Thursday, September 30, 2010

BAD Blogger!

That's me...the bad one.

Life has just thrown a lot of stuff my way over the last couple of months, and I haven't had the energy or the motivation to write. At the start of the day I'm catching up with everyone else's blogs and forums, and then the day starts for real and the next time I sit down it's evening and I'm tired.

My dad's health issues are a major concern for us, and he's so far away. I will be making another trip to Norway in a couple of weeks - found a flight on Martinair that means just two flight segments instead of three, although it's still the same number of hours for travel (8 hr layover in Amsterdam on the way over - will find one of those reclining lounges and just rest while I wait for the next flight). The best part was the price - cheaper to fly from Cancun than any airline flies from Canada, and was only $89 each way to upgrade to 'comfort' class, which is something I really need with my sore feet and back. More wiggle room...and on a 9-10 hr flight, I do a lot of wiggling.

After Norway I will have 2 days at home to get both suites ready for 4 female friends arriving at the end of October. Can't do the final makeup until just before they arrive, but can organize everything so it shouldn't take too long to get the rooms ready, since I'll just have a few hours after getting back from Canada.

Yup, I'm going back to Canada in October. Found a frequent flier ticket on American airlines that only uses 25000 points - yeah! I am trying to get my condo ready to rent, hopefully by Dec 1 (moving target). Jen and Miko hope to be moved out in 3 weeks so I will just have my own stuff to figure out.

My flight to Canada leaves Cancun at 6:20 in the morning, which means I have to spend the night before in Cancun. The Marriott Courtyard near the Cancun airport had availability for award nights, so I'll be staying there - for free. Lately I've been staying at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Buffalo airport on my way back to Cancun - also for free. Gotta love all those points I accumulated during my years of work travel - sure coming in handy now.

Miguel's October trip to Oaxaca was canceled thanks to the bankruptcy of Mexicana airlines, but to be honest, it's probably for the best right now - he doesn't really have the time to go, and it's hurricane season - Oaxaca is a long way away if one wants to get back quickly - by bus. Airfare on Aeromexico is about $200 more, and money is very tight - so he says he'll go by bus whenever he goes. We'll see about that - I hate to see him spend 30 hrs on a bus, and I worry a little about safety driving through the mountains. But I know he is worried about his 100-year-old grandfather, so wants to get back there sooner rather than later.

Jen and Miko's baby is due near the end of November, so I have another free ticket to hopefully be there for the birth. It's her first baby and I'm sure my experience as both a mother and a paediatric nurse will come in handy. She has painted my guest bedroom a pretty wedgewood blue - my favorite color, and I can't wait to stay in there.

On the move...My sister is also moving in October - back to Niagara Falls. My niece is in the Niagara region attending university. Suddenly Niagara Falls is the hub of family once again. My dad is moving into nursing care facilities in Norway. The only immediate family not on the move is my brother...someone needs to have stability!

So health issues, money issues, life issues...all makes for boring blogs on my part. Rest assured that our furry family is providing entertainment with their antics...thank goodness for them, they make us laugh and forget our worries for a while.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More clearing out

Yesterday I pulled another load of books off the shelves. I flipped through each one in case I had tucked some money in there once upon a time. Alas, I didn't find any bills, but I did find:

- the stub of a boarding pass, used as a bookmark. That was in the day when I actually did something on the plane other than zonk out. I haven't used a boarding pass as a bookmark in years - I'm too tired now.

- a shopping list, including groceries. Since the list was left in a book, I probably forgot some of the things on the list. But that's normal, lists are just guidelines - unless they are made for special occasions, in which case, forgetting even one item on the list could ruin the meal or force another run to the grocery store and another temptation to pick up that package of butter tarts that I reluctantly passed by the first time.

- obscure programming code, scribbled during a moment of enlightenment while in the middle of doing something other than programming. Jotted down so I wouldn't forget my brilliant piece of code. Except I probably forgot where I stuck the note...

