Archive for February, 2011

How can I tell you of ten days with friends in the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica?

I went to visit old friends, and met some new ones along the way.   My airplane travel was uneventful, the weather cooperated fully so that all flights were on time and almost completely devoid of turbulence.   Not only that, but the travel gods blessed me with flights that were lacking in fussy babies and obnoxious drunks.

Although the row behind me contained a two year old and a four year old on the six hour flight home, the parents that shared the row with them had adequate control and plenty of things to keep them both busy and happy, and the four year old only spent the first five minutes in the plane kicking the back of my seat.   I reached around behind me and took his little foot in my hand for about 30 seconds, and not only did he notice it but so did his mother, who I heard explaining to him that he needed to be respectful of the other people on the plane.   Amazingly enough, this little talk actually worked!!!  And following the flight the father addressed me as we walked towards customs and thanked me for my patience.   Honestly, other than the first few moments, a lot of patience was not required of me.   So I am happy to report that there are apparently effective parents out there in the world raising happy and attentively respectful children.

Oh, how to describe the beauty that is Costa Rica?   Since my last visit there a year ago some sort of educational program has been going on, apparently, for the litter that marred the countryside the last time I was there was wonderfully gone this time.

The gentlefolk of the country seemed uniformly happy and helpful.   At the markets they were patient with my feeble Spanish, on the buses the drivers were courteous and helpful and patient with my fumbling with the coinage, which is almost uniform in size and look — the only real way to tell a 100 colone coin from a 50 is to inspect the number on it.   Taxi drivers were friendly and drove carefully, and insisted on seat belts (they could lose their license if their passengers didn’t have them on).   All in all, my experience with the people was truly wonderful.   I don’t think I met a single surly Costa Rican, not even at the end of the work day during the bus commute.

This is the view from the front porch of my friend’s home.

At night, the cane fields in the distance were burned.

They had a resident wren.  Not the same kind of wren we enjoy here, but a much larger bird.   Perhaps larger, but with the same character and sassiness as the house wrens that lecture me from my porch here.

She thought that the cat food was actually wren food.

The cat wasn’t sure that that was true.

We took a series of three buses to Quepos from Atenas (where my friends live) to visit the Manuel Antonio National Park.   Along the way we had to change buses in Jaco, and we had time to enjoy a wonderful lunch and a local soda and then walk down to the Pacific, where I finally got to put my feet into the ocean I was born by, after an absence of ten years.  It felt great.

Yep, that’s really me with my feet in the Pacific.

I could go on and on, but I will save some for tomorrow, for right now I desperately need to vacuum this place.   Jim did a great job keeping up with walking Ruby, making a demi glace reduction from the bones of the beef we had butchered, making his shift at work, keeping the house warm, himself and the dog fed, the dishes done and goodness knows what all else, including actually keeping the heating stove area vacuumed.   Still, it needs to be done again, though; and the dust that I left behind when I went on vacation is still there, with friends it invited in to party along with it.  I may or may not get to that.

I have five massages to do today, and there is one little chore I am not going to neglect.   We discovered that the volunteer hive of honeybees that took up residence in our flicker box managed to survive the cold snap.   But they are definitely hungry and we are giving them sugar water to tide them over to the flower season.   I need to make that up and put it out for them.   They are using about a pint a day.   I’m not positive that the bees availing themselves of that food source are all from that box, but I don’t care.   Keeping bees alive so they can pollinate our grapes is a priority!

And so, more beauty tomorrow.

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vacation. . .

I’m going to visit my best friend.   This is a great time to go to her place.  She lives in Costa Rica.   That’s approximately 7 degrees latitude north of the equator.

I’m going from this. . .

. . . to this . . .

. . . and when I get home I hope it will be more like this.

I’ll be gone for ten days, and I can hardly wait.

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go. . .  but I know when I’ll be back again.  And I’m not lonesome.

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Life’s little ironies

No matter how many different climates I’ve lived in, I’m always amazed at how cold it can get.

I need my glasses to see close up, so when I have them off I can’t see how dirty they are.   Also, if I don’t know where they are I can’t see to find them because I need to have them on to see them.

It is very ironic to look at your luggage and try to imagine what you are going to want in the tropics close to the equator when you are bundling yourself up against sub-zero temperatures to put food out for the birdies and walk the dog.

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It snowed again — three light fluffy inches.  But at least it is warmer.  Today it is 22F, which is actually fairly comfortable.

The water is still running in the pond.   I think this has a lot to do with how popular our yard is.   Last night we heard a great horned owl calling outside our bedroom window.  When I went out to see where it was, it flew from the maple next door back to the tall oak near the barn.  A silent shadow winging against the early dawn light.

These next two, of the high sunflower seed feeders, were taken on the way back to the house after I got the shot of the pond waterfall above.

The next two shots were taken through the back door window.   The two layers of glass in between me and the birds makes a very cloudy picture.   I’m working on that.   The birds will not stay for a second if I open the back door of the house.   They are hyper alert to changes in the aspect of the back of the house.    It is a source of danger to them.

So far, all my clients have claimed to be snowed in.   We are going through quite a lot of firewood, but staying cozy.

Right now Jim is cleaning wine bottles because he is getting set to bottle the Sauvignon blanc he made right after Christmas from a kit.   It promises to be quite good.  He also has a Malbec from a kit working, and there is a carboy of our second run red blend from our own vineyard being clarified over there too.   My dining room isn’t so much a dining room as a winery.

I’ll be heading down to Costa Rica for a ten day visit with my friend Jeri this Saturday.   Contrary to what it looks like out there right now, it is supposed to be fine traveling weather on Saturday.   I sure hope so.  I don’t want any hitches in my snow-birding.

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This is the temperature at The Havens as I write this post.  In order:   Time, indoor temperature at the computer desk, outdoor temperature on potting bench, in shade.   Temperatures in Fahrenheit.

I haven’t really been out to walk the dog yet.   The sad thing is, the temperature outside is colder now than it was when I got up, a trend that is supposed to continue until it starts snowing sometime this afternoon.   Nevertheless, I have been poking my camera around the place, mostly from the comfort and convenience of my dining room window.   I haven’t put my long johns on just yet.

So, first.   The bauble.   This prism hangs on a piece of fishing line off the eave of the house and often makes wonderful rainbows inside.   This is a series taken at sunset a few days ago.

Bagels.   Sunday morning breakfast.   Crafted by Jim.   Unbelievably delicious.

Sorry.  I didn’t think to get a few shots of him kneading the dough and shaping the toroids the night before.

Now the birds.   These were shot around the place this morning.

Now I suppose I ought to get some duds on, in layers, so I can torture take Ruby for her walk before it gets any colder.   The little temperature gadget still reads the same.   But I hear the wind a blowin’ . . .

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