Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of 2011

A sunset for 2011

I really wanted to find time to reflect on this past year and make some profound statements but, as usual, the year has slipped out of my grasp and I'm typing this on the last day of the year trying to collect my thoughts and I'm drawing a blank!

So, here's just a few Christmas photos of decorations around the island.  Well, these are decorats that appear in just two locations: G&G's Clearwater Paradise and Graham's Cay.  Hope you enjoy them!

An island Christmas Tree
Santa and his Crystal ball
(Note the tiny train that goes around)
A Christmas Nite Light

Ginger's Santa Collection

A tribute to Rudolph

A Christmas Nite Light

Santa and the Crystal Ball of Dreams
(Cut train that runs around the base)

Ginger's Nativity Collection

A darling Bear Nativity
Love the "Bear" Angels

Graham's Cay

This year I did not decorate at my house, which is very unusual.  Circumstances were just not right and so my precious reminders of Christmas past lay dormant in the storage area.  But, next year, they will be out in all their glory to remind me of the friendship, love and happiness that makes up this season.

May 2012 be all you want.  May you live happily and in good health and may you enjoy the love of friends and family throughout the year.  To my children I send all my love, to my friends I thank you for your kindness, thoughtfulness and "being there" for me this past year and to my husband, may we have many more happy years together......if you do what I say!!!  HA and Ho Ho Ho!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cooler Weather and More Rain

As I've said before - it is December and we have lots of rain.  Not a good time of year for tourists to visit the island but all of us who live here, we get out and about nonetheless because this is a time of celebrating.

First, with cooler weather I had to make the traditional pot of Chili and Mike's favorite, crunchy least that is what he calls my French Bread when I toast slices to have with a meal.


Mmmm, mmmm, good.  I make French Bread at least 3 times a month and have a wonderful recipe which is simple and fast.  HOWEVER, one is advised to mix the warm water, yeast and sugar and let it sit and then mix in one cup of flour before adding the rest of the flour and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Well, about twice now I’ve forgotten the salt!  The bread turns out nice but is rather bland.  I highlighted the addition of the salt on my recipe card but, unfortunately, on this particular day I used the newly re-typed recipe which did not have the salt highlighted!  You guessed it - I forgot the salt.  And the bread came out looking so beautiful too.  I fixed that by slathering it with garlic/parsley butter and broiling slices for a few minutes.  Where there is a will there is a way.
Next, I apologize for not reporting on one more news item in my last blog.  At the time I sat and sat and tried to remember what I was forgetting but alas it never jumped into my brain until yesterday!  What I meant to tell people was that over two weeks ago Sue Sikaffy was out sick from her store and when we inquired as to her whereabouts we were told she had experienced high blood pressure and was being checked out.  We later discovered that she had experienced this increase due to stress over the fact that she had learned her husband had an incident with his heart.  Armando works on a boat servicing other ships off the coast of either Africa or the Middle East (I’m not quite clear on where he is working).  Several of the men on the island have taken jobs on oil rigs or work on service boats in the Atlantic and are away from home from 3 to 6 months.  They come home for about a month R&R and return to work another stretch.  Armando was on the job when he experienced chest pains (or something similar - not fully informed as to his symptoms).  They took him somewhere (and I don’t know that either) for medical attention where they discovered two of his arteries were clogged.  They inserted a balloon device and cleared the clog and sent him home for a month.  He is now well and resting and was told to start a diet and watch his cholesterol.  Armando, we are glad you are well and hope that you can deal with this new lifestyle change!

Next, I mentioned in my Christmas blog that I had made several other presents but could not post the photos as the people receiving them would know what they were getting.  But I can now post a few of the things I distributed at Christmas to friends.  Unfortunately, and not to bore you, I forgot to take a photo of two items and so you are not subjected to having to view even more things!

The following were tea light flowers I made for several of the girls that work at our local grocery store and are so helpful all year.  The coasters were to be made to use at the bar at Manati.  I love the bright colors and so did the recipient.


This is a bag to hold plastic bags!  You put in your bags at the top and pull them out the bottom.  I have done the before and sewed them from material.  However, I found this pattern which was so elegant that I had to make it up.  I gave it to the person with a bottle of wine as it makes a nice gift bag for that too!   

This is a slipper sock I started for my husband but it turned out to be too large so I used it as a Christmas sock to put his gifts in! 

