Saturday, July 19, 2008

The new neighbors are moving into this dead tree, parrots.

I am now looking out at the backyard, if you look close you can see corn stalks down in the valley garden. If is in the afternoon, and the rainforest clouds are falling over the fila. I think watching the clouds fall down, is one of my favorite things to do.

This was taken from the front as I approach the house. You can see where Phil has been laying the brick walkway using old handmade brick that was found on the property where the trampeche (sugar mill) use to be. The walkway leads up to the door that leads into my kitchen / dining room area. It is not the front door, but will probably be the door most used, for a while anyway.

There is no front door. I think the front door will actually be on the deck side of the house, it will be the French style doors. This will be the most used part of the house; people may as well just go there and leave the farm dirt outside.

The big black dutch door that you see, goes into my sewing room. It has little or no purpose that I can think of. Phil will cover it in Guadua Bamboo and it will disappear behind landscape.

The rocks are large although it is hard to tell that in this photo. They are from the farm via the volcano and were place in their positions by the tractor. Phil loves landscape rocks, and his rocks will rock once he has them planted up. He is excellent at landscaping and says I am his biggest fan. Not true, he is really good.

There is a driveway just before the motorcycle; it leads down to the river, the gardens, fish pond and horses. There will be a carport to my left and adjacent to the steps someday soon.

The new house is progressing nicely with colored stucco on the outside. This view is taken from the lower back yard looking up at the house. All of the windows will have screens on them which is not customary for Costa Rica. They usually have windows without screens. We will have screens without windows. The big door opening will have French type double doors, but without the little panes of glass. We are told the doors were ordered, but I don’t believe it is true. That remains to be seen. If I am correct, I have option B already planned and I like it just fine.

We look forward to the cool temperatures and no need for AC. Good thing we don’t need AC, as we are off the grid.

Angela Kirkpatrick and her daughter Madeline came from Utah to visit us. They brought beautiful high quality handmade skirts for the Indigenous woman and girls. Angela’s Mormon Church group put a lot of effort into this project of love. The Voz Que Clama Mission brought them to the reservation on this last trip and distributed them. Hector Soto, Director of the Mission is gifting a skirt. The Indigenous women greatly appreciate the gift of skirts that were made by my new friend Angela and her wonderful friends. Thank you so much. You are blessed for your work, what a wonderful gift.

It is very difficult to get good photos of the Indigenous. They freeze like statues when the camera comes out. At the Mission there is one great photo of laughing children. How did this happen? Hector, Daniel, all of us have a difficult time to find that smile. They started asking the children what do you call a fart in Cabecar? Well that brought about a roar of laughter and a great photo. Farts are funny in any language.

I am sure that if Hector had modeled a skirt, we would have seen lots of laughter from everyone. Next time.

The Cabecar are in trouble, they need our help and support to overcome their health issues. 48% of their children die at birth. They have parasites, their children are starving, they are struggeling to survive, they have no education and their best skill may be survival, marginal survival.

They would give you their best hut and the shirt off their backs. They have nothing.

If you would like to help Costa Rica's first people, the Cabecar Indigenous, please contact me at

Madeline, Angela's daughter, is a gifted horsewoman. We hope that she will return and work with the children of Esperanza. They need her in their lives, she has valuable lessons to teach them.

Thank you Angela, your a beautiful person and I am greatful for your friendship.


The Cabecar chief is wearing the blue ball cap. This is his village.

The Cabecar have faced many generations of discrimination.

The Cabecar are not use to receiving beautiful gifts.

Esperanza’s School

Our little one room school house for about 10 students in very poor, rural Esperanza de Turrialba was broken into over the weekend and the pathetic thieves stole all of the copper wire that gave the children electricity. What else is missing, I don’t know yet. We had a donated desk top computer, old, not worth much, but it was all they had.

So now what? I do know that stolen wire is stripped and sold, put on ships and sent to China. Ships filled with stolen copper are leaving our ports everyday for China. Big problem involving pathetic low life criminals.

But I am more concerned for the children. Sweet, innocent, poor as a church mouse, they still have a dream. They want to be somebody special, they want to be like you. They want their dreams to come true. For most of them, their dreams are much more realistic than mine ever were. There education is so far behind where it should be, it pains me to have this happen to them. These children’s parents can not afford pencils, shoes uniforms, crayons, notebooks.

Can you help me, help them? If you want to make a donation, please email me at I am in the process of setting up a paypal account to make it easier for folks to help. Thankful for your love, care and commitment; our rural and Indigenous children appreciate everything thing you do for them. Without you, they have little hope of having their dreams come true.

