Just finished this book. Very good!

There are usually 2 or more books on my Kindle that I am working on, more if you count some I have started and will probably never finish. I have to “enjoy” or “get something out of” a book to continue reading it to the finish.

My favorite “little” books that I enjoy reading for pure fun are Agatha Christie mysteries. I’m now focused on finishing all the Hercule Poirot series in the recommended order of happening which is important only because some of the stories refer back to earlier stories that even figure into the details of the mystery. Then I will finish all the Miss Marple books not already read. I like her books because she is a very good storyteller with very entertaining stories that often have the element of surprise. Plus they are shorter than most “classic” books with shorter chapters, making them easier to read. Next up from her is Lord Edgware Dies. 

In addition I am trying to continue adding more of the “classics” which sometimes bore me or they are just too long, but often are the best writing. I currently have volume 1 of The Charles Dickens Collection which is just 3 books, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and Bleak House. I am currently almost bogged down in Oliver Twist which is a longer/bigger book than I realized, having seen at least 2 of the 4 movies made from it. And as usual a lot is left out of the movies! I remember the 2005 and 1968 movies and so decided to try the B&W 1948 movie online. I quit after 40 minutes. It is just not as complete a story or as good as reading the book, though a slow read. I intend to finish reading the real story and then may retry one or both of the more modern movie versions. We will see. I have already interrupted Oliver with one Poirot story and may do so again before finishing. Dickens is an excellent descriptive writer, almost too descriptive so that I get bogged down or bored with too much detail. But still better than that ’48 movie!  🙂

I used to read a lot of inspirational books but have found the last few I tried not so inspirational and not something I need as much now. Plus the politics of so many Christian writers now has turned me off reading anything they say. I now stick with reading the Bible every day and a few writers like C.S. Lewis or Richard Foster whom I know I can trust.

Most of my “real” or paper books are reference books on birds and other nature subjects and of course a collection of my own travel photos in little books. They are on my coffee table and something visitors can thumb through if bored.

Somehow I have not seen my reading as something to write about in the blog and that may be good because it could get bogged down in mystery plots and minutia. But reading is what I do instead of watching TV at night plus I can also read a chapter on the bus ride to Alajuela or while eating a meal, so Kindle is a travel and dining companion of sorts!  🙂  And of course I will never get through all the classics! After Dickens I may go back for more of Hemingway. I love his writing.

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
–Stephen King
Charlie Doggett
Retired (and reading) in Costa Rica
¡Pura Vida!

“Real” & Electronic Books

“Real” Book
Trees of Panama & Costa Rica
Electronic Book
Hercule Poirot: The
Complete Short Stories
I don’t buy many “real” or paper books any more with my Kindle Fire and the easy access to so many books electronically. And as an Agatha Christie fan, the Kindle has been a great joy for me with basically no storage space needed! And the best deal yet has been my current reading of The Complete Short Stories of Hercule Poirot. The cover says “More than 50” which of course means 51 stories, almost like 51 little books. I’ve loved every one as I’m now on the last 12 which are sort of related in their connections to the Roman mythology of Hercules, Hercule Poirot’s namesake! (Note that Hercules Roman mythology is similar to the Heracles Greek mythology.) And equally interesting is that this last series of 12 stories were all written in the year of my birth, 1940, and first published in magazines in both England and the U.S. Cool!
But nature reference guides are mostly easier to use in paper format, so my new “real” book on the trees of Costa Rica will hopefully help me identify more of the trees I see and photograph here. Experts know the names of around 3,400 trees here (more than all of U.S. & Canada combined and they still have not identified them all here. This particular book includes Panama which has a lot of overlap with Costa Rica and is produced by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Isla Barro Colorado in the middle of Lake Gatun, Panama which I visited Dec. 2013, making me confident this is the most authoritative resource available for now. And though I haven’t gotten into photographing trees like I do birds and other animals, the importance of trees ranks near the top as ecology indicators and value to us humans.
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” 
 Kahlil Gibran


Illustrated by my photo at Tambor Bay last Christmas:
If a tree dies, plant another in its place.   -Carolus Linnaeus