This is a book bag but will be used as a small purse by the recipient of this gift.

These are slippers for my friend in Florida who needs something warm to keep her toes comfortable in the winter!

So, I guess I am caught up now.  I might add that I forgot to make Christmas cookies for my husband this year.  His favorite are Pecan Sandies which are really melt in your mouth kind of cookies that I've made for years.  I was able to make one batch (40 cookies) as I only had 1 cup of butter left in my refrigerator.  In spite of the "limitation" on his intake of cookies, he was very happy that I finally remembered and made him his cookies!  Also made a couple loaves of garlic flavored bread to go with them.  So, we have chili, french bread, garlic bread and cookies - and who says good food here is hard to come by?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

Another Christmas has come and gone and, as usual, being so far from family we celebrated with our friends in order to share the joy of the Season!
For a few years we have all gathered at Manati to celebrate Christmas (among other festivities) and this year was no exception.  The day started as normal Christmas Days do; cloudy, rain and rough traveling.  In 14 years I think we have had 4 sun-filled Christmas days with possibly two of them beginning and ending with rain but in the middle there was sun!  Dec. 25th this year was no exception, it rained off and on all day and some people managed to miss the downpour to arrive high and dry while others got caught and came in drenched!  Needless to say, everyone was in good spirits.

We usually have turkey and this year was no exception except this year we had two humongous birds!  Everyone was instructed to bring a dish to share and we had a variety of salads, vegetables and deserts to fill our stomachs.
Claus took on the responsibility of cooking the turkeys in his outdoor grill.  This huge oven was built a couple of years back to celebrate Hansito’s 50th birthday and has been providing the island with wonderful meals ever since.  Today was no exception as Claus tended to the two turkeys.  As usual, he did an outstanding job and our thanks to him and his wife, Annette, for all their hard work!  Great meal guys!!

Of course we all caught up on the latest news which was that of Dick Monroe falling off a ladder last week and breaking his hip.  It was doubly sad as the whole family; wife, Jennifer, two sons, Seth and Ben, and Robin, Ben’s girlfriend, managed to make it to the island for the first Island Christmas celebration.  They had all come to Manati the previous Saturday to see everyone but between then and Dec. 25th, Dick, while tending to the trimming of some trees near his house, unfortunately chose to use an old wooden ladder which had weaken and broke while he was on it.  
For those of you who know Dick, he is a large man and getting him off the island really presented a challenge.  But, as ever, the islanders were up to the task and with the help of the people from Wilmont Bay and the family, Dick was loaded onto a reclining porch chair, loaded into a boat and taken to the airport where Lahnsa had a plane waiting to take him on to San Pedro Sula.  From there he was transported to Hospital Cemesa via an ambulance (which Jennifer had to fill with gas!) and about two days later he had a total hip replacement surgery.  Doctors are reporting that the surgery went well and Dick should be able to leave Honduras on January 7th to return to the States to recuperate.  We wish you well Dick and are so sorry you could not spend Christmas with your family.

 Meanwhile, back on Guanaja we all prepared to partake of the feast spread out before us.  With my husband offering to carve the birds, in no time there was food on the table, people assembled and it was almost all gone within an hour or two!

As an added attraction, once again we celebrated Capt. Al’s birthday.  He turned 83 and we all cheered and sang Happy Birthday to a colorful character that has been an “attraction” of the island for many, many years.  Happy Birthday Capt. Al!
There was a huge blue iced chocolate birthday cake (I guess that is his favorite color and favorite flavor) and was sufficient to feed the crowd of over 50 people present.  Of course there was some funny colored tongues and teeth because of the food dye in the frosting - but, hey, makes for more laughter!
I also have some pleasant news to report: Joan and David Cobb who unfortunately could not be here this year as they were in Alaska with their son, McCrea and his wife, Michelle, were informed that they are to be Grandparents for the first time next June!  Congratulations to the proud parents and Grandparents.
There was a sad note to the season however with the passing of Diane and Terry Conlee’s good friend, Susan Moelling who succumbed to a sudden unknown illness and died after 36 hours in the hospital.  Our condolences to Diane and Terry and the family of Mrs. Moelling.  Also, Jack’s Mom, Jackie, fell a few weeks ago but has returned to her home and is reported to doing well.  Go Jackie!
For the rest of my friends, I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season and look forward to a bright, healthy, happy New Year.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Death and Rebirth

No, this is not a religious blog - this is about crafts!  I am an avid crocheter.  When I first came to the island I put all my crocheting away as 1) I was way too busy to find time to crochet and 2) it was too danged hot to work with yarn.

