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There are no playgrounds, malls, museums, libraries, theme parks, music lessons, or any of the other activities associated with growing up in America within many miles of our house.

Here are our granddaughters, Maya and Layla, capturing butterflies trapped in the house so they can bring them back outside to be free. I won't say they never get bored; all kids do sometimes, but right now they're at wonderful ages (almost 3 and 4) to be living the lifestyle they do. We're hoping more people will start settling in our area before they get too much older, when they'll need more social interaction.

For now, they appear to be thriving in their jungle environment. One of their outings beyond our gate is going with Ba (Maya's name for Bill. I'm Nay. Ba and Nay have nothing to do with Spanish; they're simply a toddler's take on Grammy and Grandpa.) to Super Rey, our little grocery store in San Francisco de Coyote, where they can get a carton of chocolate milk and a lollipop.

One day last week even a promise of chocolate milk and a lollipop couldn't lure them into the truck. They were too fascinated with what was happening on Nay and Ba's front porch to leave the house. The vet had come from Jicaral to spay our 8-month-old puppies. One thing we don't need around here is more dogs; we have three and Emily has three.

That's Edna there on the table with her tongue hanging out. She's named after my mother, who died many years ago, because my mother always took good care of us and we're hoping Edna the dog will too.

The girls love pink, princesses, sparkles, fairies, and anything to do with blood and guts - especially Layla. I had to hold her up so she could see the hole in Edna's tummy. I must admit, it felt quite bizarre to be snapping a picture of my granddaughters watching my dog have surgery, but by now I'm pretty used to bizarre feelings. The first time I brought my cat to see the vet in the backyard of the feed store in Jicaral (about an hour and a quarter away), I had an out-of-body experience. I looked down on myself from the place high above my head where my brain had run off to because it couldn't process the extraordinarily unusual circumstance in which I found myself. I won't go into the whole story, but I'll just say that from the rough plank nailed between two trees that served as an examining table, Mr. Tickles could see and hear peeps from a big box full of chicks, a dog tied up and barking, another dog or two wandering in and out of the yard, the vet, his friend, Emily, me, the vet's kids, who enjoyed flopping Mr. Tickles' appendages around after he'd been put to sleep, and a couple of feed store employees interested in what was going on. It was a far cry from Mr. Tickles' private examining room at the opulent MSPCA hospital on Nantucket, where he'd last seen a vet. Just before he drifted off, Mr. Tickles raised his eyebrows and looked at me with question marks in his eyes. I looked back at him with exclamation points in mine.

The vet who came last year to neuter Emily and Chan's male puppies on the porch didn't bring his own table so he used our dining table and, on his way out, handed Bill a bag of four dog balls to dispose of. So you see, by now a few hysterectomies happening on our front porch is no big deal and besides, the girls really enjoyed the live entertainment.

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