Sunday, February 15, 2009

Death in Paradise

The island is home to many types of Iguana species, from small lizards to the large green Iguana (which is getting to be a rarity).  

Since we live in a remote part of the island, we had hoped that we would have more of the green Iguanas on our property, but, alas, they are being hunted to extinction.  We have seen and photographed a few of them but, in general, they are a rare site.  More often than not we see the large black Iguana and another variety which the folks around here refer to as Wooshwillies.

The locals hunt the larger Iguanas for food and their eggs, even though it is illegal.  Of course, everyone says Iguana tastes like chicken, but I hear there really is not much meat on them and the eggs, being from a reptile, are rather rubbery.

My husband and I have a great love for these ancient animals and discourage, in many ways, the hunting of them in and around our property.  The only thing we had not counted on was our newest dog, Desi, who loves to hunt Iguanas.  

Today we had company for lunch and were relaxing on the porch.  All of a sudden there was a commotion on the front lawn and Desi, true to character, was barking up a storm.  He generally barks at everything that moves and every sound he hears, especially in the afternoon.  We finally went down to the front to find he had captured and injured a good-size Iguana and it lay inert on the front lawn.   It was not one of the green Iguanas, but a 2 ½ foot brown/black animal.

We found a bite hole in the top of his head and near one ear.  We assume that  Desi got the animal around the middle and quite possibly did a lot of internal damage.  The Iguana was barely moving although it was still alive.  After about 40 minutes it died.

Desi was reprimanded quite severely and told “No” and shown the dead animal.  We can only hope this will have an effect on him and that he will cease his hunting, but I doubt it.  None of our dogs has ever bothered the Iguanas until Desi - he just has it in his nature for some reason. Since he spent time with several people before we got him, he may have been in training at one time to hunt them.

It is a shame when one of Mother Nature’s creatures die, especially a fully-developed, beautiful specimen such as this when their numbers are decreasing daily.  

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Well, with the full moon now in the sky I had the blessings of my gardner to go ahead and cut my Australian Pine (also known as Casuarina Euisetifolia) hedge back.

When we were first building our home I had access to very young Australian Pines which are used in Florida as a wind break.  The sound of the wind blowing through these drooping pine trees is a special sound on tropical beaches.  They are hardy, grow fast and can be easily shaped. Plus, when they are cut back they do not seem to go into any ‘shock” and start their re-growing immediately!

Despite their appearances, this tree is neither a pine nor a gymnosperm, but an angiosperm in which the leaves have been reduced to scales (an adoption to dryness).  The green branches look like needles and the fruit something like a woody cone.

My gardner and I pulled up 40-45 of the young trees, brought them to our property and planted them along the fence line on the northeast side of our property.  Years later I had a hedge of 12 foot trees which served as a really nice wind break for my flowering plants in our front yard.

However, since these trees were kept trimmed at a 12’ height, it was getting more and more difficult for my gardener to trim them about every 3rd month.  He has to use a very tall ladder and cut first from one side of the tree and then go around to the back side to cut again.  He uses a machete and the action of swinging the machete proved very difficult for him.

I decided that the hedge would look just as good at a 6’ level and told my husband that during the rainy season I would like to trim the hedge down.  Well, our new chainsaw has not been cooperating and for the past few months we have been waiting for a special tool to adjust the gas in-take level (or some such thing).  Since the rains are cutting back now, I began to worry that we would pass our window of opportunity and spoke to my husband.

My husband talked to a good friend (who has a chain saw) and he offered to come down Tuesday this past week and trim the trees by one-half.  We picked him up on Tuesday morning and before noon we had taken him home again - job done!

The hedge has always been a beautiful thing and to now see all the bare trees is a little painful, but they will come back very quickly.  The down side (there is always a down side in Honduras) is that our neighbor on the undeveloped property next to us is paranoid about his trees and anything on his property.  A while back we tried to contact him to ask his permission to cut a 10’ firebreak between our properties on his side of the fence since our land is always clear and kept clean of brush.  We could not find him after a diligent search and so, my husband, in his infinite wisdom, said it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission! 