Over the years my crocheting was put on the back burner, so to speak, and everything was tucked away in boxes and stored out of sight.

A few years ago, in the "cool" of our winter season, I took up the art once more and through the magic of Internet was able to find fantastic patterns.  You see Honduras has women who crochet but they are limited as to what they can make.  The few businesses that do sell crochet items only sell are small steel crochet hooks and only fine crochet thread, which one generally uses for doilies.  You can find some wool-type yarn occasionally on the island but it is of poor quality (as is their thread) and only in black, red and white with an occasional green appearing.

Lucky for me I had a lot of yarn and all my various needles to tackle most any project.  I am not one to make what I consider those "tacky" toilet roll dolls or lots of dollies or clothes for dolls.  I like unusual items, things that are useful, pleasing to the eye and look like someone cared enough to really search for the right item to give as a gift.  I know I may offend those long-time crocheters who love those little doll items and tea towels, and they have their place.  However, I don't like to waste my time on those type of things - I like things that can sometimes be considered a real challenge and be useful.

Over the past few years I have made coasters, scarves, Christmas decorations, afghans, a doily (for myself in an unusual pattern), hanging items from filet crochet patterns, hats for my step-daughter who was undergoing radiation for cancer, stocking caps for my Grandsons, baby clothes, dish cloths, ponchos, eye glass cases, bowls, and the list goes on.  Sometimes I have posted a photo of what I am doing.  For example, last December on my Busy End of the Year post, I published many photos of things I had been doing all year long.

This year my friend, Annette, requested a sweater for her Christmas present.  She had wanted a Granny Square sweater as she had seen one of various multi-colors several years ago.  I could not find an appropriate pattern on the net and as I'm not really fond of putting a bunch of granny squares together, I checked out other various designs.

I found a nice jacket-like item which was a copy of a pattern that was popular in the '70s.  It was about the style she wanted so I ordered yarn on-line.  Unfortunately, the yarn she wanted was to be in bright rainbow colors which I could not find.  I found a reasonable facsimile and ordered this.  A week later I was surfing the net and found exactly what I wanted for her and ordered that too.   I then waited for my DIP box to arrive.  Both yarns arrived a few weeks later and I was set free.

Well, I must say, I've never attempted a sweater/jacket before but this pattern was fairly straight forward and, as luck would have it, was worked from the top down with no extra setting in of sleeves.  I finished the project in record time only to find that it was too large for Annette's tiny frame. I revised the pattern down two sizes (from small to tiny to petite).

So, I tore the sweater apart and re-did it.  The result is what you see above.  This time the item fit her but was a terrible style for her.  I refused to let her keep it and tore it out again, determined to find a better pattern.

I did find a pattern I felt suitable and made it out of the first softer colored yarn.  This time it fit her, was better suited to her body style and she was warm and happy.  So, this would be her Christmas present.

This is a close up of the sweater.  The first picture is not the actual color as I took it without a flash.  The photo of the close up of the hand-crocheted buttons shows the true coloring.

I then proceeded to crochet her another sweater, this time using a pattern that has set-in sleeves and would compliment, I hope, her body style and I was back to working with the bright colors she wanted.  This will be a birthday present for her was her birthday is in January.  So, in record time (I felt), I finished the major part of the sweater and now only need to put it together and then make the cuffs and front collar.

But, Christmas calls and I am forced to put this aside until next week and complete my Christmas gifts:

These are tea light holders for a few of the various people that help me out during the year.  I have other gifts, but cannot post them because then it would take away the surprise for those who surf the net and read my blog!

Merry Christmas to all!

There's a Pizzeria in Guanaja!

I should have reported on this "new" happening long before now but have been wrapped up in so many things that my blogging has suffered.

However, I am now here to tell you that Hanspico's Restaurant at Fruit Harbour, which has been in operation for several years, has perfected a recipe for Pizza which is outstanding!  They have been making pizzas for about a year now and have built a better oven, developed a better crust and have wonderful toppings to put on to boot!

This is what Hanspico's Pizza place looks like!  True island flavor.

This is our Chef/Cook/Bartender - Hannas, Pico's 18 year old son who really knows how to make a pizza!

