Friday, January 29, 2010


There are certain numbers that have stuck with me all my life. '1024' is the original address of the house I grew up in before we moved to Norway. Why I remember that I don't know, other than it was probably a time in my life (elementary school) where you really learned your name, address, and phone number (just in case you ever got lost, I guess).

As the city of Niagara Falls grew, they modified addresses and '1024' became '5024' (I think). That number never grabbed hold of me like '1024'.

And so, when I see '1024' anywhere, I'm immediately reminded of my childhood home. And I should have paid attention when the number jumped out at me on my iTouch recently. I remember thinking, "I should tell Miguel to play that number in the lottery". The number just had a feeling about it that day.

But I don't have luck with the lottery. Miguel is the one with the luck. And so I ignored the instinct I had on the number and I didn't say anything to Miguel. And two days later '1024' came up.

A four number hit with a 10 peso play yields $50000 mp (approx $5000). The jackpot that would have been. Sigh...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If not for the agitator...

the washing machine would be a great place for Maya to sleep. Or so she seems to think.

The last two nights, our Maya, who loves to sleep in the bathroom sink, has decided to give the washing machine tub a try. The first night I was dozing in the bedroom and heard strange noises coming from the laundry room. Upon investigation, there was Maya, sitting in the washing machine. Looking like she was trying to get comfortable but couldn't.

Maya is a big cat, and she couldn't quite squeeze her ample body around the center agitator. So she jumped out and went on her way.

Last night I heard noises again, and this time Smokey was sitting on the floor and gazing at the washing machine. Minina was up on the top of the machine, and yup, inside was Maya again. It appeared that Smokey and Minina were trying to figure out why Maya was in the machine, and actually, Maya looked like she was trying to figure it out too. She looked a little sheepish and finally jumped out.

So far tonight Maya has not gotten into the washing machine. Maybe she's over her fetish. Or maybe she's waiting until we go to bed before she starts thumping around in there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blogger's Block

I feel like I should write something. But what? My life is like the directions on the shampoo bottle.




So what could I write that I haven't already written? The most interesting part of life lately has been our guests. Interesting people and fun to share life stories with them. Even pictures!

But I don't want to write about our guests, they didn't sign up for public exposure simply by staying with us. I guess I could write about them anonymously, but then the links I'd like to include would have to be left out.

I could write about this being the anniversary month of when I bought the house. Eight years ago I signed some papers to own this piece of land and the little house that once was little. But then I'd have to hook up the backup drive to get the pictures off it to show you how little, and I'm quite comfortable on the couch right now and just am not in the mood to dig up cables and hook up equipment.

I think I'm rather tired of technology. That's it, I'm not blocked from writing, I'm blocked from hooking up in order to augment my stories with pictures. In other words, I'm in a lazy mood.

No excuse. Just a reason. And there you have it, my non-blog for today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I'm not sure what's going on in the cat world out there in the 'jungle', but it seems the word is out. "There's good food over at the house, hurry!".

It started with the "Chongs". The black Chong who suddenly stopped coming last July, and we feared the worst. His buddy, the grey Chong, still immature, hung around and lived in the garden. We never could touch him but he spoke with us - meow, meow, meow...a constant babel of cat sounds letting us know he was around and waiting for food. And after he'd eaten, he'd follow a grumpy Luna around, yapping away at her while she simply growled at him.

Chong longed for company, so we were happy when a baby from the jungle across the street finally figured out that the food was in our garden. Velose, who we'd hardly been able to get a glance of before due to his extreme fear, finally came out of hiding and started talking to us too. He and Chong seemed to get along well, except when Chong grabbed him by the neck and held him, crying and struggling to get away. We don't really  know what Chong had in mind but it appeared pornographic and the baby Velose was hardly a good choice for his hormone-driven instincts.

And now Chong seems to have left the area. We think he is ok because he came back for a meal after being gone a few days. So we choose to believe he has headed out in search of a better choice of mate, and maybe that's what happened with the original Chong as well. We intended to trap the Chongs and get them fixed, but it may be too late. I am leary of trapping as our own cat died in one of those traps, but I think we have to give it another try because...

With Velose 'speaking' with us, other cats hanging out have been listening, and now we have three strays showing up on the terrace. Worse is that they are walking along the wall on the back terrace, and one is even coming down into the back terrace via the vines, and if our 'girls' are out there, it might not be pretty. The last thing I want is a beat-up cat on my hands, and so our girls are spending more time indoors lately.