We cut the firebreak, trimming all the undergrowth and small bushes and weeds leaving small trees unharmed.  Well, the neighbor came down to check out his property (he does this every once in a while) and was upset for some reason with the firebreak.  Why, we do not understand as it provided an easier way for him to get to his huge mango trees and collect the fruit during the season.  Instead of talking to us which, for some strange reason Hondurans never do (they prefer to go “to the judge” and have him settle the problem), he spoke to our gardner telling him to tell us that he did not want us cutting on his property.
Several months later he returned and spray-painted many of his trees and “shack” on the beach with huge read letters which spelled out his name!  With my hedge now trimmed back, this garish signage is quite visible!

So, now I just sit back and wait for my beautiful hedge to return to its former beauty!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blog Announcements

I have been envious of those people that have Blogs which are automatically sent out to people once they post them.  I have always had to send an e-mail informing people that a new blog was available and sometimes I would forget to send the newest Blog to some folks even though I have a "blog address block" of people to send to.  What happens is that I add people and forget to put them in the block, or I forget to subtract people from the block.  

So a fellow Blogger, who uses FeedBurner (a service which simply sends out your Blog after you have posted it), volunteered to set me up.  I tried several times but always ran into problems....guess I was just technically challenged by words like "chicklet" (not a piece of gum), podcasters (how do they get into that pod, or is it like the old movie "Body Snatchers"?), landing page (I thought landings were only at airports) or ${confirmlink}, whatever that means.

Anyway, the service is free and painless (?) and gives the following guarantee:

"Besides being backed by the FeedBurning seal of approval, FeedBurner email has a very specific focus - it is strictly a publisher service. There is no subscriber landing page at FeedBurner and no dashboard for subscribers to log in to and manage their emails."

My friend set me up and then let me loose - a dangerous thing to do sometimes.  I've already made my first mistake by cheerfully filling in a lot of e-mail addresses to my friends/family (some of whom may disown me now) telling them that the purpose of the message was so they could make comments to my Blog without a lot of fuss and muss.  Not! (or is it naught?)
Anyway, my friend received my e-mail and told me that I had entitled all of you to be authors in my Blog!  So, I sent another e-mail disavowing the first e-mail (love to confuse you nice people)asking you to disregard my e-mail.  I then decided to write a Blog on the art and confusion of Blogging!

So, with this Blog, I hope to send out this article by e-mail to all of you.  All you have to do is, when you get it, go to the "Subscribe to Feather Ridge" and enter your e-mail address into the box.  Then, whenever I write a new Blog, you will automatically receive it in your e-mailbox - or, at least that is what I hope for.

Of course, I expect my friend to write me, after pulling her hair out, and say, No, No, No, you've got it wrong again!  But, on the outside chance that this goes through, it is all up to those who want to receive my Blogs on a regular basis to fill in their e-mail address.  Simple, right!  At least I think so.  Of course, if I'm advised that I've messed up again, you will be hearing from me!

Ain't this fun??!

Paradise Lost

The following was submitted by our good friend and best man to our wedding.  I wanted to leave it here as another reason why we retired early and left Florida.  I hope our friend, Joe, finds his Paradise and am extremely thankful that he has been our friend for these many years.

The year was 1973, when I made a trip to Orlando, Florida to visit relatives. I was somewhat unwilling to travel, being one who feels the need to be in the thick of my normal surroundings, but after arriving, I found a very welcoming city, where people would say "Good morning!", and mean it. Add to that, the climate and tropical beauty of the surrounding country made the trip one of destiny. I returned to Indianapolis, a city I detested from the start, looked around me and decided there was really nothing there for me, so the following week, I gave notice at my job and sold everything except what would fit into my 1973 Mercury Capri, including, (for some strange reason) the ironing board, which stuck out through the sun roof. I didn't iron, but it would soon serve as a great substitute for a coffee table, and in its raised position, a dining table. I arrived in Orlando on June 9, 1973, and the party started. I thought I had died and gone to heaven for sure, and best of all, there was a bar on every corner! Almost immediately I began a job with a major general contractor, where also one of the greatest friendships of my life began. Thirty-six years, three wives, and countless beers later, we're still friends. Yes, this was my Paradise Period. Orlando was my adopted home, with all the trimmings.

