May 31, 2010

Bored and Deaf ....

I think it's boredom.  I'm restless tonight.  Can't seem to settle to anything.  I don't feel this way often, especially with so much to do.

Purchased my washing machine today.  Clean cloths on the line is always a good thing.  That's right - no dryer for me.  Out in the sunshine, fresh air, flapping in the breeze .. just like the good old days!  WM will be delivered tomorrow - so I hope the workers have some place to stash it.

I dropped by the carpenters' shop where I special ordered my bed frame two months ago.  I had it built higher off the floor in order to have good storage underneath.  Also had four drawers built into each side.  Storage in a small space is always a challenge.  It wasn't quite finished?!  I guess no one had called them - so they got on with other work.  It's more than half finished.  The carpenter (Luis) assured me it would be delivered by tomorrow noon.  How?  I have no clue.  This is Mexico.

I have purchased my mattress, however the shop was closed today so I couldn't arrange for delivery.

I have a meeting at the house tomorrow morning with a very talented, creative, handy man.  I met him when I lived at Aparicio as he does work for them.  He is one of the lovely people here who offered to do anything he could to help me in the circumstances I am in.  Anyway, the 'old door' table is ready.  The armoire is gutted and is ready to hang cloths in.  They will be delivered tomorrow.  I have lots more for him to work on.  Tomorrow I want to discuss what needs to be done and get estimates.

I don't even have a decent photograph for you today.   OH .. wait .... yes I do.  Maria, Sylvia's housekeeper, did origami on my toilet paper roll when I first came.  She said it was to welcome me to San Miguel.  Here's the photo.  Maria is very sweet.

I was impressed!

Tomorrow is a busy day.  I'm going to sign off.  Oh -- also forgot to tell you why I am deaf.  Had a terrible ear ache.  Looked up home remedies on the net.  Seems as though white vinegar might be the answer.  I had Sylvia pour some in my ear ... and voila ... swimmers ear -- deaf as a post!  Hope is clears up soon.  Ache is gone!

Something else to share with you.  I have a totally new attitude toward money.  So far, I'm doing very well at it.

Money is only useful when you get rid of it. It is like the odd card in "Old Maid"; the player who is finally left with it has lost.
Evelyn Waugh

May 29, 2010

* You may think ...

i'm a dreamer, or a raving lunatic.  Maybe I am. I have been totally sucked in, conned, betrayed, had 60K stolen from me over a period of 5 months.  My house has been burglarized by banditos.  Do I want to run?  Do I want to live again in Canada?  The answer is a resounding NO.  This place, this Eden with it's deadly 'snakes' is complete, it's exciting, its alive.  Already I have learned some of the most difficult lessons.  Baptism by fire.  I have walked the hot coals and my feet did not burn.  My heart aches. It has cried and will heal one more time.  My heart is good at that.  It is quicker to become whole now, still deeply scarred, but whole.  I choose to stay.  This place and my heart are happy together.  Thieves and con men exist in every corner of this planet.  For the first time in so long I put myself 'out there'. Out into the real world with everything I had.  The world of good and evil.  I landed in the 'thick of things'.  I jumped in with every ounce of energy available to me.  I gave it my all.  With my same action, this could have taken place in any country in the world.

I sit here in a small intimate restaurant somewhere in Centro.  I enjoy breakfast alone.  The sun is shining.  There is life on the streets. I can feel it.  It vibrates. Shops are opening, the cobblestones are being swept, families walk by together, old women sit curled in the doorways with their huge brown eyes turned upward, their hands thrust forward waiting for a peso or two.  Is it begging?  Is it survival?  Do some of them return home to their families at night with their 'contribution' to keep the family solvent.  Is that their 'job'.  Are some of them old and homeless?  Where do they go when the day is done?  No social assistance here.  Who takes care of them?  When touristos walk by, most cannot bear to glance in their direction.  Is it so bad to ask for a few pesos?  Would it break some ancient touristo rule to put a little something into that once hard working hand? Why can't most of us look at them?  Why must we look away.  It scares the hell out of us, that's why.  There, but for the Grace of God go I.  In our culture, sitting in a door way with our hands stretched forth would be shameful.  Perhaps it's time we reconsidered.  It's tradition in this country.  There is no shame involved.

No rules, no street signs, no four way stops, no street lights.  Good golly, people have to use their brains. The person behind the wheel has to actually 'think'.  Traffic is heavy.  Are their accidents?  Some.  Not as many as the same sized city somewhere else in North America.  Drivers are still courteous in San Miguel.  If there were not, chaos would surely reign.  They are patient.  They are pleasant.  There is no need to be anywhere five minutes ago.  There is no road rage.  Drivers smile, stop and wave pedestrians across the street.  Are pedestrians killed?  I haven't heard of a death since I arrived.

Do people come to help in times of trouble trouble?  You bet.  I am a testament to the kindness of new friends.  Are people soft and compassionate?  Yes.  Is the family still a strong unit?  Do the old and the young still know each other?  Are they aware of each others existence? Yes!  The sense of community and family is very strong here. We are loosing, or in some cases have lost, that concept.  I detest it.  It riles my guts.  It angers me.  We have thrown our elderly out with the garbage.  They are not even recycled.  Do most young children really, and I mean really, know their grandparents.  Do they interact.  Do they converse and play on a daily basis.  Is there story telling.  Is history passed on from old to young?  Is the wisdom of the elderly respected and used?  Do the generations help each other?  Do they learn from each other?????  Well, don't even get me going on that one.  I will never get off my soap box. Most seniors in 'our' North America have become totally invisible.  Stuck behind cloistered walls with others 'there own age' to see the rest of their time slip by without purpose.  We no longer see their value, their wisdom or their knowledge.  It is not respected or used.  Indeed it is of no consequence in so many instances. Our society has become one of fools.

