Friday, October 31, 2008

Busy week comes to an end

My daughter reminded me that I haven't blogged all week. I know, but I have reasons and excuses.

Monday morning I headed to the Buffalo airport. I had a large suitcase, my usual carry-on, and my laptop wheelie which was stuffed with junk along with an extra laptop, making it heavier than usual. I had much more luggage than normal, but I was flying back to Mexico after my Oklahoma trip so had to haul everything with me.

On check-in I was told that my large suitcase was 9 pounds overweight. I took out a bunch of books and stuffed them into my carry-on, bringing the large suitcase down to 52 pounds, which they said was ok. But now the carry-on weighed 40 lbs and there was no way I was prepared to haul that through connecting airports or try to put it up in the overhead bin, so I checked it too. Cost for checking two bags - $40.

While I waited for my flight in the club lounge, I called Dell to order a new battery for my laptop. They didn't have any in stock, but gave me the number of a partner supplier. They also told me the part number to order. Oh - they also asked for my express service code. I refused to give it. My laptop was across the room and what did it matter anyway, since it wasn't under warranty?

I called the partner provider and they had one battery of that model number...and...they would have it to Oklahoma by the next day - $169 for the battery and another $30 to ship overnight. So I flew to Oklahoma thinking everything was coming together. And was so pleased to find that both my checked bags arrived with me, and only a little damage was done to the brand new big suitcase - a rip in the back and the new luggage tag had disappeared. The suitcase was not a cheap one, even though I got it on sale. I will never understand why it is ok for airlines to ruin your luggage and they do not have to reimburse you. One reason I stopped buying good luggage - it doesn't seem to matter if it's cheap or not, the airlines have ruined zippers, broken wheels and handles, and bent the interior frame. And they are "not liable" for exterior damage.

Anyway...I hauled all the bags to the rental car area across the road from the airport. The first vehicle, an SUV, smelled like smoke, so I hauled the luggage back to the rental counter and asked for a different vehicle. No problem, except it was much farther away so I had aching shoulders by the time I got to the new car and loaded the trunk with the heavy bags.

Arriving at my hotel for the night, I left the large bag in the car but took the other two inside with me. Up to the third floor, at the very end of the hall. They were so happy to give me this upgraded room but I would have preferred the first room by the elevator rather than pull the bags down a carpeted hallway.

The next morning I checked out with my luggage, and drove 2 hours to my client, arriving by 8 am. In the afternoon my battery arrived, but when I tore into the box, I realized with a sick feeling that the battery was not the correct one - the one they sent was huge. I called to report the problem but was told that Dell had given me the wrong part number, it was for a model one step below the one I have. I would be charged a 25% restocking fee, and they did not have the battery I really needed in stock. I called Dell to make a complaint but got interrupted with work and up to this moment still have not had time to call back to tell them my tale of woes. But they WILL hear about this!

Tuesday night I stayed in a B&B in town as the hotels were sold out. Of course I was on the second floor, and there was no elevator. The woman who checked me in helped me carry my bags upstairs (and I left the big one in the trunk), but in the morning I was on my own to carry both bags back down. I worked 10 hrs at the client and then drove 2 hrs, in the dark (which I hate - I don't have great night vision) to get back to the hotel near the Tulsa airport. Repeat the hauling of the bags above, but at least this time I was on the first floor and not far down the hallway. Checked out in the morning, returned the rental car, and pulled all the bags back across the road to the airport where I was too early for check-in (it was 4 am).

On check-in (with a different airline), I was told that my large bag was 2 pounds overweight (which I knew, since that was what it was when I flew to Oklahoma). They were going to charge me $125 if I did not get rid of the 2 lbs, so I pulled a couple of towels out of the bag and somehow stuffed them into the bulging carry-on that was no longer going to be a carry-on. However, no charge to check these bags - sort of a surprise, but I didn't question it.

Arriving in Cancun, both bags arrived with me - yeah! I got the green light and my pre-arranged ride was waiting for me. But...NOBODY helped me with my bags! I hauled them to the van myself, I'm still not sure why. However, that was the LAST time I handled the bags - from then on someone was there willing and able to help. And it was worth it - the three pictures I had in the large suitcase arrived intact, and I think this is the first time I've succeeded in bringing glass without it being broken. And Loco was thrilled with his Jerky Treats.

Now I just need a massage and I should be as good as new. Of course, I am still here without a battery. But I'm HERE, and at the moment, that's enough.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

5.5 hrs later

I started a post at 6 pm tonight. Then a strong wind blew through, with thunder and lightening. Suddenly a red light was flashing on my laptop - the battery charging light. Thinking there was maybe a short, I pulled out the power cord. The laptop shut down - clunk. It wasn't a graceful shutdown at all. Not a dribble of battery power to keep the laptop running. Something fatal had happened to my battery, according to the diagnostics on the Dell website.

My laptop is under a 4-year warranty. People who know me know why I take a full-coverage warranty on my laptop. I don't have the best of luck, apparently. So I called Dell. Put in my express service code. Got a woman on the line, just as Swiss Chalet buzzed me to let them in (we ordered chicken dinners, delivered - didn't want to go out in the horrible weather). I asked the woman to hold on a minute while I answered the buzzer, but when I got back to her, she was gone.

After we ate, I called Dell again. Put in my express service code. Got a guy on the line, and when he went to bring up my file, he apparently disconnected my call. I called back. Put in my express service code. Got a guy on the line who said that I had called the wrong number and gave me a different number. I called the new number. Put in my express service code. Got a guy on the line who listened to my story and then said that I was speaking to Dell US, and needed to call Dell Canada. I had called Dell Canada to start with, and they told me to call Dell US. I was starting to get that helpless feeling of being put into an endless loop. The US guy transferred me to Dell Canada.

Once again I put in my express service code. A woman answered the call, and after listening to my story and realizing I needed a battery shipped to the US (where I'm headed in the morning), she told me that she could only ship to Canada, and I would have to call Dell US. I told her that Dell US had just told me I needed to talk to Dell Canada, but she insisted she could not help me and I would have to plead my case with Dell US. She gave me a number to call.

I called Dell US. Put in my express service code. I got a woman who listened to my story but then told me she could not help me. Dell Canada would have to help me, and here was the number to call. I had been patient up to this point, but I could feel myself getting irritated and sarcastic. I told her that Dell Canada could not help me, and had specifically referred me to Dell US and had given me the number that led to her. She wouldn't budge, so I was left with nothing else to do but hang up. Dell was clearly not providing Service Excellence to its customer.

