January 30, 2009

Head of housekeeping returns

Carmen is back from escorting her mother to surgery in Merida, where she is now recovering at another daughter's house. Her case was not simple. Yes, there was a huge gall stone, as the Merida surgeon thought. And there was a mass of six inches along side - what the resident here thought was a tumor. It may be a polyp, the surgeon said and took a biopsy.
At any rate, her heart tolerated the anesthesia and she will either make a full recovery or be dealing with tumor consequences. We should know tomorrow.
"Girls Gone Wild" went to Villa Vera yesterday, then for mojitos at Miguels while exchanging money. BTW, the Villa Vera seafood enchiladas are just great!
Then, after a Polish Princess leftover feast, we opened a bottle of wine. At which point I asked the girls to speak up. I heave hearing loss. I need hearing aides, I told them.
"Is that why you've gotten so loud?" Deb demurely asked. Well, that's what best friends are for. I had no idea I turned up my volume!
Sissy works at a funeral home that regularly disposes of hearing aides at family request. So she said she'd keep her eyes peeled for me. Now isn't that something? A day at the beach may lead to something that will make my friends, including my Mexican friends, happy because I won't always be saying, "Como? No escucha. Mande?"
Carmen's Aunt Ignacia got her hearing aides in a similar deal and had a Merida audiologist adjust for her. Isn't life grand?
Today, work with Carmen, a conference call tgo California, and GGW head for Garrafon de Castilla to see the fishies!

January 28, 2009

Ready for friends

Chicken terriyaki is in the oven. All kinds of snacks have been made. The golf cart has been washed. The manicure fixed. Lora is a bit tardy at the dog spa next to the car wash. but she seems to be enjoying her stay!
Deb and Kate arrive from Sacramento tonight after a two year absence. You may recall from the old blog that Deb, in the biggest senior moment of her lifetime, forgot to check her passport and called me from the airport to cry.
I am chilling wine for tonight. My brother thinks we drink copious amounts. A bottle a day per middle aged women on vacation seems about right! For brunch, at the pool, happy hour and with dinner. It all adds up!
The weather has turned just gorgeous. There is something to be said for this latitude! So now, I go to the oven and may pass by the pool for another drip!
Jose came by earlier to move the washer back onto the patio and rearrange some furniture. He'll have his wife Marta come by to see what I need, too. And I just got word that Carmen's mom is doing fabulous after gall bladder removal and will be back on the scene tomorrow, in time for the month-long tenants coming on the first....and the quick change for a week after the girls leave, and still another quick change after that! whewww. I'm tired. I think I'll go upstairs to the pool and take another dip!

January 23, 2009

Merida without me...

Carmen is off to Merida today with her mother and without me. For the past month, she has been here instead of Halacho, where she liked to sit and watch the passers by.
She was diagnosed with a "gall bladder tumor" here on Isla, with a not too experienced ultrasound reader, and a decision was made to just let it go.
The films were sent to a specials in Merida and it's not a tumor after all, but a huge, life-threatening stone. One false move, or meal, and she would develope jaundice and die.
So Carmen is taking her to Merida today for a morning surgery, and presuming all goes well, leaving her to the care of another sister in Merida before she returns to Halacho, a village an hour away.
The weather here has broken wonderfully. It's all sun, still not HOT, but temperatures will climb over the next few days, when Deb and Kate arrive.
Carmen will be back in time to set up their aparment and the one upstairs for the February 1st arrival on monthp-long guests from Alberta. I guess we can blame the Alberta Clipper on them! But I suspect they just won't want to hear about it.
Me, I'm making rice water and chicken broth for Amelia, who asked for atole made of rice, leaving Carmen scratching her head. She want's no sugar or cinnamon or milk in it, so it's really not atole! But, I'm using jasmine rice, which I think she will like. Her husband is in grave condition in Cancun, and she is at death's door here. So sad.

