Jan 23, 2016

Winter, 2015-2016

The rather cryptic subtitle refers to the Jiminy Cricket character who rode the shoulder of Gipetto's puppet Pinocchio who was turned into a boy and required advice to prevent his nose from growing if he didn't tell the whole truth. The original intent involved critiques of Barry County government where the whole truth rarely emerged. Later, the blog focused on visits to our winter home in Costa Rica.

This summer and winter have been the occasion of experiencing three different forms of healthcare and observing the lack of the whole truth compared with my own personal experience and observation. The cricket has returned.

Nov 29, 2014

Winter Quarters, 2014-2015

We fulfilled our obligation to observe one winter storm in Michigan before leaving for Bello Oriente, Costa Rica. The "Alberta Clipper" dumped record amounts of snow east of each of the Great Lakes, but we had an uneventful bus ride to Detroit on the Michigan Flyer, and passed through the TSA without incident. The Spirit pilot landed in San Jose without even a bump, and we were soon outdoors in 72 degree weather.
From 20F to 20C
After getting the house opened and supplied with water and electricity, we took the buses to Paso Canoas to further our quest for Permanent Residency. Paso Canoas is a border town and in addition to the expected congestion it is always HOT! We had a good experience and got a return appointment for January.
Before long it was Thanksgiving with friends.
The local people are commenting on how nice it is to have summer arrive, with less rain.
After a particularly hard rain, the morning opened with a view of the Pacific that included a supertanker of crude oil from Valdez, Alaska.
These supertankers are too large for the Panama Canal, so they attach to a pipeline that pumps the crude across the isthmus to a supertanker on the other side.
There are plans to build another canal in Nicaragua, and a refinery in Costa Rica, in case you may have been thinking that demand for fossil fuels would decline because of global climate change.

Mar 27, 2014

Environmental Destruction

About 120 feet below the altitude of our winter home in Costa Rica is a swimming hole formed by at least thousands of years of water falling 60 feet over a waterfall. The ministry responsible for protecting waterways enforces a law prohibiting even the removal of vegetation from anywhere near the water.

This year a neighbor hired a bulldozer to carve a new road into the side of his hill and then left the heavy equipment operator to his own devices as he drove off on other business. The road stretched far beyond the intent and eventually huge amounts of soil were pushed into the stream above the waterfall. After months of manual labor, some of the damage has been repaired, but we are waiting to see how much of the road will end up being washed into the stream when the wet season brings heavy rains. Already some moderate rain has caused a mudslide and collapse of the soil above the road. You can see this in the top right of the photo.

Jul 27, 2013

Summer, 2013

Somehow I feel that I should apologize. I am dog-sitting here at Duncan Lake, just south of Caledonia, Michigan. The summer is nearly half gone, and my life has become a convergence of too many things unfinished and too little of my actuarial life left to get it all done. Three days a week have been spent at the Grand Rapids Fulton Street Farmers Market where they claim 3000 people visit each day. As often as possible I greet people passing by my booth and try to lure them into a conversation about "worm poop and charcoal".
The house in Hastings is still headquarters for AbonoChar LLC, and the Wilkinson clan. We had a few wonderful weeks of visits from our out-of-the-state children, and got to hold our fourteenth grandchild, Svea Wren Wilkinson, of the Grand Canyon branch. The Minnesota branch gathered as well, and we were celebrating something or other nearly every day.
Costa Rica continues to provide daily adventures, and we may have many visitors next winter. I am much more diligent about my journals from C.R. that I call the "International GeoGrandpa" weekly photo-journals. There are about 75 "subscribers", and just enough of them say nice things about them to keep me busily recording. Perhaps the big difference is that an ordinary day in C.R. involves accomplishing only one thing, while life in the multi-tasking USA tends to travel at the pace of the March Hare.
I was more-or-less forced into learning how to develop an ecommerce web site BioPretaSuperSoil and if you don't know what that is just click on it and you will see what I built one piece at a time. It promotes my new product line that is supposed to help in a small way to save this planet.
The growers of "medical" marijuana are much better botanists than the outdoor gardener, partly because a good mother plant is worth thousands of dollars. Some of them have been a great help to me, although I'm not a customer of theirs. Here is a picture of some plants that have had remarkable growth as a result of using "BioPreta".
In time, the technology they are developing will spread into production of organic produce in the urban environment within walking distance of the consumer. Already there have been reports of a 90,000 square foot indoor farm in Chicago (FarmedHere)
Maybe I will be inspired to update my blogs.

Jun 26, 2012

As always, the adventure continues. Grandma returned to the USA ahead of me, to visit distant children and grandchildren. I was allowed to find my way home to Hastings by sheer luck and cunning when the flight out of Costa Rica was delayed for five hours, turning the 7-hour flight into a 30-hour replay of planes-buses-taxis and cars.

