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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Dinner 2016

This year, our Canadian friends Diane and John invited us to their house for Christmas dinner. We are very fortunate to have such generous friends here in Costa Rica and we've been the recipients of many good meals at their house.

The turkey was perfect:


Lineup of selections - potatoes, ayote, sweet potatoes, stuffing, salad, plus cranberries and gravy.


Left to right: Carlos, John pouring wine, Diane, Travis, Carol, Lance.


I made Nanaimo bars but, well, the center didn't set properly. Oh well, they still tasted good.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Orchids and Christmas Eve, 2016

This is our sixth Christmas Eve living in Costa Rica. We have blue skies, Christmas winds, and the temperature where we live at 2:00pm is 82F/27.8C. The Christmas winds refer to the trade winds that blow fairly strongly at this time of year.

An orchid I purchased about two years ago from someone who was moving to Florida has finally flowered for me. It had no name tag on it so I've just been waiting to see what the flowers looked like to help in identification. They are gorgeous and I believe this orchid is one of the diverse genus of Dendrobium. It has inflorescences (flower stems) coming out the top, sides and bottom of the basket, cascading down a foot or more and covered in small yellow and white flowers.  In my blog post of December 4, 2016, "After Hurricane Otto", I asked for assistance in identifying this particular orchid so hopefully someone can help.

This is what it looks like. In the early morning light, the entire basket appears luminous.


These are the small yellow and white flowers up close:

The flowers up close. 

Here are a couple of photos of two phalaenopsis that are presently in bloom. Phals are so dependable and seem to bloom almost constantly.




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Beach Day - 2016

A couple of weeks ago, a group of expats from Atenas and San Ramon, Costa Rica, met at Playa Dona Ana for a day of sun, ocean swimming, relaxing, chatting and just enjoying living in Costa Rica.

I made a short video of our day there. The monkeys were particularly bold ... I've never seen them coming down on the ground to grab pieces of bananas before. 

If you wish to watch the video full screen, click on the Youtube icon.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bread Making

I decided to make a loaf of bread today to go with our dinner salad this evening. Bread making has not always been successful for me at our elevation here in Atenas, Costa Rica. But I had recently purchased yeast and I found this recipe which looked easy to do with minimal work.

I added garlic to the dough and fresh oregano from my garden to the top before baking. Here is the finished product:


Lance said it is like the fresh bread served at high end restaurants. This loaf was crusty with soft innards. I had to let it rise longer then the recipe says ... so go with your bread making instincts. I think I will make this once a week.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


We are presently lingering between the green and dry seasons. Each season is roughly six months long. Recent mornings have been very cool and we are still experiencing some rain. This morning seemed perfect to get some laundry washed and hung out on the line. The humidity was low, the sun was out, and we had a good breeze. I hung two loads of laundry out and all was well until the clouds came in about five hours later. An unexpected rain shower made us run out to get the half dried clothes off the line and into the house. Five minutes later, the rain was over and the sun came out. I put some of our laundry back out on the line and the rest are draped over various pieces of furniture. We do not have an electric dryer and don't need one. Most of the year our laundry does just fine on the line.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

After Hurricane Otto

Where we live in the central valley, the only effects we felt from Hurricane Otto were a few rainy and chilly days with little wind. However, northern areas of Costa Rica were terribly hard hit. The Tico Times Times has up-to-date information if you are interested in reading about Otto. Hurricanes are rare here but this one crossed over Costa Rica to the Pacific coast from the Atlantic. Costa Ricans came together immediately to provide relief to the affected areas. They also reached out to the expat community for help and they responded immediately.  One of my fans readers commented on a recent post: "And, please don't stop posting. Many of us are living vicariously through you!" That's an amazingly flattering thing to say and thank you. Much appreciated. I hope I can provide interesting posts. Yesterday was a dry season day - warm, blue skies all day. Today is a green season day - started to rain last night and has been gently falling since. The last gasp of the rainy season. Good day to make some soup for dinner.  Our landlady arranged to have the half-dead passion flower vines removed from our pergola and roof, along with the shade cloth. All the grass underneath had died off because it was too shady, resulting in a muddy mess when it rained. Sod was laid and it has grown rapidly. What a difference this has made. Now the area is bright and sunny and much more inviting. I've hung all my orchids from the pergola and will hang another hammock under there also. I guess the light change has benefited at least one of my orchids. I noticed all these flower stems (inflorescences) coming out of an orchid that has never flowered before. They are coming out the top, sides and bottom of the basket. When they are fully opened, I'll take more photos and hopefully someone can identify the orchid species for me.        

