Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birds we've seen recently

I haven't had time to actually identify these birds (except the bushy-crested jay above, which was identified here). I just thought I'd share the pictures, taken, of course, by Boo.

Maybe somebody out there will recognize the other two birds?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Kitchen Toad

Of course we have a kitchen toad, don't you? Our toad lives under the fridge and behind/below the cabinets during the daytime, happily out-of-sight. Every night, however, you can find him enjoying a refreshing dip in the bowl of dog water. I've noticed, in the mornings, that the dogs don't want to drink out of that bowl until it's been emptied and refilled. Hmmm.

Last night I took a few pictures of the kitchen toad. They aren't great pictures, because of the poor lighting, but I really did want to share our family toad with you. Here he is:

I wasn't sure you'd be able to tell the size of our impressive toad, from that first picture, so I put a carton with a few eggs down next to the bowl:

Now, you might expect that I'd consider a large toad residing in the kitchen to be a bad thing, but I know what toads eat. They eat bugs. And I'd imagine that a big toad would eat big bugs. Or possibly many bugs. Or, if we're really lucky, he'd eat many big bugs! And I'd rather have a large, usually invisible toad in my kitchen than lots of big bugs. Really now, wouldn't you?

(Also, the toad moves slowly, and hasn't show any interest in climbing across my bed, unlike the scorpions and hairy spiders . . . so the toad can stay.)

Just for fun - and a bit of contrast - I thought I'd also share some pictures Boo took at the bridge construction site a few months ago:

Can you see what Boo saw?

Can you see it now?

Here's help for those (like me) with aging eyes!

Sooo, that's the large and the small of it!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bridge Update: Another concrete pour cancelled!

Well, the family headed out this morning to pour concrete . . . and once again they came home without having done the work! Not enough volunteer workers showed up for us to realistically expect to complete the scheduled work. Russell tells me that we are now having trouble because we're well into planting season, and most of the men who would normally come out to help at the bridge need to be working in their fields.

The pour is rescheduled, again, this time for Thursday of this week. We're still hopeful!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Dancing Tree


Photo (and name of photo) by Boo

Somewhat enhanced photo of the dancing tree, using

A Real-Time Bridge Construction Update

Most of you know that my updates on the Las Flores bridge construction project are posted months after each construction phase has occurred. Today, I thought I'd give a quick real-time update, for those who have been following this project and praying for us throughout the whole, long process.

Although we anticipated having to stop construction once the rainy season started in May, the work has, in fact, continued to progress. Using sandbag-walled dams, channels to direct the river flow away from the area under construction, and lots of prayer, the work has continued on the support piers located down in the riverbed. During one especially heavy overnight downpour, one of the dam walls was breached, and the next morning the crew had to work on repairing the walls, pumping out the water, and drying out materials and equipment that had been submerged. Below are a few random shots of work progressing below water level - and although this is a real-time update, these photos aren't that recent, they're just ones from the past couple of months.

The menfolk are doing another concrete pour today, and Allen tells me that this might be the last one until after the rainy season. I found this table, of average monthly rainfall in Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras), where the weather is fairly similar to our weather in Lempira. The table clearly shows our funny double-dip rainy season, with exceptionally high rainfall the first two months - May and June - a slightly lower rainfall for the next two months, and then another two months of high amounts of rain in September and October.

I thought I'd also mention our plans for the months when we can't be working on the Las Flores bridge project. (What's that you say? Take a breather? Riiiiight. Guess you don't know Allen if you thought that was gonna happen!) Allen and I have been working hard to finalize the blueprints for the house we'll be building for our family up here on our property. Once we've finished planning the house, we hope to start in on that exciting construction project, during the months when the men can't work in the river.

Oh, and one other interesting tidbit. You might remember the construction on the bridge in Paca-someplace (I still don't know how to spell the name of that village - here are links to the two posts about that project: The Bridge Project in Paca-someplace and Bridge Construction Update from Paca-someplace). Well, that bridge hasn't yet been completed. We didn't have all of the cables needed to complete that bridge, until the shipping container arrived before Christmas this past year. With the scramble to work on the Las Flores bridge during the dry season there hasn't yet been a chance to head over to Paca-someplace and string the cables there. Finally, with the Las Flores bridge reaching a temporary stopping point, work can resume on the Paca-someplace bridge.


Ooops - here's an update: no pour at Las Flores today. Too many of the local volunteers were drunk or hung over after a big political rally this weekend, so there weren't enough workers to do the job today. The pour has been rescheduled for tomorrow. Sigh.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Miscellaneous recent pictures

Bubbles (the white one) and Buffalo, just hanging out

The bathroom rug Rachel made, from discarded towels. Rachel is accumulating (and creating) a "hope chest" of items for when she and Brandy get married.

Our recently planted corn is popping up.

Sometimes it gets a bit crowded around here. These are our four cows, plus some cows and horses belonging to a neighbor who helps us out a bit with our animals, and in return we let him graze some of his animals here during the rainy season (when we have lots of green edibles for them all).

A common sight here, but so beautiful - mist rising out of the valleys. (Click on this one to view a larger size photo . . . it's worth the click!)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Brandy reads my blog!

Brandy is the one in the wet flight suit! LOL

Rachel's boyfriend, Brandy, has been reading my blog, which is pretty impressive since English isn't his first language. He had to ask Rachel for the meaning of the word "lousy" in a previous post, when I stated that I'd posted a "lousy picture" of him. He has promised to send me a newer picture, and if he does I'll post it here.

Meanwhile, he did send us some photos of the "celebration" which takes place after each student pilot successfully completes their first solo flight. That flight, by the way, is actually three short flights, showing that the student has mastered take-offs and landings, as well as the up-in-the-air part of flying.

