Saturday, March 31, 2007


I’ve always had a pet and have taken it for granted that everyone else has too. Our pets were “family” and were taken care of and loved. I’ve had dogs and interspaced with them were hamsters, parakeets and tropical fish. Never had a cat - at least in my younger years.

When we moved to Guanaja we brought along our dog, Pepper, a mixed-breed Schnauzer and our 4, count ‘em, tropical birds. At the present time we have 4 dogs, 2 cats and 5 birds. So, with this blog I’ll introduce them to you.

In 1983, while shopping in the mall, I happened upon a pet store and saw a beautifully colored tropical bird. It was a Manday Conure who had a black head, a green body and white and red socks on his legs. I was enthralled. I had to have this bird. Went home and after much convincing my husband agreed to look at the bird. He fell in love and we purchased Rocky. Rocky is as his name implies; strong-willed and very macho. He is the extreme alpha male.

In April of 1994, Mike and I were at Busch Gardens and spotted a beautiful bird (aren’t they all?). It was an Eclectus and had the most brilliant red coloring accented with iridescent blue. We both agreed we had to find one of those. We found a breeder and purchased Sienna. She is a quiet bird but so affectionate. She has bonded with me and is happy to wander the porch frightening the dogs and nipping at the cats’ tails. She is the Queen of the roast and the porch is her territory. Eclectus are the only parrots in which one can tell the male from the female by the coloring. All other birds must be blood sexed to determine their sex no matter what anyone tells you. The female Eclectus has the coloring of Sienna; the male is a bright lime green with a cream colored beak.

In May of 1994 I saw a photo of a Sun Conure. Now, I had to have that bird as the colors were spectacular. I pursued the want ads in the paper and found a lovely little bird for a reasonable price. Ahh, bird number three! We named her Peek-a-Boo and she and Rocky get along just great. The problem with conures is that they are loud, screeching birds and are constantly sounding the alarm for buzzards overhead, strange animals in the yard (cows, pigs, horses) or just because something they did not like caught their eye.

In December of 1995 I decided that “Mike needed an African Grey”. Mike did not agree but I persisted. Reading about this wonderful bird and the fact that it is the most intelligent of all the parrots, I pursued this quest with a zest. I finally got Mike to go see a new baby African Grey and you guessed it, he fell in love. José Gasbar (named after the pirate who has a special holiday set aside for him in Tampa). Mike gives almost all the animals a "second" name and José's is Petey.

Now, up until this time, we have had no problems with any of the birds and were learning more and more with each addition. When we acquired José he was only a few weeks old and we had to hand feed him with a syringe - heck, he didn’t even have all his feathers yet and was a ball of fluff. Fortunately for Petey, Mike had quit his job to stay home and draw up the plans for our future house on Guanaja. I worked to keep us in groceries and Mike babysat Petey who became very dependent upon Mike.

One day Mike had to leave Tampa to attend the funeral of his Aunt and was gone all day. Now, African Greys are very high strung birds and after bonding with an individual they become very anxious with any change in schedule. We did not realize the impact this would have on our young bird, who now had all of his feathers, and when Mike returned that evening he came home to a very nervous bird. The next day Petey started plucking a t his feathers. We tried everything we could think of to get him to stop but nothing worked. We even contacted a bird psychiatrist in another state to see what more we could do. The long and short - nothing could be done and she finally advised us to let him pick and maybe he would get over it after the initial picking.

Well, we now have a permanent nudist bird in our home

In 1999, after Mitch, we also took on the ownership of a Yellow-Napped Amazon (indigenous to the island) by the name of Lupita. She is an active bird and very attached to Mike. She talks all the time and is a constant source of entertainment for us. I must say that Yellow-Napped parrots are the most adaptable of all the parrots I have seen. Lupita had been passed from one family to another before we got her and had very little problems adjusting to our "zoo".

The first month we were here, 1997) we acquired a little puppy left on our doorstep - Cocoa.

