View of "Our Place" in Maine

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mainly Maine

I got a message from a friend today wondering if we are okay.  Made me realize how long it's been since I've posted and that I should catch up.

We left Texas, headed our favorite route up the Natchez Trace, got to Ohio...  visited with family and caught up with a few friends.  Bill did some work on one of the rentals, but it was pretty much a whirl wind trip there and we moved on...
Son Daniel and Yvonne....  came out to the farm on their Blue Beast.
Nice weather in Ohio most of the time, but got cold and rainy before we left.

On to New York to visit daughter and family...
Me, my daughter Donna, my granddaughter Heather, and my Great-granddaughter Evie
We always take a photo this way...  we started this tradition years ago, when my Mom was alive and Heather was a baby.

Bill bought a new toy at the Cabela's in Hamburg, PA...
That's Glenn, our son-in-law, and Bill figuring out how to fly that Drone.  There's Evie in the background.  They got it off the ground but the wind was too strong to get much practice in.

On to Maine...
Great visit with our friend Karen outside of Portland, Maine before heading on up to the County.

 Yellow-rumped Warbler
I headed for the photo blind overlooking the lake and was rewarded with a whole bunch of these warblers flitting around in the trees.

 A very shaggy looking young moose.  We've seen at least 2 moose so far...  one we've seen several times.  But they still have some of their winter coat and look pretty bad.  

 This black bear was the first critter we saw when we got here...  Bill hadn't even parked the rig when he spotted this guy up in the field.  It worked its way down the field and was visible off and on all day long.  Not especially big, it's probably a couple years old.

 We've seen at least 2 pairs of Ring-necked ducks on one of the ponds.

 And the Merganzer is hanging out near a wood duck nesting box...  Hope it makes it home to raise some young!

 The Odd Couple?
Well, this Canada Goose and Mallard Duck were hanging out in this pond, but their mates are probably somewhere close by.
 This is where we live when here at Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge.
Our address is Limestone, Maine, but we're about 5 miles from Limestone, and maybe 10 miles from Caribou.  The refuge is home to Upland Sandpipers, which is an endangered species up here in Maine.  To the left of the building you can barely see a post in the yard.  That's where I hang my bird feeders (which I have to take inside at night because of bear activity), and that dark spot above the open garage door (on the left) and dark spot just to the right of the farthest right garage doors are bluebird boxes.  No bluebirds, but swallows have already moved in and are starting nests.

You can see that we've already settled in (got here Monday) and are quite at home.  I think this is our 9th summer to volunteer here (not consecutive) and it's truly home to us!

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Texas Wildflowers....

The wildflowers along the highway near our location here in Texas (about 60 miles south of Ft Worth) are exceptional this spring.   We've been told this past winter was fairly mild and I believe there's been more than the usual amount of rain.  In any case, the roadsides are alive with a whole rainbow of colors. 

I don't know how long these flowers will be blooming, but I'll enjoy them as long as they last!

That's All For Today!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mexico... then Texas

Our last week in Lo de Marcos was crammed full of last minutes things. Most we didn't have much control over...  like the new sewer line....

When we arrived here early October, 2016, the work laying the new sewer line began almost immediately.  We applied for the permits, paid the fees and jumped through all the hoops.  But all that did not make the connection from our property to the main sewer line at the street happen an faster.  Finally, the week before we headed back to the States, the city worker came and dug this trench...  and then laid the pipe from our line (just in front of our gate) to the city line...  in the lower middle of the photo.  So it's done... right?  Wrong....  But when we get back this October we will hire the man who laid the line in our yard to come back and do whatever needs to be done to get us off the septic tank system and actually hooked into the city system.  Yes, things take time here.

At least the worker didn't use a barricade like this when the street was torn up...
Wouldn't OSHA have a fit if they saw something like this?

We made several trips to the water office in Bucerias (that's where you apply for the permit) and that's where I saw this cat asleep just inside the door...
I've seen a lot of beat-up, bedraggled tom cats in my day, but this guy topped them all!  Both ears were nearly gone...  he had only one eye....  he had scars and patches of hair gone all over his body.  His hair was dirty and matted in places.  Of course I had to squat down and pet him.  He was ecstatic...  kept purring and rolling over.  He may be rag-tag and tougher than nails, but he still likes a little attention.

