.  Problem was a broken wire, bulbs and who knows what else.  Now it's off to the insurance company to clear up the paperwork.  The victim here ends up doing much of the running around.  The truck looks great again.  Hope that the third time is a charm.  

Art got home ahead of me as I had forgotten a couple of things at the store.  When I drove up the road, there was the truck, stopped midway.  My first tho't was that it had broken down, but when I pulled up behind it I saw the big goombalimba tree that fell across the road.  We had to get the chainsaw, cut the tree up and haul it off before we could drive into our place.  We were just happy that we had the tools and the strength to manage the task.  

An unexpected, but full day for a couple of old codgers.

USA?

We've been delighted to meet several new friends who found us because of this blog.  Delightful people, but all with a sad viewpoint.  As with so many folks I read about on the news, they are upset with the direction the US is moving and are looking for a haven away from the government control in their lives.  We've enjoyed discussions about what's happening in our beloved US and how we view living here in Belize.  

I've put off reading more in depth about Obamacare because I have no control over what's happening, but it does seem that it will be the death knell of small businesses and change the spending habits of the poor and middle class (is there still such a group?).  

We've been informed by our bank that the US is now demanding to know about all funds Americans have here and making us accountable for monies made here.  For us it's not an issue as we don't have  a local income, but it shows that the long arm of the US is everywhere.  How arrogant! 

The quandary this has created for Art & I is that we feel we must sell Dreamer Farm as it's too much property for us with Art's failing health.  I seem to be able to do less and less of the outside work.  We had decided that, if and when we do sell we would return to the NW to be nearer family and the VA facilities.  These discussions have made us wary of our being able to survive financially if we do return to the US.  Altho' life here isn't fancy, we can live on our small income comfortably.  We're now also thinking of how things would be if we bo't a small place here in Cayo, still making our annual trip to Oregon.  For now it's only a problem that keeps rattling around in my head, but I have to admit that it makes me so sad to feel that our beloved country may exclude us and so many others by dictating how and where we live our lives.  This isn't the US that we grew up with. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Truck

After almost two months we've finally gotten permission from the insurance company to get our poor Tundra repaired.  Took it to Bedo today, but of course it's been raining like crazy, so not sure how long repairs will take.  None of the bodyshops I've seen, including Bedo's is enclosed.  They work out in the open, so hard to get the paint job done.  He does a remarkable job anyway.  Hope I'll have good photos to post when done.  Want it to be done before my cousin Roger gets here.  I hate to take him around in the trust, old Trooper. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Now a painted cottage

Well I've worked like a Trojan to get some of the painting done.  I'm extremely pleased with the change it's bro't to our little house.  It's brightened and lightened it up so much.  Previously we could barely detect my Jaguar carving or the TV set.  They hid in the shadows.  Now there's more color.  The disappointment for me was that when I went back to Melchor to get the rest of the material for the cupboard doors, of course, it was all gone.  Diane was with me and we visited every little shop that sold fabric and were shown some really dreadful pieces.  They now seem enamored of the big eyed children so popular with the Japanese.  Ick!  I wrote to the big fabric distributors in Guatemala City, had a long email discussion with the large fabric store in Belize City, checked Spanish Lookout and the couple of places here in Cayo.  Nada.  I had already finished painting the walls, so settled for a somewhat trite print with a hint of jungle and a little thatched hut on it.  I made the curtains and find that I really don't like the print, but it will remain for now.  Once it was up I could see that the blue dominates.  At least it's clean.  


I had more luck with our bedroom.  I found a wonderful bed cover in turquoise and white and pick a light version for the walls and a medium turquoise for the screen frames.  It now looks more like a comfortable little beach house here in the bush.  






My last project, at this point, was to paint one of the guest bedrooms.  My cousin, Roger, will be visiting in a couple of weeks, so I wanted the room to be fresh and clean. 


 It feels good to get some of these projects done.   It's such a sweet, comfortable place and now even more so with the addition of light and color. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ruminations

As I get older I'm finding that lots of things get harder, so I find myself in auto mode, just doing what needs to be done and trying not to overthink anything.  Getting the two pups has been a blessing in so many ways as they are so happy most of the time.  My stress there is that we've had a lot of rain, thus the fenced area that we worked so hard to create, is now a mud hole.  I hate to put them out there as they come back up filthy and they're very clean dogs by nature.  I'm struggling with should we put in an underground electric fence to allow all three dogs more freedom.  It's a budget stretcher, as so many things are, and I'm not convinced that it's going to work.  I imagine, with a little effort on my part, that I can train the Setters to stay within the fence, as they have thin, fine hair, but Bailey has such a thick coat.  I also worry about how much the shock will affect them.  Worry, worry!  

We still haven't heard from the insurance company about repairing the pickup.  Everything moves so slowly here.  I phoned the office and found that they're still waiting for the owner of the other car to turn in some paperwork before it goes to their main office for approval.  In the meantime we can't lower the tailgate on the truck, which is inconvenient.  Patience, patience.



I've tried to manage to do some of my artwork, but it just isn't in me right now.  To keep busy with more mindless work I'm painting the interior walls of the house.  We intentionally built without finished interior walls.  We only have the studs and the exterior siding.  In such a tiny space, it's given us more room and there isn't an interior hidey space for bugs to nest.  Ants, bees and other icky creatures.  The downside is that it's dark and we don't have a lot of lights.  

I found some terrific Mayan themed fabric in Melchor, Guatemala (which is just across the border from here) and am using that as my focus.  I'm picking up the greens for the kitchen and a lighter green for the living room area.  It's brighter in here already.  A friend suggested that I use exterior paint because the house gets so much air and the exterior paint has a mildew resistant ingredient.  It sure goes on great.  I haven't spent much time on a stepladder for quite a while, so giving me a little exercise.  I'm using a tough enamel on the window screens as they really take a beating.  



