Tuesday, July 2, 2013

pitirre flies free

So can I first just say that it was hard to let this little bird go? I definitely got attached to him, and I think it was mostly because he treated both Evan and I as parental figures. Each time we passed by his box and looked in, there would be a mouth open and exciting chirping for food. One day, we both had to go to the island for work, so we brought him along since he needed to be fed every few hours. 

It was amazing to watch his transformation from a frightened, weak little bird into this beautiful creature that you see in the last photo. This was taken on the day that we released him. We noticed that he would try to fly from his box, and would sometimes find him perched on the top ledge. This was wonderful, because we were interpreting it as a sign that he was ready to try to leave the nest. 

So we brought him outside, put his box on the ground and let him decide when he was ready. It took a few minutes, but he eventually hopped to the ledge and perched. Of course, it was actually Sophie who prompted him to fly when she approached as a interested dog. Pitirre (we called him that or just simply "bird") flew to a tree and remained there for an hour at least. 

We grew to know his song and could identify him wherever he moved in the trees around our house. We followed the sound for a few hours while we worked at home, telling each other "oh I hear him back there behind the house" or "he's moved over to that mango tree next door" and eventually to "oh look, he's right back here by the house, I can see him!". That was an exciting afternoon to find him right back near where we released him. He would cock his head to the side and peer down at us - in what we hoped was recognition, but that might be assuming a lot. 

However, the most interesting and amazing part of this story is what happened a few days later. Evan went for a morning run at the beach and heard Pitirre on his way. He stopped and looked up and found him amongst some other smaller, juveniles just like him. They were perched on electrical wires overhead, and Pitirre was distanced from the other two. He noticed two parent birds bringing food to the other babies, but that Pitirre was left out, just watching and hoping to be included. Evan continued on his run and came back to the house to get me. So we walked back down and by that time, Pitirre had joined the others and we saw the two parent birds supply him with food as well. It brought such a smile to our faces that he was welcomed into another brood. How amazing is it that this little bird could be nurtured back to health by two humans, and then return to the wild and pick up right where he left off? 

It's been a week now and I don't hear him in our trees as often. I think I've even lost some of the recognition of his song, it has blended together with the others. But I suppose that's the way it should be and I'm thankful that he's safe and strong and ready to take on the world here in Rincon.

Friday, June 21, 2013

pitirre of puerto rico

Yesterday, Evan and I rescued this tiny baby bird from an almost certain death. We believe this is a baby Pitirre, or Gray Kingbird - very common to Puerto Rico. We noticed him when walking down to the beach with Sophie and our friends from Florida. I spotted him on the sidewalk, where he apparently had jumped from his nest in the adjacent telephone pole. Since the nest was well out of reach, we gently placed him in the grass so he was at least out of the way of passing dogs, cats, cars and bikes. We also noticed that the two parent birds were perched on the wires above, seemingly trying to figure out what to do next.  Evan told me that the whole "don't touch the bird or the mom will not return" was a myth, so we felt confident we did the right thing. 

Several hours later, after returning from San Juan airport and a tasty meal at MenTa Cuisine in Arecibo, we were finally home and able to relax. I asked Evan if he wanted to run down the hill and see if the baby bird was still around, so he obliged. And of course, he was there nestled in the grass, sleeping - exhausted, dehydrated, scared and stressed out. That was it -- we decided we would take our chances at helping him survive as it appeared those chances were slowly diminishing the longer he remained out of the nest. 

We found a great source online about how to care for baby birds. Last night, we took an old shoe box and added some paper towels and a torn piece of old tee-shirt to make a nest. The bird wasn't interested in eating, so we had to use a syringe to force a bit of food in him since it was clear he had not eaten in over 8 hours (the guide says birds of about 20 days old need food every 2-3 hours). Once fed, he slept soundly in his makeshift nest in our office and we went to sleep wondering how this would turn out in the morning.... 