January 22, 2009

In a small Isla Mujeres souvenir shop gone wild!

What has this world come to? Life as I once knew it is over!

January 21, 2009

The view from Mexico

I asked Carmen to stop working and watch the Inauguration of Barack H. Obama as 44th President of the United States.
This is what she noted. The crowds were huge. For the first time, to her, they looked a lot like America. Look at all the blacks, she said. Negros in Spanish. Look at all the young people. Joven.
Look at all the old people, viejitos.
But she did note that only the top has changed in color. Most of the cabinet, she knows, is still white, like most of America.
As she listened to the Inaugural address, she commented on Obama's intelligence. "If he is using a teleprompter, he is not using it much. He knows what he is going to say," Carmen said. She gulped a few times when Obama dealt the truth, things I have been trying to impress upon her, such as the financial crisis isn't going to end any day soon.
And it's cold! Look at his breath freeze!, she said. Those hundreds of thousands must be cold!
"He isn't black. He isn't white," she said. A mestizo, negrito - a little bit black. He almost looks like a Mexican," she said. I said his grandparents raised him in Hawaii. She said, then he knows a better climate does not assure a better life.
We didn't talk about the issues of illegal immigrants. I already know she disapproves of them. But when they address ended, she looked at me and said, "Muy bien!" And she said she likes our Inaugurations. The speach was short! she noted. That would never happen in Mexico.

January 20, 2009

Our new day.

Alexander S. Pushkin, the father of Russian literature - often called the Shakespeare of Russia - was black. His great-grandfather was Major-General Ibrahim Petrovich Hannibal, a darling of Czar Peter the Great, was either of Cameron or Ethiopia. My father and my grandmother, a French teacher in Russia, only learned of it when they saw this portrait in an Immigracion office in New York with the caption" Pushkin: Russia's Great Negro Writer." What does this have to do with Inauguration Day?
I'm not sure. But it may explain the rejoicing I feel today. The child of immigrants, who myself experienced prejudice during the Cold War, my parents did their best to raise me without prejudice.
I think they succeeded. I felt the pain of the black children, afflicted with tuberculosis, who were my playmates at a rural Ohio tuberculosis sanitarium which my dad ran.
I tanned well as a child, thanks to the Slavic Muslem blood of my paternal grandfather, and the nurses would often catch themselves, almost saying I looked like a little colored girl, the polite expression of the time, saying instead that I looked like a little Tahitian girl. I learned the English language from those playmates, which translated a lot like Russian. So I never understood what the fuss was about Ebonics, though I didn't like it later myself. But it came in handy with my three urban black roommates my freshman year of college.
I remember overhearing a stupid friend of my Mom's ask her, "Aren't you afraid she might marry one of their friends?" My Mom, with sarcasm I am sure only I could detect in the other room, replied, "I am only afraid she might marry someone who is ignorant."
I am proud to be a citizen of a country that has learned from its mistakes and seemingly wised up.
And I rejoice today, that America is a giant step closer to being a unified country, one in which none of us has to look away from their heritage to be a part of the one that is being created today.
I don't know why my Mom latched on to the phrase of Dr. Martin Luther King, "We shall overcome." But after she was widowed, and left to finish putting me through college and on track to a difficult career, she would often say, "Don't worry baby. We shall overcome." To my black friends today, I toss my hat into the air and rejoice. We have overcome! Now, there is more hard work ahead of us. But fear not. We shall overcome that too.

January 19, 2009

Outlaw life: The Reprobate.

