15 February, 2022

Four Days

 Another day, another dawn, and so it goes.  Dawn on Saturday, February 12 was intense and stunning.  I took tons of photos and pared them down to 2 for your eyes.

So intense it was almost scary.

Mellowing a bit.

The lovely light shows off our refurbished beach (with the cement blocks are protecting the red mangrove seedlings we transplanted).  A newly designed turtle ramp will go at the bottom left.

Finally, the preserved lemons were ready to use.  I made  chicken tangine using 2 recipes from the New York Times as guides.  I used the cooking method of one recipe and the additional ingredients of the second recipe.  Lots of spices involved - cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, allspice, and fresh cilantro.  Also kalamata olives, green olives, tomatoes, onion, garlic.  And don't forget the preserved lemons!  It was not difficult and tasted fantastic.  Next time I will omit the kalamata olives, they were too dominant,  and I will be sure to have turmeric on hand.   And I won't hold back on the lemon!  The flavor of the lemon made all the other flavors dance together, especially on the second day.

Chicken tangine, ready to serve.
Dawn on Sunday was slightly more sedate.
If you click to enlarge, you might be able to see Venus, just to the right of center in the upper third of the image.
 Finally, one of the parrots that we hear every day cooperated  by sitting on a bare branch in the gumbo limbo tree behind our back veranda.  I thought is was a yellow headed parrot, but Nikki Buxton of Belize Bird Rescue told me it is a red lored parrot.  Still hoping for a photo op of a yellow head.
What a beauty!  Its mate was hiding in the leaves and friends were scattered throughout other nearby trees.  
The weather changed on Monday, with clouds and rain moving slowly in.  Not good conditions for photography.  But at least there was no wind to speak of and the sea has been calm.  It is still gloomy and drizzling today.
Not the conditions the passengers on the cruise were expecting!

Even now at midday, it is quite cool.  I have a lentil casserole in the oven to get the house a bit warmer.  
One blanket may not be enough!
Stay warm and cozy where ever you are.

11 February, 2022

A Fine Start To The Weekend

Very busy this morning.  First thing was to walk the dogs before 6:30.  Then I worked with 2 of our workers today to put more sun shade up on a veranda that was getting too hot for the solar power batteries that live there.  After that we put up 4 pairs of eye hooks for my new elastic resistance tubes that will let me continue with the physical therapy for my shoulder.  I'll be trying out new exercises tomorrow.  Next, we marked the 3 palm trees that needed to be removed because they were shading some of the raised garden beds.  We have far too many coconut palms here, so it is good to thin them out a bit.  The guys love an excuse to use the chainsaw and made short work of cutting them down and removing the trunks and fronds.  The vegetables will be much happier with their new-found light.  So our first project was to minimize sunlight and the last project was to maximize it!  Go figure.

Here's how the day started:

5:57AM - False Dawn. 
The deep orange of false dawn faded completely to grey before the sun actually rose above the horizon.
True Dawn - 6:24AM.

The day has lived up to its start with a light breeze just ruffling the surface of the sea as the day has warmed up.  The iguanas have been busy digging in the warm sand.  The sun rules all life down here.

I'll wrap up with 2 sleepy pups in their new beds.

Clove, with her deer-like legs tucked up.

Barnie, with her amusingly short legs and long body.
The beds are the same size, so you can see how much bigger Barnie is than Clove.  I estimate that Barnie weighs close to 100lbs and Clove is probably about 75lbs.  

Wishing that sun finds and warms you on this weekend, where ever you are.

07 February, 2022

Tamarind Tree Community

Before we even moved here, we planted, among other things, a tamarind tree.  Probably in 2008.  It settled in was growing pretty well when we finally moved here in 2012.  When we added the new part to our cabana, we designed its footprint to leave space for the tamarind and its neighbor, the cashew, because we didn't want to try to move them from a spot they seemed to like.  Since then, both trees have thrived and grown quite robust.  

Tamarind tree in the foreground with the cashew behind it to the right.  And, yes, the cabana is lurking there behind all foliage!
The top of the tamarind was at the same height as the back veranda of the addition when we built it in 2015, so easy to reach out and pick the fruit.  Now, 7 years later, the tree is level with the upper veranda, making the tree about 30 feet tall in 12 years.
View from the upper veranda - we used to be able to see the Maya Mountains in the distance!
My favorite thing about the tamarind is not its fruit, which are delicious, or its flowers, which are delicately beautiful, but that it is home to many epiphytic plants.
You can hardly see the bark for all the plants growing on it.  (That is Barnie's old dog house/mansion which she used during the year or so before we had her fleas under control.  No fleas now that both dogs are treated monthly with a chewable tablet called NexGuard.)

Climbing fig was the first to grow on the tree and covers the most territory by far.

Mixed in with the climbing fig is resurrection fern, seen here in its un-resurrected state. 
And here it has been resurrected after some rain last night.  Shiny and fresh, good as new.

Lots going on in this shot - the climbing fig, a dog-tail cactus, and what really got my attention - a small bear's paw fern (Polypodium aureum)!

You can see its fuzzy little golden paw in the center near the top of the photo

I think this one grew from spores on a fern I had growing on the veranda just above.  There are also lots of mosses on the tree, too.  I think the rough nature of the bark encourages the epiphytes to take root.
If this little fern is from spores on the plant I brought down here to Belize and which has since died, then it is a continuation of a fern that I have had since about 1980.  And that makes me happy.

05 February, 2022

Lumpy Sunrise

Barnie, as befits the elder of the two dogs, gets walked first in the mornings, and this morning was a beauty.  My motto is that you can never have too many sunrise photos, so I took a few just as the sun seemed to emerge from the sea.  Then I noticed that the sunrise was lumpy.

Something is a little strange on the horizon.

10X zoom (on the phone camera!) revealed a small container ship right in front of the sun.

Easier to see when the sun was slightly higher.

Barnie loves a good sunrise.
It has been a gorgeous day and a productive day, too.  Dennis and I applied fertilizer to the raised vegetable garden beds and Dennis set out more plants.  He has a big selection of tomatoes, squash - winter and summer types, okra, and many more.  Best to get all the outdoor work finished before 10AM when the days start to heat up.  

04 February, 2022

Iguana Days

Clove gave a full-throated baying alert - the first fat-bellied female iguana of the nesting season was investigating one of the sites we have enhanced to attract egg-laden females!  Iguanas love these sites that are simply large logs placed on top of mounds of river sand that we brought in.  Later in the season, females will be competing for prime spots; digging up each other's eggs and tossing them aside with abandon.  It gets brutal!   For now, this what we saw:

The lone female walked around for quite a while, ignoring me and Clove up on the veranda watching her.  Later on I went to the site and saw that she had started a couple of holes.  This one looks promising.  I bet she will work on it more this afternoon.
The hole at the edge of the sand mound.  They dig in 3 to 5 feet of tunnels that sometimes interconnect.

The hole is about 10 inches wide at this point.

Soon, other females will add more holes and the egg-laying will commence.  We expect to see little bright green iguanas starting in May.