Low and behold, we were woken to the sweet sounds of a hungry baby bird! He seemed full of life and was eager to take the moistened, ground dog chow and ground boiled egg (60% / 20% respectively). I upgraded his shoe box to a larger, high walled cardboard box. I then added twigs for perching, which I poked through the box to keep them stable. I added a new "nest" of clean cotton tee-shirt and completed the assembly with two flat lids of water. 

I have been feeding him about every 1.5 hours, because he seems so eager to eat and I'm trying to help him make up for lost energy and the stressful episode of yesterday. He's been singing all day - I have his box outside and out of reach of roaming cats (and Sophie) were he can get a little vitamin D. 

Evan and I both seem hopeful that he will make a positive comeback and we hope to release him back into the wild in the next week or two. 

Have you ever cared for a baby bird or other wildlife? What was your experience? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations - things to do or not to do?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

celebrating another year of love

So here we are again, rounding the corner of another year together. This summer makes three years of learning, growing and discovering more about our relationship. Do you remember last year when I told you the story of how Evan and I met? Well this year I'll try something a little different... I'll give you some insight into why I love this man.

There are certain qualities that I really value in a person, some are the common things like traits of humility, God-loving & -fearing, faithful and family oriented, protective and selfless. Then I admire others like: ability to fix things, create things and the love of working outdoors. I recall when I met Evan that I admired him for all these things - particularly his common sense and plethora of knowledge. He is intelligent in more than just science and book-smarts. Evan has worldly experience, he knows the ins and outs of the workings of people and society - things I tend to be absentminded about. 

We strike a good balance, he and I, in more ways than just cooking and baking. I know God brought us together and has plans for our teamwork. We have dreams, nonetheless, but I feel as though God shapes those dreams by putting you in the right place, the right time and in the right company. There are no coincidences.
We have bumps and hick ups along the way, just like any couple. But another thing I love about Evan is his level head and calmness in times of stress and overwhelming hardships. We moved to another country together - still fresh in our relationship - and learned to live and work side by side. The most amazing thing about all this is the fact that I am still learning about Evan, I'm still learning his history, his abilities, his talents, his passions, his qualities. We aren't numb, we aren't frozen or complacent after three years of dating. We are still young, warm-hearted and open to finding new reasons why we love each other. It's exciting, it's fun, it's the way it should be. 

This summer is jam-packed with research, friends visiting, short trips to the states and more research. We were hoping to take a quick trip to another Caribbean island, to just relax and explore a new part of our world here in the tropics. I want to be optimistic that this could still happen, but as our schedules fill up and our months get shorter - the promise of some well-deserved time alone for R&R seems to be slipping away. Nonetheless, we foresee a weekend trip to San Juan to celebrate at our favorite restaurant tradition for momentous occasions, Texas de Brazil.

Honestly, it's the small things and moments in life that really make the greatest impact. It's the morning breakfast I find waiting when I emerge from slumber, it's the smile I see on Evan's face when he brings back fish he caught for dinner, it's the look in his eyes when he says "I love you" and its the time spent together on the beach, watching the sun draw another day to a close.

Thanks for letting me share a little bit more about us :) 
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

a day of odds and twists and turns

Yesterday was a day of unexpected pitfalls and strange experiences. Sophie had an episode that frightened me to the bones. It was weird and unexplainable, and hopefully one that will never occur again. I've been praying all night and day so far, trying my hardest to place my trust in the Lord that He will protect my pup from harm. 

