Author: Doug

Another dead light bulb

Aren’t these things supposed to last eight years? Well, we have been here a little more than eight years, and this bulb is kaput.

dead Philips compact fluorescent light bulb

To be fair, it was in my wife’s office, and heavily used. It’s also definitely more than a year or two old, whenever it was I started writing the date and source on the bulb in indelible marker as soon as I got it home.

You may recall the wretched bulbs Tienda Inglesa introduced after its American takeover.


Around the garden

Posting about the squash plants yesterday inspired me to survey the area in which I plan to plant them.


squash seedlings

They’re already growing there! And the more you look, the more you see.

squash seedlings

Here’s a nearby clump in the shade of one of the little orange trees.

squash seedlings

Nearby, under the pine tree, a pigeon egg met its demise in yesterday’s very strong winds. Note the epiphyte as well.

fallen pigeon egg and epiphyte


My squash garden

Some time ago, after preparing a calabacín (here butternut squash, not zucchini) for dinner, I took the “guts” with the seeds, threw them in some dirt in a flower pot, and said dare you to grow!

They took up the dare, and before too long I found myself having to replant 35 seedlings.

Of the five or six I planted alongside the house, only one appears to have survived.

Butternut squash seedling

And I notice we have a volunteer avocado tree there as well, which needs a better location.

avocado seedling

A few months ago, when we had avocados daily, I tried starting quite a few of the seeds. None took. So here’s one apparently spilled out of the “compost” barrel (which never gets hot enough to actually compost anything), thriving.

This is why I don’t take gardening too seriously. If things want to grow, they grow. If I want them to grow, well, maybe. Still: time to get those babies into the ground!


Dog walk observations

A snake. Of the dogs, only Benji paid attention. When the snake adopted what looked like a striking position, we were both yelling at him to leave it alone.

He did, and it continued on its way off the path.

Recent winds turned the sand “roads” into recording media.

We stare at them, perplexed. We did settle on one type of track (not shown here) being caused by a beetle. But these remain mysterious.

And this must (?) be from a lizard, probably 20-30 cm long.


The Great Backhoe Heist

We were working feverishly at our chacra (mini-farm, 14 acres with small house) in preparation for the arrival of a tenant, the second Canadian-dwelling family member of Germany-Russian neighbors who really wanted to rent. Alas, also the second Canadian-dwelling family member of Germany-Russian neighbors who cancelled his trip at the last minute. (Can you guess to whom we won’t be offering to rent in the future?)

I thought it a good idea to flush the rooftop water tank (which overflows back into the well) by letting the windmill run nonstop, but the windmill suddenly started making dinosaur noises: give me grease! I immediately thought of my Namibian friend Burkhart, who lives a kilometer or so up Ruta 11. His farm hand dealt with our windmill a year ago, when Burkhart briefly lived there. Lubricate it myself? At age 63, while fit, I’m not particularly (read: AT ALL) comfortable messing around at the top of an 8-meter windmill tower, with the disengaged fins still pivoting in the wind.

(I’ll work on that: I should be!)

I had phoned Burkhart moments before for advice about our hot water heater (giza in southern Africa), but felt that asking help with the windmill warranted a visit in person.

So I drove to his place. Heading out our dirt road, I noticed a couple guys messing around with our neighbor Jerry’s backhoe.

Burkhart wasn’t at home. Nice chat with his wife. Noticed an accident a couple hundred meters further. Cops, fire truck, some truck off the side the side of the road, or something. Headed back.

Back on our side road, passed someone driving away with Jerry’s backhoe. Behind, a pickup with flashers on. I waved at both.

Got to our place. Phoned Jerry: is this legit, someone driving away with your backhoe?

Jerry: know nothing. Heading north or south on Ruta 11? If north, maybe going to Burkhart’s place.

Back in the car. Photograph the perps.

pickup, backhoe, Uruguay

Call Jerry: they’re turning north on 11. If they proceed past Burkhart’s, I’ll go on ahead to alert traffic police that they’re stealing the backhoe.

At Burkhart’s driveway on the right, I pull off to the left and park. They pass Burkhart’s driveway. I speed on ahead to report to the police that the approaching backhoe is a stolen vehicle. I have to repeat it, perhaps because I’m not mumbling enough to be understood by a normal Urugayan. Another policía transito appears. I repeat my accusation of a theft in progress.


No no, he says, he’s a friend of the owner. The gringo?

And the backhoe turns off the road to help clean up the mess.

It took two hours for the clean up, Burkhart later tells me. Who’s paying the time? The fuel? The machine hours? I doubt Jerry cares, but…

….apparently it didn’t occur to them to tell the backhoe’s owner what they were doing?

Why do I even bother to pay attention?