Friday, January 3, 2020

Good, Kitty!

I don't know if any of you are Muppets fans, but I love the character Rizzo the Rat in their version of The Christmas Carol. Well, I did. It is possible that my cat killed him last night. Or at least one of his friends. When I saw how big the dead rat was out behind our basketball net (after I missed a shot and the ball rolled next to it), my first thought was that it looked fake. Only puppet rats are that big. My next thought was, "Sammy so paid us back for that can of tuna Christmas morning!" And my final thought was, I am so not picking that up! Thank the Lord for husbands!

Good, Sammy!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Moo, Neigh, Bleat, Cock-a-doodle-doo

How many people are laying on their couch on a Sunday morning (OK, I am going to church later, don't judge) and see large animals walk by? Two weeks ago it was a herd of horses. Today it was cows. Sometimes it's chickens and roosters. On other blocks it's sheep or goats.

It wouldn't be strange if we lived out in the country or in the mountains. But we live in a large city, in a nice development. I'm trying to imagine my parents' reaction if a herd of cows walked past their front windows in their neighborhood in the U.S. I feel sure some kind of phone call to someone would need to happen. Here it is commonplace.

Living in the D.R. is a little bit like living with Mary Poppins. You never know what you might see. Expect the unexpected ...

My picture of the cows below is, as my son commented, anti-climactic, but I was not prepared for the photo and I assumed they were gone until I heard mooing from down the street. So you get to see some specks in the distance and trust me that it's a herd of cows.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Amoebic Prevention . . .

So I do not claim to be an underreactor.

My kids and husband would certainly not describe me as such; I am rarely accused of keeping calm and failing to take action when action was (or was not) warranted. There is a special look and tone used by my husband when he feels I am unnecessarily alarming the children by my response to something.

But every now and then . . . you're welcome!

Due to an intervention (albeit caused by a freak out, perhaps), usually triggered by a strong mommy instinct and some google searches, disaster is averted. Or may have been averted, because often "unnecessary" interventions can't really be proven unless no action is taken. For example, if a blog writer interrupts a blog post about overreacting in order to track down a mosquito for a longer time than one might usually bother, we would call him or her a hero if that mosquito is carrying Dengue or some other nasty virus. But since the only way we'd know is by letting it go and inevitably infecting an unsuspecting victim later, we would probably assume the hunt was just an overreaction. This is, naturally, a purely hypothetical speculation.

Anyway, Jesse was the beneficiary (or victim) of my overreacting today. And he insisted that I blog about it--he thinks my readers will be interested. He is, in fact, my overreactor-in-training.

While my children were scavenging for their lunches from the limited supplies in our refrigerator, I was hunting mosquitoes, coincidentally, in the garage. When I came back in and reports were given me of the various lunch items eaten in my absence, Jesse unwittingly shared that he had eaten some of the raw bok choi in the container he found.

Freak out.

In the sunny Dominican Republic, where palm trees and tropical fruits abound, we have some nasty parasites and amoebas to avoid in raw produce and water.

Veggies I expect us to eat raw, once they are cleaned by soaking them in a vinegar and filtered water solution for 20 minutes, I store in a tupperware or ziploc bag. However, when my maid helps me by cutting up green beans or bok choi or broccoli for me to cook for dinner, she also puts them in a tupperware. This system has served us well for seven years, but today my son went rogue and ate a new veggie raw.

Since my husband was at work, there was no one to say that it would all be fine and to give me that special look and voice tone.

I did try to backtrack after my initial response and tell Jesse that very likely he did, in fact, not pick up an amoeba or parasite from the raw produce he ate. It was more like playing a lottery no one wants to win and he just needed to avoid playing in future. But as the son of an overreactor, he did not find it all that comforting that he probably did not have one.

So I googled. And gave Jesse the following Dominican home remedies:

  • garlic and carrot (this was supposed to be juiced, but I do not have a juicer and our blender is broken, so I made him a little salad with some vinegar, yum!)
  • fresh oregano and clove tea (I have oregano growing in my garden)
  • a ginger candy
  • yogurt
  • a drop of peppermint extract
OK, the last two aren't Dominican, they were just bonus. And I realized that probably all of the other stuff killed whatever good bacteria were living in the yogurt, but it can't have hurt. He told me all of that gave him some powerful breath and made his stomach churn a little.

I'm guessing that even if Jesse happened to have eaten something nasty, we killed it. If he didn't, well, then I guess all that was an overreaction. And I guess we'll never know which it was . . .

