Sunday, October 18, 2015

Weather Update

Yesterday I shared the satellite map showing the storm stuck over Belize. And guess what? The blob is still here.

According to friends of ours who live nearby, we received over 6" of rain yesterday and another 4.5" from a deluge we received this morning. And there's lots more on the way.

After the downpour this morning, our yard and side lane looked rather lake-like.

David took this shot standing at the back of his shop, looking out over a bit of our side yard and lane.

A shot from our back gate and side lane. Almost looks like we live on a canal.
This looking out our back door. Fernando had just put some tomato plants in. Suspect they are doomed. Sorry for the poor quality of the shot, but it was the best I could get from inside.

How some of us spent a rainy Saturday night.
We've been having rolling thunder for the last couple of hours, but at least the rain is no longer teeming down. Something tells me that will be changing.

In the meantime, we're snug and dry, we haven't lost power, internet, or cable, so life is good.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Better Late than Never

We've had an almost non-existent rainy season. But then Mother Nature decided to pay us a visit and let us know she hadn't forgotten about us.

This is our weather forecast for today, courtesy of Weather Underground:

That red marker in the middle of the purple blob is Corozal.

The rain started last night, continued non-stop, and it's still coming down. 

At the moment, the extended forecast calls for 100% chance of precipitation all the way through Tuesday and projections for about 5 1/2 inches of rain over that time period.

It will be interesting to see how the town roads make out with all the new drainage and paving work that's been done. There's no doubt that unpaved side roads will be a mess.

However, we have no plans of going out anytime soon. Instead, with all dogs in the house (and taking over the furniture), some hot tea will be sipped, long pants will be worn, and some chili will be made for dinner.

Friday, September 25, 2015


After weeks, no, months of almost no rain, the weather gods have decided we are due for precipitation. Of course, with rain and occasional bouts of thunder and lightening, it means our outside dogs spend time on the porch, in the house, and generally being underfoot.

And while they frequently spend their days sleeping, no matter where they are, sometimes the monotony becomes too much and some wrasslin' needs to happen.

Sigh, we're bored. What should we do?

BWAHAHA! This is what happens when you say I wrestle like a girl.

Sorry, you know I was just kidding.

What were doing before this? Oh yeah, sleeping.

And by the way...

There has been a slew, a bevy, a veritable plethora of culinary experiments going on for The Wright Table. Check them out, whenever you have a moment.

Vinegar Braised Chicken

Pasta with Shrimp and Chorizo

Ricotta Stuffed Pork Chops

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Homemade Pici Pasta

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Slices of Life from Belize - August 23, 2015

Rainy Season Update

Well this entry will be brief, because we've hardly had any rain. Oh sure, a few storms have blown through, but in no way dropping enough water to keep things lush and growing. One of our local news stations, 7 News Belize, ran an article about the situation with this headline: "Min. of Agriculture: There is a Northern Drought (Duh)". You can read the article here.

Farmers are really bearing the brunt of the weather situation. Crops, especially corn, have been turning yellow from lack of water. Our trees and shrubs almost all have a yellow tinge, and our grass is turning brown and crunchy.

David was saying just the other day that we want and need rain so badly, he wouldn't care that we would have the dogs cooped up in the house with us, should the rain gods decide to visit. That's really saying something.

And Speaking of Dogs

Say hello to the newest addition to the Wright household:

This is CC. She's about a year old and still has some puppyish behaviors. But talk about a sweet and smart girl! We adopted her a few weeks ago. When it came time to introduce her to the rest of the pack, we had Fernando work his magic. We knew it wouldn't take much time for our dog, Sam, to adapt. And it didn't. Within about 20 minutes of being gently introduced, the two of them were fine. Then it came time to introduce CC to Lizi who had established herself as the alpha dog. This took longer with some growls and snarls from both parties. Through Fernando's patience, the girls decided they could find a common ground.