Called Dell Canada. Put in my express service code. Got a woman on the line, and before we even got started, I told her that she was about the sixth person I'd spoken to, and that I'd been shuffled and disconnected and "PLEASE don't lose me". She heard the desperation in my voice and thus began Dell's Service Recovery process. "What is your number in case we get disconnected?". "Let me put you on hold while I look into this for you". Etc...

One hour later, after being on hold multiple times, and performing various diagnostics that all led to the same conclusion - it was determined that I needed a new battery. Charissa informed me that my warranty on the battery was only good for one year, and it had expired in March. She gave me a number to call in the morning to order the battery for delivery to Oklahoma, where I will be this week.

I went online to try to order the battery at All went well until it came time to pay. I could not use PayPal payment method because is not set up to take non-US payments via PayPal. So I tried to pay by Visa, but insists on having US state/zip instead of Canadian province/postal code. Dead end.

So I will try again tomorrow. With a human on the phone. But if anyone asks for my express service code I will scream. I got anything BUT EXPRESS SERVICE!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Kinder World?

I have been in Laredo, Texas all week. It is almost like being in Mexico. People all around me are speaking Spanish and I am eating Mexican food. It's really hard to tell the difference between Laredo and Cancun. I almost feel at home here.

I've known the staff at the hospital for a long time, and it is always a pleasure working with them. There is a chemistry here that I admire - everyone is nice and they treat each other with respect and warmth. The staff work as a team - they support each other, and they communicate. It's refreshing to see that the working environment can be a place of friendship and success. Sadly it is not like that everywhere I go.

I recently was in Oklahoma with another of my clients. There I was also struck by the genuine friendliness of everyone I met - rental car agent, hotel staff, toll booth clerk, parking lot attendant, hospital staff. The pace in Oklahoma is slower. People seem to take the time to pay attention to each other.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Philadelphia area. I was staying at a hotel, Homewood Suites. One night I came in from work, tiredly dragging my laptop behind me. The agent behind the reception desk greeted me with a smile and said "Welcome Home". The smell of fresh-baked cookies and the warm welcome made me smile as I made my way to my room.

The hotel served up a hot dinner every night - on the house - including dessert. One night the dessert they offered was chocolate pudding with whipped cream. Creamy pudding, without the skin - yum. Whipped cream out of the can...the kind we used to love to squirt right into our mouths when we were kids (ok, I admit it - I still do it sometimes). I took a bowl of pudding back to my room and plopped in front of the tv and ate my dessert. I almost felt like I was at home.

The night before I left the Philadelphia area, I moved to a hotel at the airport. Upon check-in, the VIP agent pulled me over to her area and checked me in because the desk agents were already busy. I am not a VIP with that hotel, but she treated me like one. She offered me a complimentary glass of wine, and when I said I didn't drink but I would give it to my friend who would be coming to have dinner with me, she said that she really wanted ME to have something, so she changed the coupon to a free Starbucks coffee.

With all my travels, I'm constantly going through customs and immigration in three countries - Canada, US, and Mexico. Over the years I've had good experiences and I've had bad experiences in all three countries with immigration and customs agents, but the worst agents have been the US airport security staff. The people manning the security lines at certain airports seem to like to yell and order people about, herding us through like cattle who are hard-of-hearing. The constant shrieking makes me cringe. "Take off your shoes". "Do you have any liquids or gels?". "Take your laptop out of your bag". "Keep your boarding pass in your hands". "Keep moving". Yeah, ok...whatever...

But lately I've noticed a kinder staff, even at the worst airport. Nobody seems to be shouting at me any more. The customs and immigration agents at DFW are downright friendly and helpful, and they welcomed me to the US. Canadian agents, although more distant, are still pleasant. Mexican agents don't interact much, although the odd agent will wish me a good day when they realize I speak and understand Spanish.

So much as I hate to leave Isla and home, lately my travels have been a little kinder. I'm not sure why, but people seem to be nicer right now. Anyone else noticing a change like this?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another Anniversary - Wilma

This is the third year anniversary of Hurricane Wilma. Certainly one of the scariest times of my life, but also rewarding because I learned that logic, instinct, and previous life experiences had prepared me for what was to come.

My grandmother was the queen of preparing for bad weather. She lived 'in the country', and we often got blizzards that meant the roads were impassable. No problem for my grandmother - she had all her preserves, a cold cellar loaded with canned goods and juices, and a freezer full of meat. My grandparents could probably have lasted 6 months on my grandmother's stock.

And so, the first thing I did when preparing for Wilma was to stock up on non-perishables. We also bought a tray of eggs, and replenished our water jugs. We would not suffer from hunger or thirst.

Years of tent camping taught me how to collect and conserve water. In advance of the storm I filled the laundry tub and pails and pots with tap water. The pool was also filled. As the rain water poured down the staircase through the open doorway on the top level (the door was blown off), I collected it in pots rather than let it run out the back door. When we siphoned the water off the second floor terrace (where the drains were blocked with leaves), I stood under the hose and took a much-needed shower. I reused water, going from cleanest (i.e., washing dishes) to dirtiest (i.e., washing floors).

In the second-floor bedrooms, I put away everything except the large pieces of furniture. On the main level we moved as much off the floor as possible. We had a lot of water in the house, on every level - but nothing was seriously damaged inside.

What did I learn from Wilma that will help me be better prepared for the next hurricane?
  • If anyone is visiting, send them home before it is too late to get a flight out. DO NOT let them stay, things may be bad for much longer than they are prepared to stay.

  • You can never have too many batteries or candles.

  • Charge the cell phone and buy enough credit to get through a couple of weeks.

  • Buy charcoal for the BBQ.

  • Before hurricane season starts, review the emergency supplies, check batteries, recharge 'chargers'.

  • Stock up on fruit - it tends to last a while without refrigeration.

  • Stock up on pet food.

  • Get cash - we were able to eat several meals in the few restaurants that were serving.

  • Put as many plants inside as possible - the hot wind will burn them very quickly.

  • Make sure your neighbors are ok, and be generous to those who have less than you.

  • We really need to learn how to use our solar equipment to trickle charge battery packs and cell phones.

Hurricane Wilma was an intense storm that went on for much too long. I was prepared for 8 hrs of wind, but not at all prepared for thundering, vibrating winds. Powerful winds that caused the furniture inside the house to vibrate, so much that it felt like an earthquake was about to swallow us up. Like a train thundering through the subway station. Like an angry force out there wanting to destroy us all. Winds strong enough to pick up the water tinacos on the roof and thump them back and forth against the house until the plumbing broke away and the tanks flew to the neighbor's terrace. Winds strong enough to rip a heavy metal door from its hinges and toss it over to the next lot. Wind that was hot. Wind that teased us by easing up a bit, then returned in full force with the next revolution. Wind that made me want to scream "Enough!". It started on the Thursday, while we were still completing our outdoor preparations, and it finally stopped, really stopped, by Monday.

