Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’ve Been Tweeted

My previous post about how much rain we’ve gotten and how many Olympic-sized swimming pools it would have filled has been picked up on Tweets by Panama TV, Panama VIP and Travel Panama according to a comment sent to me by Topsy.com.

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Another Perspective On The Rain In Potrerillos Arriba, Panama

When it’s said that an “inch” of rain has fallen it’s considered that an acre of land (.4 hectares) would be covered with one inch of water.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey that’s 27,154 GALLONS! (102,789 liters for you mathematically challenged people stuck in the metric system. Don’t get me started on THAT rant.)

Here it is the 22nd day of July and it’s raining right now. Twenty two consecutive days of it this month. In June we had 43 inches of rain OR, 3.58 FEET, OR 1,167,622 GALLONS. And that’s just over ONE acre of surface area. I can’t begin to calculate the entire area of Potrerillos Arriba.

So now, in July as of the 19th we’ve received 39.5 inches of rain…3.29 FEET…1,072,583 GALLONS.

There are about 600,000 gallons of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, so from the first of June the water that has fallen on each acre of land here on the mountain would have filled 3.73 Olympic pools!

No, I don’t think I’m getting a little stir-crazy shut in the house because of the rain, do you?

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Think It Rains Where YOU Live?

The rain in Spain may fall mainly on the plain, but here in Potrerillos Arriba, Panama, it pours like you wouldn’t believe.

The term “Rainy Season” doesn’t even begin to describe what’s been happening here. There is officially a “rainy season” in Florida, but it’s a joke compared to what we’ve been going through here. In south Florida it heats up during the day and then there are isolated thunderstorms scattered around the area. Sometimes with a deluge and localized flooding, but these storms are usually of a limited duration. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve literally been standing in the sunshine on one side of the street and watched it rain on the other.

Here, though, it rains over a wide area. June and July are supposed to be the driest months of the rainy season but this year has seen the shattering of 16 year records as recorded by Ricardo Espinosa. http://joycepa.wordpress.com/precipitation-data/.

In June it rained 27 days out of 30 and dumped 43 inches of the wet on us. Here it is the 22nd day of July and we haven’t missed a day of rain yet and another record was set. Back in July 2008 38″ of rain fell. As of the 20th we’ve had 39.5″. On the 19th we had a storm like I’ve never seen before. We got 4.4″ in two and a half hours.

The mornings generally start off in glorious splendor.

By noon the rain clouds start to form

And by two o’clock it starts to rain

And then it’s like someone turned on a fire hydrant

So, if you need to do anything outside the house you better get started early and finish up by one or two o’clock. And you NEVER leave home without your umbrella no matter how sunny it is when you close the door.

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Some Interesting Stats About My Blogs

As the regular readers of this blog probably know I also have another blog

(http://houseboatshantyboatbuilders.wordpress.com/)

While this blog is simply for whatever strikes my fancy at the moment, boats, music, my move to Panama, the other blog is specifically about houseboats, shanty boats and minimalist boating. I don’t let it branch off into other subjects. I started it a few months after this blog and at first I posted nearly every day. Then I tailed off abruptly because I pretty much ran out of things to post when I discovered I had become a “source.” That is, when I would Googled for new ideas I found my blog was dominating the results.

To date that blog has received 58,216 hits. This one has had 28,164.

WordPress keeps track of all that stuff in their “Dashboard” page for each blog and there is a “Stats” section that I find interesting. Yesterday 65 people came here to see what sort of drivel I might have added recently. I haven’t added a new post to my shanty boat blog for nearly two weeks but yesterday it got 511 hits! The busiest day ever. The busiest day this blog ever had was October 28, 2009 when 176 people checked in.

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Whacked By The Staff of Life

My neighbor and fellow blogger, Joyce, in a recent post in Living in Potrerillos, decried the lack of decent bread here in Panama…http://joycepa.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/the-staff-of-life/. I couldn’t agree more. What I have tried was simply inedible. Even my four-legged garbage disposal, Charlotte, wouldn’t touch the stuff and I’m hoping the remains won’t damage the compost heap. The only thing I like about bread in Panama is the name of the largest bakery – BIMBO Bread. (A big conglomerate, I guess, because I’ve seen Bimbo bread in Spain and Mexico as well.)

One of the things I truly miss about France is the bread. If happiness is a warm puppy then a crispy, fresh from the oven  French baguette is a mighty close second. It’s also a fact that no baguette ever makes it home from the boulangerie with the ends intact.

Recently I’ve made a couple of attempts at making bread myself. Previously I’ve only ventured into bread making a couple of times. One of my favorites, and enjoyed by everyone I know, has been cranberry bread. Actually this is more of a cake than a real bread and was something my mother made every Christmas time as I was growing up. The recipe is found on the back of every package of Ocean Spray whole cranberries. Around the holiday season bags are usually found in the produce section of the supermarket but the rest of the year you can often find them in the frozen food section.  Cranberry bread is easy to make and absolutely delicious but you’d never use it to construct a tuna salad sandwich with the stuff.

