Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Friday, July 15, 2011

I need a kick start

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Really, I do. I need something or someone to kick start me back to blogging on a more regular basis. Every time I sit down to compose the entry on the Panama Canal I end up staring at my brand new HD computer screen. No words come. I end up playing one of my “hidden object” games instead and zone out for an hour or so. What is wrong with me? Summertime blues? Sheer laziness? Maybe a little of both. To quote one of the blogs I read every now and then, her excuse for not blogging was that “I guess I am living the life instead of blogging about it.” That about sums it up for me, but mine is pretty boring.

My camera is gathering dust. I did go to the Botanical Gardens a week or so ago and what you see in this entry is the result of that visit. But there wasn’t much to aim the camera at and I threw away all but a few of the photos that I did take. I am in a rut there too.

Yesterday I read a book. One whole book in one whole day. (It was a light read.)

Let’s see ... what else have I done?

Last week Rick and I went to a “gala” reception at the Lincoln Center in New York City. We got dressed up, had a nice dinner and then went to the event. A lovely night! Going in to the city is always exciting and fun. Such energy in those sidewalks filled with people!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

At home we’ve been enjoying the pool which is now above 80 degrees and very comfortable. It’s not even the weather that is making me lazy as the days have been sunny and warm. Delightful. Our last rain/thunderstorm was a week ago.

The fireflies are far and few between now but the cicadas have started up ever so slowly. In fact, as I type there are two going out there now. Ah, the sound of summer.

We have at least three bats in our winnowed-down bat population. They swoop and dip over our heads when we take our nighttime swims. It’s good to see them.

The turkeys bring their cute little babies around almost every day—the end result of all that turkey sex in my front yard this spring. Sometimes just one of the hens with her brood will show up, while other times it looks more like a turkey day care center and all ten or so of the babies.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I also went with neighbor Kim this week to see a litter of six week old Irish Terrier puppies that they will getting a new puppy from. The breeder was halfway out on Long Island and I have to tell you that it’s a nasty drive! Yikes, I won’t be going out there again anytime soon. The traffic! The puppies were adorable though and it was nice to breathe in puppy breath and talk dogs again.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We also had a six o’clock a.m. visitor yesterday. We were still asleep when Alex started barking downstairs. It is not his norm to bark for no reason, so I got out of bed and looked out the front window. Nothing. Rick got up and took a look around too but he also didn’t see anything. After laying there for a fitful twenty minutes more I got up and went down to feed the dogs and cats. I looked out on the back deck and saw that one of the planter boxes that was on our deck railing had been knocked down and the poor petunias were out of their pots, the nearly indestructible Squirrel Buster Plus bird feeder pulled around in an abnormal position, the iron hanger it was on slightly bent. Okay, a bear for sure. A pretty brazen one too to come onto our high deck. It’s only happened twice before in our five years here that we’ve had bears on the deck. It’s not a good feeling. I have to say that I am more than impressed with this bird feeder. Not only do the squirrels not bother it but it held up to the bear mauling with not a scratch!

So, I go to feed the cats and eBay is nowhere to be found. I call her, searching high and low but I can’t find her. She is always ready to to eat so I figure something must be wrong. Finally I hear a tiny mew coming from the laundry room. When I pull out the washer, there she is. She ventures out very tentatively into the kitchen. She peeks around the corner into the sun room and out to the deck where the bear was with her eyes wide and her tail all puffed up. Aha! She saw the bear too and it scared her so badly she was hiding from it. Poor kitty! So, the bird feeder comes in at night and when I am not at home.

One of my daily routines is to water all the outside plants before taking a shower, check on the pool temperature and add chlorine every other day. I slip on a pair of shorts and t-shirt and head out with the watering can. It’s a nice way to start the day, especially with the weather we’ve been having. I don’t even mind if the humidity is high that time of the day. Bella usually helps me with this particular job. Every other day or so I’ll tip all the water out of her wading pool and refresh it. She loves this! The minute I start adding fresh water she’s in there wading around, scooping up mouthfuls of the cold water straight from the well.  I’ve also gotten into the habit of letting one of the dogs come with me out in the front as a special treat for them. No leash, just hanging out with mom while she waters. I check on the progress of the figs daily and I have to say I can’t wait until we can eat them.