This is my dog. She is in jail. Pictured here, is the holding cell. Carmen caught her first.
It all started at 8:45am, when I thought she'd enjoy the ride to the cable company, and if we got there early, no one would be annoyed.
I lost control of her before we got to the golf cart. Then I chased her around the neighborhood for an hour. A FULL HOUR. She fought with cats, ate garbage, barked at guard dogs. Generally, she enjoyed herself and listened to NONE OF HER COMMANDS. She just went on about her business. HER BUSINESS was none of my business.
I went into the house, leaving the screen door open, and fried an egg. She peeked in, but wouldn't come. I put the egg on top of her untouched dog food. I pushed the bowl toward her. She ran away.
I went after her with the egg-topped bowl of food in the cart. She laughed!
So, I placed the bowl in front of the house and took off for the cable company. Along the way, I saw Carmen on her way to Karina's house. Her daughter is my neighbor.
I said, Lora is on the loose and I fear the dog catcher will get her. By the time I left, she was chasing cabs. I asked Carmen to do what she could, I'd be right back.
Great news, the cable company takes dollars at 1:13 exchange. Great. I could pay the bill and still have money to function, saving time.
I get home and don't see her. The lady at the store said something about the dog catcher, then pointed to Karina's gate, where Lora sat among the potted plants, like she was on vacation or something.
I yelled bad dog through the gate. She seemed to understand.
Carmen came and said she had to plead with the dog catcher. "But I work for the owner. The dog is my job!" she said she pleaded.
Carmen walked her to my house on the leash as I turned the golf cart around. Then a dentro!
She ate her food. I told her to get in the pet carrier. I closed the door. Then, in her face, I repeated BAD DOG over and over, YELLING! After a few minutes, I opened the door and whisphered, come. Sit. And she obeyed. I said good dog, over and over and petted her. And told her to go to bed, her bed in my bedroom. She hasn't moved since. It's been an hour how.
But what about tomorrow? Lora, do you hear me? I do not want to pay 300 pesos to get you out of the dog catcher's place in the zoo. Yes, the zoo!

January 17, 2009

Must have been a beautiful baby!

17-year-old Charlotte and her mother arrived from Quebec Thursday on a mission. To find and show Charlotte where she was conceived. We talked a bit, and then I took them on the vague tour of the southern part of the island, to see if we could find where this beautifual baby was conceived 18 years ago!
A few probing questions narrowed it down! First I went to a place near the old Playa Lancheros. No. Marie said. It was next to an mansion, but itself was simple and only had one floor. Later the second floor was added. Ah ha!
Mar y Sol, the old building. As soon as I hit the driveway, "Si, yes, yes. The beach was bigger then, but this is it. Charlotte, this is it," Marie said, mostly in French.
In the coming days, we will go back to take pictures of the cottage so that Charlotte can show her father that she knows where she came from!
Her life didn't start at the hospital in Quebec. No, it began at Mar Y Sol!

January 15, 2009

So what should I do? It's raining!

Lora has been misbehaving! She hates going OUT in the rain and would just rather hold it in her carrier. Or take liberties and be with humans in the living room. On our level!
I know the US and Canada are suffering from an Alberta Clipper. It has brought temperatures here down to 70 and not much above that for a daily high, with three days more forcast. Showers and wind. What's a dog to do?
Lora has been running back inside after doing the minimum in the rain, chewing on her bone a bit, and sleeping. That's almost a good human plan, too!
But there is a little work to be done yet and I am expecting a second set of guests in the late afternoon.
This afternoon, Deeann and her husband and I went to Centro, to the book exchange, and Deeann took some pictures in the minicipal market. Then we parted. It seems so cold because it is for here. Glad I'm not in Ohio at the moment!

January 11, 2009

Further progress!

From pool 1
So, despite la gripa, I persevered, with the help of Carmen and Jose. This is how the rooftop looked this morning when Scott looked at ts on his way out...and home to Dallas!
I'll miss the guy, as will Lora, who was increasing acting like cat around him. He, being a cat lover, was amazed how much she acts like a cat at times - the way she moves her body, stretches, touches with her paw.
Today, Carmen and I will make some further organizational improvements in the suites and I will work on a book contribution. It's always something. But hey, I'll be able to take a dip and do some PT.
By the way, garlic may be more of a magical potion that I thought, and I have a lot of faith in it anyway. For he first time in weeks, I am walking without a cane! When Lora ran off this morning during a laundry run, I searched for her on foot before Jose came by and said, per chance, that he has spotted Lora near the mercado and the dog catcher was around. We went and picked her up. So, she's in for the day, castigado!