A bright spot for me has been my friends.  I look forward to our ladies luncheon once a month and a few of us met yesterday for lunch at a lovely new place in San Ignacio called the Guava Limb Cafe.  What a sweet place it is.  So many restaurants open here, last a month or two and close.  They don't get the concept of having several months operating funds put aside ahead of time.  We're all thrilled that a couple of new places have opened that are operated by successful resort owners.  They are stressing quality and moving outside the usual Belizean offerings.  I enjoy stew chicken rice and beans a lot, which is the typical Belize fare, but I yearn for some variety.  The cafe where we ate yesterday is in a charming wooden house that was totally restored and updated and they offered a nice bistro type menu.  The food was terrific and the company was delightful.  I'm excited now that Art & I will be able to enjoy a lunch out in such a comfortable place.  

All-in-all we're doing ok.  We miss family and Art desperately wants to be back in Oregon, but we're still taking it a day at a time up here on our hill.




Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tundra hit AGAIN

Friday was a nice day and Art decided to go to town with me.  Just had to stop at the post office and then to the market.  I parked the Tundra (pickup) near the post office, across from Shopper's Choice with a car behind me and one in front.  No big deal, but I was glad to find a parking spot so close to our destination.  We took our time, enjoying not being in a rush.  When we got back to the truck I went around the front to get in and a traffic officer knocked on my window.  I hadn't seen that the back of the truck had been hit - again.  Poor truck.  Luckily, the officer had seen it happen and they were hunting for us.  The damage wasn't severe, but took out the back lights and put a big dent in the fender and bent the bumper.  

This is the third time our poor truck has been hit since we moved here four years ago.  The first time a taxi passenger opened her door into the side of the truck just as we drove by.  Taxi owner's insurance covered the damage.  Over a year ago Art parked the truck to go into a restaurant to pick up dinner and when he came out, it appeared that a large truck had sideswiped the passenger side, leaving a large, black dent the full length of the side about chest high.  Since you can't buy coverage for your own vehicle if it's over 7 years old, we had to pay for this one.  Anyway, it was hit and run.  

Friday we were glad we didn't have a lot to do because we ended up spending over two hours in the police station and then in the insurance office.  The poor fellow who hit us was pretty shaken up.  We still don't know how he managed to swerve to hit us as we were tucked in between other vehicles, but it was just an accident.  He was extremely apologetic and the police were very helpful.  The other car was a nice newer SUV and his right front fender was totally demolished along with his front bumper.  The poor guy is from Orange Walk and had to drive back with the mangled fender dangling.  The police seemed to be worried that we might collapse in an upset heap or something because of our ages.  I guess we've been thru it enough times that it's ok as long as it wasn't our fault. 

We stopped by Bedo's body shop and I'll have to take the truck in Monday to get an estimate, as well as go to a mechanic to be sure that there wasn't damage underneath.  We just had new tires put on the truck, so were glad to see them intact.  Bedo told us he doesn't think Belize likes our truck as it sure seems to be a target.  Since this will be the third time he's repaired and painted the sides, I told him should stock up on our paint color.  We're just happy that none of these accident's were more severe and really only caused cosmetic damage.   Maybe we should just have him paint a big target on it.  It probably isn't a cause, but we don't plan to buy another gray vehicle as they seem to blend into the road.  




Friday, August 16, 2013

Selling property in Belize

The housing market seems to be in a funk all over.  I hear that it's supposedly improving in the States, but talking to friends, they don't see it.  It's much the same here in Belize.  Property prices are all over the place, but we don't hear of much moving.  We've talked to most of the realtors in this area and, just like in the US, they want to list your place, but that's the last you see of them.  There is supposed to be a multiple listing service coming to Belize, but seems to be all talk.  Also, I don't like to give anyone an exclusive listing, because then they REALLY don't do anything.

Another route, which we've also tried, is to sell our place ourselves via internet sites.  We tried several of the free sites, but they seemed to attract the bogus interest of "I'm really interested in your place, can give you cash, but first I have to find a way to get the 17 million dollars I found while in the service in ___ fill in the country."  We haven't had a lot more success with the paid sites, but continue to work it.  

Our property is titled and fenced with a home and additional buildings, all new 3 to 4 years ago.  I've been very frustrated with some comments about price as tho' you should sell for the price of the land.  Until you've tried to build in a country such as Belize, you have no real idea of the hurdles you must cross.  It sounds wonderful that, in the country, you don't have to get permits and have an inspector looking over your shoulder for everything.  The other side of that coin is, who do you trust?  

We were extremely fortunate to have researched and found a wonderful Belizean man who contracted to build our houses.  He's honest and knows a lot about building.   His hobby and obsession is reading books about building.  Almost everyone we talk to who has built here has horror stories of being ripped off by a person who claimed to know how to build, or one who charged them huge prices for inferior materials.  We've watched a neighboring property where a huge crew seems to be taking forever to do very little work.  Just had a discussion with a couple who are trying to have a place built and nothing is as they want it, and some of the rooms aren't even square.  

Besides the work, the materials can be difficult to find.  We went thru a couple of concrete block suppliers before finding ones that would hold together and being square made it easy to plaster.  There isn't anything like a "licensed" electrician or plumber.  Here again, you have to talk to a lot of people to find one who can handle your work.  We have several DC appliances and even the solar people didn't really know how to wire in our AC and DC circuits.  We eventually found "the" guy who has helped us tremendously.  

It can seem wonderful and exciting to find a piece of property that's back-a-bush and makes you feel like a pioneer.  That's just about what you have to be.  Something that can seem easy to get to in dry weather can be impossible in the wet, which is much of the time.  Finding a reliable person to bring in bulldozers, graders and rollers to put in a decent road and then bring in rock that will withstand the weather conditions can be a huge challenge.  We have seen neighbors have loads of white gravel dumped on their road and then during the wet weather, the gravel just disappears into the mud.  We had a lot of prep work done and then had about 20 loads of heavy rock brought in for our road.  It was then rolled.  I treat it with roundup periodically to keep it clear and after four years it's still great.  It just took a long time to find the right person to do the work for a price we could afford.  

