Saturday, August 31, 2013

More Updates for 2013

Ok - for those who want me to continue, for those that have a passing interest and for those who are curious - here's another update for early 2013.

As I said earlier, we lost two dogs and acquired a new puppy, Desiree, and a feral cat, Smokey (I did mention Smokey did I not?).  Smokey was the second of two feral cats that have "adopted" us.  The first one, Spook, I wrote about a while back.  He lasted with us less than a week and died of unknown causes.  Smokey showed up a few months ago and was very weary.  He slept on top of the garden house with one of our other cats and came down to feed when we put a dish of food out.  Eventually he became accustomed to our daily routine and in no time blended in with our other pets.  As for Desiree, being a puppy the two older dogs wanted nothing to do with this rambuncious, playful character.  However, Smokey and her hit it off immediately.  They would literally chase each other around the yard taking turns as to who would chase who.  Desiree would bite her on the ears, on the head, on his legs and private parts which Smokey took in stride.  When he became tired of it he would rise up, growl and the chase would ensue.

Smokey was around for about 4-5 months (maybe more) and was a wonderful addition to our family of pets.  However, on August 2nd, a Friday, as we placed out food in the food bowls, Smokey was no where to be found.  He did not return the next day for his morning meal and 4 weeks passed without a sight of him.  I would like to report that he returned safe and sound but he did not.  We have no idea what happened to him, where he went or why. 

On April 21, 2013 one of the island Icons passed away.  Capt. Albert L. Veverica died at the age of 85.  Capt. Al had been in declining health for several years and the last 6 months he went downhill quickly. He lived in Guanaja for over 40years contributing greatly to improvements on the island.  He made it possible for people to get from one side of the island to the other by digging out the canal that runs by the airport.  He contributed to the building of buildings on the Cay and was one of the first people visitors saw when arriving on the island.  He was a great story teller embellishing his life experiences and entertaining all walks of life who visited the island with his charisma.  He was survived  by 4 sons and 2 daughters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  He is fondly remembered and is greatly missed.

Next, I must report the birthday celebration of Jimmy Springer who turned 75 this month.  Friends helped him celebrate with a beautiful cake that his wife commissioned by a woman living in Mangrove Bight.  Happy Birthday Jim!

I am late reporting that Joan and David are now Grandparents.  Sadie was born just one year ago in Alaska and  was able to visit her Grandparents for Christmas in 2012.  She is an adorable child and we all had fun cooing and smiling at her.  Her Mom and Dad are expecting another child this October.  Our best to all of them and wishes for a healthy baby once again.

Conch Festival VI was celebrated this month on the island with week-long activities culminating with a boat flotilla to Soldado Beach with a re-enactment of Christopher Columbus' landing on the island.  This year there was a big blow out at Manati and Klaus and Annette (along with friends) even contributed to the boat flotilla by decorating a boat with various flags of nations around the world.  Good weather and great fun that week.

One of the strangest things that happened in our house was the appearance of a huge termite nest upstairs in my craft room.  I had been absent from my crafts for quite a while and a few months ago went upstairs to gather up some supplies.  Found this huge nest - only part of it is shown.  It was built up on a plastic 3 drawer container and went down to the baseboard.  After removing it we discovered that the whole underside of the oak table had been eaten away and was not salvageable.  My husband had built the table and it provide me with a good work base for years. Termites are a real problem on the island and they move quickly as this nest was built in probably a matter of a week or a little more.

My husband has been idle with his camera lately but managed to snap a photo of this rather large spider which had lost one of his 8 legs!  I'm just glad it was outside the house.  We have tarantulas and scorpions in the bodega which he discovers and relocates periodically.

While this may a partial update on what is happening at FeatherRidge, I cannot promise any weekly reports.  I know I have more news I want to share but am drawing a blank at the moment.  So, be patient and I'll try to post something more before the year's end.  I do want to post about my son's recent wedding in the Philippines and hope to do that soon.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Update for 2013

I mentioned in 2012 that I was not going to blog anymore as I felt all the subjects I could pass on to people about Island living had been said.

That being true, for the most part, I did my "final" blog in May about the telephones here.  However, I decided to do an update due to the fact that a handful of people (and they weren't even friends or known to me!) have asked me not to stop as they enjoy reading about life on the island.  So, to honor those few that made the request, I will at least publish this update which I started as a "draft" in 2013.  Sorry for the delay.