And when the storm stopped was when we started post-Wilma living. No electricity for 15 days. No phone. No fans to cool the house. No lights to take away the darkness (and in October it gets dark around 6:30 pm). Long nights with nothing to do. After a week, when the airport reopened, I returned to Canada to pick up supplies to bring back - bedding and emergency supplies for those whom had lost their homes.

I remember standing up on the third level and watching helicopters bringing help. I thought about the times I'd read about emergency aid during disasters, or watched it on tv. I never thought I'd be on the receiving end. I felt like a survivor, pulled out of the rubble of Wilma. But we all were survivors - with the same dazed look on our faces - disbelief at what we had just endured, and the destruction we witnessed all around us.

I remember the taxi ride to the airport. Shocked at the devastation in Cancun, much worse structural damage to buildings than we'd had on Isla. I remember how good it felt to get to the airport in Cancun, and find electricity. And a restaurant that had 'normal' food - eggs, bacon, toast! I remember feeling shell-shocked still, and silently sitting in the airport listening to all the people around me sharing their personal stories.

When I arrived in the US to connect to my flight to Canada, it felt odd to be back amongst the normal living. I felt different. Changed, maybe. My sister claims my memory is not so good, but I know that I will always remember living through Wilma. Three years ago tonight we were in the center of the storm, I will never forget that night.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baby Pictures

No time for a post today, but here are a couple of pictures we took this morning of the kitten and Papa Loco.

Loco has a fascination for this kitten, he wants to be near and watch everything to do with it, and when I'm holding it he wants to lick it and nuzzle it. The kitten seems to like that too. Not really sure what it's all about, but Loco is acting like a mother hen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The best laid plans...

We are desperately trying to complete some projects around here. I have been travelling too much lately and am taking online courses, so haven't had time to dedicate to anything more than the day-to-day. One of the projects involves a lot of painting - something I can actually do, and even enjoy, if I have the time.

Recently I posted about the on-going cycle of golf cart woes with the muffler man and mechanic. At the time of that post, we had completed two cycles, and Miguel had rigged up a wire to get the engine going from a cold start. Well, that wire served us well until last Wednesday, when the golf cart simply died on a side street not far from the house. So my preferred mechanic picked up the cart and brought it back the next night - running well, including starting up from a cold start. Happily, we went to town to visit the ATM machine - and the cart ran like a champ, even faster than it had been in a while.

On the way back, we heard a small noise when we turned the corner. The muffler? But not loud, just a little noise. We should have known...

As we crossed the tope near the airport, we were being passed by an old truck, and wow - that truck sounded horrible, like a helicopter. What a racket. The truck got in front of us and drove on, but it left the noise with us. Miguel and I looked at each other. OH MY GOD! It's US!!! I think we were both so shocked and angry that we couldn't even discuss it, and of course, even if we'd wanted to talk, we couldn't hear a thing over the thumping of the propeller. I mean motor.

In verbal silence we putted home, ignoring all the stares as we disrupted the peace of every home we passed. When we got home, we didn't even look under the seat to find the problem - we just parked the cart and went inside. We didn't discuss anything about the cart until the following morning when I lifted the seat and saw the muffler completely broken off from the exhaust pipe - it was just laying on top of the engine, like the pathetic pile of recycled metal it was.

Miguel mentioned taking it for repair, and that's when I lost it and said that the muffler man had better not ruin the mechanic's work AGAIN, because if he did, I would go over there loaded with pliers in both my hands and I would yank HARD on certain body parts that would cause the man a great deal of pain.

Miguel went off with the cart, and later told me it would be ready at 1 pm yesterday. So yesterday afternoon, off we went by taxi - to a different muffler man. Hehehe...I think Miguel took my threat seriously! Of course the cart wasn't ready - but the man did have a new, strong piece of metal he would be molding for the exhaust pipe, and he assured us it would be ready at 5.

Miguel decided that 5 really meant 6, so at 6:30 sharp we walked over and the cart was ready. The work looked solid, and a support had been installed to help the muffler handle the vibrations of driving into potholes and over topes. And so far (crossing everything I possibly can) the muffler is holding (and yes, we've already tested it with a pothole or three), and the golf cart is running and even starting from a cold engine. So the latest Limey hurdle has been overcome once again. Applause, please!

Since the golf cart distractions from yesterday had interrupted the painting plans, I decided that today was going to be my day to paint. But the last three nights I have not slept well because a kitten wandering around has been calling and crying. I've gone out in the middle of the night to try to find the kitten, but no luck. We have seen the kittens - two gray ones, probably about 2 months old, and we've been putting food out for them. But since the latest rainy days I've really only seen one, so I thought maybe something had happened to one kitten and the survivor was crying out of loneliness.

This morning the kitten was still crying, and in the daylight I was able to locate it, and discovered that it was not one of the gray kittens, but a much smaller calico baby. It was hidden in the long grass behind the neighbor's garbage can, and I called Miguel to come and help me catch it (I assumed it was wild and would bite me without a towel protecting my hands). Miguel took over and caught the kitten, and it made no attempt to bite, it just cried loud and hard. I realized there was no way this kitten could have eaten the pellets of food we'd put out, and since it had been crying for three nights, it was pretty much starving.

Miguel went off to buy cat food and I tried to comfort this little creature that had been out in the elements for all this time without food or care. The kitten was shivering but would not settle - it was hungry! It had no idea what to do with the food I put down in a little plastic cup - it tried to chew on the plastic and eat the blanket. I put some food on my finger and it gobbled that up and then tried to eat my finger. I finally just put the food right on the floor and it cleaned it all up and then I covered the cage with towels to give the kitten a chance to warm up and rest.

The kitten is probably 3 weeks old - its eyes are open and it has tiny teeth. So we're into a 3-4 hr feeding schedule, and fitting in some cuddling time as well. Tomorrow I leave the country again, so Delfino will take the kitten to his clinic, and we will work with him to determine this kitten's future - adoption or return to the garden here. We can't keep all the kittens we find, but this one might just end up back here once it's a little older. Not sure yet.

I've lost count of how many times we've been down this road before. Someone dumped that young kitten out there rather than take it to Delfino to be cared for. I believe Delfino will accept unwanted kittens whether the people can pay or not, and I wish there was a way we could get the word out to those who are not aware. I know this situation is not unique to Mexico, but in Canada I can't remember the last time I encountered animals dumped in the street. Here it is right in our faces, it is heart-breaking. And they've been rounding up the stray dogs again, and any unclaimed animal will only meet one fate - death.