Once you get your place cleared, it's important to find someone to help you keep it that way.  We've been blessed with Rene, who has worked wonders for us.  But, most Belizeans don't work as hard or efficiently as Rene.  Previously we had a crew of three do clearing work for us before we moved down.  We paid a huge price and they took a week to clear a strip about 30' wide and they only chopped it to about ankle high.  Wonderful.  Walking thru was a great way to break an ankle with all the debris.  Before we moved down, we saw Rene working at another expats property and he was working all the time and the folks weren't even in the country.  We'd found our treasure. 

I guess my point of this diatribe is that this challenge isn't simple, or necessarily cheap.  You have to have patience and be willing to ask lots of folks for their help and recommendations.  You have to be willing to LISTEN. For Art and myself, it was the reason we came to Belize.  We needed new challenges.  Boy did we find them.  We don't regret the struggle, but do feel badly for folks who talk as tho' it's all going to be skittles and beer and that they can naively trust everyone. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another day with the pups!


Wow, this rain is really dumping.  Keep losing the satellite.  I made a rash move tonight by letting the pups go from their fenced yard to the veranda without leashes.  Dumb!  They've been doing fine if I keep one leashed.  Anyway, they veered off and took off like a shot.  It was getting dark and they were gone for about 1 1/2 hrs.  We could hear dogs barking in all directions.  Art was taking one last pass down Paslow Falls Rd and I was starting the generator when they finally showed up.  I suspect they got scared as she was quite a ways behind him.  They're dirty and full of burrs.  They both threw themselves on the ground in front of me and flipped onto their backs, as if to say "I know I was bad."  I didn't even care, I just pushed them into the fenced yard and didn't trust myself to not spank them soundly.  I was also worried about Art as he headed out back to hunt for them.  When all was said and done, we're all alright, if not a little frazzled.  Anyone who gets two pups at a time should have their head examined.  They're 8 months old today, so they're just dumb kids right now.  Patience, patience, patience.  I know they're going to be wonderful dogs when they're grown, but for now I'd like to strangle both of them.  I just have to figure out how to teach them to honor the boundaries.  May have to resort to an in ground electric fence, but expensive and not sure I'm up to the learning curve.  Tomorrow will be another day and all will be well, even if a little wet.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Homemade dog food

We're on a fairly limited income, so I do everything I can to stretch those Belize dollars.  When we decided to buy our beautiful little Shannon, we knew it would stretch our budget a little, but we really couldn't resist those beautiful brown eyes and her crazy personality.  The unexpected was to have a little boy pup placed in my arms with the request that they really wanted good homes for their precious babes.  How could I resist, but woe to the food budget.  We'd already gone thru the trauma of seizures with dear Bailey and preservatives.  We discovered a local food that stated it uses vegetable preservatives and haven't had a repeat of the seizures, but with puppy food for two added, I could see $200 per month being a stretch.  We have a wonderful friend with four dog who makes her own food, so I decided to do some research of my own.  I came up with something that is working well and the dogs all seem to be thriving.

This may not possible in the States because of food restrictions, but I have an arrangement with a local butcher to get the scraps from their blade when they cut meat.  They grind this and sell to me for $1 a pound.  My friend who also uses this adds things to the meat, makes into balls, bakes and then freezes them.   I take another approach.  I cook this meat product in a large frying pan, breaking it up into bits as it cooks.  When done it looks like hamburger.  (I make fairly small batches of food because it can get heavy and hard handle). 

A batch lasts for two feedings a day for three dogs for two days.  
Two cups of uncooked rice in 4 cups of water.
Add approximately 4 cups of meat mixture
Slice three to four large carrots, cook and then run thru processor.



For the pups I give them one cup of dry puppy chow with 8 to 10 ozs of the rice/meat mixture.  Sometimes I'll add a raw egg to each dish.  They get this twice a day.

For Bailey, who is grossly overweight, I was feeding him just once a day, but he would watch the pups eating and it didn't seem fair, so he gets a small feeding twice a day too.  He get about 1/2 cup of adult chow with 6 to 8 ozs of the rice mixture.  I can't really say he's lost weight since we've switched to this mix, but he does seem more alert and has more energy.   

I'm still working to determine exact amounts, but it looks as tho' we'll use about 15# of the meat mixture and 10# of rice a month.  That would translate to about 25$ BZ.  With dry dog food at $80-$90 for 50#, that is a significant savings for our meager budget.  I add whatever cooked vegetables that I can find, but really like the carrots because they have a sweetness that the dogs all seem to like.  By processing them, they're not faced with hunks of vegetables to spit out. 


 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Bats

For quite some time I've known that we had little bats living behind one of the shutters on the window of our guest house.  The clue was the persistent pile of guano on the floor.  When I first discovered it I attributed it to the darned geckos, but soon realized that there was a "pile" rather than little "gifts".  Some time back I had closed the shutter because of the weather & was startled when the bats flew away.  I think we all have creepy visions of bats and what they can do.  These are just tiny little guys who haven't bothered us or made their presence known until then.  For some time I treated this as a cool thing as they eat mosquitoes so was silently cheering them on.  I could only see them if I scrunched against the building and peeked behind the shutter and during the day, they weren't flying.  This peaceful coexistence continued for several months, with me cleaning the guano up with increasing regularity and spreading it on my plants.  I have a clothesline on that veranda and I could hear a faint humming and figured that their numbers were probably increasing.  I finally decided this had to stop for sanitation reasons.  I had Art pull the shutter closed so that I could get a couple of quick photos.  My camera and I are both very slow, so missed a shot of the whole group, but did manage to get a shot of a few of them.  It's easy to miss identifying them during the day as they're the size of a large butterfly and fly in much the same manner.  Flitting instead of flying directly. 