- a sticker inside a book on C programming, with a picture of a kitten and a quote from the Serenity Prayer
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."
At the bottom of the sticker was a printed section: "This book belongs to..." and I had filled in my name and then underneath I wrote: "and I never want to use this book again!". I have no recollection of being so fed up with that book, so can only imagine when and why I wrote that. Once upon a time I wrote a billing program in the C language that was used to bill the provincial government for anesthesia services. I sold the program to two anesthesiologists, and they happily used the program until the year 2000 was approaching. I warned them that they needed to invest in a 'real' program as I would not be updating my code to accommodate Y2K. By then I was a consultant, not in programming, so the end of my little program spelled the end of my side-line career as a programmer. Adios book - I actually like writing code, so I must have been really tired and frustrated when I wrote that nasty message inside the book. I'm sure someone will get a chuckle out of it when they pick up my old book (which is now sitting at Goodwill).

- an Anne Geddes print which was stuck between books. A print that has been missing for about 12 years, when I had a painter redo Jen's little room while I was off on one of my weekly travels for work. We had searched high and low for that print, and came to the conclusion that the painter or his assistant helped themselves to the print. Nope, they just stuck it somewhere in the bookcase so it wouldn't get splattered with paint, and there it sat until yesterday. I called out to Jen, who was sitting in her office..."remember that Anne Geddes print we could never find?", and she immediately talked about the daisies and three flower pots with babies inside. I can't believe she remember the details of the lost print after all these years. 

Going through old books brought back memories of all those years I depended on computer technology to make a living. A lot of what I did was for personal growth, not income, but it all helped in my overall understanding of how computers 'think'. Programming in BASIC - where I methodically typed in lines of code from a magazine to show the map of the US. The map was also a learning tool - name the state and the state capital...I learned a lot from that little program. Programming in COBOL - where I developed a grid for chess players to use during tournament play. Databases - Access, Paradox, Quattro Pro, and Crystal Reports to query the data. Microsoft Word and Lotus Notes - from the old days of floppy disks and Windows 95.

I am still a book hoarder - my bookshelves in Mexico are lined with personal favorites, but also plenty of technology books, which will one day be outdated. I hate throwing away books, I take everything to Goodwill and let them decide what is worth keeping and what isn't. I guess when I purge in Mexico I'll have to bring a suitcase of books back to Canada to take to Goodwill again. It's the only solution for a pack rat...thinking that our precious things are not trash, but someone else's treasure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Clearing out

I am in Canada for another week of sorting through my condo and getting rid of everything nobody else wants or that I can't take back to Mexico.

These last two days have been dedicated to my bookcase - mostly loaded with brand new outdated computer books. Oh, the money I spent on these reference books - in some cases an entire book was purchased for the contents of a few pages. Those were the days when I was into programming and databases, and the internet wasn't yet full of free and easy-to-find tips and hints and how-to's for just about anything you want to know.

I'm talking about thousands of dollars here. Surely something is worth something? So I went on e-bay to look up one book that cost me $80 and is still new, with the cd in the back. Selling on e-bay for just over $1.

Ok, so I'm not going to get rich quick by selling my old computer books. In that case, I will take them to Goodwill and they can decide what they want and what they don't want. I hate to see all those books go, but...if they're no good any more, why hold onto them? It's not like I'm going to be using them again.

My bedroom set is another dilemma. It's a lovely solid wood sleigh bed with two large armoires and a night table. Lots of storage, especially for people with tons of sweaters, like I used to have. With tax that set cost me about $6000 about 8 years ago. And unfortunately, it's too big for my daughter's new home.

The plan is to rent my condo unfurnished, but I'm wondering if anyone would like to rent it with just a bedroom set? I will talk to the property management company to see if that is even a good idea. If not, I guess I'll be listing it on Kujiji. Hopefully for more than $1.

I think Jen will be taking the rest of my furniture, except for my wicker chest - she hates wicker. How I'd love to take that down to Isla, but it would probably be a haven for termites, and it's too big to take on a plane anyway. I still toy with the idea of taking my car down there, but won't decide on anything until after my trip here in November, when baby Kyle is supposed to make his appearance.