Is there corruption in this country of mine?  Yes.  Is it obvious?  Yes.  Are you innocent enough to think there is little corruption in Canada just because it is mostly invisible? What do you think the Hells Angles are all about - brownie cookies?  They play with the big boys.  In many cases, they are the big boys.  Does all the 'drug cartel' news from Mexico hit the press.  You bet.  That's the way they want it.  It's all in the design.  Making others look bad makes our country look good.  It causes us to think we are 'better than'.  It helps to keep us at home, which in turn keeps our money in the country.  It is fear based.  Governments' and the press love to cause us to be afraid.  It's called fear mongering.  We buy into it.  How stupid is that. 

Does the straw in your drink come with a cover on it?  : o )

Does the history appeal to me?  Does the architecture make my heart sing.  A reverberating yes to both of theses.  A history where you can peel away layers upon layers until most of the onion has disappeared is an extremely interesting one to me.  Every culture leaves its' unique mark.  A thousand years later you have a culture filled with so much magic it oozes out into the streets and trickles down the cobblestones.  It's palpable.

Sometimes here, especially when I am in the Jardin, I feel like I'm in Paris.  Others, in the deepest parts of old Spain.  Still again the domes and arches speak to me of the Moores and transport me in a split second back to Casablanca.

This is an amazing place for me to experience.  It stimulates my imagination. It gives new meaning and joy to my senses.  I assimilate differently here.   Sights, sounds, aromas, tastes and textures are all somehow more pronounced in this place.  I am on high alert.  Church bells and fireworks.  Gardenias and Jasmine.  Chilies and spices.  Old rough plaster walls and cobblestones.  Sometimes on the street I see a face straight out of an ancient Aztec tribe.  The exquisite straight nose, the chiseled cheek bones.  I don't want to stare, but oh how I long to study that face.  To photograph, to sketch, to paint, to record, to dig back into the mists of time from whence it emerged.  It's all mystery and magic.  It pulls me in and embraces me.  Besides, the orange juice with the straw in it is fresh squeezed and they have the best bacon here.  I'm staying.  This my fireside, this is my home.

Do not fear the winds of adversity. Remember: A kite rises against the wind rather than with it.

* A Home Depot Day

It was a 'Home Depot' day today.  YES, there is one close to SMA, about one hours drive.  We hired our driver Luis again and off we went at 8:00 am.  By 9:00 am, we were focused, driven and 'on'.  List in hand we trundled up and down the isles selecting all the essentials to set up a new home.  When you build or buy a home here it is 'bare'.  There are no cupboards, shelving or light fixtures.  I chose the light fixtures for the bathroom today, all three ceiling fans and track lighting for the kitchen.  Not as much choice as we would have in Canada or the US.  I will probably end up spray painting some of the fixtures with high heat spray paint.  The ceiling fans are simply white with no light.  I'm hoping they will disappear while keeping the air circulating.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I need air - the kind that moves.  I purchased hoses for the three hose outlets, a basic set of tools, pots for five bamboo plants Sylvia gave me when she divided hers.  There are hose holders, motion detector lights, a ladder, shower curtain and rings, drawers for storage, hose nozzles, a grab bar for the shower, shower holder for soap and shampoo, basic garden tools .. and so it went.  It took us two hours to accumulate the goods, and one hour to check out.  Staff decided with our three carts loaded to the hilt, we should check out at a special till where we would receive a "descuento" (discount).  On the way out, they check our carts, like they would do at Costco.  Here they are truly focused. They have very official looking uniforms.  This makes them feel powerful.  When I snapped a couple of shots, I was told "NO".  Every item has to be checked off.  They dug into bags and searched the bottom of our carts.  By the time we had the goods in the car, one hour had passed by.  We needed a healdo (ice cream).  Luis knew just the place and we rolled up to the back of an old pick up truck where two young men were selling home made ice cream.  Delicious.  Today I had chocolate.  Luis had some sort of 'cocktail', a little of this, and a little of that, piled high in a cup.  Sylvia and I chose cones.  By the time drove back to San Miguel and unloaded all my goods at de Luz, it was 2:30 pm.  It was a good day and we had fun.  I have some of the 'essentials' to begin a new life.

Sylvia delights in the gardening department.  The fig plant with the braided trunk which you see Luis wheeling around was $10.00.  It was the last one.  Sylvia saw it first!  Fair is fair.  Actually, it is absolutely gorgeous.
Sylvia and Luis at the counter arranging our discuento.

Three carts full

No photos Senora

Where's the rest going to fit?  We did get it all in.

"Remember today, for it is the beginning of always.  Today marks the start of a brave new future filled with all your dreams can hold.  Think truly to the future and make those dreams come true."  

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.
That will be the beginning."
Louis L'Amour

May 27, 2010

* Telavera - Cloud 29

Sylvia and I decided to take an entire day to shop in Delores Hidalgo - the Telavera Town!  What fun we had.  A driver was hired.  He was wonderful as he carried all the  items we bought out of the shops and to the car.  We stopped on the way into town at a factory called San Gabriel.  Massive.  Colour everywhere.  It gets a little overwhelming when it comes to 'decisions'.  We had lunch.  Pork with all the trimmings on tortillas ... put your own together.  A tradition here.  Delicious.   Then off for more bargain hunting.  We left SMA about 10:00 am and returned, exhausted and very happy about 5:30 pm.  Some photos.

