Monday, January 20, 2020

Oklahoma Snowman

Family history:  I have two sisters, both from different fathers and mothers.  
We may not be genetically related, but that's a technicality seeing as we are soul sisters.  And you better not mess with my big sisters, because they're more certifiably nuts than I am.
Gina, manages a +40 head horse rescue in Oklahoma.

Gayla, also lives too far away, all the way in Texas.  She's off the chain too.

No matter where I am, or what I'm doing, these two have my back.  I don't think they realize how much  I look up to them.
And worry about them... so when a storm was leaving a path of destruction in Texas and snow in Oklahoma, I radioed Gina to forewarn her, and demanded she send the snow my way. I see far too little of it in Alabama.

This is apparently all the snow she received.  "Causing major snowdrifts against the barns", she wrote.  Beware, Gina has a wicked sense of humor.
A few days pass and I get a package in the mail from Oklahoma.

A bag of water, two lumps of coal, a carrot and some buttons.

No way.  YES WAY!  Gina sent me the snow I'd requested.

My homage to the gift:  a sculpture titled 'Oklahoma Snowman, A Still Life'.
Long live the sisterhood!
Later, to my added delight, Winter actually remembers that it is January and it returns to us full on.


Fashion parade.  I love Winter jackets, winter hats, the cold crisp air in my lungs.

Bring it on! 

Yes mother, I do wear my favorite Owl hat in public.

And much to Flynn's embarrassment, I wear this winter felt hat out too. Apparently I look Gilligan.

If it gets colder than the predicted 21'F Tuesday night, I might have to break out some of my true Canadian arctic gear.  I'll really embarrass him them.  Keep your fingers crossed.

And keep a log on the fire for Peter.

Saturday, January 18, 2020


In my sphere, limits are self-imposed.

I don't adhere to "you can't do it anymore", I believe that I'll find another way to do it.  
End of story. I'm still tinkering with the new recumbent bike to weld brackets on for the dogs to pull me.  

Dax prefers to ride on me, bobsled style.

The dorky head rest will be removed.

Flynn's Stephen Hawking impression.

Digging can be challenging.  Planted 5 trees by virtue of shoveling one legged.

And then my helpers did what they do best: mayhem.

Spreading hay is totally doable.

The horses are now fairly bomb proof.  It's been a year of seeing electric wheelchairs, crutches and scooters zip in and out of their stalls.  You ride a bicycle by a random horse in a pasture and see how they come unglued, then you'd appreciate how sane these horses are.

The trick:  find a way around obstacles, both literally and figuratively, or roll over them.
Not our usual way to collect sticks and pine cones before mowing, but it works.

Pruning with a pole saw, no problemo.

Teamwork:  I filled the trailer with limbs one day and Flynn emptied it the next.  Some tasks would take me a ridiculous amount of time to perform, so I bow out ungracefully.
It's been a long season battling varmint under one of the houses, since I've not been able to work in the crawlspace in the past month, they've gotten the upper hand.

After two days of crawling around under there fixing insulation and cleaning the vapor barrier, I call for backup when a bucket of acorns drops on me from above.

Know when you're defeated.

But never give up the fight---- battle something else! We made some serious preparations for a weekend storm threatening to bring 70 mph winds and 10" rain

In typical Jamie fashion, I had all the horses locked up in stalls in the barn, the dogs were with me too.  The two that lack any common sense had their GPS collars on (in case they got sucked away from me), orange capes on for more visibility, I had all their life preservers handy (in case of flying debris, the attempt is to protect vital organs), important documents and my passport in my bug-out bag.  Plan is always to wait it out, saving the horses from potential lightning strikes, but being ready to cut them loose of the stalls if a tornado bears down, then hide myself and the dogs in a corner and wait for the ride to the Wizard of Oz. 

All that was missing was a Flynn.  11th hour return:

Much more romantic to die together anyway.

The storm brings 45 mph winds, much rain, bringing down a few trees and lots of limbs.  But, the next day, I'm back to commuting between jobs as usual.  

 Live boundlessly.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Last Day in Central America

New Year's Eve: time to make our way back to San Salvador Airport.  Vacay over, leaving Juayua.

Taking the long way back so that we can see different parts of the country.

The famous El Zonte beaches on the Pacific.  Black lava sands. Renown for the finest surfing.

I find an open air restaurant where it looks like the locals eat.

An 8 year old keeps coming back from the shoreline with his harvest of mussels.

I place an order for roasted chicken and watch the cook start the fire.  

30 minutes later, this is the scrumptious meal we get.  Give me a chicken and an open fire and you can either count on a carbonized meal or a case of salmonella.  I don't know how they do it so well!

We stray to the beach while we wait. My scooter can only go so far before the waves overwhelm it.  I ditch it and my boot to swim in the ocean.  I couldn't hear Flynn over the waves chastising me for getting my sutures wet.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Totally worth almost missing our flight.

