Friday, May 30, 2008

A Couple Successful Outings and the Unexpected...

While cruising the top of the property Jeff spotted something unexpected in some tree roots...
Red Jungle Fowl on a nest of eggs. Our neighbor friend says the hen will stay on the eggs for a month and then bring the babies down. I've checked on her for a few days and she is still up there....very very quiet...(I leave corn for her so she doesn't have to leave and forage)

Yesterday was a very successful day. We accomplished not ONE but SEVEN things in ONE day! Unheard of. Just about everything takes a day to do. Here's what we did: 1) bought plain printer paper and tried to find 13x19 matte photo paper (no luck there) 2) checked to see if my contacts were in (nope) 3) went to CAICO with our marbette receipt and got a check back for $148 (insurance for the car up to 300,000 was $308 a year and the mandatory marbette insurance everyone has to have was $148 so in reality 300,000 worth of insurance costs around $150). Also are getting information in English about health insurance. 4) found the "free tree" place and picked up the goodies pictured above 5) went to Rincon to meet some new friends and fellow newcomers to PR 6) picked up some groceries at SAM's club and found the unexpected there....kayaks!!!!! Very exciting. The free trees we took are Sauco amarillo, Pteracarpus (don't know which one), Teca (which is Tectoma grandis - teak), Higuero (which I don't think is a tree), Capa prieto (Cordia alliodera). I had the guy write the names down and how tall and wide they get and have been trying to find out the real names so I could research them a little more. The Pteracarpus we could at least see the full grown tree but the others it would be nice to know something about. USDA site doesn't have them and I must be searching incorrectly for info! They do have Moralons there but I bought one previously and don't want to go wild with loads of 80 foot trees! There is an assortment of seedlings but if you don't know what you want or what something is... Anyway, go to the University and take a left through the gate and stay left until it heads down a hill into houses and up on the left (before you head down) is a shade bed and that is it. When you see the "Pay for stuff" nursery on the right you have passed it. (but go back to it after you collect your trees) A nice opportunity to reforest with native trees for free!

So SAMS club finally had kayaks, or I should say kayak. We had given up after checking in SAMS for 7 months now. In Puerto Rico if you see something and you want it you have to get it right then or it will be gone and there won't be any more. Seriously. SAMS had 6 kayaks total with no more coming. Well you can't do anything with one kayak, so they called Ponce for us and Ponce SAMS had 2 kayaks. They were put on hold and the plan was to get them by 11am. When I went out to feed the kitties this morning I saw that "Princess", the teeny weeny kitty, had a large gash under her arm. We'd been trying to decide what to do about the feral cats. We took in Chicken Little and neutered him and all that, but can't afford to fix them all. Today unexpectedly decided that! We had to take her in before she got an infection from the gash. So we went to the vet and she was on vacation. We got referred to a vet in Cabo Rojo who seems like a really good guy and understands the dilemma. He also understood that we would never be able to catch the feral Miss Princess again to bring her back so he is spaying her and giving her shots and everything and keeping her overnight as well. He couldn't get her out of the carrier either (getting her in was no easy matter). So I guess we have another cat! Maybe not in the house but at least safe and non-reproducing. Maybe if she is free of worms she'll get bigger. After dropping the cat off we went and got the kayaks and stopped in Yauco to look at cement tables/benches.

We found some new cement amigos for the yard - yes they are a chicken family...rooster, hen and three chicks. Things for the cats to play on. The chicks were $2, the rooster $12 and hen 8 ...hard to resist! We also found the cement table we wanted much less expensive than the one we were looking at in Aquadilla. The Aquadilla one had mosaic tiles on it and was $360. There was a mosaic one in Yauco (looked the same) for $335. But...they had a plain round cement one with 2 benches that they are painting for us for $160. Sold! I just want somewhere else to sit that won't have to be taken in in windy weather, that won't rust, rot or mold. Cement is the answer! They had all kinds of neat geckos and frogs and suns etc to attach to the outside walls of your house and fountains, pedestals etc. A great place! It'll be sanded and painted by next week - yeah! So tomorrow is a diving day, pick up the little kitty, plant some new trees, move the cement chickens around clean up the flying termite bodies from inside the house. We finally had rain and got a swarm of the flying guys around the screens. I used a blow dryer to blow them out, dry them up and then we shut the slats. I'm sure it will be like it never happened tomorrow. What unexpected things will tomorrow bring? After a good rain you never know...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You Can See the Entire Yard at Once!