It started when Evan and I returned home from a normal day at school (normal except that I slipped and fell down a staircase, busting my bum and spilling my tea all over me - but managing to keep my tight grasp on my computer). Sophie was at the door, excited as usual. We let her outside where she wandered around.. as usual. I then went about my way doing some cleaning; she followed. Then, as I took a bag of garbage out to the trash, I noticed a pool of blood and liquid. I didn't know where it came from and it certainly wasn't there when we immediately got home. Sophie was on my tail, so I turned around to gently inquire if "she did this" (which, if guilt were present she would usually lower her head and shake her tail). I got no reaction. So I continued to the trash can. I turned around and she was sitting off to the side, awkward on her hunches. I called to her, she didn't budge. I went to her and knelt down, her eyes were hazy and looked like she was having trouble keeping herself upright. That's strange. So I called to Evan that something was wrong with Sophie. I picked her up and brought her inside where I sat her down to try to coax her to me a second time. She would try to lift her back legs, but nothing. She gave up and let herself slide down to the floor. Evan came inside, took one look at her eyes and we were off to the vet in a flash (a flash = 30 minute drive on twisting, turning Puerto Rican roads). 

He dropped me at the door, I rushed inside and immediately requested the vet - explaining her symptoms with a very distressed look and panic in my voice. The receptionist pushed me ahead of everyone else and brought me to the back where the vet was waiting. I explained her symptoms, he asked several questions ("did you see her vomit?" "did she convulse?") and then proceeded to draw blood for a series of tests. Except, her little veins would not cooperate - they ended up having to shave part of her leg and around her neck trying to find a large enough vein for the amount of blood required. After about 15 minutes of trying, he was unsuccessful at acquiring his dosage, but used what he could to run the chemistry.

We were there for over 2 hours. I witnessed one dog be put to sleep - something I never wanted to witness ever in my life. She was 20 years old. I turned my head and cried, while holding Sophie close to me as she shook with nervousness while awaiting her diagnosis.

The vet was baffled. Her blood work came back normal; she showed no signs of metabolic stress; no chemical signs of dehydration; no fever, no nothing. But he was worried nonetheless and treated her for dehydration as a precaution. 

Sophie looked and acted better after the introduction of fluids. I'm hoping that was all that was necessary - but am still confused as to how she could have become so dehydrated that she physically couldn't move? We were home all of 30 minutes before rushing to the vet. 

Once home, around 7:20PM, I offered her food mixed with more water than usual which she happily gobbled up. Evan cooked us egg burritos instead of our planned veggie stir fry and we sat on the couch with Sophie in between, observing her signs for the normal behavior (i.e. silent begging). I had to take her outside about every 30 minutes or she would begin to "dribble" urine which I just attributed to the massive amounts of fluid still lodged subcutaneously. 

Not being able to relax, I was googling the signs and symptoms of strokes and seizures in dogs. I noticed she exhibited a few, but nothing as severe as what the PetMD was suggesting. To this moment, I still haven't found anything that accurately depicts her episode and seemingly fast recovery.

I couldn't sleep at all last night; I tossed and turned every time that Sophie got up to reposition herself above my head or at my side. I was constantly petting her and checking her breathing. This morning, she jumped up and went running outside, chasing invisible cats and birds. She gobbled up her food, brought me her toys... I have no idea what to expect for later today or even tomorrow. I'm tempted to take her with me to class tomorrow as I'm so nervous to leave her at home in case of another strange episode. 

She's due for her yearly shots this month. So I'm planning to take her back to the vet on Friday for another check up and blood test. I'm praying for positive results and I'm praying for a cause or diagnosis that I work with and treat. I'm afraid of this unknown and it leaves me uneasy about her staying at home while I'm over an hour away at school. She might become my pocket pup for the next few days until I start to feel more confident in her recovery. 

Has anyone had anything like this occur in your dog?
Please send your prayers our way.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I have a green thumb afterall...

Do you remember when I gave you a tour of our backyard? It's in this post [here] - do you remember my lemon tree seedlings that I sprouted from a couple seeds?  Well, here they are again:

I'm so proud of this little tree! Even though its rather [incredibly] unlikely that I'll ever see lemons produced from it, I'm still in awe that this delicate little citrus came from a couple dried seeds that I haphazardly tossed in the window sill then covered in a moist paper towel actually produced anything viable.