Nope, this is not my paradise and it is not paradise for the animals. But it is home, where I want to be, where I belong. Despite some things that make me very uncomfortable and sad and sometimes make me want to throw up or get on the next plane out of here. I can run away but the problem is still here, so all I can do is follow my heart and do what I can. It will never be enough, but it is better than doing nothing at all.

So today I did not paint afterall. Oh well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy "Re-Birthday" Miguel

One year ago today I was sitting on my couch attending a conference call. The power went 'thump' - which disconnected me from my call. After a few seconds the power came back on, and I dialed back into my conference call. Then the local phone line rang. Normally when I'm busy I would ignore that phone, so I'm not sure what prompted me to pick up. On the other end was a hysterical, crying voice - the only word I could make out was 'ambulancia'. It registered that someone was calling to tell me there'd been an accident, and when I asked "Miguel?", the answer was "Si". I dropped both phones, grabbed my wallet, locked the doors, and raced to the street to hail a cab. Those couple minutes it took to get a cab and get to the site of the accident were the most terrifying of my life - because I fully expected to arrive to find out that Miguel had been killed.

There was a crowd of people gathered, but I tore through the crowd and shook off a woman who tried to stop me from getting to Miguel. I was stunned to see him sitting in a chair. His head was hanging, his color was grey, he looked puffy and like he'd just been bombed. But he was ALIVE! The paramedic was wrapping a huge bandage around his head and I assumed that part of his head had been blown off (thank goodness I was wrong about that!). I called his name and after the second time he raised his head and looked at me and said that he was fine (he wasn't).

Miguel touched high-voltage cables. The force of the jolt was what 'thumped' off my power a mile away. More than 16,000 volts of electricity coursed through or around his body. And didn't kill him!

Oh, he was badly hurt, no question. First, second, and third degree burns to 30% of his body. A huge gash in his head from falling down a concrete flight of stairs when the electricity exploded around him and knocked him out. The first person to attend to him said he wasn't breathing, so he slapped him in the face. Miguel came around and claimed he was fine (he wasn't). He walked down the next flight of stairs to sit in the chair and get first aid treatment to his external wounds. Then he was whisked away to the local hospital for stabilization and bandaging of his burns. Then a boat ride to Cancun where an awaiting ambulance would slowly thread the needle of Cancun rush-hour traffic to take him to the ER, where we would spend hours waiting for specialists to check him out and determine what might be damaged by the line of current on the inside of his body.

Word spread quickly on the island that Miguel had been killed. And a few hours after Miguel had gone by boat to Cancun, another man's corpse was returned to the island. Strangely enough, that man's name was also Miguel, and this solidified the rumors of Miguel's death.

Miguel's extensive bandages made him look like a zombie from the movie "Thriller". We joked that he should return to Isla and walk down the main street in his bandages, prompting speculation if he was really dead or alive. We had to find humor in something.

The road to recovery was long and painful. Miguel's faith and spirit, along with lots of TLC and medication, carried him through. Miguel should have had skin grafting, but a string of circumstances delayed it long enough that he eventually decided he wanted to see how it would heal on its own. And now, other than his scars, Miguel is as good as new. The plastic surgeon treating Miguel recommended a gel, Contractubex when we last saw him in June. This gel is for burn patients and helps smooth out the ropey scar tissue on his arm and abdomen. Miguel says the gel also makes his underlying tissues feel less stretched from the scars.

So today is the one-year anniversary of Miguel's accident. His second chance at life, because he should have been killed by that zap of electricity. He is a little bit different than he was a year ago - both inside and out. Without getting personal, there were good things that came out of this horror.

Cruising around the island, Miguel still comes across the odd person who does a double-take and says "What, you're alive? I heard you were dead!". It's only been a year, it may take a while for the rumor of life to circulate!

Postscript: In remembering this 'anniversary', I have to again give thanks to my dear friend Bennie for dropping everything and coming to the island to help out when I really needed it. I do not know how I would have gotten through this without Bennie taking charge of the house and animals while I focused on attending to Miguel's needs in the hospital in Cancun. Muchisimas Gracias, Amigo!!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Sometimes it feels like I'm being pushed to see what my level of tolerance and patience is. Last night I reached it, at least temporarily. I went to bed disgusted, discouraged, and just plain fed up, and I think Miguel was almost as frustrated (so it wasn't just me). Things that seem logical to me don't necessarily happen here, and that drives me nuts, especially when I'm near the end of my rope.

So hear up Isla - I give, ok!? (but not forever, just for today. I'll be back)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And this is how my day started

The weather has not been pleasant lately. It rains, it blows, the sun comes out, and then it rains again. Repeat over and over since Sunday afternoon. I had my laundry on the line for 3 days, before I finally gave up and brought it in to finish drying.

Luna, the outdoor cat, has been coming indoors to escape the weather (she has a shed, but that gets dull after a few hours). Luna mostly eats and sleeps, and when she needs out, she quietly gives signs if one is paying attention. So, she is really no problem.

The problem becomes when Minina the tormentor comes into the picture. Minina is not aggressive, but she annoys Luna by following her around and getting too close. Luna has vivid memories of horrible battles with Chaquiste, so she is not sure about this Minina cat. Thus, Luna growls and hisses when Minina encroaches on Luna's space.

Last night everyone slept indoors in peace. But this morning was a different story. Minina had irritated the heck out of Luna, who was now quite mad at her, and they had a little spat up in the staircase first thing this morning. I ignored them as I figured they would sort things out themselves. But they came into the living room, and kept up their quarrel. We were just trying to drink our coffee and start our day, and the kids were ruining it for us. So - intervention time. "Luna - stop it", and "Minina - stop it". I doubt they understood really, but they stopped it.

Then Miguel opened the front door to go outside. Minina saw her chance and shot out between his feet. We got out the hose but it didn't work this time - Minina ran to the back of the house, and when I went out there to catch her, she ran back to the front. This amused Miguel and annoyed me because he should know she does this and should pay attention when he opens the door. But he doesn't, and so Minina plays her games. Finally I caught her and tossed her back in the house.

Miguel went to the market, and this little piggy stayed home. A friend called to chat, and for some reason I walked into the kitchen while I was talking to him. Just in time to see the hind-end and tail of Minina as she squeezed out through the kitchen screen window. I tried to grab her tail but she was gone. I ran out the back door, and she saw me and took off down the passageway to the front of the house. I ran through the house to the front door, and found that Miguel had latched the screen door from the outside. I lost time trying to find something to flip the latch from the inside. Once outside, I saw that Minina had at least stayed inside the property, so I got out the hose and sprayed her - usually this will make her run for the front door. This time she ran back to the back of the house, with me in pursuit. I almost got her in the back garden but she slipped out of my grasp and went back down the passageway to the front garden AGAIN. Down the passageway I huffed and puffed, and finally caught her in the garden under the living room window.