I had a photo of Hannas putting the pizza in their homemade Pizza oven, but there is a new format on the blog site and it just does not seem to do what one wants - add the multiple photos one selects.  Of course there is no "help" bar and I'm experimenting here.  I did preview my blog and noted some little blank squares which I imagine contain the photo I wanted to download but don't know how to open it up!


Finally got the download to work so you can get a look at the "professional" pizza oven of Guanaja!

To get off the subject, I cannot understand businesses updating their sights and then not offering either an updated help bar or any help bar!  Oh, well, if this were a perfect world.......

This is the final product!  As you can see, we've already dug in!  Yumm.

And, so, the end of a perfect day with a perfect pizza in a tranquil place called Guanaja!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When Turkey is King for a Day!

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It combines two favorite pastimes - visiting with friends and eating!

Of course the main ingredients of Thanksgiving are 1) people, 2) TURKEY, 3) Mashed potatoes and Gravy, 4) Cranberries, 5) Green bean casserole, 6) Pumpkin bread (at least in my house) and 7) Deserts. Of course one can throw in salads, appetizers, sweet potatoes, etc. But the basics are a must (#6 is an absolute in my house).

This year there did not seem much enthusiasm for Thanksgiving and no one was talking about having a get together. No dinner invitations were being handed out, so rather than miss out on the fun, my husband and I decided to host a private Thanksgiving Dinner at a public restaurant. We made sure the party took place from Noon until 5 p.m. when the restaurant would officially be open for business. We ordered a couple of turkeys from our local store and I sent out invitations asking people to sign up to contribute various dishes to the celebration. The response was great. All invited wanted to attend and everyone was willing to bring a dish.

We set the dinner for Friday, November 25th as Thursday, typically, is grocery shopping day in town and sometimes it can take most of the day depending upon what you are waiting for. This was not a problem and no one had a problem with celebrating on Friday as opposed to the official Thursday of Thanksgiving.

The turkey(s) I ordered arrived. I thought they would send 2 12-13 lb. turkeys, as that is the usual weight one gets here. But, no, they sent two 21 lb. turkeys! So I kept one in my freezer and took the other up to Claus at Manati who said he would cook it in his outdoor oven and make the dressing. I was to make the gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin bread. At the last minute I decided to make a salad for a friend that had given me pure maple syrup for a special dressing I make and a special salad to go with it. Since he gave it to me a few months back, I figured it was time to pay up.

The day of the dinner dawned and wonder of wonder, we had sunshine, calm seas and beautiful blue skies. All October and part of November we have had lots of rain and we were just glad to see it brighten up to make traveling easy.

I had taken the time from a couple of my crochet projects to make myself a new shell with a cowl and was able to finish it the night before the party (see photo above). We went to Manati early to help set up but Annette had most everything under control, along with the help of her worker, Jessica.

The guests started arriving, appetizers were set out and the feast began.

As an extra, my husband recently has gotten back into the geological history of Guanaja and brought maps and a paper written by two geologist in 1963. They came to the island to research the topography and cataloged the types of rocks found here. Locals have assumed for years that his island is formed from volcanic rock. However, this is not true. We have a rock here - at Black Rock - which looks live magna but it is not. This island is located 40 miles from a fault and the island itself was formed by the constant moving and shifting of plates under the sea. Utila is the only island that has any remnants of a volcano. Pumpkin Hill is the sight of an old cone. Anyway, Mike has always been interested in rocks and took some time from activities of the day to explain the island's makeup to those who were interested.

About 2 p.m. Claus, who had been cooking the turkey for almost 6 hours, declared it to be ready and brought it in. George was elected to carve (and what a grand job he did too. We got our plates and lined up for the food.

We also had bottles of champagne donated by myself, Kate, Gar, Bryan and Uli and we drank a toast in remembrance of people who were special to us or meant a lot. Each individual called out the name of that person when we said "A toast to ........" I gave a short synopsis/history of what Thanksgiving means for Americans and we dove in to the food.

I wish I had remembered to ask my husband to take a photo of the spread but, alas, I did not. Fortunately for me, Kate brought a camera and took a picture of the turkey - the main attraction.

