Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Much Needed Trip Home

After what was to be a short 2-3 week trip back to the States last November, we were finally able to go back home...nine months later. Mischelle had just finished having an MRI done and we wouldn't get the results back for at least ten days, due to the fourth of July weekend, and wouldn't get an appointment with the doctors for a week after that. So we asked the doctors if Mischelle could get away for a short mental vacation.  The time seemed right and she really needed the break from the cancer routine.

We booked a flight for June 29th, on American Airlines, and for only the second time in our lives, we flew first class.  It allowed us early boarding, much better seating for Mischelle (it wasn't too bad for me, either) and of course, all the perks of going first class.  I had planned on shipping several items down to Belize, using our usual shipping company, but flying first class allowed us 6 bags free, between the both of us.  All the stuff I had planned to ship, I could take with us.  The only problem is now Mischelle wants to fly first class every time we go.  Like I didn't see that coming.  It really is a great experience.  Just wish we could afford it every time (or at least every other time).

After a pleasant, uneventful flight through Dallas/ Fort Worth, we arrived in Belize around 2:30pm, but more importantly, before the other arriving flights.  Being in first class, we were the first to disembark.  Our bags and boxes were the first items unloaded from the plane.  Immigration was a breeze.  Now it was time to pay the piper for all the goods we were bringing with us.  The dreaded Customs officer.  I had everything labeled with descriptions and receipts, so I had a good idea of what it might cost, but you never know until you're there.  A couple of fans, 250 ft of 10/3 electrical wire, GFI plugs, plumbing supplies, etc.. All stuff I needed for projects at home.  The total bill...$325.00Bz, or about $170 US.  A lot cheaper than shipping it down.

We arrived home about an hour before sunset.  Home Sweet Home.  Throw the bags in the bedroom, grab a cold beer and enjoy the sunset over the bay.  Oh, is it good to be home.

While it was a mental vacation for Mischelle, it was a working vacation for me.  Hurricane season was upon us and I needed to do some work around the house before any major storms came along.  The upper patio that was built during our last visit, needed to be plastered and the electrical and lights all had to be hooked up.

It is a big change for the lower patio, but it now allows us to start planning for our upstairs patio.

A trench had to be dug, from the front of the house to the pool room, so we could replace the undersized wiring that my contractor had installed to run the pool motor.

And with all the corrosion that happens when you live this close to the ocean,, maintenance is always required.  The breaker box and all the breakers were corroded beyond possible reuse, so all of that needed to be replaced.  I'm sure the pool timer will be the next thing to go.

We had other problems with plumbing that also need to be taken care of while we were here.  Another contractor screw up that needed fixing.  First, it was the problem with a plumbing joint not being glued. Usually not too bad if you are in a American style home.  Find it and fix it.  But with the house made from cinder block, getting to plumbing issues is a completely different story.

We could never figure out why the shower floor was always wet.  The water pump would kick on at 2 or 3 in the morning, when nobody was up.  It was the little things that made us think there was a leak.  Finally it was traced to the unglued joint in the master bathroom shower.  When a quarter inch hole was bored into the block on the outside of the shower, the wall "peed" for an hour.  The block wall was completely filled with water.

After that problem was fixed and patched, it was on to fix the shower drain and a drain vent that was not working properly.  It's always something, but at least my list is getting shorter.

Another must do project on this trip was to screen in the front porch.

Bats were getting into the garage using the porch for an entrance.  I thought that the bats in the area lived on either fruit or mosquitoes, but it turns out they love butterflies...all types.  I found large piles of bat guano and all types of butterfly wings, all over the garage.  One even set up shop, right under the spare tire of the Nissan.  Thanks to my good neighbor Tom, for coming over and washing and then putting a tarp over the Nissan, to keep the bat guano off the paint job.  That would have ruined the paint job, for sure.

This is how the bats were entering, through the unenclosed front porch.  Lots of perching spots for them to hang out.  Plus, it was dark during the day time and no other real predators to worry about.  Sorry, but I'm about to serve an eviction notice.

I had asked around about getting good screen doors made for the front porch and the two bedroom doors. I was surprised by the answer.  Creative Tile, right in Corozal.  They came out, measured the openings and had our screen doors ready to be installed in four days.  The doors are solid, look good and the installation went extremely well and every door fit just as it should, with only minor adjustments.

Now with front screen door in, it was up to me to finish screening in the rest of the front porch.  Finally, no bats are going to get in the garage, or so I hope.

But it wasn't all just work.  We did enjoy a few nights at the local restaurant/bar with all of our friends.  Even though the snowbirds were gone, there is still quite a few full timers that keep the place busy.

It was sure good to be home...even if it was only for a short while.  Now it's time to head back to the States, find out the results of Mischelle's MRI and to figure out where we go from here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Boys of Summer

Baseball season is here, so it was time for us to go see a ball game. Our friend Jordan had purchased 12 tickets to the LA Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies game on Sunday, April 27th.