“Nature As Art” Business Card

I still have my “Enjoying Retirement” business cards but these are for a select few wanting photos:
NOTICE: I introduced a NEW BUSINESS CARD in September 2018 with one of my bird photos.
Okay, I’m not resurrecting my old photography business in the full sense, but a few persons have asked about getting my photos, so using what is already online, my photos are available for order through three websites I already use. Those sites produce the items and make the money with a small % to me.
  1. For Wall Art the Smugmug Shop has good options (click “BUY” at bottom of enlarged photo) and my new favorite is the wall art photo printed on metal in the glossy format.I’ve ordered several for my house walls here in Costa Rica – birds of course!  🙂  There are several other items available with any of my photos printed on them under the headings of “Keepsakes” and “Phone Cases” and the best part is there are more photos to choose from on my Smugmug gallery!
  2. The Cafe Press shop THIS SHOP CLOSED was set up years ago with Tennessee + USA photos you can still order if you like and one old Costa Rica Birds Calendar. I am slowly adding new Costa Rica photos here and items not available on my newer Smugmug Shop like T-shirts and calendars.   See the direct link to Costa Rica Birds T-Shirts below. I plan to add some new bird calendars soon, then other items. Slowly! I’m retired!  🙂
  3. My Bookstore is another animal!  I mainly make the photo books for my own personal enjoyment and a way to show some of my photos to other people here locally. One of each is available to see in my Living Room. And all are available for purchase and include more than just reports on trips. I have even put a lifetime of scrapbooks together photographically in a 4-volume biography set of books for family history buffs. And yeah, there may be a fifth volume eventually about my retirement in Costa Rica.  🙂
The business cards were recently ordered and will be used locally when someone here asks about buying my photos. But you guys in the states have the same access to internet orders with less expensive shipping and no import tax, so maybe they are a better deal for you!  🙂   Enjoy!
Nature As Art
Costa Rica Style
Though I have this wall too full (cluttered), here are examples of both metal and canvas wall art photos.
Atenas, Costa Rica



Costa Rica Birds on T-Shirts(CLICK title to see all 30+ choices)
Squirrel Cuckoo Men’s  Classic T-Shirt
If you like birds and like having them on T-Shirts, here’s 30+ choices of birds you can wear on a very high quality T-Shirt from my store. (More to be added) In another section of that store you can find more birds on T-Shirts that I photographed earlier in various places in the United States including the Florida Everglades & Nashville Zoo. And also other products like calendars, coffee mugs or canvas tote bags. Fun!
Sunbittern Women’s Classic T-Shirt

Wear Nature!


Interesting news article and video:  Amazing Encounter of Tourists with Baby Humpback Whale
¡Pura Vida!
Retired in Costa Rica

Robinson Crusoe I’m Not, But . . .

Cover Plates of the first edition in 1719.

As much as I might like to compare my adventures in this tropical rainforest to a story like The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, possibly the first English novel, my modern conveniences and friendly natives are a completely different world than the one Daniel Defoe described on the little island near Trinidad & Tobago for Robinson’s unique adventures of surviving on the island for 28 years before rescue in the 1600’s supposedly. But I too “came to the woods” just for a different purpose.

I just read it almost as a parallel to my last year’s reading of Don Quixote, the first Spanish novel. Though lacking in many modern writing skills, it is a simple and hardy adventure story that is easy to read, with fewer boring moments than Don Quixote. Here is a good synopsis or description of the book found on Wikipedia:

Robinson Crusoe[a] /ˌrɒbɪnsən ˈkrs/ is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719. The first edition credited the work’s protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.[2]     

Epistolaryconfessional, and didactic in form, the book is presented as an autobiography of the title character (whose birth name is Robinson Kreutznaer)—a castaway who spends twenty-eight years on a remote tropical desert island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued.

The story has since been thought to be based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on a Pacific island called “Más a Tierra”, now part of Chile, which was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966,[3] but various literary sources have also been suggested.

Despite its simple narrative style, Robinson Crusoe was well received in the literary world and is often credited as marking the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre. It is generally seen as a contender for the first English novel.[4] Before the end of 1719, the book had already run through four editions, and it has gone on to become one of the most widely published books in history, spawning numerous imitations in film, television and radio that its name was used to define a genre, Robinsonade.

One of many illustrations from
many editions of the book.
Here he saves Friday’s life from
the cannibals & gains a servant.

I went on to begin reading Defoe’s sequel to his very popular book, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. In short, not as good! (As most sequels!) He tries to take Robinson back to the island and populate it and much is an unrealistic stretch that is more boring and less adventure than the first book. I put it down and have not finished reading it, which came as a bonus with my Amazon digital copy of the original book.

But I hardily recommend the primary book as a classic representation of adventurous & religious men of the 1600’s! To be honest, I liked it better than Don Quixote, maybe because it was shorter and easier to read and less complicated development of characters. Devout Christians will like the ultimate confessional and faith elements included in Crusoe’s story.

And how cool is it to have read the first English novel AND the first Spanish novel?!   History!  Life insights!  Fun!