Over the ensuing days, CC, using her cute, puppy ways and her smarts, ended up almost taking up the top dog spot. We kept waiting for Lizi to show who was boss, but it seems she doesn't mind not being in control. We expect CC to fully take over the alpha dog spot any day now.

Lizi and CC

And what about Olivia and the cat? Well, Olivia put her blinders on and totally ignored CC for the first few days. I think once she realized that CC wasn't going anywhere, she took the blinders off and accepted her.

The cat, on the other hand, quickly realized she had one more being that she could dominate and control. There have been many an occasion when CC has been in on the porch that the cat makes a running dash out there, does a ninja move, complete with a hiss, that scares CC and makes her squeal like a little girl. 

But now that time has passed, even those two get along just fine. 

If someone had ever told me we would own four dogs and a cat -- all at the same time -- I would not have believed it. But now I can't imagine our lives without them.

The Latest from The Wright Table

Whenever you have a moment, pop on over to The Wright Table to check out the latest dishes, including:

Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad with Sesame Dressing

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Man the Barricades

Our fence line has recently come under attack, necessitating the creation of barricades.

Along various sections of our fence, sticks have been driven into the ground to keep the intruder at bay.

And who or what might this intruder be? This wily little creature:

It's our next door neighbor's dog. She has been getting out of their yard and coming by to say "Hi!" to our dogs. As she runs around our fence line, she figures out a spot she can dig under the fence to come on in and play. 

It's obvious that she's lonely and wants to be friends, going so far as to immediately fall to the ground with her belly up to show she isn't to be feared.

And while I feel sorry for her, every spot she digs under the fence means an opportunity for our dogs to get out. Hence the barricades.

We've brought the situation to the attention of our neighbors, but results have been rather hit or miss. Some days she stays in their yard, other days, not so much.

One might ask about contacting an agency, such as animal control, to help resolve the problem. The thing is, there are no such agencies like that here. Matter of fact, the overriding attitude toward dogs is pretty abysmal. Not many dogs are considered pets, but rather four-legged alarm systems who live their lives chained up. Most dogs have never been to a vet, had shots, been fixed or even adequate nutrition. Strays roam almost all the streets scrounging for whatever scraps they can find. It's sad, disheartening, and difficult to deal with. 

There are some grass roots efforts taking place to raise awareness about animal welfare and some slow, but steady progress is being made. 

In the meantime, we have sticks at the ready to build more barricades.

Updates to The Wright Table

Even when living in a tropical paradise, there are days/weeks that feel like I've been given a free rail pass for the Crazy Train. To regain some balance, I spend time in the kitchen.

Here are some dishes that soothed my soul and appeared on The Wright Table:

Chicken Tinga

Nicoise Toasts

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Whitefish with Citrus-Olive-Caper Sauce

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kitchen Fun

We may be in the throes of rainy season, but no matter what the weather, I can always find ways to keep myself occupied in the kitchen.

The last week was no exception and there are new posts on The Wright Table blog chronicling my latest culinary adventures, including:

Roasted Tomato Spread

A cinch to do and great for when tomatoes are out of season.

Having fun with butter molds

Because a bit of whimsy on a plate is a good thing.

Sophisticated Saltines

These are not your mama's crackers.

Garganelli (Homemade Penne)

A great way to get your Zen on while making a delightful pasta.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The New Normal during Rainy Season

Rainy season is upon us. 

Now that we've lived here for three years, we know the drill that becomes our new normal from June through October. Some examples:

  • We realize, but don't always graciously accept that there will be stray storms that occur in the wee hours of morning. These storms will wake us up from a deep sleep and require herding dogs inside and battening down louvers. Sinking back into REM sleep will not happen on those nights.

  • The dust pan, brush, bucket, and mop are on constant standby. This is due to the muddy paw prints that inevitably appear on the porch floor. No matter how fast you try to snag the dogs as they come inside, chances are the one with the most mud on their feet will slip by.

  • Unpaved roads, of which there are many, will become mud slicks hiding pot holes. Part of the challenge and adventure is trying to guess how big and deep the pot holes are.