We were about 18 people in all and we managed to clean up almost all of the food! With the exception of some turkey, green beans, salad and still lots of mashed potatoes, we managed to show our appreciation for the efforts of those donating by eating up the goods! Of course we were then lucky enough to have Joan make 3 beautiful pies; cherry, apple and pumpkin with whipped cream to top off the meal! Fantastic! And a special big thank you to Claus who did a fantastic job cooking the turkey. For the first time ever, the white meat was actually juicy and moist! Just the way it should be. It would not be appreciated, however, by the islanders who are accustomed to their poultry fried and dry. When they get juicy poultry they think it feels "slimy" and send it back to be cooked until there is no moisture left in it! To each their own.

I thank all those who attended and especially those who contributed to our beautiful dinner. I especially want to extend my best to all my friends and family and I hope they had just as wonderful a Thanksgiving as we did on the island.

Now.......on to Christmas and more food!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's that noise?

About 3 weeks ago I was sitting in my bed either reading or crocheting (both of which I do every evening) when I heard a definite "chewing" noise coming from the wall opposite the bed.

It started and stopped and started and stopped and I finally got out of bed and walked over to the wall to try and determine where the sound was coming from. As you can see by the photo, our wall is a display area for a lovely quilt I bought before we came to the island. What you don't see are all the wires running for the phone antenna, the TV and the computer, etc. When the house was finished and we moved in I expressed my distress at the sight of the ugly cords hanging for all to see. My husband said those famous words that I tremble at when I told him I wanted to cover up the ugly cords - "I'll take care of it." When those words are uttered I know that it will 1) be a long, long time before it gets done or 2) it will never get done and/or 3) he is not interested in the project as he doesn't think it is necessary. So, I offered a suggestion. I said I wanted to hang my quilt "temporarily" to cover the cords. He agreed and 14 years ago we proceeded to hang the quilt and, as you can see, it is still there!

Because of this step, I saved myself a lot of stress worrying when the job would be done and I saved him from having to do a lot of work he felt was not necessary at the time. Behind the quilt, besides all the cords, we have shelf after shelf of books - so the quilt served a dual purpose.

Now, however, the chewing noises that distracted me from my past time seemed to be coming from behind the quilt. I could not pinpoint the source and gave up. Off and on, for several nights that whole month the chewing would commence and quit. It would wake me up at 3 a.m. and once out of a sound sleep there was no chance of going back to that blissful state and I would get up and listen and search.

I walked up the stairs on the other side of the bedroom wall to see if I could pinpoint the sound. I even went to the outside roof above our bedroom, checking the outer wall to see if something was trying to chew its way in. If you have been a constant reader of my Blogs you will remember that one year we had an invasion of little "pocket possums", mouse like creatures with a mask across their eyes. I certainly did not want these creatures back in my house so I was being very diligent in my search.

Finally, the other day, my husband announced that he found the source of the "chewing".

I hung these little metal creatures outside my bedroom window and being metal and exceptionally light, when the wind would pick up at night they would bang against the house creating the chewing noise! Who would have guessed?

I have since secured their little flippers to the house proper and they should remain silent and still. A big thank you to my husband!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Boats R Us

Well, it is November and we have had a couple weeks of learning to live without a boat for transportation.....or, stay at home and enjoy what you have!

About the beginning of August we encountered problems with our smaller boat (the Skiff) and had to take it in for engine repairs. There is a mechanic who works near the airport, Almicar, and everyone goes to him. Due to the fact that there are virtually no parts stores on the island, we had to order parts from the States to be shipped down. We waited 6 1/2 weeks for the parts.

While waiting we used the big boat but then it, too, started giving us problems in September so we ordered a new engine for it. The big boat then sat at our dock awaiting the new engine. Fortunately, by this time the skiff had been repaired and we had transportation.

The 19th of September we took the big boat to Andy's to get some fiberglass work and repainting done to the it. The new engine was delivered awaiting installation when the work was completed.
Unfortunately the end of September and October were months with daily amounts of rain and, thus, the fiber glassing and painting had to be put off. We felt lucky that we had the skiff running and were at least able to get around, that was, until the 4th of November.

We went out to Renate's house on Hendricks Cay that day to help spread a tarp over her roof. She had experienced bad leaks over her bedroom and needed some relief. This, we felt, would be a temporary solution to a long standing problem. The tarp was laid out and secured to the roof and we had a nice visit. We left to go home but when my husband started up the engine something must have broken when we shut it off upon arrival and so, when starting it, it was stuck in full throttle and we had to make several adjustments just to get it to run we thought.