This is not a photo of MY cranberry bread but shamelessly ripped off from:

http://christines-cuisine.blogspot.com/2009/12/cranberry-orange-nut-bread.html

If you want something yummy, here’s the recipe from Ocean Spray:

CLASSIC CRANBERRY NUT BREAD

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

PER SERVING (1 slice): Cal. 211, Fat Cal. 54, Protein 3grams, Carb. 37grams, Fat 6grams, Chol. 18mg., Sodium 313mg.

Richard’s Rating: Ease of preparation A, Satisfaction A+

The only “real” kind of bread I ever made previously was a family recipe my maternal grandmother used to make for “Shredded Wheat” bread. A light, wonderfully nutty-tasting bread that doesn’t require kneading.

I’d love to make this again, but none of the four supermarkets in David stock shredded wheat cereal and I have no idea what could be used as a substitute.

Richard’s rating: Ease of preparation A, Satisfaction A+

The other day I decided I’d try my hand at producing some of the real stuff and went online and Googled “bread recipies.” The search engine came up with approximately 2,900,000 hits. Okay, narrow it down a bit and add the word “simple.” THAT came up with 3,250,000 hits! How is that possible?

Being basically a lazy, lay-about I next tried “no knead bread” and knocked it down to only 305,000 possibilities. Here’s a video I found:

Needless to say mine didn’t turn out like that in the video even though I followed the instructions to the letter. The New York Times recipe, (click to link to it) as well as others that are basically the same, all say “dough will be shaggy and sticky.” Mine was, for, oh, maybe three milliseconds and then it turned into something else. Not knowing what I could do to change the situation other than just starting all over again I decided to just let things develop and see what happened.

The next day this is what I got:

Looks pretty good, but it would have made a better discus than a loaf of bread. One problem, I think, was that the Dutch oven I used was probably too large so the dough spread out and gave me a loaf about 2-1/2″ high. On my next trip down the mountain to David I’ll buy one a little smaller. I need to build up my kitchen items over the next few months anyway for the time I’ll leave this house.

Richard’s rating: Ease of preparation B, Satisfaction D -.

Tuesday I had a go at what was supposed to be an easy recipe for generic white bread complete with kneading. I went through all the steps required and it turned out a lot better than my first attempt and I came up with this:

Again, it’s not something I’d use to make sandwiches with, but still warm with a little butter it was heads and shoulders above Bimbo bread but still lacked a little je ne sais quoi. It did make excellent toast the next morning.

Richard’s rating: Ease of preparation C+, Satisfaction C.

I’m not going to give up yet, though.

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Dog Dream Come True

That dogs dream is not a myth. We know that they chase things in their dreams when they bark while asleep. Some, I’m sure, dream about things they wish they had. Some, though, have their dreams come true. Charlotte, the resident dog here on the hill, has discovered a treasure trove of bones somewhere across the street most dogs can only dream about.

Eat your hearts out ordinary mutts.

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The Tranquility of Ignorance

It’s another tranquil morning up on the mountain in Potrerillos Arriba, Panama, like the countless billions of mornings that preceded it and the billions to come. Sitting out on the front steps with my morning cup of coffee the sky slowly lightens to my left as the sun starts to climb up the mountain range over there and you can make out the towering cloud formations. The sound of the rushing water in stream hidden behind the trees on the east side of the property plays counterpoint to the crowing of roosters in the neighborhood. A dog barks in the distance. The lights of David in the distance below are no longer visible as the day progresses and the Pacific coast comes into view.

It’s calm and comfortably cool here. Being linguistically challenged at the language of my newly adopted country means I don’t watch the local news on television or read the local press so I was completely unaware that there has been tumultuous rioting going on in two widely separated parts of the country.

A recently passed law has upset environmentalists and union members to the point that they have taken to the streets in the Capital in the east and Changuinola, in the western province of Bocas del Toro. Changuinola was once the hub of the nearly collapsed banana trade in Panama.

In Panama City protesters marched in the streets to deliver a letter to the President decrying the new law and were met by police in riot gear. I enjoyed watching the truncated live broadcast of the Tour de France on ESPN.

Things were much more violent in Changuinola.

There hundreds of people have been injured in clashes with the police and one death has been reported. As a result a curfew has been declared throughout the province and people have been ordered to stay in their homes. What this means to the tourists visiting Bocas del Toro town on Isla Colon is unknown.

But as far as I know it’s business as usual in the City of David and life up here on the mountain goes on as it always has. Though a resident of Panama I am, never the less, a guest in the country and am specifically forbidden to become involved in its political life. Sure, everyone can have their opinions on a subject but acting upon them as an outsider here is forbidden. Quite frankly in this instance I prefer the tranquility of ignorance. Besides, it’s my birthday today. Me and Tom Hanks. Oh, yes, O. J. Simpson, too, but I doubt he’s going to enjoy it a whole lot.

I’m going to have a second cup of coffee.

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