This trip I was looking for special tiles.  I want to scatter about 5 hand painted tiles into  the hand made terra cotta tiles on the terrace.  I didn't buy any here, but will take a photo of them when I unpack to use them.
Yummy lunch.

The Lovely Sylvia and I enjoying a Mexican lunch.
More 'cloud 29' stuff - streets and streets of it.
Poor Luis, our driver, carrying the 'bootie'
Time for helado  (ice cream)  ... the home made kind.
One of Sylvias' prizes.  New home for a Boston fern.

More photos of the loot later, when I unpack.  I took my things over to Quinta de Luz.  By the way, de Luz was robbed last night.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  Over the back wall, load up all the painting material and other goodies used to work on the house, break the lock on the front gate, close the gate neatly behind them, and voila .... a neat little break in.  Luckily, and believe me, I am very grateful for this, none of my personal possessions were touched inside the house.  There is now a guard taking care of de Luz at night.

These are some of my thoughts on lying, stealing, cheating and drinking, three of which have been a huge part of my life lately.  They are just WRONG!  They have changed my life in some way forever.  They have altered forever the beautiful way in which I was able to trust.  I'm still processing - there is probably much more.  The fourth, drinking - well I have nearly perfected the Sangria.
"I would like to to tell you what I think of lying, stealing, cheating and drinking.  If you are going to lie, lie for a friend.  If you are going to steal, steal a heart.  If you are going to cheat, cheat death.  And, if you are going to drink, drink with me."  ~  Anonymous

May 25, 2010

* Hummingbirds and Puppydogs

A hopeful meeting at Quinta de Luz this morning with the contractor.  If all goes well I may, just may, be able to move in Sunday or Monday.  Work will carry on outside.  It will be dusty.  It will be 'home'.

After that I ventured to Centro for a meeting with others who are involved with this 'con' I have experienced.  Worse than first thought.  In the beginning, they thought I was the only one involved.  Now three others have come forward who are in the same unfortunate position.  It is thought these 'transactions' have been going on for about a year.  They are in shock.  It was good to know.  It helped me make an important decision.  With this many people involved, the hope of getting any of my money back has diminished to a mere trickle.  Do I want to spend the next years of my life with lawyers in courts, spending money I no longer have, with no hope of any financial return on my investment?  An investment of my precious time, my health, my stamina, my determination, my heart and soul?  Definitely NOT!  It made my decision easier.  I will move forward, doing what pleases me with what remains.  I simply don't want to waste my energy in that way.  These years of my life are too important. It's all about 'letting go'.

Having made that life altering decision,  I went shopping.  That's what girls do when they are under a tad of stress.  Found some lovely 100% cotton clothing - nice outfits for this hot, hotter and hottest weather.  I was pleased.   From the dress shop to the hairdresser.  Ah yes, nothing like a hair cut to give one a lift.

Came home to dinner on the terrace.  Home made bean soup with fresh baked croutons.  Salad of tomatoes, onions, avocado, cucumber, served with fresh from the market (still warm) tortillas.  The hummingbirds entertained us and the dogs watched from the upstairs balcony.  It's been a good day.

I'm outa' here!
Paloma and Benjie

"You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it. Admit your 'weaknesses' and watch them morph into your greatest strengths."
Neale Donald Walsch

As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong, Donna, or you, too, will break.
-- Julia Butterfly Hill 

May 23, 2010

* Quinta de Luz

No question, de Luz and I have experienced our problems of late.  Are we going to make it?  You bet!  Slow but sure.  Perhaps, this next weekend, if the builder is able to put on a last big 'push', I may be able to move in.  The outside terrace and garden will not be anywhere near finished, however, with a lot of luck, the inside may be livable.  The process has been slow.  I am learning so much so quickly about living here.

An early morning walk today, before the sun felt like it was sitting two inches above my head, found me at the house.  Some progress has been made this week.  Not what I had hoped for.
The juliet balcony is on and primed.  It will look nice when painted black.

The stairs have been painted blue.

The bricks for the terrace walls have been delivered.  The rebar for support is stored on the roof.

The whole around the cistern has been dug out.  Completely by hand I might add.

Tiling has begun in the bathroom.  I love the border!

I wanted to show you my bathroom window.  Is is not gorgeous?

The addition of a bench in the shower is going to be useful.  I think the shape is very functional as well.

Sink is being installed in the kitchen.

The floor is antiqued, the crack in the chimney has been repaired.

You can see what the floor looks like with the sealer on.  Very rich.

Tomorrow I'm going shopping for ceiling fans, track lighting and some tools.  Not much to begin with, a hammer mainly.  I want to put up some wire to train vines after I get them planted.  Sylvia and I are going to try a new little Jamaican restaurant for lunch.

I could not agree with the following quote more.  It is an integral part of my belief system.  It has not always been a part of me.  It did not come naturally because of my conditioning.  I had to work for it.  I have it now.  It is serving me well through this 'bump in the road' I am experiencing.  I have been blessed that I wanted and was able to do 'the work'.  It doesn't mean the world changed in any way.  It only means I can handle it perhaps a little bit better. 
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company, a church, a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past ... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is plan on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.  And so it is ... we are in charge of our Attitudes."  ~ Charles R. Swindoll
I received this with a bouquet of flowers from a dear friend in Australia.  Thought I would share with you.
Happiness keeps you Sweet,  
Trials keep you Strong,  
Sorrows keep you Human,  
Failures keep you Humble,  
Success keeps you Glowing,  
But .... Only Friends ............
 Keep You Going !!! 