We dropped off Kate who had gone with us at her house and when we went to start the engine again, it would not start. After some concentrated work on it by my husband and Bill, Kate's husband, they found that the throttle was stuck in forward and it was impossible to start the boat. We called Renate and she sent her worker to haul our boat home with her larger boat. We dropped it off at the airport to have it fixed and went home to order another part. So, now we were stuck with boat boats in the shop and no transportation.

Andy, the worker assigned for the big boat, finally managed to get the fiberglass work done, repaint the boat and install the new engine. It was delivered Monday the 14th of November. Almost 6 1/2 weeks waiting.

We originally wanted a deep purple color as we were planning on calling the boat "Amazing Grape" but since the store on the Cay did not have the proper base color the mixing was haphazard and what we got was this:

As you can see, it is not exactly purple and, as a matter of fact, this picture does not show the true color which is shocking pink! Because the paint was not dried totally and it rained soon after applied, the paint job will have to be redone as it is pitted and rough looking.

In the meantime, we now have both boats running (still waiting for a part for the Skiff but the mechanic managed to rig it up so we could drive it in the meantime) and back on our dock.

We are hoping that the new color on the big boat will distract from noticing that there is a new engine! Heck, someone said, no one will steal that boat because of the color!

Well, at least it is a Caribbean color!

Monday, October 24, 2011

End of Summer Woes

The end of the summer has brought a few problems this year that have not occurred previously. Over the years we have had relatively few insect problems in or out of the house, except for the constant no-seeums and other biting insects. We have suddenly been inundated with ants! I covered this problem in a previous blog but wanted to update my readers.

I checked on-line for natural solutions because of the fact that the ants were appearing mostly in food related areas. We read that if you put a line of dried hot red pepper flakes around, they would not cross the line made by it. Well, these ants apparently have not read the material that is being published, or they are Honduran ants and love hot stuff! Either way, it had no affect on stopping their onward progress.We also discovered that hot pepper flakes when mixed in water are not attractive to ants. We have small cups above each feeder filled with water to discourage ants from crawling down into the chamber holding the sugar water mixture. Lately the ants apparently have been donning their snorkel and dive gear as not only were they swimming across the water to get to the edge of the cup and climb down, they were now entering the feeding holes and, by large numbers, were inside the bottle of sugar water! The bottle could sit overnight and when we brought it in to empty it, we would find the bottle filled with ants floating around. When the bottle was emptied, they would shake themselves off and attempt to climb out of the sink! I could not see their air tanks nor their regulators, but surely they must have had those devices to live all night in the water. I mean, I did not imagine that ants could hold their breathfor hours!

Next I read that ants would not cross a line of talcum powder. I put a line of it down and, according to the written word, they would not cross it. But they would walk around it and traveled the full length of the line to do so. We did find that they came in droves to eat cornmeal which is said to eliminate them by the simple fact that they eat it and it enlarges in their bodies and they explode, or some such thing! I think the fact that 1) since ants don’t really eat what they gather and instead take it back to the next and feed it to the larvae who in turn process it and make a fungus out of it which is eaten by the ants and 2) the fungus from the cornmeal is foreign to their nest and, indeed, takes over the normal fungus they produce and destroys it thus rendering them without food and this is what kills them over time. I put cornmeal out mixed with boric acid to make sure it worked and they went for it, like a super-special free buffet. Over a short time the ants disappeared, or moved on, I don’t know which.

Finally, we read where boric acid mixed with honey or bacon fat would be appealing to them. They would take it back to the nest and spread it among their fellow workers and die. This appealed to me but I did not think we would find boric acid on the Cay. Imagine my delight when inquiring after the product I was told that “yes, we have it” and I bought up the whole small supply. It was a small bag with individual packets of the boric acid; about a tablespoon each. This mixture seemed to do the trick and we are slowly gaining control of our house back.

So, while the ant numbers have decreased drastically, we still battle them around the perimeter of the house and have been removing dead, rotting stumps which they like to nest in.

For one week in October we experienced a swarming of mosquitoes. Normally we have a lot of these insects in the low lying part of our property in back as there are many crab holes holding water there in which they breed. This year, however, for a few days the mosquitos were all over; on the beach, in the front and around the back. We had reports from other sections of the island of a huge influx of mosquitoes and are at a loss to figure out why the sudden outbreak. It was short lived thankfully and we are free now to exit our boat without being overcome!