  • Unexpected rains will almost always occur when (a) laundry is on the line, (b) the pool has just been filled, or (c) the floors are freshly mopped. If all three of these actions happen the same day, you can bet Mother Nature will get even...big time.
  • Power outages will occur, sometimes multiple times a day. This will mean resetting clocks and the pool pump multiple times a day.
  • Sinus medication will be kept in supply for me, especially if there is a slow moving front that comes through. Puffy eyes and congestion are not things of beauty.
  • We will have all three dogs inside the house during the time it is raining, especially if there is thunder involved.

    While Sam and Olivia seem unperturbed by wet weather,

    Lizi is a whole other story.

She can sense thunder when it's miles and miles away. Panic quickly sets in and she needs the safety of being in the house, near one of us, to calm down. 

And the cat?

Oy, the cat! During storms she either is asleep in one of her various nooks (like the top of the kitchen cabinets), tantalizing Olivia, or seeing how far she can push her luck with Lizi. Bronte and Lizi have a begrudging acceptance of one another, but there are days when all of the animals are inside that growls and hisses are overheard.

All in all though, we are fortunate that all the pets do get along for the most part and would make it through a major storm without mishap.

And what about David and me and how we spend rainy days? Well David is usually on his computer, puttering around his shop, or reading books.

I am usually in the kitchen, especially if I know we will be getting hit with wet weather for a couple days running. Matter of fact, I just spent the last two days making two dishes -- Lasagne Bolognese and Sticky Chicken. Take a side trip over The Wright Table to get all the yummy details.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Feeling Peckish?

If you're in the mood for a nosh or a bit of a sweet treat, why not pop over to The Wright Table?

The latest recipes include...

A cool and refreshing mango cucumber salsa served with juicy burgers.

Egg crepes, bacon, tomato, and avocado nestled in focaccia.

And last, but not least, an "explosive" chocolate roulade to satisfy the most demanding sweet tooth.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Slightly Surreal Stateside Trip

Last week we traveled to the States (specifically Hendersonville, NC) to visit David’s mom, who is waiting to find out when/if she can get clearance from her doctors for hip replacement surgery.  We hadn’t been back for three years, due to the length of time it took to get our Permanent Residency for Belize. Needless to say, there was some culture shock to get over, but more on that in a moment.

We arrived at the Charlotte Douglas airport around 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. I called the hotel we were booked with, prior to our departure, to make arrangements for their shuttle to pick us up. I was told to call the hotel upon our arrival and head to Zone D. After collecting our checked bag, we made our way to the courtesy phone. Our hotel wasn’t listed as an option. Not seeing a pay phone in the immediate vicinity, we then went to the customer service desk. A misnomer if there ever was one. I told the gentleman (I use the term loosely) about the courtesy phone, and asked if there was a pay phone nearby to call our hotel. He let me know, in a very gruff manner that there were no pay phones and to just use our cell phone. I tried to explain that we live in Central America and our cell phones don’t work in the States. I then asked what he suggested we do. After much grumbling, he finally offered to call our hotel. I showed him our receipt that had our names and confirmation number. When he connected to the front desk of the hotel, the person obviously asked for our names. The guy refused to supply that info, nor would he give the confirmation number. He got frustrated with the hotel rep and ended up hanging up on her.

Fortunately for us, there was a gentleman (in the truest sense of the word) standing next to us and overheard our dilemma. He graciously let us use his cell phone.  He explained that he was having a bad day and maybe some positive karma would come his way by doing something nice for someone. I do hope that positive karma found its way to him as much as the negative karma should come to rest on the customer service guy.

We made it to our hotel and asked for the shuttle service back to the airport the next morning for our flight to Asheville. The only slot open that would get us to the Charlotte airport in enough time was 7 a.m. A bit earlier than we wanted, but better early than late.

