Friday, July 31, 2009

Lots of Fruit

Now that the mangoes are winding up (at least what we can reach) the other stuff is kicking in. I think the tiny fruits are just waiting for a little rain and then they will ripen overnight! When we first moved here it was a great aguacate year but we didn't realize the how's and when's of harvesting them. We now know they can be stored on the tree and ripened when we want them. It was a bad mango year the first year so we didn't figure them out until this year. I have to harvest them and keep them in the fruit bowl for a week or two and then they are perfect! Last year we waited til they dropped (which meant they were overripe) and then cut out the smashed part. This year is the year to figure out the guayabas. Last year they turned pink and dropped and had worms. Do you pick them green? When is the perfect time? If I wait for the birds they are overripe and wormy. Ah, learning when to pick stuff is, well, a learning process. So I have a little time before the Guavas are ripe. I'll probably try to make some flakey pastries or something since they are really too sweet for me to enjoy as juice or fresh. Still, to see these little fruits is exciting whether or not I like them.

This is a kumquat tree that is only a foot tall or so and has about 8 fruit on it amazingly! I don't know how big the fruit should be. Since the tree is tiny should I try to eat one now? I think I'll wait awhile. I'll have to research whether or not they turn color or stay green.

Finally we've got some pomegranites. This tree started out only about 6 or 8 inches tall and is now a good 7 feet or so. The first fruits fell off (which isn't unusual for small trees) so it is nice that we will hopefully get some good ones!

The pomegranite (grenada) tree is really more like a bush. It has little thorns all over.

The coffee is still very green - I know I have to wait for it to turn red before harvesting but when will that be? We need some rain.

When I first planted lechosa (papaya) we ended up with probably 30 bearing trees and had a papaya a day just about. I got sick of them and cut them down after they fruited. I have since planted more but have a higher percentage of males this time. Still, we are starting to get fruit again already! The blossoms are really pretty.

Nice little fruits that will take several months to mature.

I few big ones that should be sweet. Last year there was a lot of rain shortly after I planted the seeds and we ended up with some watery fruit. Later the fruit got better. This year we haven't had rain so I think the fruit will be very sweet.

The fruit schedule seems off a lot from last year. Last year the quenepas (my favorite fruit I think) were finished by mid-July. This year they are kind of sweet but not very fleshy. If we get some rain they may plump up. The avocados aren't near ready but we've got scads of anones of some kind (little hand grenade looking things) that we didn't have last year. It is interesting that there is so much variation from year to year. Which year is the odd one?

Big Stuff

BIG DESIGN for an insect to make...

BIG BEE flying...

BIG BEE with pollen head...

BIG BEE butt (I'm always talking about big bees and there they are. They wake me up in the morning and that is how I know something nearby is blooming!)

BIG LEAF on the Moralon tree...

BIG SLOPE where the arboretum is taking shape...

BIG PARCHA MOUND on a couple dead stumps...

BIG POT for a small cat...

BIG PUPIL (aka Big Eye or Sci-Fi Eye).

That's it for big stuff today!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Big Fish at Crashboat

I speared this African Pompano last Wednesday. It put up a good fight. When I shot it I let go of my speargun and watched it zoom away. At the surface I watched the float line whip past me and I wondered when it would stop. The line was taken all the way out and I grabbed the float. I was being pulled out to sea by this fish. It stopped and I started swimming back in. I made a little progress then it started pulling me back out. It stopped and I was able to swim back to the pilings. I pulled in the float line and grabbed the fish with all my might. I put the stringer in and cleaned the fish then took a good rest before continuing my spearfishing. If I didn't have float line and float I would have lost the fish and gun for sure. I never would have been able to pull the fish to the surface on one breath of air. The fish tasted great!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Convento Cueva in Florida and a Nearby Cavern

The plan was to meet Ivan and a few other new cavers in Florida PR and visit Balcones (first cave we ever went into) and then explore a couple nearby ones. We were a little late (unlike us - sorry) and arrived at the meeting place only to find that it was Ivan and us! We drove to the location, got the key from the gate keeper, drove in, got the gear on and walked for 30 minutes or so on sort-of trails. Ivan had survey tape to mark trees to make the return less confusing. The walk was up and down and up and down with HUGE palm trees, bromeliads, flowers, ferns and all the beautiful wild plants that in the states you see as house plants or will never see at all. We arrived at Convento - which is not the Convento Cueva we went to before (that one was in Penueles). At first I didn't think it would be interesting because it was dry, didn't have a river, no ropes were needed, and the entrance was HUGE and I like the tiny tunnels and holes (maybe I was a rat in a former life). Boy was I surprised!