Next, our lovely hibiscus bushes had developed a white, powdery mildew/fungus. This appeared mid-summer and we blame it on a long period without rain as we have never seen this on our plants before. The mildew/fungus creates mutated leaves which are deformed and flowers which are much smaller than a normal bloom, as can be observed in the above photos. Again, I went for a natural cure as we have a lot of hummingbirds and small geckos/lizards which I did not want to harm. We had a fungus powder which was to be mixed with water and sprayed on the plants once a week for 3 weeks or until the fungus disappeared and then once a week for 3 weeks or more thereafter. It was not harmful to animals/birds so my husband tried this for over a month. It seemed to contain some of the fungus but in some areas it was still spreading. We then tried a mixture of water/oil/alcohol which was said to be effective. Same outcome! I then convinced my husband (who hates to cut back the hibiscus bushes because it would eliminate, for a while, the blossoms which the hummers feed on) to cut back the bushes and burn the offending limbs. We had to cut all of our bushes down by half and our yard looked pretty pitiful for a while. Fortunately the rains came in October and the hibiscus are recovering and thriving. The rain fell for a total of 7 days with more than 17” accumulating. The cooler temperatures were a relief and sleeping was improved. And, the plus, the hibiscus love the rain and are now putting forth new shoots on the bare limbs. We are just hoping that the fungus did not enter the actual woody pulp of the limbs and continue to harm the plant. We have one bush that we believe will not make it, but one out of maybe 50-60 bushes is not bad.

The bright spot in our month lately has been the return of the little migrating birds. This year they have appeared in large numbers hopping about our front lawn seeking insects. Evidently there must be a lot of them to feed on as they have been here in greater numbers and staying longer at this time. They also are very curious and seemingly unafraid of humans. My husband, while sitting on the porch yesterday, had one actually land on his foot and preen itself and another walk across his knee. These are small warbler type birds and while most of them are black and white or gray, yellow and black, there was a small red bird, a Summer Tanager, who appeared on our porch rail. He managed to take several photos without disturbing the bird on his foot and it is shown above.

We have also have received some disheartening news. My husband’s daughter who has been fighting the worst form of leukemia and the hardest to cure, is not doing well. In July she went to the Moffit Cancer Center in Tamper and received a stem cell transplant to supplement the bone marrow that was destroyed by chemo and radiation. For two months she was in the hospital being tended to while fighting the effects of the transplant treatment. She seemed to be rallying but in late August she had a down turn. Since her immune system is virtually non-existent, contracting any germs was dangerous for her. Her bladder was attacked by a bacteria which is not uncommon in these treatments but, unfortunately, they were not able to combat this strain as effectively as they wanted. She became very ill and has been losing a lot of blood daily to the point of needing transfusions every 3 days. She has bladder problems and continues to bleed. They tested her blood and although the transplant was successful, her blood was full of cancer cells once again. There is nothing more at the present time that they can do because of her weakened condition and she returned home to Orlando to see what is now available for her. She has lost considerable weight and is weak and, so, not many options are available to her at this time. We only hope that there is something that can be done for her to overcome this disease.

Oh, and with all this going on we got a new computer. We decided this time, since we have tried a variety of brands, to go with Apple/Mac. We purchased the Mac mini and after waiting for 3 weeks for it to come on the boat, we are now attempting to understand and use this computer to its maximum. So far it has been challenging but with my constant research on the net and some clues from other Apple computer owners, we are slowly making progress. My husband cannot use his favorite photo program and we are trying to transfer our documents from a Microsoft program to Apple though a migrating program. So far it seemed to transfer but we cannot find the documents which leads me to believe that it was unsuccessful. Now, if the weather would clear up so we have sunshine, I could work longer on the computer and not worry about the solar electrical power.

Oh, another problem. Our batteries, after 15 years, are starting to get old and losing their charge! We will be forced soon to check into another set and that will present a whole new array of problems - mainly transporting them here and getting them up to the house. The original 2 batteries weighed 450 lbs. each and are modified fork lift batteries. There is a new battery out, that has more power and is only one unit but weighs 1,100 lbs. So, how to get it into and out of a boat, onto a dock (without caving the dock in), up the hill and up the steps into our back door! Don't you just wish you had our problems?

We are hoping that November will bring better news and continue to deal with the day-to-day problems hoping for the best.