Monday, May 30, 2011

Fruit, Flowers and a Few Cats - What Else is There?

I'm using heavy plastic cat liter buckets to put plants in and had them upside down (ready for hole drilling) when a group of butterflies the exact color of the buckets swarmed in. Chicken was perky for a bit while they swarmed around.

We are trying to enjoy fresh fruit while we can and lucky for us the canistels are ready to be picked. We've got a dozen or so on the tree and have been enjoying them. They are a sweet eggy kind of taste  like the sushi egg and a hard boiled egg yolk consistency.

The pitayas are still blooming and I can't get enough of them! Same with parcha - I made a nice ginger, onion, parcha, brown sugar sauce for our fresh fish tonight. Jeff went spearfishing and brought home a few nice fish. Here are all the little parchas waiting to be juiced!
 The pitaya blooms had a lot of bugs buzzing and crawling around and were open into the morning hours since it was dark and cloudy. The creepy Mano de Buddah (citron) fruit is progressing nicely and I don't really care if it ever ripens...I've seen what I grew it for and don't really need to eat it! The peanut butter fruit though should turn red and ready tomorrow or the next day.

This is our first pineapple, kind of mini but hopefully it will taste good. The fiber less mangoes are ready to pick and let sit to ripen. When we first got here we waited until they dropped but have learned to start picking them when they blush but are hard. After a few days they will be ready to eat and be unbruised since they didn't fall!

The butterflies were really neat and looked fake flittering around drinking water off the cement.

What could be cuter than a sprawled out, happy kitty? A pile of hugging kitties of course.

Not sure if these are manzanas or ninos but I do know they are good. It is really gonna piss me off to have to buy fruit. We have been very spoiled as far as that goes. Of course I won't have all the fruit processing to take care of but I kinda liked doing that too. I liked touring the yard for ripe stuff and dreaming up ways to use things. There is so much fruit at our house that it is a struggle make sure a fair portion gets used.Still, most of it just drops. Right now all the regular mangoes are just rotting...why eat a fiberous one if you've got the good ones? Take a peek at the lower right corner of the banana photo. Somehow a cat is always lurking around!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cueva Chorros, San German Puerto Rico

Some exciting times right now. This weekend Cassie and Britton (blog friends and now real friends) arrived 2am Sunday morning to purchase their home in Rincon, Puerto Rico. To take their minds off of the anticipation of waiting until Monday to close on their house we invited them caving. Another friend, Mar, is leaving the island so she came along as a farwell activity along with her boyfriend and another friend. I had also not been to this cave - Jeff went with our friend Rob a couple months ago while I took a break from a heavy week of caving.

The trail was lined with mother-in-law's-tongue (sanservia) which is a houseplant in the US. Always cracks me up to see "houseplants" in the wild jungles here! Britton is making his way on the path.

The caves on this part of the island are older than most in the north which makes them interesting even though they are not river caves aren't as extensive as the northern ones. It seems like there are more obvious geological striations. The light colored material makes them seem brighter also. This looks like a seam or zipper ready to peel the wall open.
It is always interesting to see all the different angles that rocks have shifted into or grown into. I really enjoy looking at the design of the caves. There is a lot of natural "art" below ground. Cassie seems to enjoy looking around at all the interesting things. This cave is quite open with big rooms and not much crawling or climbing. Not quite as interesting for me, but any cave I haven't been in is interesting because you never know what you will see. Someone spotted this baby tarantula creeping around on the Maria Tree nuts. It was perfectly symetrical and had furry little legs. Then there were some large formations that looked like alabaster  sculptures or porous leg bones or maybe a bent over swan neck of...endless possibilities if you've got an imagination!

I thought this looked like a city-scape with a waterfall, pool, and some landscaping. In reality the "water" is just calcite on the rock and the pond is maria tree nuts with some seedlings nearby. Still, I get a lot of landscaping ideas from natural scenes like these.

No cave is complete without bats and this one has a nice room with a lot of bats in it. I love feeling the wind from their beating arms and I like hearing their busy little chirps.One of the entrances had some "beam-me-up" sunbeams coming through it. It was either a "god" or "sci-fi" moment. Sci Fi for me. Bring me up with the tractor beam please. I'm not sure if Mar is avoiding bats or peeking around here.

Here the wise old owl guards to passage-to-somewhere. A nice afternoon that wasn't too long or too strenuous. Some pizza and a Cofresi dark beer at Faccio's...good company and many great days ahead.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fruit, Mona Island and Rainy Day Cats

Holy moly - heard a smack and went out into the yard and found this full-grown avocado! I've been watching the trees and a lot of small fruits are dropping off. The ones left are pretty tiny. Where did this big one come from? Why aren't there other big ones yet? Hope it ripens is all I can say. I'll be watching the trees on a daily basis from now on!

With the rainy weather everything has exploded into blooms (loving the orange blossoms) and fruit. Tiny fruits double in size every day it seems. Also with the weather the cats are all hanging around inside. Even the ones we hardly ever see, like Stripes here. It was sunny until around 1:30 so I gathered up some mangoes and picked some parcha. I'm thinking I'll boil down some mango (soften the fibres), whir it in the food processor, run it through a sieve and use it for juice, sauce, ice cream (with coconut milk instead of dairy - haven't tried it so it'll be an experiment). I'll save the parcha for another day.

More furry friends taking up space - hey, where am I supposed to sit? I am hoping this post isn't messed up like the last few - why is the text doing what it is doing? Why the weird spacing? Why??? So we are going to go to Mona Island. There is a waiver (like for everything else) but this one is particularly amusing and I've never seen it quite phrased this way.

