Monday, August 30, 2010


Do you think she might like another pillow? Maybe behind her back would be comfy, since she's having such a hard time sleeping...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Island Nature

We both are nature-lovers. Beautiful plants, birds and animals, rocks, sand, the sea - it's all here on this tiny island.

Driving to the market the other morning we came upon the shallow part of Salina Grande loaded with birds making a meal of small fish:

Yesterday I was sweeping the passageway between our house and our neighbor's and I noticed the beautiful display of flowers up at the side of the house. This morning we took our coffee out on the front terrace. Here's what was making the terrace so fragrant.

What more could you want on a Sunday morning? A hammock, a gentle breeze, sweet blossoms, birds chirping, and a great cup of coffee. We didn't get long to enjoy it because Telebodega is bringing a fridge for one of Miguel's clients today and he had to go over to the house to wait for them. No telling when they'll show up, hopefully it won't be too late because I'm home waiting for him to come back for breakfast.

But no matter how the day ends, it started great!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A plate loaded with carbs

Following up on one of my posts last week, here is a photo of Jen's dinner at Cracker Barrel:

Chicken and Dumplings, which comes with 3 sides. As you can see, Jen ordered macaroni and cheese for all of her sides. What can I say, she's pregnant?! (but I would have done the same thing, so can't blame the baby).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another use for a broom

One of my first blog posts was about brooms and how they are used and abused here in Mexico. Well, today I found one more use for the old broom.

Miguel was up on the roof and needed the jug of bleach and the camera. He didn't have a rope to throw me. But an old pink broom was hanging around. I threaded the handle of the bleach jug through the broom handle, and then the strap of the camera bag. The brush end of the broom acted as a holder. At full stretch Miguel was just able to grab the other end of the broom and haul everything up.

And he kept the broom up there. I bet he is going to use it to scrub down the walls of the tank. And we'll have to buy another broom to do the job that was being done by the pink broom. Because once a broom has been relocated, it seldom makes its way back home. I hope it enjoys the sunny roof!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Visit to Isla's Prettiest Restaurant

Some of the best food on the island is dished out at places that are not that great to look at. Some are along the beach, some are in back gardens, and some are in the colonias. But I am going to suggest that the prettiest restaurant is right on a corner in downtown Isla. M&J's Restaurant has moved, and I love the look and feel of the new spot. It feels like a sidewalk cafe. And not only is it pretty, it still has the same great food they have been famous for all these years. Good things to look at, great food in my tummy, and a sunny Saturday on Isla - what more could you want?

The colorful cafe-style patio. Plans are in the works to put a shade cover over the patio, with a ceiling fan.

The nostalgia wall - old pictures of how the island used to look. Wish it still looked like that!

This table pulled me over, it was perfect for our meal and it knew it. I love the little man who shakes pepper out of his sombrero.

The wall I couldn't take my eyes off - I love this shade of blue and all the ornaments. So charming!

More colorful tables out on the patio.

My breakfast plate - the Maya crepe with the house potatoes. Delicious!

And Miguel has trained me well...I had to add some of this delicious sauce on top of the crepe. Yum!

M&J's is open for breakfast and lunch - 7 am to 2 pm. They are on the corner of Guerrero and Abosolo, you can't miss it. And...don't miss it!

Friday, August 20, 2010


I hear what you're saying - you like animal stories, and you like pictures. Ok, here you go...

Loco is an only dog right now, as Blacky is still staying around the corner with the neighbors. Loco likes being the only dog, he doesn't have to share the terrace and he gets to be the hero if he barks at strangers.

Two of our cats think Loco is just the best. Minina, our little black cat, spends most of her days out on the back terrace. Sometimes Loco wants to go out there to soak up the sun, and when he shows up, Minina runs right over to him and starts rubbing against him and rolling on the ground at his feet. She licks his ears and grabs his head and peeps at him (Minina has a tiny voice, she doesn't meow, she peeps - 'meep, meep'). Her entire body language says that she worships him (which isn't really true), and she is so happy to see him. Why? I don't know. Inside the house she hardly gives him the time of day.

Loco has been spending more and more time out on the front terrace, which means that Maya doesn't get to see much of him. Maya was raised by Loco, she was only 3 weeks old when we found her and from the first minute she was here Loco had a strange fascination for her. When she was tiny she would spend a lot of time lying up on his body, but now she's too big and heavy. And Loco seems to have lost interest in her - he doesn't give her the time of day, but Maya keeps trying.