She turned into a beautiful, loving but very independent dog. Cocoa is the Alpha female and leads the others on various “walk abouts” now and then. They will be gone for hours at a time. Living in a remote part of the island, there is plenty of area for them to wander undisturbed.

Along the way we acquired 2 more dogs born on our property and 3 cats. We had a regular zoo. I had never had so many animals at one time! Alas, Pepper (the dog we brought with us) had to be put down when he was 15 due to illness.

In 1998, During the building of our house, a litter of pups was born and, ultimately, we acquired Winken, Blinken and Nod (Blinken eventually ran off). Winken is a sweet dog, very nervous for some reason, and Nod is the calmer of the two.

One cat, Midnight (who was the mother to Mr. Leonard pictured above ) was a big white, independent cat (aren’t they all?). Mike wanted to call her Blackie but we settled on Midnight! We had her for about 8 years and then she got cancer of the ear which spread to her nose and she, too, had to be put down. Her son, Mr. Leonard, has been with us about 7 years and, unfortunately, had the same cancer on his ears. His ears had to be “trimmed” back hopefully eliminating the spread of cancer. He is a great mouser and very affectionate.

The same year, Ivey (our female calico cat) showed up with our worker and his grandson one day and we adopted her after a bit. We mainly took her on as my worker’s grandson was rather rough with her and poked her in the eye with a stick and we thought she might go blind. Miraculously the eye healed and she is a very affectionate, calm cat.

After the death of Midnight we were put into a position of taking on our worker’s dog (Puppy). So in 2005 we adopted Puppy who divides his time between us and the worker. We are now a family of 5 birds, 4 dogs and 2 cats.

We love all our pets and are constantly entertained by their antics. Petey and Lupita are quite the talkers and we wonder if there is a competition to see who can learn the most words/phrases. We are the islands’ designated toenail and wing clippers for caged birds. We give out information on the care and feeding of birds. Unfortunately, Honduras is not up to speed on what birds should be fed nor the proper care of these lovely creatures. For the most part, the only food available are sunflower seeds - the worse thing you can give parrots. They are high in cholesterol and of course birds love them. Just like people, they like any junk food! We order all our food from the states for our birds and intersperse this with fresh fruit and vegetables.

I don’t recommend a “zoo” like we have for everyone, but I do advocate the integration of an animal into the family as an important part of life. With pets comes responsibility but also comes the love and companionship of a wonderful friend for life.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dedication to my Daughter, Sherri Lynn

Six years ago this month my heart’s delight passed away. Sherri was 35 years old and died of cancer. It started out as cervical cancer which could have been detected if she only had gone to have her yearly pap smear. As it was, money was tight for her and she let it go for 5 years. By the time it was discovered even surgery was out of the question. She went through chemo and radiation and, for a while, was in regression. However, cancer, as it usually does, reappeared and struck her in the spine, heart and other areas that I cannot recall right now. She lived about 4 1/2 years from the original discovery and I was able to spend the last 3 1/2 weeks of her life at her side.

Sherri was everything beautiful; a rainbow, a bubble, a star glimmering in the sky, a rosebud after the rain or an enchanting butterfly. She was small and delicate with gentle features, totally trusting and a warm, caring personality. I wish I had a photo to post on the site for everyone to see but she died before digital cameras and I do not own a scanner at this time and cannot scan her photo.

Needless to say, Sherri was loved by her whole family. As a child she was a pure delight filled with sweetness and warmth. She was quiet and introverted, a good student, a budding artist and a daughter that brought joy daily into the lives of those in her family. Sherri studied dance and art and painted some lovely pictures that in there being at least remind people that she was here. She absorbed the teachings of life refusing to see any disparity but creating beauty out of all she came in contact with.

She married when she was 20 years old on Valentine’s day. She bore two beautiful sons, Joshua and Sean, who were her whole life. She took great joy in being a mother and wife and strived in instill in her sons the teachings she had learned in her brief life and also developed in them a love and deep appreciation of nature in her sons.

