Monday, April 21, 2008

THE Bruise, a New Kind of Thorn, Cement and Diving...

As expected I got a nice bruise from the great coconut drop. It was nastier in person but hey, you can see the outline of the nut which is kind of weird! The keys are there so the camera would actually show the bruise.

So I am in the yard doing more moving around of plants, in this case moving little bananas from the parent stalk to places we need greenery in the yard when...I feel a thorn (no big surprise there) jabbing inside my pant leg. Everything here is a grows fast, flowers, throws out seeds and starts again and everything has jabby or sticky or poky parts. So I feel around for the thorn and find it. To my surprise however it had little red eyes and little legs!

Here are a bunch of the "living thorns" on the little banana starts. They are, well, about thorn size and are a poky as a thorn too! Isn't nature wonderful?

A couple weeks before Jeff left for vacation we went to the Ferreteria in Sabana Grande and bought some cinder blocks, rocks, sand and cement. They delivered everything for free the next day and we were excited to start some little cement projects since we have never done any cement work. One of the projects was to build a little wall one block high to clean up the area under the upper avocado tree. This area was very overgrown with achiote saplings and little trees and cool plants all kind of mixed together along with logs from cut down invaders and a crumbling rock wall of sorts. This is what you see when you get to the top of the driveway, and I wanted to clean it up. I also didn't like that the soil kind of flows down when it rains. Water also collected near the cement shed to the left.

Jeff laid out the wall and we filled the block holes with rocks and then cement and I graded the problem shed area (the best I could anyway) and ta da it looks cleaner already! Jeff went on his trip and while he was gone I finished the wall so it is now ready for paint (but we don't know the house color - we want to match the lime green). The next thing is for me to dig out and divide all the diffenbachia, anthuriums etc and move them to new places. I've already moved some around and I'm not sure how things will end up. Eventually we'd like the area under the tree free of bananas, but it is hard to off something that is providing shade and almost food so for now they stay. Kind of looks bare now, but when I get my plan together it will be wonderful.
So the first cement project was a success and great fun. Next we will be building a little bigger and higher wall down the driveway outside the gate. Right now the directions to our house are to to spot the recliner and garbage cans. We are about to remedy that by making a nice little wall that will hold back dirt that I can plant cool plants in. We are going to cement these cool plaster jumbo toads I got at kmart on top of the gate posts. We have a real toad that looks similar in the yard. The toads are kind of cool looking. So hopefully people can spot the toads and know it is our gate. That project has to wait until we restring barbed wire on the upper yard though. When Jeff got back he weedwacked and a little herd of horses ran up to the fence line drawn in by the smell and the "greener on the other side" thing. It is all "bosque" behind us and the ranchers let loose their horses. The barbed wire I'm afraid won't keep them out, and I have planted Ylang ylang, plumeria, canisteel, moralon, pomegranite and flambouyants I started from seed (orange, blue and yellow). If they get in they will eat it all. So with all these projects we decided to dive today. Yesterday we tried to go but a "frente frio" (cold front - not very cold though) made for swell and waves...perfect to go body surfing in. After looking at diving conditions David decided it would be crappy so we stayed and played on the beach instead. A surfer (Alfred) saw us with the boogie board and dorky air mattress and offered up his small surf board. I could row on my stomach and once got onto my knees but forget standing up! Very tippy! I definitely need lessons/pointers but appreciated the chance to use it and get rough and tumbled in the sand. That thing can swing back and knock you out! Today we DID dive at Shacks. As usual it was currenty in the caves and fine outside. We saw an eagle ray and turtle. Vis was 40 something (not as good as usual) and water was 79 on the outside and 81 on the inside. Very nice. On the way in as we entered the caverns to cross to the inside the pressure difference popped my contact out of my eye where it then stuck to my nose. Ear trouble always on that part of the dive - lots of pressure changes, water sucking you one way or another, part of the excitement. So tomorrow will be a yard day ...most likely the fence project.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wriggly Spearmint Gum Commercial - Double Good...

Jeff went on vacation for 17 days and animal things multiplied. I felt (still feel) like Dr. Doolittle in the morning with chickens on the benches and little cat faces looking into the Big House. Our fat cat is truly in prison and he wants out while everyone else wants in!

When Jeff left we had 2 black hens in the yard and one had 11 chicks. There was one rooster with a really cool crowing technique. There was also the white hen.

Then I saw the black hen and there were only 8 chicks and I figured the buzzards got some. Then I was greeted in the yard by three black hens...two with a set of chicks on what I call the double -day! Rooster 1 was there, and then another rooster I now call Pretty Boy - a gorgeous bird who sounds like a girl when he crows. He is a little scatter brained but when you see the two roosters side by side he is clearly a beauty! The white hen has taken a liking to him and doesn't want to be pimped out by rooster 1, but Pretty Boy is young and not that great of a defender yet. Rooster 1 will nail her right in front of him, touch down his wing and do the victory dance and Pretty Boy keeps his distance. This shot shows two hens and two sets of chicks on double-day. Now there are 3 black hens all with sets of young chicks, a hen with older chicks and a couple teenage hens cruising around. They cruise around the yard all day pecking in my garden, in the compost piles, and rummaging in the leaf litter for bugs. They have cats with them and they are really fun to have around!