January 10, 2009

We're working on it!

After what seems like eons, well, it has been eons - five months starting with the fence - the property upgrade is missing a connection to the pool pump, a refreshing coat of white paint on the deck and some more plants. The pool is full! The chlorine floater is loaded and floating!
Oskar the pool pump guy, a friend of Lora's, is cutting PVC tubing to make the connections to the pool pump.
I went out to eat with friends last night, as Ricardo was finishing putting bearings in my living room ceiling fan, and I don't know if Oskar might have tried to come back then.
This afternoon, Jose is coming over to plant a couple more planters and the head of housekeeping, Carmen, will help me address a street light complaint in the upstairs bedroom. Then, yes, we are done! And then, I collapse with this raging cold and sore throat!

January 9, 2009

Don't watch much TV...but wait!

Well. I have honestly been saying I don't watch TV. Then a discovery led to having it on almost 24 hours!
In talking about his TV habits, whozat had been saying how he loved David Letterman and I like him to, but what does that have to do with Mexican cable, I wondered. Yesterday, while he was in my living room, I thought I'd turn CNN World on so we could here the latest bad worldwide news. Well, there was CBS Morning News! Huh?
"Oh, they have Letterman every night at 1o:30," Scott said. Is it CBS network? No, he said, they have Orpah and Dr. Phil and the Montel reruns. All the judge shows. Oh, yeah, Katie Couric was on at 10:30p, must be the Hawaii feed or something.
So during my middle-of-the-night wake-up, I did a little research. It's Televisa's US programming package for Mexican cable. It does include a lot of CBS programming, and I did have the Young and the Restless on while writing yesterday. It has Viacom programming, but not NBC, which owns about half of Telemundo. We get The Office from FX, or is it AXN?
American Network also has a shows plucked from here and there. ARLi$$ for example.
That's what's new on cable on Isla Mujeres on CableMas channel 19. Gotta run, Kate Hudson is on the Morning Show. I think I'll watch! Oh, they've moved onto the consumer electronics show, wait, we are going to cook after a commercial break. That's keeping pace!

January 7, 2009

Elvis impersonator!

On this day, January 8, 2008, the 74th birthday of the King, Lora Doggie Dog wants everyone to see her impersonation of Elvis Presley.
She has been practicing her snarly smile for the occasion, slicked back her ears and let out a hound dog howl. Then she smiled for the camera and took a bow.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.

My other life

I just love Facebook, despite the fact that it absolutely is a time eater! I bet I spend an extra hour a day on the web because of it. But because of it, I now am in touch with people I have lost touch with over the years.
For example, a former Cleveland Public Radio intern now works for the Democratic Party of Los Angeles County. A former newspaper co worker is in Australia. A news source has moved on to Durham with his MBA and is doing business models for non-profits while remaining active in the film production community. His mom also has multiple sclerosis. How's she doing, I ask.
I got Dia Tres Reyes greetings from Merlene Santiago in Cleveland. I get to see pix of my friend's college kids' drinking parties without telling their Mom the details. I play Mafia Wars with a former neighbor still at the Plain Dealer, the guy who looks like my brother. You know who you are!
But more disturbing is the news and affinity groups I belong to. Most have to do with planning to lose your job. Not just layoffs, but the loss of newspaper industry.
Last night came word that the New York Times is in severe danger, eyeing catastrophic financial losses by May. My brother topped that in an email to me about Alcoa's 19 percent workforce reduction world wide, which has already sent today's markets plummeting.
On a brighter note, Laura Yee - half of the pair that took the Cleveland Schools beat over from my partner Ron Rutti and me - and then was food editor, and then moved to Chicago with her husband the chef to edit restaurant journals, is already done redefining herself by having a marketing agency serving restaurants.
There is a lot of hand holding involved in using Facebook as a networking tool. That's why I love seeing my Isla friends of there, too. About a third of my friends on Facebook know me from Isla Mujeres. They tell of art shows at Casa Sirena and Isla PEACE, the community foundation, and of their other lives back home. I love Facebook, even though it eats my time!