Friday, November 25, 2016

Eyes on Costa Rica/Update - Page Views and Top 5 Visits So Far

This blog recently crossed a threshold of over 100,000 page views from over 24,000 individual visits and 115 identified countries. It appears that the average visitor looks at about 4 pages. The latest country is Tanzania in Africa. 


Meanwhile, I have prepared a list of the top five noteworthy locations in the world from where a visit to the blog has occurred. These are my choices. Others might have different criteria. The third, fourth and fifth place choices are not in any necessary order. It depends on your sense of humor but from my point of view the first place choice beats all and the second place choice is a close competitor. Click on “Map” or “Wikipedia” for more information on any location.


5th place: somewhere in the Cameroon, Africa (May 21, 2013)


The precise location in Cameroon is unknown. The connection was probably a satellite connection. This country was the first country in Africa from where a visit was received. The only continent from where a visit has not been received is Antarctica.


4th place: Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada (April 14, 2016)


Until the visit from Cambridge Bay, visits to the blog had been received from all 10 provinces and 2 of the 3 territories in Canada. Nunavut was the third territory after the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Now, at least one visit has been received from all provinces and territories in Canada.


3rd place: Huntington, West Virginia, USA (February 7, 2014)


Until West Virginia, visits to the blog had been received from 49 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The visit from Huntington provided the missing link. Visits have also been received from the following U.S. constituents: Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, not to mention the U.S. Armed Forces Europe, Canada, Middle East and Africa, and the U.S. Armed Forces Pacific.


2nd place: Empire, Nevada, USA (June 29, 2016)


Ghosts! Lance and I have driven through and stopped in Nevada a number of times. But, neither of us had ever heard of Empire, NevadaOn the Internet, we were surprised to see it described by Wikipedia as a "ghost town". Is my blog being visited by ghosts? I will need time to think about this.

 1st place: Hell, Nord-Trondelag, Norway (June 7, 2015)


It is one thing to attract a visit from a ghost. Ghosts are harmless. It is quite another to attract a visit from Hell.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hurricane Otto

Hurricane Otto is expected to touch land in Costa Rica sometime tonight or tomorrow morning (Thursday). I don't know what sort of weather it will bring to us here in Atenas, in the Central Valley. You can read more about the hurricane in the Tico Times, and they have a real time weather map.

Just in case we end up losing power, I decided to go to the store to get some extra supplies. We have the use of our neighbor's car this week and we were just about to go to her place to get the car when - blam! - a transformer in Vista Atenas blew and that was the end of that idea. We don't know how to open her electric gate when the power is off so could not have got the car out.

So I decided to walk down to Maxi Pali for the exercise and taxi home. The temperatures here have been quite cool the last few days so it was a comfortable walk, with just a bit of spitting rain.

I bought two boxes of candles, ten in each box, and a propane lighter. For some time now, we have said we should have a small, one or two burner propane stove. Our electricity can go out unexpectedly and we never know for how long. It would be nice to be able to make coffee in the morning, or heat up some soup. We have a chorreador so all we would need is boiling water. Lots of people here have full size propane stoves and that would be ideal - much cheaper then using electric stoves.

I found a one burner propane stove at Maxi Pali and I thought the price was decent (18,830 colones, roughly $38 CAD) so I put it in my basket, along with a gas cylinder. Also decided we needed a small pot to fit on the burner, so I got one of those. Also picked up extras like cat food, tortillas, some canned goods, soups, etc. We have lots of books to read and I have my New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles.

Here is our emergency equipment:


Jorge, one of our long time taxi drivers, picked me up to take me home. We laughed so much - talked about this and that with a mishmash of English/Spanish - today is his third year wedding anniversary (we went to his wedding). 

It's 2:10pm now, and the rain has started. We'll see what develops in the coming hours. Lots of people have already been evacuated from the Caribbean side.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Miscellaneous Meanderings

Last week, we took the Atenas bus into San José to deal with a couple of matters. Waiting in line for the ruta 27 bus at the Atenas bus stop, I pointed out to Lance that water was leaking from under the front of the bus .... he said it looks like air conditioning water. We have never experienced an air conditioned Atenas bus in the time we have lived here.