* Gringos in Mexico and Garage Sales

The entire concept of garage sales here in Mexico gives the whole idea new meaning for me.  Gringos are in Mexico.  Gringos miss their 'land of plenty of choice stuff'.  There are lots of things we are very used to in our lives which are not available here in Mexico.  Gringos move on. They can't take all their 'stuff'.  They create a Garage Sale.  Some here are by 'invitation only' for the first day.  The gringos who remain, 'move in', line up, wait, and do everything but stampede when the gate or door is opened.  They are craving what they left behind.  This morning there was quite a gathering outside the small door in the Colonia San Antonio.  Everyone looked calm.  Everyone smiled and chatted amongst themselves.  It's all a ruse.  Each person is planning and plotting.  How can I get ahead in this line without appearing 'pushy'.  What will my plan of attack be once I am inside.  Will I do a 'walk about' first.  Will I try to pick up everything I'm interested in and carry it with me while I decide?  What to do, What to do.  I'm sure the veterans of these sales have found out what works best for them and stick to a fairly general plan.  I'm still working on that. The small door is unlatched.  I watch Sylvia.  She's determined.  Gently and unobtrusively, she picks up her pace and is soon close to the front of the walking line.  I smile.  I observe.

Inside the walls, you never know what to expect.  It could be cramped quarters.  It could be a huge colonial home.  It could be acres and acres of tennis courts and casitas (like it was today).  Always a surprise to me what awaits my gaze behind the walls.

Today the sale took place in a casita within the walls.  Terraces full of plants and other ornamentation.  Quite honestly, I was a little overwhelmed.  It's because I don't really know what I 'need' yet.  I am not yet aware of what will fit where.  I haven't 'lived' in my space so I don't really have a sense of what I'm looking for.  It will come after I have moved in.

Straight in the front door I am greeted with beautiful yard goods.  Quilting came to mind.  Pillows popped into my head. Curtains?  I look.  It confuses me.  I don't have enough information yet.  What colours do I want.  What style do I want.  Are you serious about quilting again - or was that just a pop-in, pop-out thought?  Moving forward there is furniture.  Two lovely carved wooden chairs with arms.  Will I - won't I?  Move on ... into the back garden.  Greeted by plants, pots, lanterns, old windows, rusty old stuff -- an artists dream.  So many things, so many of them without prices.  Were they for sale?  Some things were marked 'not for sale'.  Confused again.  I was drawn to an old rusty round hand made bird cage hanging in a tree.  Still wired on very securely.  I climbed over benches and plants.  Yes -- I was in love.  I began to unwire it from it's hanging place.  "By the time I get this undone, everything else will be sold!" drifted in and out of my head.  Kept on twisting and turning the wire until the cage was set free.  When the full weight of it hit my body, I nearly toppled over into the flower bed.  I wobbled back over benches and plants holding on tight to my new found friend.  It was HEAVY -- !  Whew.  I began my trek back into the house.  Dodging people and things, bumping into others.  Made it into the kitchen.  Four cobalt blue hand painted chairs greeted me.  I had a quick sit.  They were comfortable.  My back fit nicely.  I began negotiations.  "Would you consider selling two instead of four?"  While the woman pondered my question, a man stepped forward, offered her $100.00 for the four.  Sold she cried.  Sold!  I cried.  Ah well, not meant to be.  I rummaged through a box of ancient brass fittings, choosing an old door plate and a primitive brass door knocker of a hand holding a ball.  Paid for my items and staggered out of the building.  But wait!  On the terrace I spied an old iron base which the bird cage could sit on.  HMMmmmmm.  I wouldn't have to hang it.  It could sit nicely in a corner of the terrace with candles in it.  I grabbed it.  Maneuvering my way back in, I negotiated a slightly better price, and met Sylvia outside.  She was standing outside the wall smiling down upon her collection. It takes so little to make us happy.  We admired each others goods.  Sigh of relief.  We had completed another mission successfully.

Now, I know most of you are going to WANT this bird cage and stand.  Can't help it!  I'm absolutely in love with rusty old stuff.
"There are people who have money and people who are rich."  ~Coco Chanel

May 21, 2010

* A New Day ...

Thank goodness for some sleep and a new perspective on life.  I still feel very shaky and overwhelmed, however, somewhat better.  I plan a very quiet day full of naps and meditation.

There were three garage sales listed for today.  Sylvia and I decided to venture forth and see what we could find.  We put the sales in order of priority, called a taxi and off we went.  They all began at 10:00 AM.  Our first stop had a sign on the door.  "Sale postponed until tomorrow."  We thought this one seemed to have the most 'stuff' we might be interested in.  Off to the next one.  It was 10:00 am sharp when we pulled up. One man leaving the apartment was muttering 'you snooze, you loose'.  The small room was jammed.  Like rush hour in LA when traffic jams are, bumper to bumper, Mexican garage sales are people, swarming and swirling, bum to bum.  Hard to move and difficult to maneuver.  We managed however.  Women are gifted at being focused of mind and quick of hand.  The trick is to move quickly, while looking calm and nonchalant.  Eye contact with other shoppers is good.  While you hold them in your gaze, your hands work stealthily picking the table to your right clean.  Smiling and nodding, others don't know what happened.  By the time they get back to the business at hand, you have your arms full of the essentials which you can't live without.   I carried 2 small tables, a bird cage, pitcher and small mirror.  One woman informed me I needed a red flag, I was dangerous.  People did tend to part and make way for me though.  Sylvia bobbed and weaved through the crowd with her solid brass candle stick.  Sylvia is petite and low to the ground  She appears very unthreatening.   She could be an ankle biter and no one would be the wiser. In fact, perhaps that is her secret.  In the past, Sylvia has been very successful at garage sale-ing! At any rate, we did it! Our mission was accomplished.  We came, we bought, we came away with the booty.  I may be a little rusty at this, however it's like riding a bike - it all comes back in one big rush. We left the sale at 10:20.  The room was virtually empty.  Picked clean in minutes by focused women who know what they want. Amazingly refreshing.

