Friday, July 30, 2010

Yesterday was a good day

We started the day off with coffee, followed by a large plate of fruit and tamales we'd bought the day before from the tamale lady who walks through the colonias. Then...

- I was able to get two loads of laundry hung and dried before the showers came.

- The link to Capi's Property Management was finally added to the MyIsla site. And Miguel starts working with his first customer as of August 1.

- Miguel cut pieces of the wire mesh holding up the plant roof over the front entrance, and knocked out a lot of dead leaves that served to provide shade and keep us dry during rainy days.

Here's how it looks sunny-side up:

Here's how it looked from underneath:

Now the dead matted leaves are gone and a little more light filters in, but there is still a fresh cool feeling when one enters the garden from the street.

- With the chores done, we headed into town to get our hair cut. 100 pesos later and we both had excess hair removed from our heads and we feel cooler. If hair growth is any indication of health, I'm very healthy - my hair grows fast, and is thick. In this humidity, once my hair reaches a certain length, it droops and hangs in my eyes and drives me nuts. I would like to let my hair grow a little longer but it's not practical, my hair simply makes me feel too hot.

- When we got back from town we took a siesta - Miguel on the front terrace in his hammock, and me on the bed where one pesky mosquito made several itchy spots and prevented me from falling asleep. I am missing the hammock on the front terrace, but the mosquitoes have a feast with me there, and so I'm banished to the indoors until they get around to spraying. I actually have a net that goes over the hammock, but it also blocks out the breeze so I don't really like using it. The bed on the ground floor is a good second choice for siesta.

- After siesta Miguel made chilaquiles and while he was doing that, I was too hungry so I dove into the fridge for a piece of chicken parmesan, slapped it on a piece of roll I'd saved from the day before, and ate it cold.

- After eating, we took to the couch to digest our food. Then Miguel went off to school to take the final test to complete his secundaria level (junior high). He came home around 8 pm - he passed! So once he gets his 'report card' (credentials), he can start preparatoria - also called bachillerato (grades 10-12, high school). Many older adults as well as young people here are completing their education via this program. Miguel went to work at the age of 14 when he came to Isla Mujeres to help his father at Aquarama (now Zama), so even though he took other courses over the 11 years he was enlisted in the military, his formal education was abandoned. I hope he continues to study and complete high school - I know it's important to him.

- The lottery booth closes at 8:30 pm, so when Miguel got home we quickly jumped on the golf cart with Loco and drove over. The hamburger stand was open, and nobody was in line, so while Miguel bought his tickets, I went over and ordered a hamburger/fries for Miguel, a hotdog/fries for me, and another single hot dog. The woman knew the single hot dog was for Loco - no onions, please.

- We finished the evening on the couch - Miguel enjoying connecting with his family via Facebook, and me putting the finishing touches on a new design for our web pages. Each page takes a long time to add the little things that make it a standard look across the pages, and keywords to optimize the site for search engines. I will do a post on this process once I get the site up - hopefully in the next few days.

- It was late when we headed up to bed, and before we could even get settled, there was a nasty cat fight in the kitchen - much more than the usual little scrap. Upon investigation I figured out that Maya went after Minina but in the process scared Smokey. Everyone seemed ok but I took Maya upstairs and made her sleep in our room so the other cats could get some peace. Of course, to Maya this was not punishment, it was a treat - and she slept quite comfortably in the sink. Next time she is going out back - but I didn't want to put her out there when we were not sleeping where we might hear if she got into trouble - she has never spent the night out back but it is in her future, if she keeps up with the bullying.

- Since I was unable to get Luna in last night, I knew our screen doors would be popped open sometime during the night. Luna's night out ended at 3:30 am - such a nice hour to be disturbed. I had been up a little earlier to let Loco in when it started to rain. And I'd been disturbed around 1 am when a mosquito bit me on the bottom of my foot - so itchy! At 5:45 I was up again - too hot. I wanted to put the ceiling fan on high but to do that I would have to stand on the bed, and at 5:45 I was not about to test my balance and it would have disturbed Miguel anyway. So I came downstairs, put out the garbage, put out all the cats (except Maya), and finished my sleep in the little bedroom.

Today everything is back to normal. Has anyone figured out that 'normal' here at Casa Susana is relative?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thinking about Doris

We host people from all over the world, and of all ages. Before their arrival, often a flurry of emails has gone back and forth - a relationship is already started before we actually meet. The nice thing, and sometimes the difficult thing, is that we develop bonds with our guests - guests we may never see again, even though we may stay in touch and keep tabs on how their lives are progressing.