Boarded our bus, and cold air was blowing through the overhead vents (similar to an airplane). Yes, it was air conditioned! Before long, we were feeling quite cold ... we are no longer used to air conditioning. It would be an advantage during a tropical rain storm, when everyone on the bus closes the windows and the humidity rises to uncomfortable levels. Our return bus was normal ... no AC. 

We were early for our return Atenas bus but the Orotino bus was ready to go, so we jumped on it. The Orotina bus stops in Atenas on ruta 3 - you just have to let the driver know where you want to get off.  Our water guy was there (I have written about him before), and we bought two bottles of water from him for the return trip home. We were already seated on the bus when I saw him, so I hollered out the window to him and he passed two water bottles up to me, and I handed two mil down to him.

Our landlady, Kathleen, recently arranged to have the back of our yard resodded. Over the years we have lived here, the area under the pergola had become overgrown and overshaded with the passion fruit vine ... it was covering the roof and blocking out any sun. Grass could no longer grow and we were experiencing mud and water flooding problems. Mario and his workers arrived and put down sod .... here is what our backyard looks likes now. So much better! I'm going to hang a second hammock here I think.


Mario delivering the sod:


On Saturday, I walked down to the Maxi-Pali store to buy a few groceries. It's about a 2 km walk so very pleasant. Lots of people to say hello to along the way. There's a lovely gentleman I see around Atenas all the time - I don't know his name - he is usually selling seasonal produce. This day he had a wheelbarrow full of fruits and vegetables. When he saw me, he opened his arms wide, said "pura vida!" and gave me a big hug. That's Costa Rica.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween in Costa Rica

Our North American Halloween is not a celebration in Costa Rica. Instead, November 2nd is All Soul's Day - a very important day in the Catholic and Tico calendar. Locals honour their departed, flowers are placed on gravestones, and masses are held in the churches. It's different from the Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

We finally abandoned Halloween when we lived in Canada. We got fed up with having to buy overpriced junk candy to give to kids that we didn't even know. And the doorbell rang for so long and upset our cat. So we became one of those households that turned the outdoor lights off on October 31st.

But here, in our little town of Atenas, a bit of the Halloween tradition is carried on. Every year, we have two Halloween goblins show up at our gate and we are happy to carry on the traditions from their home country (the U.S.A.).

It almost didn't happen this year ... we had a major rain and lightning storm for most of the afternoon. Our laneway out to our gate was flooded, making it impossible to walk to the gate to open it.

In the nick of time, the storm abated, the water receded and we were able to greet our goblins.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Farmacias San Gabriel

For our health needs, we use a combination of the Costa Rican public health care program (known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) and private medical care.

If a medication we require is not available from Caja, we try the local pharmacies (farmacias). A prescription is not usually required - it depends on what the drug is I assume.

A couple of weeks ago, one medication I wanted was nowhere to be found in any of the Atenas farmacias so we drove to Farmacias San Gabriel, located at the Rio Grande gasoline station (estacion gasolinera) entrance. There, Dr. Ernesto helped me out. He speaks excellent English, far better then my Spanish!

They didn't have what I wanted in stock but he said he would order it and deliver it to me the next day. The following morning, he phoned me to see if we were at home and within thirty minutes Dr. Ernesto himself drove up to our house with my medications - and no charge for the delivery! I paid him cash (exact change, please) because they are not yet set up for accepting credit cards outside of the pharmacy.

Needless to say, we were very, very impressed with Dr. Ernesto. I highly recommend Farmacias San Gabriel. In future, I can place my order via e-mail which is a plus for us because we don't live that close to this particular drug store.


Telephone: 2446-2046

Hours: Monday to Thursday: 8am to 9pm        Friday to Sunday: 8am to 10pm

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Caught in the Act

Our cat, named Cat, is notorious for tossing things off counters and tabletops. Nothing that weighs less then a pound is safe from him. We can hear him in the middle of the night - crash! It's a bit of a problem because it wakes us up.

Today, I got photographic evidence of the furry culprit.

Having moved a calculator and two watches to the edge of the table, they are seconds away from being swept to the floor by Cat.


