Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Life Cycle of a Mexican Broom

The broom starts its useful life as part of a colorful bunch of brooms in a small tienda somewhere here. They are usually placed upside-down in a bucket or some kind of a bouquet of brooms. Pink, blue, purple, yellow, orange, red. Fat ones, skinny ones, fine ones, wiry ones.

I inspect the bouquet, and take the prettiest one that looks the softest. The bristles feel right; this one looks like it might really contain the dog hair and dust. I have high hopes that THIS broom will be mine, all mine.

I bring it home, and place it in the laundry room, upside down, in my little corner. And I use it every day, and am pleased that it lives up to my expectations. Nobody else touches my broom while I'm here. But alas, I am not always here. When I leave, I place my broom in my corner, and put another broom out in plain view. "Take that one, if you must", I silently plead.

Sometimes I'm away longer than other times. The house has always been cleaned before I arrive back home, and there may also have been a small repair going on. And my broom has taken part in some sort of activity - I know this because the bristles are now all clumped in groups, and some are sticking out. My broom will no longer glide across the tiled floor and control the dust and hair, it will just push it around until a breeze blows it out of reach.

I donate the broom to the rest of the house, where it will start to lead an interesting life. It will be used to: dip into a soapy bucket and scrub the patio tiles, scrub the mats, wash down the cement stairway, clean out the pool, sweep leaves, wash the screens and windows, spread grout, and make decorations on cement sidewalks. Eventually it will be taken apart, and the wooden handle will be recycled as a handle for something else, or a paint stirrer, and the bristles will probably go in the trash, but not before sitting beside the trash can for a few weeks, just in case there is still life left there.

I head out to buy a new broom. One that will be mine, all mine.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It was just a normal day - sort of

Made chilaquilles for breakfast using Miguel's homemade red sauce, topped with a fried egg. Ate the usual large helping of fresh fruit - mango, melon, watermelon, pitaya, and drank a full glass of fresh orange juice. Lounged in the hammock for a bit enjoying the breeze. Checked the dog for ticks - found three. Swept the floors and made the beds. Painted a bit of the staircase to check the color we bought (it looks like it will be ok). Prepared Negra's spot on the terrace and Luna's bed in the bodega (shed) for when the rains start. Just in time, it started raining and blowing just as I put Luna's chair in the shed. Mopped the floor upstairs after the rain ran in through the window shutters (as usual when it blows from the north). Fell asleep on the couch with Minina curled up beside me. Made enchiladas and other stuff for dinner. Washed the dishes. Went for a drive.

Those were the physical things I did. Mentally - thoughts of Hurricane Gustav took over today. We don't know anyone in Cuba but having been here during Hurricane Wilma, I have an idea what it is going to be like for them, and I just hope they will come out ok. Wishful thinking, I know.

During our drive we stopped along the east coast and watched the waves rumbling in - big ones, crashing on the rocks below. I love the sight of those waves, but don't like knowing what is causing them - a category 4 or 5 hurricane, making someone's life miserable (and dangerous), somewhere out there over the horizon.

We have a friend in Abbeville, LA - which is the projected landfall in the US. Ann will be evacuating tonight or tomorrow morning, and we hope everyone there will be ok too. I also have a friend in New Orleans - she just recently moved back there to rebuild her house after losing everything with Katrina. She is not in the direct path but they are being told to leave anyway - better safe than sorry, I'm sure.

Here, everything is normal. For the locals, it's business as usual. As the Mexicans say "No pasa nada". Yes, that is probably true for here, this time, but somewhere out there, "Si, pasa algo".

We're up early

Loco sleeps on the terrace, usually in his camp chair. Loco hates rain. Often we'll be sound asleep when Loco will slap his paw against the screen - "Hey, let me in! There's rain out here!". But at 4:30 am this morning, we heard it first, and had to wake up Loco to come in. Normally he eases himself out of that chair with a good stretch - back legs splayed out behind and pink tongue curling out of his mouth - I think his length doubles during his stretches. But this morning, he popped out of that chair like a cork out of a champagne bottle. Wouldn't want to get hit by a stray drop of rain!

Now we're all down in the living room, sipping coffee and eating Oreo cookies (actually, Loco and Minina are not involved in the coffee or cookies). We've checked the latest hurricane status and, reassured that we are not in the path of the hurricane winds, we'll probably crawl back into bed for a bit. It only rained for a minute, although I know more is coming our way. So a good day to just stay indoors and find a hobby. I love weekends!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Terrible Twos

I always knew human two-year-olds were special little people to be reckoned with, but I didn't realize it could also apply to two-year-old cats.