If I have this right, after the successful completion of his flight, Brandy was somersaulted from the airplane to the spot on the base where they would have the ceremony. (I think we could call that "hazing" in the states.) Then, Brandy had to go down and do push-ups, while ice water was showered down upon him from a rather high platform (I'm thinking those ice cubes probably hurt!)

After the cold water, congratulations were given by flight instructors and officers, and then Brandy was given the rest of the week off. This is the standard celebration, but sadly Brandy completed his solo flight on a Friday, so he only got to come home for the weekend! Oh well.

Congratulations again, Brandy.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I don't have a phobia about spiders. I really don't. I'm sure I don't. In general, I think spiders are a useful part of the whole circle-of-life thing. I'm glad that they eat other annoying insect pests, and they're generally quiet and unobtrusive. Except that they leave their abandoned webs in high, unreachable places above my kitchen, and then those old webs collect termite wings and look messy, I kind of like spiders.

However . . .

I've discovered that I don't like large and hairy spiders. I especially don't like them on my bed, in the middle of the night . . . when I'm using the bed.

It didn't help the situation that the spider was about the size of the palm of my hand. And, did I mention that it was hairy?????

There is no picture with this post. The night of the spider, I was only thinking about having a big, hairy spider in my bed - I wasn't thinking about blogging! Allen and Ben came to my rescue with a broom, and when they told me the situation was under control, I happily went back to bed. I could go looking for photos of similar spiders . . . but I think I'm okay with not reliving the spider visitation just now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

All about beams

The last time I wrote about the bridge project, I zoomed right through the stage where the beams were constructed. So, to make up for that, here's a list of facts (and a few photos) about the beams:

- 28,000 pounds of cement (280 bags of powdered cement) were used in the creation of each beam.

- There are 110,000 pounds of concrete (mixture of cement, sand, and gravel) per beam.

- Each beam has strength to withstand 5000 pounds per square inch.

- To achieve 5000 psi (pounds per square inch) we brought two different types of chemical additives down from the states, to add to the concrete mixture. One additive was a water reducer, the other was a plasticizer. We also incorporated three different sizes of sand and gravel in the mixture, which helped us reach our psi goal.

- Before the beams were poured, six different concrete mixtures were created in 8" long, 4" diameter tubes and sent to the states (in suitcases) for psi testing by an engineering firm.

- Each beam contains 10,000 pounds of rebar.

- It took 50 man hours of welding to create the "weldments" (the welded racks of rebar which held the long pieces of rebar in place) and continuous 80' pieces of rebar inside of each beam.

- Each beam contains 12 pieces of 1 1/4" rebar, 9 pieces of 1" rebar, and 12 pieces of 3/4" rebar.

- Each beam will span 72'.

- The total weight of each beam is 120,000 pounds.

- It will take two cranes to lift each beam into place, because in Honduras we can't hire a crane large enough to lift one of these beams by itself.

- There will eventually be 12 beams in total. So far, 9 are completed.

- The process of pouring each beam took approximately 5 hours, though the prep work per beam took days of welding and setting the wall panels (forms) in place. Even carrying the 80' long pieces of rebar from the welding shop through the river to the other side where the beams were poured was a major task!

And that's all I have to say about the beams. Unless you have questions?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blogging about blogging

Recently Blogger, the host of this blog, redid some of the behind-the-scenes workings of their site. As a result of these changes, some new statistics are now available to me (or at least, now I know they're there). One of the pieces of information currently available is how many people have viewed each post I've created.

Now, I might be a bit discouraged by this info, if I didn't realize that the stats aren't counting when people come to the main page ( rather than opening up one specific post by clicking on the title of that post. I know this because, in some instances, the statistics reveal that no one read a certain post, but several people commented on it! It seems that many of my regular readers open the main page, and read the most current posts there (which is perfectly fine - I'm not complaining here), so most of the people who read my posts are not being counted using this system. All that to say, while this count could be discouraging, I'm not taking it that way.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see which were the most-viewed individual posts of my five years of blogging. I know, from watching my stats, that many people come to my blog after seeing one of our pictures on Google Images, so I figured that would factor in to the results, and it certainly has, based on these results.

Here they are, the top ten most viewed blog posts from my blog:

#10. Doing Chores in Lempira (385 views)

#9. Gringo Holiday in Honduras (401 views)

#8. Show Off Your Smarts re: Honduran Food (406 views)

#7. Happy Lempira Day! (431 views)

#6. Feel Free to ignore this post (461 views - rather ironic, don't you think?)

#5. Another Poinsettia Post (526 views)

#4. Pila Etiquette (664 views - mine is one of the few websites on the internet where you can find out what a "pila" is, apparently.)

#3. Yes, the container arrived . . . yes, we're working on unpacking everything . . . yes, I neglected to tell you! (727 views - why on earth do so many people click on the image of the container truck in this post? I'm clueless on this.)

#2. Orphans in Santa Rosa de Copan (1461 views - this post used to have a couple of photos which were linked from another blog, and those links no longer work, so the photos don't show up)

#1. More Lempira Day Photos: Indias Bonitas (1542 views)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Flying Solo - he did it!

Rachel's boyfriend, Brandy, is in his fourth year at the Honduran Air Force Academy. The past few months he's been learning to fly, and yesterday he completed his first solo flight! We're all very proud of him.

(I apologize for the lousy picture - it's a couple years old, and it's the only picture of Brandy I could find, except for the ones where he's working on the bridge site over his Christmas vacation. He looks more like a pilot-in-training in this photo. LOL)

¡Felicidades Brandy!