I have not been as productive as I'd intended to be this trip. Pure exhaustion, a bout of vertigo, a broken tooth, and other distractions have sapped my energy. I just woke up from a 2.5 hr nap, and could go back for more. The weather is great - warm enough that I don't need a jacket, nice and sunny. I should be using this good weather to load up my car with stuff to take to Goodwill. Maybe tomorrow...right now I should go make supper. Darn all the 'shoulds' in my life!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

zero score and 30 years ago

I was pregnant with my daughter Jen. In those days they didn't do ultrasound tests routinely, they just poked around the abdomen, took your weight and blood pressure, and gave you vitamins. I did have one ultrasound done, but that was just because our hospital had new equipment and they needed volunteers so they could demo the equipment to the curious public.

So I volunteered my expanding belly, and even though the technician must have known whether I was having a boy or a girl, the information was top secret. But I could tell I was having a boy because of the way I was carrying the baby, so imagine my surprise when out popped a baby girl! So much for old wives tales and strangers predicting the sex of babies based on the belly of the pregnant woman.

Nowadays, ultrasounds are not only commonly performed on pregnant women, they are performed numerous times throughout the pregnancy. And not only that, there is another type of ultrasound that the pregnant parents can request - a 3-D ultrasound, which gives a sneak preview of the baby while swimming about in the uterus. Jen's pictures of baby Kyle showed him sucking his thumb, yawning, holding onto his feet, and, getting bored with the whole process, falling asleep.

I can't say that the pictures look like a real baby, but I can definitely see the father's features - little Kyle is going to be a miniature Miko, at least in looks. Here's one shot, where you can fingers and toes:

The pointy chin is Jen, but the nose and mouth are all Miko. We are all hoping the disposition will also be more like Jen - a dream baby who slept through the night and was very easy to raise. Time will tell, I guess...little Kyle still has two months to develop before making an appearance in late November.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where are they?

The last few days have been very hot. So hot you don't want to move. Today I'm doing some stuff around the house, but not one of the animals is bothering me. Here's what they're up to:

Blacky enjoying the shade and gentle breeze

Loco tucked into the corner by the front door, nice and cool

Smokey lying on the back terrace, in the shade, with the breeze coming in under the door

Minina lying under the table on the back terrace, still damp and shady from the morning rinse

Cappuchina on the floor in the living room, under her favorite chair

Maya in the bathroom sink, cool porcelain cradling her body

Luna has the right idea, she's sleeping on the sofa

I think it's nap time for me too!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zoom Zoom

With 7 furry bodies around our home, inside and out, a common site is a blur of fur as one or more animals run through our field of vision.

While in the kitchen, a blur runs up the stairs. If the blur also makes a thumping noise on the steps, it's Maya - she's heavy and runs like a horse. Often while eating breakfast one of the cats runs past us on the left...up the stairs - to chase a gecko, to claim the chair at the top of the stairs, or to claim the lounge on the top floor. If we look up from down below, often we'll see a little face peering through the railing, checking to see if anyone is in hot pursuit of the blur.

After breakfast Miguel takes the plate of fruit and vegetable scraps to compost in the front garden. Minina knows this routine and will come out of nowhere and run after him, hoping to slip out the front door - there goes a black blur.

Sitting on the couch, a grey blur goes past the front door, and then there is a whine - it's Loco, who spotted (or thought he spotted) an iguana up on the side wall and is running to catch it.

At the side dining room window a big black blur signifies that Blacky is watching an iguana on the back wall.

The white blur is Cappuchina - tearing through the house with Maya in hot pursuit to show her dominance. This blur usually ends with cat cry when Maya takes a swipe.

Open the back door and 3 or 4 furry bodies go out, or come in - a mass of colorful blur, as none of our cats have the same fur.

