02 June, 2022

Fishy Goings On In Dallas

My brother, who came to be with me for my eye surgery, and I both arrived in Dallas on Saturday afternoon (night in my case) before my Monday procedure.  We had all day Sunday to play!  It was very hot with highs in the mid- 90sF (~35C), putting  indoor activities on the agenda.  We spent the morning at the Dallas World Aquarium, which also includes an indoor zoo specializing in tropical and subtropical habitats.  In fact, with the zoo portion being larger than the aquarium, the name is a little misleading.  The photos below show that there were plenty of fish and marine habitats, though!  It was crowded on a Sunday morning, but still had plenty of room for folks of all ages to take their time and enjoy the exhibits at their own pace.  

Axolotl.  These are a kind of salamander that never go beyond their aquatic juvenile phase.  They look like little dragons with their neck ruffles of gills. 
One of the coolest features was the glass people tunnel that ran along the bottom of the large cenote aquarium with sharks, rays, sawfish, stingrays, and groupers.  It was so cool to see these huge creatures swimming over and around you.
The flamingo exhibit overlooks the cenote aquarium.  You can see part of the submerged glass people tube at the center bottom of the photo.

Here is the people tube from a different angle running along the bottom edge of the photo.
Inside the tube, it is hard to see the boundary between the air and the water.  It looks like this sawfish is making a beeline for my brother!
Lots more to the zoo/aquarium, but that's it for this post; more next time.

Parasol ceiling art at the Thai diner where we ate lunch.

23 May, 2022

Home Again!

And I can see!  The surgery was easy, with dramatic results.  I stayed in Dallas a week and returned home Saturday.  More about the stay in Dallas in the next post(s); today I am focusing (get it?) on the last leg of the journey home.  I left DFW at 11:04am Central Daylight Time and arrived at PGIA in Belize at 12:30pm Central Time - a flight time of just under 2.5 hours.  Belize stays on standard time year 'round since we are so close to the equator.  PGIA, Belize's only international airport,  is pretty small with only one runway and one taxiway.  It was about maxed out on how many international fights it can accommodate when we landed, so the airport with its extra covid screening process was a zoo.  I just did make my connecting flight to Placencia at 1:30pm.  I was able to sit in the co-pilot seat, my favorite spot on these small planes.

Posted placard just in case I get a hankering to try to fly the plane!  
Big planes lined up at the terminal.  My American Airlines plane is second from left with the striped tail.  
The day was perfect for flying.  Once we were airborne, the pilot  switched on autopilot and was hands off until we neared our first stop at airstrip in Dangriga.
The beautiful Belize River adjacent to PGIA.  Several times I have been lucky enough to spot manatees swimming in the river as we flew over, but not this time.

Belize City, the capital until it was levelled by Hurricane Hattie in 1961.  You can see the municipal airstrip jutting out into the sea at the upper left of the city.

A view of the Northern Lagoon with the sea to the left.  The strip of land between the lagoon and sea is very low and marshy during the rainy season.

Just south of the Northern Lagoon is the equally creatively named Southern Lagoon.  We are over the sea here, and the water is so clear you can see the sandy bottom.

Sea, shrimp farms, mountains in the distance.

Flying low over former shrimp farm ponds on the right as we make the approach to the Dangriga airstrip.

Jungle below and then the airstrip up ahead.  Dangriga is to the right.
We made a 10 minute stop in Dangriga to let a couple of passengers off and then continued flying south to Placencia, total flight time of 40 minutes.
Placencia airstrip, spans nearly the entire width of the narrow peninsula.
Until 4 or so years ago, when we landed in Placencia, once we got off the plane and collected out bags, we would walk back down the runway to the canal you see on the right of the runway.  Someone would be waiting for us in a boat to bring us straight home.  After a little oopsie at the airstrip in which a plane clipped the top of a car on the road at the far end of the runway and fell into the sea (minor injuries, car and plane totalled), national aviation safety had a review of procedures at the airstrip and changed things up.  Now there are barricades that come down to block the road when a plane is landing and no one is allowed to walk down the runway.  Now we must take a taxi to the dock in the village.  Probably safer, but not as much fun.

