Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Week!

No, we are not in the new house yet. The stove was delivered last week, but the granite was overhanging a couple of millimeters from the cabinet edge, just enough to prevent the stove from sliding into the space. We had to wait for the granite guys to come back and then the stove folks from San Jose. Finally yesterday the stove was installed. It is a SMEG stove with 4 gas burners and a griddle. It’s a European model that we had not heard of before, but is rated highly and is less than half the cost of a WOLF or other high end gas range

The gas water heaters are in and they pressure tank is being plumbed today. We’re using demand heaters and have one for the master and guest baths and another for the kitchen, laundry, and powder room.

We will start moving on Thursday. We should spend our first night in the house by Saturday or Sunday at the latest.

A week ago, Rafael, the landscaper came with a tree branch to stick into the ground. I had asked him about an orchid that blew out of a tree that I found in the driveway and if my plan to mount it on a piece of wood was a good idea. He said that he would come with a branch and a few other orchids the next day. He and his wife showed up with seven different wild orchid species. .
As we walked back up to the rental they pointed out multiple orchids in the trees. We are in the mountains and have the perfect climate for orchids. He also said that we are in a bird corridor.
We have discovered that we have quite the wind funnel between the house and the retaining wall. So now we have bamboo windbreak.

They are removing the hibiscus bushes that are in front of the house and will plant them along the side. I plan to have a flower garden in that area. We will replace the hibiscus with a border of low growing heliconias on the edge of the grass so the view is clear. Rafael brought several lobster claw heliconias to plant behind the hibiscus. You can see me admiring them on the veranda.collie

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Progress and Flora & Fauna

All of a sudden the house is really looking like it will be finished! A million last minute details, but it is really close. The cabinets are installed except for the laundry room and medicine cabinet in the master bathroom. Granite is down in the kitchen and master bath. It looks beautiful. The landscaping in the back of the house, which is really the front entrance is in progress. We want to finish the area where the cats will be fenced in before moving. The fence is up and we still have to install the mesh over it and close up the bottom. The corner of the cat’s area has four clumps of papyrus, part of them broke in some strong wind today. One of three Christmas palms is in the ground. We also have two large Bird’s nest anthuriums planted. Along the garage wall and the retaining wall are 8 or 9 bromeliads and a couple of dozen small anthuriums. It wasn’t exactly what I had discussed with the landscaper, but close. I was so excited to see the bromeliad variety and they really look good, so I’m happy. There are a few more plants to go in. As we mentioned in an earlier blog, the main landscaping will not be started until May. We are still planning to put grass in the front (the view side, along the veranda) to the edge before moving. That will keep some of the dust down.

The photo (blog entry Nov. 20, 2008) of the little white flower that I had initially thought was an orchid is! A friend who is active in US orchid societies sent the photo around and it has been identified as Masdevallia chontalensis. It was “snooped out” by a friend of his who is an AOS Judge and orchid taxonomist. Speaking of orchids, we met a couple from Florida who have lived in CR for about eight years. They have a beautiful yard at 6000 feet elevation (we are at 4700 ft). She has many orchids from downed branches in her orchid house. She gave me a petite yellow orchid. Since seeing her collection I have been peering into trees and inspecting downed branches. The trees are loaded with mosses, bromeliads, and orchids. The orchids are very small and usually deep within the tree for shade. Unless they are in bloom, very difficult to see. She showed me one bloom that was less than a fingernail’s width and perhaps 2/3rds of an inch long. The flower was a rusty orange and probably would be impossible to see if on a branch.

In the last 6 weeks the trees here are blooming with a hot pink flowered epiphyte with branches so large that it is hard to sort it out from the host tree. It is in the Ericaceae family, Satyria meiantha. An epiphyte is a form of growth, in which the plants grow on trunks and branches of trees without requiring their roots to be in the ground. They are not parasitic, except for some mistletoe.

We recognize the calls of the keel billed toucans and the emerald toucanets, so are seeing them more often. The skies in front of our house are filled with soaring vultures, swallows, and occasional white collared swifts. Robins, brown jays, several different tanagers and hummingbirds and geckos are in the yard.

Last week the cats alerted us to something in the yard. With the lights on we recognized an armadillo! It was small, probably 18 inches from snout to tale. Upon reading about them we have learned that there were nearly extinct here in the 1950’s due to leather trade. They are nearly blind and forage at night for ants, beetles, and larvae in the soil and leaf litter. They give birth to identical quadruplets (never more or less).

We have also seen Coatimundi, an animal related to the raccoon. They are about the same size as a very large raccoon with an elongated body and much longer tail. The tails vary and some are ringed like a raccoon but not all. They are insect eaters as well, but are mostly diurnal.

And last night we had a gray fox in the yard. The CR Gray fox is smaller than the red fox and the California grey fox. Its average size is 20-24 inches from snout to rump. The one in the yard was in the smaller range and a bit scrawny looking, but definitely a fox. Our neighbors saw one with young trotting across their driveway awhile back.

Our cats are doing well. Fred likes to hang over the railing of the loft and Jelly is pictured eating a sample of decorative grass that the landscaper brought.