And here he is with the fallen watches, one of which was in his mouth seconds earlier. Oh, that's our machete on the chair rungs.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie

It has been raining non-stop all day. Sometimes it comes down as a torrent, other times it is more of a misty Pacific Northwest type of rainfall. In fact, at this time of year in Costa Rica, where we live in the Central Valley, the weather reminds me of our winter weather in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Everything is so lush and green. It has been long sleeve shirts and long pants weather the last few days, as I find it quite cool. We have been running the ceiling fans in order to keep the air moving and help with indoor dampness.

It is definitely chicken pot pie weather - some good old fashioned hearty comfort food. Click here to see the recipe I followed. For the pastry crust, I also used her pastry recipe, which features a very easy method of incorporating the chilled butter into the flour. Those methods of using a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter never did work very well for me.

I made two pies. One is for our dinner tonight and the other went over to Diane and John's house. They are flying home to Costa Rica from a trip to Canada, arriving this evening, so they will have something to nosh on if hungry or they can reheat it tomorrow.

I loaded the pies with spinach, peas, broccoli, carrots, onions and garlic, and lots of chicken. From my own herb garden, I picked rosemary, oregano and tarragon and added those, along with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

Here is how their pie turned out:


Some of the gravy leaked out the top but I think that is not a problem, taste wise. Realize that I have a funny little stove (an Atlas) with four heat selections: high, bake, grill and warm. With trial and error and an oven thermometer, I have learned to preheat the oven on "high", put the baking in the oven, turn to "bake", set a timer and then finish on "grill" if the top needs further browning.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

It's That Time of the Year

Closing in on the end of October, we are in the deepest part of our green, or rainy season. And it will continue into November, or part of November.

Costa Rica has essentially two seasons ... dry and wet .. roughly six months each. Wet (and beautifully green) from about May to November, and dry from November to May ... with some variations. The dry season is the high season for tourists from the frozen northern climes.

Coming from the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), we don't mind rain at all and, in fact, embrace our rainy days here ...

This does not mean it rains for days on end for six months. For four or five months of the green season, mornings and early afternoons are sunny and maybe, perhaps, rain might fall later in the afternoon. I am only referring to where we live in the Central Valley and at our elevation.

These recent days, for us at our elevation, we are experiencing rain earlier in the day. I hung our wash out this morning before 8:00am but the sun and winds were not in alignment and so some of my laundry did not totally dry. We hung the still damp things inside the house and will put them out on the line again tomorrow.

Some people have clothes dryers here that they use carefully because electricity is expensive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not a holiday celebrated in Costa Rica .... so as expat Canadians we tend to forget about it. If you wanted to prepare a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, you might be hard pressed to find a turkey to cook. Frozen turkeys are imported in time for the USA Thanksgiving and also Christmas but they are very expensive.

Our friend and neighbor didn't forget us though. Sharon stopped by our house this past weekend with this for us:

Included in the pretty bag were Sharon's homemade muffins and brownies - what a treat. The card reads, "Dear Diana and Lance, Happy Thanksgiving to you, our wonderful vesinos (neighbors), con abrazos (with love), Sharon and Diogi". Diogi is Sharon's Border collie that we have cared for from time to time.

I must not forget the USA Thanksgiving, since Sharon is from Washington State. She might like some British Columbia Nanaimo bars. We live in the best neighborhood with wonderful neighbors.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Eyes on Costa Rica - Update/October 4, 2016

On November 13, 2012, I started to maintain a record of where visits to my blog were coming from. Aided by a widget called RevolverMaps which can be seen under the heading of VISITS SINCE 9/29/2016 as a spinning globe in the right hand column of the blog, this included identification of individual countries and their dependencies, subdivisions (states, provinces, etc.) within the countries; and cities, towns or other places within the subdivisions.

Since my last blog entry on this topic (April 15, 2016), the total number of recorded countries and dependencies has risen to 114; the most recent additions being Paraguay, Greenland, Guam and, most recently (October 1), Isle of Man. Earlier today, the number of recorded visits from over 3100 different places surpassed 24,000 – the 24000th visit coming from Norman, Oklahoma. TOTAL PAGEVIEWS as seen in the right hand column exceeds 89000. This indicates that the average visitor has looked at between 3 and 4 different pages of the blog.

Why “VISITS SINCE 9/29/2016” and not “VISIT COUNTER” as it read before?