Last winter we had a senior couple stay with us for 4 nights. The initial email started like this: "I've been reading your blog for a while now and so I almost feel that I know you. I am finally going to be able to travel to your part of the world and would like to stay in the Minina Suite."

Doris certainly had been reading my blog - she knew about all our pets here, as her next email shows: "We are pet lovers ourselves and are looking forward to meeting all the residents of Dentro del Jardin."

"Pet lovers" was an understatement - Doris and Gordon simply loved our animals, especially our cats. Almost every day they would make a point of going out on the back terrace to visit the cats, and they always greeted Cappuchina who was parked outside at the front door. I think Luna found her way up to their terrace for a visit, and Loco is always around the front door with a wagging tale for our guests.

When chatting with Doris she would mention a blog I'd written - often blogs I'd forgotten about. And since they left, Doris has kept up with my blog, and occasionally posts comments.

Shortly after their stay here, I wrote a blog post about us coming upon a mauling and very quickly I had an email from Doris - she and Gordon would like to send some money to help defray the costs of care for these stray animals. How kind! I was able to give a donation to Delfino to cover the costs of the mauled kitten (which died three days later), I used a little when Delfino came to check out Cappuchina, and I am holding onto the remainder for the next time we deposit hurt or abandoned animals with Delfino (because it is just a matter of time, there are always needy cats out there - but unless they are kittens, we usually cannot catch them to help them).

Doris and Gordon were ideal guests - quiet, friendly, respectful, tidy, loved our food, loved our home, loved our pets. As Doris posted in our guest book - Gordon was already planning to come back and he was not the B&B type, that was how much he loved staying here. As hosts, we love it when our guests are happy and enjoying our home. We loved having Doris and Gordon here, we hoped they would be back, and I know our pets would enjoy having them here again too.

But while they were here, Doris was in pain - her back and hips made it difficult to walk, difficult to do the stairs, and difficult to do all the things they'd hoped to do. Since she's been back in Canada, Doris' pain has gotten worse, much worse. She is unable to do much of anything. She needs surgery, and is on the waiting list.

A couple of weeks ago Doris sent an email letting me know the extent of her pain, and I was very sad. Sad that she is suffering, sad that she has to wait so long for the surgery, sad that her daily life is so affected, and sad that their plans to travel are on hold. Then she sent an email that her doctor has escalated her through the healthcare system - she was seeing a specialist this week. There is hope that she will get the surgery she needs much sooner than originally thought. If so, they may be able to take their annual winter vacation.

Doris - I know you will read this. Please know that our thoughts are with you, and we are hoping for good news. Please keep us posted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rediscovering Mr Freezie

Several weeks ago we were out driving in the early evening and I was overcome with thirst. I craved something cold and refreshing. Along came one of the Tuggui cart men. I have never bought anything from them before, but I was feeling adventurous. So we pulled up and asked what flavor of freezies he had. Pina, limon, uva, fresa (pineapple, lemon, grape, strawberry). We both ordered limon; the man pulled out two lime freezies, wiped them with a cloth, wrapped them in a napkin, and handed them to us. The cost? 5 pesos each.

I asked the man to open my freezie, and both he and Miguel looked at me like they didn't understand my question. "Just tear it with your teeth", said Miguel. Oh, ok - I guess I forgot how I used to open these as a child.

I nipped at the corner, spit out the little piece of plastic bag, tested the hole, nipped some more, and continued until I was satisfied with my work. Then I proceeded to draw the cold, sweet liquid out as fast as I could. With the heat, it melted fairly quickly. And it quenched my thirst.We both worked our freezies as we drove along, and we were color coordinated with the golf cart - lime green, just like Limey!

When I had sucked out most of the green liquid, I was left with a pale sliver of ice, which I chewed on through the plastic bag to break it up and eat it. Very refreshing.

Miguel tells me those freezies are homemade - the family owns the business and they have employees who push the carts all over the island. Most of the employees are pretty old, it must be tough work pushing those carts in the heat and sun. Inside the cart are freezies, popsicles, and square bags of frozen chocolate and coconut milk.