Wherever Loco lies, Maya is right there beside him. Under the bed, under the coffee table, along the sofa. She rolls around, licks his feet, chews on his lips, and nibbles his ears. Loco tolerates it for a while, and he won't let any of the other cats hang around him like he does Maya. But finally even he has had enough, so then he just gets up and moves. And Maya follows. Maya wants to be with her dog.

And then there is Cappuchina, the 'only' cat in the sense that none of the other cats accept her so she spends a lot of time on the floor being submissive to all the rest. But she finds her spots of comfort, and seems content despite the hostile environment:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home again

My last post was about my favorite things in Canada. That was a week ago. I am now back in Mexico, arrived on the afternoon of Friday the 13th. My trip involved using points - airlines points for the flight, and hotel points for one night at the Hilton Garden Inn, Buffalo Airport, the night before my flight.

Why did I go to Buffalo the night before? Because...1. Jen could not drive me early the next morning, and the booked transportation costs about $90; 2. I have almost 250,000 points with Hilton and due to non-use, they were going to I thought maybe a reward stay would extend the expiration date on the points, and after checking today, I think it did;, and 3. Jen and I are addicted to Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese and going the night before gave us the opportunity to have dinner together and get our fix.

At the restaurant I ordered the Thursday special - turkey dinner, with sides of carrots and hash browns, and an extra side of macaroni and cheese. Jen ordered chicken and dumplings, which comes with 3 sides - and all her sides were...macaroni and cheese! The waitress was a little taken aback, and Jen's plate looked pretty bland with white chicken and dumplings on one side and three servings of macaroni and cheese on the other. She took a picture with her phone, not sure how it turned out.

As we dug in, our waitress stood beside our table and gossiped loudly with the women at the next table. Although we were not in a hurry to eat, Jen wanted to get back before dark. So since we couldn't really chat without talking over the other table, we just ate in eight. Yup, we ate in eight minutes, how we know that is Jen looked at the picture on her phone when we were done and noticed the time stamp. Guess we were so into that macaroni and cheese!!

I spent a relaxing evening in my hotel room with a big flat-screen tv and HGTV. I watched as long as I could keep my eyes half open, and it was hard getting up at 4 am to head to the airport. But I knew I would sleep on the flights, and how lucky I was that the long flight from Philadelphia to Cancun had 3 empty center seats across from me. I moved over to claim the row and curled up for a relaxing sleep.

There was a very short line in Immigration, and still I was scolded by the surly young officer for not going in the line for Mexicans because of my FM3. I told him that I would love to go in that line but a) I'm not Mexican and b) I've been told I cannot use that line (twice I've been directed there by line traffic controllers, and other times I've been directed to the tourist lines - there's no sure thing, it seems, to do it right). He wasn't interested in my explanation, he spoke very softly so I had to ask him to repeat a couple of times, which made him more annoyed with me, but finally he stamped my book and I was free of him.

The suitcases took just a few minutes but the line for customs was ridiculous - winding all along to the back where the luggage carousels are located. I guess they didn't like that much of a line because suddenly the line started moving and as I got closer I saw that they were not xraying the bags, they were just doing the red light/green light thing, like they used to do. So, I got the green light and was free to go - always a relief. I never take more than I'm allowed to take, and I had receipts, but often when they see a single person with 3 bags they question what I'm bringing in and want to take a look (green light means nothing if they really want to take a peek). For this trip I had a couple of bags full of simple junk I had sitting around my condo - certainly of no real value but I didn't feel like trying to explain anything to anyone, so was glad to just get through and be on my way with the ADO bus.

All was well when I finally arrived home. Back into our normal routine.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Favorite Things

I'm in Canada, where I was born and raised. Along with spending time with family, I'm here to get my condo cleared out so the place can be rented. An impossible task for a one-week visit, so I'll be back next month.

I went through paperwork from the last 15 years of my professional life, and threw it all away. The flowcharts, the status reports, the assessments, recommendations, custom reports...all gone. Nothing to show for all the years of sacrifice - and for some reason, it felt good to let it all go. I'm past it, I no longer have the edge, the enthusiasm, the energy, the interest. I am done!

When I take a break from the back-breaking labor of hauling all the boxes and bags out of the closet, I am enjoying my favorite Canadian things. Simple things - food, tv, my car, the weather, my lazyboy, and of course, family.

Food - the highlight has to be corn-on-the-cob. Wow, it's sweet, tender, and juicy. The kernels pop when I bite into them, spraying little squirts of juice at the person across the table. Butter drips down my chin as I do my typewriter motion along the cob, leaving no kernel unpopped.