These are the items I managed to snag for la Luz.  Photos follow.
  
A Pitcher for the Sangria.  Come on over, I am perfecting my recipe - $4.00

A little table for the side of my bed.   $15.00

Small antique mirror.  $4.50

Bird Cage for decoration.  $10.00

Round table for covered terrace.  I will paint it.  $7.00

If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.  ~Toni Morrison

It is the false shame of fools to try to conceal wounds that have not healed.  ~Horace

* One of those days

It was one of those days.  I don't think it was the days' fault.  Nothing out of the ordinary there.  It was me.  I woke up feeling 'off'.  My balance mechanism is out of whack.  I couldn't seem to adjust it.  Felt like I was spinning out of control.  Little, small, teeny things made me edgy.  Went to the bank to get cash to pay bills - movers, architect, etc.  It was a large amount.  Everyone seemed to be talking so loud.  The lady who authorized the amount said it out loud.  When we asked for the amount, it seemed to echo through the old colonial building for everyone to hear.  The woman who counted the money said each number long and loud.  I suspected the woman standing behind us could hear everything.  I asked for an envelope to put the money in.  I expected the teller would place the money in the envelope and hand it to me all in a nice package.  Instead, a plastic bag was shoved under the wicket at me.  Next came the piles of cash.  I stuffed it in, placed it in my shopping bag and exited, stage left.  Pit in my stomach now fully established.

I wandered in centro, trying to center myself. (no pun intended)  Looking for jewelery (costume) to wear here.  I came home.  Counted money.  Felt like the Queen in her counting house.  Made labels for everyone - wrapped money in packages, converted it into US$ equivalents.  Mind boggled.

Emails arrived.  Water damage is still not looked after at my condo in Victoria.  Letter from one of the residents containing phone numbers of insurance people.  Would I call them.  Would I complain.  Would I tell them how frustrated I was.  Would I threaten not to vote for their company at the AGM.

Email from real estate agent arrived.  Because of the huge loss I have taken, I will have to sell the condo to live.  Could I do something about having the repairs hurried along.  Time is flying by and we need to get this 'show on the road'.

Email from my friend who is receiving my mail.  Nothing is being forwarded to my US address.  Could I contact Canada Post and straighten it out.  She opened a couple of my letters so I could pay bills.  Property tax notice has arrived.  Need to pay on line.  Need more information.

Email from Architect arrived.  He wants an advance on the 'hold back' money.  He is begging and sounding very charming.

In the midst of all this I am trying to see what can be done about my budget.  I am making lists of essential things I will need for the house.  My car money is gone.  Can I still afford a car.  NO!  This really angers me.  My furniture money is gone.  Can I still afford furniture?  SOME.  It will take time now.  It will take garage sales.  I will have to save up little by little from my monthly allowance.  My Art Class money is gone.  Can I still manage that?  I'll negotiate this with Nina.  My Spanish Lessons money is gone.  How will I learn Spanish?  Can a squeeze a 2 week course of Warren Hardy out of this mess.  Don't know yet.  Luckily I have the Rosetta Stone (One of the best Spanish classes in a box you can buy) which was given to me by dear friends.  I know how big a blessing this is now.  My studio on the roof money is gone.  Can I still afford a studio - even a shell to work in?  NO.  My emergency medical money is gone.  I don't even want to think about that.

My boxes arrived today.  All my worldly goods.  It seemed to take so much effort to pack them.  Today when they arrived, they looked like absolutely nothing.  One box is missing of course.  It's still in Lardeo.  I will probably get it eventually.

A gentleman who looked after getting my belongings here from Laredo was going to pick me up and take me to the house.  We were to meet the moving men there.  He arrived.  His car had broken down.  We had to walk over to the house.  It was over 90 degrees.  I wanted to crumble.  I didn't.

When I arrived at the house the movers were waiting.  They stacked all the boxes under the kitchen counters.  Everyone suddenly was gone and I was alone.  I was struggling with my camera.  The memory card was locked.  I was getting in a little bit of a 'state' as I wanted to take photos of the doors so I could purchase the correct locks.  There was knocking at the door.  I opened it.  One of the movers stood there asking for "Propina".  I told him I didn't have any.  Why did he need propane anyway?  Did their truck run on propane.  If I did have propane, how would I get it out of my tank into there tank?  Huge mystery in my mind.   I said I was sorry 22 times.  When I came home, I shared the story with Sylvia who nearly fell down laughing!  I was still puzzled.  "Propina", I found out is a TIP.  They wanted money.  I was in such a state, what usually comes naturally to me here, totally slipped my mind.  I closed the door, struggled with my camera.  A head pops up over my 9 foot brick wall.  They are building next door.  He wants water.  I hook up the hose and say, help yourself.  Let me pay for your water to build your house.  I am a good neighbour!  I have tons of money - never an issue with me.  Pit in stomach now fully activated and hurting.  Entire body on edge.  Felt like something may give.

I lock the gate and walk home.  It's still 90 degrees - maybe 100 -- It feels like a hot oven in which to cook scones fast --- 20 minutes at 420 degrees.  I sweat, I walk, I sweat some more.  Home looks good.  More e-mails from architect.  Can he have the advance please?  I ask him a whole bunch of questions.  He answers.  I am now feeling like I may fly apart into a million pieces.  I write one last e-mail.  Sorry - I can no longer deal with this today ... maybe tomorrow.  I turn my mail to the 'off' position.

