Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Still 3 Hens

The big news is that the three hens have survived the past two nights. We checked on them before we went to bed, and they roost on the highest branches in the cage. We’re not sure if whatever got the rooster and the laying hen has moved on, or if it’s still around but can’t get the three hens because they stay at the top of the cage. We didn’t check on them late at night before the other two were killed, so we don’t know how high they roosted while they slept. The mystery isn’t solved, but at least we’re not still losing a chicken every night.

Tom had a tough day on Monday. He had made an appointment with a mechanic in Spanish Lookout and showed up there at 8:00 Monday morning with a long list of things on Tinkerbell that needed attention. However, the truck had started making a funny noise Sunday night, and Tom said it got worse and worse as he drove to Spanish Lookout. By the time he got there, it was bad enough that the mechanics met him in the driveway and told him that they didn’t think they could help him, and he’d have to go to Crooked Tree, which is almost all the way to the coast near Belize City, for transmission work.

Tom headed out the Western Highway, and noticed that the power steering didn’t seem to be working. He checked the dash, and the dummy lights were on, the battery gauge was heading down, and the temperature gauge was heading up. He remembered that Beli’s breeder wasn’t too far up the road, so he shifted the truck into neutral, turned it off, and coasted as far as he could. He took a look under the hood, and found that Tinkerbell had broken all of her belts. He was within 200 yards of Beli’s breeder, so he knocked on her door and explained what he needed. She has a relative who is a mechanic in Belmopan, so she called him and he promised to head out to see if they could get Tinkerbell going again. While he waited, Tom had a good visit with Lena, the breeder, and Beli, although he said that the puppies were filthy. Lena was in a bad car accident a few weeks ago and is still pretty beat up, so she’s doing what she can, but it’s not as much as usual. Tom said Beli is really cute, and Lena said she’ll be ready to pick up next week; I guess the puppy shot schedule was moved up so Lena can send the pups to their new homes and cut down on the work she has to do in the kennel. We really want to be in the cabin before we bring her home, but given the circumstances, I guess we’ll figure something out since we have to go to Belmopan to get our passports stamped next week anyway.

Tom went back to the truck and waited for the mechanic, who didn’t show up two hours after the call. So, Tom hoofed it back to Lena’s, she called again, and the mechanic promised to leave that minute, which he apparently did since he showed up at the truck less than a half hour later. They put the belts on well enough to get the truck to the shop in Belmopan, where they put them on more permanently, and Tom was back on the road to Crooked Tree.

By the time he got to the transmission place in Crooked Tree, the truck was making enough noise that everybody in the shop came out to see what had just arrived when Tom pulled into the driveway. The owner of the shop was yelling at Tom not to shut off the truck because he was afraid they wouldn’t be able to get it started to get it into the shop, but Tom couldn’t hear him so he shut the truck off to hear better. Oops! But, it started, and they pulled it in at about 2:30 pm. Tom was amazed at their efficiency and speed. They found that it wasn’t what the mechanic in Spanish Lookout had said, but it was transmission related because the fly wheel needed to be replaced. Because the broken fly wheel was causing the engine to vibrate, all the belts that had just been put on in Belmopan were loose again and ready to break. They had the truck taken apart within 45 minutes, and had it fixed and back together by 5:30, despite the fact that Tom got there about 3 hours after they had planned from the original phone call in Spanish Lookout.

In the meantime, I’d been working around the property all day, and figured Tom would be home by 6:00, since as far as I knew he hadn’t left Spanish Lookout, and all the stores there close at 5:00, and it takes about an hour to get home. Tom still wasn’t home at 7:00, so I figured he may have had problems hauling the load of wood he was planning to get, so I went about my business as usual, took a shower, and made dinner. When 7:30 rolled around, I was starting to get a little bit worried. Even on the day when he and I reloaded the load of lumber in the road, we’d been home by shortly after 7:00. I couldn’t even get mad at Tom because the cell phone doesn’t work here, so he had it with him, but he couldn’t call me. At 8:00, I decided to turn on the battery for the satellite and check to see if he’d left me a Skype message or an email, and I looked up our cell phone number so I could borrow a neighbor’s phone and try to call him if he hadn’t left a message. He pulled in the driveway just as I was putting away the cell phone bill and heading to the cabin to turn on the inverter.

It hadn’t occurred to us to come up with an emergency contact plan when one of us is home and one is out, but fortunately we’re used to thinking each other’s thoughts, so Tom had tried to do exactly what I expected. Unfortunately, the international minutes on our phone needed to call our Skype number had expired, so Tom had no way to leave a message. But, he had left the phone on, so if I had gone to a neighbor’s to call the cell phone, he would have answered. Our plan now is to get a phone card and keep it with the phone in the truck, and not activate it unless we need it. Then, if we need to contact the other while we’re out, we can leave a Skype message, which the one left at home can retrieve from the computer. This doesn’t help with things like me not knowing what sized screws to buy when I’m at the hardware store since we don’t usually have the computer on all day, but it will at least give us a way to leave a message so whoever is at home doesn’t have to worry about the other being dead on the road somewhere. Ninety percent of the time I’m really enjoying life without a phone, but in situations like this one even I miss the convenience of always being somehow wired and able to communicate anywhere at any time.

Having spent the day in Crooked Tree, Tom didn’t do any of the errands he’d planned to do in Spanish Lookout on Monday afternoon. He had left Monday morning with our neighbor’s trailer so he could haul back the long wall and ceiling boards from the lumbermill. When he left for Crooked Tree, he left the trailer at the mechanic’s in Spanish Lookout, so he was off again bright and early Tuesday morning to retrieve the trailer, get Tinkerbell’s exhaust system fixed, and do the rest of the Spanish Lookout errands. That was good for the entire day, but at least Tom came home last night with everything had had planned to get on Monday, without any further trauma.

Although Tom missed two days of work, Selwyn kept himself very busy here and got a lot done. He finished most of the one-person carpentry jobs, and did a little bit of digging in the soakaway. I scrubbed three sides of the second cabin, so at least the outside of that is ready for construction as soon as we get our stuff into the first cabin. Today, Tom and Selwyn are planning to finish the ceiling in the front room of the first cabin, so the number of tasks needed to make that cabin inhabitable is down to what can be counted on one hand. Tom is, of course, a little wound up about missing two days – and he has to miss another on Friday when he takes Tinkerbell back to Spanish Lookout for her original appointment which was rescheduled from Monday to Friday – so I’ve agreed that our recreational activity this weekend will be to put the shower in the first cabin. It won’t be a “tourist activity” but it should be fun because we got tile we really like and we’re both eager to see how it looks when it’s done. Not to mention, of course, that we want out of the camper.

We’re really psyched to get out of the camper, but Nock will miss her driveway lizard hunting opportunities. She watched one sunning itself on the stones outside the camper door, and when I let her out it ran down a hole. Like a true terrier, Nock wasn’t going to let it get away without trying her best. Unfortunately for her, the lizard won this one.

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