TV - my favorite shows are on HGTV, all the home-buying and renovation shows. I could watch from morning to night, even though I can't relate to the big bucks put down for many of the homes. I just love to look at homes - how they're built, the colors, the furniture, the gardens. Right now I'm watching another favorite show - So You Think You Can Dance. I haven't been following because we don't have this show in Mexico,or if we do I just don't know about it (because I rarely handle the remote control). I love my daughter's tv - it's huge, it's clear - I want one just like it!

My Car - has been completely repaired from the hit by the deer last June, and the inside got a good cleaning to get up all the glass from the shattered window. Other than tires that look a little worn, the car is in great shape. I wish I could take it down to Mexico with a load of stuff that will take multiple trips on an airplane, but it's not practical to have it there because nobody can drive it unless I'm in the car with them. Will have to ponder on what to do about the car.

The weather - has been hot and very pleasant except for Monday, when we went to my brother's for a BBQ. We drove in pouring rain, which backed up traffic more than usual, and forced us to eat indoors. Oh was all delicious anyway. When I come back in September I think we will be having Indian Summer.

My lazyboy - another old 'friend' that will leave my life in the next couple of months. My daughter hates it, and it's pretty worn. A good cleaning would make it a good chair for someone who likes pink/wine colored furniture, so I will either leave it here for tenants or see if one of the charities will pick it up. I sort of miss having a chair like this in Mexico. Maybe one day.

Although I threw away 'stuff' that took the majority of my time during the last 15 years, the good memories came back to life, and I am forever grateful for the opportunities I had and the wonderful people I met. Even though I have no desire to return to that lifestyle, I am not sitting still and waiting to grow old. I've found other things to pique my interest - web design, writing, cooking, social media. I love our home in Mexico, our animals, the food, the climate, and the more relaxed way of life. And I'm about to become a grandmother, so I have all those mother and grandmother moments to look forward to. New favorite things.

So tomorrow I leave - goodbye butter tarts, croissants, corn on the cob, field tomatoes, tv, lazyboy, car - I'll be back in a month, wait for me!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My first Mexican birthday party

Last week Dona Mari (wife of Roberto and co-owner of La Bruja restaurant) celebrated her birthday. When we were invited we were told the party would start at 4 pm, and we were reminded several days before the party once again. Miguel asked if it was at 5, but they were adamant it was at 4. So, I was ready to go for 4 pm.

But that day Miguel announced that we would leave the house at 4:30, go to buy lottery tickets, swoop around the north loop, head down the east coast, and arrive by 5 pm. I hate being late for anything, and showing up an hour after the 4 pm start time didn't feel right to me, but I deferred to Miguel's experience with these things.

As we pulled up to the curb across from the restaurant, I was dismayed to see the place empty, and Dona Mari walking up the street back to the restaurant. It looked like she had escorted her final guests home. We were late.

But Dona Mari greeted us and invited us in to sit down, and then proceeded to bring out some delicious appetizers. Hot dogs cut up in a hot spicy sauce, flautas, and creamy spaghetti - along with a beer for Miguel and a coke for me. The hot dogs are called something else - salchichas, and this is the first time I've tasted them - they were great!

The flautas were also called something different - cositos, or something like that, but in my world they were flautas. Topped with homemade tomato sauce and sprinkled with cheese - yum! After we had polished off all the appetizers and thought we were done, out came another plate of flautas. We didn't complain, we ate them. I wish they were on the menu - I would order them every time.

At the only other occupied table was a couple from The Netherlands. They watched as plate after plate was brought out to us. The man asked what the hot dogs were, and if they were good, and how to order them. I told him that they were not on the menu, they were special for the occasion of Dona Mari's birthday. He wanted to know how many kisses were customary to bestow upon the birthday girl - he was thinking three, but Miguel said just one. So the next time Dona Mari passed their table, he wished her happy birthday and planted a kiss on her cheek. And don't you know - out came a plate of flautas for them, even though they were not party guests! How generous of the Bruja family.

People started arriving for the party, and I realized that Miguel had been right - in fact, we were quite early. When I thought we were really done, Dona Mari brought out a knife and fork wrapped in a napkin, along with the second plate of flautas. Hmmm...was more to come that we didn't know about? But our drinks were gone and we were full, so we stood to thank them and say "Adios". Oh no, that wouldn't do...the best was yet to come, couldn't we wait a little longer?