So, it's been one of those days.  I am still processing all of this.  It's not a pretty sight.  The more I process, the worse I feel.  I know 'this too shall pass'.  Still, my balance button is not working.  Who do you call when your balance button does not work?

The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you have lost it. ~ Anonymous

That might be the 'key'.  How do I get it back?

May 20, 2010

* The list

I picked up my armoire yesterday.  The shop is close to mega, the huge grocery store.  I volunteered to pick up the groceries, alone!  It suddenly dawned on me ... everything is in Spanish.  I don't know exactly what brands Sylvia likes.  This could be interesting.  I requested a list.   I asked Sylvia to be 'very specific'.  Here's the list she gave me.
I think it's brilliant!  Everything in photographs so I could simply look on the shelf and match it up.  Very easy and very effective. 

Yesterday afternoon the house was buzzing.  Odd and ends needed to be done.  A leak under the sink, a new latch on a door, the fan was 'wobbeling', trees needed new stakes.  Sylvia also wanted a planter built for her new trumpet vine.  It was again, amazing to watch.  Brick, mortar, and skilled hands.  A beautiful planter was built in no time.  The cost?  $30.00.

We are born to be happy, to be abundantly supplied with every good thing, to have fun in living, to consciously unite with the Divine Power that is around us and within us, and to grow and expand forever.  ~ Ernest Holmes

May 19, 2010

*Contemplating What Now?

“Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to
your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs
your soul.”
- Dr. Wayne Dyer

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become
strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately
we become enslaved by it.”
- Robert Heinlein

Contemplate:  "To consider thoroughly; think fully or deeply about."

I've been doing some of that 'contemplating' stuff.  Sitting quietly,  reflecting upon what has just occurred, how it is affecting me, how it may be changing my direction, what lessons I am learning, how I am changing because of it.  

Has it changed my my belief system?  No.  I believe with all my heart I am on the right path.  I never want to loose my faith in the human race.  I never want to loose my innate ability to trust, or see the good in my fellow man.  I will not stop believing in a loving and supportive Universe.  Do I believe we have life lessons to learn.  Do I believe we choose those lessons?   Definitely!  Would I approach the situation differently if I had to do it over again.  Of course.  I would have put myself first.  (One of my challenges.)  I would protect myself from the possibilities of what happened.  Therefore the results of my actions would have been different.  I have learned a valuable lesson.  I'm sure there will be other opportunities to practice what I have learned.  There always is.  In the future, I must not become complacent or 'lax' in my awareness.  This has all happened for a reason.

Will this change my focus?  Definitely.  It cannot help but do that.  When the market crashed a couple of years ago, I lost nearly half my investments.  Now, I have lost another 25% of what was left.  I am down to 'bare bones' living.   The huge change in the market terrified me.  I had my economic life planned out to a 'T' until I was 90.  I absolutely knew I could take care of myself.  I felt like I was in control.  You know what they say.  While you are busy planning, Divine Mother smiles and changes everything.  I learned to let go of the fear.  I learned to trust the Universe would care for me, perhaps not in the ways I had planned, but care for me nonetheless.  This time, oddly enough I am not afraid.  Fear is not a part of this experience.  It's much more about trust.  It's much more about following my instincts and my intuition.  A few times during this process, I had 'red flags' pop up.  I ignored them.  I 'wanted' to ignore them.  I didn't want to honour that 'pit' in my stomach.  Next time I will.

It may change my focus in other ways.  I may look more seriously at what I am passionate about.  I may work through the fear and doubt regarding my art.  I may set radical goals to put my creative abilities out there.  I may work hard, get 'fired up' about it, and make it happen.  I've been musing over an idea of combining words with my art in some fashion and intertwining them into a 'couple'.  Perhaps a book.  Perhaps classes.  Perhaps retreats.  Perhaps ????  This time, it's the ideas, not the lack of money which is causing me fear.  Fear I am 'no good'.  Fear I am not 'worthy'.  Fear I 'can't' or am 'incapable' of pulling it off.  I will be forced to look those fears in the eye and stare them down.  I will be forced to work though them.  There will be no going around them this time.  They are screaming.  Ignoring them again for long periods of time is not an option.
So, how will I face up to all of this?  How will I find the courage to work through these fears, set intentions and goals and see these ideas through to fruition?  Not sure yet.  Can't afford a coach.  That would be ideal.  Second thought ... perhaps it would not be ideal.  Perhaps the situation is meant to be just the way it is.  Perhaps assistance and encouragement and possibly a mentor will come from other places, not yet known to me. I believe when one is ready, the teacher appears.  I believe I am ready ... well ... almost anyway.   Who knows at this stage.  

All I know is I have creative ideas which have been screaming to get out for a very long time.  Fear has stopped me.  My intuition says these ideas could assist me with my standard of living.  My intuition says these ideas could bring me great joy.  My intuition says it is time to express through the fear and see what happens.  

These are difficult barriers for me to break through in this life time.  These are part of the lessons I have chosen.  I know it's time.  No doubt about it ... I'm scared spitless!

Five Truths about Fear Truth 1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow. Truth 2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it. Truth 3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it. Truth 4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else. Truth 5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
~  Susan Jerrers quote from 'Feel the Fear .... and Do It Anyway'

It may take 'baby steps', however I will fly!