I should start from where I left off so as not to confuse people as opposed to jumping around like a jackrabbit, which is my normal speed.  Much of what I will write here will just relate to happenings other than island life.  I will cover my trips, my crafts, some comments on living in Honduras and my pets.  So, here goes.

First of all, in June my Grandson, Joshua, and his lovely fiancé decided to join in wedlock in her hometown just outside Richmond, Indiana on the 10th of June 2012.  I flew up there from Florida where I was visiting with friends and drove from Dayton, Ohio.  My daughter, Tami, also flew in the day after me and together we attended a lovely outdoor ceremony at the home of the Bride.  It was the first time I had met Brandice and her family.  They have a lovely farm and a perfect spot for the wedding.  The weather couldn't have been better and we had a wonderful time.  Congratulations Josh and Brandi.  Of course they have been married a year now and Josh has become a Policeman, they have acquired a dog and moved to a new home.

After the wedding I flew up to Minnesota as I had arranged, through the help of my cousin, Mike, to have a small family reunion.  Out of 8 children on my Father’s side of the family only two sisters are still living; Aunt Margie and Aunt Betty.  Both are spry women in their 80’s and in relatively good health.  Margie has been a widower for more years than I can count and Betty and her husband, Leo, are still in love and active with square dancing, tennis, trips to Florida and Arizona and entertaining their children and grandchildren.

We all met at a lovely restaurant outside Minneapolis and in spite of the fact that it was a week day, several of my cousins were able to attend.  My brother and his wife were there along with my brother’s daughter and her husband.  We talked about old times, had some good laughs along with good food.  Photos were snapped and I can honestly say it was one of the real highlights of my trip.  

My brother then drove me up into Northern Minnesota where I spent a few days with him in his home.  While there I managed to look up a girlfriend of mine with whom I attended high school (1959-1961).  She and I have remained close and correspond as often as distance allows.  She is not overly enthusiastic about computers and, therefore, our letters are few and far between.  Carol and her husband, Jim, met up with us at a restaurant and after a light lunch we returned to their lovely lakeside home.  It was a wonderful day and a great visit and I’m so glad I was able to reunite with her.

My brother drove me back to Minneapolis where I spent the night with my cousin, David, before flying on to Florida and returning to Guanaja.  David and I were years apart as cousins and it was nice to finally learn more about him, his family and his life.  Thanks to David and his wife for putting me up and showing me a lovely evening.  The only black spot on the trip was that somewhere during the time I was being driven back to Minneapolis from Northern Minnesota, someone had managed to get my credit card information and charge about $400+ to my account.  Luckily I discovered it right away and notified my credit card company who promptly cancelled my cards and reissued new cards.  I did not have to pay for these fraudulent charges which was a blessing but it is such a hassle to get new cards and puts a crimp in one's travels.

I returned to the island where things were as usual.  June is generally very pleasant here and 2012 was no exception.  The only difference in the weather this year was that the rains we usually experience in October through mid-January did not appear until the first of Janaury.  This made traveling to and from Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas dinners and celebrating New Year's Eve much more pleasant.  But, I get ahead of myself.

In September I flew to Germany and spent several days with friends in Rotenburg un der Fulda in Northern Germany.  I had been here before and my hosts had more to show me.  It was a visit filled with fantastic sights.  Especially wonderful was Bergpark Wilhelmshohe in Kassel.  This remarkable park has rose gardens, miles of beautiful walking paths and a couple of castles and an octagon shaped building at the top of the hill that is remarkable.  The entire octagon structure, which is the center point of the park, with the statue, stands about 212 feet.  The statue of Hercules at the top stands about 25 feet tall and made up of single, embossed copper sheets on a wrought iron frame. The Statue took 16 years to build and can be seen as far away as the town of Kassel which lies at the foot of the Park.

very first Saturday of the months of June, July, August and September this event takes place during the evening with lights of different colors illuminating the water, the fountain and the different monuments. Every time about 350.000 liters (92,000 gallons) of water are needed and visitors can follow the water's way starting from the Hercules monument and ending at the big lake of the castle Wilhelmshöhe. The water runs down the cascades, the Steinhöfer's waterfall, the devil's bridge, until it tumbles down the aqueduct before finally arriving at the lake of the castle where a fountain of about 50 meters ends the spectacle. This whole system relies on natural pressure from reservoirs and underground pipes whose locks are opened manually. This system has been in place for more than 300 years.