Here is Regan handing the purple bag with school supplies to a Cabecar Indigenous woman. I had been trying to make contact with this family for some time. They were fearful and hid behind trees across the river. Thank you Regan and Primrose School for your gifts.
Today we were headed to the farm with a truck full of feed, fuel and grown live chickens. Ahead was an Indigenous woman walking, carrying a small child of maybe 12 months. She was wearing a very used and worn Primrose Camp school bag full of stuff. She had a makeshift strap so that she could wear it. We stopped and she and the baby sat on top of the feed with the chickens. I have never seen this woman before. I am still smiling about the bag. They are used, cherished and loved.

Please tell the others at the school that their gift of camp bags, have meant so much to so many. I continue to see them in use and as Phil said today, Honey there is one of your bags, one of your Indigenous. Well they were your bags, thank you all so much for helping.

These moments are little successes, but successes none the less. We helped a women who had less than nothing. I don't know how she came to have the bag, it does not matter, she is one of our Indigenous women.

Today was a great day in our lives. It is difficult to express how exciting it is to see something as simple as a used purple bag. We smell of live chickens, (by the way, the chickens are beautiful.) I don’t think they were a bargain, but they are layers and one rooster. One even laid an egg in transport.

The accommodations in the Landcruiser were of such that we debated offering a ride, and then we stopped and backed up. The child was wedged between feed and clucking chickens in used feed sacks. Mom was piled on top of 50 lb. feed sacks of dog chow and cow minerals and none of us could get away from the chickens and their fresh earthy smell. The fuel smell overpowering everything. Yes it was a great day.

The Adventures of Don Mark, an ongoing saga

Webster’s version of a mark, a target.

Don Mark, not his real name, is that target. It has been said by others, that all Americans in a foreign land, are just another mark. Is that true? It could be true……

The first man to ride up on a horse with it’s filly along side said to Don Mark, I have a horse for you. And so Don Mark then owned a horse, a filly and it’s tack. Word gets around and man #2 rides up with a horse for sale. Don Mark now owns 3 horses. Such a deal.

Man #2 talks Don Mark into buying baby cows that he is not yet ready for. Word of advice, don’t buy cows that you are not ready for. They are not self-starting, self herding, they are needy dependants! Giving birth could be easier and that is not my idea of a good time.

Don Mark continues to add to his bounty, in addition to the cows and horses (they are nice quality animals in all fairness), Don Mark now owns 9 dogs, and sacks full of live chickens. No no no, not beautiful chicken’s with colored eggs, and fine fancy beautiful feathers, but skinny, tough, I can not swallow the beastie yard-bird chickens. Okay, to be honest, I have not seen the chickens yet, but I am betting this is how the chicken adventure will go down.

I do always try to be totally fair with my assessment of things. Brutally blunt, but fair would accurately describe me.

When you do not have enough to eat, neither do your dogs. We have 9 dogs now, 6 of them found us at the farm, all starving, emaciated, it is a terrible life for dogs. These dogs belong to the indigenous.

We are at the home where Priscilla is staying. Our friend is evaluating the child, trying to determine what exactly is wrong, what may have happened, and how do we provide for this child. Because her Mother, Blanca Rose, left the reservation to save her child's life; they can never return to the reservation.

The Indigenous baby Priscilla and her Mother on their way to see our local doctor. Her left side does not function and she drags it around. Her little hand is always closed, but I can easily open it. Priscilla was possibly deprived of oxygen during her difficult birth on the reservation. We hope that with therapy she can learn to walk.

We are on a deadline to build our home, not that this means anything to anyone but us apparently. Our work force is dwindling. Two workers were still remain as of today. The young worker drives a motorcycle that he can not keep running. So far we have fixed it as well as bought shocks for it so that he can bring the other worker a skilled older man with him. It is broke again, does not run and the older gentleman called this evening. He has kidney stones, OH Great! What next?

He has sacks of chickens in his living room bagged up for us. That's what is next. Live chickens. We don't have a chicken house. Well that is how it goes here, you have one small conversation about chickens and the next thing you know there is a living room full of them in sacks. Now we have to go get them and I don't know where they will live, we were not ready for the chickens. We don't have a house and neither do they.

Dominick will not be working any more either, if we understand correctly, because of the kidney stones. The fellow with the motorcycle? I have no idea if he is still working with us. I suppose we can fix his tired old Chinese bike, again. We must finish this house.

I am usually on the other end of the camera, so this is rare opportunity for you to see me. I am playing with my whole fried fish

This beautiful Indigenous boy was at the house of the baby Priscilla and her mother Blanca Rose. He had never seen himself in a camera before. He could not believe his eyes.