We waited until the last day to disconnect our fountain and store it in the bodega.  And I'm glad we did...
We had this pair of Streaked-back Orioles and the male Painted Bunting come to it at the same time.  What gorgeous colors!

We managed to get in a few last-minute walks along the river.  The bridge isn't finished yet...  maybe by the time we return.  We weren't disappointed with the birds...
A Wood Stork...  kind of flopping around at the edge of the Lagoon

A little Green Heron along the bank of the river.
It will be months before I see these birds again....

One evening, just before leaving, Santos brought over a real treat...
Here he is... shucking oysters fresh from the sea!
We slurped them down nearly as fast he he shucked them.  He even brought over some limes to squeeze the juice on them.  They sure didn't need anything else...  they were delicious!

We worked the Sterilization Clinic one last time last Sunday.  Thirty dogs and cats were spayed or neutered.  It was a long day, but everything went well...  two dogs did not have surgery due to poor health, but hopefully they'll be better soon.  Don, who is in charge of the clinic, might be able to arrange a summer clinic.  Mostly they are held when the winter folks are there as they need volunteers.  My job is to heat buddy bags in the microwave to use around the critters as they are in recovery.  The surgery tech didn't show...  so I learned how to secure a dog to the table, clean the area being cut, hold "body parts" in forceps for the Vet and all manner of things.  Just a few things I never dreamed I'd ever be doing...  at least I'm not squeamish over blood and guts.

Like I said, the last few days just seemed to pass faster and faster...
And it was time to go...
I had to say goodbye to Pirate.
He's been my favorite dog for the past 2 years.  This year he's had some hard time as he was hit by a car in November and nearly died.  After finally getting his health back he'd gained weight and energy.  But he's never been to the Sterilization Clinic...  he got in a dog fight and his ear was badly torn and got infected.  With care from the local vet he got better.  Then about a week later he was limping...  but this time recovered quickly.  Here he looks good.  Hopefully he'll get through the summer without anything major and I'll see him again.  Yes, he does have an owner and is fed and cared about....  but Mexican culture is different in how dogs and cats are viewed.

Bill & I decided to take the bus to Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday.  Relax a little, 
go to the Mariana area (very touristy and up-scale)...  look at all the expensive boats in the harbor...

have a beer at the Beer Barn
(Bill likes a really dark, hoppy beer)

and even find a Geocache in a phone booth.
We ate out, went back to our hotel, and Wednesday morning headed to the airport to fly back to Texas.

Our daughter and son-in-law picked us up at DFW...
Nice direct flight...  no problems getting through customs or immigration... 
collected our bags and we all headed down the road.

Our daughter lives about 5 miles out of town (about 60 miles south of Ft Worth), and there's plenty of wildlife to see here, too.
This big Tom Turkey has a whole harem he herds along...

In full display, he's quite impressive.
We see flocks of turkeys at least twice a day moving across the yard.  And there's a single Tom who travels alone.  I love hearing them gobble and watch the strut!

There's a pair of Roadrunners that live a couple hundred feet across from our motorhome.  Kind of far away to get a good photo, but we see them off and on.

There are cardinals, titmice, mockingbirds, Eastern bluebirds and goldfinch, to name a few species here.  As well as cowbirds, house sparrows and others.

The Blue Bonnets and Indian Paintbrush are in bloom...
The roadsides are lovely with the wildflowers.
Ladybird Johnson, you will always be remembered!

It was quite hot when we got here Wednesday evening, but we got a little rain and it cooled things down.  I think we've made the transition from Mexico to Texas quite well.
We'll be here until late April...  again, we have a lot to catch up on.  It took hours just to sort through 5 1/2 months of mail!  I think we're ready to send out tax stuff to the CPA in Ohio tomorrow.  