The other day we were thirsty again and drove all through La Gloria looking for the Tuggui cart. We passed a small store and outside stood a little girl with a green freezie. We backed up and Miguel asked her where she got her 'saborina' (what they call freezies). She pointed inside the store, so I went in and bought two lime freezies - obviously bought from a commercial outlet, not from the Tuggui cart. The freezie was only 2 pesos but after we tasted, we knew why - the flavor was strong and tasted artificial, not delicious like the Tuggui cart. And of course, right after we turned the corner, we passed the Tuggui cart on one of the side streets. Miguel offered to stop so we could buy from the cart, but we already had our freezies so I declined and we continued on our way.

We finished our freezies under the trees in the parking lot across from the market in Canotal - we didn't really enjoy them, but they quenched the thirst.

The other day at the beach, along came the Tuggui cart man. Miguel called to him to come over, but it took about 20 minutes before he dealt with all the kids who ran over to buy their freezies and popsicles. The Tuggui cart did a booming business in that little section of beach - all Mexicans, lots of small kids. And Sue and Miguel amongst them, all sucking down the cold sweet liquid of the saborina.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A trip to a favorite corner

We have a nightly routine, the three of us (me, Miguel, and Loco). We hop on the golf cart and head out for a short drive to the lottery booth - located mid-island a little north of the house.

We had a little issue getting the golf cart going before we left, and I suggested that Miguel just take a taxi and deal with the golf cart in the morning. But no...Miguel ended up removing the spark plug so he could clean it, and in the process a little cap that goes on the top of the plug slipped out of his fingers and fell into the hole where the spark plug is housed. But Miguel didn't have any pliers handy, so he replaced the cleaned plug, found another cap he could use, and off we went.

A few blocks later the golf cart started sputtering. We pulled over, lifted the seat, and Miguel tightened the cap over the spark plug. We got another block before he had to do it again. The cap was hot by now, but somehow Miguel always finds something along the side of the road that he can use - this time it was a little pile of cardboard. A small piece torn off gave his fingers enough of a grip in order to tighten the cap without getting burned.

We almost made it to the curve before it started sputtering again, but this time Miguel kept going. Up and around the bend, down the other side and over the tope. Then we pulled over alongside the baseball field. Tightened the cap, and gave a good wiggle on the cable connecting the spark plug to something on the other end, which I don't know what that is because I've never followed the cable to see where it goes.

We made it just past the lottery corner, where there is an area that you can pull over and be completely off the road. The store to buy the new spark plug and cap was just another block away, so Miguel decided he would just walk - but he needed to take the spark plug with him to ensure he got the same model as a replacement. Getting the spark plug out took some time because it was too hot to touch, and even the little pieces of cardboard and kleenex didn't protect his fingers for the time he had to touch the spark plug in order to get it out of its hole.

The area where we pulled over was a great spot, from Loco's point of has a wall that is loaded with iguanas, and since it was still daylight and sunny, a few iguanas were soaking up the last rays of sunshine. Not for long though, because Loco couldn't hide the fact that he was in pursuit of iguanas, and only the restraint of the leash kept him from jumping and grabbing a few. Quickly all that was left of iguanas on the wall was one tail, where a fat iguana was unable to get himself completely inside the top of the wall. The tail was enough of a tease to keep Loco interested while I sat on the back of the golf cart and waited for Miguel to return.

And then I remembered that I had my camera in my purse, and that I'd been waiting to write about this corner until I had pictures to go with the words. So now I have a picture that I wouldn't normally have, because usually I'm sitting on the golf cart on the other side of the street, right at the corner by the pretty palm plants.

So Miguel came back with the new spark plug, and we crossed the road and the sputtering started again. Obviously the problem was not the spark plug itself. Oh well...let's just buy the lottery tickets and go home.

While Miguel stood in line, Loco and I sat on the cart and enjoyed our nightly view. You'd think we'd get tired of this, but there is always something going on at this corner. Lots of people-watching - walking, riding, playing. For Loco there are lots of smells - other dogs, iguanas, hamburgers. We amuse ourselves while we wait for Miguel.

This is where we buy yummy hamburgers and fries from a very nice local family. Sometimes we buy a hot dog for Loco - he loves them! The three teen-aged boys are very well-mannered and friendly, and almost always come over to say "Hi" and pet Loco when they see us parked across the street. 

The palm plants on the corner are in flower right now. With all the traffic, it's amazing that the plants are healthy and growing. Miguel took it upon himself to maintain these plants, he pulls off the dead fronds whenever they need pulling off, he can't stand to see a plant with dead branches. Here you see one he pulled off two weeks ago - lying on the ground where he put it.