The Rio Atirro cut a new path and the road is gone. The bridge still stands, but no chance of getting to it.

The road to the right, is the road to Esperanza and our farm. The road to the left, took you to the bridge across the river. There was no river here. How do you fix this? The re-cut river is now only about 20 feet from our road. The Alcalde (Mayor) needs to do something. They never fix things to last here. Last year they put a lot of money into stabilizing the bridge on this road. All of that money is down the river now. Gone, washed away by the first heavy rain of the season. Natural erosion.

This road took you across the river by bridge. How do you fix this? The re-cut river is now only about 20 feet from our road. The Alcalde (Mayor) needs to do something. They never fix things to last here. Last year they put a lot of money into stabilizing the bridge on this road. All of that money is down the river now. Gone, washed away by the first heavy rain of the season. Natural erosion.

The girls are always walking ahead of Bule Boy, he is so laid back.

Bule boy is walking to another pasture on this day. We should have more calves soon.

The Rio Atirro has been out of control because of heavy rains in the mountains. It has taken out the road to the bridge that leads to the other side of the river.

The back side of our home looking up from the gardens and the river Atirro. There will be a cantilevered deck off the french doors when we get to it.
Songs that I Love and Books You Must Read. The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, what a contrast of hope and despair between the songs and the book. I may be a political refugee in exile, but the US is still my country and I am sad for what is happening to her. Even sadder for those who seem to not have a clue.

It is not our fault, yours and mine, we were lied to by the powers that govern us. Now we know the truth, the evidence is at hand. I hope that prosecutors have the courage to take action for the American people.

It will take this courage for the world to respect us again. But first we must respect ourselves and not let the man or men responsible for these terrible crimes to go free.
I have put up links to "Songs I Love", I hope that you will take a moment to listen to them.

Several are music videos from u-tube. They are all worth your time. I love Eros Ramazzotti and these duets are fun and special.

Since leaving the states I have found new artists, well new to me. The rest of the world is very familar with my new finds. Please leave a comment and tell me if you enjoyed them as much as I do.

I have also posted a link to Rawhide's theme song from the TV show by the same name starring a young Clint Eastwood. I never missed this show, it was a family affair. I wanted you to be able to view my cow's photos while Frankie Laine sang his song, Rawhide.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blogger has been having some issues lately. My slow speed probably does not help any. Comments could no longer be left. Why does the little pencil keep disappearing, It is back again today. And I am able to post photos. Blogger still has issues however.

I appologize for not putting up more photos recently, please feel free to blame blogger, it is their fault.

Here is the center of our farms housing component, but not the center of our farm.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We had a splendid meeting today at the Voz Que Clama Mission and talked about the problems the Cabecar Indigenous face in their lives. Because the meeting was in Spanish I have asked Ray Reynolds who attended with friends to write an article sharing with you the content of today’s meeting. That will be forthcoming.

Then we went to view the new Mission building which will house the disabled Indigenous and double their capacity. Wow, it is really coming along fast. This structure is so needed. I know too many people hate to throw money at a building, I understand. But if you could actually realize the need you would want to participate. This is not a monument to men, this is a life saving facility.

Priscilla the disabled Cabecar Indigenous child was our next stop and we met this beautiful child, her mother, grandmother, and the Indigenous family they are staying with. Priscilla has probably suffered some oxygen deprivation during birth. She saw a doctor yesterday and will now go to the Children’s Hospital in San Jose where we are told that she will probably stay for about 2 months for exams and rehabilitation so that she can learn to walk for starters. Her journey is just beginning.

Blanca Rose, Priscilla’s Mother told us that this is her only child. She had a very difficult birth. Her husband went outside in January and she has never seen him again. I am still not sure where on the reservation she came from, not the villages that the Mission serves, but much farther towards Panama. They walked up and down mountains, over and through rivers for 4 days. The child’s Grandmother will also be examined soon to see what is going on with her. She does not talk, mumbles a bit, perhaps she is in shock. The baby makes her happy, it is very clear.