This is truly a spectacle to see and I would highly recommend it to any travelers visiting Germany.

I then took a train to Berlin where my Yoga teacher in Guanaja, Anke, and her husband, Bernd, provided a lovely room for me in their home.  Their apartment building was once in the Eastern part of Berlin and much renovation had to be done after the wall came down.  The area they live in is a bustling community with apartments, shops, restaurants and a transit system that is convenient and efficient.  We did a 9 mile bicycle tour of Berlin where my hosts pointed out some of the special sights of Berlin.  I had been to Berlin in 2009 but had seen only the buildings in the “Western” part of Berlin so this was a treat.  We also did a 3 hour boat tour of the River Spree.  It was a lovely fall day and a great way to take a relaxed overview of the city.  On my last day Anke’s Mother, Gerta, and I were ushered to a local museum where we took in a 360° panorama of the ancient city of Pergamon.  This was an incredible mural about 5 stories high which has to be seen to appreciated.  It was simply breathtaking.  The whole undertaking was created from the mind of Yadesar Asisi.  It was the last days of this spectacle in Berlin but soon to follow will be a panorama of the Berlin wall as it was before it was torn down.

Unfortunately, again, my credit card was compromised with a whopping $600-$700 charge from Zimbabwe made.  My credit card company were on their toes, caught the charge and cancelled my cards!  Made for an inconvenience but my host, Bernd, loaned me Euros for the remainder of my trip.  Thanks Bernd and Anke.  

Leaving Berlin I continued by train on to Künzelsau the home of Annette and Klaus who run Manati the German restaurant on Guanaja.  Their daughter was pregnant with her second child which was due to be born any minute after my arrival in Künzelsau.  The weather had held out for my whole trip and in spite of a few chilly and overcast days while here, it was really beautiful.  I visited friends I had made on the island when they came to visit Klaus and Annette, picked grapes in a vineyard.  The day was damp for picking grapes but I wanted the experience.  We were set to the task of picking purple grapes, which are much easier to locate than green ones on the vine.  The people were from around the area and hard working, fun, friendly souls.  At lunch they set up tables in the vineyard and provided typical German fare of ham loaf, potato salad, bread and wine - lots of it.  We worked on into the afternoon and I was really glad to see the work day come to an end.  Picking is not so hard or even the bending - it’s the standing on a hill at a slant that will ruin your back!  Thanks to the owner, my friend, Molie, for allowing me the experience of picking grapes.  He also runs an excellent restaurant where we had a fantastic meal.

I got to visit little Riko who was born about 3 days after my arrival.  He arrived healthy and sound and is a beautiful baby.  Congratulations to Judith, Daniel and Erik.  Riko is a lot bigger now and doing well being watched over by his Mom, Dad and Erik who is of course, growing by leaps and bounds.

I had wonderful meals, went to a couple of fairs, shopped in town, saw some unusual house ornaments and furniture and saw my first hedgehog!  I sampled chestnuts that had been roasted over a fire for the first time and lots and lots of wonderful German wine.

I left Germany to return to the island filled with wonderful memories.  When I returned home I took up my Yoga again but in about a month’s time I discovered small discomfort with my left knee.  After procrastinating, I finally went to the coast and had a CT Scan.  It was discovered that I had a torn meniscus and surgery would be required.  I scheduled an appointment with my surgeon in San Pedro Sula, Dr. Saybe, and in less than one week (the end of October) I had my successful surgery and was back home with no pain and just some physical therapy to keep me busy.  All was going well and I had no problems with the knee.  But........

As I mentioned at the beginning, Oct.-Dec. did not produce the normal amount of rain and we had more sunshine than we normally do in those months.  However, it did rain and several days saw from 5-7” of liquid sunshine.  The sidewalk in back of our house receives all the drainage running down hill and thus is the recipient of a lot of clay which the rain washes down to the sea.  Our sidewalk is very slippery and so I was being extra cautious when I had to walk out there.  It just so happened, one month almost to the day of my surgery, I stepped off the back steps and as I placed my foot on the slick sidewalk, it went out from under me and I fell on my left leg!  First thought was I hope I haven’t done something to my knee.  I lay there with my leg under me and what pain!  I had sprained my ankle!

Lucky for me the wind was not blowing because if it had neither my husband nor or worker would have heard me screaming for help; one was at the boat dock and the other high on the hill behind the house.  As it was, after a couple of good yells they both came running.  I could not walk and they had to almost carry me into the house.  I immediately put ice on the ankle and kept it up most of the day.  So, here I was, back at square one, my knee just about healed and I could walk and now I could not walk because of my ankle.  

