Well after about 5 years of running this website, including the hardware in the basement that it runs on (Hardware that I bought on the cheap for less than $50), I have moved it off to a webhost. I have learned quite a bit along the way about Apache software and various operating systems that it runs on. From Windows, to Unix and Linux. I have run it all and noticed the differences, fought battles and overcame challenges. Lately though I have been running into problems by not having enough horsepower on the computer running it. Rather than buying new hardware, I decided it was time to move the site. This isn’t something anyone should notice, except maybe that things are faster.
I have run my own backups and have setup failover systems so that in the event of a crash, the site would still come up. I have also solved some pretty quarky issues here and there to get things to work. There have been DOS attacks (denial of service), there have been LOTS of spammers and even hacks. It has been a learning experience but running the hardware won’t be something I can do when we move to Rincon.
The internet to our house in Colorado was pretty solid/fast and hardly ever went down. That will change when we are in Rincon where even the water and electric are spotty, plus it fairly expensive to have an internet subscription and we are trying to elimnate costly bills. Moving the site to a hosting provider is a lot less expensive than hosting it myself and all the maintenance will be someone else’s responsibility. It will also serve as a resource as I will be able to setup sites for businesses and others.
Another step in moving on and letting go! I guess it makes sense that if we move to a new home, our blog should too! What other constructive activities will I do with the time I usually spent messing around with the webserver? I am anxious to find out.
This summer will be our last one here in Colorado for the foreseeable future and with it, our last Colorado garden. After a two year’s wait, we finally harvested our asparagus and it was delicious! This marks a final step in our philosophy toward gardens and life in general: set it and forget it AKA the way of the lazy gardener. Sometimes the rewards take time to mature, but they are worth the wait!
Purple asparagus looks so primordialin the perennial vegetable garden
Britton and I have joked that once we finally figure out what we like to grow and what grows well here in Colorado, we go and move to Puerto Rico where we will have to start gardening (and our life) from scratch. But it will not be completely starting from scratch. We have learned a lot from our Colorado garden and how it is an expression of our philosophy in general.
What is the way of the lazy gardener? This is a philosophy where we do some work on the front end, but it will continue producing with some, but very little, input thereafter. Like recurring income investments, we prefer perennial vegetables and fruits that come back as opposed to annuals that you have to plant every year.This is the way of the lazy gardener.
Specifically in reference to plants, the lazy Colorado gardener’s plants should include things like a peach tree, fruit cocktail tree, apple trees, berry (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) patch, potatoes, garlic, mint, asparagus and horseradish. If we were staying I also would plant rhubarb and a 5-in-1 pear tree. Even the “annual” plants are recurring. For example, every year we have cherry tomatoes and lettuces that self-seed.
We are lazy gardeners because we prefer not to fight against things that don’t want to grow and would rather just plant stuff that wants to be there. Same thing with other aspects of life. Why fight to have something difficult and time or energy consuming when you can have it easy and get the same outcome?
We will probably still throw out some seeds and try new projects, but we don’t baby them. If they grow, they grow. Even the chickens are a perfect example of our hands-off approach. We do very little and they provide us with lots of delicious eggs and fertilizer for the lawn and garden. It is a cycle in which an input and an output are part of the same circle.
Britton threw out a variety of seeds into the greenhouse and we grew what we think is arugula. It is delicious, nutty, spicy and succulent, so whatever it is, it likes to grow and we like to eat it. It made a nice side for a dinner one night. I am sure we will throw out a variety of random things and some of them will grow into delicious projects. It is not all easy. There are always weeds to contend with and the occasional bug. But overall the way of the lazy gardener is a refreshing approach compared with the hands-on, single use, disposable way that most of us are used to. I dare you to try it out for yourself!
Asparagus and arugula(?) for a chicken dinner (not those pictured -ha!)
This weekend has been very busy so far, and it’s not quite over yet! It definitely reminds us how much life wakes up around here with nice weather.
On Thursday after work I was in the office hanging out on the computer when I looked outside and saw the chickens flapping and running around. Then I saw a little tan blur running behind them. My first thought was a prairie dog was chasing them. I ran outside to scare it out of the yard when I noticed it wasn’t a prairie dog/gopher but rather a little dog! A chihuahua. When he saw me he just cowered next to the house. I wasn’t sure if he was biter so I reasoned with it. I even said aloud, “If you don’t hurt me or the chickens, I won’t hurt you.”
Me and the little guy
And slowly I approached him and was able to pick him up. He looked really tired and just sort of trembled and fell asleep in my lap. After a long rest we set him outside hoping that he would then run home wherever that was. However, a couple hours later after we had run some errands, he was still there. We don’t have any dog food anymore since Schnoodle died, so we just gave him a little water and cat food.
