Back in the USA- Austin, Texas & Santa Rosa, California

Kris and i have been having a great time here in the states visiting the kids. One daughter graduated from the UT Doctorate Program in Physics, we were so happy and proud to be able to be there when she received her diploma. She and her husband will soon be leaving for the Seattle to start work for Microsoft. We had a great time in Austin and can’t wait to visit the kids in Seattle later this year.  And when we visit them it will give us a good excuse to take an Alaskan Cruise, (Seattle being so close to Alaska it just makes sense, right?) ……………….

From Austin we flew up to San Francisco where our son-in-law picked us up and whisked away to Santa Rosa to our other daughter and new grandson.  it was great to see the brand new baby and his beautiful mother and beaming father. M1060009

Camden is their first child and we will try to help out with the house and baby while mommy gets stronger and daddy gets some sleep.

Here is Kris and Camden, born on May 5th.M1070001

Santa Rosa is very beautiful, the weather is cool for us Davidians, it’s 66F now at 6pm and will dip to 44F tonight. We miss David and our friends but will certainly enjoy this wonderful time with family.  We have a lots of exciting  things coming up and will keep posting as we go so folks can see what we’re up to.

We might be up to something in David but I can’t tell you what it is now and possibly jinx it……….



*The Highlands of Volcan, cool and only 1 hour away!*

Kris said, “Hey, let’s jump in the car and go to Volcan!” Why not, Volcan is only 55 minutes from my house in David. We live 6 minutes north of the Pan American highway and just go west on it for about 25 minutes then turn north at Conception and start heading uphill until we reach Volcan. And what a ride it is-I was driving so Kris got to look at the scenery more since I REALLY needed to keep my eyes on the road, two lane and twisty as it was.But I did get to go slow or stop and took a few pictures. Please ignore the incorrect date on the photos:)009005004006007008The last shot is of Volcan Baru, the highest peak in Panama. Volcan the town is at the 4,200′ level, Baru rises to 11,398 and gets down to 30 at night.

Kris will have more on an upcoming post, be sure to take a look, we have some interesting shots of veggies being grown on impossibly steep hillsides!

The trip was good for the body and mind, we saw some friends, cooled off compared to our area (70 vs 90) and saw some pretty magical landscapes. If you are in our area I highly recommend taking the drive, I think you’ll like it.



*Cheap drugs in David- (to fight cold symptoms:)*

I’m talking about legal drugs, that is, the kind you can buy over the counter here at Arrocha in the Terronal Mall. When the total for the 3 items came to $8.06 it was a lot cheaper that I had expected. When I got home I went online to see the prices of the same or comparable medicines.

The Aleve was 12 tablets for $3.25 with a jubilado discount of .65 it came to $2.60. Online the same drug was $6.00.

The Sinutab Plus NS D was $2.96 , with discount of .57 it came to  $2.39.

The last item was similar to Robotussin called Alicol Jarabe, at $3.96, .79 discount brought it down to $3.17.ImageMy total here in David came to $8.06, the online total was around $18, less than half the online price which I guess would be pretty close to what I would have paid at CVS in Florida where I used to live.

With the $10 I saved I could buy a couple of big Macs, or better yet, a lot of fresh fruit at the local fruit stand.M2840001

Ok, you’ve seen this photo before and know that I could only get about !/2 for $10, the hard part would be WHAT NOT to get!

But, since we’re finishing off the last of the watermelon, you know where I’m headed….:)



What gets hot HAS to cool down, doesn’t it ?

David is not as hot as Lancaster, California or Manhattan, KS  but at 97F it sure isn’t COOL! Since we don’t have AC I’ve been taking 2-4 showers a day and that did the trick. Even at 97 it was so dry that I wasn’t sweating, just felt like the oven door had been left open. All that changed yesterday…. M2910006Kris trying out the “computer in a hammock on a rainy day” concept.

M2910005It looks like Kris is  getting wet but the roof extends 5′ past the hammock

Coming from freezing Portland, Maine to cooking David, Panama the extreme climate change took the wind out of my sails last week but then came….THE RAIN!