My friend on the phone heard the entire episode, and he was laughing because he knows my house, and he knows Minina - he knew exactly what I was doing as he heard all the noise. Got no sympathy from him.

Minina was exhausted from all this and went to the top of the fridge into her basket and pretended to sleep. I tried to put the screen back on the window. And when Miguel came home I told him the story and he just grinned. I think he is actually proud of his little monster cat. But at least Minina has stopped bothering Luna. Peace reigns once again. For now.


Ok, I started this blog before I read the blog of IslaGringo. Wayne has done a post today that I would like to link to from here. I hope it will lead more people to his message on World Poverty and Project Warm Hands. And I just read CancunCanuck's blog, and she too has a post about world poverty, with some interesting (although sad) statistics. I sort of started a blog about a related concern the other day.

I don't have any answers beyond what I can do personally, which is never enough. But maybe our blogs will raise awareness of some of the things that may not be in plain view in the tourist areas here. Anything and everything you do really helps, wherever you choose to give. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Built-in Cameras

There are so many missed photo opportunities here. Images that flash by as we move about the island, and most of the time my camera is back home. As a tourist I always had my camera handy, but it just isn't practical now. But if I'd had my camera with me, I would be sharing these pictures with you:
  • An old truck that still runs, but is missing doors, a roof, a fender, and one headlight is hanging by a wire.

  • A truck laden with family on a Sunday outing. Everyone was piled into the back of the truck, some sitting in the plastic chairs and others standing or sitting on various other pieces of picnic apparatus.

  • A truck sailing by with workers standing in the back, holding on to the cab, facing forward, grinning from ear to ear.

  • Sitting out in my road, on the back of my golf cart, practising my Mexican staring into space routine, facing the main road. A guy in a red shirt on a bicycle madly waved at me as he passed my street. I waved back and grinned - it was the guy who helped us with the yard work after Miguel's accident last year.

  • A spontaneous smile from a child who doesn't know me, but just wants to be friendly.

  • Small lizards as they hop around in the hedge.

  • A family sitting in front of their house, a concrete block or two as their stoop. The husband and wife, with a chicken standing on the block between them. A family photo op.

  • Loco bursting out the back door and jumping as high as he can and bouncing off the wall while trying to get the iguana way up there on the wall.

  • The opening of the moonflower in late afternoon. The flower bud appears to fill with gas and then suddenly it pops open and releases its exquisite fragrance. Don't ever 'help' it as it doesn't work that way (we know, we've tried).

  • All the odd things people manage to lug around on their mopeds. Televisions, tools, coolers, wood, wheelbarrows. A dog wearing sunglasses. Whole families - husband, wife, and up to 3 kids

  • Small kids asleep on the mopeds. Sometimes drapped limply over the arms of the parent. Sometimes sitting behind a parent, holding on and leaning up against the back, but the head is bobbing and they are sound asleep. I don't know how they don't fall off.
So many photo opportunities. I've forgotten many of them. I wish my eyes had built-in cameras. Maybe futuristic implanted lenses will offer that functionality? One blink and the image before me would be imprinted into memory. Although I'm not sure how I would hook up to download from my eyeballs so I could share with you what I just saw. But one step at a time - first get me the built-in camera.

Monday, October 13, 2008

La Negra

Several years ago La Negra showed up at the house of a man down the road; she seemed to live there, along with another dog, Jimmy. The owner once told me La Negra was Jimmy's sister, but the woman at the store around the corner said La Negra was Jimmy's mother. The two dogs bore no resemblance to each other, so who knows? Mother, sister - either way, they were somehow related.

Last year the owner of the dogs started working in Cancun, and over the next few months his trips back to the island were spaced out more and more. La Negra and Jimmy were left to fend for themselves much of the time, but they were loyal and protected their property. Jimmy and La Negra actually protected more than their property - they acted like they owned the entire road, and scared the heck out of us by chasing us and barking. We threw rocks at them to make them leave us alone.

La Negra didn't like Loco, and she took every opportunity to bite him in the butt if he dared to cross her 'line'. Sometimes both Jimmy and Negra would gang up on Loco, and although he was scared of them, he was also fast - he could zig and zag his way through or under their blockade in the road and they'd be left standing there in his cloud of dust. But eventually Loco stopped going down that part of the road, it was too much trouble and he was too scared (which was a good thing anyway).

I started paying more attention when I noticed La Negra eating an iguana and her house looking empty and abandoned. I bought food at the nearby tienda and started putting piles out there for both dogs. I gained a fast friend in Jimmy, who decided he'd accompany me to the store just as a reminder that he needed food.

Eventually both dogs moved closer and closer to my house as it became clear that their owner had abandoned both the home and his dogs. I started putting their food across the street, and they hung out in the road in front of my house. The dogs decided that my part of the road needed protecting, and they became road monsters and scared the heck out of everyone who dared cross. We tried to discourage this behavior, but only succeeded when we were actually out there with them before someone headed down the road. People were not happy about these dogs, and neither were we, but we were really just feeding them, not intending to make them our own.

La Negra seemed to have another house where she also hung out, so I really thought she belonged there but was just visiting us now and then. But Jimmy had nowhere else to go, and eventually he moved to the front terrace for his siestas, and when La Negra was around, she was there with him. This posed a problem for Loco because he was still intimidated by La Negra, and he had to slink around her in order to come and go on his own property.

One day the other 'adopted owner' of La Negra came to the house and introduced herself (she lives around the corner). She thought we were the owner, we thought she was - turned out nobody really was. So La Negra became a shared dog - and just for security, she also hung out on the terrace next door. Negra was not stupid, she was going to have backups fron now on. So we all fed her, and let her hang out wherever she wanted. The other 'adopted owner' told me she had taken care of rabies shots for Negra. We had given Jimmy his shots. So, the neighborhood was taking care of these two dogs and we were rewarded by feeling very secure when they were around.

Sadly, Jimmy died this spring - suddenly, we don't know the cause. Without her sidekick, La Negra has stopped chasing people in the street, she just barks if it's someone she doesn't know. La Negra has shown herself to be a dog who just wants affection and food - the more she can get of both, the happier she is. La Negra no longer scares Loco - they have a truce and can both share the same terrace. She also spends a lot of time with the other family, and they have taken care of some medical problems that arose this year, which started with a cough.