We walked around the neighborhood on Friday and asked all the neighbors if they knew whose dog he was was, but no one knew. I really don’t like to turn animals into animal control, because I know that most of them get euthanized. Especially in Greeley, chihuhuas and pit bulls are two of the most common dogs in the Humane Society, so his chances were slim if he went there. He was so chill and sweet, that I couldn’t bear that. If we were staying in Greeley, we would probably adopt him ourselves.
Chillin’ chihuahua with his paws behind his head
I told my co-worker friend about him and she said she would take him and help look for the owner. If the owner could not be found, she offered to adopt him. He definitely added a fun aspect and reminded us how fun a little dog could be -especially one that could see, hear and play unlike Schnood in her last few years.
In addition to that fun diversion, we had some work to do. We wanted to finish a yard sod installation in one of our rentals where some of our friends live. Since we don’t own a truck, we had to do all of it with our little Honda Civic.
Sod in the Honda filled to the brim
We stocked the car full of sod and had to make about 3 trips before it was done. Sod is a little expensive, but it is nice to have an insta-lawn. I think it turned out great! See for yourself:
Yard Before and After
And after we laid the final pieces of sod, we rushed home to fix a dish to bring to a brunch and help build a coop with some other friends who are starting out with their first chickens.
Breakfast pizza made with garbanzo bean flour, eggs from our chickens and a variety of veggies
Constructing a coop at a friend’s house in Greeley
And today is Mother’s Day, so we are off to lunch! Hope your weekend was as fun and eventful as ours!
UPDATE: We went out to lunch at the new Greeley seafood restaurant Lucky Fins and had a great time with our mamas.
I love to read. And I do have my preferred genres and favorites. One of those genres, if you can call it that, are books whose stories take place in a tropical setting (big surprise, huh ). I have already written my list of top 10 tropical books, but there are so many good ones out there that I have read since then! So here is the second installment of the best books in a tropical setting according to Cassie.
Non-Fiction: The Mapmaker’s Wifeby Robert Whitaker
While the cover and title are both misleading, this is a fascinating historical book. Isabel Godin is the one woman of the story of any significance, however her adventures surviving alone in the Amazon only takes up about 1/10th of the book. The vast majority of the book is about the scientific expedition led by La Condamine into the Equatorial Amazon in search of the answer to what the circumference of the Earth is and the implications on Newtonian science or other prevailing theories of the day.
It is very well-researched and while some parts are a little too scientific for me, it had a nice balance of the interplay of human tendencies, including a murder!, during this quest. The author does a good job of also balancing the perspectives of the various people -natives, slaves and Europeans- and how this confluence changed everything in this wild, tropical region. While Isabel Godin’s survival and search for her husband after a 20 year absence was short because of a lack of historical records, it was probably the most interesting part. I also enjoyed the photographs and old documents that were included.
Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost
I wrote about Sex Lives in the previous “best of” list, and Getting Stoned with Savages is very much a follow-up to that previous book. The author’s humorist style reminds us that the discomfort we feel in traveling is part of the fun. While in Vanuatu and Fiji, he tries kava for the first time, experiences a typhoon, deals with a huge centipede and becomes a dad! Quite the adventure and in a most beautiful of settings.
Driving over Lemons by Chris Stewart
This one is probably about the furthest stretch from “tropical” on the list as you can get since it takes place in Spain. But the way I see it, anywhere that they will be driving over lemons is pretty darn warm. The author and his wife move from the UK to southern Spain where they buy a dilapidated old farm and house complete with the former owner who doesn’t want to move! They have to contend with a variety of issues including flooding rivers that leave them stranded, no running water or electricity. And as soon as they sort out all of these issues, they become pregnant with their first child. What I really liked about the book was the author’s ability to integrate with his new home country and its people and roll with the -often hilarious- punches.
In this same general genre of Mediterranean transplants I would have to also recommend A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle as well as Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. (And if I may make an aside, I must say that the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was a HUGE stretch from the book.)
All three of these books are about moving to the Mediterranean (Spain in Stewart’s book, France in Mayle’s book, and Italy for Mayes) and fixing up a property there with varying degrees of difficulty. I related the most to Driving Over Lemons as they were closer to my age and weren’t retiring after a long life of doing something else, but rather starting from scratch like we will be doing.
A Trip to the Beach by Melinda and Robert Blanchard
Melinda and Robert Blanchard were successful businesspeople in Vermont when they decided to up and leave and start up a new business: a restaurant on the beach of a small Caribbean island. They have a few problems getting set up, but overall, it is a fun, easy read and the characters of their restaurant are lovable. While the Blanchards seem to have a bubble of money that separates them from the “real” Anguilla of most residents, it is none-the-less an inspiring story. I had never heard of Anguilla, the flat little Caribbean island, until I read A Trip to the Beach and now I can’t wait to visit and perhaps stop at the Blanchard’s restaurant!