She worked hard to attain the goals and challenges she set for herself and worked with conviction and determination towards that end. She shared her happiness with life with her small, close circle of friends and family and, for the most part, remained in the background preferring to observe and teach rather than lead.

She was a shining example of what a daughter can be - loving, compassionate, beautiful and good, honest and principled, determined and sensitive. She was what, I feel, every mother would wish for in her daughter and I am proud to have been part of her life.

No one should lose a child; parents are suppose to pass on first. Losing a child is losing part of your life; the grief is overwhelming and it took many years to think of her without crying. I do still, owever, get a tear in my eye when I see her handwriting, a photo of her or review some of the cards she sent me over the years.

I had three children and I treasure each and every one of them and they have all given me great pleasure and happiness.

Sherri is gone but not forgotten and in that memory she will live on.

Goodbye my sweet darling,
Your Mommy

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Culture - What separates man from beast.

The island of Guanaja, as of late, has been quite culturally deprived. At one time I had been led to understand that there was a movie theater here. The only other form of entertainment was when islanders would tinkle the ivorys or strum a guitar and, since the only instrument taught in school is the drum, occasionally a drum would appear. For festive occasions, like Christmas and Easter, professional musicians were hired to come over from the mainland and play in various, shall we say, “spots of entertainment”. These groups generally consisted of a man with a guitar, an accordian and sometimes a trumpet and/or maracas . However, the movie theater fell into disrepair and with the advent of VHS tapes, there was no longer a need so the space was converted to a “Five and Dime” store. The piano player retired, the drummers stopped drumming and only the guitar players hung in there.

The source of culture is now church, discos (yes, they still use that name!) and occasionally an islander will show up somewhere with a guitar to entertain. The musicians still come over from the mainland on holidays but that, too, has been with less frequency.

Guanaja, through the aid of some civic minded Germans, has finally opened up the cultural area and is making a push at providing live music entertainment at their establishment. Manati (yes, that is the spelling as opposed to Manatee which would be ordinary) has been a bar/restaurant on the island for years. However, with the advent of Hurricane Mitch the place suffered extensive destruction and has been lying dormant for years. The owner, Hansito Schoen, finally got enough funds together and starting rebuilding . It is a massive building of about 8,000 sq. feet and the first thing was to get the roof replaced.

That done, the main area of the building underwent a major face lift and with the help of Annetta and Klaus Rumm, a German couple that have lived on the island for years, the bar/restaurant reopened in December of 2006.

What makes this place unique is that a varied menu is offered (not just a chicken or fish affair) and some tantalizing fares are offered along with live entertainment. Klaus and Annetta managed a restaurant at West Peak, a backpacker’s resort, for several years before they struck out for newer horizons on the mainland, Roatan and Utila. However, their hearts were in Guanaja where they returned to manage another popular restaurant, the Crazy Parrot. Due to a change in management at the Crazy Parrot, their presence, albeit it popular, was terminated and they struck up a deal with Hansito.

Manati is fast becoming a popular regular place for both natives, gringos and the sailboats that anchor off the shore in Sandy Bay. On Saturday afternoon into the evening, there is a large crowd of happy people trading stories, imbibing on good cuisine and toasting one another’s health."

Plus, they have added a band. Not just any old band; this is made up of what some would call “wanna be” musicians which I prefer to call lost souls finally finding their niche in life. Some have many years of training and can play a variety of instruments. Some have actually had their own groups and played in the past for money! Some are self-taught and learning all of the time.

Manati is having their grand opening on March 24, 2007. Officially they have been open for a while but we will dedicate the opening with the final construction of the downstairs bathroom, complete with ribbon-cutting and toasts. So, all those on Guanaja, come on down and have a good time. This may not appear to be an earth-shattering incident to those of you in the land of plenty, but to us on Guanaja this may not be "A giant leap for mankind", but definitely for the citizens of Guanaja".
As they say in the South, “Ya all come down, ya hear!”