All three of our indoor females (Minina, Maya, and Smokey) are ticked off about Velose out there. Minina was the worst, running from window to door, tail all fluffed out and beating her paws against the glass trying to get at the kitten. Velose made it worse by climbing up into the window sill and staring in nose-to-nose. I think Minina burned the bottom of her paws by clawing so long at the glass. And she turned on any cat that dared come near when she was angry. Minina is little and dainty but boy, when she's mad, watch out!

Maya has been watching all this and now she has taken over the Velose assault while Minina sits back and watches. Velose comes to the screen door and sits and stares in at us, and Maya sniffs at Velose and tries to poke through the screen. So far Smokey just sniffs and stays out of reach of everyone. Smokey is not happy about Velose either, once she got out and chased the poor kitten into a corner. Why our normally calm, sweet cats are so mean with newcomers is something I don't understand. Luna simply ignores Velose - if she goes out and Velose is around, she simply growls and goes off the other way. Should Velose come close Luna would probably take a swipe, but as long as everyone keeps their distance from her, she's cool. Grouchy, but cool.

Velose is trying to get close to Loco, and Loco has stopped chasing him, so they may become buddies. The other night one of the other strays was up on the terrace stealing Loco's food, and Velose came up beside it and rubbed in and out, just wanting contact. The cat allowed it too, so maybe it is Velose's mother or will simply be its friend. The other night Velose and another cat were on the front terrace when the aggressive white cat came by and attacked. There was some shrieking and the cats ran off and spent yesterday away from the house. Miguel spotted the three strays hanging out together in the jungle. But last night Velose came by and called for food and then proceeded to torment the indoor cats.

I suspect Velose will never allow us to touch him, so we're going to have to try to trap him to get him 'fixed' before he reproduces. Actually, I'm not sure if 'he' is a male or female - the face is dainty like a female, and Velose may actually be Chong's offspring as the markings are similar. It has been interesting observing the social structure of these cats - the biggest surprise is the acceptance of the kitten by the adults. Are they Velose's parents or are they just loving cats? We'll never know for sure. All I know is that my indoor cats are not loving cats to little Velose. From their perspective, he is clearly an unwelcome intruder and they will do their best to keep him out. I suspect there will be a truce declared soon and Velose will be allowed to stare in the windows and doors. But we'll see...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Financial Reality

Wham! Zina has written a great blog today explaining the reality of making ends meet here on Isla Mujeres. She did the math, whereas I mostly went with my gut, which told me that expenses seem out of line.

We just came through the Christmas season, and normally I would have had our decorative lighting on for a few weeks. I love Christmas lights in the yard, the plants look so pretty all lit up. But guess what? We now depend on rental income for day to day living, and so we are trying to control spending.

Electricity is the #1 concern. Our bill for Nov/Dec, in a house that cooks with gas and has no heating, was $125/month (US) - 2600 pesos for the two months. We don't use a/c, we turn off the hot water tank and the water bomb after we've had our daily baths (usually). When we have guests here the house runs differently (extra lighting for guest comfort, a/c, water bomb is left on to ensure good pressure, etc).But not THAT differently!

If that was our bill, how much did many of the locals who lit up their homes for weeks on end have to pay to enjoy the Christmas season? And a bigger question - how did they afford it?

We've started turning off anything that doesn't need to be on. My computer isn't on all day like it used to be. The lights over the kitchen sink go off in the evening and are replaced by a little night light (I actually like the lower light more anyway). We are not using the spotlight in the garden. Thanks to the cool weather (not great for tourists, but good for us), we have not used fans for weeks. There are still other ways we can cut, but part of me asks "why?". Why should I have to think about cost before I turn on something? Like - I used my bread maker twice. And the slow-cooker once. Will the cost of using those appliances mean I can no longer enjoy fresh baked bread or tender beef stew?

I am not opposed to living on a budget. I've done it before, and I can do it again. But how the heck do the locals make ends meet? And how do the small businesses stay in business? We offer more personalized service, will that be lost as the tourist population demands more and more amenities that are offered mostly by the big hotels? Will the small businesses have to go out of business simply because they can't compete?

I think change is in the wind, and I think it might be a down-wind. A stinky wind, maybe. If you are like me and you love Isla Mujeres for all its quirks and charm, you may be dismayed from watching the trends of some of the tourist population. The island is attracting a different type of tourist now. "Build it and they will come". Dream vacations, more Cancun-like all the time.

We've so enjoyed the guests we've had stay with us. But will they continue to come when we're forced to raise our prices just to keep up? And will they still find the little local places they love now if they do come?