To my surprise one day a couple ducks/geese showed up - on doubles-day of course. I have only seen them once. Word got out that I like animals I guess and they decided to see what things were like over here!
All the cats around here (and most other animals as well) are kind of on their own and don't really need people. They hunt geckos, eat fruit, have chickens for friends, enjoy each other's company and are afraid of people. Most of the time they don't (or didn't) come close so getting an accurate idea of an animals size and sex is kind of hard. Seeing them together though makes it clear that there are two orange cats. Now we are friends with both and they seem to enjoy being held and petted and fed. Here's Major Tom and his offspring Chicken Little lounging in front of the house.

We thought there was one stripped cat until I saw two of them together. The mom (right) has a peach spot on her head. Both are bitchy little girls and we don't really like them. They however have decided to hang out at our place anyway.

One morning I heard something new and odd in the yard. The sound wasn't chickens or roosters or any of the many birds we hear. After following the sound up the hill I discovered this really big bird which I think is a turkey. No one close by admits to missing a turkey so it must have wandered up and over the ridge or something. It stayed in the yard for several days and nights and now seems to have disappeared or gone home or something. The other new thing on doubles-day was a little calico kitty we call Holstein Junior. She looks just like the big Holstein but is very very tiny. She is hard to get close to and doesn't like to be touched. The animal thing here in Puerto Rico is different. At first we thought all the animals were starving but after driving around with dog food in the car and offering it to many of the "starving" we have decided it isn't true. Many animals here just live on their own and if you think about it they don't really need people. The weather is great, there is food around and they have each other. In a book on Puerto Rico birds we saw a photo of "Red Jungle Fowl" and thought wow - those are chickens! Now we understand. Roosters and hens are all over the hills here for miles and miles roosting in the mango trees, patrolling the yard and forest and coming near humans. The ones in our yard aren't any body's. All the creepy chicken sounds all night are from the red jungle fowl talking to each other.

Cat Characters/frequent Visitors Who Want in the Big House

This is one of the original visitors to our little house - Holstein (reminded us of a holstein cow). He is kind of anti-social...the only time I ever touched him he jumped sky high. He doesn't hear very well and I think is kind of old. He has a persnickety personality which is why we like him.
This is Holstein Jr. (inventive name, huh). We don't have much invested in him but he is very very small and cute and hungry.
This is Bepo. The original owner of the house moved and his cat kept coming back to our house and we thought this was her (but it wasn't). We tried to befriend her originally but she is a bitchy little cat. Now we don't want her around but she's hungry and we like her kitten.

This is Bepo Jr. who is a cute but not friendly little cat - female we think (always bitchy). She is really pretty and hard to resist when she presses her little face through the rejas to peer into the big house in the morning with the rest of them.

This is Major Tom - I named him that because for some unexplainable reason I think of the David Bowie song when I see and pet him. I don't know why. I like him a whole lot. I think he is dad to many of the kitties around our place. He has the sweetest little meow and the nicest face. We think he is kind of old and has the beginning of a cataract in his left eye. He lets everyone else eat - he never growls or hisses or anything. He is very very sweet. We have to pick burrs and things off him because he isn't taking care of himself super well. We love him.

And then there's Chicken Little who came into our lives via the chicken group that frequents the yard. He came around every day with the chickens and left with them at night. He still hangs out during the day with them after snoozing in one of our chairs for a few hours after the morning meal. He is one of Major Tom's offspring and has the same really long long tail. At some point soon we will need to neuter him and get him shots etc. He really wants in the Big House! He hops up and hangs on the screen when I am inside in the kitchen so he can look and see me. He is the last little face and the first little face I see peering in day and night. He is definitely a kitty - full of energy, and goofy. He chases his tail, jumps and attacks my toes if I wiggle them and best of all kind of goes in a trance when picked up by the skin of his neck! He follows me around the yard when I am doing "interesting" things. We just built a platform in the Maria Tree for him. So that is the menagerie. It didn't start out that way, there were originally 3 cats and one rooster and 3 hens...then Jeff went on vacation for 17 days and it all changed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Who Turned Down the Heat?

Had a great last hike on West Tiger 3. All that yard work kept me in shape.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Some Diving Pictures During My Trip Back to Washington ST

Here I am before getting in the 45 degree water.

Here I am after getting out of the 45 degree water!

The dive was great however. We just about scootered around the Diamond Knot. Current was slight and vis was about 25'. Lots of life on the ship. The ship is falling apart so it is confusing down there. For a minute I didn't think we were going to find the anchor line and we were going to have to send up a bag and drift in the current during our deco. Fortunately we found it and were able to hold on like a flag in the wind for that last 20'. Drifting wouldn't have been a problem but it would have been a hassle for the boat to untie and pick us up. Here we are getting ready for a wild ride in Agate Pass. See Laura's video at