Saturday, April 27, 2019

It's a Girl! (Garden News Only)

We had given up on getting fruit from our guava tree, which sprouted from a seed and after five years is now as high as our roof, assuming based on what a friend said that if it didn't bloom after three years it was "macho," a boy tree. Because it conveniently planted itself where I later had room for a compost pileback when I was not working as much and had more free time for such endeavors in the Pre-"We-Got-a-Rat" Era of living in this house, when a compost heap seemed less like feeding rodentsit grew ridiculously large and robust quickly. Its fruitlessness seemed another ironic mockery of my failure as a tropical gardeneralong with my stolen bags of topsoil, birds eating my tiny red beet shoots, aphids covering my kale (since the netting blocking out the birds offered them great protection), and my tomato plant which made one dime-sized (or, rather, five peso-sized) tomato. 

But this week Abigail noticed that the tree has some pretty amazing bright red flowers. So we're hopeful. The mother tree (our neighbors cut it down right after this tree sprout came up) had these amazing yellow guavas that you can't buy at the grocery store (they only sell the thicker, not as tasty green ones).

I should add that today Owen looked online and saw that a tree starting from seed should take eight to ten years to bear fruit, so we may actually be years ahead of schedule. Probably due to the former compost pile at the tree's base.

Here are some other spring blooms at our house:

The aloe flower is, frankly, a little ugly, but when it blooms (which happens once a year at most for just a day or two) in the next few days we'll get this cute little bird that comes to drink its nectar each time.

This wild orchid is deceptively flashy-looking in a picture. The blooms are so small, few, and subtle that they are almost unnoticeable.

And I don't know what this is called, but it is what is still thriving now that our super-hot spring weather is winning out over the flowers that thrived here all winter.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lazy Homemade Fermented Beverages: Ginger Ale, Tea, and Hybiscus . . .

After trying and wildly modifying a terrible recipe for ginger ale that was a ton of work and, randomly, salty (my kids wouldn't drink the first batch), I hit upon a super easy and delicious recipe. Based on my experience with kefir, which grows on the counter while I do nothing but add milk, I thought I could probably do something similar with a ginger ale recipe.

So I added one lime and about a half cup of sugar and some cut up ginger to the jar and filled it with water along with a teaspoon of whey (which I have on hand, the clear part of the kefir that separates from the curds when making kefir). And I knew from experience that the slightly milky coating on the bottom of the jar was full of yeast and bacteria. And so after I finished drinking my first batch of ginger ale, instead of throwing everything out and starting again as I the recipe I looked at suggested, I left the last half inch of liquid on the bottom and kept the same ginger pieces in the jar. Then I added sugar, lemon, and water and left it on the counter overnight. It worked! A little fizzy, sweet, slightly tart, and refreshing!

I passed on my idea with a little whey to a friend at work, and she started making it and drinking it every day. She wanted to know why I haven't tried any variations yet. I was surprised at that, because why would you vary perfect? But that got me thinking and today I started two new batches. One is dried hibiscus leaves with honey and a teaspoon of whey. The other is green tea bags with honey and whey (this one already smells amazing). The key for my method is to leave something in the jar at the end. So I'll leave the hibiscus in the bottom. And I'll probably end up rinsing the tea bags off really well back into the jar before I replace them, maybe every second or third time I make it?

The beauty of this kind of lazy fermenting is that you get the health benefits of the healthy yeasts and bacteria, a drink that is honestly much better-tasting than soda, and the work of only filling a bottle with water and adding some water (and sometimes lemon) and sugar (or honey). Love it!!

I thought I'd pass it on in case anyone wanted to try it!

True confession: I measure nothing, so all above measurements are guesses.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

What Goes Past My House

A man selling avocados ("Aaaaaaguacateeee!!")

A man selling long brushes for cleaning the ceiling

A pack of horses

A man selling eggs


A man collecting plastic bottles to recycle

Jehovah's witnesses (every Saturday)

Rushing water after a rain storm

The fresh produce truck with loudspeakers

Boys on bikes


Roosters and chickens

Trash truck (on a random schedule)

Cars with loud speakers

People begging

The men collecting money for security

A man trying to sell his watermelon

Church folks collecting birthdates and info for the local catholic church

The pack of loud-talking early morning walkers

A pair of armed security guards on a moto

Monday, February 20, 2017

Florida Christmas

 Thanks to the generosity of some stellar grandparents, the Davis family spent Christmas in Orlando.