RevolverMaps identifies each place from where a visit occurs with a little red dot (or some other color of choice) on the spinning globe. By navigating from the blog to RevolverMaps itself, the same collection of dots can be viewed on a 2D flat map projection. Here is a snapshot taken on September 29, 2016.

Unfortunately, while tinkering with the blog on my new iPad, I somehow managed to break the link between the blog and RevolverMaps. The break could not be mended – or at least we could not figure out how to mend it. The solution was to reinstall RevolverMaps with the consequence that the visitor count and the placement of little red dots had to start all over again. Here’s a snapshot taken earlier today:

No more clutter of dots but all was not lost. Records up to the time of the break had been backed up in a separate database. It was fairly easy to modify this database setting numbers as they were on September 29 as initial conditions and then enabling the addition of new numbers reported by RevolverMaps to the initial numbers. Under the old scheme, new numbers provided by RevolverMaps would be used to overwrite rather than add to existing numbers because all the initial numbers were zero.

The above being said, it became apparent that there was no harmony between TOTAL PAGEVIEWS as seen in the right hand column and RevolverMaps visits as seen in the right hand column. Over 89000 page views does not reconcile with less than 100 visits. The heading VISITS SINCE 9/29/2016 provides a hint as to the reason why. The widget that records total page views is independent of RevolverMaps and has been in service since before the inclusion of RevolverMaps in November 2012. The link with this widget has not been broken (at least not yet).

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Tropical Storm

October and November will be the rainiest months during our green season, with the dry season starting in December and running through to about May. By then, we will be wishing for rain to bring back all the lush greenness of this beautiful country.

It doesn't rain twenty-four hours for days on end. Usually, our mornings are sunny and clear - with clouds building up in the early afternoon. Then we may experience an hour or so of rain, quite often torrential with lightning and thunder. Doing laundry and hanging it on the line outside to dry must be done first thing in the day. I had my wash out by 7:30 am today. We prefer to do shopping in the mornings also.

There are many different micro-climates in Costa Rica and I am referring to the climate we experience at our elevation and our part of the country (Atenas).

I made this video last week during a late afternoon storm. It was severe enough to cause flooding in our backyard.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Live Spider Action!!

Following up on my previous blog, I made this video yesterday of one of our golden orb spiders weaving its web.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mammals and Araneoidea Spiders

After five years of living in Costa Rica, I still get excited seeing the exotic flora and fauna of this country.

We are presently fortunate to have five separate webs around our house, made by the golden silk orb-weaver spider. The webs are simply amazing - large and strong with a golden sheen. The spiders are amazing also:

I think this one is missing a leg.

Here you can see the golden web.

For more information on this amazing creature, check out my friend Claudia's blog article on the golden orb. Claudia is a protozoologist and knows whereof she speaks - Claudia's blog article

Now for the mammals - we have agoutis running through our yard at regular intervals. They exist on fruits and nuts so our orange and mango trees are an attraction for them. This pair were close to our back door but started running when I came out with a camera.

Not sure what it is carrying - old dried up mango?

They both are carrying something ... 

For more information on the agouti, click here. Now, see how interesting it is living in the tropics?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Independence Day 2016 - Costa Rica

On September 15, 1821, the authorities in Guatemala declared independence for all of Central America from Spain. Here in Costa Rica, September 15 is a national holiday.

The farole parade is held on the evening of September 14 - homemade lanterns symbolizing the original freedom torch. On September 15th, there are parades all around the country, with marching school bands. Further information can be found in this article by the Costa Rican News.

Here are some photos I took of some Independence Day celebrations in our Atenas park, on Wednesday, September 14.



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Vista Atenas, Costa Rica

Here is a link for information about the development we live in - Vista Atenas, Atenas, Costa Rica.

Thank you, Pure Life Development, for putting this information together.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

One Week in Atenas

Our art show last weekend went very well with my painting "Tranquilo" going to its new home at a cattle ranch not far from us. We'll be meeting sometime this week to discuss the show, what we want to do in the future, when to hold the next show and so on.

Our septic tank was overdue for a cleaning and that was an interesting process to observe. Now we know where the septic tank is located.

Yesterday, our gardener Byron was here and he finished up just as a storm moved in. The rain was quite intense with lots of lightning and thunder so he stayed until it eased off and he could get back up the mountain to his home. I hope he managed to hitch a ride because he was carrying a heavy, professional style weed wacker, a can of gasoline, and a backpack with his protective clothing in it (face mask, leather apron, harness for the weed wacker). In Costa Rica, a lawn mower would not work on the mountain sides.

