Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's Just the Way It Is.........in Mexico!

                                          A shot of Canal Street in San Miguel at twilight.

Mexico is still a CASH society.  Therefore, if one is leaving town for about six weeks, as I am, one must stockpile money for bills to be paid while gone.  Now with the ATMs only giving 6000 pesos (about $470US) at a time, that implies a couple, if not a few visits to the ATM.  Not a problem..........unless the machines are out of money on the weekend.  Aha, I learned that lesson and will never attempt to get money on the weekend ever again.  Once I had to delay my departure because there was not a machine in town with money on a Sunday!  I kid you not.

So, I've got that experience under my belt and won't ever let that happen again.

I've also learned that the two, only two kinds of meds I take sometimes are not in stock.  If I need 6 weeks worth, the pills usually come in 14 to a box.  Yup, not a month's supply in a plastic cylinder container like in the states, but we must by them in small quantities in a box.  Six weeks worth of two types of meds makes me look like I'm dealing drugs when I cross the border.  So, again, I never wait til the last minute to stock up for a trip.  I started a week ago by going for these meds.  They had one box of each.  Ok, I got those and asked when the others would be in.....manana.  Remember, manana does not always mean tomorrow.  It has been a daily trip not only to that pharmacy but to two others.  Finally today in a panic, I found one box and two boxes of generics at a pharmacy that I don't usually go to in centro.  Whew.  I couldn't leave town without those either.

So, I've got that experience under my belt and who knows what I'll do next time!

Money given to the maid to pay bills - Check.  Money to buy gas and pay tolls - Check.  Pills in suitcase for 6 weeks, just in case I have to stay that long - Check.  Two huge bags of food for Velcro - Check.    I'm on a roll. until.............

Whoops!  I purchase US car insurance for the month or so I'm in Texas.  On Friday morning, after finding out on Thursday that I need to hightail it to Texas, I talked to the agent in Laredo who always handles this insurance.  It is the most efficient and least expensive I've found.  Plus, I've found they pay their claims.   That's another story.  So in our conversation she asked for the number on my Mexican drivers license.  Holy moly!  It had expired four days before.  Sheesh.  I hightailed it, and I do mean hightailed it over there praying it would not be a complicated procedure.  Here's what I took, just in case.  My passport.  My visa.  My expired license. And, last but not least, a bill that shows my name and the address I live at. Often they want this.  I've stopped trying to figure out why............

It turned out to be the most efficient thing I've done in Mexico - EVER.  He needed the license, the passport and my visa.  I walked to a copy place to have a copy of the visa and passport made.  I then had a new photo done, told them I wanted this license for 5 years as well, was fingerprinted - two different fingers - one on each hand - and then given a form to drive to the Government payment office about 10 minutes away.
I came back with the paid receipt, handed it to the man and was handed a laminated drivers license.  All in under an hour.  What a deal!  In Texas they mail it to you and you get it in about three weeks!  AMAZING.

I'm "outtahere" on Monday morning at 0700 to drive to Houston to be a Grammy and "Mom in charge" for a week or so.  My daughter Julie will have her thyroid and lymph nodes removed on Wednesday at MD Anderson.  I'll be in charge of running the house or the kids running me or whatever.  They don't start back to school til the 25th so I'll have them for GREAT company.  Then when Julie gets home from the hospital, I'll be "Nurse Mom" for as long as she can stand it!  ha.

That's the plan, man.  There is a lot more to follow all that, but, for the moment I'm focusing on the first order of business which is get packed, get outta here and get to Houston to my daughter and son-in-law's house.

I'll see you on down the road, hopefully.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Blast from the Past!

In looking for some old photos recently, I came across this one.  It's not really that old.  Maybe ten years old but it reminds me of what it used to be like when driving around Mexico and looking for gasoline! "No Fumar" was an important phrase.  It denoted that they had gasoline to sell.  Be it in an enclosure like this one, which was on the road to Ixtapa or in a tienda, that kept there containers of gasoline near the front door.