But now we have a diagnosis for the cough. Heartworm. An expensive regime to hopefully cure La Negra. This disease could kill her, but we hope it is a mild case and the treatment will work. If not, we face another round of tests and medication - a strain on the dwindling cash reserves. We don't know how old La Negra is, but she deserves a chance. So, just like we share La Negra, we will share the cost of her medical treatment. If we're lucky, La Negra will be decorating both our terraces for years to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pretty bad when you don't even recognize your own kid...

About 18 months ago Miguel found a box of 8 kittens dumped at the side of the road. Of course he brought them home and said "Guess what I've got"? I could hear the babies crying in the box out on the golf cart, so it wasn't hard to guess. A box of kittens no older than a couple of weeks - dirty and hungry. We put them in the tub with food and water and called Delfino.

Delfino said it was up to me what he did with the kittens - put them down (which he hates to do and was not an option for us) or get them healthy and put them up for adoption. He said we could keep them at the house while they got healthy, but I knew what that meant - they all would be with me for the rest of their lives. I told him to take them to the clinic and I would pay for their care while they awaited adoption.

We found out the story behind the kittens from someone in La Gloria. The day before some kids had found the box of kittens and were going around the neighborhood looking for someone to take them. With no takers, the kittens were put back in the street. So, very young kittens went more than a day (possibly longer) without food or water. It made me sick to think about it, because there are other options here. People can take the kittens to Delfino, for free, and no matter what happens to them there, at least they will not suffer like they would in the streets.

We checked in a couple of days later, and two of the kittens had died - they were too weak and sick. All the kittens were full of parasites. Delfino got them cleaned up, fed, wormed, and settled into the clinic. Several got adopted out over the next few weeks. Two black kittens were still there after a month, and Delfino told us the chance of them getting adopted was low - Mexicans don't tend to like black cats.

So we brought Minina and Chaquiste home to live up on the upper terrace. Once the kittens were big enough, they started jumping up on the wall, which gave me fits. And sure enough, one day when I was away, Miguel came home to find a small black kitten sitting in front of the front door. Chaquiste had fallen from the third floor, apparently unharmed. Miguel picked him up and returned him to the upper level.

When I got back from my trip, I checked Chaquiste to make sure Miguel had brought in the right cat and not a stray that looked like Chaquiste. I came to the conclusion that the kitten was indeed Chaquiste. But now I wonder. As Chaquiste got older he started looking different than his sister, and his personality was nothing like the sweet Minina. But he was Chaquiste, at least to us.

About the same time that we got the kittens, we noticed a small black cat out in the street. A wild cat. And there were times that one of our kittens got out and we tried to round up that other black cat thinking it was one of ours. The cat would always run off, and eventually we would find our own cat. But it got harder to tell them apart.

Sadly, Chaquiste died this spring - caught in a trap for wild animals and died of heat exhaustion. It was a horrible time for all of us. That night I saw that other black cat next door and I called it, hoping that maybe the 'real' Chaquiste was still alive and running around (I knew better, but grief plays tricks). The cat ran off, of course.

Now Minina is getting really good at escaping. Sometimes we're driving down the road, coming home, and that black cat will be walking along the road. I call it - "Minina"? - and it runs off. But it runs just like Minina, and its body is identical to Minina; it may be the original Chaquiste afterall, and the one we raised was an imposter.

It's always a relief to open the door to the house and find Minina safely inside. It's like seeing double - first the cat in the street that looks like Minina, and then the cat in the house, that also looks like Minina. Minina has a small bump on the top of her head from falling off something when she was small, and it never fully resolved. The only way I would know for sure it was my 'kid' would be to catch it and feel around for the bump. Anyone else have that kind of problem identifying your kids?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Home Mechanic

Over the years we've had many mechanics work on the golf cart. It seems that each has their strengths and not-so-strengths. One mechanic was great until I discovered he rented my cart out while it was in for repair. The tourists who returned it while I was there to pick it up warned me not to rent that cart - 'it's terrible'. Hah - I know that, it's MY cart.

Often my cart is returned with new problems, even though the original problem might be fixed. Take the cart in for a loose belt, and when it comes back it no longer has brakes. Investigate a dead battery problem, replace the generator, and discover that the 'new' generator is a model known for poor quality; this generator would haunt us for more than 6 months of dead batteries before another mechanic replaced it with a used one that still works well after at least two years.

Take a well-running cart in to rebuild the muffler, and other pieces are not put back correctly - the cart is quiet but plods along slower than a turtle. Take it to another mechanic to fix this issue, and the cart comes back running well, except it won't start when the engine is cold.

Replace the spark plug and suddenly the piece that covers the plug keeps popping off, stalling the cart without warning.

Rebuild the muffler again (this salt air is tough on mufflers!), and again other pieces are not put back correctly and the cart is barely moving. Take it to the other mechanic, again, and this time he decides to take the entire engine apart. He announces the inside is basically a pile of rust and it's just a matter of time. We need a new half engine - whatever a 'half engine' is. He puts all the pieces back (I think), and seals the engine up with silicone to stop the oil from leaking out. We drop him off at his house and get 1.5 blocks down the road before we cannot go any farther. The hot engine smells toxic, and the cart won't move. I walk back to his house and tell him to fix the cart and then take it out and drive it around before he ever brings it back to me. 'No tengo prisa' - I'm not in a hurry. I'd rather the cart is fixed, if that is possible.

So...considering all the above, you can understand why we try to fix the cart ourselves before calling in the mechanics. Miguel rewired the headlights and we learned which wires to wiggle when they shorted out. We learned how to put the cap back on the spark plug when it stalled, and eventually Miguel rigged up a screw to keep the top of the spark plug from popping off. Miguel has placed twisted pieces of wire here and there to stop critical pieces from rattling around under the seat.

Early on I noticed that a mechanic would show us how well the engine was running by running it in neutral, and just before we took off, he would reach under the seat and 'adjust' something. I came to the conclusion that there was some secret thing-a-ma-bob under the seat that I needed to learn how to operate. It's a yellow plastic spring-loaded thingy - it puts the cart into neutral and lets you run the engine. When you want to drive, you have to flip it one flip over or the engine won't work. That little yellow thing is what keeps us and the cart on the road. It's the only way to warm up the engine before we try to drive off.

This latest issue of not starting when cold is only about four months old (since the first time the muffler was rebuilt), but the mechanics do not fix what seems to me to be a simple loose accelerator cable; they work on other things and the loose cable continues to haunt us.

While Miguel was away last week, I only took the cart out twice. Of course the engine, being cold, would not turn over - no spark. There is a little cable that is attached to the engine that you can push and it shoves gas through something which triggers the engine. Then you can let the engine run (with your foot on the accelerator) to warm it up. The little yellow thingy has to be in the neutral position - I know how to flip that piece and push on the cable, with the seat up, and my foot outstretched to push on the accelerator. Once the engine catches, I can release the cable and just keep my foot on the gas and let it run to warm up.