The Universe plays strange, wonderful little tricks on me.  Like just now for instance.  I have written this blog.  I have been 'pondering' life.  It's 3:36 am.  My 'Note from the Universe" just flys into my email box.  It has the following message:
What really matters? What's really important? Why bother? Who cares? What's it all for?
Donna Parker. You, Donna, it's all about you. What you like and dislike. What you want and don't want. What makes you smile and laugh. What makes you learn and grow.

Selfish? How else could you shine your light? How else could you possibly hope to lift the world? How else could you be all that we dreamed you might be?
Donna, it's our turn!

Selfish of me -
    The Universe

What more can I say.  Hope you all have a wonderful day. xx

May 18, 2010

* Good News ..

Some good news from the meeting with my architect this morning.  He has been paid up to date.  (No monies missing there.)  Whew!  I still have to pay him the 20% hold back upon completion, however, that was expected.  I might be able to move into my house within the next week and a half.  They will still be working outside.  I don't mind.

It was an early meeting.  The air was fresh and cool.  Thoroughly enjoyed my walk.  Strolled over and spent a little time with my lovely neighbour Wendy.  She is off on a little journey to visit family.  When she returns, she may have a new neighbour.  Safe journey, Wendy.  Enjoy the moments.

Walking home I felt very weak.  It was a struggle.  I think I am going to stock up on electrolites and drink a bottle a day.  Seems to help.  Had more naps today.  Seemed to need them.  It ticks me off.  My energy levels have been so high.  This needing to nap does not agree with me anymore.  Still, it is what it is.  As Ivan would say .... "It's natural living."

This evening a friend, Maryjo, and a carpenter Moises picked me up and we went to the house.  Moises is going to build me shelves for the kitchen, and bathroom.  He is going to put doors under the terrace stairs so I can have a little bodega (storage).  When I purchase my lamps and ceiling fans, he will install them.  Today we are going to pick up the armoire and the old door.  Moises will gut the inside of the armoire and make it into a full closet.  He will also transform the old door into a table.  Today, Moises is picking me up at 11:00 am.  We will go and pick up the door, armoire and piggy trough so they can be transformed into useful and functional items.  It will be fun.

Guido is still enjoying my little terrace.  I often find him in the hammock.  That is why you don't often find me in the hammock.  Today I caught him peeking out.


Our 'babies' Paloma, Benjie and Habibi are doing fine and paying attention in class.

The gardenias are blooming.  The fragrance is mind altering.

"Live this day as if it will be your last.  Remember that you will only find 'tomorrow' on the calendars of fools.  Forget yesterday's defeats and ignore the problems of tomorrow.  This is it.  Doomsday.  All you have.  Make it the best day of your year.  The saddest words you can ever utter are, "If I had my life to live over again.  "Take the baton, now.  Run with it!  This is your day!  Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight.  Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again.  ~ Og Mandino (American Essayist and Psychologist, 1923-1996)

May 16, 2010

* Midnight in San Miguel

The power has been out most of the evening.  I had left the light by my bed on to know when the power returned.  Consequently I am wide awake at the moment.  I will do a short post. 

Had an art lesson on Saturday to keep myself in balance.  This intuitive painting very much intregues me.  It's a constant surprise.  I work at a fairly good speed, never knowing what my hand is doing, what colours it is going to choose, or where on the painting it will work next.  It is a free flow feeling.  I love it.  Saturday, I was surprised what came forward.  As you know, the previous week was not one of my best.  Intuitively some of that showed up in 'The Dancer'.  She is now 'well armed', she has gained knowledge and wisdom.  They are with her, around her, there for her, a part of her.  She's not done yet ... but getting there.
I try to begin a painting with as few restrictions as possible and let intuition be my guide, as I respond to what is developing on the painting surface. ~ Marilyn Hughey Phillis
This is what I am learning.

* A Whole New Food Culture to Explore

I have been dining like the Queen.  Perhaps better than the Royal Table.  I wonder if Lizzie has been made aware of squash blossom soup?  Poor Lizzie, if indeed she has not, surely she has been deprived of a great delicacy.

Coming home last last evening, mentally, emotionally and physically fatigued, I was met by Sylvia (a dear, sweet 'wannabe' southern belle - actually we are both southern belle wannabe's lately) and an exquisite meal.  Tapas:  Black Refried Beans and Salsa served with freshly made tortilla chips.  Squeeze fresh lime on that and you have a mouth watering appetizer.  Starters:  Squash Blossom Soup.  Entre: Poblano Chile stuffed with Shrimp Salad.   Dessert:  Dark, Dark, Dark, Delicious, Delectable, Delightful, absolutely Divine, chocolate.  One large square each.  Enough to savour.  Plenty to satisfy.

I don't know if Pablano Chiles are available where you are, however, I'm going to give you the recipe and a photo at the end.  If you are interested, the produce market will in all likelihood have them.

Again, the rains came last evening.  The clouds rolled in, thunder cracked and bellowed across the sky.  The rain drops came in the 'extra large' variety and made enticing sounds as they hit the surfaces of the house.  Candle light, wine, good food and good company.  A restful evening.  Just what I needed.

The power was off for a short while again last night.  That's three nights in a row.  I'm beginning to miss it if it doesn't happen.  So peaceful when there is no power.  No hummmmmm through the wires.

Oh, by the way, I am 'tweeking' my sangria recipe again.   For the one dear friend who visited us the year we lived in the Caymans - you will absolutely remember how good it was .... and how much we consumed.  Well, it dawned on me today, WOW .. Sangria would be enticingly wicked in this heat.  Naturally, it was invented here or in Spain or some other hot country.  So I began to play - because I'm not quite sure what the final perfect 'tweek' contained in the Caymans.  I remember guava juice was involved.  Today I bought orange juice, fresh limes, pineapple, oranges, a bottle of tropical fruit flavoured non alcoholic wine, Mexican brandy and red wine.  It was a huge experiment because I couldn't really find what I wanted on short notice.  Came home, mixed it up in certain proportions, and voila .. not bad!  I will continue to play and let you know the outcome.