As we were sitting outside, the power went off -  probably due to a circuit breaker being hit by lightning as we heard a "pop". We also felt a small earthquake. Our cat had zoomed off somewhere once Byron started working. Cat (that's what we call him) eventually came home once the storm passed but he was quite wet. Not much of a problem in a tropical climate as the rain is warm.

Since we were having a cold Asian noodle salad for dinner, the lack of electricity wasn't much of a problem and it came back on after a few hours.

One of my orchids is flowering - the scent is incredible and the flowers are weirdly wonderful.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Art in Atenas - My Contributions

Here are the paintings I will have on display at the "Art in Atenas" Gordon Balter Memorial Art Show.

Where: Hotel Colinas del Sol, Calle Boqueron, Atenas, Costa Rica (600m east of the high school gym, 100m east of the Roca Verde gate).

The show runs from Saturday, August 27 (2-7pm) and Sunday, August 28 (2-5pm), 2016. Hope to see you there!

"Moona Lisa" - 31.5"x31.5", acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.
Photo reference courtesy Pam Utton.

"Painted Lady" - 35.5"x35.5", acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.
Photo reference courtesy Linda Gorchinsky.

"Pork and Coffee Beans" - 31.5"x31.5", acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.
Photo reference courtesy Patricia Anne Jones.

"The Goat" - 31.5"x31.5", acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.
Photo reference artist's own.

"Tranquilo" - 35.5"x35.5", acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.
Photo reference courtesy Gloria Navarro-McDermott.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Art in Atenas

A reminder - if you are in the Atenas, Costa Rica, area on Saturday, August 27 (2-7pm) and Sunday, August 28 (2-5pm) please stop in at Hotel Colinas del Sol to see what seven talented Atenas artists will have on display.

This will be our second show and is being held in honor of Gordon Balter, our friend and the visionary who recognized there was a lot of talent in the Atenas area. He was the one who gathered us together and organized our first show.

Here is your invitation:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Ironworkers

Because our house was broken into through one of the California windows - also called jalousies - our landlady has decided to have all the windows with glass louvers covered with iron bars from the inside. This is a smart move - it will increase the value of her house and the only way someone can now break in is by smashing one of the glass windows - and that we will surely hear.

This doesn't mean Costa Rica is a dangerous place to live in - our little community has been very safe over the years and we do not fear living here. 

Two ironworkers arrived the other day to take measurements. In Canada, they would have arrived in a van, and wearing cloth booties over their shoes so as not to dirty up floors or carpets.

Not here in Costa Rica! Our iron worker guys showed up at our gate riding big motorcycles and wearing wife beater shirts. They saw my art work lying all over the place and were suitably impressed. 

Then they went all around out house measuring the windows. They are supposed to be back here on Saturday to install the bars. 

I would take pictures of the process, except the bandits stole my camera!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Atenas Painters Association Second Art Show

Put these dates on your calendar - Saturday, August 27, 2016, from 2pm to 7pm, and Sunday, August 28, 2016, from 2pm to 5pm - the Gordon Balter Memorial Art Show, at Hotel Colinas del Sol, Atenas, Costa Rica.

Gordon Balter was the visionary who recognized that the small town of Atenas, Costa Rica, had a lot of creative artists who should be brought together and encouraged to put on an art show. This we did in 2014 to great success thanks to him.

Gordon was also our good friend and neighbor.  So, in Gordon's memory, we artists have gathered together again for our second show.

This year, the featured artists are Al Alexander, myself, Harriet Sheppard, Jocelyn Farguhar, Sheila Nelson, Julianne Jones and Jan Yatsko. Our work is varied with no two artists doing the same kind of art.

We hope to see many of you at our show.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Friday, July 29, 2016


Before I continue with this post, I want to stress that robberies happen everywhere around the world - in big cities and in small, in occupied and unoccupied homes, and elsewhere.

We are hardly going to leave our adopted town and country to move elsewhere because of this one robbery.

About two weeks ago, a spate of home robberies started in our neighborhood of Vista Atenas. We were the second house to be hit and we lost my cell phone, my camera and my iPad and Lance's computer.