At the koffee klatch group this morning, a newbie is in town who just drove in from Texas.  He commented about the number of Pemex stations and the convenience. In the past, one could panic when on empty not knowing if or when the next station would be on the horizon.  In addition, the convenience of not going through any towns.

Ahhh, I assured him, it was not always that way.  In fact the road used to be two lane, not four lane divided highway.  In addition, the two lane went through towns that had no paved roads.  It was tricky, adventurous and interesting to attempt, as one drove in the ruts of the eighteen wheelers until one decided to make a turn.  It was all of the above as you maneuvered your tire up and over the ruts.  One had to really, really want to make a turn as it was not an easy operation.  Rainy seasons were nightmares.  Cars looked like they had just been pulled out of a mud pit.  Come to think of it, that's exactly what it was like.

So now, with bypasses and Pemex stations everywhere, no one needs to keep their tank half full all the time, or pray to find a bathroom soon or hope that the gasoline will be pure.

Heck, once I needed a bano so much,  that I stopped at a house, knocked on the door, whereupon they let me into the room and took me out the side door of the house to an outhouse where I could sit and watch the trucks driving by on the road.  No curtain, no nothing, except a seat to sit on!  Hilarious.

Another time, it was a curtain with a hole in the ground where a woman had to straddle the hole.  I've only done that once, thank you very much.  That was up in the mountains somewhere on a road that had NO shoulder.  Woo eee, that was an experience.  I wish I had photos of the bus in the bottom of the ravine and the eagles that were flying lower then the car.  "High up and dangerous" is not exaggerating that road. 

It was always important, or not, to kind of look at the gasoline in those clear plastic containers to see if it looked rather "clean" which is what they would say.  "Es muy limpio" was what they would tell me........"It is very clean."  Of course it was irrelevant at that point if it was regular or premium, it was gasoline!

No matter how far one was off the beaten track, there was, for some reason, Coca Cola!  Honestly, I figured those guys could have lead the greatest treks, cause they had always been everywhere!

It's fun to laugh at the past and have fond memories.  It's kinda sad that others won't have those experiences, but, the truth be told, I'm not as adventurous as I once was, so I'm glad there are nice Pemex stations with restaurants, restrooms and even gift shop areas in some.

Life is still an adventure at times, but not as much as before!



Saturday, August 09, 2014

Wildflower Season

It's that wonderful time of the year, after much rain, the wildflowers are sprouting from the previoiusly dry, dusty soil that always looks as though nothing could grow there.

I like to drive the back roads where the Pathfinder is surrounded by wildflowers and in fields for as far as the eye can see.  These photos were taken from the car window as I was in a hurry!
I'll do better next time.  It is evident though that the flowers are higher then the top of the Pathfinder!
The colors are orange, purple, fuscia, yellow, white.  A plethora of colors and plant species.  The butterflies and hummingbirds along with the bees are having a field day.  Pardon the pun!

The most beautiful place to be this time of the year is the area around Patzcuaro.  One of my most favorite places in Mexico, the fields full of pink cosmos with black and white cows in the same field are magnificent.

IF I were an artist, I would set up an easel and attempt to capture those images to keep forever.  My only way to capture it is with my trusty little camera.  It is quite a sight.

At my house I've measured 17 inches of rain so far this year.  Twenty-five inches is our usual annual rainfall so we have way more to enjoy.  Hopefully I can get over to Patzcuaro in October to enjoy their wildflowers.
We'll see............meanwhile, I'll enjoy my trips on the back roads around San Miguel.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Such a Civilized Tradition

To me, there are few things more enjoyable then an afternoon siesta.  It doesn't have to be long, but it can be, of course, if you so choose.

In the mornings I jump out of bed ready for the day.  Some days I get a lot done and some days it's a day to pamper myself by reading a book or enjoying putzing in the garden.

Today was a little of both.  Then, around 3PM, I feel that drowsy feeling set in and know it's time to rest.
Usually thirty minutes is enough, but today it was exactly an hour of deep sleep.

This tradition goes waaaaaay back.  Even when I worked, I would close the door to my office and lay my head on the desk for twenty minutes.  Then I'm ready for another eight hours.