Here's the house and property from down a little above street level. You can see the cleared area below where we planted bananas and papayas and assorted trees. The house sits in the middle of the property. You can't see the 13 mature citrus trees that are just below the house. Then you can see above the house up to the newly re-strung fence line. All the grass is cut! There is more yard to the right. This is the first time we can actually SEE all the property at once! Behind our property there is Bosque which is I think government park land. Directly above us 2 miles or so is Maricao.

Here is a mature corazone tree with a 7 foot Naranja agria (bitter orange) tree, then aguacate (avocado) then naranja agria then troll bridge. I think Blue Curacao liquer is distilled naranja agria. Look how nice and green and low the grass is. This tree is begging for a cement table and bench set to be put under it. I saw a Puerto Rican Todie (small green and red bird) in this tree.

Here's a view of the top of the house from the middle of the upper property. One of the many things we love about this house is its unique shape. The super big tree to the right is the Maria Tree which is a real treasure. It is huge and creates lots of shade and birds love it and cats love it and chickens hang out under it.

More of the upper property. The berms are raked grass from after weed wacking placed on the contour lines of the slope to help create terraces and trails. It also traps sediment and prevents erosion. It also decomposes and I have compost close to things I will plant up there.
This is one of three large and many small watermelons we've got growing. Today in Sam's Club one watermelon was $6! I think I'll enjoy ours even more now!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Last time I checked all the kitties were pig-piled on the plastic chair. Then I hear this really obnoxious noise and I see little Holstein (who we now call "princess") putting her paw onto something and then pulling it up and shaking it. This of course brings in the others who act more like Meercats than feral cat cats and the commotion begins! They are pawing and biting and circling around this well...bug.

So here it is on the cement. It was moving its head mechanically up and down in a Farscape "replicator" way (if you've seen that episode). The noise was awful, kind of a wind-up toy and vibrating type noise you really just have to hear. Kind of scary.

So I got it climb onto a stick with some difficulty. Flicking it didn't work because it was very strong and wouldn't flick. Once it crawled on I moved it to the grass thinking the cats would leave it alone but no...they still swarmed it.

I took my chances and kneeled down in the grass for double indemnity (ants - which always find me- and incisors). I had the lens a few inches away but still it was scary! I don't know what it eats but look at the scissors its got!

Closer still they appear to be bypass pruners - maybe we'll call this the "Bypass Bug" for short and avoid it at all costs.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Over 3 Hours Underwater Yesterday and 85 Minutes Today

Wow, conditions have been nice for diving the last couple of weeks. Last weekend we tried to go from the Rincon wall South to the North wall. We didn't make it even after 81 minutes of swimming over a kilometer under water. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday we dove the caves and caught some tasty lobster. The water has been flat and the vis has been over 70 feet. Yesterday we did it, diving from the Rincon wall South to North in one dive. 100 minutes under water swimming over a mile. We even needed to do a little deco on the swim in. It was a great dive. If all that swimming wasn't enough we drove over to the caves and dove there for another 80 minutes. We thought yesterday was flat. Today was even nicer. It was so nice we didn't have to swim through the caves to get to the outer reef. We just swam over the top of the reef then began our dive. Saving some 10 minutes of swimming under water just to get to the nice part of the reef. Its really tempting to go to the caves tomorrow because the water is supposed to be the same as today but then the waves get bigger for the rest of the week. I think we are sufficiently waterlogged at this point though.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Unveiling of the Bench, Parcha and Painted (at least before the rain) New Walls

Well here it is....ta dah...the first prototype bench! It is very functional and far better than boards- on- blocks but needs some refining. As I suspected, the tiles on the bottom of the form were amidst rocky gravel and the tiles on top are what we have up. Our form made finishing work a little difficult and I am sure there are tools to round the edges that we just don't have. We have the triangle trowel and the flat rectangular one and have done our walls and the bench with those two tools.