Only time will tell.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The cat who blows her nose

Last Sunday Luna was not well; she seemed to be in abdominal pain and had been vomiting since Saturday morning. She did not want to be in the house, which is most unusual. So despite it being Sunday, I called Delfino, who came over to see Luna and ended up taking her back to the clinic for subcutaneous fluids and antibiotics and observation.

Luna allowed Delfino to pick her up out of her bed and put her into the cage - something she normally would fight tooth and nail to avoid. So that confirmed that she was not well. "Let me help you", pleaded Delfino before he tried to pick her up. I guess she understood.

Luna recovered and came back home Monday evening. Delfino said he knew she was better when she tried to bite him. I think that is a good indication of the health of an animal - if they are strong enough to resist or run off, then they probably don't really need you anyway. So Luna was better.

But a few days later Luna's right eye looked like it was bothering her, and I heard her sneezing. So maybe she caught a cold over there at the clinic. But she continued to eat normally and sleep peacefully on the couch so I decided to watch and see if she got better on her own or if she got worse.

The 'sneezing' sounded so odd - one long continuous sneeze rather than a burst of little cat sneezes. Finally I got to see her in action during a sneeze, and this is how it went:

First she screwed up her face, as if she had an itch inside her nose. And then she blew air out of her nose and shook her head. What I had thought was a sneeze was really Luna blowing the itch out of her nose. In all my years with cats, that is a first. I don't know if all cats can do it, but Luna can blow her nose.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Highlighting a blog - Nina

It is my pleasure to point you all to a wonderful blog authored by a recent guest at Capi's Apartments. Nina and Ed have been travelling around the Yucatan and Quintana Roo over the last week or so. Nina has captured the essence of their trip with her beautiful prose and artistic photos.

I hope you enjoy Nina's blog. The start of their trip, Isla Mujeres, starts on January 4. Nina and Ed go into our short history book as the first guests to walk to the apartments from the ferry.

Thanks, Nina!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Rocking Chair

The words rocking chair immediately create thoughts of relaxing and comfort in my mind. The rocking chair has always been an essential piece of furniture in my home. In the early days when money was on a tight budget, it was a Bentwood rocker that was coveted, and finally I found one on sale at one of those catalogue stores. We brought it home and put it together and it became part of the family room furniture.

When Jen was born that rocker was used to get her to sleep, to soothe her when sick, and to comfort a parent commited to staying by the bedside during episodes of croup and other childhood illnesses.

After we moved to a bigger house the rocker became part of the living room furniture, where it was used to soothe a worried hockey fan as he watched his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs have yet another disaster season.

Later the rocker was sent to the basement and was replaced by an upholstered model. There are many kinds of rocking chairs. The model isn't so important, it's the relationship one has with the rocker.

There's a sentimentality associated with the motion of rocking. Charlotte Airport recognized the importance of creating a comfortable space for its travellers, and installed a row of rocking chairs between its concourses. The chairs invite travellers to take a break and sit for a while, although the chairs are usually occupied and I've stood nearby hoping someone would get up so I could sit and rock.

Rocking chairs and front porches were made for each other. There is a home down the road from us, and many evenings we would drive by and the entire family would be sitting on the front porch, with the mother taking the prime spot in the rocking chair. The image of that family just sitting and enjoyed their evenings caused me to yearn for a rocking chair for my own front porch.

At the back of the mercado in town there is a small furniture place. We placed our order for a rocking chair - about $100 - solid wood with a padded upholstered seat. It was a happy day when we picked up our chair and placed it on the front terrace beside the hammock.

Over the years the chair has been enjoyed by many people seeking a few minutes to shoot the breeze while Miguel lazed in the hammock after his morning newspaper read. The shaded garden added to the comfort, blocking out the heat and offering a cool respite to hard-working men.

Just the image of the chair on the terrace forms an image of invitation and relaxing. "Come and rest awhile", the chair seems to say. And many take the chair up on its offer.

The chair is used at night to hold up a folded table that blocks the wind and rain from Negra's bed. And at night the stray cats call the chair 'bed'. First the original Chong, the black cat. Next the current Chong (previously referred to as Cheech). And now the baby, called Velose (Speedy) because it runs like the wind and all you can usually see is moving plants as it weaves through the garden to escape the human monsters.

Last night was as cold as I've ever experienced here on Isla. Rainy too. I wondered where the baby Velose would find a warm, dry place to sleep. But as I climbed into bed in the downstairs bedroom, I noticed a little head on the rocking chair. Yup, Velose was going to sleep there, on the padded seat.

Rocking chairs. Not just for humans.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's the kind of day when...