Mexico has taken it to an art form.  Many businesses in San Miguel de Allende still close from 2 til 4PM which allows workers to go home for lunch and a little siesta.  So darn healthy.

I've had people say to me, "Gosh, I wish I could take a nap!" and I say, "You can.  Turn off the phone and lay down".  It's that easy.  Try it.  You might be surprised.



Wednesday, August 06, 2014

It Takes A Village

Many years ago, fifteen to be exact, I learned that when something is so big as cancer, one person cannot take care of all aspects of it for their family.

About a month ago, after eight months of going to one doctor after another, my daughter was finally diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  The saga began with her eyes crossing!  So, of course, she went to eye specialists.  One doctor finally said that he could straighten her eye but she needed to find out the cause.

That began a pilgrimage from one specialist to another.  For Jewels it was beyond frustrating and frightening.
When she finally got a diagnosis it was a relief in a way.  Then she and the appropriate doctors could do
something about it.

Today that journey begins.  Julie, who likes to be called Jewels, (and she is a jewel) is at MD Anderson for the preliminary procedures to prepare for surgery and whatever else it entails.  Her husband and four children are great and supportive.  However, it never hurts to have moral support and positive energy
flowing. 

So I ask you, as you go about your daily activities for the next few months, to remember Julie and her family and send positive energy and prayers, if you wish.  It will be greatly appreciated.

I'll be heading up soon to be there to fulfill whatever role I can to be of help...........We, as a family, have been down this road before and know that coming together is the way to care for Julie at this time.

Gracias.



Saturday, August 02, 2014

"The Schedule" according to Velcro the Cat

Although all three of these photos were taken on the end of my bed, Velcro is seldom in this place, except for a few hours each night.  That would be from the time the news comes on until HER favorite show, Wheel of Fortune comes on and she stays through Jeopardy, just to keep me company.
 Believe it or not, a day is very busy for Velcro.  It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that it operates on a split second system.  The only other participant in HER schedule needs to be me, sometimes.

It is all quite hilarious as this is the cat who had nothing to do with me for years - even after she went from being feral to living inside the house, which was eight years ago.

Now, she has it down to a science and I've learned it does me no good to ignore the role that I must play.

Here's how it begins.  Sometime during the night, Velcro goes outside.  She has learned how to open the door and go out.  I hear the door slam and know she's outside, but, at least, I don't have to get up to let her out. 

Then at 8:05AM, she starts rattling the screen door to be let in.  I attempt to ignore her.  She rattles more and then meows.  It's easier to get up and let her in then to have the door slightly slamming.  In she comes, meows at me (wish I knew what she is saying, but I think it's something like, "Well it took you long enough - I'm hungry")  So, up the stairs she flies and I can hear her crunching her food.

As I head to the sink to brush my teeth, put in my contact lens and take my pills, she comes flying back down the stairs, jumps up on the LEFT side of the sink and sits waiting for water.  Now, please understand, this cat has a bowl of water next to her food bowl, but nooooooo, she wants fresh water.

I purposely make her wait until I have completed my endeavors.  During this time, she will stick a paw in the sink as if to say, "Where's the water?"  As I leave the sink, I fill the bowl 1/4 full for her highness.

She then returns upstairs to the suede covered loveseat which is her morning siesta.

When I head up for my coffee and morning snack, IF it is something she likes such as cantaloupe or blueberry muffins, she will quickly come to where I sit and give me the "Velcro glare".  It says, "Surely you love me enough to share!"  Of course I relent because then I know she'll go back to her roost.

Mid-afternoon she goes out.  To where, I have no idea but stays out for a few hours and comes back in about 5, just about time for the news and her favorite TV shows.  It amazes me that she has this internal clock that tells her what time it is or something.

The same scenario is repeated.  There is one change sometimes.  If I happen to be sitting at the computer, which is next to the door that she exits, she won't open it herself, but will take her paw, push the door open and let it slam.  If I ignore her, she does it until I reach around and open the door for her.  My limit of letting her open and slam the door is three times max, and she knows it!  Smart cat.