The more I read, the more complete my life feels!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!   . . . Loving Life!

We come to the woods for many reasons!
See the cool video Save the Americans  and go “full screen” 

Reading the Classics

Montage of “Overlooked Classics” from Christianity Today
One of the things I am doing as a retiree in Costa Rica is reading more than maybe ever before and adding the old classics to my list. To me this goes along with walking for my healthy lifestyle and sure beats anything I can find on TV! 
I am currently reading Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe which is a great adventure as well as an experience in history and geography. Of course it is a novel, but they sailed down the African coast right by The Gambia where I spent 3 years of my life, and after his time in Brazil where I’ve been on a mission trip, he was on a ship that crashed on a little island somewhere near Trinidad and Tobago in the south Caribbean, where my first tropical adventure outside Mexico took place as a Brotherhood Commission Consultant starting Royal Ambassador work on that tropical island with a missionary. 
Reading excites your imagination and helps you relive real life experiences while giving knowledge, adventure, entertainment and a vision for creativity. I love it! Already downloaded for more Kindle reading are Steinbeck, Plato, and another Agatha Christie! (Maybe I will eventually read all of her mysteries!) 
Living in a rainforest small town doesn’t have to be boring! (Unfortunately a few American expats find it so.) And reading is as much of an adventure as the trips I make! Which, by the way, my next trip is to the base of Volcano Turrialba for birding at Rancho Naturalista, the first week of July as my birthday trip!  ¡Pura Vida!      ~The happiest retiree in the world!  🙂

What I am Reading

If you are a member of Goodreads, the reading/sharing book club affiliated with Amazon and/or Kindle, then you know what I am reading. The Kindle Fire was the absolute best thing I purchased before leaving the states and is my primary entertainment. I have lost track of how many books I’ve read on it since moving to Costa Rica.

I have two versions of the Bible on Kindle and read from both each day (THE MESSAGE and HCSB). I have read several devotional books of varying value. I reread the entire Chronicles of Narnia series and the entire Hobbit-Lord of the Rings series, more traditionally I have read John Grisham, Agatha Christie, and Louis L’Amour books, plus some children’s books (still a child at heart), Costa Rica books, nature, birding and travel books, a pair of science fiction books that were pretty good: From Time to Time and Time and Again, both by Jack Finney. I read a book on simple living which I’m not following real close, the lengthy and sometime boring Don Quiote and the latest biography of Jimmy Carter, A Full Life, which is very good. I read three books by Catherine Ryan Hyde which were all good and totally different, though really into everyday life problems and emotions from a wide range of people and situations. Pay It Forward is her best and was made into a movie I understand but can’t find on Netflix. Electric God  was not what I expected but was very good and I recommend. And I just finished When You Were Older, which was particularly interesting to me because of the special needs child becoming an adult and reminded me of Juli in many ways. I am now reading a World War II novel about two children, one in France and one in Germany and how the war is affecting both of them in both similar and different ways. It is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Even as a war story it is lighter reading than the last book which became emotionally heavy for me at times. Most Children’s stories are good! Not sure what will be next.

I also read National Geographic digital, Christianity Today digital, and Washington Post digital on my Kindle along with a locally made Costa Rica Bird App to identify birds including their songs (On my phone too! A guy in our birding club developed it.). So this little gadget has been a world of information and entertainment! AND I have the Kindle App on my Galaxy 4 Android Phone so that when on the bus to Alajuela or in a restaurant, I can read on my latest book or play solitaire. On the Kindle at home I also have a jigsaw puzzle app. Wow! I don’t watch TV though I probably should some just for the Spanish. And I’m using my Bose CD player for a CD-based extra Spanish class which is good for the actual talking and pronunciation. Never bored! Pura Vida!

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.

–Vera Nazarian

Labeling My Wildlife Photos

Some of the books I use plus the internet now.

Before the Yorkin Trip I had four books specifically for Costa Rica wildlife (in above photo) and the bird book, A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, was the best of those (seen in above photo by Stiles & Skutch, 1989). I am now replacing it with a 2014 book by one of the members of the birding club I just joined, Robert Dean, The Birds of Costa Rica, A Field Guide. It is obviously more up to date and has more birds. This is the second edition of his book. I’ve ordered it from and it should be here by next week via Miami.

Our birding guide for the club and my first club trip, Pat O’Donnell, also recommends an app (he co-authored) which I got for both my phone and Kindle called “Costa Rica Birds – Field Guide” which is available from most app stores or directly from the producers at  It is very good with lots of photos of all the birds of Costa Rica and a filter to help you label your bird photo. I may end up using it more than the book. We’ll see! With my Kindle Fire I have gone to almost all electronic books anyway.