In Puerto Rico, the word limon refers to limes & lemons both - but if you ask for a limon, you will most likely receive a lime. When we first moved to our home, we explored the land to learn what trees we have in our presence - we discovered plantains and limes! So we quickly added avocado and bananas, and just recently a starfruit. 

We've discovered the hardy plants to dessication during the dry season, and those less susceptible to root rot in the wet season - culantro (a more sturdy leaf cousin of cilantro) and rosemary. Both of our respective bushes have just trucked along through any weather condition.

We are both aching to plant more vegetables, but Puerto Rico lacks any true top soil. Any that you add to the ground quickly dries up and reveals the clay-cracked earth below. So we've banished our herbs to the raised garden box we built, while tomatoes and ginger are rooted in individual containers. But I'd just love a thick garden bed, flourishing with cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, squash, jalapenos, blackberries... just like the little garden that my folks and grandparents had when I was younger. I remember many summers picking blackberries from their bushes - even though at the time I was not fond of blackberries at all. My brother and I would try to find the biggest ones and compare to see who would win. I thought of these moments when Evan and I hiked through the pacific redwood forest and stumbled upon wild blackberries. And now I think of these again as I yearn for an actual vegetable garden. 

Several friends in town have real gardens and working farms. I know their secret is likely loads of TLC and attention to growing seasons, details and individual plant handling. All things that Evan and I can't donate to our own garden dreams due to previous responsibilities of research and studies. But we have a goal that we're working towards and I know we'll get there eventually - even if it means sacrificing until we no longer have class and full-time research obligations. And that is in the foreseeable future. 

Take care and enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

experimenting with spelt flour

I apologize for neglecting this storyboard for awhile. I got too carried away over at sea,field and tribe. But I'd love to share my cloudy day experiment from Saturday, and I figured why not share it here?

I received a package of spelt flour from my mother for Christmas. She bought it from Williams Sonoma (one of her favorite stores) and figured it would be something useful for me to bake with. Ever since I moved to Puerto Rico, it's been difficult to find the normal (err... well, normal for a larger city's grocer I guess) baking supplies like Madagascar vanilla, vanilla beans at all, pastry flour or even any regular flour that doesn't cost $5.00 a bag. So gift ideas always include baking or cooking items. For instance, Evan received a special type of olive oil and a jar of hazelnut oil, along with an Italian cookbook for every type of fish. Perfect!

Anyways, I also received Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday cookbook from my grandparents. Flipping through the book, I found a recipe for yogurt biscuits with spelt flour. And there we go! Something I love and adore as comfort food for my soul [biscuits] and a chance to use my new flour = the perfect cloudy/rainy afternoon baking endeavor.

Simple and wholesome ingredients and very basic directions. I drizzled some cheddar cheese on top of a couple biscuits, and included fresh rosemary and thyme for a herb taste. Want this recipe? Here's a link to it. I used cold butter, plain yogurt and half spelt flour, half all purpose flour - you'll need to know those differences. Then just chop up a handful of fresh herbs and toss them into the batter.

Drizzle with some of your favorite local wildflower honey. I used east Texas wildflower honey from Mr. Robert Hughes' apiary only one county road over from my parents house. Delicious. Now if only I could acquire this flour on the island. Any suggestions for online grocers? OR if you happen to know specialty shops in PR, I'm open to those ideas too! 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

evan's birthday surprise

For Evan's birthday this year, I put together a little Mexican inspired surprise, complete with pinata!
I'm going to share the experience with you so that maybe you can re-create this idea for your own celebration! So, Evan turned 30 this year which is kind of a milestone, I think! So I wanted to give him something to remember that special day, other than our 6 hours of classes and commuting. So for several days prior to Nov. 15, I would work on constructing a homemade pinata while he was away surfing in the morning. Yes, the pinata was homemade and it was incredibly easy to make.