30 November 2015

Parrots by the hundred

     I need a new camera.     
     My point and shoot just couldn't handle pictures of the parrots that came out to feed the first few weeks of the rainy season: they were too far away and too active.
     They came by the noisy hundreds in all their unbelievable colors, wheeling around the house. If they'd let me get closer I might have been able to have gotten a couple of decent shots - but they weren't having any of that regardless of how careful and quiet and slow I crept toward them.
     Here are a couple of the really bad pictures I did manage to get of part of the flock that landed, screaming, on a couple of trees right outside my bedroom window. Let me tell you, waking up to twenty-five or so parrots having what sounds like an argument is quite an experience.

     And here's what they came to feed on. We've got lots of the trees that make these green cherry-like fruits.  This particular tree is just in front of the house.

     I'm told the parrots feed heavily for a short time early in the rainy season and then disappear into the forest to eat bugs until the next rainy season rolls around. I didn't even know we had them.

24 November 2015


     He was a street dog, foraging for food and running the neighborhood. He was shy and nobody could put a hand on him. He was sick, and getting sicker.
     When he collapsed in a nearby alley we collected him on an old sheet because he could no longer stand, a sure death sentence for a forager. He was emaciated and had no hair left; and he had open, oozing sores over his entire body. When we got to the vet's office people moved out of the way, more in disgust than pity; and the vet said he's very anemic and will probably die soon...
     I said I'd try, and I did. Later, when he was strong enough to be neutered the vet guessed his age at five.
     Ten years on and he'd still not quite got the hang of civilization. He really liked going for walks, although we know he missed running the neighborhood.  
     He really liked the company of the cats, far more than that of the other dog. He really liked dependable meals. He really liked fresh water, and soft beds that he could position to his liking. He really liked just being near his people. 
     And he loved being brushed although his skin, long-healed, was always tender.
     Last night he was buried in the garden next to a hydrangea and we hated leaving him in the cold.
     He's buried in our hearts forever.

22 November 2015

Friends, redux

     I've done a couple of recent posts about a favorite pair of shoes that were old when I bought them. Their rebirth in Bluefields was a surprising treat: a treat that they could be reborn and a treat to watch people use skills seemingly lost in Virginia and maybe in other parts of the U.S. as well.
     I showed up at Los Hermanos #2 in time for an appointment I'd made the day before and was given a seat so I could wait rather than wander around town barefoot with my crutches. The shoes were given to an apprentice who sat at one side of the shop's front door under the watchful eye of, apparently, one of the hermanos, who sat at the other.  
     Then surgery began with cleaning the soles of the shoes themselves and cutting new soles to general size and shape from rolls of sole material.

     Both the newly cut sole material and the bottom of the old shoes were roughed up really good with sandpaper...

     and a viscous glue was applied to the entire surface of each of the two pieces which were then pressed together by hand, followed by a few taps with a hammer.

     The apprentice handed each shoe, with freshly glued new piece of sole material, to the hermano, who very carefully cut away the excess, fitting the new to the old. 

     Each shoe was then returned to the apprentice who as carefully cut a channel in which a heavy waxed thread would - in addition to the glue - bind the old top to the new bottom...even around that awkward little toe indentation which, until I found Los Hermanos, made it seem as though I was finally going to lose these old friends.

     The final phase of this resurrection was to sew the pieces together, by hand, one stitch at a time.

     When the job was done I paid the boss, gave both guys my sincere thanks.....and walked out in my new shoes.

16 November 2015


     Following a year of pain the likes of which I can't begin to describe...these things are ready for the trash bin only a month after surgery thanks to Dr. G and his posse.

12 November 2015

Good friends, 2

     Previously I lamented my inability to find replacement soles for a pair of well-loved and comfortable shoes, pointing out that there are shoe repair places all over Bluefields but none with these really odd-shaped soles.
     But among the many shoe repair places is "Zapateria Los Hermanos." Run in a very professional manner it turned out these brothers have two locations. 
     #1 is open air.....

#2 is not...

     I went with Zapateria Los Hermanos #2 because among their selection were rolls of "sole" material of different thicknesses from which odd-sized replacement soles could be cut and custom fitted to my shoes...
which was just what I needed.

(#2 includes drive up service which I didn't need)

     I made an appointment for "good friends redux."

06 November 2015

The scent of the flower

     When my dear friend Sylvia Fox was growing up in Pearl Lagoon there were Ylang-ylang trees growing everywhere.  Sylvia grew up poor, as many in Nicaragua did - and still do - but that didn't mean there weren't special things available.
     Sylvia's shown here at the edge of Volcan Masaya on our trip to Catarina, the small town where the Ylang-ylang trees that are now blooming at False Bluff came from some years ago (the smell in the air at the edge of the volcano is a far cry from that at False Bluff).

     The scent of the Ylang-ylang tree is said by many to be the basis for Chanel #5 and after having the Ylang-ylang bloom at False Bluff I can believe it. Sylvia said that as children she and her sisters would put Ylang-ylang flowers into alcohol...which turned out to be sort of a way of extracting the essential oil.
     On Sundays or on other special occasions these girls would perfume themselves with the Ylang-ylang scented, fast-evaporating alcohol.  Sylvia and I have laughed about this over the years, the fact that these young women along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast were using Chanel #5 decades ago...without even knowing it.
     For Sylvia's birthday this year one of my gifts to her was some Ylang-ylang scented alcohol in which I had steeped a couple of weeks' worth of flowers (and it really does smell like Chanel #5 whether that story is true or not).