The Panama bird book (in first photo)is very good, more recent than my first Costa Rica book, and can be used as a backup for identification. We almost have the same birds with a few exceptions. It is our southern birds and their northern birds that overlap. Likewise our northern birds overlap with Nicaragua.

The Costa Rica butterfly book in the top photo is very limited, so I also use the U.S. National Audubon Society guide (glad I kept it!). The only more thorough butterfly book for Costa Rica I’ve found is a college textbook for $80+ and I haven’t gone that far yet! Plus it is probably more technical than I want. I just want images to help me identify my photos.

The internet is good for some creatures, but not all. I still have unidentified butterflies and birds in my photo collection! I have also joined some websites or online organizations to help with birding and bird identification, but not a lot of help yet. So please know that when I label something “Unidentified,” it is not because I didn’t try!   🙂

Likewise I have one book on Costa Rica plants and it is about as limited as the butterfly book. So plants are sometimes even more difficult to label and I’m learning that the common Spanish names and English names are not simply translations of each other. Maybe I should go with the Latin!  🙂

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.
~Wernher von Braun

“Costa Rica Extra” Sports Tidbits:

Was Recreational Ziplining Really Invented in Costa Rica? Yes indeeeed! No data on whitewater rafting which is also big here.

The most popular sport in the little farm town of Atenas is el voleibol (volleyball) with one high school the national champion most years! We have a park with a beach volleyball court, all sand! I don’t know how it ranks in popularity in the country of Costa Rica, but is definitely popular, especially on the two coasts along with surfing there.

Though el futbol (soccer) is the most popular spectator sport in Costa Rica, el beisbol (baseball) is a close second as is el practicar surf (surfing) and el ciclismo (cycling) where we were just ranked high in the El Tour de Francia. And Costa Rica has the Latin American Champion Surfista (surfer) almost every year!

The happiest people on earth love their sports and recreation and smart gringos avoid driving to the beach on weekends when the highways are literally packed bumper to bumper with Ticos at the beaches! Pura Vida!


“Time is a game played beautifully by children.” 
― Heraclitus, Fragments

Bill Watterson

“Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.” 
― Bill Watterson

My Library

My library recharges at night, Kindle Fire & Samsung Cellphone (Kindle App).

One of the smartest things I did before the move south was get a Kindle Fire and then add the Kindle App to my cellphone! I read everything from the Bible to novels, National Geographic and occasionally the news, all electronically on my Kindle. When riding a bus or eating in a restaurant I read on my phone. As a quote I used yesterday in the butterfly post says,

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  
-Marcus Tullius Cicero
FYI, I’m currently reading the latest English version of Don Quixote and it is too early for me to have a judgement on it yet (but a little weird so far).  A couple of days ago I finished reading Pay It Forward, one of the best books I’ve ever read! It is by Catherine Ryan Hyde whom I discovered by accident from a little 99 cent Kindle book by her titled Electric God which was very good and pointed me to Pay It Forward which was also made into a movie. Sorry that Netflix is not streaming it, just on DVD which I can’t get here. It is about how a little boy’s school project to “change the world” actually did! Of course the movies are never as good as the books!  🙂

Locally made bookcase with doors
to protect from dry season dust. It
is between book boxes & guest
room wardrobe.

After arriving I started by reading all of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit,  and all the books in Lord of the Rings series. Great ways to escape the American culture! Those lengthy readings were broken up by two John Grisham mysteries, Agatha Christie, Louis L’Amour, three books on Costa Rica, two science fiction books, and The Psalmist (a mystery) by James Lillieford, a new and interesting writer for me. I’ll try him again.

Because I did bring two hard copy Bibles, my photo books, a couple of books on simple life, and my bird, butterfly, plants and other Central America nature & travel guides, I got a little bookcase (Pequeña Biblioteca), with doors to help with the dry season dust. It is simple, handmade locally, and serves my purpose well. I will also be keeping a few of the genealogy books as I go through them, but all my scrapbooks are going to be photographed and become electronic files as most of genealogy stuff will.

Mostly, my library now is my Kindle Fire! Best library yet!

Nature is my theme, so here’s one nature photo:     🙂

Rainy Day Green! Even with dull, overcast sky, greens seem brighter in rain!
Another view from my balcony in Atenas, Costa Rica!

And for those of you who know Reagan Frazier, he just scheduled a visit with me for two weeks in February 2016, just 8 months away!  🙂  But if thinking about it, February is off limits now.