January 5, 2009

Garrafon de Castilla day!! Five star.

It's been a long time, since last spring, that I visited Garrafon de Castilla. Well, look at it now! Sand where there were rocks.
Lovely new furniture and hard working beach waiters.

Marta in the kitchen now, meaning everything from shrimp cocktails to guacamole just perfect. The bar menu is printed. And the pina colada that Suzi and I both had was the best I've had on the island. It was a perfect day, though the water was a bit choppy,

January 4, 2009

Now on eBay!

eBay made possible my getting an Inauguration t-shirt while on haitus in Mexico! I'll wear it proud! And I am sure I'll get applause when I walk down Hidalgo, since I have been wearing Canuck t-shirts while here much of the time.
I couldn't give away USA pride t-shirts during the Bush years.
Well, thank you eBay and thanks to the eBay merchants who sell Jockey underwear. Eight pairs on their way via my best friend in life, now living in California.
It's the little things that make one happy while on Mexican soil! A jar of horseradish, a couple bottles of Advil LiquiGels. Some rare seasoning, like sage, or a can of pumpkin. Well, you get the picture. Sometimes money doesn't matter. It's the stuff that can't be had here at any price. So, tonight, I will be wearing an Ohio State t-shirt left by a guest from Massachussets a year ago. Thank you Jimmy!

January 3, 2009

A my day!

A stop at Manana Cafe and book exchange is a must after paying the water bill! Yes, no trip to Centro would be complete without my search for any James Patterson, Stuart Woods or Carl Hiaasen books I haven't read (not many).
I had a baguette with hummus and checked at Ultramar for a "credencial" but they said another day.
So off to Evita's Salon Estica for a manicure, an emergency actually. I had cut to the nail bed midway down a nail while chopping vegetables and toilet paper and nail polish weren't a good patch.
She made me an acrylic nail and painted them all while Lora played in an out with a neighbors dog.

Evita is off the beaten path but gives a great 60 peso manicure! Then it was off to the house to play with Facebook and my 40 some Cleveland friends new to it. And then, a siesta, of course!

January 2, 2009

Amalia's Story

Amalia is my neighbor. For the last 20 years, after a mastectomy, she has been battling breast cancer. It's cells have cause tumors in her brain, liver, lungs and intestines. Each one has been irradicated. She was on chemotherapy, tamoxifen, for most of the last five years.
For the last four years, she has sold Fuller products door to door.
For two years, probably a bit longer, I have taken her carrot juice almost every day. Both she and her doctors believe it has made a difference.
Two years ago, while I was in Ohio, she fell. Screws were used to pin her hip together. She rallied and continued to sell Fuller.

I dedicated my Thanksgiving cooking to her. She had never had an American Thanksgiving meal. Yesterday, she sent a Mexican New Year's meal to the house. Well, I had to make corn muffins and take them over!
For the holiday, six of her seven children came to visit. When I showed up, she was picking the meat off the government-gifted turkey carcass to make relleno. She offered me carrot and broccoli salad and PRI-gifted sparkling cider.
We chatted, I met her "kids" and their kids. Our dogs played together. It was a good afternoon.
Today she is going to see the orthopedic surgeon in Cancun. The pain in her thigh and knee has kept her bed ridden for the past month. Her husband had tongue cancer removed last year. And then, a foot had to be amputated for diabetes. He too, is bedridden. But unlike Amalia, he wasn't able to rally for the New Year. She is one tough cookie. Happy New Year, Amalia! And at least a couple more!