I got home around 3:30 on Saturday and was ecstatically greeted by Dennis, Clove, and Barnie - it was a grand welcome.  The only bad thing is that I caught a vicious cold somewhere along the way and have been taking it easy except for walking the dogs.  I haven't even completely unpacked.  Today is rainy with lots of thunder this morning.  Scaredy-cat Clove decided she was a lap dog so I could properly comfort her.



She is on the foot of the bed now that most of the storm has passed, but she still insists that my foot must be touching her.  What a wuss.

08 May, 2022

A Few Photos

It's hot down here; highs in the mid-80s F (>29C) with "feels like" topping 100F due to the high relative humidity.  We venture out in the morning and again in the evening with a quick noontime walk in the shade for the dogs.  The weather pattern will break in another 3 days or so.  Whew!!!

Barnie in a sploot.  Or is that a semi-sploot?
It was so miserable even at dawn this morning that Barnie refused to walk more that the bare minimum.
The air is thick with moisture, but no rain in sight.
Lots of bird nesting activity, though.  I have been watching a pair of Social Flycatchers tending the nest they built at eye level just off the veranda where I sit every morning with my coffee and computer.  I think they may have a helper, too.  Good thing since they have to fend off big, marauding Brown Jays who want to eat their young!  And they also have to chase off the Kiskadees who want to steal the nest for their own use.  The parents are doing a fine job and it won't be long until the nestlings fledge out into the world.  The Kiskadees finally settled on another nest site.
Kiskadee nest in the crotch of a gumbo limbo tree.  Their favorite place to nest used to be the rain gutters until we put an end to that with gutter guards.  Don't want nest debris and bird poop in our water supply!
A little farther afield I came across these sizable owl pellets.  Fur was visible upon a closer look.  Not sure what kind of owl it might be.

Life and death go on in our backwater world.  We watch as the world at large goes to hell, with the trampling human rights and real freedoms - not bullshit freedom to not wear a mask, but actual freedom to live and speak and to procreate or not procreate without the will of others being forcefully imposed upon you.  We continue to send financial support (ACLU, Planned Parenthood, subscriptions to various news outlets to support journalism) and try not to feel helpless to change things.

22 April, 2022

Things you may spot at DFW Airpot

I left Dallas Thursday on a direct flight back to Belize. It is good to be home.  I had some time to spare at DFW Airport before the flight left, so I had a walk around Concourse D, the international concourse.  They have commissioned some very nice public art for the airport and I discovered that Concourse D is the permanent home of some really cool floor medallions.  The medallions, which are large at 20 feet in diameter, were each designed by a different Texas artist.  I took photos of all the ones I saw on my nearly 2 mile walk along the concourse and back to my gate.  The lighting was a challenge - glaring and reflective, but I think you will be able to get the idea.

Not my favorite, but fun never-the-less.

Linda Guy.  "Dance! Don't Walk"  2005

It was so cool to watch this toddler stagger around this one, stopping to place its (boy or girl? - I couldn't tell) hand on each of the blue hands before running to the next one.  I imagine the mom was happy to have her child so entertained while burning off some of that crazy kid energy.
Viola Delgado - Untitled, 2005

Couldn't find the artist or any information.

I'm not sure what this one is and it is the only one I couldn't find any information on.  I can see all sort of images in it ranging from animal totems to cityscapes.  What do you see?

Not its real title, but  I thought "Onion Rings" was fitting.
Jane Helslander "Floating in Space, a Waltz" 2005
This was the most difficult one to photograph.  I hope you can see the mockingbird on the fruit tree.  The Northern Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas.
Billy Hassell.  "Early Morning Flight". 2005
 I found this one very calming.
Ted Kincaid, Untitled, 2005
A lot going on in this one.
Beatrice Lebreton.  "Celebration"  2005
I wish I had taken the time to explore all the airport orange-colored 3-letter designations in the yellow rectangles on this game board.  You are supposed to be be able to get to DFW in the center from lots of other places.  
Pamela Nelson.  "Destination Game". 2005

Fantastic and fantastical horses in 3 colors - gold, blue, and red.
Richard Zapata.  "The Highest Power". 2005
My favorite is this very peaceful depiction of a cypress swamp.
Arthello Beck.  "Cypress Trees". 2005
 I also saw this:
Wilma Lingle.  "Airport Bathroom Selfie" 2022

The DFW website shows 2 other floor medallions that I didn't find and it doesn't show one of the ones above.  I'll have to do more exploring next time.  Which will be pretty soon.  My procedure is scheduled for May 16. 

