Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Enough of the Heavy Stuff ...How about Cute Stuff?

I was in the pathetic garden area today trying to loosen up and amend the soil so I can plant new stuff when I saw 3 of these little guys. I don't think they are the usual geckos so I watched them for a while and am pretty sure they are baby iguanas? The whip of a tail, the claws, the markings and the big fin thing on its back all look pretty iguana-like. It was also a different color than the usual geckos, kind of a pale green instead of brown, tan, black or bright green. They were walking differently too.
Here are the hatched babies. 14 eggs turned into 8 hatchlings with two that didn't fluff up by nightfall (and were abandoned) and a few that look like she suffocated them while they were in the nest. The 8 turned into 7 in front of my eyes as a huge guaracao (not sure on the spelling) swooped in and snatched one. Now she is down to 5 and there is another replica - another grey chicken with 5 chicks (they are newly hatched though). I saw the two hens and broods together on the lawn today.

Last week was falling into a pattern of light rain in the afternoon and all the cats come in and spread themselves around. Chicken I guess wasn't feeling pig pile social and decided to snooze in the fruit bowl. I shouldn't let him do this, but how can I move him?

Here's creepy Blanco. These cats contort into the weirdest shapes.

His little face is so pink!

Tuca is the ugliest cat...but she has nice eyes that look like she uses eyeliner. She looks like and sits up like a meer cat.

Dakota is still kicking around. He is old now (around 12 or 13) and not so photogenic. No cute poses here! He actually hangs out with the other cats now.

Mars is less spooky now and seems pretty darned comfortable on the couch.

She was one of the ones rescued from the log. She was sooo tiny I didn't think she would make it. I had to give her milk replacement which was hard because she wouldn't let me come close. She has a little belly on her now! You never know what you will see on the road. This is not far from our house, just down the road a bit. This herd of goats is supposed to be roaming the hills grazing, but instead has decided to take a neighborhood tour eating ornamental flowers out of peoples' yards instead.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Inheritance Laws in Puerto Rico

I consider myself a logical and reasonable person therefore I have never really thought of what happens to “my” money and ½ of “my” house. I consider it all “ours”. Being a reasonable person I made the assumption that if I were to die that the person whom I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with, the person that I would follow anywhere, the person whom I have committed myself to legally, would be able to continue to live in “my/our” house and continue to have “my/our” savings. But I have learned that that is not true in Puerto Rico (and possibly many states). My wife could be forced to give up ½ of the house and ½ of the savings or ALL of the savings to pay for the ½ of the house. She could be left with no savings and no money to live on if she kept the house. The money could be forcefully taken from her and given to my relatives or children. That’s if you don’t have a Puerto Rican will. Even if you have a Puerto Rican Will you still can not give your surviving spouse all of the house and money. 25% - 33% of it MUST go to a relative!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This isn’t an issue with our families because we know they would do what we wished but it’s the most absurd thing I have ever heard of. If you had an adult child who was a criminal and one of you died the surviving spouse would have to give ½ of the house and money to the drug addict child. If you had a will excluding as much as you can the kid would still get possibly 1/3 or more of the deceased’s ½ possibly forcing you to sell the house. If there are no kids it goes to the parents of the deceased. So people are forced to spend over a $1000 on wills so the surviving spouse can hopefully hold on to 1/2 of the deceased's portion of the house and money. While the remaining portion goes elsewhere. And get this, we need to bring 3 witnesses with us for the reading and signing of the wills. It could take an hour and its a long drive for most of our friends. Looks like we "Better Call Saul". (Breaking Bad reference)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tanama River Hike

Saturday our friend Dallas arranged another Tanama river trip like we did at Xmas. This time it was to introduce some of the wonders of PR and nature to the younger generation with ties to UPR Mayaguez. The weather (rain) is a concern when making this long trip because of flash flooding but the weather was marginally acceptable Saturday at the start and actually turned out to be pleasant. It was a large group of 42 enthusiastic, energetic, and interesting people. We hiked to the entrance of the cave and waited for the entire group to arrive before starting in the water. There were other groups of tourists here taking inner-tubes through the cave as see in the back of the following picture. We made it through the cave and again waited on the other side for the whole group to make it though. It was clear to the leader (Anthony) and to others that we were going to need to change the plan. Large groups tend to move slow and even though we were composed of 5 or 6 sub groups it was still slow. We stopped and had lunch at the Big Arch cave. This was a good point to turn around. Everyone had a great time and we were able to get a good sample of the river. We did almost a mile on the river (about 1/3rd). Many people want to go again with hopes of making it the whole way. I think a limit of 15 people would be good with good weather. Now that its starting to rain more I think a limit of 10 -12 people a trip would be good. I don't know about doing the trip during the rainy season. Thanks again Dallas for arranging the trip and thanks to Anthony for leading it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pets and Plants

A very sleepy and Yoda looking Stripes. I woke him up and propped him up!
Tuca snoozing in the basket...