This cave was the most decorated we have been in ever. The formations were massive, sparkly with calcite, drippy, ornate, and just plain beautiful. I love being underground (or underwater) anyway, but with formations like these the mind just goes to another place! Jeff is examining a column here. Look at the scale of things. Look at the decorated ceiling.

Here he is taking a closer look.

Ivan is walking under some pretty neat stalactites here. The whole cave was kind of steamy in spots and the whole cave had ceiling decorations like these.

Ivan is traveling through some guano to another room.

Near the entrance he found a bat on the ground that had fallen. I think he put out a finger and the little feet attached to him. Aren't they kind of cute?

Look at that little face! What looks like a horn on his nose is a soft tissue protrusion. We could see all the veins in the wings and could look close up at the little feet. Ivan placed it on a stalactite since bats cannot fly from the ground (something I did not know). At the entrance we also rescued a couple baby swallows that had fallen and couldn't climb the slope. We gave them a ride up the slope to a place they could walk/run/fly from.

These formations look like ice to me. Why doesn't Disneyland have a simulated cave system ride? I swear caving is like an amusement park.

Jeff is looking up at the "tooth" formation -not a real name, but I think they look like gnarly twisted teeth. The next spot we went was really a cavern and neat in its own way but really open without any real rooms or decorations. The day turned out to be wonderful and a huge thank you to Ivan for bringing us out there!

Harvesting Stuff...Again...and Again...Full-time Work!

It's been a couple weeks since we acquired these pineapple tops and I have had them sitting in water growing roots. Now they are ready to plant. The only problem is that I don't have an area prepared to plant them in, and unlike bananas and lechosa these are in for at least a year.

So I meandered around looking for a spot to prepare and ran into some parcha on the ground which I gathered and brought in. They are colossal! This isn't a quail egg next to it, it is a chicken egg!

Since it was hot out I decided to process the old parcha before putting the new ones into the fruit bowl. We already had juice, so I put the concentrate into ice cube trays for when we need it. When they are frozen I'll dump the cubes into baggies.

This is something we haven't tried yet - something in the Anon family (like Corazones). I'll touch it and when it is soft pick it and try it. If we don't like them we'll cut them down (2 trees) since they are not in the best location. One is too close to the Achiote and the other is close to the Aquacate and Corazon.

I finally decided to dig up the yucca and put the pineapples there. So I did that and found more parcha (we have parcha in 4 spots in the yard). I also ran into a calabaza which we discovered when Jeff weedwhacked.

Gotta eat the carambolas. The tree is already blooming again and the fruit is totally ripe.

I'll make a carambola cake...the little slices are floating in a brown sugar/melted butter/passionfruit juice (from the fruit and not sweetened) syrup.

Now the batter.

Flip it over after 30 minutes of baking and it is a buttery, sweet cake great with coffee!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bepo is Back...

6 weeks ago Bepo (the original cat) was attacked by another cat or a dog and appeared stinky and oozing green stuff after a 3 night absence. I rushed her to the vet and they cleaned out everything and gave her antibiotics etc and I brought her home. We kept her in for 2 weeks (which is a long time for a semi-feral cat) and scrubbed the wounds with betadine every night. When she was mainly healed and we couldn't stand it anymore we let her out and she disappeared!

After thinking the worst she just shows up. I am thinking there are parallel universes in Puerto Rico...that all the duplicates (look-alikes, replacements) come from this place. Whoever had her had to have seen that she had been to the vet...that she was spayed...that she was shaved for god's sake. Well she hasn't left the house for a week now. Just hangs out inside with the others.

And speaking of the others, here are SOME but not all of them. Left to right - Pollo, Mini, Chicken, Princess, Puff, Mars, Stripes, Blanco, and Tuca in the background. Not shown are Bepo and Dakota.

My neighbor works at Kmart and when this nifty pet bed was marked down from $99 to $5 she snagged it, actually snagged two. The cats enjoy them and pig pile on them. This is Tuca the kitten.

Chicken is taking a snooze claiming the scratching post as his.

Dakota the fat and furry Washington cat lounges on the second cat bed. It has memory foam so it is a luxurious thing like a mini temperpedic mattress!

Mini is solitary just like Princess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cocina Creativa = Good Food

No photos, but here is a thumbs up for food in Puerto Rico! After diving the caves at Shacks I came back through Aquadilla and stopped in at Cocina Creativa for lunch. Jeff sometimes goes there for lunch and likes it so I figured I was hungry, so why not stop?