19 April, 2022

Spring Colors in Dallas

I'm in Dallas for a few days, enjoying the gorgeous spring weather in between medical appointments.  I always stay at a hotel next to Bachman Lake City Park.   I enjoy walking around the lake and the location is fairly convenient to the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Clinics, which I where I come for healthcare that is not available in Belize.  Healthwise, everything looks good, but I do have to come back for a procedure on my left eye.  The vision in that eye has deteriorated in the last 6 months to the point that it gets hard for me to read or use the computer unless I make the font pretty large.  And the left eye image conflicts with what I see in my right eye, so it pretty much makes me crazy!  Problem diagnosed now and a simple(-ish) solution, if eye surgery can ever be called simple.  I'll come back to Dallas for surgery  and hopefully can get it scheduled before the weather in Texas gets super hot!  A few photos below to share the beauty of spring in Dallas.

Can you see the turtles on the log?  I also saw some very large fish in the water.  This is the shallow end of the lake where the stream comes in.  I can almost see the turtles from the window in my hotel room.

Texas is known for its roadside primroses - here are lakeside primroses.

These colors look like autumn!  I think this is a Japanese maple.

Lakeside flag irises.

A closer view.

The weather has been delightful - cool at night and low 70sF (~22C) as the daytime high.  Still, I will be happy to get back home on Thursday.

06 April, 2022

Buzzy, Buzzy

One of the Gumbo Limbo trees is in full bloom.  Not a very impressive sight, but the sound was stunning - when I walked under it, sounded like I was in a beehive!

Later on, multitudes of birds will come to feast on the young fruits and, later still, the mature seeds.

05 April, 2022

Still Hung Up on Red

Back in January while walking the dogs along a path that passes through the site where a little eco resort used to be, I heard a vigorous tap, tap, tapping from up in a dead tree.  Searching in the tree canopy,  I was able to spot a flash of red and saw a lineated woodpecker busily working on what I thought might be a nest hole.  It was too obscured by foliage to get a photo, but you can see that the chips had been flying!

Wood chips on the ground.
I walk the dogs this way a couple of times a week and heard the woodpecker at work on several more occasions, with more chips collecting on the ground.  Then nothing - not another speck of wood, not a sound - until early March.  In March I saw and heard lineated woodpeckers making a grand commotion whenever I would pass by with one of the dogs.  I assumed they had an active nest and were busy with their young.  Finally on March 24th I saw this:
Two little woodpecker heads sticking out of the nest hole!
And a little later that morning when walking dog number 2, I saw a little woodpecker on the other side of the tree.  So there are at least two woodpecker chicks, maybe three.
Search for the spot of the red crest.
They are not easy to see with the phone camera images when they are up so high, but they made lots of noise and some odd almost purring sounds.  They looked ready to leave the nest and sure enough, there was no sign of them after that day.  I think I saw them as they were getting ready to fly.   It was a real treat to see that the parents had successfully raised their young.

In other red news, the tomatoes are coming in fast and furious.  The bags are keeping would-be tomato eaters away long enough for the fruits to ripen on the vine.  There is nothing like a just picked ripe tomato with a little sprinkle of salt.
Tomatoes and salad greens fresh from the garden.
Too many tomatoes to eat, so I made some quick sauce that I will freeze for later.  
Two pints of tomato sauce.  
More red-on-the-wing in the form of a butterly.
Finally, a variable cattleheart butterfly sat still long enough for me to get a decent shot of it.  Look at those ruby red spots along its body.
And the final bit of red for today's post is the flower of the prickly pear cactus.  Some species of Opuntia develop fruits that are large enough to eat, but ours don't get much past this stage.  The hummingbirds and butterflies love this flower.
Prickly pear flower
That's all the red for now.  Wishing you a colorful day.