We plan on building a couple of bat houses to encourage them to stay around, but in the yard, not on the house.  From what I've read, one bat can eat it's weight in mosquitoes every day and a pregnant female will eat 2 1/2 times her weight each day.   Now I'd REALLY like to get rid of the geckos.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I guess I've been in a funk

Time just seems to be slipping by. We're not doing much except spending time with the three dogs and doing a lot of reading. Not very productive but such is life. No matter how hard I try to limit my trips into town, I still seem to trudge up and down our hill at least four times a week. I try to take the old Trooper a lot to save the wear and tear on the pickup. Regardless, we've had to scrape up the money for a new set of tires for both vehicles. We keep debating about selling the Trooper as it's expensive to keep up, but Rene uses it a couple of weekends a month and it's security since we're so secluded. It sure isn't pretty, but the 4 wheel-drive works and it just keeps plugging along. I feel as tho' it's a kindred spirit. We both have traveled a lot of miles, are getting old, but are reliable and just keep going.

It's always hard to admit that we're slowing down so much, but Art's health is declining and we both feel that age is kicking us in the backside. I refuse to admit my age, but sometimes it's hard to deny.

The up-side to all this quiet is that I can sit and listen to so many birds and just appreciate the quiet. We are truly blessed to be able to spend this time here on our lovely little place. I have to keep remembering that when I am missing family. When I'm writing, it's always easy to fall into looking at the negative, so I'm going to shut down now, feed the dogs and get our dinner and be thankful that I'm able to do all of these things.
Blessings

Friday, July 5, 2013

Embassy party


We had a wonderful opportunity to slip outside our everyday rut to celebrate the 4th of July here in Belize at the US Embassy. This year they wanted to celebrate the artistic contributions of Americans residing here thru painting, music and crafts. I was so pleased to be asked to participate with some of my paintings. Rather than actually sending them we each emailed photos and they were shown in a slideshow at the celebration. Since the embassy is closed on the 4th, the picnic was on the 3rd.

Art & I decided to make the trip count by including other errands. The picnic didn't start until 1pm, so we did some hardware shopping on the way. As it turned out, we were still early, so parked on a side street and walked to the Embassy. Wow, security everywhere. I was surprised to see that they were Belizean, rather than American soldiers. In fact most of the staff seemed to be Belizean, and, as it turned out, it appeared that the majority of the guests were also. We had to present our invitation and then were permitted to enter the courtyard. The picnic was under a lovely, large tent, so sun or rain didn't matter. The weather was perfect. Of course, red,white and blue were everywhere. I've enjoyed living in Belize, but I'm proud to be an American. I didn't realize how much I've missed our country until I heard the National Anthem.

When we first arrived, we went thru a reception line and were introduced to the Ambassador, Mr. Thummalapally and his wife, Barbara. They were extremely gracious and not at all pretentious. I was interested in his name and found that he's originally from India, but came to the US to go to College, where he roomed for a time with President Obama. I've heard that's that how most Ambassadors get their appointments, but, from staff comments, we felt they had a great deal of respect for both of them and that they'd made a definite contribution to Belize. It seemed sad to us that after four years here they'll leave soon to return to the US. I hope that the next ambassador will be as good a representative of the US. Sometimes it seems Americans are viewed as wealthy and arrogant.

Due to the harsh light, the slideshow had to be inside, so I doubt that many folks viewed the work, but I'm still pleased to have been included.

We're pretty quiet folks who don't do a lot of mingling and found that we didn't recognize anyone else, so after enjoying barbecued sandwiches, salads and brownies, we chatted with a few folks and headed for home. It's about an hours drive from Belmopan to Bullet Tree and we like to head up our hill before dark. (As a reminder to anyone who might stumble on my blog, here in Belize sunset is close to 6pm year-round). As we left the Embassy, we were surprised to see that they'd blocked off access to the road and only guests and local residents were allowed near. Seemed unusual to me as we're usually the ones who aren't allowed in. It was a lovely diversion for both of us with a couple of little momentos and a page in my blog.



Thursday, June 13, 2013

mistreated pups

Yesterday we stopped to see Claudia and Franklin (owner's of our pups parents) to see what yummy baked things Claudia had to sell. Under the name Vanilla Hills, she sells wonderful breads and pastries. Franklin was extremely upset and had to show me the three pups he'd "repossessed" just hours before. Originally a fellow from Spanish Lookout purchased the three pups to use to hunt. Franklin visited their place to talk to him about the agreed upon spaying and neutering. He found the three, each on a 3 foot chain, without water and filthy. The particulars are his business, but I'll just say that Franklin returned their money and eventually bro't the pups home. They were dashing about in the wonderful, huge yard he fenced off for their dogs, like released prisoners and coming to the fence for hugs along with the rest. The three were muddy and looked horrible compared to the beauties of Claudia and Franklin. At least it appeared that they had been fed while in captivity. Poor Franklin, who is such a kind and gentle man, practically had steam coming out of his ears he was so upset about the state of these pups.

Today he said he'll bathe the three and then has arranged with a vet to handle the spaying of the one female and neutering the two males. As they already have the parent dogs and two pups, along with three other dogs, they will be looking for good homes for these three.

We had never set out to buy Irish Setters, but being around them has opened our eyes to what loving, intelligent dogs they are. Our two have brought such joy and love to us. They really want to please and just offer love and puppy hugs. To tie them up and keep them isolated is a huge crime against their loving nature. If you live in Belize and have love to offer, I know they are just looking for good homes for these three. Blessings

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tough couple of days

No matter where you live, life can kick you in the shins. We all think "why me?" but the truth is that we all get a share of crumby. Monday I took a dear friend to the airport for his trip to Florida to hopefully get answers and relief from many health problems. His wife & I did a little shopping for groceries and then headed home. They've had way more than their share of problems and watching them deal with theirs has made ours seem small. We worry about both of them. It's not a long trip to Ladyville, a short 2 hrs., but always ends up taking all day.