M2910007Thunder, lightning and lots of cooling rain. They say the rainy season starts on April 15 but if it wants to come early, let it come.M2910008

I’m actually comfortable while writing this post, it’s so nice to have some cooler weather back. Now we get to watch everything green up again,




*All’s well in Portland and I’m home in Panama*

My trip to Portland is now history. I was quite sure that 75 State Street would be a nice place and it turned out better than we expected. I hustled and got Ma’s one bedroom apartment furnished with all that she needed in record time. M2810004The Maine Mall was mere minutes away, Best Buy and Walmart had most of what she needed, kitchen appliances, plates, containers, etc.M2810001The furniture came from Hub Furniture which was in a 100 year old warehouse with little heat. Couch, desk, recliner, end tables, drop leaf kitchen table with two chairs were qujickly picked out at 11 o’clock and they delivered and set it all up at 2. We were amazed at their delivery speed and happy with the overall quality and look of the rooms when furnished.M2810007 M2810002Portland has quite a long history and 20% of Maine’s population lives there. The roads are great, they have a good hospital (actually two), there are PLENTY of restaurants and folks are always out and about even in cold weather. Spring and summer will bring nice weather and the folks at 75 State who can get out WILL get out in the gardens and beyond. Ma is looking forward to riding the ferry and seeing old friends and relatives.M2810011Ma has a kitchen and usually takes the dinner (noon) meal downstairs in the dining hall which is bright and lovely! I ate there twice and the food is great as is the service. The staff and residents we met were wonderful and helpful. I felt that Kris and I had done the best we could in finding a good, safe place that would provide what we could not here in Panama. She now has friends of her generation and should she need assistance at any time she needs only to press the button on her medical alert device. Ma will be able to communicate with nearly everyone there and that alone is HUGE!

Ma had a fall in the hotel room when I was there and went today to have 6 stitches removed. It looked bad when it happened but at the ER nothing major was detected, and she healed up quickly as usual. It was a wake up call of how fast bad things can happen and it’s good to have help available. 022We will stay in touch via email and Skype, Ma’s been internet savvy for over 15 years and it’s a blessing!!!

All’s well that ends well and this turned out better than any of us ever imagined!



*Just a walkin’ in the Rain…The Frog Blog*

Kris and I decided to walk rather than bike, we can take time to stand and look at things as long as necessary, and it’s an nice change-up anyway. We walked through our neighborhood, out the entrance to the right, and then headed down to the river. M2650012

The sky was gray and maybe if we were lucky it could break the hot weather we’ve been having and rain. The over cast sky made for some interesting photos, mostly of frogs for me. We got halfway home before we started to get wet, the rain cooled everything off, it’s 84 inside and now I’m actually chilly with the fan on me as I type. Gotta love it! Here are the photos- Click on them to enlarge!

I'm 1/4" long, so what?

I’m 1/4″ long, so what?

Muck in a backwater area

Muck in a backwater area

Rock, feather, flower

Rock, feather, flower Click on me to enlarge!
upside down is good

upside down is good

Something we haven't seen in a while- a rain soaked street!

Something we haven’t seen in a while- a rain soaked street!

Many large bananas!

Many large bananas, looks like 100 or so!

If no one beats me to them, those bananas are MINE! I’ll push the plant over (it’s HUGE, probably 15′-20′ tall!) and chop the bunch off. They’re located across the street from our house in the pine forest. I got a bunch of small, pink bananas last month and they are just now ripening and wonderful. I don’t know about these but willing to bet they taste great. We’ll see….



Su Carne Rib Eye over a Wood Grill = Much improved Flavor!

Ma reminded me of a photo from the 1950’s where I was about 11 and standing watching some women in Guam roast a chicken on a wood fire they had started at the beach. If they could do it, so could I!M2590029I concocted a plan- dig up some large rocks from the yard, scour the forest across the street for wood, and get some sort of metal grill to put the steak on.M2590024I got the rocks and wood and the toaster oven was the grill donor.M2590029I let the fire get down to mostly coals and put on the steaks.M2590032I had run an electric cord out to the tree so I had electricity for my little light.M2590037I taste tested a bite, too rare, back on the fire.M2590048Above- Potato, sour cream and butter, cheyote, Rib Eyes steak and Balboa, YES! The steak was not too rare or done, it was the way I liked it. Ma had a separate piece, she managed to eat half and save some for tomorrow.M2590009Above – This photo has nothing to do with steak, fires or beer, but Kris took it today and I wanted to share all the colors with you. By the way, it was 95+ here today. Definitely a 4 shower day!

The verdict: the steak was a little chewy but the wood fire and smoke VASTLY improved the taste over the last steaks broiled in the toaster oven.

M2590049Kris made some Corvina, I had a bite and wow, she had outdone herself, they were fabulous.

