Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Signs from early this morning

Sign that there's a tropical disturbance lurking...


Sign that my neighbor has tenants arriving...

Sign that Miguel is transplanting something...

Sign that the neighbors behind are making noise (the cats are all in hiding)...

Sign there's an iguana living up on the third-level terrace...

Sign that Loco knows where the iguana is hiding...

 Sign that Maya is ready for a nap...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Critter time

The heat brings the critters. Scorpions, spiders, roaches, ants, mosquitoes. Here the scorpions are not that big...

But they are still ugly.

It's been a while since I've seen one of those jumping wolf spiders inside the house, but this evening there was one under my shoe outside the front door.

Roaches fly - there are plant roaches and then the other kind. I've learned not to yawn with an open mouth while riding around on the golf cart during the evenings - don't want to eat one of those! Being beaned in the forehead by an insect going in the opposite direction actually hurts - probably hurts the bug more than me though.

Ants - ahrrrggghhh!!! Big black ants are eating our pool cupboard doors. Normal black ants are falling into the pool. Tiny sugar ants pounce on the tiniest crumb left on the counter, and I don't know how they did this but they got into an unopened bag of icing sugar. The bag still holds air so I know it's sealed, but inside I can see the little devils. Here's a tip: keep anything sweet in the fridge or freezer, and immediately wipe counters. Sugar ants even love little puddles of water, like the sweat that pools under a glass. I wipe them up, I pound them with my fist - there is a never-ending supply of sugar ants at this time of year.

Mosquitoes - after the rain we had a couple of weeks ago, the mosquitoes have made it very hard to take Loco out during dusk. Thankfully they are not bothering us while sleeping, but some nights I've gone to bed wearing repellent perfume because one has invaded the room and I'm allergic to their bites. We had some guests who left behind a nebulizer of mosquito juice, and it really works. I forgot to look for it when we were in Canada, but I have another trip coming up so will have to see if I can get a refill. I also need Solarcaine - the after-bite lotion that takes the itch out - forgot to pick some of that up too (I did have a list, I forgot to check the list while we were there).

One insect that really doesn't bother us here at home but does bother us at some restaurants is the house fly. We have screens on windows and doors, and even though some of the screens have some holes from sharp cat claws swatting at a stray cat through the screen, the flies don't get in.

We have 4 cats in the house. Some mornings we come downstairs and find insect body parts - legs, heads, or even an entire insect that was slaughtered but determined not to be tasty. The other day there was the top half of a gecko on the stairs. Our cats are earning their keep, taking care of invaders while we sleep. I wish they could be trained to go after sugar ants.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Friends & Family - part 1

Our trip to Canada was preceded by a flurry of unplanned events.

First, there was Luna's illness, which meant almost daily trips to the vet clinic as well as at least 4x/day syringe feeding of liquidy food and squirts of Pedialyte. I really hated to ask anyone to take on that responsibility and commitment, but Charlotte made it clear she was more than willing, that she'd do whatever was needed to take care of 'her favorite cat' for us.

In the end it was her husband Jim who did the actual feeding, while Charlotte did all the ancillary activities (preparing the food, cleaning litter boxes, feeding the other cats, taking Luna out to the field to empty her bladder). They both took Luna to the clinic, and they both gave the other cats lots of attention. Cappuchina performed her usual magic on Jim - snuggling up for naps and endearing herself to him.

Second, there was our kitchen project - a longer than anticipated tiling job of the counter areas. The work was originally supposed to be done by the albanil (cement mason) who works with Miguel in property management, but he ended up 'not showing up for work' for three days, so Miguel was forced to pull in another albanil to get the job done before we left.

It was down to the wire, the albanil finished the areas he could at 11 am the morning before we left (it would take another week after our return to finish the rest). With a house full of concrete dust, I pulled in the cleaning ladies to tackle everything in the kitchen while I cleaned the upstairs, packed, and took care of Luna. After they did the kitchen (just breaking a few little glass things when they moved the cupboard back into place), they did the rest of the downstairs as quickly as possible. It wasn't the best cleaning job, but it was more than I ever could have done on my own. Even so, my body was in agony from all the physical work.

What didn't get done? Loco's fur didn't get clipped (and he still sports a wild mop of fur), the golf cart tires never got checked, Charlotte didn't get to 'shadow' me as I went about the daily routine with the house and the animals, and we didn't have time to eat breakfast before leaving. I was supposed to leave printed instructions about Luna and the house, with phone numbers - in the end I said I would email it. Never happened, by the time I got to the computer a couple of days later, Charlotte and Jim had it all under control anyway and I didn't have to send them anything. I got almost daily updates on their comings and goings, and the status of Luna's health.

We are so lucky to have a handful of people we can count on to take care of things here when we want to leave. This last trip was especially difficult - hard to ask anyone to do what was needed for Luna, but Charlotte and Jim did it without complaint. And after we got back, we were able to enjoy a couple of days together even if Luna's death cast a sadness over all of us. Our last evening was especially wonderful - dinner at Mango Cafe,

a drive along the coast while Miguel tended to the homes he manages, where we saw a beautiful double rainbow (we called it Luna's rainbow),

and finally creme brulee and coffee at Cafe Mogagua. We meandered home tired but satisfied, enjoying the lights of the island and the cooling summer breezes.

 There really are no words to describe how much the friendship with Charlotte and Jim means to us, we are very lucky to have them as friends. Thank you, Charlotte and Jim - for everything.