And so, another adventure begins!
That's All For Today!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lo de Perla.... A Walk in the Orchid Garden

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a guided tour through Lo de Perla, an orchid jungle just a few miles south of Lo de Marcos, where we live.  My friend, Memo, does a lot of public relations for Galvan Realty, and he often writes about local attractions for their website.  He was asked to do a blog about the Orchid Jungle, and he asked me if I'd be interested in going along as his photographer.  Of course I was more than happy to.  We arrived at the designated "pick-up" area at 9:00 am where we met up with 2 women who were also going along on the tour.

 The entrance to the Lo de Perla...

 Here's Memo, with the founder and owner, Alejandro de Perla.  
This is advertised to be a 2 hour walk through the jungle where you'll see orchids, bromelias and cacti in their natural habitat.  
Alejandro is totally chemical-free, and collects only "pure" species of plants.  

That's Memo, holding a Shelf Fungi (also known as "Artist's Fungi") that grows on a lot of the trees here.  While this is primarily a showcase for orchids, the jungle is just right for many kinds of mushrooms and other fungus.  Alejandro told us how many species of trees and birds have been documented in this area, and he could easily conduct a tour about a lot more than the orchids that he loves.

As you walk along the tour route, you'll see artwork and other artifacts pertaining to the people and the culture here.  

 Many of the orchids and bromelia you see have been attached to the trees with twine.  While the conditions are perfect for their growth, they need some help getting started in places along the trail.

 I know...  this wasn't a bird-watching tour, but of course I'm always on the lookout for bird sounds or movement.  I wasn't disappointed...  saw this Brown Creeper soon into the walk.  There are over 130 species of birds here, so there's a lot more than orchids to see.

I don't know how many of species of plants Alejandro pointed out to us, but most plants in the jungle are not in bloom at this time.  

 Not part of the Gardens, but doesn't this view of the coast look like it should be in a fairy tale?  

Many of these plants won't be in bloom until April...  and again in October, when, we were told, the jungle will be ablaze with color.

 I loved the way the sun high-lighted his huge leaf!

We did see several orchids in bloom.  Most quite small and easy to miss unless you look closely.  Alejandro explained how commercial orchids are often hybrids...  bred for size or other attributes that are not the "natural" state.  His plants are all without modification.

The two women on the tour had a great time taking tons of photos and getting up close and personal with the flowers.

 Another sprig of tiny orchids.

 We saw so many species of plants I couldn't keep track.  I think Alejandro said that there are around 40,000 different species of orchids in the world.  I don't know how many of species he has here, but there are a lot.  (the brochure says he has more than 1,000 species of exotic plants)

And only about an inch across.  It's amazing how much detail can be seen in something so tiny.

 Here's Memo...  standing at the base of a fig tree.  More on this later....

Here's what happens when you give your camera to someone else to take photos.  Alejandro took this one of our group as we're standing on the bridge.  The stream was dry here, but during the rainy season the water will cascade down creating waterfalls and deep pools.

Back to the Fig Tree.
The original (host) tree is in the middle.  That vine is started from the top of the tree... usually because a bird ate the fruit..  passed the seed into the nest... it sprouted... started sending out tendrils...  clear to the ground.  There it took root.  Over time the tendrils and roots criss-cross around the original tree and eventually kill it.

 The tour winds through the jungle, up to a huge greenhouse.
This is where the color is today...

Most of these flowers are large and quite showy.
Some even had a lovely smell...  not at all like those hot-house orchids you used to get in a corsage for the prom!

 Alejandro has a lot of different plants in his greenhouse area.  He's standing beside a huge Angel-wing Begonia here.

In November, he is planning to have a fund-raiser to help his efforts in saving the habitat and his beloved orchids.  He plans to offer a tour of the gardens, followed by a short drive to this area, where there will be drinks and hors d'oeuvres served.  This is a perfect spot to relax, enjoy the view and meet others who are also interested in his work.

As it happened, we stopped at a couple of spots before heading back to Lo de Marcos, and our "two hour" tour lasted almost 6 hours.

We had a great tour, and I enjoyed every minute of it, and come October, Bill & I plan to go back to see all the glory when the jungle is in bloom!

That's All For Today!