So we sat down again, with the Dutch couple watching us continue to be treated like royalty. Out came plates loaded with shrimp ke-bobs, rice, and veggies. I gave my ke-bob to Miguel since I don't eat shrimp, and I was full anyway. Miguel was also full but managed to eat his portion, and we took the other ke-bob home.

Still more...the cake. By now we were truly stuffed, but I ate the cake anyway. Miguel took his piece home too. Dona Mari was busy serving all her guests even though she was supposed to be the guest of honor...she said she wanted to attend to her guests, and that she would relax later.

We finally left 2 hrs later and by then there was standing room only. Salsa music was playing (I wish they played music like that all the time, it gave the place such a great vibe). We drove by later and the place was still full. "See how Mexicans throw a party?", Miguel said. And if you are going to have a party, you'd better plan on having enough food because everyone will show up and expect to eat.

The next day we went by and Dona Mari told us the last guest arrived at 10 pm, and the party went on until 4 am. She was tired but very happy. And I felt honored to be included in her celebration.

I learned something - that if I am going to throw a party and invite Mexicans, I'd better be well-rested in advance, and have a fridge full of food and drinks, and lots of chairs, and plates and silverware and napkins and music and cake. I'm not sure this old body can do it, but if the occasion presents itself, I'm willing to try.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What a difference a curtain makes!

When I bought my house here, it was just one level, and quite unfinished other than tiled floors and roughed in bathroom and kitchen. The 'master' bedroom was small, and the guest room was even smaller (one of the reasons I built up).

The master bedroom is at the front of the house, and at the time I bought the house, there were no streetlights, no paved roads, no neighbors, no hedges, no front terraces, no walls - nothing to make anyone feel secure sleeping where the window could be viewed from near and far (relatively speaking).

The window was arched, and the arch was at the middle of the wall...too low to leave uncovered. I wondered how to hang curtains for privacy without losing the arch effect. I finally went for floor to ceiling lined curtains, figuring when the curtain was pulled back, the arched window would show its beauty. The curtain material was bought in Cancun and was full of colorful stripes that made the room look a little like a circus tent or a stage. When you wanted to pull the curtain shut, you had to wind up because it was heavy. But it served its purpose, it provided privacy.

Well, now we have a front terrace and a high, dense hedge that blocks out any chance that someone can see us from outside. We don't really need a stage curtain, and I've come to hate it. So yesterday I got the ladder and took down the curtain and put up a half curtain from a couple of white panels I found up in Jen's upper closet when I was looking for something else. I have no idea how long those curtains were there or when I put them there - they were still in the package but showed signs of humidity. But a wash on the gentle cycle and a dry in the sun and wind make them good as new again.

Of course I didn't really have a rod, but I had one of those spring-loaded shower curtain rods, and although it sprung open and fell off more times that I can remember, I finally got it to stay in the window. The curtains are too long so rather than hem them, I just folded them over the rod (which sprung open a few more times while I fussed to get them even).

While I was at it, I cleaned everything in the room and rearranged the bed. I hate the wall - it's rough concrete and gives abrasions if you touch it. Not the best material to have on a bedroom wall, in my opinion, and one day when I can face the mess it will make (and I have the cash), that wall will be smoothed out and given a fresh coat of paint in a pretty color rather than the drab grey.

Once I was done I stood back and was amazed at how nice the room looks compared to how it looked before. Since I don't have a 'before' picture handy, you'll just have to imagine it, but here's the finished result - and the only thing different is the curtain.

Next, new sheets, I think...the circus has left town!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fresh New Look

I have been working on a new design for our website for weeks, and hit the coding hard the last 10 days or so. But now it's all done, I hope you like it as much as I do:

For the techies, this was written in html/css using Notepad. I went with xhtml strict, liquid design, css for style. The only Javascript is the stat counter code at the end. All pages are validated code, and search engine optimized. Has been a work in progress for more than a week, but also a labor of love.

I love playing with patterns and colors. There is a website I discovered that makes me spend hours browsing, and when I find a pattern I love, I try to think how I can use it. The pattern I used in the header of our pages made me think of an island, and the blue background in the body represents the sea. I thought it fitting since we are on an island in the Caribbean Sea. Nothing subtle about my designs.

I continue to be astounded at the amount of information that is out there on the internet. Every problem I came upon with this design had a solution posted somewhere - just took some patience and some searching. And of course I went through a ton of other pages that didn't have that specific answer but had other stuff I might need in the future. I need to redo my bookmarks, they're a huge mess.

Next - a page for my business, OCS Web Design. I wonder what pattern I'll find for that...hmmm...better get looking...