You never know what you might see while watering. The little clearwing hummingbird moths have started hovering around as I water. I just love them! While I was watering the deck flowers the other day I found this moth clinging to the petunias. Isn’t it pretty? I have never seen this particular kind of moth before so I looked him up. I think it’s some kind of Sphinx moth—possibly a Virginia (hog) Creeper Sphinx Moth. No matter what it’s name is, it’s beautiful.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

For those of you that I’ve talked to over the past week, I apologize for re-hashing all this boring, trivial stuff about my life again. Ho hum. Which brings me to another topic of conversation. I have no idea who is reading this blog anymore other than family members and a few close friends and those of you that comment from time to time (thank you Debra, Maggie & Joyce!). I get numerous “junk” comments every single day that I have to delete which is very disheartening. You should read some of them! They always include a link to whatever website selling some garbage. I am so very tired of them. It’s long been in my mind to make this blog private and if Rick can figure out how to do that without too much trouble on the part of anyone then we will do so. If you still want to read all you will have to do is sign up to be a member. You don’t have to comment, you can still continue to read as you’ve always done. The only change will be that not all those crazies out there will be able to read things about my private life anymore. Because this blog really is about my daily life. But, that’s all in the future and hopefully we can make it happen.

Okay, so I’ve sat here long enough this morning filling this entry up with boring tidbits, neglecting my watering duties which are calling me, so I will close this entry now. If you are still awake after reading this, bless you. Hopefully this will kick start me to finish my vacation blogging. Check back in a day or so to find out!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Still hangin’ in there

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

In case you were wondering (and some people have been!) I am still here. It’s interesting how some people worry about me when they see I haven’t blogged for a while. It’s very sweet—thank you for caring. All is well. I’ve been busy but also haven’t really felt like blogging.

Rick is home from his travels and finally staying home for a while.

My sister has come and gone. (Good visit!)

The bathroom remodels were completed with several days to spare before my sister arrived. She gave the guest bathroom her stamp of approval!

The pool is finally coming up to a good temperature after going up and down with all the rain and cool nights we were having. We had so much rain—over 3.5 inches worth—over a period of a few days that we had to let water out of the pool.

The day lilies by the pool are in full bloom now (see header pic above); my fig tree is laden with little green figs.

Now we are looking forward to a lazy, low-key holiday weekend with plenty of grilling, eating and libations and poolside laying about. On the menu plan: BBQ baby back ribs with baked beans and coleslaw, Papaya Margaritas, Goat shoulder tacos, a frangipane fig tart (not my figs ... yet). (But not all those things at once.)

And maybe, just maybe, I am out of my blogging slump. Is anyone still interested in vacation posts or should I move on?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jungle walk with sloths!

Our hotel offered a “jungle walk” on the grounds behind the hotel. Rick and I tried twice to take it but it was cancelled because of the heavy rain we’d had the day before. I couldn’t understand why they would cancel because of rain. That is, I didn’t understand until I finally took the walk. Then I understood just fine.

Somehow I had envisioned a somewhat flat walk on a decent trail around the base of the hill/mountain behind the hotel. I should have known that in Panama nothing is flat. It’s either up the side of a mountain or flights of stairs.

Walks were offered at 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. Claire and I decided to try for the 3:00 p.m. walk after our walk on the beach. Weather permitting, of course, and in Panama at this time of year we soon learned that the sky can open up and pour rain at just about any time of day, but mostly in the afternoon. We got lucky because when we showed up pool side to meet our guide he told us we would go ahead and do the walk even though the sky looked a bit threatening. We told him our main goal was to see a sloth in its native habitat and hoped that would be possible. We doused ourselves with insect repellent, grabbed a couple of water bottles and off we went.

My first clue should have been the machete our guide was carrying. Hmmm ... is he going to have to chop our way through the jungle?

The trail started up (of course) over rain-slick rotting vegetation. Now I see why the trail could become treacherous from being too slippery. At least it had dried out enough from yesterday’s downpour to make hiking easier but you still had to watch where you were walking. The mosquitoes were thick once we entered the jungle. It was very hot and very humid. Within minutes of walking I was drenched with sweat. My clothes were sticking to me and my hair was plastered to my head. I could feel the heat in my face and knew that it had turned bright red from the heat and exertion. Claire and I both looked at each other and decided it was a good thing no one else could see us just then. Yikes. At one point our guide offered me more bug spray and I said I didn’t think I needed it, that they were leaving me alone. He and Claire both started laughing and swatted away a mosquito that had just landed on my cheek. I put more on after that.