M2590039I almost forgot about my steak. Almost.

I’m curious as to how a nice Porterhouse would taste over a wood fire. I think I’m going to find out!

PS I got more done narrowing down a place for Ma in Maine. More to come….

Wish you were here-



*Un-met Expectations? Not many for me in David,Panama…*

I knew I would like David, Panama, heck, I’d been here 2 times before, I just didn’t know how much.

I like it here a lot, I’ll admit I like all the typical things that are mentioned on the internet, cheap housing, food and liquor. I expected to enjoy the natural beauty but I found that with my camera I found even MORE beauty than expected, even some of the BUGS were pretty!

But the best part is about David for me is… the people. I see happy, smiling, KIND people every day here. If the people here are stressed, they sure hide it well.M2170006

I don’t hear raised voices except when folks are celebrating. We always get smiles and waves from strangers, sometimes we smile first, sometimes they do. “Buena” is used ALL THE TIME, kind of like Aloha, a general greeting, goodbye, what have you. From the young to the old.

There’s a good vibe here in Panama. I feel it even more when I speak to nearly everyone, from the guy pumping my gas to ALL the doctors we’ve met (6) and just about everyone in between.

Smilin'! My dentist Dr Spiegel

Smilin’! My dentist Dr Spiegel

These are many folks who go out of their way to provide not just good, but excellent service-service with a smile.M2200006

So I guess I’ve given up stress and low-level anxiety for a life among happy people and beautiful surroundings. I live cheaper, eat better and enjoy each and every day.M2520005

I have more than I need and want for little more.



*Need a cool breeze in your home at night?? Here’s a cheap solution…*

We have an a/c but don’t use it. We like the evening’s cool breeze. Unfortunately, the bedroom sometimes was pretty warm when the breeze died down or went the wrong way… time to MacGyver the problem.

When we were in Florida I’d figured out how to create a draft-

1. Open a window that you wanted the air to come in. (Hint-it’s behind the curtain).Image

2. Aim a fan out a open window in another room.(I hung the fan outside the bathroom, since my wife, Kris, objected to the ladder in the shower with the fan perched on the tip top).Image

3. Turn on fan. I’m lazy, I have ours set to a timer.

4.Enjoy the breeze.(Notice how the curtains billow bringing cool air down on the pillow and freezingyourearsat4amforcingyoutopullthepillowoveryourhead!!!!!!).Image

I got the air to come in our bedroom window by hanging the fan outside outside the bathroom window, leaving the bathroom door open, closing the bedroom door and thereby creating the draft. The speed of the fan controls the draw, if you’re too cold, turn the fan speed down a notch.

Another trick/tip-if there is too much breeze but you don’t want to get out of bed just pulling the curtain slightly to one side will decrease the air dropping down on you!



“Hi, Can I help you find anything”, meet Francisco at Super Baru..

Yesterday was a good day.  And, while Ma and I were grocery shopping, the day got even better.

Ma likes to shop at the Super Baru on the opposite side of the Pan American Highway from El Rey. It’s a smaller store than El Rey, is easier to get around in, and has small portions of veggies and items for the single person or small eater. ImageHowever, I find the aisles are not well marked, nor in English, and I don’t have the locations of the items memorized so sometimes it’s hard for me to find things.

Apparently it looked like we needed help as we were soon approached by a nice looking young man who asked us if we needed help finding things. His English was good, far better than my Spanish, and when we told him we wanted some furniture polish he said, “I will find it, you can keep shopping, don’t worry, I will find you.” A few minutes later he reappeared with two choices of polish in his hands – we chose one and put it in the cart and I asked what his name was. “My name is Francisco, I’m the Customer Service Representative”. “If you need help finding anything or have any suggestions or criticisms, please tell me.”

Ma and I were pretty impressed with the store’s representative. We’ve had great customer service here in David in the smaller stores but this level of attention was unique for a larger store. I did mention the aisle markings problem and Francisco said that he had thought of that too, but “They don’t listen to me, only the customer, so thank you for telling me!”

I didn’t have a camera or I would have taken his picture for you to see. Maybe next time.

I thought that this story was important enough to post, it’s good to know that people around you actually care and I want to give credit to those people – and it’s always nice to be the recipient of unexpected kindness, WE sure needed the help! Francisco actually helped us once again that same day (couldn’t find the Mott’s Garden Blend)-what a guy!
Thanks, Francisco!!!