Yesterday, we took both our pups to the vet to have Rusty neutered and Shannon spade. They're both so beautiful and seem perfect to us, but at 5 1/2 mos. we knew that our little world would soon be disrupted by the SEX thing, so literally had to nip it in the bud. It was hard for me to look at their trusting faces and know that they'd soon be feeling horrible. We were able to pick them up by the end of the day, but both were very woozy. Rusty had a makeshift cone on his head as he continually irritated his incision. We traded the cone for a t-shirt put on from the back end, which did get him thru the night. He still scratched, but couldn't get to the injury. Little Shannon was so thirsty that she drank a little water, which she promptly vomited up. That went on most of the night. She would whimper occasionally, but the pain pills seem to help. Today she's slowly getting a little more strength, but poor Rusty is extremely uncomfortable. He can't walk without his incision irritating, so he sits down hard. Not sure if it's a normal internal thing or if, because they are so young and still quite narrow built, if the stitches are irritating his legs. The vet, who specializes in wildlife, of course, isn't available today except by answering machine.

By the end of the day I was hurting for them them as well as a frustration with the vet over the bill. I was quoted a price for the procedures and told that that would be the cost unless there were complications. When I phoned to check on them I was told that everything went well and I could pick them up at 4:30pm. When I was presented with the bill it was considerably higher, with a charge for every medication including injection fees and dispensing fees. Pooh! Never again. The problem is that there aren't very many real vets in Cayo. The nice little Belizean girl who presented me with the bill, said, when I was upset, that I could "just write a check for the balance." The inference was that, since we're gringo's we undoubtedly have money, so what's the problem. We get that attitude frequently, so try to let it pass, but sometimes it hurts when I've had to struggle to come up with the money myself. Oh well!

I'm spending today reading and watching the pups. They both move to wherever I am and lay by my feet and ask for reassurance that this too shall pass. They and Bailey are definitely the bright spots in our lives. Blessings.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We bro't the rain back with us

I guess I whined enough because yesterday the clouds finally opened and blessed us with a little rain. We expected it to give us a downpour, which just rushes past, but instead we were blessed with short spurts of drizzle. Our cistern is slowly filling and I swear I can almost see the bushes smiling. Our precious dogs have quit panting so much and Bailey has more energy. I hope it works for me too as I don't handle the heat well. Today is for quiet activities as tomorrow is too since it's another Belize holiday. We're taking each day as it comes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Can anyone Say "HOT?"

If you know of someone who wants to come to Belize, please warn them to not visit during April or May unless they love being really hot and sticky.  During this April and May the temperature reached over 100 most days and the humidity couldn't have been far behind.  Even the locals talked of little else as we watched the ground dry and crack and all the underbrush in the jungle dried up and disappeared and most trees lost their leaves.  I know I've written this before, but the hotter it gets the more the folks take advantage of the dry to burn their fields and anything else that gets in their way.  For the most part the fires burn along the ground, eating up the leaves and dead brush, but when a dying tree catches fire or a cohune, the flames can soar 30 or 40 feet, burning overhead lines and jumping fire trails. 

After suffering with the heat for weeks, we were pleased to head for Oregon and Washington for a couple of weeks.  We were sure that by the time we returned it would have rained here in Belize.  Silly us.  The weather in the Northwest was wonderful, heading into the high 70's and low 80's every day.  Folks there commented on how hot it was, but we basked in the drier and, to us, cooler air.  We returned on the 21st of May to find it even drier and still hot.  

We've been on the fringes of a controversy here between a neighbor who apparently bought the leases on all the property across our road to the north of us.  She hired a bulldozer to clear the road right- of-way and pushed the debris, thankfully, to her side.  This whole thing has angered the previous leaseholders, who choose to fight with death threats and setting fire to the lots.  We keep our property clean and hope safe, but is still worrisome.  One day I headed to town to run a short errand.  When I went down the hill, all was well, but when I came back up the hill 45 minutes later, the debris piles were in flames and they had jumped the road and were burning our neighbors property below us.  The fire on our side was just burning the leaf cover, but was still a worry.  I phoned all the neighbors, who didn't seem to be too worried, but we monitored it until it died back.  While we were in the US, another fire started, this time opposite our gate and the little house.  When a cohune ignited, sending flames shooting in the air, Rene and family were here to monitor it.  There is one fire truck in San Ignacio, which did come up one time and arrived in just 15 minutes, but with all the fires, we can't count on them.  Also, they've been known to show up to a fire without water.  

Now that we're back, things seems to be settling down.  It's been extremely hot and humid, but this morning we had a very short rain with the hopes of more.  The weather here is very unpredictable.  Watching the satellite photos, the storms can come from the SE, as well as the Pacific side.  They swirl and change directions so fast.  The best we can do is make do with today and hope that tomorrow will be a little cooler.  As soon as the rains start again, things will burst into life and we won't be able to keep up with the growth. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Irish Setter pups

I just had a wonderful conversation  with friends up in the States and they are surprised and worried that we actually bought two pups.  Getting even one can be intimidating.  Well, I have to say that we both agree that getting two was the best thing we've done in a long time.  In most ways, rather than being twice the work, they're half the work because they keep each other company.  Right from the first night, there's never a peep out of them at night.  They curl up together and sleep until first light.  They do start hassling each other then, but I'm sure only one pup would start whining.  They sleep on the veranda and if I get up right away and put them in the fence, there aren't any messes to clean up.  The dog fence is about 100' x 100', so quite a bit of room and shade all during the day.