The bench looks pretty good. {Chicken Little approves) If I paint the legs and top and maybe mortar them and the sides first it could look great, but I think it is good enough - solid, cool to sit on and not-going-anywhere. Next time I will figure out how to curve thoses edges (they aren't uncomfortable), I'll tint the cement maybe and see how that goes! Maybe I'll use some of those neat glass blocks (turquise ones) instead of tiles. Have to figure out what to coat them with (WD40?) so cement doesn't stick to them and you can see through to cool plants I'll put underneath.

Remember this messy overgrown area? I moved the plants elsewhere and we built our first little wall and are ready to start selecting plants to go in here.

Better, huh? A nice limey green wall low enough to be unobtrusive (but higher than the loose rocks that were there before). You can see through to more of the property. The bananas either fruited and we cut them, I moved the small ones or just took a few out. I have planted a low yellow-flowering ground cover to hold back the dirt and cover everything and put an agave to the far left with birds of paradise starts where I need some plants with height. Now you can see the avocado tree. When the fruit drops whatever is below is gonna have a few pounds drop on it and I know from the coconut episode what that is like! We'll try to get them before they drop but there are too many. I'm thinking some dark purple plants would be a good contrast and now just have to look around. I was going to put a variegated hibiscus in there but resisted the urge since it would get too big too fast. Words of wisdom - never make a bed smaller than 6 feet wide and really find out how big things get so the roots don't lift your cement, and foliage doesn't rot your wood or keep the cement dirty or block windows when they grow. Trees should be at least 10 - 20 foot at center...REALLY.

Here is the mostly completed bottom of the driveway. This morning at 7 I primed the wall. 3 hours later I painted it. 6 hours later the downpour started. Great. Now we get to see if it functions (or does dirt wash over it or avalanche to the left) or not so we can make adjustments. I put trinitaria (bougainvillea) in it since we cannot water down there. The choices were croton (slow growing and a little wide), hibiscus or trinitaria - the variegated yellow goes with the limey wall, the height will hide the lovely water pipes and other junk above and I'll have flowers! A good choice even though it is kind of the arborvitae of the island. It has its purpose!

Here's another view. We can't see any of this except when we drive up, but really wanted the front to look nice and needed to keep that dirt back and off our slippery driveway. The red plant in the pot will hopefully hide garbage cans and the other pot will hold flowers until the agave grows a little. The ficus (looks like sea grape but isn't) may outgrow its spot and I was hesitant because of the root system these trees can have but was told if I keep the tree at six feet it will be fine - we shall see. My instincts tell me it is wrong for there but I can't resist since its shape is right for the spot.

And finally - at last - parcha blooms! I toured the yard prior to painting this morning and there weren't blooms. After painting in the afternoon Jeff comes in and gives me the news. We've got a half dozen buds and a few blooms! I have read that they bloom for 12-24 hours, are self-fertile, and that you can put the fruit whole in a baggie in the freezer and thaw as needed. I can't wait to make marmalade and juice and other tasty delights! Maybe pumpkin balls and parcha syrup? Yum

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Cement, Blossoms and Trees...

After working on the wall we had left over materials to do random projects with. Jeff made a form for a bench top and we found some extra carport tiles to jazz it up a bit. We aren't sure whether laying the tiles down and pouring cement over them OR putting the tiles face up afterwards is the best method so this time we did both. I think you cannot put them on the bottom if you want smooth cement around it. I think there will be rocks that will make the bench bumpy...when we unveil it in a couple days we will know which way is best! It could be that you adhere tiles later with special tile goo or something. We didn't add rebar either - didn't think we'd need it. If I made it myself I probably would have poured it in a location close to where it would end up since it will be pretty heavy. Jeff poured it near the carport. Hope it isn't too heavy.
With leftover stuff already mixed he poured some into the center column of the two cinder blocks and I will finish them later so we have the bench legs. If this works well we can tint the cement next time so we don't have to paint afterwards. Could be hard painting around the tiles on top (if that works). This could be a fun and cheap way to make lots of benches so we can rest our weary bones in between work spurts. The top took a bag of cement ($3.60) and some gravel. We had wood laying around. Cinder blocks are 65 cents each.

