Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Favorite Time of Year

It's that time of year again, February through the end of May, when the weather is absolutely perfect; breezes during the day, calm seas and cool nights.

The Mango trees near my house are in bloom and the smell is absolutely marvelous,  To me, a mixture of orange blossoms and jasmine, at least if my memory serves me right!  And my orchids are starting to put out shoots and in about a month they will be in bloom.

I am truly blessed with an abundance of various flowers and plants and in spite of the soil of this island being very poor, somehow these plants have managed to adapt and thrive.

So, in celebration of this time of year and all the the beauty that is putting forth, I offer these photos.

First, when I look out my kitchen window, I am greeted by the sunshine colors of this croton and, in a month, I will be dazzled with the beauty of my orchids:

This plant is a wonderful sunshine yellow and greets my eyes every morning.

Orchids on the stalk and up close!

Here's a collage of flowers I have in my yard (and it still does not cover them all).  I thought putting each individual flower up would take up too much time and space so created this:

What is absolutely marvelous, when I give dinner parties I can go out in the garden and choose from so many varieties of tropical plants to make lovely arrangements.  Even without any skills in arranging, the beauty comes forth.

Just a group of many flowers ---

or a simple arrangement of two types of orchids:

Flowers in full bloom are gorgeous and my favorite in my yard is what I call the Mango-colored hibiscus:

But flowers in full bloom fade fast, like the hibiscus.  But even in their fading they prove to be interesting to photograph.  Here is a "today" and a "tomorrow" photo:

Pineapples too have wonderful colors and appear as a "flower" before it turns into a fruit:

There is the Spanish Flag plant which has a lovely, complicated flower and the Ti Plant which blooms with simply a long stem and small white flowers:

To dress up the outside of my walls on the house, I have added this lovely plant which rewards me with a constant flowering and little work!

Plus, I have planted a garden this year where our old wood pile sat for 16 years!  I don't really expect much as, in the past, getting anything to grow was too much work, too much money and, in the end, only produced too many bugs.  I have only parsley, cherry tomatoes (about 20 plants at present) along with basil presently in the garden.  I do have a pot of mint on the porch along with several plants of chives and parsley.  These plants I have found are easy to maintain and produce a small amount of useable herbs and/or tomatoes.  I have had 3 Rosemary plants but she is a fickle plant and too much water has done her in every time.  But I will try again!

I also put flowers into my craft projects; some I put on envelopes or crocheted small "corsages" to attach to presents.  This envelope went with a card I was asked to make to give to a couple embarking on the seas of matrimony.  The "corsage" I attached to a wedding present for my Grandson went I attended his wedding a couple of years ago.

I love to play around on the computer too with photos I've taken and can got some pretty interesting results when I "embossed" a photo and changed the color scheme:

These were made from a photo of a Spider Lily which grows on the beach that I took many, many years ago.

There is such beauty in Nature, so get up out of your chair, turn off your TV and get outside and enjoy what Nature has to offer.  You won't regret it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Battery Day Report II

I don't know what happened, but my most recent Blog, Happy Battery Day, did not seem to come out as it should have.  I downloaded all the photos and they were all complete but when I looked at the published blog some photos did not appear to fully load, which should not have been the case.

So, all of you (the few that there are), please report back to me and let me know if you see all the photos in their entirety!  This is really frustrating (but, guess where I am!) and I spent many hours putting that blog together.  The majority of the time was spent downloading photos!  Of course, my location should not be a factor as this is the internet, right???!!

Sorry, and I am just hoping that the appearance of incomplete photos is just a quirk and when the blog is delivered you will see them in their entirety.

Frustrated Blogger, Sharon

Happy Battery Day!

Valentine's Day and we finally have our new solar batteries and are ready to remove the old Fork Lift batteries of which there are 2 weighing 460 lbs. each to be replaced by 5 sealed AGM batteries weighing in at 168 lbs. a piece.

The top photo is of the batteries in the laundry area followed by a photo of the chain hoist that we used to lift each battery out  and swing it around to face the back door where it would be taken down 3 stairs to the sidewalk running in back of the house.  My husband hired 3 men for this task and with our permanent worker, Gregorio, we had sufficient manpower.  After all, this island is all about muscle power!