Thanksgiving was on its way and even on an Honduran island this feast is celebrated, at least by those who either have family in the U.S., are dual citizens or have spent time up there.  Turkeys come into Sikaffy’s and Wood’s store and we all look forward to a big feast.  My friend, Linda was preparing to move back to Texas and so gave me all her cans of pumpkin as that was something one cannot find here.  My Thanksgiving meal is not complete with out my famous pumpkin bread and I had plenty now to make and give as gifts.  Sadly this year there was no canned cranberry sauce so I had to use my imagination and I made some up from dried, frozen cranberries I had on hand.  

We had about 10 people at the house and everything went like clock work for once.  The meal was great and everyone enjoyed themselves.  PLUS the weather cooperated which is a big happening here on a holiday.  No one arrived soaking wet and the seas were calm.  About the same thing can be said for December; mild, sunny and calm seas.   We celebrated as always at Manati where two beautiful turkeys were cooked on the outside oven by Klaus.  Good job Klaus!  We jumped right into New Year's Eve confident that the weather would hold.  It did and my husband and I took our boat around to the other side of the island to celebrate with George, Ginger, David and Joan.  

This is something we rarely do as we try to be home by dark, especially when we go to the “other” side.  We are just not as familiar with the reefs over there and with no “big” town or homes on the hillside to light the way, it is DARK!.  Again, we brought appetizers and George and Ginger fixed a delightfull small meal for us as we had really pigged out on the appetizers.  We did leave about 11 p.m. as the day had been a long one.  Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time ushering in 2013 (even if we left before it was ushered in) and thank our companions for a great time.

All this time I had been busy with my crafts, making presents for people and trying to come up with new ideas for gifts.  I discovered Origami and found some great instructions on line in order to make a variety of little boxes to contain small trinkets for people.  I still did some crocheting and got a few table runners made for Annette's gift.

January arrived and with it rain and more rain.  The whole month we saw little of Mr. Sun but the yard and garden thrived.  In the meantime, about the 2nd week of January I came down with bronchitis.  I am susceptible to this and had it about 12-13 years ago.  I was really sick then and so I was on my guard.  In spite of this I suffered for 4 weeks and the coughing was wearing me down.  I had no energy and this was the worse part for me as I am always a go-go-go person.  I read up about it on the internet and since 90% of bronchitis cases are viral and I had no way of running a blood test here to determine whether it was bacterial or viral, I treated it with hot tea with lemon and honey, hot, hot showers on my chest followed by slathering my chest with Vicks, taking aspirin, and lots of rest which was forced upon me.  The 4th week my ear started aching and I had a sore throat so I went to see the doctor on the Cay to see what she would advise.  She gave me something for my sinus and a mild spectrum antibiotic to take.  Everything finally worked and I bounced back.

In the meantime I must report that our 14 year old dog, Nod, passed on.  She had been bad for a few months but nothing we could not control with occasional drugs.  One day, however, I heard a thump on the stairs.  Apparently her legs gave out and she fell down the last two stairs off the porch.  We brought her up and laid her down but she could not stand up on her back legs.  We watched over her for more than an hour and finally decided that this was it for her.  My husband dug her grave and had to put her down.  I really hate this and we now have 7 pets in our little pet cemetery.  

Then, one of our dogs, Desi (the brother to Lucy) had decided that he did not want to live with us anymore.  Desi loved to run and be free.  He hated to be locked on the porch when we go somewhere and the minute we let him out, he is off.  He runs up to the hills where there is a farm with cattle, chickens, another puppy and horses.  They do not feed him there and he will be gone for at least 2 weeks at a time.  About that time, Lucy and CocoNut go off and bring him home.  We feed him like a King, keep him over night, give him a meal in the morning and let him out.  Off he goes not to return until one of the dogs goes to get him.  He was a beautiful, sleek dog, with a beautiful body.  He is now skin and bones and has an infection in his ear and ticks.  We treated the infection and kept him locked on the porch.  With medication and feeding he returned to normal but with his penuche for roving we decided to return him to Susan, his original owner, and she found a home in La Ceiba for him.  But, she insisted we take one of her puppies so we now have Desiree:

I think I'll end here and report more on Desiree and happenings on the island in 2013 in another blog.