Event : Cave survey/exploration at Mona Island
3. Hereby acknowledges that THE ACTIVITIES OF THE EVENT(S) COULD BE DANGEROUS and involve the risk of serious injury/and death and/or property damage. Each of THE UNDERSIGNED, also expressly acknowledges the INJURIES RECEIVED MAY BE COMPOUNDED OR INCREASED BY NEGLIGENT RESCUE OPERATIONS OR PROCEDURES OF THE RELEASES.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

The New Car!!

When Jeff smashed the 2 1/2 year old Toyota Corolla we had to think about another car. With all the driving Jeff does (San German to Aquadilla) everyday, and the way driving is here, it is surprising this didn't happen sooner. Driving plus the location of our activities is the reason we need to move north. Anyway, the Toyota Corolla was toast - the air bags all deployed even though he was only going 15 mph when he rear ended someone(both are ok). The insurance company decided to total it and will be giving us a check for a surprisingly fair amount. Next came the hassle of deciding on a new car.

The Toyota got great mileage but didn't have much trunk room for caving gear. Since we will end up living closer to work and play in the near future I wanted to consider other options. I really wanted a used car but after looking at prices and the lack of warranty and considering that our truck is used I came around to Jeff's idea of buying new. It just didn't make sense to buy a used car unless it was REALLY used. For a main, every-day car that seemed risky. I narrowed the search down to Kias because of the awesome warranties, good safety ratings and low(comparatively speaking) prices. Toyota had a 36,000 mile warranty and for the same price we could get a Kia with more space, slightly less mileage and a 100,000 mile warranty. So here it is! A Kia Forte5! I did all the presearching and decided on a Cocktail Orange Kia Soul until we drove it today. Great car but the visibility was not very good - big blind spot. I'm short enough anyway and this was not good so we looked at the Rio 5 which would have been nice but it was a little small and the seat was low and didn't pump up. I couldn't see anything! Then we looked at a Sonata that had mileage that wasn't good enough and more passenger room than we want (we don't carry people). It was just too big and gas hungry. And then we tried the Forte which was just right. Unfortunately the price was the same as the Sonata. So it was a dilemma - bigger (nice) with higher gas consumption or smaller with better mileage? Bigger was tempting but reason took over. Look at all this space! With the hatch we can get stuff in and out easily and have a little bit of shelter from the hatchback. Our caving equipment bins will fit great without putting seats down. For the first time ever we have electric windows. Not something we care about but it might be nice. The only thing I don't like is the "silver" color (looks like grey to me). We did get the price down more than we thought we could so hey, grey it is. Lowish price, 31 MPG, good cave gear space, great safety, 100,000 mile warranty, 2 years free roadside assistance - what's not to like? (the color)

So now on Monday I will have to deal with car insurance (can't be done on the phone). At least it has plates and marbete already. Best of all - we are done looking, thinking and test driving. Shopping is not fun. Tomorrow we return the rental car and order is semi restored to the Kruse household. Now we just have to think about the house, moving, a future house and our upcoming Mona Island Cave Expedition. Everything always happens at once. With all these hassles I wander the yard and take deep breaths. Ahhhh, a beautiful white hibiscus flower.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Contemplating Things in the Yard

When Tuca isn't smelling the flowers (in this case a Pitaya which only blooms for 12 hours) she enjoys sleeping. She has her little nest that she does pushees in. Meanwhile in the yard the creepy Mano de Buddah (citron) gets larger and creepier every day).

People here eat the pajuil (cashew) apple instead of the nut. I planted it for the nuts. The fruit really stinks and is rubbery and not something I would consider edible.

The nuts are things I have to figure out how to roast. The hulls apparently can burn holes in your skin because they've got some kind of acid they release. Truly "raw" cashews have the hulls steamed off at low temperatures but mainly the nuts are thrown into boiling oil to get them off. I am trying the freezing method - if I'm not blinded I'll report back.

One thing I will absolutely do in the next house is what I did here - plant Mani under the trees. I'll be planting another YlangYlang for sure.

Canistel is another fruit I will definitely plant again. This tree is only a couple years old and we have gotten dozens of fruit off of it.

I don't know what this flower is but it is showy and I like it.

The pomegranates have been fun but I probably wouldn't plant them again. It isn't a particularly nice tree, it has spikes on it, and the kernels aren't red. I think there are probably different types and I didn't get the red one. It still makes a nice juice...just a spin in the blender and a push through the sieve.


The wing beans are finally doing well. They are fun in stir fries. I've let a couple pods get humongous so I can harvest the seeds. I'll plant carambola again. It gets fruit 4 or 5 times a year and the fruit is good cooked in savory and sweet things. They make a good chutney too. Sometimes I blend them up and use them instead of butter or oil in banana bread like you would applesauce.

I cannot live without parcha. We've got parcha EVERYWHERE! I've put it on every fence, over dead trees etc. I freeze the juice and use it in marinades, salad dressing, sauces, parcha curd, sorbet and on and on. I will always grow parcha.

We've got a couple types of torch ginger - white and red. White always shows up well but the red ones are 6 feet tall and really fake looking.

Last night was the special Pitaya event - a once yearly blooming of a cactus that gets spectacular blooms on it that stay open less than a day, and primarily at night. They will make a "dragon fruit" if you have two different plants. We haven't gotten fruit since I am sure the plants I got were just cuttings from the same stock. I am going to snag another piece from a roadside one though and that should do it! I will take a piece with me to where ever we end up when the time comes.

They are kind of like Little Shop of Horror type things the way they twist and curl and open up.

They even have the bizarre little yellow/green flaming part like a tongue. I spent a few hours last night watching them open and breathing in their dreamy scent...

Everything is bursting into bloom and popping out new green leaves. A little bit of rain makes everything go jungle!