Another difference is IF I don't get up right away when I let her in in the morning, she will still run up eat, and then come back down and curl up in the sink waiting for me to get up.  It's her way of letting me know that I can't sneak water past her or something.


Now, I don't think I have that much of a routine, but, obviously, watching Velcro it now appears that I must because she can anticipate or cause my routine to be what SHE wants.

In addition, when I go out to water the gardens or get something from the storage shed, there she is just like a dog, following me from pillar to post.  Darnest thing I've ever seen from a cat!  Hence the name Velcro.

How did this feral cat that I didn't even want turn out to be the Mistress of the Casa? Do tell!

Casa Tranquilo For Rent in September - STILL AVAILABLE

If you're at all interested, please go to the post of July 28th for photos and details.  Gracias.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A SIMPLE Task - Installing a Doorbell in Mexico

When I first moved into this house fourteen years ago, there was a doorbell with a wire that went to the button on the outside wall of the house.  It died long ago.

After it died, I would have to drive to Home Depot in either Queretaro or Celaya to get a new wireless bell.
I think once I even bought one while I was in the USA.  To date I now have parts in the junk drawer for seven semi-dead doorbells.  Various parts, usually the thing that plugged into the outlet in the house is still in the junk drawer.  Often the button that rang the bell was broken or taken by some kid having fun.  Aaargh.

The latest episode last week coincided with the telephone answering machine going kaput.  I hate ALL electronic things even though I diligently try to figure out how to fix them.  I save every darn instruction book for anything I buy - electronic or not.   Probably half of those instruction books could be thrown away as the appliances or tools or whatever have died.

I couldn't fix the answering machine.  I bought a new door bell battery and thought I had fixed the doorbell.
If I pushed the button while it was still in the house or on the inside of the gate, it worked.  It even worked, sometimes when I reinstalled it where it had previously been superglued to the wall. But not always. THAT is another story.

I finally admitted it won.  I gave up and bought a whole new set today at Mega.  NO having to drive to Celaya or Queretaro.  You would think I had discovered the golden goose I was so happy in the "stuff" aisle at Mega.  Truly, I did a little happy dance after I made sure no one was watching.

Home I came with my grocery list of stuff and the new doorbell.  I had made sure when looking at the packaging that it had the weird battery that is unlike any others I've ever seen.  Yup, there it was prominently displayed.  Ok then, we're ready to tackle this project.

One almost needs a machete to get into the packaging now but I did without too much damage.  THEN I saw that 2 AA batteries were needed for one part and, of course, were not provided.  Aha, I outsmarted them, I have just about every kind of battery in the junk drawer.  I had just two AA batteries.

I did notice that the thing that takes the 2 AA batteries no longer plugs into the wall. That's good as I have only two electrical outlets in the kitchen for plugs.  It can sit anywhere.  The problem happened when I tried to figure out how to pry the back off the button thingy.  The last thingy required that you use a screwdriver to pry the back off.  Well I tried that with this and it didn't work.  Instead the screwdriver basically impaled my thumb causing me to bleed profusely.  It is now sporting a band aid, my thumb that is.

Then I realized the hole where you're supposed to hang it from a screw or nail would allow me to insert the screw driver, turn it and open the back.  Woo hoo.  I did, inserted the battery and closed the back.
Then I superglued a male and female piece of Velcro to the back so I can just hang it outside.  Then I went out and kept ringing the bell so I could make sure when I superglued it to the wall it would work.  It did as I rang it over and over.  Enough to cause my neighbors to come out to make sure I was all right and to tell me the bell was ringing.........

In all actuality,  just about the only people who ring the bell regularly are the laundry lady coming to pick up and return the laundry along with the water man who brings the humongous bottles of water twice a week, if needed.  But, I now have a bell.

The only task now is to find the rust colored paint to cover up all the places that the other bell, that didn't work, was superglued on the wall.

My mother NEVER told me that I was going to have to know how to do all this stuff.  Life sure can be an adventure over the littlest thing.