Note the condition of the road as it meets the main road. The potholes cause most people coming out of this road to drive on the other side of the road, which makes for interesting observations when another vehicle tries to turn into the side road. Luckily, here on the island, almost everyone is used to everyone else having to drive a little differently because of road conditions and vehicle problems, so nobody gets upset when you're sitting on the wrong side of the road, making a right-hand turn onto the main road...they just drive around you. I like to watch all this as I wait, sometimes it's an exercise in human psychology.

So we sputtered our way home...putt putt putt...slowly, very slowly. Once in a while the golf cart would take off normally for a few seconds, but then it would sputter again. I commented to Miguel that it might be tricky making a left turn off the main road onto our road because we were so slow, but the other traffic adjusted for us...they simply passed us on the right as we approached the middle of the road to prepare for the turn.

We made it safely home and I made coffee. Today is another day - Miguel will look for the little piece that fell into the hole last night, and we take it from there. Did I hear someone say "life in paradise"?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sink Hole

I'm sure that, like my daughter, you are tired of checking my blog for something new and seeing the same old squid story. So I decided to write something just to let you know I have some great stories, but they are in my head, not my heart. When they reach my heart, I'll be forced to take the time to write. In the meantime, we're just living life day by day. lots going on but having a hard time focusing.

Oh - one little piece of news: our winner for the two free nights at Capi's Apartment was announced yesterday. Here's the blurb from my Facebook post, for those who are not on Facebook:

We have a winner! We had 47 entries, many of which were recipes, and of those, many were recipes for alcoholic beverages. Good thing all our units include blenders, we can see they will be put to good use!

We had: entries from past guests, entries from people who have never been to Isla Mujeres, and entries from people... who have never stayed in the colonias. I wish you all could have won, it was a fun event for us, and we will definitely do it again.

And now...the winner...Heather Krey for her tip on bringing an MP3 or Ipod player to hook up to the speakers at Dentro del Jardin B&B. Heather had 4 submissions out of 47 - an 8% chance of winning. Congratulations, Heather!!

Heather and Jeff stayed in our B&B for a week last December. This was Heather's first email contact: " My husband and I are taking our 1st trip to Isla Mujeres and want it to be perfect! We want to become part of the island's culture while we are there, and also take advantage of the vacationy things such as the beach and snorkeling."

I remember replying to Heather that we couldn't promise 'perfect', but that we'd do our best to help them have the best vacation possible. Truthfully, I was a little worried, because 'perfect' is so hard to guarantee. And yes, the umbrella did blow over and land in her lap, knocking her cup of coffee all over her white shorts. But it all came out in the wash, and she was unharmed. So it was 'nearly' perfect.

Heather and Jeff are animal lovers, and they gave lots of affection to our menagerie during their week with us. Another email from Heather before booking: " I was especially happy to see that there are resident pets. We also have pets and would be an added touch."

Near the end of their stay Miguel and I were busy trying to get the studio apartment (Luna Studio)
ready earlier than planned to accommodate a guest, and they kindly came
over and gave a lending hand, especially with the curtains (Jeff is so
tall he didn't need a ladder). So Heather already knows what the studio apartment looks like, and I can't wait for them to come down and claim their prize.

Thanks again to everyone for participating. We do have a special prize for Cindy, who submitted the most entries (9). Cindy, you are invited to join us for breakfast at Dentro del Jardin the next time you are here - thank you for your contributions..

Everyone - look for another raffle in the coming months. And please keep on submitting your tips and ideas to the group, they are great!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Loco and Pulpo Paul, they knew

All this week Miguel has been muttering something to me about some octopus being able to tell the future; the octopus had correctly predicted the winners of various World Cup games and was predicting that Spain would win today. Miguel said that as long as the octopus was correct, he would live, but if he was wrong, they would kill him and eat him. I was trying to concentrate on a web design and hardly paid any attention until Miguel mentioned the part about killing the squid. As an animal lover, I was disgusted that the octopus would be killed if he picked the wrong team. I sort of missed the main story where the octopus had been predicting winners, and thought it was some kind of Mexican humor, which I admit I don't always 'get'.

Once in a while Miguel would try to direct my attention to the tv where they showed a tank with an octopus and two boxes. I watched the octopus float over to the boxes, but still didn't get what all the fuss was about. Until today, when I actually took the time to watch the octopus 'predict' Spain over Holland.