The next morning, we went downstairs a bit before the shuttle departure time to return our room keys. When we glanced out the door, we noticed the hood of the shuttle van was open and the driver was trying to get it jump started. Not an auspicious start to the day. After a bit of time, the van roared to life and we were ready to hit the road. About halfway to the airport, a young lady sitting behind us mentioned that she forgot to get her $50 cash deposit back from the front desk. At this point, it was almost 7:30, she had a 7:55 flight, and wanted to know if there was time to turn around. After much discussion, it was suggested she call the hotel and have them send her a check and she wouldn’t miss her flight. Fortunately, all worked in her favor.

We proceeded to the airport check-in area so we could check our bag to Asheville. I let the airline rep know that I had a receipt showing we had already paid the baggage fee online. She said we still had to enter the info into the kiosk. Okey-dokey. But as we went through the screens, the message came up that we needed to pay $25, again. I let the rep know we already paid it, and she said we should have told her that before. Ummm…anyway, our bag got checked and we didn’t need to pay any more money.

The flight to Asheville was uneventful, always a good thing. David’s mom had arranged to have a car service from her retirement village pick us up. In short order, we were in her apartment and settled in for a visit before going out to lunch.
Later that afternoon, we headed over to our hotel to check-in. David’s mom generously let us use her car the entire time we were there, so no rental cars came into play.

Our room at the Day’s Inn was actually better furnished than I expected and that’s pretty much where the niceties ended. Granted you get what you pay for, but in the following days the housekeeping staff consistently forgot to leave coffee and cups. And the Internet connection was painfully slow. I swear we have faster speeds here in little Belize than there.

So now for the culture shock section of the story. After living in a very small town with dirt roads, few street lights, no traffic lights, and rather beat up cars, it was amazing to see so many new vehicles. There was nary a cracked windshield to be found! The volume of traffic was also a reality check, along with the banks of traffic lights and all the signage.

The stores were another matter altogether. We don’t have big box or large grocery stores here in Corozal. Instead we have lots of mom and pop places, meaning you need to make multiple stops to get your grocery shopping done. I almost forgot what it is like to be able to go into one store and get everything on your list. And I almost forgot about all of the choices there are for any given product. It was a bit daunting, but we had a list of odds and ends we wanted to look for, so that kept us focused.

Now let’s talk about the weather. This time of year in Belize we have “feel like” temps that are in the triple digits. The humidity is at least 85%, often higher. We have no A/C, but rely on ceiling fans, as do most of the shops here. This wasn’t the case in North Carolina. Our hotel room contained a unit to provide heat or air and the window didn’t open. All the stores had their A/C on. I quickly learned to take my shawl wherever we went. There were a couple of days where the humidity was around 37%. Eye drops and saline nose spray became my constant companions.

We were fortunate to have some great meals and two, in particular, really stood out. The first was the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, located in Mills River (a short drive from downtown Hendersonville). In addition to their large selection of beers, their food menu contains a plethora of interesting options. David, his mom, and I opted to share a few plates and landed on Duck Fat Fries (thrice-cooked fries, duck cracklings, aged cheddar, hot sauce aioli, and raspberry mustard), Wood Roasted Mushroom Baguette (confit cipollini onions, thyme, arugula, aged balsamic, and manchego cheese), and last, but not least, the Mason Jar Salad (spinach, tomato, cucumber, Kalamata olives, house feta cheese, red wine vinaigrette, and croutons). All three dishes were amazingly good. But if these aren’t enough to tempt you, they also pig cheeks with a porter demi-glace, bone marrow served on crostini and served with beer jam, and charred onion pesto pizza to name just a few of the dining delights.

The other restaurant we were smitten with is called Never Blue, located right on Main Street in Hendersonville. I love that they offer big and small plates, especially for those of us that don’t have massive appetites. David and I decided we would share three small plates: lump crab cakes, chicken liver and duck fat pate, served with flatbread, and for “dessert”, devils on horseback (almond stuffed dates, wrapped in bacon and deep fried topped with crumbled goat cheese, almond dust and mango honey). Swoon-worthy to be sure.