When the Mission goes to the reservation, (they leave before sun up tomorrow), they drive for 3 hours to Quetzal and then walk for 5 hours. When they return on Friday evening, they will be totally exhausted. Only the most fit, can make the journey. We are that exhausted just making the difficult drive to Quetzal without getting out of the car; forget the 5 hour walk a goat would have a hard time making. The men and women who will go on this trip will carry very large and long plank style boards, enough to build another wall on the smoke free house with kitchen (not sure what that means but it will have a chimney) that the volunteers are constructing. This building is to keep the Indigenous from filling their lungs with smoke from open fires in their homes that deteriorates their health, contributes to their asthma and emphysema. It is a simple model home, no illusions of grandeur or palatal manse going on here. The house is a board structure with a tin roof. The volunteers are doing a fine job and have been at it for many many months. I want to stress, this is a simple structure, a very SIMPLE structure that will be the best home on the reservation.

For Blanca Rose to have walked this journey for 4 days, with her child tied to her body with a scarf and her Mother in tow, I can’t imagine.

She has never been off the reservation, never seen cars, or a town like Tuis. (Tuis is so small if you blink you will miss it.) When my daughter drove up to the very rural house they are staying in, Blanca Rose could not believe that a woman could drive, or that a big piece of metal can move.

She fears how dangerous her journey and the hospital will be. We assure her that she and her child will be safe, we will see to it. She must remain tranquilo. I can barely imagine her level of apprehension as she is exposed to our world. It will be like landing on another planet with no knowledge of their atmosphere.

There were a number of starving skeletal dogs in the yard. A few chickens in mailbox like coups laying eggs. I took a 10 year old boy’s photo and showed it to him. He had never seen himself before and was thrilled, shy, laughed and covered his face. Cute kid.

I had the urge to take them all home with me, even the starving dogs. I thought of Alison my dog rescue friend in La Flor who has too many dogs and not enough dog food. She is going broke being a dog angel rescuing those unfortunate animals that are not living the good life in Costa Rica.

If you live in the San Jose area perhaps you would volunteer to be an advocate for Blanca Rose and her child. We don’t think that she can stay in the hospital at night with her baby. Blanca Rose can not be left alone in San Jose either. She has no skills in our world. NONE! She speaks some Spanish, she needs acts of kindness to hold her hand, make sure she eats, and that she and her child are safe.

If you can find the heart to volunteer and help, this may be the most rewarding time in your life. Please contact me at



My friend Dave asked me if I did my own website (blog) and how hard was it to do. Well, on a good day Dave, when google has no issues, and my browser is working properly, or if I have not tried something new that crashes the site, it is kind of easy, until it is not easy any more.

My first computer’s memory was tape recorder. So I have been at this for a while, although not always successfully. I must admit that the computer learning process does not come natural for me. I think it should be more free flowing in my head conceptually. The problem always seems to be when there is a problem. Is it me? Is it Internet Explorer? Is it Blogger? Try it in FireFox, does it work there? Where did the little pencil go? It was there last night! Who or what changes this stuff while I am sleeping? Fixing my crash can take far longer than my brilliant idea as I backtrack what I did. Not always that easy for me depending on how many steps and code changes I made.

Like the time I came up with the brilliant idea of having Frankie Laine break out in the theme song to the old Rawhide TV show (Clint Eastwood) when the photos of my Brahman cows came up on my blog. Crash!!! It took me several weeks to undo that mistake and move forward. I wanted to beat my head against a brick wall. I had spent several weeks trying to get the music from the internet. Why am I blocked from some sites just because I do not live in the US? What does that have to do with anything? “We detect that you are in a foreign country!” Yeah, so what! What does that have to do with a free download? I am a political refuge, feel my pain.

Now, I believe that I again know how to do have Frankie singing to my cows, a different technique than before, but so far the desire has not totally taken over my sensibilities and I still remember the pain of my last big mistake all to well.

Good idea to back up your blog, and then back up your widget code as well.
Earth University is located in Guapiles, Costa Rica. Started by the Kellogg Foundations it is a 5 year agricultural university with students from all over the world. 80% of the students are on scholarship with the intent to go back to their countries and improve production for their farmers through organic, sustainable farming practices.

We just returned from Earth U. this week. Our farm participated in an enterprise program with Earth. The students determined what native species of hard wood trees should, would and could be in our forest, they then propagated those seeds for us. We purchased these 5,000 small trees (seedlings) from them and will now plant them on the farm, in the forest, and in an area that we will reforest.

This project is not a tree plantation, but a true reforestation project that will not be cut down. Many of the “reforestation” projects that offer you an investment opportunity do not reforest, they are plantations. Let’s call it what it is. If you’re going to cut it down, you did not reforest. Teak is not a native species; it is ugly, and not desirable for reforestation.