At night the blur is extended, as the cats run from end to end of the house, playing or chasing each other for fun or to dominate. Usually these blurs end up crashing into dining room chairs. Sometimes the Maya blur flips over the dish of cat food, scattering it all over the floor before she races upstairs.

At bedtime the animals seem to be waiting for some signal from us that it's bedtime. When they detect that signal, they trip over each other trying to get upstairs first. They are all hoping they'll sneak into the bedroom as we enter, but that's a mistake we try hard not to make. Once a cat is under the bed, it's very hard to get it out - it's not worth the effort and the lucky one usually gets to spend the night in our room. At least until I catch the cat looking out the patio door and can round it up before she realizes my intention.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It started with one house - Miguel's 'beta' partner. Then the owners of the second house wanted references, so we referred them to the owners of the first house. A friend made a recommendation to the owners of a third house. Somehow they've all become linked. Here's how:

The male owner of Casa #2 emailed the female owner of Casa #1 to check references. The female owner of Casa #2 was here on the island., and wanted to figure out the best way to deposit money for Miguel to use to care their home. They were referred to the female owner of Casa #1. She also needed phone numbers to contact Miguel - she got all the numbers we have, landline and cell phones. Then she went home.

The male owner of Casa #1 arrived, and his cell phone isn't registered. No problem, here's one of ours until it can get registered. The male owner of Casa #2 called that phone last night to chat with Miguel. But he reached the male owner of Casa #1 instead. They chatted, and now have plans to meet up when they are both on the island.

The female owners of Casa #3 were here, and wanted to figure out the best way to deposit money for Miguel to use to care their home. They were referred to the female owner of Casa #1. And a shopping trip to Cancun resulted in the accidental purchase of too many bathmats, but maybe the female owner of Casa #2 will buy some - she needs them. They will be in contact.

The female owners of Casa #3 went for dinner with the friend who put them in touch with Miguel, and he picked them up when Miguel was in front of Casa #3 trying to get the golf cart going. It was like a big party on the front lawn - everyone knew each other. Finally they all left with Miguel still working on the cart - took another 10 minutes before he was able to drive off.

Often as we are out driving we come upon apartment guests wandering around. Yesterday it was the guest from Capi's, a long-term guest who is a vet from Vietnam. We picked him up and when I told him our tale of woe about the golf cart, he got excited - he used to work around race courses, he knows a few things about engines, and he came to the probably correct solution of what needs to be done to fix the latest major 'pita' with the cart. So today the cart checks into the mechanic's hospital where the engine will be opened up and cleaned from the inside out.

The male owner of Casa #1 is also a vet from Vietnam. If you followed the above sequence of events, you can tell we'll be offering to put them in touch with each other.

Small island, even in our own tiny circle...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Luna and her plots

Luna is the cat that knows how to pull open the patio screen doors and let herself into the bedroom. She tends to do this in the early hours of the morning if we haven't managed to get her in before we go to bed. When we go up to bed Luna is nowhere around, but she must be lurking and hears us talking because she'll just show up out of the blue. Our animals are fully tuned into us, whether we realize it or not.

Last night I was in the tub and Miguel was just nodding off when Luna popped open the door. But she didn't open it wide enough to get in, and before she got a chance to give it another yank, Miguel hissed at her and scared her away.

Five minutes later Luna returned, and Miguel hissed again. I'm not sure why he chased her away, he should know she'll keep trying all night long - might as well just let her have her way and be done with it.

I went out on the patio to get Luna in, but she was either playing or frightened, and she raced across the terrace and jumped through the slits in the wall over to the neighbor's roof. I knew she'd be back.

I was almost asleep when I heard Miguel hiss again. Luna had come back but once again missed on getting the door open enough to get in on the first try. Off she went again.

I started to think about a cat's mind, and how Luna would be plotting her next attempt. How would she determine how much time to allow for us to fall asleep and make her entry into the bedroom? Just pondering that made me lie awake and keep checking the door to see if she was back. Finally I gave up and fell asleep.