An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof
This book is fun because its setting is constantly changing; they are on a sailboat! I know next to nothing about sailing, so this book really opened my eyes to what it would really entail to live in a confined area with limited showers, limited fresh food (except at some spots where there was too many as the title implies), and dangerous night crossings. It is light reading about a fun adventure of leaving the cold Canadian landscape for tropical locales all around the Caribbean. A perfect book for lounging and reading at…the beach!
Kook by Peter Heller
I recently read Kook after receiving a recommendation to do so. I also know next to nothing about surfing so it was a real eye-opener from the perspective of a novice surfer AKA a kook who wants to get good enough to ride “the big wave”. Peter and his bride-to-be, Kim, set out on an adventure down the coast of Baja Mexico and beyond with a few side adventures to help the cause of dolphins in Japan. I learned a lot about different boards, surf etiquette as well as the plight of many marine animals. Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island by Peter Rudiak-Gould
A more serious exploration of life on remote pacific tropical atolls (in the Marshall Islands) than Troost’s take, there are still quite a few funny moments. Peter (seems to be a common author name here!) is fresh out of college and out for an adventure teaching English to children on a tiny island without much of any creature comforts most industrialized people come to expect. All alone, he experiences a huge amount of culture shock and has a hard time adjusting to his new life. While he eventually comes to appreciate his experience and learns and shares a lot of what he knows about the history and tenuous future (given global warming, tsunamis and dwindling global aid), he is definitely ready to return to the US after his 1 year gig is up.
La Isla Bajo el Mar by Isabel Allende I read this one in Spanish, but I think it is translated into English as well. Told from the perspective of Zarite, a slave in Haiti that lives through the Haitian slave uprising and later in New Orleans, it is a well-researched yet reaching piece that fills you with the dichotomy of humanity that was inherent in such an ugly practice as slavery. I also learned about Francois Mackandal, a slave rebel, and one of the most intriguing historical figures in the book. In many ways this book reminded me of Conquistadora but La Isla Bajo el Mar is from the slave perspective and Conquistadora from that of the landowner/slave master. I love nearly anything by Allende but also recommend her most famous: La Casa de Los Espiritus.
Mambo Kings and Beautiful Maria of my Soul- Oscar Hijuelos
I have already written about these great books here, so check it out!
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
This book is a cross between the stories of Castaway and Blue Lagoon with a taboo love story thrown in so how could I resist?! Ana is a school teacher who is ready for a break and in an unfulfilling relationship while TJ is the teenager she is charged with tutoring in order to catch him up after recovering from a serious illness. On the way to the Maldives where TJs parents’ are vacationing, their plane crashes in the water and they must swim to finally land on a deserted island where they must scramble to survive and eventually start a whole new life.
What I think is so cool about this book is that it was originally self-published by Garvis-Graves but was so popular that a major publishing house picked it up and it’s also in the process of becoming a movie! Talk about a meteoric rise! A reminder to not dismiss self-published books out of hand.
Molokai by Alan Brennert
Like Honolulu, this book is a period piece set in Hawaii. Molokai explores the life of young Rachel Kalama and the inhabitants of Kalaupapa, the quarantined leper colony of the late 1800s. Interesting read for both the drama that unfolds throughout Rachel’s life, but also historically exploring the devastating effects of leprosy in separating families and changing lives forever.
Also, this book reminded Britton and I that we want to learn this song (Molokai Slide) on guitar:
Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk
I absolutely love this book! It is one of the first I will recommend if someone says they are looking for a fun, easy read. Absolutely awesomely hilarious and set on a fictional Caribbean island. Read my full post on it here.
Hot House Flower and the Nine Plants of Desireby Margot Berwin
I read this book a while ago and I am surprised I missed it in the first list because it is such a fun book, especially for people like me who love plants almost as much as I love the tropics in general. Life for thirty-something Lila Nova changes dramatically from the cold sanitary minimalistic box-like lifestyle in Manhattan when she meets a charming and charismatic plant-vender. Soon she finds herself in a magic realism world of shaman, panthers and tropical plants throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Will she find all 9 plants before their power falls into the wrong hands? Will she find love? Will she live to find out? In between the magic and story-line you will also learn some interesting things about a variety of plants. Especially creepy is mandrake.
Did you notice something missing? I have left off some of my favorite reads from and about Puerto Rico. Don’t despair! It is in the works!
Am I missing any that you have read? I would love to check them out!