Before we had gone very far our guide stopped and was looking into the dense vegetation on the side of the trail. Sloth! he said and started swinging his machete, making a trail through the tangle of plants. Claire and I looked at each other, shrugged, and followed him. I was starting to feel like I was in some kind of Indiana Jones movie. He continued to chop at the plants, but no sloth. A few minutes later, close to the same spot, we found this: fast asleep, high up in the tree—a sloth at last. Can you find it?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our guide shook the tree until we thought it would pull itself out by the roots and still the sloth slept on, oblivious to his shaking perch. There was no waking this guy up from his nap. If you have trouble seeing it in the photo above, I’ve highlighted it in the next photo. You can see it isn’t even hanging on to the tree with one arm, which is flung outward. You can see the nails on its front leg and also on the back leg that is wrapped around the branch. That was one dead-to-the-world sloth.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It rained a little bit but it didn’t matter because we were already wet from sweat. I had to put my camera under my shirt at one point but it was only a drizzle.


A lone pineapple plant!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


The trail got very steep at one point and I had to force myself to go on. I have been battling rib and stomach muscle injuries since the winter and had not been getting any type of exercise at all while I tried to get everything to heal. So, I was out of shape and afraid to make anything worse. I could feel every steep step in my gut. Do you realize how much you depend on your stomach muscles to climb?

Further up the trail and close to the top of the mountain our guide found another sloth. This time he was able to get it to move by smacking the trees with his machete, and as the sloth changed trees we had a great view of it. This series of photos shows pretty much how slow it was moving as each frame is a move.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


It finally found a spot where it could settle back in and continue its nap!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Cute! I had always heard sloths were dirty and smelly animals but this particular sloth looked very clean. Just look at the length of all that hair! They are a lot bigger than I expected too. This one when all stretched out was probably as long as I am tall.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We saw a few more along the trail, but just as gray looking balls hanging in trees. All the sloths were saw were of the two-toed variety, our as our guide called them “white-faced.” He told us the three-toed sloths have a dark face and can be very aggressive when disturbed. I wondered how aggressive could a sloth really get?

Claire was out in front at one point and saw a small, brown animal run across the trail—twice! I didn’t see it and neither did our guide but he said he was pretty sure what it was. We didn’t recognize what he was trying to tell us it was though. Mystery animal. We saw lots of vultures sitting in trees and ant hills full of fire ants. We didn’t see any snakes or scorpions or any other kind of creepy crawly things. A group of monkeys with babies on their backs were a welcome sight. Can you see the baby hanging on?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

From time to time our guide would use his machete on plants and vines that had started to encroach into the trail. It doesn’t take long for the jungle to start reclaiming its territory.

There were several nice view points along the way overlooking our hotel far below and one to the distant skyline of Panama City. I have no idea why I didn’t take a photo of the view, but after going through my photos I didn’t find any. I think I just got tired of switching between the telephoto and my normal lens.

We also saw several morpho butterflies along the trail. Sorry, no photos as they were there one minute and gone the next. Kind of like being visited by a medium-sized blue bird—they are huge. Absolutely gorgeous! You almost felt as if you had been blessed after they flew by.

We heard a noise kind of similar to a frog croaking and our guide stopped us to have a listen to what he said was a toucan! Such a strange sound! We never did get a look at it before it flew off. Too bad. I’d loved to have seen one.

There were some strange and very large trees along the way like these orange-barked ones. Our guide called them “stomach trees.” When he thumped on the tree with his fist you could hear that it was hollow. The natives used them for making dugout canoes. They had a strange root structure too, like gnarly fingers gripping the ground.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The walk took almost two hours and I can tell you we were ready to hit the showers! We cleaned up our mud-spattered shoes and legs at an outside faucet before entering the hotel grounds, tipped our guide for being such a great sloth-wrangler, and headed to our rooms. I can tell you that air conditioning and a cool shower have never felt so good! Hiking in the tropics is not a glamorous thing. Would I do it again? You bet!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Firefly Zen

As you already know from reading this blog, fireflies are Zen-like to me. They tend to relieve whatever stress I’ve managed to collect over the course of a day. I never cease to wonder at their blinking morse code antics to find a mate.