Minina is halfway into her second year as a cat. She's a really sweet girlie cat with a soft little meow, and when she's 'talking' she almost sounds like one of the dog's squeeky toys. "Meep, Meep". She is adorable.

Minina has always been playful, but lately she is causing havoc around the house.

She pulled the "PrintScreen" key off my laptop and tried to eat it (in June it was the "x" key).

She's knocking fridge magnets off the fridge.

She's darting out the door every chance she gets.

She's climbing the screens.

She's stealing out of my water glass.

She instills terror in the geckos and will tirelessly hunt them for hours.

She insists on 'arranging' my wall-hanging, like this (looking for geckos within):

This morning she jumped up into that mess on the wall, but lost her grip, and landed full force on Miguel's head and back. She has sharp claws, and left her marks. Miguel must really love that cat because he laughed it off.

We have special toys for Minina, those ones they use at cat shows. Minina has an old one, all chewed up, that she loves. We have some new ones stashed away for when the old one no longer meets her needs. Last night we got home from a drive, and entering the house we found the new toy in the middle of the living room floor, and two replacement 'mice' flung around the dining room. Bandidos? (we have arrived home to signs of bandidos before - a story for another time). Not bandidos this time, nothing else had been touched. Must have been Minina, but how and where did she find them? I thought they were safely in the desk drawer, which was closed.

We are living with a toddler, a two-year-old magician, into everything. A toddler cat.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Don't like the name. Don't like the looks. I'm thinking I'm not going to like Gustav much at all. He's toying with us, taking his sweet time meandering around the Caribbean. Unpredictable, (although the computer models think they can predict him). I like having time to prepare for these things, Gustav is making it hard. Don't want to prepare too soon, as it is a lot of work and could be for nothing. But we've been caught preparing too late - hoisting a/c units via cable with tropical force winds blowing things around - dangerous! And of course, the rain - can't use the electric drill or saw in the rain. You'd think by now our boards would all be cut and predrilled, wouldn't you? But if you understand Mexico and Mexicans, when a piece of wood is needed for something, they use whatever is handy, even if it is your hurricane stash. So - time to go count my wood; that is something I should do whether Gustav is coming or not, because if not him, there will possibly be another just around the corner.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hurricane Time

Just over three years ago, I noticed how beautiful my town was looking. Clean, roads repaired, roadside plants happy and healthy. Then along came Hurricane Wilma, and she sat on top of us for almost three days. And wiped out most of the smaller plants and shrubs. Broke off many of the taller palms and banana plants. Our area looked like a bomb had blasted us, everything was brown and dusty and scattered.

Now we are fully recovered. Once again our area looks its best. The sea is a beautiful Caribbean blue, and is calm as can be. The bougainvilla is blooming everywhere, turning concrete walls into splashes of color. But around the corner looms Hurricane Gustav, possibly pointing right at us by the weekend. So today I will take pictures of all the beauty around me - plants and sea. My "before" picture, and I am so hoping there will not be an "after". Although there will be an 'after" for someone, somewhere - I only hope it will not be too bad.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lizards and Cats

They just don't go together.

Yesterday Luna was sitting in the garden. I heard a rustle, and so did Luna. She saw something I didn't see, but it was big enough to make noise as it tried to move through the vines and escape. Luna ran out the gate and around the front of the house, and that was the last I heard of any rustle. Did she catch it? I don't know, I'd like to think not but I know better - I've seen her with medium-sized iguanas in her mouth, and we've found parts in her storage area (behind a big planter). No wonder some days she doesn't want her cat food!

Also yesterday, we went upstairs to take a dip in the pool. As I got ready in the bedroom, Miguel and Minina hit the terrace. When I went out, there was Miguel, in the pool, with a small green lizard in his hands. Minina had caught it, but not yet killed it - although it played dead quite well. Why Miguel decided to go into the pool with the lizard, I don't really know, but in any case, he laid the lizard on the edge of the pool as I rounded up Minina and put her inside. The lizard laid there, on its back, not moving, not letting on it was alive. And then, when my back was turned, it took off. I missed it all. But this one got away - this time!

I think today the score is:
Luna 1
Minina 0
Lizards 1 for 2

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why "Dentro Del Jardin"?

From the street, you are looking at a wall of salvia. Open the gate and you enter under a canopy of vines. Look to your left, or your right, and you are surrounded by shade plants, many of which are the result of Miguel's green thumb.

This is our home, and the coolness of the garden welcomes visitors. Sit in the rocking chair or lounge in the hammock. Watch the baby lizards play and jump from plant to plant. Listen to the birds singing and calling. Close your eyes and let the breezes refresh your skin. Time for siesta, al dentro del jardin.