It was a perfect day for baseball with clear skies and the temperature in the upper 70's.  We found a parking spot right away, only a short distance from our entrance gate.

Soon after we arrived, we stood in a line, that we thought was taking us to our seats.  Little did we know that we were in the line to parade around the baseball field.  It was Little League day at Dodger Stadium and they were giving away Hanley Ramirez jerseys to all the kids in attendance and allowing them to get on the field, prior to the game.  I had never been on the field at Dodger Stadium, so this was a great opportunity to enjoy the baseball stadium from a different point of view.

While on the field, I had to reenact a "catch at the wall" pose.  Only wish I had a ball in the glove.  Or maybe, the ball just went over the wall and I couldn't jump high enough to get it.  Yah, that's it.

Maybe there were just too many people in the way.

It was a fun experience and I'm glad we ended up in the wrong line.  For all I know, we could have been in the hot dog or beer line, and that would have been fine with me.

I was going to buy a Dodgers hat, but they were $36, and that's way too much for a baseball cap.  Angels cap?  Maybe. Besides, it would cut into my beer money ($13.75 per beer).   I had only brought $50 because our seats were in the right field pavilion, in the all-you-can-eat section.  Yep.  All the Dodger Dogs your stomach could handle.  Same with the nachos, peanuts and popcorn.  And the Dodgers newest rookie phenom, Puig, was there in front of us, in right field.

The Dodgers were playing for there 10,000th win in the organizations history, so there was a lot of excitement in the air. But alas, the Dodgers didn't give us much to cheer about, as they ended up losing to the Rockies, 6-1.

It was a great day to watch a baseball game, now it was time to head home and watch the Clippers, Ducks and Kings all try to advance in the playoffs. I was able to see a Clippers game last month at the Staple's Center. I turned down Laker tickets.  Just couldn't watch the meltdown.  I think everyone has turned down the Laker tickets.  April is a good month if you're a sports fan.  Baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey and golf.  An Angel game is next on my agenda.  Maybe then I'll save my beer money and buy that hat.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Return to My Blog

Well, it's been over 2 1/2 years since my last post, and so much has happened since then. I still see traffic visiting my blog and people still contact me with questions, so I thought it might be a good time to get back into writing, even though I'm not currently in Belize. I have a lot to catch up on, so I thought I would spread it out over a few days of writing. In late September 2012, my wife Mischelle, was diagnosed with cancer. In October, we went back to the US to get Mischelle the radiation and chemo treatments she needed. In February 2103 she had to have additional treatments and underwent Brachytherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells. After returning to Belize for a few months, we came back to UCLA for a follow up on her progress. The cancer symptoms seemed to be returning, but all of her biopsies and PET CT's have come back negative, which is good, but Mischelle's overall health has declined and the doctors are not sure what to do next. More chemo and radiation are out for now. The surgery that she would have to have, to remove the cancerous area, is a life altering surgery and would require more than ten hours under the knife and a 6 months to a year recovery. Right now, it's not a great option. We hope to learn more in the next week or two. We are lucky to have 4 of the best doctors at UCLA working on her case. I have nothing but praise for the doctors, RN's and staff at UCLA Ronald Reagan. Mischelle is just a tough case.
Our neighbors in Consejo, all came out to wish Mischelle good luck with her treatments. We are lucky to live in such a wonderful community.
Our three dogs, Coral, Timber and Jesse have all passed on. Coral in Oct. 2010, Timber in June of 2012 and finally Jesse in Oct. 2013. They were able to enjoy their golden years, retired with us, in Belize. They brought so much joy to our life, it's hard not having them around. We thought about getting other dogs, but for now, I'm glad we didn't. We had hoped to travel for a couple of years, and that was one of the reasons for not getting other dogs. So for now, it's just Mischelle and I, waiting to go back home and get on with our lives.
The house is still a work in progress, but in 2012 we added a 2 car garage and man cave on the street side of the house. It solved a lot of our storage issues and provided a place for my workshop plus provided shelter for our cars from the relentless sun, rain and humidity. I can not tell you how much I missed having a garage and a place to work on all of my projects.
Last year we added on to our patio, but we have not had a chance to finish it yet. At least all the bones of it are done.I would like to extend a cover over the pool, so the water doesn't get so warm in the summer, but that will be a project for when I get home.
My work as training officer for the Corozal Bay Sailing Club ( has also come to a halt. At least we had others that were able to fill the void and keep the youth sailing program on track. Our most recent class had several top 10 finishes and one of our prospects, Christopher Campos finished third in the Belize Nationals. Our club has hosted 3 national regattas in Corozal, bringing back the art of sailing to our beautiful bay.
I am so looking forward to getting back in the program. In my time back in the States, I was able to pick up and ship back to Belize, several Laser sailboats so that our junior and senior sailors can continue to enhance their skills. Just more reasons to return home.