- The bedspread I forgot to bring in last night has now had two additional rinses from rainwater; it will stay on the line until either the north wind dries it or I despair of it ever getting dry and imagine it rotting outside and so I bring it in.

- The cats cannot go on the back terrace and so they are shut in the downstairs bedroom so I can clean the floors without little paws running across the wet floor. Because of the cooler air, all the animals have more energy and so not only do they run, they chase each other and slip and slide across the floor. Last night I filled the water bowl twice and Maya promptly crashed into it, tipping all the water on the floor. I gave up and decided if they were thirsty enough they could lap it up off the floor and I went to bed.

- Miguel thinks our guest who is due to arrive today will not come because of the weather. I think our guest WILL come because being here in our home will be a lot more comfortable than a hotel in Cancun, and she is coming in time for breakfast (Update: I'm posting this after I wrote this and I should have bet Miguel because our guest did arrive and she enjoyed a hot breakfast and can now tuck in upstairs and just enjoy a down day in a cozy bed).

- The north wind is blowing the rain under the wooden shutters upstairs and Miguel asked me if Loco had an accident or it was rain. Loco wasn't even around to have an accident, he was tucked under our bed.

- Miguel decides today is the day he should tighten the accelerator cable on the golf cart, which has been loose for weeks and will probably result in him getting to his destination and then not being able to get the cart going again to return. Why he would want to do this 'maintenance' on a rainy day is beyond me, but there's no point in even asking.

- I am going to go and take a nap. The house is clean and anything I try to do related to sorting out papers and stuff will just draw an audience of curious cats more interested in dismantling my small piles. It's not worth it, a nap sounds much more enticing.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Yes, it's cold

We have all been complaining about the cold this week. Our pets have been complaining too, but not with words, rather with their actions. Plop down on the couch or go in to take a nap, and one or all of the cats will quickly be pressed against your body. When they don't have a warm body to snuggle with, the cats find a soft fleece blanket...

Loco has learned that the vinyl chair that we've had for years holds heat, and he has claimed that chair from its former owner, Minina. Although the other night Minina showed her annoyance with that and as Loco dozed in the chair, she went over and smacked him in the nose. Loco got out of the chair and Minina quickly jumped up and settled in - enjoying the leftover heat from Loco's body.

Negra, who stays outside, has a smashed cardboard box to lie on which gets her off the cold tiles. She also has several pieces of blanket that she rearranges and drags around the terrace as she wishes. She used to have a nice pad and pillow, but she tore the stuffing out of both of them after a time - I guess she was telling us that even she couldn't stand the odor any longer...

Concrete homes feel very cold, but I've discovered that tealight candles add a nice warmth to the home once all the doors and windows are closed. So although it's cold and windy outside, it's nice and toasty inside. And for sleeping, it's great to snuggle under the blankets and not have to use the fan.

And looking on the even brighter side, this is what we have here...

And where most of my family lives it looks like this...

And where my father lives it looks like THIS...

So I'll try to keep my mouth shut about the cold here. But feel free to remind me if I fall into a whine over the next couple of months. I just might...

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Not a New Year's resolution but simply a resolution...

Get the clutter in the dining room under control. And finally, I'm making progress. Other than the desk, which is still a disaster, the clutter is out of the dining room. It's now in our downstairs bedroom.

But it's getting more and more organized as I move it around. Today is the day I devote to finishing the organization. Because I can't get to my clothes if I don't deal with it. Right now I'm living out of the clothes I took off the line yesterday.

Ah...laundry. Clean and fresh from drying in the breeze. I am a laundry-aholic - I wash anything that might be remotely unfresh because after drying outside, the freshness comes indoors with the laundry. I have a little pile waiting for today - towels and bathmats.

Mexico can be stinky - badly vented drainage pipes that back-vent into the house at times (depending on wind and rain). Flooded streets with sewer water from poor drainage. But Mexico can also smell incredibly good - the oleander in the morning, the jasmine at night. And the Fabuloso with different scents of sweetness and freshness that can be used on just about anything in the house. I have an entire collection under the sink, depending on whether I want cinnamon, summer freshness, lavender, lemon, or any of the other scents it comes in. The pretty colors add to the appeal - red, turquoise, green, yellow.

After I clean the house with my bucket of Fabuloso, I dump it on the terrace to sweep off the bird doo-doo from the black birds that haunt the front terrace trying to steal the dog's food. And so the front of the house has that sweet scent as well. Now that I think about it, I think Fabuloso puts me in a good mood - it's pretty and smells good. It's the little things in life, right?