Blanco is the prettiest cat ever...

Bepo is as fat as a whale, but after she survived the butt biting I just want her to be happy!

The chickens, which aren't really ours (we didn't buy them or put them here), wait with great expectation for corn in the morning. They come right up to the screens and sit on the benches and just wait.

Some more of the gang...

I saw this prehistoric shoot coming out of the ground and forgot what it was (someone gave me a cutting) and then it bloomed!

It must be some type of ginger I suspect but there aren't leaves yet, just flowers.

I nailed some orchids to a couple trees and they are now blooming. Gee, gardening is fun here!

This odd flower looks fake...looks like some kind of coral. I was mowing the lawn and smelled this overpowering smell that I had caught a whiff of the previous day. It didn't smell like the oranges (citrus blossoms are the best, followed by Ylang Ylang) so I scouted around and found this!

We've got two of these and they are both blooming with these huge sprays of blossoms! They smell wonderful. This is the first time they have bloomed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This and That

We have gone on a couple nice dives lately and one crappy one (30 minutes and current in Rincon). There is a wall in front of the police station in Aguadilla (when you come into town down the hill and before the courthouse) that we dove on Thursday night. It was raining and blustery in San German, but Jeff said it was calm up north so we rounded up with David and went for a dive. It was really really nice - for over an hour we mingled with a sting ray, large puffers and cow fish, a huge trumpet fish, parrot fish in their bubbles and of course...over 7 lion fish. Visibility was great, and seas were calm. We also collected a large crab for Friday's dinner. Today we went to Corseca in Rincon and had a 77 minute dive on the wall there. It is a long swim but worth it. We went to "Tarpon Point" and the Tarpon were there finally - they have been out where ever tarpon go for a few months now. We saw a sting ray, a large turtle (not a hawksbill) with 2 remoras on it, hundreds of tarpon, huge angelfish, loads of other fish and spectacular (over 100 feet) visibility! We are headed back that way tomorrow and will go to a Lion fish Seminar thing at the UPR campus in Aguadilla afterwards. Maybe they will give out free nets or something...or some hints on killing them humanely or a place to send information about locations and quantities. We hope there is some kind of organized effort to get rid of them. We saw two large ones in Rincon this morning...a first for this wall.

We ate the last of the tomatoes and now the garden only has blooming berejena and cucumbers. I have held off on gardening since the aquaponics course is coming up soon, but have now decided that it will take us a while to get something (hydroponic or aquaponic) up and running so I better plant stuff. My compost pile reduced down to around 10 buckets of stuff. It isn't completely decomposed so I hope it gives the soil a better texture.

I went out to Pan American Fertilizer Company in Guanica and bought some big bales of growing media (4 cubic feet of soil, vermiculite and perlite - standard grow mix) to add to my now compressed- down garden area. I have already added sand and my compost and fluffed the area up, so the good stuff is going on top.

At Kmart I actually found some good seeds! There are a couple of nice salad mixes, yellow beans (for color), bright lights swiss chard that has neon pink and yellow and orange stalks (I've grown it before), basil, zucchini (round 5), spring onions, snow peas and a short carrot that is good is more compact soils. Now I just need more chicken wire to keep cats and chickens out!

When I am out and about in the yard I always have friends with me - I keep expanding the the area under my little trees so I can plant things under them and connect them with trails. This is part of the terracing plan for the arboretum. Part of the little cat "pride" was hanging out under the pomegranate tree taking a snooze.

Puff, Chicken and Tuca love each other!

Since it is cool today we came home to some drizzle and piles of cats. Mars and Blanco are hogging one cat bed...

Princess, Stripes, Puff and Bepo are piled close together for warmth and Chicken is on our bed and Dakota is on the chair in the TV room.

When I was wandering around the yard I noticed that my ornamental pink banana is blooming. The tree is only 4 feet. I was surprised since I thought it would get taller.