Their personalities are so different.  Rusty is Mr. calm and more elegant.  Shannon, with her cowlicks on the back of her neck, is the trouble maker.  Right now they're lying on the veranda, about a foot apart, just yapping at each other.  Noisy, but hysterical.  I think you have to have a sense of humor to adopt pups. 



I do have to qualify the recommendation to getting two pups at the same time.  We've owned a fantastic Old English Sheepdog and later a Yellow Lab.  I think I'd have been committed if we'd had two of either of these dogs at the same time.  But these Irish Setters are a different story.  They love people, are very bright and even tho' they're only four months old, they are picking up so much of what we're trying to teach them.  Shannon even occasionally rings the doggy doorbell to go down to potty. 

It's hard to get used to how rangy and long-legged Irish Setters are.  At four months they both could be mistaken for grown dogs at a glance.   We're both having so much fun with how loving and fun these darling pups are.  What a blessing to us and even though Bailey might disagree, I think he's enjoying them a little too.  Hugs to all,    

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Being retired in Belize

I often joke that we're not "retired", just tired.  Some days it's not much of a joke.  Sitting on our lovely veranda, watching the pups play and just enjoying the sights and sounds can easily use up a day.  More often than not, the sounds are only the birds and the gentle ringing of a wind chime.  It's hard to believe that we're really close to the village and San Ignacio.  

The weather right now is typical of spring up north in that it's very erratic.  We've had cold nights (50f) and a couple of hot days (110f with 105f in the shade on our east facing veranda).  I have to admit that I don't do at all well in the heat.   We are fortunate that we almost always have a breeze here on our hill and our fans are a blessing.  I keep feeling that I should get more things done, but I've just become more lethargic.  I can lose days sitting at the table on the veranda, reading and rereading books that I love.  I've been giving myself a good lecture this morning about being such a slug (my NW view of life) as my lack of exercise makes me feel my age.  I walked Bailey down our road this morning, but the loose rocks make the trip down a hazard and the walk up is telling me that I need to get more exercise.  Bailey is way too fat too, so we both pant our way back to the house.  

I get asked if spring is the same as up north.  In most ways it's almost the opposite.  Right now many of the trees are getting ready for the hot, dry weather by dropping their leaves.  Just like the trees in the NW preparing for winter, they protect their roots against the dry weather to come.  A few of our trees are just the opposite.  The Neem, which is a native of India, hates the rain and is now leafing out and starting to bloom.  The bougainvillea is at it's most glorious now also.  We can usually expect heat for the next couple of months with very little rain.  Since we're on a roof water collection system, we become even more conservative.  This year the dry has hit us a little early, so hope we'll have enough water.  At capacity our nearly 10k gallon cistern reads 9 1/2'.  Today we still have 8'.  From June on is the hurricane season, which means hot, but lots of thunder storms and occasional rain.  We'll head for Oregon the first part of May for Art to visit the VA and to get hugs from family.  It's hard to leave the dogs, but will possibly take the pups to play with their siblings at Claudia & Franklin's (breeders & friends) and Bailey will stay with Rene as he has in years past.  Still working on that one.  Many of our friends head north in May, as it feels like our hottest month.

The pups are a real joy.  Besides being exceedingly beautiful, they're loving and energetic.  They get me up with the sun to let them into the fence.  I've definitely had to change my sleep patterns.  At 3 1/2 months old they're trying so hard not to mess on the veranda, but it's still difficult for them.  We're pleased with our choice for the pen as it's in the shade all day.  They have room to tear around and have created mayhem with the snake plants and Moses in the cradle.  Oh well, not my favorites plants anyway.  We're going to have to start some serious training as they have so much enthusiasm and curiosity that I can no longer control their exploration of the unfenced yard.  Having them head into the bush is frightening.   It's lovely to have them curl up on or near my feet when I'm reading or painting.  Where our wonderful Bailey keeps close tabs on us and loves to be scratched, he doesn't encourage hugs, whereas the pups are happiest vying for all the love and hugs they can get.  Not a bad combination for us.

I feel myself getting older (which makes me sad), but I relish the peace and joy of our lives here on the farm.  I know we must sell and get back to the US healthcare system and help from family, but I'll never regret our decision to spend this special time here in Belize. 

Blessings,


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Women's luncheon

Our group is expanding, but there are about 80 names on our list for Cayo Connections.  It's meant just as a way to get to know women in our area on a casual basis.  Not meetings, minutes, dues, etc., just a once-a-month lunch to chat and catch up on each others activities.  We get together the 3rd Thursday each month and just had a delightful lunch at the Aguada.  About 30 folks and we were thrilled to greet a couple of newcomers.  I think it's reassuring to know that there are kindred spirits near who are sharing some of the same struggles and successes.  I really enjoy having the chance to visit with so many friends whom I might not see otherwise. 

Blog friends

After several attempts we finally met with new friends, Chris and Liz here at the farm.  We've been communicating for some time, but never seemed to connect in person.  They have explored Belize and have now settled on a place in Unitedville, which is partway between Santa Elena and Belmopan.  What a delightful couple.  We sat on the veranda on that very hot afternoon and  had a wonderful time.  They're also dog people, so eventually the pups and Bailey joined us.  We were so pleased as the dogs greeted everyone and then politely went to sleep under the table.  Chris and Liz didn't bring their dog, John, as Bailey isn't really thrilled with meeting other dogs. 

Belize is a small country, with an even smaller population.  We travel all over the country to shop so
even tho' we don't live in the same village, we hope we can keep contact with our lovely new friends. We go a kick out of their car as they were leaving.  They said it's actually a great little car, but is small and very basic.  It's Russian and it gets them everywhere.  Like they said, they can't get away with anything because everyone knows the car.  It's very unique.  How fun!  Their visit was definitely a bright spot in our week. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fence for the dogs

We've wanted a fence for Bailey since we moved in, but everything else seemed to take preference.  With the addition of the pups to our family, we felt we could no longer put it off.  The pups have been doing really well on the veranda and we take them out 2 or 3 times a day into the big yard.  By using bacon bits as a reward, they're getting good at coming when called, but still getting quite adventurous.