For now, here are photos of our din din.  Miss Prissy, our beloved maid, (also known as our very imaginary beloved maid) left early today, and we had to take care of our own needs (Oh My!).  It was difficult, but we managed somehow.

Tapas:  Refried beans, fresh salsa and freshly squeezed lime on ultra fresh, right our of the pan, still warm, tortillas chips.

Squash Blossom Soup.  Absolutely delightful.   

Poblano Chile stuffed with Shrimp Salad

Dessert involves deep, dark, delicious chocolate.  One square of Hersheys Dark 60%.  Then, saving the best for last, we slowly savour one square of Lindts Dark 85%.  Sometimes we can find 90%.  Believe me, it's amazing.  One square satisfies me.   .... well, two squares really ....

This is what we are left with!  Still ..... 2 square of the very best for tomorrow night!

Here's the recipe.  See if you can find the Poblano chiles.  It's worth it!

Shrimp Salad Stuffed Poblano Chile with Beet Vinaigrette

Mexico is surrounded by a beautiful coastline whether you're referring to the Pacific, the Culf coast or the Caribbean, so it makes sense that much of its cuisine incorporates seafood.  This recipe omes from the coastal region of Veracruz.  It's quite refreshing and perfect for a summer lunch.  The best part though, is that you can prepare the different ingredients the day before and then assemble the chile right before serving.

8 poblano chiles

12      ounces small shrimp, cooked
1        cup almonds, lightly toasted
3/4     cup mayonnaise
2        cups apple, peele and diced
1        cup pineapple, peeled and dices
1/2     cup celery, diced
2        tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
          salt, to taste

1/4     cup vegtable oil
1/2     cup olive oil
1/3     cup vinegar
1        cup beet, roasted, peeled and diced
1        teaspoon salt
1/2     teaspoon black pepper
1/4     cup parsley chopped.

1.  Roast the poblano chiles.  set aside

2.  Place the cooked shrimp in a medium bowl.  Add the almonds, mayonnaise, apples, pneapple, celery, parsely and salt.  Stir.  Store in the refrigerator.

3.  To make the beet vinaigrette, place the vinegar in a blender and slowly add the oils.  Then add the cooked beet, salt and pepper.  Puree.

4.  To assemble the chile stuff each poblano with sufficient shrimp salad.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the beet vinaigrette onto each plate, covering the base.  Place the chile in the middle.  Sprinkle with parsley

Plan Ahead:
1 day in advance make the vinaigrette and roast the poblano chiles.

I must say everything we used was fresh.  It's my opinion that all fresh ingredients made a huge difference.  If you have never roasted a chile this is how you do it.  Cook over a gas flame, turning often, until most of the chile is black.  Place in a plastic bag and allow the chile to sweat.  After 15 or 10 minutes, take the chile from the bag and peel, scraping most of the burnt parts away.

I will be interested to see if any of you try it.  If you do, let me know what you think.  I personally, am in love.  These peppers are very mild, but still have just enough 'zing' to make it interesting.  Enjoy.

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

May 14, 2010

* Short and Sweet

A pocco (little) update tonight.  I have possession of my house as of approximately 7:00 pm tonight.  Payment for this 'privilege' was almost $9,000.00 US.  The rest of the huge chunk of monies I wired down to the real estate company account has been stolen and is all gone.  The agent is off somewhere on a huge drug binge.  I have no idea if anyone will ever see him again.  I have certainly had my standard of living adjusted for me, no question.  It will take some adjusting to.  On Monday, I have an appointment with a lawyer, however, I'm not sure it's worth it.  I will take a couple of days to decide.

Dusk was falling as we arrived at the house.  I took this photo from the roof.  It was a sad reunion.

Who can I trust? You have to invest in somebody and chances are you're probably going to invest in somebody who's going to deceive you. I've been conned a couple of times, but now I'm a little more savvy.  ~ Maggie Gyllenhall 

* Squash Blossom Soup

These are blossoms off squash plants ... you know ... the flower which eventually becomes the squash.  Here in Mexico, they are sold on the streets this time of year.  Apparently squash blossom soup is very popular.  Miss Sylvia is going to make me some.  YUM.

So what's really going on now that you've seen the beautiful photo of squash blossoms?  Frankly, I am absolutely at the end of my tether!  I am fed up.  I am angry.  More to the point, I am very very pissed off!  I am  antagonized, enraged, exasperated, furious, hot, huffy, irate, offended, provoked, resentful and .... I'm sure I could go on.  You get the picture.

I am sick of the high road.  I am angry I have had this much personal growth!  Now I have to act in a responsible manner.  There is no turning back.  Bull Shit!  I want everyone involved arrested and thrown in jail for the next 30 years.  You know they don't bring you food when you are thrown in a Mexican jail.  Let them rot I say.  I would send in extra rats just for their pleasure.  (The rats pleasure, that is).

I can't even talk about this today, I am so frustrated.  Let's just leave it at this.  My house and I are still separated.  I haven't seen my house for a week today.  I am insanely angered.  How DARE human beings behave in this manner.  No caring or compassion for our fellow man.  Only thinking of SELF!  What happened to our values.  Honesty?  Integrity?  I don't get it anymore.  I am very disillusioned.

"Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry.  BE ALIVE!  You will be dead soon enough."  ~ William
Saroyan