As I type tonight my mate is finally now across the Pacific Ocean and over the International Date Line. His today is now my tomorrow. I hate it.

Our weather over the past few days has not been conducive to walking the dogs. The air conditioning has been running at full tilt and the humidity has been off the charts. Added to that is the remodel that is still going on in our house which just adds to the the daily stress and non-activity of the dogs who are usually sequestered to certain sections of the house during all this. Tonight I took them for a walk and upon coming home it was the right time to sit out in the yard to observe the fireflies. Only Bella was game enough to join me.

I sat down in the grass amidst the clover with my final glass of wine for the evening and just watched. Fireflies winked and blinked all around me, sometimes coming as close as my big toe. Wink, wink, here I am! they said to prospective mates. I had to reflect on how lucky I am to have found my mate in life while others are still searching for theirs, even if mine is halfway around the world tonight. Safe journey, my love.

 

Panama City, Panama: Playa Bonita Resort

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Finally after some gentle prodding from a friend who said “you’ve been leaving Granada for days, where is Panama?” I am moving on with my vacation blogging to Panama City.

We stayed at the Playa Bonita Resort & Spa outside of Panama City. It was a lovely setting on a private beach. It’s an all-inclusive resort which means all your meals and most drinks are included. When we checked in they banded our wrists with a bright blue non-removable “bracelet,” for identification since there were some guests who were not on the all-inclusive plan. It felt more like we were being admitted to a hospital ward or a prison. I mean, seriously, they were ugly! Some people were lucky enough to have them put the band on rather loosely and were able to slide it off when they were tired of wearing it. Mine was not loose enough to get off so I was stuck with it. I did at least make them move it from my right wrist to my left so I could at least wear all the pretty bracelets I had brought with me.

The hotel was very nice and the grounds were gorgeous and well cared for.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We got lots of exercise walking to our room and down to the lobby since our room was on the 4th floor all the way out on the end of one of the hotel’s wings. The jungle started right behind the hotel. (And this is where our “nature” walk took place that will be coming as an entry soon.)

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


From our balcony we could see the ships on the horizon lining up for entry into the Panama Canal.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


These lovely butterflies loved to hang out early in the morning on the tree in front of our balcony.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I thought I had taken more photos of the grounds but I guess I really didn’t. And, there are two reasons for that. The first reason is that is was so humid that every time I took the camera outside the lens would fog up and pretty much stay that way. The second reason is that except for the day the photos in this entry were taken (and was also the day of the nature walk) we had tropical downpours complete with horrendous thunder and lightning for hours and hours each day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. If you look at my header above you can see the skyline of Panama City and how dark the sky is with the approaching storm of the day. The hotel had beautiful pools but I never got the chance to swim and it was way too hot (and humid) to sit out tanning poolside.

Another wife and I took a walk along the beach. Not a great beach for swimming, but a wonderful beach for shelling!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Can you see the little crab in the middle of the photo? These little crabs were all over the place, scurrying around with their shells on their backs. Before I realized this I picked up one of the shells up thinking to add such a perfect specimen to my collection only to be rudely pinched by its inhabitant! Scared the life out of me and I quickly dropped it back to the sand. Once we knew what to look for we realized they were hundreds of them. At times it looked like they were having a relay race, but when we got close to them they withdrew into their shells. We spent a good deal of time watching them and trying to get good photos of them. I guess it doesn’t take much to entertain us!

There’s one in this photo too, can you find him?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And here is the best close-up I managed to get.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I brought back quite a few of these pretty pink shells.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We walked all the way down to the end of the beach. Look how far away the hotel is!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

This oyster catcher was looking for a meal. I did not have my telephoto lens with me so I hope you can make him out.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

On our way back we noticed this “sand art” created by digging crabs. The beach was peppered with these interesting holes. We never saw the crabs that were making them but someone else told us they were small and red and made it pretty impossible to spread a blanket on the beach!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

 

About

Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved back to my 'home' state and I am living in NoCo (Northern Colorado).This blog will be about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2018 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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