But - the warm-up no longer worked. By the time I took my foot off the gas, put the yellow thingy into drive, lowered the seat, hopped on, and put the car gear into drive, the gas would not flow. The only solution was to try to push on that cable with the cart in drive. So...with the cart in gear, one foot on the accelerator, the seat up, one foot on the ground out of the way of the wheels (to avoid being run over) - a delicate balance - I pushed the cable. The cart lurched forward, I quickly took my foot off the accelerator, lowered the seat, jumped on, and gave it the gas. Off we went. I did this twice, but it was hard on the nerves. Mostly I took taxis.

When I got back yesterday, Miguel informed me that he had a secret. He has drilled a hole through the front panel, and connected a wire to that loose cable. The wire sticks out by his right leg, and when he wants the engine to turn over, he just pulls on the wire and off we go. We no longer have to warm up the engine.

Even with the accelerator pedal to the floor, sometimes we are going too slow, so he pulls on the wire and that shoots more gas through the engine, and we speed up. I really think we should be able to find a mechanic to tighten up the cable, but they aren't looking at the obvious. I guess for now we'll stick with the home remedy, until some other issue forces us to track down a mechanic once again. I fear for the life of my golf cart - someone is going to kill him one of these days when they dissect his inards.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Then why did you ask?

--> When I checked in at the airport recently, the ticket agent told me I was in seat 1C (a first class seat - complimentary upgrade). He asked me if that seat was OK. I asked if there was a window seat available, and he said "No". Then I asked if there was another seat that was not in the bulkhead row. And he said "No. 1C is the only seat available". I gave him an odd look and blurted out "Then why did you ask me if that seat was OK if it was the only seat anyway?" He tried to explain, "well - there was another seat before but there isn't now." I laughed and told him it was ok, I was just joking with him. Not sure he saw it that way. I guess I need to learn not to blurt like that (but anyone who knows me knows it's not likely I can stop).

--> I dislike haggling with the taxi drivers at Puerto Juarez, so I usually try to get across the street and flag one down rather than go with the ones in the line up. But yesterday I decided to see what price they'd quote me, so when they stopped me I asked. "what is the price to the airport"? (I knew the correct price, I wanted to see if they would be fair with me). The 'jefe' (boss) wouldn't answer, he just took me over to the first car in line. I know this routine, they want control of my luggage before giving me the quote. I asked again - this time the driver. He looked at me and said "$30". I said "No, it's $27...$30 with tip". Both the driver and the jefe said "Oh yes, $30 includes the tip" (which of course is optional and should not be part of their quote, but I know the game). They were probably thinking - 'if you knew the price, then why did you ask'?

--> At the Cancun airport, terminal 3, there is a Chinese food place I like. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a combo platter. The server asked me if I wanted two spring rolls. I said I only wanted one. He said "No. A combo plate has two spring rolls". I could tell by the tone of his voice that I was going to get two whether I wanted them or not. I took two. And ate them both.

--> Yesterday, at the same Chinese food place, I ordered fried rice and a spring roll. I thought I was ordering a la carte - no combo - and I'd get exactly what I wanted. The female server asked me if I wanted two spring rolls. I said "No, I just want one". And she said "No, an order of spring rolls is two". I could tell I wasn't going to win this one, so I said OK. But I was thinking - 'why did you ask when you knew you were going to give me two anyway?'.

Of course I ate them both.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Who threw up? And where?

While I was busy in another room, I heard the "r-eh r-eh r-eh" sound an animal makes when it's about to empty the contents of its stomach. I couldn't quite tell if it was an animal inside or out.

The #1 suspect was Luna, because she ate grass this morning when we went out for our Loco break. If not Luna, then possibly Negra - she had a rabies shot the other day and this morning she wasn't in any hurry to leave her little bed in the corner of the terrace.

I went outside and looked around. Luna was sitting on the front wall looking benign, and Negra was still in her bed. No sign of anything for me to clean up.

Ok, let's check the inside. Loco had a bath yesterday and was licking areas I'd prefer he didn't. Maybe the shampoo had upset his stomach? He was sprawled on the blue bench, not looking happy but not looking miserable either. And when he throws up there is always an explosive "r-ehhhhhh" at the end, which I didn't hear this time. So, probably not him.

Minina? She was doing what she always does - running around and getting into everything. No sign of not feeling well in her behavior.

The floors looked clean. Oh well...probably just a false retch. On to my morning routine of sweeping the floors. I got everything done up to the kitchen, and as I stooped over to dump the contents of the dustpan, Minina swooped in under the counter and tried to bury something under the sink. Upon close inspection the mystery was solved. It was Minina who was sick, and she was trying to clean up.

But Minina tries to clean up things that don't make sense either. One time I gave both her and her brother a small scoop of soup broth that I have lovingly put together for our meal. Both cats promptly took a sniff and tried to bury the soup. They were disgusted with it. maybe I don't make the best soup in the world, but it's not THAT bad. Or is it?

Yesterday I gave Minina two pieces of mango - which she gobbled up. I held out the third, taken from a different slice of the fruit. She sniffed but wouldn't take it. I dropped it on the floor. She sniffed again. And then tried to bury it.

If you are ever here for dinner, please don't slip anything from your plate to Minina. I don't want her telling you the food is horrible.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One perspective on #9

Ok, so I think I made some of you think about the items in the post below. And since I will be travelling AGAIN (groan) and likely won't be writing for a day or so, I did want to clarify one item before anyone thinks I think it's a 'pro' that the "Minimum daily wage is less than $5 US per day". No way!

However, let's try to discover the pro. Perhaps someone wishing to move to Mexico, reading about the low pay, would think "Great! At those wages I will be able to afford a maid, a gardener, and a cook!". To that person, the low wages might be one reason they might list on their 'plus' side when deciding whether or not to move to Mexico. Mexico's low wages may offer them the opportunity to live a different lifestyle than they might in other countries where the pay is higher. A pro for them.

Personally, in more than 6 years here, I have never paid anyone $5 per day. I'm not sure I know anyone who has, either. I do know workers who were making $10 per day. I don't know how anyone survives on that pay though. One rosticeria chicken dinner costs $8. If you have a spouse and kids, how many meals will you get out of that? And that's just food. What about housing, clothing, transportation, school? How does anyone afford to live on that level of pay?

Take a look at many Mexican families. They share living space with other familiy members, and they jointly contribute to the living expenses. They open up the front of their homes to run a small business selling groceries, clothing, paper supplies, tools, mechanic repair, etc. They build another level on their house to gain space to rent to others. Would you be willing to give up the privacy of your home to do that?