Loco and Miguel have this game where Miguel has a cookie which he places in one hand with Loco watching, and then he puts his hands behind his back and switches back and forth, and then puts his hands out front and waves them around and then tells Loco to pick the one with the cookie. Almost always Loco gets it right.

So today was Loco's turn to pick the winning team. Miguel cut out pictures of the flags of each country in the World Cup final and put one in each hand, along with a piece of Jerky Treat in each hand. And then he told Loco to pick one. Here's how it went down.

Loco picked Spain. Pulpo Paul picked Spain. Some parrot picked Holland. Spain won. Loco and Pulpo got it right. Draw your own conclusions about the brilliance of these animals. Although I must say - Pulpo Paul is 8 for 8, Loco is only 1 for 1, so it's possible the octopus is smarter than Loco. Shhh...don't tell Miguel.

Good morning!

If humans were more like dogs we'd never wake up in a bad mood, we'd have tons of patience, and we'd find pleasure in the simplest things. We'd leap for joy at the thought of going for a ride or a walk to the store. We'd bestow sloppy kisses on anyone who looks like they want one. And we'd face the other way when we don't want to look at someone we don't like. We'd be true to our spirit, and follow our instincts.

Other than rolling in stinky things, I think I'm going to try to be more like Loco!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Profound thought for the day

As I sit here smacking at couch mosquitoes lurking around after the rain, I'm struck by this thought:

Maybe mosquito bites are itchy to make you scratch, and when you scratch, you scratch out the bad things the mosquito planted inside you. Because - think about it, if you were in the process of sucking a meal out of someone, would you alert them to the fact by making them smack right where you were sucking? Possibly killing you? The mosquito can't be that dumb, so there must be another explanation, and I think mine makes sense - nature put the itch there, the mosquito knows nothing about it, and if you scratch right away all the baddies will be destroyed.

Aren't you glad you read my blog today?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Boston Cap

This spring Donna and Harold, a retired couple, came to stay at Capi's Apartments. The first email from Donna came in September, and over the months there were many more, so that prior to their trip I got to know a little about the couple who would be staying in our apartments for 5 weeks.

Harold is an artist - he paints scenes. Harold spent hours set up on the balcony, in the kitchen, or across the street, sketching and painting with the finest details. Here is a snippet from one of his paintings - he didn't leave anything out, not even the rebar (note: I have edited this snippet in order to respect Harold's original work):

Donna spent most of her time taking walks or bus rides around the island, shopping and keeping herself busy while Harold painted. She also observed at the La Gloria English School, and cooked many of their meals.

Some of Donna and Harold's children and grandchildren came during their stay, which involved some apartment juggling in order to accommodate all the family. Despite less than ideal weather this year, everyone seemed to enjoy their stay on Isla Mujeres.

Before they came, Donna, knowing that Miguel wears baseball caps, announced they were bringing a Boston Red Sox cap for Miguel. "Don't tell him", she wrote.

One morning Donna and Harold came for breakfast, and they presented Miguel with his cap...

Harold wrote quite a lengthy review in our guest book, I made this into a web page for easy reading.

And the cap? Miguel loved it, but he knew there was someone special who would love it more. Miguel's grandfather in Oaxaca is 100 years old, but never in his life had he owned an authentic baseball cap. Now he does.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What's that sound?

It's Peace and Quiet!

Yesterday and today have been odd. It's too quiet! For weeks on end we've been blasted by loudspeakers, horns, chanting, parades, music - all in the name of campaigning.

Today they voted. I am surprised that the campaigning didn't carry on until late last night. Miguel says they aren't allowed, which explains the quietness in the streets. They also aren't allowed to sell alcohol this weekend.

Since I can't vote, I didn't get caught up in the excitement anyway. But I did learn a couple of new songs - songs that actually belong to the World Cup Soccer but were adapted for one of the political parties. I am going to miss hearing this...

But I'm practicing the 'waka waka' dance in case I get stopped on the street and asked to participate in their video to raise money for education. So far only 1 person on Isla Mujeres is going to the meet-up. Anyone want to come along?

"This Time for Africa".

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The feet

I took my feet for granted, I thought they'd always be there for me. You don't realize how important your feet are until they start complaining about you using them. Mine have been complaining for more than 3 months.