The above batteries were to be replaced by these which are to be hooked together via cables attached to each battery and then to the inverter.

The first battery was finally moved into position and taken down the steps.  I was concerned for one of the men's safety as he wore no shoes and all I could envision was the battery sliding down the initial ramp or falling on his toes when lowered to the sidewalk.  Of course, as was pointed out to me, even with normal shoes on, if the battery would happen to land on a foot the injury would be the same!  As it was, this, fortunately, did not happen.

Round tubing was placed under the battery on a board to be used as rollers to facilitate getting it out the door and down the steps.

Next the battery was put on a hand cart, secured with ropes which were used to help control the speed of the cart while on its downhill trip to the beach where it was finally maneuvered onto the dock.

The second battery was handled much in the same way and now we had two batteries ready to low into the large boat that Morgan, the boss, had for transport.

Getting the batteries into the boat did not prove to be an easy task at all and with a lot of careful shoving, pulling and maneuvering both batteries were placed in the boat.  Morgan is planning on finding someone who reclaims batteries, copper, aluminum, etc. and make a deal with him for the batteries.

Next came time to bring up the five new batteries and set them in their proper placement.  This is not an easy process as the cables to each battery are quite stiff and the cramped area in which the new batteries were situated made connection a little difficult.  Two batteries were to be set right side up, a board placed on top and the second set of two were turned upside down and staggered in a manner that the brackets would not touch and short circuit the batteries.  A fifth battery will be placed on top of the stack of four and all connections finalized and hooked up to the inverter.

Naturally, being this far from the company that we bought the batteries from,  we hoped all would be well.  But, in checking the voltage on each battery my husband discovered that one of the batteries was at a lower voltage than it should have been which could have been caused by the battery sitting for any length of time or not being fully charged at the factory.  We wrote the seller advising them of this problem and were asked to check the top of the battery for the seal showing the month and date codes and let them know what was picked.  Unfortunately, again, none of the seals showed any month or date picked.  We were then advised that the date should be etched in the top right hand corner of the battery.  Sorry!  No date was etched.  We advised the seller and are awaiting their response.  

In the meantime we were told to charge the battery for 24 hours!  Duhh, these are batteries made for solar, we have solar and the sun does not shine even 10 hours a day right now!  We certainly cannot run our generator for a full 24 hours so we also inquired as to whether or not we could do them in increments over 2-3 days to get the battery up to full charge.  Again, we are awaiting their response.
It is amazing how much power our old batteries had been losing over the last year.  Initially they were set for a 20 year useage capability but we think that due to the circumstances of our moving, the environment and other factors, we managed to get 17 years use out of them.  We are not complaining as they have paid for themselves several times over.  We chose not to go with the same batteries this time mainly because of the weight and the difficulty in getting them into the house.  We have noted that the new sealed batteries have a shelf life of 10-12 years and we are happy with that.  The cost was lower, the weight less by 80 lbs. and unlike the previous batteries, these are sealed so we will not have to occasionally add water.  Plus the total weight was between five batteries and not two which assisted in easier placement.

This morning we woke up to an inverter which showed the batteries were all up to full power by 8:30 a.m.!  We have been using the computer all morning with a cloudy sky and no sun and we still have plenty of energy.  We now wake up and the batteries are still fully charged even after a day of use!  Wow!

It took us almost 3 months to get the batteries.  We ordered them in Dec. 2013 but there was a back order on them and they did not come in until mid-January, 2013.  Finally they left Houston where they had been held up by bad weather in the Gulf.  Then when they finally reached Port of Cortez in Honduras, two of the cranes for off-loading containers from the various ships were out of commission.  Finally in February 2014 they were delivered to La Ceiba and we took shipment on February 13, 2014 on Guanaja.  Hey, nothing new here - we expect delays and are very seldom disappointed.  In fact, when something gets here on-time or before, we are totally surprised!

We have never regretted our choice to go solar and outside having to put forth a lot of dollars up front, we have saved many times over during our 17 years on the island.

So, while other were celebrating Valentine’s Day, we were celebrating New Battery Day!