I bought two roles of field fencing and had planned to try to buy some sapodilla fence posts.  The problem was that there weren't any posts available, but I did find a pallet of various 8' long sapodilla pieces at Yalbac Lumber.  At a dollar a board foot, it was quite a bargain, but, how to get it home????  We tried to find a trailer to haul this load, but nothing was available.  The problem was two-fold.  First, with the butane tank in our 6' truck bed, our load length was diminished.  The second part is that, sapodilla is extremely heavy.  Some of these pieces were also ironwood or logwood. We struggled to find an option, but the only one that was available was for us to travel to Iguana Creek, making  as many trips as needed.  We were able to get almost half the pallet on the truck.  Praises to our valiant Toyota Tundra.  We decided to take the back road between Spanish Lookout and Bullet Tree.  That way we wouldn't be on the "highway" with our heavy load.  Sounded good until we got to the hill just past the turn to the ferry.  We heard and felt a whoosh and the whole load slipped onto the road.  Bummer!  The darned bed liner on the truck is slippery.  We had thought that the heaviness of the boards would keep them in place, but the hill and the bouncing proved us wrong.  We had to start reloading on that hill.  When we were part-way finished a van loaded with Mennonite tourists fro ng turned out to be fortuitous as they were aiming for Spanish Lookout without realizing that they were headed in the wrong direction.  By stopping to help us, we got them turned in the right direction. 

We limped towards Bullet Tree at about 15 miles per hour, stopping every couple of miles to be sure everything was still intact.  We were worried about the steep entrance to Paslow Falls Road and then up our road.  Even though ours is much improved, it's still steep.  Art had the great idea that we back up these steep parts.  At Paslow Falls he got out to stop any cars coming our way and I backed up the road.  Voila!  It worked.  I have to thank my training as a long-haul truck driver some years back, for my comfort in driving backwards.  The bumps and holes on Paslow Falls Rd., forced us to stop again to adjust the load and then our road up.  Art's strategy worked fine as I backed the quarter mile up our road without incident.  The really tough part was that we had to off-load the lumber and go back to get the second half.  Quite an undertaking for a couple of old duffers all in one day,   Before we made this trip we loaded up with all the rope, bungy cords and a come-along.  Roberto at Yalbac helped us tie it on and his experience did the trick.  I'll just say that, by the time this load was on, it didn't have a prayer of moving an inch. We were able to drive back on the highway, driving carefully, but taking all the hills straight on. 

We left this load on the truck and Rene and two of his boys came yesterday and built our fence.  What a thrill to be able to let our kids out and not worry that they'll head into the bush.  This is just one more job to thank Rene for. 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our road - update

I'll preface this with a view back to our beginning.  When we first looked at the property, there wasn't actually a road visible.  Under the two foot high grass was a track, long unused.  On the plat map it shows that the road up our hill is a 60' government road, but they weren't interested in helping us.  After struggling with mud and close calls with a tree, we had about a 400 foot section at the top fixed with a base of rock that has proven fantastic, but the bottom part remained a trial. 



I actually never thought I'd be able to say this, but OUR ROAD IS GETTING FIXED!  We've struggled with the ruts and mud for so long.  We'd approached our neighbors, but Mary didn't want to use the contractor we had used to build the section we had repaired.   Since Mary and family are developing a track at the bottom of the hill, she told us she would fix the road.  Wow!  We weren't sure it would actually happen, but, hallelujah, it has.  We're somewhat disappointed that they cleared so much, but we can't complain as we weren't paying the tab.  She had a bulldozer push all the brush onto her side and they cleared most of the road property.  Yesterday they brought in some gravel to cover the new road bed.  We're hoping that they'll complete the job, but at this point, we're so pleased with the part that's done.  It's definitely not as well done as the section we had Victor do, but this sure is a huge step forward.  The road has intimidated several of our less aggressive friends from coming up.  When you live in the bush on a limited income, getting a drivable road is better than a new wardrobe.    

Puppy progress

We've survived three weeks with our new family members and we're all doing fine.  It sure has caused a change in our schedule tho'. They wind down and head for their kennel at dark, which is currently about 6:30pm and get up with the sun (ick! about 6am).  They try so hard not to mess in the kennel that we try to get up right away and get them outside.  Our big problem is that they stay on the veranda and our house is on stilts.  They are terrified of the steps, so we carry them up and down.  They're both fairly small, but getting heavy fast.  Shannon was next to the smallest female in the litter and Rusty was the smallest male.  I hope everyone who bo't one of these pups is as thrilled with theirs as we are.  Of course they're absolutely beautiful, but also so much fun.  Art chose Stannon because she seemed so shy and snuggled right up to him.  Ha!  She starts out shy and then becomes a crazed little fury, attacking her brother ruthlessly.  Rusty gets his licks in too, but is basically calmer.  I started to say he's quieter, but not true.  She growls when they play, but Rusty barks.  It started as a yip, but he's getting his big boy voice and surprises even himself with a regular bark.  For the first time, today Bailey and Rusty played together.  They each got down with their fannies in the air, waiting to see who'd flinch first.  Then they barked and took off on a run around the veranda.  Bailey chasing the pup.  I couldn't stop laughing.  Poor Bailey has seemed so put upon by having his peaceful life disrupted, but as we'd hoped, I feel they're going to become a family too. 