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Progress or Subterfuge?
Ahh, progress, it has made our lives more comfortable, more informed, more convenient. Or has it?
To go way back, as a child I can recall spending time at my Great Grandmother’s farm where the phone was a wooden box on the wall with a receiver hanging on a hook on one side, a mouthpiece in front and a hand crank on the other side to alert the operator when one wanted to place a call. To get another party, you had to turn the crank to alert the operator who would connect you. Of course, many people were on the same line so if it was privacy you wanted, forget it. But it was a means of communication; better than sending a messenger on a horse.
Of course, back in the city we had a “modern” phone with a dial and for a little more money one could have their own private line! I can still recall my first phone number Parkway 2-8570 (which was later shortened to PA 2-8570 and then later PA was turned into numbers). The telephone has undergone changes over the years in size, weight and the ability to make an expensive call inexpensive. Of course, one had to upgrade but the choices made the justification of spending more money painless. After all, who would want to be caught with a big black phone with a cumbersome dial when they could have a sleek Princess with pushbuttons? Dick Tracy had a wrist-radio-phone type instrument and that was futuristic. We never imagined we would once own something similar. But then the age of cell phones arrived and now even people in remote places could have a phone and the ability to irritate, aggravate and communicate with others anywhere at anytime.
Now, my first job in an office introduced me to many new and wonderful inventions. Electric typewriters were replacing manual ones. The copy machine that had a light bulb and offensive chemicals were gradually being replaced by the great “Xerox” machine. A machine next to the receptionist telephone board was able to receive messages through the phone by converting bursts of signals upon a heat-sensitive cylinder which turned and by some miracle burned the message into a piece of specially treated paper. This could take some time and only short messages were sent. Again progress, the advent of the FAX machine. An adding machine (approximately 15” x 13”) with 10 rows of keys across and 10 rows down added groups of numbers, or could complete complex math and kept a running total by depressing the numbers and pulling a hand crank on the side. The machine was reduced to a smaller keyboard, electrically run and capable of doing even more complex mathematical functions. Progress moved on and we now carry a calculator with us about the size of one’s hand to perform the same duty. Of course with this machine the ability to add in our heads (at least the heads of younger people) is gone.

How many can remember 33 1/3rd records? These replaced the gramophone (of which I never was privy to) and these were replaced by 78’s which were replaced by 45’s which were replaced by tapes and then discs.

So, if you are following my train of thought, things got smaller, better, more efficient and all the old items were cast off or delegated to museums to be gawked over by people who had never seen or used them as we continued to buy new, improved products.

What I’m arriving at is a worry I have. Photographs. Photographs were once a rarity and an oddity. Early photographs were sepia in color, grainy and the people never smiled. This was improved by a box that anyone could own and which would produce a black and white photo. I still have my Kodak Brownie (well, actually 2 of them) which are displayed on my shelf and continually bring back a flood of memories. The Brownie, a bulky box, was reduced to a smart hand-held plastic box which took improved black and white photos. Ahh, the age of progress.

Then advancements in film were made thus offering the ability to capture photos in color! Cameras improved to the point of taking macro photos, panoramas, got rid of re-eye and all with a clarity that was heretofore unimaginable. Cameras became more chic in their design and the ability to loading film was made much easier.

But wait, digital appears on the scene! Wonder of wonders, a palm held camera taking quality photos and the added plus, one did not have to go to the drugstore/pharmacy to have one’s photos developed. One simply place the photos into their computer (another advancement) and they were stored on a floppy disc! Wow! Wait, the floppy disc could not hold many photos and a CD disc was created. Now we had something easy to carry around and a way to look at our photos at anytime, anywhere. Actual printed photographs were now obsolete and photos are now only occasionally printed as the discs do not take up a lot of storage space. Wonderful you say?