How does anyone save for the future? Get preventative dental care? Pay for medication when someone is ill? Buy land? Build a home? Buy life insurance?

I tried to find out the average daily wage. One source claimed it to be around $20 per day. Another claimed it was more like $10. Obviously the wage depends on the level of education and type of work, so perhaps a general average isn't a good statistic without knowing the demographics behind it.

I'm not an economist. But for me, I would love to know that most Mexicans are really making a lot more than $5 US per day.

And that is just one woman's personal opinion on #9. This was probably my most passionate item, so the rest will just be fun to speculate about. Right? (or are you already bored and wish I would go back to posting about the antics of the pets?) :-)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Living your dream

I started out thinking I was going to write a post about living your dream. I know that many of you think that I am living my dream, and I can see how it appears that way. But I'm not sure that is the correct definition for what I'm doing; I think it might better be described as "doing what feels right". And 'doing what feels right', for me, happens to look a lot like what other people dream about.

So what happens when people decide to 'live their dream' and move to Mexico? Why do some stay and happily call Mexico 'home', yet others decide it is not for them and leave? Is it a different set of circumstances? Or a different set of expectations? Maybe both?

There are many things about living here that make it endearing or more frustrating than you can imagine. It almost always makes for a good story.

Try to think what could be good and bad about each of the following as it relates to Isla:
  1. No chain stores such as Walmart

  2. Low property taxes

  3. No bridge to the mainland

  4. High-end rentals

  5. Have to take a ferry to eat at McDonalds

  6. Many people do not speak English

  7. More and more foreigners are moving here

  8. Bills must be paid on time or service is cut off

  9. Minimum daily wage is less than $5 US per day

  10. Readily available cable tv and high-speed internet

  11. We mostly cook with gas

  12. Golf carts are considered valid transportation

In a future blog I will tell you what I think could be considered good and bad about each of the above. Much is dependent on perspective, and that doesn't necessarily mean I would agree with the perspective - just that there are people out there who will see it one way or the other, if not both ways. What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Access Control

The indoor animals - Loco and Minina - want out. The outdoor animals - Luna and Negra - want in. When a door opens, the feet play a part in controlling entries and exits of the creatures at the door. I am more interested in keeping the indoor animals in than I am in keeping the outdoor animals out.

The outside world is not safe for animals. We've had accidents here, and two pets have died as a result of being outdoors and unconfined. So keeping the animals behind doors, where they're safe, is my main goal. The pets don't see it that way though, they just think I'm a big meanie who won't let them go out and play.

Loco is the worst. He will be curled up on the floor, peacefully dozing. The next moment he'll jump up, rear up like a stallion and slam his front paws at the door with all his strength. The latch on the screen door gives way, the door flies open, and Loco is out - to chase the stray cat or dog, or the iguana, or run after the golf cart. If the gate is open, he bolts right out into the street.

My first reaction is to jump for the door and get it closed before Minina takes advantage of the situation and also darts out. Sometimes she's faster than I am, in which case getting her back in the house becomes my first priority. She knows the routine though, and she runs into the plants to avoid my attempts to grab her. My ultimate weapon is the hose. I turn the hose on her, and usually that directs her back to the front door and into the house to escape the water. Occasionally she runs down the side of the house, and then I have to climb through the plants to catch her. Once Minina is safely inside, I go after Loco.

If I'm lucky, Loco is right at the gate. If I am not lucky, Loco is down at one of the corners, and I have to find him and yell at him to come home. He usually ignores me until I am half-way down the road, and then he comes running back, zipping past me to get inside the gate before I do. I tell him he is a bad dog, and put him back in the house. He knows he did wrong, and flops on the floor.

The above routine is sometimes performed when I am least ready for it. Sometimes I'm in my pajamas. Sometimes I'm on a conference call. Thank goodness for the 'mute' button on the phone. Nobody has to know that I've been out rounding up animals in the streets while listening to their problems. Unless I happen to be the one hosting the call, in which case I am forced to keep talking while I try to quietly get things back in order. In that case, it's my facial expressions, body language and wild gestures that communicate my displeasure to the animals. They know I'm mad.

And here is the difference between dogs and cats. Loco knows that he did a bad thing, and he is apologetic and has a guilty look on his face. Minina - she doesn't care that I'm mad. Life is all a game to her. Minina is simply hanging out waiting for the next time Loco opens the door. The saying 'one door closes, another door opens' holds a different meaning here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Way back when...part 1

Way back when...I remember when they installed the street light in front of my house a couple of years ago. I was quite upset as the light was exactly at the wrong level and it shone right into my bedroom. It was an unwelcome night-time intrusion - I accused the light of destroying my view of the stars (not true, but I was angry at it).

We bought a couple of plants to place on the wall in front of the light-beam - and waited for them to grow high enough. They didn't even survive - too much wind in that location for that type of plant. The Allamanda vine gradually started to fill in the space on top of the wall. The cocoa tree got bigger, and its graceful branches mostly blocked the light. Soon I forgot about the street light, although every time the light blew out I secretly hoped nobody would fix it.

The other night I noticed that the street light was out again. But this time I didn't like it. I've been on my own this week, so it's my job to take Loco out. Darn, it's DARK out there without that light! Spooky too!

I noticed tonight that they fixed the light. Thank You, CFE!

Way back when...I would never touch an insect unless by accident. I hated the sight of them, the feel of them, and the idea that they might jump out and scare me or crawl on me. I can't watch those programs on tv where people eat insects. Yuck!

Here we have teeny ants. Doesn't matter how clean your house is, they are here. I used to get a piece of tissue paper to wipe them off the counter or ledge. That worked if there was just one or two, but sometimes there were more. Sometimes I would spray them, but that isn't such a great idea in the kitchen (although I have certainly resorted to that). My main method of control though is taking my fist and just pounding on them.

This week I've been sick. Started as a sore throat, but yesterday I was clearly not well at all. Last night my throat felt so raspy I was a little afraid it might close up. I decided to sleep downstairs, where my neighbors might hear me and someone might respond if I called for help. (my neighbors really mind their own business, so I am not at all sure about my theory, but I decided it was better than nothing).

I knew I had some Halls somewhere, so I dug around and found half a package in my backpack. Uh oh - rather soft and squishy. And the tiny ants had gotten under the clear wrapping and were embedded in the lozenges. What to do? - these were all I had in the house. Well, I tried rinsing the lozenge under the tap, but the ants were stuck. I think they were dead too. So, the woman who hates insects of any kind, took her fingernail and scraped off all the ants I could see, and popped the lozenge in my mouth. Yes, I was that sick!