Touring around the yard several times a day is always a treat. This time I spotted some big avocado in one of our 7 trees. There are at least two varieties, several trees are too young to bear fruit, and they seem to be blooming at different times (which is good). Anyone got any recipes for something other than cold avocado soup or guacamole?

I had to move the bird bath since birds weren't going in it. I put it outside our bedroom window because we hear doves and all kinds of birds in the orchid tree, corazones, achiote and guava. Little Boy (our fat Washington cat - aka Dakota) is sitting under the Guava which has a zillion blossoms that I didn't see until I started waking up to the sounds of really big peanut-m&m size bees! I looked up and saw buds and flowers and little fruits! That's how it is here - one day there is nothing, the next day fruit! or flowers! or leaves!

These are the guava blossoms that have the bees so excited.

This tree is a "must have." I didn't appreciate it at first until I noticed that at night the leaves looked like butterflies' wings - they fold up. Then it started to bloom and the flowers look like orchids! Sorry I don't know the real name of this tree yet but I really like it. I have collected seeds and am growing starts to put up on the hill.

Here is one of the blooms that dropped off. There are hardly any leaves on the tree right now so the flowers are very showy. We bought this house mainly because of the property and all the full grown trees and shrubs. The house is a wonderful design as well, but I really want to be outside all the time. Just touring the yard makes me happy. Every day brings a different smell as something somewhere starts to bloom and sets me off to go find it! Can't wait until the plumeria and llang llang start to bloom. I also planted mirto outside the bedroom window (below the plumeria). The plumeria has buds already so it should bloom soon - ah well, maybe tomorrow!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Toads Toads Toads - Real and No es Real

Our first toad siting was of this one sitting in the Bromelid at night. I looked every night for him and there he was like a little prince sitting in his perch. I was hoping he was one of the endangered ones but nope - not of the crested variety (but he's cool anyway).

Speaking of cool - this one appeared in the fountain at night a couple nights ago. The fountain is kind of high off the ground so we aren't sure how he hopped in there, but he's shown up a few of our hotter nights.

When we went to build our little wall we pulled back the tarp and saw not one, but two toads in the sand pile. One was hunkered down in a pit he built while the other was in the hole of the cinder block sand corral. I thought it was stuck so I lifted the cinder block but it hopped right back in.

Here they are "exposed" for the toads they are. When Jeff carried them to a better spot one of them let out with this stream of toad-pee or toad-goo, not sure what it was but it got him on the shorts and hands and was a powerful stream of whatever-it-was.

This toad, no es real. We picked up two of these at kmart when they were 30% off. I'm not the garden whimsy type gal except for bird baths, benches, wind chimes, solar lights, decorative water dishes (for the geckos and chickens) etc (oops - maybe I am one of those). Anyway, they are going on top of the gate posts when the wall is done. We are thinking of dismantling some solar lights and putting the leds inside the toad head and tuck the panel behind it so the eyes glow at night! Kind of a cool idea but we don't know if we want to draw attention to the house in that way - just be able to tell UPS and Fed Ex we are in the toad house instead of the house next to the house with the recliner on the road (the garbage FINALLY took it away) on another one of the off garbage days. Just when is garbage pickup? Whenever they come - we thought it was weds for awhile, then thurs, but it was monday this week. Oops. So that's why all the cans are always out... and looking trashy.... we'll post the toads when they start guard duty...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Manatee, Underwater Treasures and 2 New Walls!

Yesterday we decided to dive the Aguadilla Court House Wall since we hadn't been there in awhile. We have been working hard in the yard for 6 dive- free days since there was some rain earlier in the week and we expected the water to be murky. So we take a look at the surface and it is calm calm calm and appears clear. We head out for the 20 minute swim and Jeff spots "something big" on the surface. We all quickly put masks on and discover a manatee!!!! My first ever! This is a big, weird looking animal. The blob kind of swam a little and then settled on the bottom for a short while and we ewed and awed until it left. We continued on in good visibility until the end when it got murky. The water temperature has gone up to 81! It was 82 in spots. So what about the treasure? Here is the first treasure - (not the shoe) a really cool and very large fish scale. The shiny aluminum foil look is what caught my eye. At first I thought it was an operculum (anatomy that closes a snail into its shell) and then figured out (because of the slime) that it was one monster-big fish scale. I would have loved to have seen the giant barracuda or whatever it was.
 A closer view.