Carmelino replaced Alejandro as my helper. We transplanted so many jungle plants on the slopes in front and behind the house that we may have to chop our way back in when fall returns. Neighbors are grazing three horses in the back end of the property and they have made much of the tangled undergrowth into a park.

My passion has turned into a new business that I have named AbonoChar LLC, which has its own blogspot. We are hoping that other people will become as enthusiastic about the combination of vermicompost and biochar as we are.

Nov 3, 2011

Winter is coming, again.

We will leave again for Bello Oriente, Costa Rica on November 15. It has been another fun summer with our family. William Thomas Hoisington XIII (our 13th grandchild) is not a baby anymore.
The motorcycle will soon be mine. I built a "for sale" sign for the house that should stand for 3-5 years while people realize its value. Caught a few bluegills and ate them.
Most importantly, the book "Mas Alla del Compost" made it to Amazon, and we visited Mark and Melissa Sisson in Cadillac(MI) who own Michigan Biochar. Biochar has become a new passion.
It seems like we live two years for every one year that passes. It will be a pleasure to leave the USA with its extravagance and return to the simplicity of rural Costa Rica, but we are spoiled enough to enjoy returning to the conveniences of complexity in May.

May 17, 2011

We're back in the USA

Under construction, but while I try to find the photos taken in 2010-2011 here is a slideshow of the waterfall, and the construction of the house in the cloud forest beginning in 2006-07. Scroll down and watch both at the same time:

Jan 11, 2011

International GeoGrandpa

I have been publishing a weekly photojournal from Costa Rica, which included some abrasive political views and a wandering style, and have made a decision to reform myself. Starting now, the journal will attempt to have fewer words, more pictures, and hopefully three of my grand-daughters will help to make it interesting to people who read at the 8th grade level, more or less. I have the encouragement of some of my adult kids.

This is going to be difficult for me, but it will force me to become a better person.

I have been accused of promoting Costa Rica as a paradise, but I would encourage you to consider a retirement destination in one of the 14 countries that have absolutely no standing military, as we have, at least for a winter haven. The link on the side will give you some possible places where violence is not the first resort for resolving conflicts. If you are one of the 10,000 per day retiring baby boomers consider these Western Hemisphere places:
St. Lucia
St. Vincent
the Grenadines
and perhaps; Haiti
or, even:
Belize or Honduras
Nobody spends more money on military solutions and violence than the USA!

Oct 21, 2010

Fall, 2010

It is that time again, to hug the grandkids goodbye, and migrate with the birds for the winter.

We will fly from Grand Rapids, Michigan, on November 13 and stop in Durango, Colorado for a week at Mesa Verde Nat'l Park and Grand Canyon with Tim (hijo numero dos) and his new bride Katy (both Federal Law Enforcement Park Rangers who met at Yellowstone NP)
From there we fly to SJO and ... our plans, so far, ...

We hope that the laptop will connect with a satellite and we may have access to the internet from the house on the hill.
We have invited many people to visit, but in the words of a priest-friend "Many are cold, but few are frozen"

From Summer - 2010

It has been a fun summer. A friend has allowed me to use his Honda Twinstar CM200T motorcycle, and my first experience at riding involved over 4000 miles of open road in SW Lower Michigan, from Traverse City south.

From Soilless Gardening

Late summer involved the Hastings Farmers Market and the opportunity to meet many people who share my interests in vermiculture and the potential of soilless gardening to feed the world.

Jul 28, 2010


Thanks to another "expatriot" (a person who lives in another country than where they are a citizen) I learned that the government of the USA has renewed an agreement with the government of Costa Rica that originally allowed the U.S.Coast Guard (Treasury Department + ATF + DEA) to pursue suspected drug trafficers into the waters of Costa Rica.

There has been a change in this agreement that is hardly a minor adjustment.

Until 31 December 2010, the USA has gained permission to also station 46 fully-armed ships of the U.S.Navy (Department of "Defense" + Navy Department + Pentagon) including submarines, helicopters, and (hold your breath!) seven thousand (7000) fully-armed U.S.Marines and all the equipment it takes to invade a foreign country (trucks, and armored vehicles) ... in a country that has no standing military forces to defend itself.

Most disturbing to me is the lack of interest by the news media of the USA, in spite of highly vocal resistance in Costa Rica by people who oppose this military intervention.

A case may be made that the agreement was made between the Presidente of Costa Rica (Laura Chinchilla) and the Ambassador of the USA (Anne ...) but any thinking person has to ask how a country as small and vulnerable as Costa Rica can refuse to allow a huge military force from the Collossus of the North permission to take over its sovereign territory.

Visitors to San Jose should expect to see groups of armed U.S.Marines strolling the streets of what used to be a peaceful nation.

I am often asked if I feel safe living in a "foreign country". I will have to answer, "Well, I used to feel a lot safer!".