Fast forward to 1984. Gone were the days when we never locked our doors, and the keys stayed in the car in the driveway. Ah, yes, the invasion of the yuppie era, and the work-a-holic, snatch and grab, materialistic gluttony that ensued. Not to mention the advent of the computer age, during which machines were to reduce the work week to thirty hours, and we would have all the extra time on our hands to enjoy life. What a joke! The work week increased to 60 - 80 hours, since all these computers need to be maintained and while we used to be slaves to assimilating information, we now were slaves to the vast amount of information itself. And guess what??? Half of it wasn't even correct! Ah, progress!
Then there was Disney. OOOh, that evil empire. Ever hear of the play "The Mouse that Roared"? This was the rat that devoured. It devoured a peaceful, prosperous, enjoyable way of life in a beautifully well-balanced community and created a monument to greed and corruption, and the crime and burgeoning cost of living that comes with it. Add to that, the over-crowding, moral bankruptcy, and culture clash and you have mass stress of epic proportions. Orlando has gone from Life Magazine's Model American City of 1958 to being named by the Gallup Poll as one of the ten angriest cities in the country.

I'm retiring soon, and I'm moving back to the rural country of Kentucky where I was born. Where people still say good morning and mean it.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Well, this year has started off pretty good.  Weather-wise we have had a really beautiful winter.  More rain than usual in November and some in December.  The temperatures have been cool in the evening and the days have, for the most part, been sunny and nice.  A few "northers" blew through here, but nothing major like in the past.

I got a new stove, have been able to bake my heart out and even do some entertaining.  We entertained  friends the first part of the month along with a couple that are building their house here and had a pleasant afternoon.  Wind cooperated, i.e., very few bugs and the sun shone plus, dinner was a success!  I had guests the following week to celebrate a friend’s birthday and, again, a good meal and great weather.

We had a wonderful Saturday last week at Manati Restaurant.  Again, the weather was great and there were about 17 sailboats in the bight.  The big plus this time was that some of the sailors were musicians.  There was a piano player (who brought his own keyboard), a guitarist/bongo player and a drummer.  Those men, along with my husband on harmonica and Claus on Bass, entertained us for several hours.  The piano player’s wife sang (and quite well), so the entertainment was complete.  The music was a mixture of tunes, all with a “blues” beat.  Lots of people, lots of fun and good food.

We were than most graciously invited to view Super Bowl Sunday at the home of our friends.  My husband, before coming to the island, never missed a Super Bowl and loved football.  Of course, without TV on the island he has missed two Super Bowls but it has not affected his outlook – thank goodness!  I’ve never been one to watch football as they seem to have too many rules and they were constantly adding more.  Besides, the sport took forever to watch.  I mean an hour game could take 3-4 hours!  However, now that I don’t have to view it every weekend (as we did in the states), it is sort of interesting to see the one big game of the year.  This year was a great game and even had me excited.  Plus, it took place in my home town of Tampa and, occasionally, they would give us glimpses of the downtown area where I once worked.  So, it was kind of our friends to include us in their viewing day plus sharing wonderful snacks and a lovely dinner after.  Since it was late, we slept over and left early the next morning.

I hope to do more entertaining in February as we have a friend and his brother coming down here for 3 weeks to work on the house he is building and, of course, the woman who gives me incentive to do some quilting will return for a couple of months.

To keep out of trouble and occupied in my free time (ha), I have been painting my upstairs “craft” room and rearranging furniture to allow me to have a larger sewing area.  A local carpenter is making a sewing desk for me along with a replacement door for the upstairs porch.  We had new windows ordered from the states and they are now installed.  Where I had louvered windows before, I now have vinyl Pela windows which really make it bright up there!  We have had a leaking problem on the porch of the second floor causing several leaks down in the front room on the main floor.  My husband has now repaired that and I can move my futon over to sit under the windows so that I can have a large table for a working area for my other craft projects (cards, driftwood projects, bamboo items, etc.) against the wall.

I have been on a crocheting kick and have downloaded free patterns from the net.  I made a stuffed seahorse for our friend’s daughter who celebrated her 7th birthday last week and now my daughter wants one for each of her boys for their respective birthdays in March.  I have some other 2009 Christmas projects going on for family and have just delved into filet crochet – something I’ve never done before.  I have some sewing projects to complete (a quilt) before a friend of mine arrives on the island for a two-month stay.  She introduced me to paper-piecing and now “thangles”, another form of quilting and will work with me and my friend, Linda, to finish our projects.

We have been cutting away at the brush and overgrowth up on the hill behind the house and planting during the wet season.  Everything is coming along and looking great.  Heck, we even got the “big” boat tilt motor fixed and we are now a two-boat family again.

So, we have started the New Year off with a lot to do, some fun with friends, good food, an HD TV experience and our water transportation is back in order!  Sometimes, life is good and sometimes it is really good!