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.


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


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.