We planned to make a return visit to Never Blue for lunch on Friday, but the Internet gods had other plans for us.  After running some errands Friday morning, we decided to return to our room to check emails and confirm that our Saturday flights were still a go. We were using David’s new laptop and when I pulled up the website for US Air, numerous warning messages opened in new browser tabs. The messages all said, “WARNING Will Robinson! DANGER! Do not pass go! Do not collect $200! Stop everything and call this service number NOW!”

So okay, maybe that wasn’t the exact wording, but you get the idea. Something was seriously wrong. We discovered at that point that the phone in our hotel room would not let us make outgoing calls. Super! Fortunately we had a cell phone on loan from David’s mom.

David called the tech support number, described the warning messages, and found out that his laptop had been severely hacked. He was then transferred to another tech group who gave us a choice: We could take the laptop to a local Geek Squad and have them wipe the malware off the system. This would take anywhere from seven to 10 days and the laptop would need to be shipped to Belize. Cost: $150. The other option was for the tech squad to fix the problem online, real time for a cost of $300.

We opted for the online, real time solution. The tech squad took over control of the laptop and for about the next three and a half hours, they worked their magic while staying in contact with David via the cell phone. Finally it looked like the laptop was back to normal. David could finally hang up the cell phone and he fired up a new browser window. And guess what? Yep, he got hacked again.

Back to calling the tech support guys and another two hours or so later, all was well. David immediately shut down the laptop for fear of getting hacked a third time. We suspect the network at the hotel was breached. David tried to explain what happened and our suspicions to the person at the front desk, but they were less than interested.

We managed to unwind over a nice dinner and some lovely wine, then hit the sack to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for our departure home on Saturday morning. Our flights were on time, with no glitches. We sailed through immigration and customs in Belize and were greeted with friendly smiles by all the agents. By the by, a nice perk of having permanent residency is that you get to go through the shorter line for immigration, instead of waiting your turn in the long “visitors” line. When we got outside the airport, my first words were, “Humidity! Boy I’ve missed you!”

All in all our trip had a somewhat surreal quality to it. Everything we saw in Hendersonville looked familiar, but something seemed to have changed. I think what has changed is me. I’ve gotten used to a slower pace of life, not needing all the “stuff” I seemed to think was important, and am happy without all the hustle and bustle. It’s good to be home.

P.S. When David fired up his laptop when we got home, it worked perfectly – no virus attacks, which makes us think all the more that the hotel’s network was breached.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Hot Clothing Option

As I write this post, the temperature is pegged at 84 degrees, humidity at 95%, and a "feel like" temperature of 101 degrees.

Now I report this info not to weather gloat in any way, shape, or form. Rather, I share this data to explain my latest clothing purchase.

Yes, it is a caftan. A 100% cotton caftan, I might add.

If I had been told three years ago that one of these would be in my closet and that I would want to wear every blessed day when it's hot, I would not have believed it.

But it's the perfect thing to swan around the house in (because swans and I have so much in common) or throw over a bathing suit. In short, it is one of the best clothing decisions I have ever made. It also means I will be buying more of them.

Now as long as I don't trip over the hem...

P.S. If you haven't checked out The Wright Table recently, you might want to give it a peek, especially if Chicken Bacon Pasta or Pork Adobo strike your fancy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring in Ranchito

I love the plants and trees in our yard year round. But it's this time of year when something magical happens. The yard is packed with so many colors.

Let me take you on a tour to show some of my favorites.

One of many hibiscus

The bougainvillea is in full, glorious bloom 

These peachy-pink ones are a favorite of mine

Then again, the red ones are also very pretty

Oranges are ripening up

This lime is ready to be picked and, boy, is this a delicious variety

Another crop of apple bananas forthcoming

Our lemon tree!

Cactus flowers almost ready to pop

Even some orchids have started making an appearance

And just how gorgeous is this?
For those of you still battling snow storms and ice (Jayne and Steve), please know that you will be surrounded by all of this and more in just a couple of weeks. Until then, be warm and safe my friends!