I had a nicely grilled piece of marlin (I know, bad bad bad - think it is on the non-sustainable fish list) that had grill marks on it and wasn't dry. It had a small amount of nicely done coconut curry with a side of mashed potatoes and a salad that had shredded carrots on it, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and arugula. The coffee was good (coffee here is wonderful) and they had a chocolate dessert too.

Menu includes smoothies and espresso, they had real bread (you know, wheat and other choices besides white), sandwiches like jerk chicken with mango chutney, eggplant with pesto, black bean veggie burgers with salsa, and a bunch of specials that all looked good. Free wireless internet if you are so inclined and baked goods. Oh, I was stuffed, but there was a tomato/parcha soup that sounded like an interesting combo - he said it was a recipe from Spain.

Carr. 110 KM 9.2 in Aquadilla up near Cima Hotel area. Between Gate 5 and Supermercado Coop. Kind of a hole in the wall, but I ate on a real plate (no plastic cups).

The Thai place near there is decent as well if you don't cook your own Thai. So there are two reasons to go up that way (3 if you surf, dive, or horseback ride). Bon Proveche!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Great Escape

Here is inside the jungle room (enclosed porch area and cat habitat - best room in the house). The doors on the right go into the house and when we leave we come out of the house, lock them, then go out the rejas (on the left not seen here), lock it with a padlock and off we go. The rejas is great because on hot nights we leave the door and the slats (to the left and right of the doors) open and get airflow all the way through and a nice jungle view. The rejas is locked so it is perfectly safe (not that we feel unsafe ever). The slats are mostly closed here, but the top is open about a hand wide for ventilation.

The rejas is locked. I am inside the jungle room looking out.

This is the inside of the double doors. It has a deadbolt that works from the inside, or opens and closes with a key from inside the jungle room.

Thank god I left the slats a little open! I put my hand through, cranked them as open as they would go and could see that the keys were where they should be, hanging on the key rack!

See? Both sets hanging there INSIDE the house while I am locked inside the jungle room with no way out! Yes, I was trying to keep Tuca the kitty inside for the night so I closed and locked the double doors and closed the slats mostly. I went out the kitchen through the metal door that can only be locked from inside. I went around the outside in the nightly search for our fat Washington cat Dakota so I could get him in. I was also trying to keep Chicken the cat inside since he may have gotten bitten in a cat fight yesterday and I want to watch the area to make sure he doesn't get an abcess. I came into the jungle room, locked the padlock, and then realized the double doors were deadbolted!!!! Panic! Shit! It is 9:30 at night. I can see though the slat that the kitchen door is open and the keys are in there. I'll just yell for Amparo the neighbor and she can go inside and get me the keys. After 25 minutes of yelling "ayudar Amparo" "help" etc etc and howling like a caged monkey I realized she probably took drugs and went to sleep. I flicked the lights on and off and on and off since our other neighbor at the bottom uses that as a signal when UPS or something arrives but she was already watching tv and headed for bed. Didn't have a key, didn't have a phone, couldn't yell any more so I figure maybe I could pull the doors open. Nope.

I had a broom in the room so I used it to sweep the other broom from outside over to where I could grab it. I untied one end of the hammock and used the rope to tie the brooms together. The broom head was heavy to I took one of them off. My shoes were in there so I also used a shoe lace to strap them together. They were wobbly without that and if I lost a broom I'd never get out!

Hammock tie up and shoelace gadget.

This is a reenactment now that I am free. When I stuck the two broomsticks through the slat it didn't reach the key rack so I needed something else.

That's when I saw it! The cat toy! A thin lightweight stick with feathers on it, just what I need. I strapped that sucker on the end with a shoelace and the string holding the feathers off it and now had barely enough to reach. The first attempt knocked one set of keys onto the table where I couldn't get them. I decided they could not fall or I'd never get out. I snaked the second set of keys onto the cat toy and slowly pulled the whole contraption in. I got the key and let myself out, took a sleeping pill and tried to forget the whole ordeal - even though it was under an hour. I guess I could have just slept in the jungle room on the cat couch and yelled for Amparo in the daytime - she would have come. I really felt I guess like the cats do when they are closed up - I WANTED OUT! So this morning I was refreshed and about to go search for Dakota the missing cat. Turns out he had an ordeal as well and spent the night locked inside the cement shed with the compressor and scary critters of the night! So all is well in the Kruse household now except for Bepo who is probably dead. I kept that cat in for 2 weeks and cleaned her wounds, gave her love and she slept on the bed and purred and rolled and was becoming a nice cat. I let her out and we haven't see her since. I think she's dead or REALLY pissed off. But now I understand what it is like to be trapped! So where was Jeff? Watching TV in Wisconsin with his family oblivious to the whole shebang.