Well, think about it. I had a lot of old family photos that have disappeared over the years due to moving, storms or carelessness, but I still have many albums of fun filled photographs. Then I stored my photos on a floppy disc. That was wonderful except now I have no way of viewing them unless I spend a lot more money for an attachment to my computer to show them. I also have many, many discs filled with wonderful photos. I admit I had photos stored on my computer(s) rather than burn them onto a disc and discovered they were lost when the computer crashed, so now all my photos go to a disc.

But are discs are the ultimate way to store and your photos are there forever? Wait again. I recently tried to download two discs (of about 3 years in age) and my computer says they are blank. What happened to the photos? Where are they and how do I recover them?

Wait again. If we look back at progress and all it has come to, what it means is that some day my discs, too, will be obsolete and I will be unable to view all these magnificent photos without spending an inordinate amount of money to recapture them. So now I am worried that all my photos recorded on discs will disappear and never be enjoyed by others. Of course, I’m assuming that after I’m gone someone will actually be interested in that photo of the iguana on the clothesline, that group of unidentifiable people, those beautiful breathtaking scenes I captured with a few power lines running across the sky!

Nope, unless these photos are preserved in some sort of “pleasing” presentation and a story included about what brought them about and stored somewhere impenetrable, I’m afraid when I’m gone, my photos will end up as fuel for the fire, so to speak.

So, enjoy your photos now because sooner or later they will disappear. Have no fear, however, the whole process will continue on and the younger generation will have to deal with the problem.

Progress or subterfuge?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Reflections on Life in the Third World

I have recently been reviewing blogs by people living in Honduras and have been either pleasantly surprised by their entries or thoroughly disgusted. I should clarify.

The photos and comments about Honduran life and geography are really inspiring. I have only been to Trujillo (about 15 years ago), LaCeiba, San Pedro, Roatan and Copan. This is not due to the fact that I do not have the desire to travel but to the fact that I can’t seem to get my reluctant husband off the front porch! When I did manage to dislodge him and took him to Copan, he loved it. Now that I have seen photos of Olancho, Juticalpa, Pico Bonito, I am more than ever determined to burn the porch down and do some traveling!

To explain the disgusted part; reading various articles supplied by bloggers really re-confirms my initial observation that the government in Honduras is for the rich and greedy. Electrical thievery, unpunished murders, drug trafficking, lack of education for the masses, I could go on and on. However, everyone excuses the action of this country because we are in the “Third World”. So much graft and corruption and a people seemingly unable to do anything about it. To me, the highest priority this country should be to educate its people and provide a source of good, free education. This will not happen because the people in top positions know that once people are educated they will realize that they deserve more and will begin to take steps to see that their lives are improved by demanding that their government care about them!
Lawlessness in the country is paramount. I have seen people who have murdered others go to jail for two years and buy their way out of their sentences. I have seen drugs come into a community and nothing is done to curb it even though everyone knows who is doing it, how they are coming in and the fact that the government is turning a blind eye. Threats have been made to people on our island that they should keep their mouths shut about the drug problem, make no inquiries, and have been ordered when they can have lights on outside their homes and when they cannot, i.e., when the drug plane comes in late at night, all lights must be doused.

There are problems the world over, including the United States. But what makes major countries different from Third World countries is the fact that people can take a stand and demand that their government do something and the peoples’ voices are heard.

I love living in peace and serenity on the island and enjoy a less stressful live than I had in the United States. I gave up a lot to live here, not only materially but by losing contact with friends and family. Oh, I can still write e-mails and correspond but it is not the same as actually being among them. I miss the connection with my family and friends that can only come by one’s presence. I miss seeing the grandchildren growing up and being involved in their lives.

On the other hand, I have met a lot of people from various countries who have given me invaluable insight to what is going on in the world and how people are governed. I have met truly kind, intelligent people that it has been a treat to be associated with. I have also met greedy, hateful people that have no social redeeming qualities whatsoever. Thankfully, and for the most part, the majority of the people I meet prove to be wonderful human beings. I just wish some Third World governments could be made up of people who are not looking out for the interests of #1 and would concentrate more on the people they are there to serve. I guess I’m asking for too much!