We saw Kennedy Space Center.


Magic Kingdomed.

 Met Jack Sparrow. 

 Hugged a princess.

Pretended to see Europe.

Pretended to see Morocco.



Posed some more.

 Read with Meme.

Got attacked by Storm Troopers.

Posed again, then found a Starbucks and ate our carrots.

 Then we were Jedis . . .

It was a great trip, and I'm only a month and a half late in the telling.  But you know, better late than never, right?

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Thanks to a good friend, I have a chinola (aka passionfruit) growing out back.  We developed a complex collection system with a container, a string, a stick, and three people.  They are great for juice or to eat cut in half with a spoon and drizzled with honey.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pumpkin Time!

I was impressed.  I actually found this pumpkin for $10, which I'm guessing is just what it would have cost in the states.  I'm also very proud of how much of the insides we were able to scrape out to use for making pie or cobbler (which is why it's kind of see-through).  Each kid designed a zone of the face: Micah eyes, Abigail nose, and Jesse mouth.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tooth Out!

Abigail lost her first tooth!  It wasn't exactly a "natural" occurance--more like one knock too many to the same front tooth, this time from wrestling her brother--but anyway, it is lost!  And a dollar is earned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Family Walk

A great family walk, mildly affected by a temporary downpour.

Kids perching up on our gate like always

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hermit Crab Owners

When Abigail picked up a bug at the beach and petted it for two hours, I finally felt sufficient guilt to explore some sort of pet for her.  Since anything that poops or has hair is out (because we don't want to deal with them and because we leave for five weeks at a time in summer), and fish are very difficult to pet, and snakes are just not overly appealing, and turtles carry salmonella . . . there wasn't a lot to go on.  But I finally hit on the idea of hermit crabs.  And we are all in.  

We meant to pick up three on the beach but couldn't stop ourselves, so we have five.
We tried the wire cage but had multiple escapes and a few got stuck, so we're using an aquarium.
I wasn't sure if Abigail would be brave enough to hold them, but she carries them all over the house a lot of the day.  She was shocked at the actual work of cleaning water bowls and changing food and whatnot (I spent a whopping six to eight hours getting everything set up in the last few days and making water drinkable and buying special salt and getting a lid made to fit the cage and cleaning and prepping TWO cages--this is a time-consuming pet so far).  But it makes no noise and doesn't shed and doesn't go outside to use the bathroom, so we're doing pretty well all things considered.  Her brothers like them, too.

She named them Buttercup, Johnny, Mountain-Climber, Big Guy, and Hermie.  Interestingly, they've almost all changed their shells already--one did twice the first day.  It makes it hard to tell them apart.  Because the shells change daily for some!

I must say, in defense of the hermit crab as a pet, that they eat whatever we eat (specifically what we-my-healthy-food-family eat--the web page I saw said they eat like your mom and doctor would want you to eat); they can be held as much as you want; they are very portable (I can move their whole house and temporarily put them in a tupperware if I need to); they are free (if you live near tropical beaches); they are low maintenance (as long as you live in hot, humid climates) unless they are molting (when I think they could possibly attack each other? more on that later); and they are not big poopers.  Maybe not so cute and cuddly as some pets, but we are very satisfied customers!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hummingbird Nest

Hummingbird nest in front of our porch.  We'll see if anything comes of it--the opening is actually underneath, so I can't imagine how it would hold eggs.  Maybe a wind storm tipped it over?  It was built while we were gone.

Summer Pictures

I thought I'd put some summer photos of the kids on my blog (a few of my readers let me know it has been too long)!  Here are just a few of the highlights from our trip to the U.S.

Abigail's Birthday:

Hiking Trip:

Polo game:

 NYC Trip

Right before our fountain shot, which Owen says is the fountain from "Elf" (favorite Christmas movie), we had to wait in a big crowd while they filmed a fake shooting.  It was a little bizarre, especially explaining what was going on to Abigail.  "Well, they're making a grown-up movie and someone's going to get shot in the movie and the police are going to come, but it's all pretend, they're not really shooting anyone. . . No, there's no bullets.  Yeah, not a movie we'd let you see, don't know which one.  Those people are acting, they're not scared, they're all pretending."

The Lion King:

Look!  The Davis family with Simba!!

Some of these pictures aren't so good; we had a cheap pre-pay phone for while we were there that didn't take the best pictures.

Hope your summer is going well!  We had fun and we're happy to be back home!