The second treasure was on today's dive. Lobster for dinner - yum. We headed out to Shacks since conditions looked good. It was absolutely gorgeous! We pulled out the reel to get an idea what the visibility was and at 85 feet we just stopped - visibility was around 100. Unheard of for us Washington divers. We could see forever. The previous day at the court house wall we even saw our own shadows underwater! We had 78 minutes or so of absolute beauty, turtles, big fish, little stuff and clear water. Even coming back through the reef in the tunnels wasn't as difficult as usual. And we got something yummy for dinner.

The first new wall was south of the Rincon Wall - we will cleverly call it Rincon Wall 2. We did a nice long exploratory dive here last week. My new favorite spot. Big drop off, gullys, reef and loads of big big fish. The second wall is a mini wall we built to take care of a messy driveway. Here's a shot of the mess. I don't even know how messy it gets in the wet season but wanted to fix it before then! We are limited as to what we can do since it is rocky, a house sits up top and you can see the water lines. Water lines for a couple houses go up our driveway for a hundred feet before veering left to cross a road and go to other houses. We can't move them, can't really hide them totally in case they need to be fixed so we are doing what we can. We will build a wall that will function to keep dirt back. It will make a little mini planter where I will plant some stuff to kind of hide the pipes, soften the wall and make a nice entrance to the house.

Jeff did the digging while the ground was soft so it took a couple hours. We layed it out to figure out where to set rebar before making the base (which took an afternoon).

The next day we set about making the actual wall which we thought would be 2 blocks high. We ended up going three since it would function better and give me space for soil to plant (it is rock).

It was a very long and tiring day of getting the blocks up. Jeff brought sand and gravel and cement down in the truck (which he had to load) and he did the mixing (in the wheel barrow) while I did the cementing. I had to gather rocks from all over to fill the cinder block holes. Jeff had to cut more rebar when we decided to go up a block. Lots of wrist work, but it looks great and looks like it will function well (we will see when it rains). We still need to wing it to the left on a diagonal (more digging and block cutting). I am waiting until next week (hey, that's tomorrow already) to put the finishing coat on and then we'll do the final part on the upper wall before getting paint and REALLY finishing it! Working with cement is really get results fast and can actually build things. We plan on making cement benches for various spots in the yard and maybe some planters? Endless possibilities. Jeff even cut some steps into the orange hillside and poured cement to make cat play areas - (not really) I mean steps to make weed whacking easier. Cement is fun and easy and so far works!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chicken Little's BIG day -- Cortar los Pelotas!!! Ahora!

It looks like he knows what is about to happen! We gave Chicken Little a nice meal last night around 6 (he and all his friends). In the morning when he was peering into the rejas with the 5 other faces I let him into the Big House - a dream come true! However, while his buddies had their morning meal we got the cat carrier and he had his first car ride! How exciting is that? Somersaults and rolling and general noise making all the way to the vet.

Here he is last night with his crown jewels and his little friend (maybe girlfriend) looking on. Boy this twig is fun! So we dropped him off at 8:30 and retrieved him at 3:30 a bit zoned out and wobbly. $113 later we now officially have a new family member who is worm free (had hookworms), vaccinated for everything (leukemia, rabies, respiratory stuff , worms etc etc), jewel-free and ready to lounge around with us for good. So what do we do about the others? They all are feral (we can only pick up one of the old ones) and probably all have hookworms and pass them around. A few of them have coughs, which I guess is the big problem here - respiratory problems and hook and heart worms. The moms can pass hookworms on to the little ones, they can cough them up, if they roll around or share the pooping zone (and bird spa) they can pass them around. So how much can an unemployed person do? Heart worm medication at the vet was $20 for 6 pills and they all need it every month. On line the pills are 31- but we will keep looking. Not sure about spaying, but neutering is $55 and all the shots were$35 or so. The vet will help out some if we keep bringing cats in but I don't know how much to expect her to do. Even if a shelter offers it less expensive the cost of gas to get there and back will make it cost the same. So we don't know what to do next so it is one cat at a time. Maybe the heart worm pills will at least keep all their GI tracks parasite free! So Chicken will spend at least one night in the house even though he isn't exactly happy about it!