It happened, we dealt with it and we move on. Thanks to our good friends and neighbors, we have the use of borrowed computers for the time being. I have replaced my cell phone and we'll be doing the same with our other electronics.

What I want to focus on here is our interaction with the Atenas police and the Costa Rican judicial system. The police arrived at our house within ten minutes of our call to them. We were told to file a report with the OIJ (Organismo de Investigacion Judicial) the very next day. A report (denuncia) needs to be filed with them before they can start an investigation, enter your property, take fingerprints, etc.

My interview with the OIJ was very positive. I had a translator with me (thank you so much, neighbor Margarita). I have a copy of our denuncia with all details, including serial numbers of computers, etc. The OIJ people are very professional and took us seriously.

The OIJ team were then able to arrive at our house that same day and dusted for fingerprints and took photos of the point of entry into our house. I had to have my fingerprints taken the next day to distinguish mine from the perp's.

Our community has banded together to deal with our present crime problem. We have met with the mayor of Atenas, the chief of police, the head of OIJ and have come up with workable community solutions.

Not to say the problem has been completely solved ... but at least we are working together and we are a tight knit community.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


As I was doing the prep work for our dinner tonight - I like preparing our food ahead of time as much as I can - it occurred to me that much of our dinner was due to our connections here in Costa Rica.

Tonight we are having lentils with sausage and kale. The jalapeño sausages are made by Marcial Artavia, Sperone Italian Sausage, here in Atenas. He sells them at our feria every Friday.

The kale was given to me by our friend and neighbor, Sharon (owner of the famed dog Diogi). Sharon also gave us a bag of lettuce and a yummy quiche which we had for dinner the other night. All bought at another feria (farmers' market).

The onions, garlic and carrot that go into this dish came from the markets in Atenas. So as I chop and cook, it is nice to know that so much of what we are eating here in Costa Rica is local.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


I've always been intrigued with orchid plants. I had a collection when we lived outside Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When we decided to move to Costa Rica, I gave them all away.

Orchids in Costa Rica are very inexpensive to buy, compared to Canada. Plus, they are so easy to look after. They can stay outside all year around, they don't need greenhouses or special treatment.

I do have to watch out for fungus problems, but I have a spray for that.

Here are photos of one of my favorite orchid plants.



Two flower stems from one orchid, covered in these small flowers.
My "orchid tree". Convenient to have them in one place.

This isn't my entire collection. I have others on windowsills and hanging in other places.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June in Costa Rica

We are about a month and a half into the green (or rainy season). The mornings start out sunny and warm and I try to get my laundry done early and out on the line to dry. Everything has really greened up.

Today, we taxied into Atenas to have lunch with our friends Carol and Paul. We ate at Restaurante Antaño and, as usual, we had good food and good service.

Back home and now it is just a bit after 5:30 pm - we had rain earlier - now we are covered in cloud. Sounds from the neighborhood are muted.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Five Year Anniversary

How the time has flown. On this day five years ago, we first set foot in Costa Rica to make a new life and have a grand adventure.

We have never regretted our decision to pull up roots, downsize our possessions, and explore a country that we had never been to. The country, the people, the weather - everything suits us very well. We have more friends here then we had back in Canada. There are challenges - learning a new language for example. But these are the things that keep a person interested and involved in life.

It is wonderful to be able to explore a place at leisure, absorb the culture and get to know the people. Visiting somewhere for a week is not the same at all.

To those of you who read my blog, a big thank you for being with us on our journey. Here's to many, many more years together.

Here are some retrospective photos:

On the Amtrak Coast Starlight Express - Seattle to San Francisco. Champagne to celebrate.
At our hotel in San Francisco, early morning. Waiting for taxi ride to airport. San Francisco-Dallas-Costa Rica - May 31, 2011.
First meal in Costa Rica - breakfast at the Hotel Aranjuez, San José - June 1, 2011.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

This Week

We have now transitioned into the green, or rainy, season. This season will probably run until November/December when the dry season will start again and the land will turn brown. The dry season is also the high season, when tourists from the cold northern countries arrive here.

Meanwhile, we get to enjoy low hotel rates, vacant beaches, cooling rains, and verdent colors everywhere.

We had a sun shower this afternoon, so I put some of my under cover orchids outside to get some rain.
I put up a sunshade over our patio.