We are so close to moving into the new house. I asked Phil if we could move in next weekend and in fact that will be pushing it. I am ready to go even though it will not be totally completed for months yet. Cabinetry needs to be made and installed, and we will get to it when we get to it. I am okay with that. My husband made my kitchen island with prep sink, and I love it. It is perfect for making bread. I like to make bread; I find it meditative and artistic. Most of my loaves are braided as I think they are more attractive that way, and they take less time to bake. I don’t eat much bread, making it is simply my art, and everyone else loves to eat it. I grind my own grains using what we have available in my area of my country or using what is grown and dried on my farm.
Phil also made our composting toilet for the bathroom. Love it! He did a great job. Everybody should own a composting toilet; there are so many reasons to do so. You are not polluting your ground water may be one of the best reasons. It does not smell, and makes excellent fertilizer when properly composted for a period of time. You can have as many toilets as you want or need, anywhere you need them, including emergency medical situations in your home where the patient may not be able to get to the bathroom for various reasons. A compost toilet can be a port-a-potty and you can make it the exact height you want it for easy up and down access. Very clever. I never liked those very low toilets, they are uncomfortable and not practical.

We could have had a conventional toilet, we are plumbed for it, we chose not to do so. Some of my old Norte Americano friends are not so adventuresome and not hip to this very green concept. They are thinking Jiffy John, no no, this is different. We “flush” with sawdust, or a sawdust and clay mixture. We can also use EM, effective microorganisms. EM is made at Earth University in my country, and we use it at the farm for many things. When sprayed where the cows do their business, there is no smell and flies are not attracted to the area. We capture the cow poop, put it in the biodigester, and then spray down the corral area with EM.
Now that we have built a new home at our farm, we installed a biodigester several months ago. My cows give us methane and we have that hooked up to gas stoves, I hope to hook up my gas dryer to it also.

Our small hydropower plant provides electric for lights and recharging. We will update the hydro plant in the near future. Because we are off the grid, we must be responsible for our own needs. There are many ways you can go, but we wanted to keep costs and maintenance down to a minimum. Our unlimited water supply enables the hydro-power year round.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Priscilla needs your help. Please?
Indigenous Baby Needs Your Help

By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A young mother fearing her baby would be murdered, fled from her village on a treacherous journey to find help this week. She arrived to safety Wednesday, and now people in the area are asking for help and a doctor.

A family strangled their 5-year-old-boy because he could not walk on the Chirripó Indian reserve, said a expat neighbor. The young mother, Blanca Rosa, feared her 2-year old daughter, whose left hand is limp and who does not talk, would be next. She fled the village and walked for four days with her child and mother to the nearest non-Indian community, said the neighbor.

Blanca Rosa carried her baby Pricilla over raging rivers and helped her feeble mother climb over rugged terrain until they reached safety, said Ginnee Hancock, who lives on a farm below the mountainous reserve and is involved with the Voz Que Clama Mission, the nearest settlement in the area.

Many of the Cabécar Indian people believe any sort of disability is sign of an evil spirit, said Ms. Hancock. One woman was told that she should kill her son who had cerebral palsy, said Ms. Hancock, adding that the mother was told to stop feeding her son so he'd die faster. Ms. Hancock also said that without enough food, villagers may believe they cannot afford to feed those unable to work.

There is a young man who lives at the mission who suffered a spinal cord injury when he fell out of a tree. The boy is covered in scars from head to toe, said Ms. Hancock, because his own family tried to beat and stone him to death.

Since the mission is already over its legal capacity of residents, Blanca Rosa, her baby, and her mother Roxana are staying nearby in the home of an Indian family. Ms. Hancock said she plans to have a doctor see Priscilla at William Allen Hospital in Turrialba today. But, she added a specialist will most likely be needed to diagnose the child's medical condition. Since the family has no money, Ms. Hancock needs to find a doctor in Costa Rica willing to help, she said.

“Priscilla is almost 2 and is severely underdeveloped. She cannot walk or crawl, is not trying to talk at all and has a hard time focusing,” reported Ms. Hancock. “Her eyes . . . my daughter says it is as if there is nothing there . . . the fist never unclenched. The fingers did flex out when my daughter opened the fingers, so they can open, but the child could not keep the fingers open.”

The entire Cabécar village is especially in need of rice and beans right now, said Ms. Hancock. She said she has contacts in San José who could deliver the food to Turrialba. If anyone could donate it would be greatly appreciated, said Ms. Hancock.

For more information those interested can contact Donations into the mission's bank account can be made via Pay Pal at

“The directors of the mission take no salary. All money donated goes to help the Cabécar, the rural poor around Tuis and the Cabécar on the reservation,” said Ms. Hancock. A.M. Costa Rica featured the sprawling, remote reserve in a news story in February.