Turns out Luna allowed us to sleep until 5:30 am. I don't know where she spent the night, or why she decided to show up at 5:30. But the morning attempt was successful - we were fully asleep and just one pop and she had the door open and ran in before anyone could even wake up to stop her.

She must have had a busy night because right now she's flaked out on the couch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I speak Spanish but not Mexican

Mexican logic, that is.

My first mistake was measuring the windows in inches (Miguel has 'borrowed' my metric measuring tape once again, I only had the old one).

But no problem, I know how to convert. 1 inch=2.54cm

I had my diagrams of doors and windows and cubby holes with the measurements (non-metric) written on the appropriate part of the diagram.

I found some fabric I really liked, and went in search of someone to help me.

She pulled out a piece of paper and proceeded to transcribe the numbers from my diagram. I tried to tell her my numbers were not metric, if she would give me a minute I would do the calculation.

78" x 2.54 = 198.12.  I told her I needed 200 cm. Her eyes almost popped out of her head and she gasped "Wow". She declared she didn't have enough fabric for me - what kind of door was I talking about, anyway?

A double door I said - for a patio. Standard size. Her skeptical look told me she thought I was nuts. 200 m is standard size?

Ah, finally I understood - I was speaking centimeters and she was speaking meters. Wow is right - imagine a door 200 m wide!!

Now that we had that out of the way...were my measurements exact or were they the size of the door? Um - they were the size of the door, and I wanted the curtains to have some fullness so the width of the door needed to be multiplied by 1.5.

She added 10 cm on each side for hems - but did not change the width to give the extra fullness. so I decided to fudge the numbers - tell her the width multiplied by 1.5, more or less. She crossed out some numbers, sighed and chewed on her gum, and worked the calculator once more.

What was the height? More fudging, more calculations and more gum chewing...

What kind of top would I be doing? she asked as she folder her paper to demonstrate a rod pocket. She pointed to some curtains on the wall to show me tab top. I wasn't sure why that really mattered, but I told her I wanted tab top.

While she punched numbers into her calculator and scribbled them onto her paper I converted the remaining measurements. In the end she came up with a number, which was too much. She didn't have that much fabric of the one I'd picked - "go and pick something else", she ordered.

So I picked something else but she still didn't have enough, and then the next one was a different width and she would have to redo all the calculations. More sighs and gum chomping.

After having several of my choices rejected, I finally found something in a pile - but it was dirty. And there wasn't any in the back, pick another fabric. So I picked one that I really wasn't sold on, but she liked it - it was 'limpiacito" (very clean). As we finalized the transaction, she told me the curtains would be ready in 8 days. Oh - I didn't know her pricing was based on her assumption that they were going to make the curtains, that's why she cared about the kind of top I wanted. When she'd asked me I don't know...maybe that was one of those questions she threw at me that I hadn't really understood so I just said "yes". But when she gave me the breakdown to have them made, it was a no-brainer - they would make them.

I would have to wait another 8 minutes for the lady who would make the curtains to say if she could make them on the width rather than the height. If not, she would have to redo her calculations.

So I waited, and longingly went back to visit the fabric I really wanted. I could already see those curtains hanging, they would have been perfect.

Back to see the lady to ask her about making the curtains, and then we realized we hadn't ever accounted for the window. So I didn't have enough money with me. She thought I'd just go ahead with the door, but I didn't want to split up the order like that - what if they didn't have the material for the window when I went back?

I will come back, I told her, but I don't live here, I live in Isla Mujeres, so it might take a while. After spending almost an hour with me, trying to figure out what I was trying to tell her, and denying me this fabric and that, I was leaving without spending a single peso. Oh well.

I will be back, but you can be sure all my diagrams will be in meters, and will be the size of the finished product, not the size of a window or door. And I will wait until I find the fabric that I really like, not settle for one just because it hasn't been dragged all over the floor or it's the same width as the one that was already calculated, or there is enough in stock.

And while I'm there, I might have to take a couple meters of that pretty fabric I saw that I have no idea what I will do with it. But I must have it, if she'll let me.