So here's a picture of my mini Moralon tree. It is small right now but gets GIANT leaves and is a tree native to Puerto Rico.
Here is a picture of a Moralon leaf from a mature tree. I can envision using it to press designs into the cement benches we are going to make. Cool, huh? I had this in the carport and Chicken Little sat on it like a toad on a lily pad.

More vetiver - very exciting! I can't wait to see it grow! So back now to the upset kitty - we'll see how long we can keep him in the cat carrier. Until morning I suspect and then we'll have had enough and we'll set him free...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ahhh Vetiver!!! Exciting Exciting Stuff!!!

The long story made short is...there are some spots on our property (and probably everyone elses') that are eroding. When it rains it really rains and the water will make gullies. Doesn't help that people weedwack to the ground and remove all vegetation (leaves etc). We have seen many a trench made that focuses the water making it into an erosion machine! The house has been here for 30 years. Nothing endangering anything or anyone but why have erosion if you can stop it? And the answer to the problem is Vetiver Grass! Here is a clump of this miracle grass with its root ball. I had read about it and seen photos, but we were lucky enough to know people who have real live vetiver in place along a driveway with a steep slope running alongside. It is beautiful stuff! This mass is "topped" - we cut off about half of the blades so separating and planting would be easier. I also cut off half the roots.

Using a machete (or course) I separated individual blades to prepare for planting. I got around 140 blades from this clump.
Here is my bucket full of this wonderfully aromatic hedge grass! The excitement mounts! I got a couple buckets worth out of the clump.

Here's one location warranting the use of vetiver - this gully (which is natural and comes from the top of the property). When the wet season gets here I am sure this is a water feature. There are large rocks and a fence that is crossing the gully in-the-air because the small crossing probably has been getting bigger each year. The gully is 6-8 feet deep - the deepest part is after the troll bridge. This first view is from in the gully looking up at the little line of vetiver. This line of vetiver will prevent the soil from collapsing further into the abyss.

Here is a better view from the line of vetiver itself. This thin line will make a clump about 2 feet wide and 2-3 feet tall. The roots of this grass can be 30 feet!!! (the clump we got was taken from rock basically and the roots were still well established) They are using it in many countries to prevent erosion - it prevents 70% of erosion and 90% of sediment runoff! It absorbs pollutants and is being used to reclaim mining areas. It absorbs lead! If you need another reason to love is really a nice looking ornamental plant with a pleasant scent and from what I saw of a real live 20 foot run of it it doesn't die out in the middle, look "ratty" like a lot of grasses and it is sterile (won't spread by seeding). I think it has a nicer look than boxwood or lavender. Pruning it every few months encourages new shoots.
Here is the fence-in-the-air. A nice chunk of soil has dropped off to the other side. My line of vetiver should stop that!

So what is the "down" side to vetiver? None that I can see. It is sterile. Non-invasive (the real live person we got it from has watched it in her yard for 3 years - thank you Racquel and Ray).

More information can be found at and many other places. On the site make sure you scroll down to the picture gallery...think the first one is the award winning one. I will post occasional updates on our vetiver plantings. I already have a new thought for the area outside our kitchen door. It is an 85 degree slope that little by little washes down. I was going to build a little 2 block high wall, then decided on landscape blocks so I could do curves (nothing I hate more that everything lined up along property lines or house edges etc). Now I have decided to grow a curving vetiver "living" mini wall to hold back the dirt and provide a little kitchen garden. I just have to get my vetiver factory growing so I have clumps to divide and move around!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mas Lluvia and SCUBA Diving