The remaining journey to the airport was stressful because of traffic jams and the main thoroughfares in narrow streets.  Flynn handled it like a pro.

He eventually let me have my fun and ride my scooter on the escalators.

Our first trip together a success!!!

The joy of coming home.

Exhausted from our adventures, we are in bed by 10 on New Year's Eve!

All's well that ends well.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Why El Salvador?

Cost. The airfare was cheaper than flying to Vegas and the accommodations were $40 a night. Beyond affordable.  The country gets a bad rap because of gang violence. MS-13, after all,is a Salvadorean creation. Police presence is everywhere.

And yes, we did hear shots, but we  hear them randomly around these Redneck parts too. 

These are the kind of guys I approached for directions the first night.  Genuinely benevolent, even had one guy program his cell number into my phone should we had any trouble during our vacation. Don't judge a book by its cover.
We had spent the previous evening talking to the owner's daughter and the boyfriend, Julio.  Both now live in Panama. Julio was extolling the virtues of his Panama, while adding toe curling stories of his near misses in Honduras.  Apparently, that's the place you don't want to go.  In Tegucigalpa, the person beside him was shot.  At the airport, he witnessed someone getting kidnapped in front of him.  In Guatemala, he was working a convention, when his colleague turned back up after being absent for a couple of hours.  Everyone had thought he was ducking out of work.  Turns out he had been express kidnapped.  Popular now, we were told.  It's where they drive you around town, threatening to kill you, until they've maxed out all your cards and emptied your bank account. Julio was a trip, so animated when talking that you're glad to be across the table from him, safe from his outstretched waving arms and occasion spittle spewed in excitement. 

The country is one big oxymoron.  There's a palpable tension around sunset, extra police and military vehicles circulate, every business shutters, people scramble to get back behind the safety of their fences and locked gates.  Yet when asked, they say their lifestyle is healthier than anywhere else.  The farm manager, Ever, spoke of the clean mountain air and how no one eats anything processed, it's always fresh food, everyone exercises because most walk or bike everywhere.  

They are a hiking bunch, we witnessed children walking from Lord knows where with large water urns, women with baskets on their heads walking up along the steep roads in between villages.  Put a Fitbit on these people and they would shame us all.
The other thing I noticed is that Sherwin-Williams is the only paint store around.  It's not cheap paint.  A country clawing to get out of third world status would be expected to have generic paint, right?  They take such pride in themselves and their homes or lean-to shanties.  Even the headstones in the cemeteries are painted tropical colors.

We weren't approached by any beggars.  Only saw 2 town drunks.  No one seemed homeless (probably a quick way to become dead), everyone has an abode.  Even if it's a 6x6 tin shack plunked down in a sea of little huts on the shoulder of the road. I won't call them slums because in spite of all the repurposed rusty tin and old tires used in ingenious ways, these communities have order and pride. They keep everything within their tiny fences clean, but here's the irony:  all trash is either burned (trash fires burn everywhere) or they throw it all in the ditches awaiting the monsoon season to wash it down to the sea. The roadside grass is almost obscured by the blanket of plastic trash. 
And then there's the callejeros, street dogs.

Everywhere.  Making their way through life sorting through trash and waiting for hand outs from street vendors (and devious tourists who let them sneak into a restaurant). Here's what's strange, no one takes care of them, yet I never saw anyone yelling at them or kicking them, buses even go around them when they're busy licking a smidge of something off the pavement in the middle of the road.  
On the 3rd day, we went to explore Ataco, a historic town in the middle of coffee growing region.

I dazzle the natives with my scooter maneuvering skills.

One woman comedy show from one Salvadorean town to the next. 

Making tracks for the labyrinth I see advertised atop the hill.

Getting there was half the fun!

We'd be living off twigs and earthworms right now if it weren't for the children on a platform above directing us out!

"Are we having fun yet?" ---Flynn

He can be such a party pooper.  He wouldn't let me ride my scooter across the rope bridge.

Everything here is 'at your own risk'.  I love the fact there are few guard rails, danger signs, it's true Darwinism.
Would you spend the night in this rental?

The supports don't look very sturdy, but I wanted to hop up the stairs for a view.  Mr. Safety thought otherwise.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has been friendly and helpful.  Even if you don't need help, you feel an arm around you and you're getting helped. Dammit!

I love these people!
To soothe my hubby's nerves, I find a cafe in an artisan camp.  

Traditional cakes with local coffees.

Is that a smile??? Say it isn't so!

The cafe holds a garden courtyard.  Serenity from the bustle of the streets.

Getting around is technical.  Remember, no building codes or ramps.  Bring it on!

We admire the artisans making traditional fabrics.


Check out his spinning wheel, it's a bicycle rim.

No idea how they keep up with the patterns!

The inability to climb volcanoes or go spelunking in caves has been frustrating.

But,having a cultural adventure can be just as nice. The key is to find adventure in whatever you do.