It'll be exciting to see the fuzzy pink bananas! Supposedly they aren't really edible since they are seedy, but I got the plant for the cool factor.

After Thursday night's dive we unpacked the truck and Jeff posed with the crab. Chicken, who I am sure has never seen a crab, seems to understand that this is good eats!

After pawing it and having it snap its claws Chicken decided to try to bite it. Jeff butchered it and cooked it up and we had it on Friday. It is different than Dungeness Crab, but still sweet and yummy. This was a large one. It was really hard to get at the meat - I used adjustable pliers and finally just hit the cooked legs and carapace with a hammer. There was no way to crack it and then use your hands. It was worth the effort, and now that we know we like it we can keep a look out for them. We saw 3 on the dive, but never take everything and wanted to know if we liked it. We do! So yummy stuff, pretty stuff, fun stuff, and cute stuff this week!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Our old Solar dehydrator wasn't getting much use. Ants were a problem and it took several days to dehydrate things. Each night the fruit would get wet again so this wasn't the safest way to do things. Since sometimes we have extra electricity to use we use an electric dehydrator. Like the solar cooker at the Bagley household (Living with Ed) the solar dehydrator was the bane of existence for Katrina. She hated to see it sitting in the yard. Fellow blogger Cassi had a great idea for getting some of the chickens in the yard to start pulling their own weight. Provide them a place to nest and we can harvest their eggs. I took a few hours and re-purposed the dehydrator into a nesting box. Now all we have to do is put some fake eggs in there to get them started then we can begin harvesting eggs. From this:

To this:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cueva Candelabra (not sure about the spelling)

Jeff had Thursday and Friday off, so he went windsurfing in Guanica yesterday and today we decided to enter Cueva Candelabra - this cave is 15 minutes from our house. Tom had given the GPS coordinates to us a while ago and Jeff had located it on his own but only gone into it a little because it was low. Today was the day to explore it since all the cavers we know are either enrolled in the cave rescue class or are helping out with it. If we had more experience we would be there too, but figure when the course comes again in 2 years we will at least have been in more caves, more situations, had more rope work, and be in a more experienced position to actually rescue some one! Jeff had said the entrance was small, and here it is.

It got a little larger once we were in, and immediately got low and had tunnels to the left and right. I decided to go right and Jeff hung back (he doesn't like this sort of thing).
I could kind of squat walk in the channel with the head bowed and went and went and couldn't really see much other than that it went and went. Jeff wasn't coming - he doesn't like low, tight spots.

We figured the left side is where Tom had been maybe so we headed that way.

Jeff doesn't like the low ceiling and tight confines. This wasn't as tight or low as parts of Infierno but it was low.

After entering the low spot I got him to join me a little further at a spot where he could sit up on a rock. Then it got low again and I kind of crawled forward some more coaxing him further when I could find the occasional "high" spot. Pretty soon though he wouldn't come any farther and didn't want me going out of light/voice range. I wanted to go further since I could, and nothing could really can't fall when you are on your stomach, you can't slip because you are already on the ground, can't get lost since there is only the one tunnel and if it branched I would stop or mark it, can't drown until the whoosh of water comes (which would take us both out). I think it would keep going and going and who knows? maybe open up? The only problem I could see would be having trouble backing out (I have a technique for this though and haven't been stuck yet). As Jeff got more uncomfortable I kept shining the light and talking and traveled farther until I could tell he was at his limit. He turned around (and I went a little more forward) then I turned around, caught up with him and we left.

This formation reminded me of a tree but it didn't touch the bottom...just hovered slightly above bottom. At the point where Jeff stopped I heard him mutter "infierno" (hell). He was having flashbacks again!

There were formations, but it was a dark and hot cave. We didn't see any bats and were surprised because it was so warm, but the entrance was small and the ceiling was low so I guess there probably weren't any. I could see the water line and it was basically at the ceiling so it wouldn't be a good bat habitat - no bell holes either.

There were some neat helictites.

I don't know what these formations are called but I call them cocks comb formations.

Yeah - here's the water line - not much air space when the water is moving through here.

Another neat cockscomb.

No cave is complete without cave daggers.

After a short time in this new cave Jeff can see the light and makes for the entrance!

He is so happy to be out! I'll have to come back with Tom or someone else willing to crawl...what if it opens up or starts having side passages? You never know what things will look like. Depending on where you enter a system the terrain can look entirely different. I have hopes for this never know until it ends or changes!

A quick 15 minutes and we were back at the car and another 15 brought us home.