Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Missing family at Christmas

Coming from the Northwest, it's very strange to be in the tropics during the holidays.  I know our family thinks it's great that we're having sun and warm weather now, but for us it brings home the fact that we're not "home" for the holidays.  We have a wonderful card on the wall from my brother and sister-in-law of their dogs in the snow and I so wish I could be there to share the fun.  If we ever are able to go back we'll have to put coats on our Setters as their hair is thin and they crave the heat. 

In the States we've all moaned the fact that Christmas starts so early with decorations and music popping up on the heals of Thanksgiving.  It does seem to be overly commercial, but when you're away from it all you realize that you miss the color, the music and the joy of Christmas.  I miss having people wish a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays with a smile .  The small things like putting what you can in the Salvation Army container and seeing the kids so excited.  Here it's almost a non-event.  There are a few decorations around, but none of the warmth and joy of Christmas.  No one says "merry Christmas" or even felize navidad (?) ( I still don't speak Spanish).  

We are blessed with wonderful friends down here and will share in Christmas dinner with a large group.  We always have a good time and share terrific food when we get together. 

Of course, the main thing we miss so much is to be able to share hugs and the beauty of the holidays with our family.  Both our kids are having huge struggles and I wish we could give them our love in person and had the means to alleviate some of their trials.   Christmas isn't just about jingle bells and red ribbons, it's about love and goodwill and the story of Christmas.  I just wish the whole world had more of it in their hearts now and all year long.  Anyway,    MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR to anyone who happens to stumble upon my ramblings.      Blessings

Computer problems

It seems the only things I have to write about are problems and that's not really what Belize is all about.  It's beautiful here with wonderful people, but our reality right now is dealing with problems.  I haven't been posting for a couple of reasons.  First, I hate to be negative all the time, but the real reason is the computer.  In the 5+ years that we've lived here full-time, I've lost three laptops.  The first was a Dell, which I bo't especially to have here with it's 17" screen and lots of bells and whistles.  In less than a year it died and I got absolutely no help from Dell because I had the nerve to take it out of the US.  My wonderful cousin then shipped me a new ASUS.  I did get a couple of years out of that one, but it also failed.  Last May, when we went to Oregon I bo't a refurbished HP.  It gave up the first of November.  The humidity here is killer on electronics.  I cover the computer every night with a thick towel to try to help and have it on a tray for air circulation, but to no avail.  The problem with all of them is that if one part fails it takes the whole system with it.  The Dell had a design flaw with the webcam, but it was all necessary for the initializing process.  They all have one large circuit board inside, so the problem area can't be bypassed or replaced.  Pooh!

My dear friend, Diane, is in Florida right now, but she is letting me use an old Dell that has been in her closet for a bit.  It's so old it actually had Vista as an operating system.  I've had a lot of trouble with it too (maybe it's really just me).  It took it to Sergio, who has a place in San Ignacio and is terrific with computers.  He's the one who tried to resurrect my HP.  Besides being so slow and unable to connect, the keyboard went wonky and started typing on it's own.  Freaky!  He literally stripped it down, took off Vista and installed Windows 7 and disabled the keyboard.  I bo't a USB keyboard and am limping along.  I suspect my router is also giving up the ghost.  When I want to use the computer I plug it directly into the repeater.  When I want to use the Kindle, I plug in the repeater.  Go figure!  I'm definitely technologically challenged, but am making it work.

I'm really missing the DVD drive on the computer as our little stereo also quit working, so I can't play Christmas music.  There are definitely some disadvantages to living in the bush on limited funds.  

With all our car repairs and limited funds, I've been searching for a new computer.  Sergio suggested an ACER, as they're the only ones that seem to be effectively sealed against the humidity.  He hasn't had one in his repair shop for these problems.  I looked at Amazon and BestBuy and checked the reviews.  For every great review, I'd see someone saying that they got their new computer home and it didn't work, right out of the box.  Living in this tiny country, where it can take months to get something here, that wasn't very reassuring.  I ended up taking a huge chance.  I went on eBay and found exactly what I was looking for a about 1/3 of the price I would pay for a one new.  Actually this one has more storage and speed than I needed.  It's from a pawn shop in Detroit.  Scarey!  I ran it by Sergio and his comment was that they don't lend on a computer that doesn't work, so I put in my bid and won.  I had it sent to a friend in Colorado who is coming down in January.  She isn't any more adept at computers than I am, but she said she plugged it in and it connected to the internet just fine, so I'm crossing my fingers that in January, I'll be good to go again. 

I suspect that my problems aren't all the fault of the computer.  This repeater is less than reliable, so may have to reactivate the satellite and probably get a new router.  My internet connection is as important as food as I couldn't stand being so far away and not be able to connect with family and friends. 

Anyway, I'm delighted to be able to get and receive emails and even Skype with this old computer, so my holiday spirit is surviving.   Blessings and Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bailey's problem

Our poor, lovely old Akita, Bailey, is really suffering.  His hair is so thick with a very dense undercoat.  This has always worried us, but it seemed to serve as an insulation.  He's now either 11 or 12 years old, so is fairly old for such a large dog.  I think I mentioned in a previous post that he lost a patch of hair on his back, which I attributed to fleas.  We've fought that problem with all three dogs.  We finally got my order of Stronghold from the UK, which seems to have alleviated the flea problem for this month.  We had a vet out to our farm and after he took skin scrapings and had them analyzed, they determined that it's actually a fungus.  Not surprising as we've had a lot of rain periodically, followed by heat.  We're not alone in this fight, but that fact doesn't help our poor old guy.  The vet gave us medicine to make a spray, which helped the first spot, where the hair is regrowing, but his hair is now falling out in huge clumps and he has black patches on his usually pink skin.  I use a ferminator to strip out the dead hair and I fear that he'll soon be bald.  Actually the vet suggested that we shave him down, but we've had such cold nights that we don't want to as we're afraid he'll get too cold. 

Rene looked at Bailey when he was working and suggested we prepare a bath for him of Ix-canon (Red head polly).  It's a common plant here that grows in cleared areas.  I checked it out in "100 Rainforest Remedies" and they determined that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  I collected the leaves and tore them into little pieces, trying to crush as much as possible.  By adding water, it made a tea type bath.  We have a large, shallow watering trough that I bo't especially to bathe the dogs.  In the book they suggest you actually boil it for tea, but we needed too much, so he told me to make it a day ahead and then pour it over Bailey, and even leave some of the leaf material on the sore spots.  Mayan medicine often uses the term "one-in-one-out" meaning every other day, so that is what I'm trying to do.  This seems to give him the most relief.  The vet, Eduardo, is local and he agreed that the Ix-canon is a good remedy. 

The vet now feels that Bailey's immune system is shutting down as his body seems to almost be shooting the hair off.  We're supplementing his food with vitamin C and cod liver oil and he's been given antibiotic shots.  Today he actually seems to have lots more energy, but he's starting to look old.  Our poor daughter just had to have her beloved dog, Shadow, put down and we fear that if Bailey can't fight this off, we'll have to follow suite.  This is a really tough climate for dogs, but especially for double coated dogs.  I hope after the holidays we'll have good news to report as we're sure not giving up on our wonderful friend and family member.  Blessings and keep your fingers crossed.