I told the doctor about my foot pain in late March. She prescribed short-term meds to relieve pain and inflammation, and long-term meds (not sure why). The short-term meds helped in the short-term. The long-term meds caused such side effects that I thought I would die. I stopped taking the long-term meds more than 2 months ago. My doctor doesn't know yet, I've been stalling hoping I could fix this myself. I really suspect a stress fracture on the left heel, and there really isn't much to do for it other than rest and time.

I put my feet back into my flip-flop crocs - so soft and cushion-y on my feet. But as good as they feel on my feet, they don't have any type of support, and for some reason, after all these years, my feet have decided that they need support. At least, I guess that's what they've decided.

So while I was in Canada last month I wandered around the mall looking for a shoe store. One store was closed, the next just sold athletic shoes. Then I spotted it - "Walking on a Cloud" - even the name held promise.

This is the type of shoe store you go to when you want the old-fashioned attention and knowledge of the shoe store clerk. Ann, the manager, listened to my description of my foot woes and then hauled out box after box of shoes for me to try. She placed the shoes on my feet, and she knew as soon as I did when we'd found shoes that were right for me. I'm not sure if my feet smiled at her or she noted the look of "ah ha, this is it" on my face, but she knew. And so I ended up buying two pairs of shoes that felt like they were made for my feet, and I left the store with high hopes that I would soon be walking pain-free.

Well...the shoes still feel good when I wear them, but they feel a little hard on the heel which is the most painful part of my left foot. So I am mostly wearing my crocs around the house - the softness of the soles soothes the tender soles. For serious walking, I planned to use my new shoes.

But what's that saying about the 'best laid plans'? When we went out for a drive on Wednesday evening I did not know that the belt on the golf cart would break out by the dump and that we would end up walking home. It took us 45 minutes because my pace slowed us down. Although I was only wearing my crocs, walking didn't really hurt that much, and I enjoyed the walk along the coast, watching the sea turtles and just enjoying the surf and breezes.

The next day we walked to the market to pick up the cart. Again I was just wearing my crocs, and my feet felt pretty good. I was starting to think that my feet really wanted to walk. Maybe I have some foot condition similar to that of horses, where walking puts pressure on the painful part and actually eases the condition? Maybe I need to walk more?

With that last thought in mind, I went to Cancun yesterday with high hopes. I put on my Ecco sandals, and we went from store to store. I was doing pretty good until I had to stand for about 30 minutes waiting for someone to bring us the small tv we'd bought for the guest room. Standing really hurt, and I shifted my weight from side to side trying to ease the pressure and the pain. In the end I sat in one of those electric carts.

This morning I googled the horse condition where they need to walk to ease the foot pain. But I couldn't find anything except this:

Founder brings feet problems

"Fat horses tend to have problems with laminitis (founder). This is especially common among horses with some Shetland pony breeding. Grass founder in the spring produces more laminitis than any other single cause. If your horse is fat, grazes abundant grass, and is not exercised, there is great risk of laminitis. Laminitis commonly causes lameness. Horses with laminitis have extreme pain and soreness, especially in their front feet. They try to bear weight on their back legs and lighten the front end as much as possible by carrying their front feet forward and their back feet up under their bodies. Horses showing signs of laminitis should have immediate attention from a veterinarian. Therapeutic trimming and shoeing may make a horse with laminitis sound enough for light work and normal reproduction."

This sounds a lot like my feet. I admit I am a little 'fat', I admit I 'graze' sufficiently, and I know I am not getting enough exercise.I feel I am a little lame, I am walking like a little old lady. I try to walk on certain parts of my feet to avoid putting pressure on the painful parts - if I had four feet, I'd do exactly what the horse in the description does - I'd lighten the heavy end as much as possible (in my case the heavy 'end' might actually be the back end).

Although I am still doing my own housework and not using my feet as an excuse to get out of anything, I need to see a vet, I mean doctor, I guess. But I hope once this problem is addressed that I don't end up sound enough for 'normal reproduction'. Those days are over!

Friday, July 2, 2010

We waited six years for this

I'm not sure when this little cactus came to my house, I'm not even sure how it got here. But I do remember the last time it bloomed - November of 2003. Actually, it wasn't this cactus that bloomed all those years ago, this is the offspring of the one that bloomed.

The plant is of the Echinopsis cactus genus. I can't find anything on the web about how often they are supposed to flower, but I suspect ours is a late-bloomer.

Yesterday Miguel brought the plant down from the third-level terrace in anticipation of the flower opening. He placed the pot in a patch of sun, right in the area where Loco jumps at the iguana up on the wall. He shortened Loco's chain so he wouldn't break the flower. We laid in the hammock and waited. Nothing.