This week I plan to buy fencing & posts to build a small yard so they'll have a little more freedom.  It should also be a place where Bailey can finally be off a lead.   We take them out into the big yard and use bits of bacon to try to keep them close, but they're getting too brave and independent.  Everything takes time and lots of love.  We have lots of both, so trudging on.   Blessings



Friday, February 15, 2013

Weather (& dogs)

As you might guess, I'll probably be posting a lot about our new family members.  Two 9 week old pups tend to dominate your life.  Bailey is very frustrated and confused as to how to relate to them.  He tries to run away from them and when they get right in his face he barks.  It's so loud that I'd think it would pin them to the floor, but they're non-plussed, so he must not be swearing at them.  I really feel that as they get older and settle down, they'll all become friends.  The pups are trying really hard not to mess in the kennel, but we don't always catch the signs, so the veranda is still ok in their minds.  I hope we can get funds together to put up a good fence so that all three dogs will have a place to roam.  For now, Bailey seems happy to spend lots of time in the house, out of the reach of the red menace.  










The weather right now is unexpected.  It's usually pretty mild this time of year with May being the really hot month.  Well, it's February and we've had several days in the 90's.  Thankfully it's rained the last couple of nights to cool it down.  I dread the really hot weather,  I don't bother "glowing" like a lady, I just drip and sweat.  Hoping to return to Oregon in May before our grandson reports to the Air Force.  He graduated a little early & is only 17.   Pooh!  He's our oldest and it's going to be hard to have them each head in their own direction.  I just pray that they'll find happiness and a satisfying life. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

Pups!

Yes, it's not a typo.  Pups it is.  We went over to pick up our little Shannon and found that two of the males haven't been spoken for.  Claudia & Franklin are such sweethearts and have done such a wonderful job with the huge litter, we just couldn't resist.  We brought home Rusty & Shannon.  In so many ways it's much easier to have two small pups than one alone.  We brought down Bailey's big kennel and they will sleep there.  They didn't even cry last night.  They are so dear and very people oriented.  Our veranda is fenced with screen so they can have the run of it.  Walking for us is a chore as it's like walking in water.  There's a pup under you feet at all times.  It's so cute to see them running after each other. 

Shannon seemed so shy at first, but boy can she explode into a little spitfire.  She really stands up for herself.  Rusty is a tiny bit darker and an independent little soul.  We really struggled with a name for him as he came as a surprise.  Rusty seems a little cliche, but very fitting.  Probably half the male Red Setters are named Rusty, but that's ok with us.   With two nearly identical tiny creatures are running around we're happy that Shannon has a little cowlick on the back of her neck.  We laughed that we should have named her Alfalfa, but it's to be our lovely Shannon. 

We weren't sure how Bailey would react, but are pleased that at least he didn't try to attack them.  He's so huge and they're so small.  We didn't give them much contact until today.  Of course, they were fascinated with him, but he seemed almost afraid of them.  I'm guessing it's going to take a week or two before he can see any reason to have something to do with them.  They were following him and getting in his face.  He finally had enough and turned and barked.  Boy did that stop them.  At least for a minute.  We won't leave them alone together, but can see that eventually it's going to work.  Already Art & I are getting more exercise, just keeping up with the dogs and all the stuff that pups need. What an elegant little family we have.  Two gorgeous Irish Red Setters and our spectacular Akita, Bailey.  So much love,

I've been so busy that I didn't take time to get really good photos of our kids, but will add some later.  For now you can see that the pups have made the area around Art's exercise bike, their own. 


Monday, January 28, 2013

This & That

I've had a very strange day.  Had one of those crazy nights where I slept a long time, but woke up tired.  Just wanted to stay in bed with the covers over my head.  Not really, but tempting.  Looking back on it now, I'm thankful I didn't have a bad accident because I sure couldn't seem to do anything right.  I got thru the morning ok, just bumbling along, but frustrated because I wanted to do laundry, but it rained, so changed that plan.  In the afternoon I decided to kick myself into gear and try to get something done.  I wanted to paint a couple of wooden chairs that sit on our guest house veranda.  I found the paint, thinner, brush and drop cloth and took a broom to the floor to make my space.  I'd noticed some droppings on the table, but attributed them to the darned gecko's.  As I moved the table I realized that these weren't just a few droppings, but a lot.  I pulled on the closeable shutter and let out a scream.  Behind hung about eight small bats.  I'm not really afraid of them, but they sure startled me as they fluttered in all directions.  We realized that this was an ideal spot for them as it was clean and dark and the wood siding was a perfect surface for them to cling to.   I really appreciate bats as one bat will eat it's weight in mosquitoes every day and a pregnant female with eat 2 1/2 times her weight.  The way the bugs attack me, I'll take the bats any day, but don't really want them to live on our veranda. 

After my little girly moment, I continued to spread my plastic and got down to work.  I had almost finished giving the two chairs their first coat of paint when I bumped the can and spilled the whole can of paint.  Well darn!  Luckily I had several layers of plastic down and only a small portion went onto the floor itself.  All I could do was use the brush and pick up as much paint as possible.  I salvaged most of it and using paint thinner and an old t-shirt I got the paint off the floor.  I was also grateful that I had painted the floor with linseed oil & diesel just a couple of weeks ago, so the paint didn't sink into the wood.  Right then I decided that I would do our little place a favor and retreat to the house veranda with a glass of juice and a book for the rest of the day. 

It also gave me time to ponder the fact that we are going to get one of Queenie's pups.  A little girl they call Amy, but who will probably be Shannon when she gets home with us.  The pups are only 6 weeks old and Claudia and  Franklin want them to have more time with their siblings and to get their 8 
week old shot before heading to their new homes.  I know she's going to demand a lot of time and work, but we have lots of time and need to work more, so a terrific fit.  I keep telling Bailey about his new friend, but I'm sure he hasn't a clue that his calm life is about to be upset.  Will do us all good. Maybe by the time she gets here I'll have all the blue paint out from under my fingernails. 
Blessings dear friends