It's been raining in the afternoon a lot every day. The rivers are brown, brown, brown. When looking out at the ocean you can see where the river water empties into the ocean. There is a sharp line of nice clean blue water and dirty brown river water. This can effect our diving. Visibility can go from 100' to almost nothing in a single dive. I wouldn't have thought it could change that quickly but during today's dive the vis went from 60' to 10'. Today we dove El Natural again. We saw the brown line as we were driving to the dive site but it was off shore of where we were diving. We thought we lucked out and the brown water wasn't going to effect us. We started the dive (our 22nd in PR) and we had great vis. We saw all kinds of fish and a few turtles. We turned the dive around at the 45 minute mark. We had great vis for another 20 minutes. Then everything turned dark. We tried to go a little deeper to find clear water but that didn't work. We headed back in to shore and ended the dive after a total of 80 minutes. We looked back out at the water and could clearly see that the brown water has moved over our dive site. A big bummer for the other divers that were just going in. We dove a new (new to us) dive site on Wednesday. It's just south of the Rincon wall that we also dove last Sunday. Katrina and David like this site a lot. I also liked it but I like the Rincon wall more. The two sites are so close together we plan on going in at the Rincon wall and just swimming south and hopefully get out of the water at the new site. Should be fun. Before that we dove the Rincon Wall with 75 feet of visibility and had a 100 feet of vis at Natural. We like the wall because there is big depth and neat geology and lots of bushy stuff. Natural is pretty reliable offering the best assortment of fish and the caverny undercuts that turtles and cool fish hang out in.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fencing, Hillside, Troll Bridge and Chicken Little...

New barbed wire was required! When we first moved in we couldn't even see the fence or fence line but since it has been the dry season (leaves have dropped off many trees) and our efforts to "clean up" have been effective we could see how crappy and rusted the old wire was. This was not a big deal when horses were ok, but since I have started to plant some native species of trees and some unusual ones I wanted to make sure the horses stayed out! We also let the grass grow (unheard of here where everything is weedwacked to bare dirt) so it could reseed which means our place is the greenest thing around! Combine that with the fact that the horses are used to being on the "inside" and you see why we had to pull some wire. Here's Jeff pulling the final strand. We went with a couple new strands and then the best of the worst was restrung along the bottom.

Horses are trouble (but I really like them). They eat only good things, trample the ground to dust and really smell. Here is one on the inside when we were letting them in. Look at all the vines and tree sticks. Hey - the fence line is up there somewhere?

Look at it now, some green pasture with new mini trees (you can't even see them here). When Jeff weedwacked the cut grass smell brought a little herd of horses whinnying and stomping to the upper fence line. That is when we knew they wanted in and that we had to stop them! They are huge animals and they are used to eating mangoes and lounging around under our 50 foot high tree with millions of mangoes hanging down for them to pluck in between mouthfuls of lush green pasture. You can't see them here, but there are 3 Flamboyant trees, 2 red ones I started from seed - and a blue one I bought as a 4 inch seedling. There is also a pomegranate (they call it grenada), Canisteel (egg fruit - very yummy), Llang llang, Moralon (native to the island), a Bay Rum tree, Plumeria, papayas (started from seed), Parcha (passion fruit), Mirto, Calliandra, bananas and palms we moved around from other places. Then there is the garden area. Here's the view of part of our upper yard from the upper middle left corner of the property. You can see my little troll bridge. The troll bridge connects the area near the big palm to the dirt patch which is a vegetable garden. One of two vegetable gardens. We've got watermelon and tomatoes and peppers so far. The other garden has tomatoes and green beans and aji dulce peppers in it. Oh and I planted calabaza (pumpkin - no not the same as in-the-states-pumpkins). Amparo our neighbor lady brought over some most delightful soft, sweet and puffy pumpkin donuts! I think they were little balls of heaven! You can see the new blue birdbath. While Jeff was on vacation I saw a Puerto Rican Tody bird in the Corazon tree and thought a bird bath might bring him in again. Disappointing so far, no birds in the bird bath.

Here's my little troll bridge up close. I am thinking this gully might be a water feature in the wet season, but for now I go to my bridge at night...hang my feet over the the fireflies and listen to the coquis and assorted bugs. Everything here sounds amplified. The insects are shaking little maracas. Anyway, my imagination makes me feel like the main character in Pan's Labyrinth (a wonderful movie if you like magical things). The gully is a wild place packed full of all kinds of neat plants and animals.

And after working for hours doing "gardening" or "yard work" I come to the front of the house for a Malta and sandwich and find Chicken Little having a snooze in my chair. Oh, did I say MY chair? I think he is "ours" now and we need to neuter him and work him into the big house despite objections from our monster "little boy." I can't resist the little face peering into the big house when its raining. He has a cat bed in the carport but he really wants a warm human and I think he found one...