Eventually the sun moved so Miguel moved the plant again. All day we watched, but by 3 pm we were forced to go out, hoping the flower wouldn't open while we were gone. When we got back, the flower was still closed. Miguel moved the plant again, against the hedge, but by night-time he decided it was too risky as sometimes stray cats come in and that area is a preferred jumping spot. So the plant went up to the second-level terrace to spend the night.

There was a lot of noise in the middle of the night and Miguel got up to investigate. Once awake, he couldn't get back to sleep so he went downstairs and spent several hours on the computer and watching tv on the sofa, where he eventually fell back asleep. When I got up in the morning I forgot about the plant.

After our morning coffee, I told Miguel he should check on the plant, and sure enough, he came down with a flowering cactus plant in hand. There were black ants inside the flower, sort of like you see with peonies. There was a very mild sweet fragrance, probably what attracted the ants.

We sat in the hammocks and admired the flower until we got hungry enough for breakfast - we knew the flower would only last a matter of hours.

After breakfast the flower stem was wilted, and sure enough, when we got back from Cancun late this afternoon, the flower was done. Not quite as quickly as the fictional flower in the Dennis the Menace movie, where the plant only blooms after 40 years and the flower dies right after opening.

There are more buds so we expect more pretty flowers from this plant, and it already has some baby buds to take the place of the mother plant that will probably die once it has finished flowering.

I hope we don't have to wait another 6 years to enjoy the next group of flowers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Time for a cat update

I know what you readers like more than anything is the cat stories. And we've been distracted with other projects and the cats have taken a back seat here in the blog.

But they're back, here's an update:

On Monday Maya attracted my attention when I was sweeping the back terrace. She kept going into the little garden and squatting, every 5-10 minutes. I brought her in the house and she kept going to her litter box, but just a little button of liquid was expressed. I watched her throughout the day and she behaved normally otherwise - hungry as always, and running around. But the litter box was her best friend, and she was over-grooming.

Time to call the doctor to ensure she was not obstructed or in need of medication. Delfino came around 8 pm and verified that Maya had inflammation of the bladder and pain. But she didn't have a fever so he just said to make sure she ate moist food (no dry food at all), and drank purified water (which she doesn't like). I had already switched her over to canned food as I suspected bladder crystals or stones. On Tuesday morning we headed over to Ronco's for more canned food and hit the jackpot with a selection of three flavors of canned food that all the cats like.

On Tuesday I was hoping that Maya would be better, but she still only produced buttons until later in the day, when the buttons got bigger and bigger. I plied Maya with canned food, yogurt, and a piece of raw tomato (since I couldn't buy cranberry juice, and I'm sure she wouldn't drink it anyway, I figured tomato might have the acid too, and Maya loves tomatoes).

This leads me to a blog I never posted - the natural healing that takes place when we listen to our bodies. I believe that Maya steals our tomatoes because she needs something more in her diet, and tomatoes have it. She also eats the vine and a leafy plant on the pool terrace and she is never sick from eating those strange things.

While we've been monitoring Maya we've kept the other cats outside during the day so a) Maya wouldn't eat their dry food and b) I would know who produced what I found in the litter box. While Maya's bladder problem seemed to improve, I wasn't sure about the other elimination function. After watching Maya, I came to the conclusion that she must have hurt herself rather than have a bladder stone or crystals, something about the way she squatted and didn't produce anything but kept acting like she wanted to.

Yesterday I finally found what I'd been waiting for in the litter box, but...Cappuchina had slipped in the front door and so I was not sure who had been in the litter box. And today, I'm still not sure but since Maya is eating well and running around and acting perfectly content I have given up trying to monitor anything more.

Maya actually enjoyed her time alone in the house, and she really enjoyed being able to go upstairs and lie on the ledge over-hanging the stairwell.  For some reason this is Maya's favorite place to sleep, and if you cannot find Maya, all you have to do is stand in the stairwell and call her name, and Maya's little face will peer over the ledge to let you know she's there.

So thankfully everyone seems to be healthy again, and we're going to have Delfino come for the yearly vaccinations. That should be fun, because once the first cat freaks out, the next ones will be harder and harder to control and drag out from under the bed or wherever else they choose to hide from us. Maya used to be curious about Delfino's doctor bag, but I'm betting after his last visit, where he checked her temperature, she won't be quite so friendly.