Sunday, December 23, 2012

I may be moving to a different blog format, one that I hope to integrate into our website. I have just posted in the new blog - here is the link:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Excuse #3

3. Family and friends have visited.

Well, guess what? Those family and friends left but now I have more - my brother and sister-in-law, and on Thursday, my cousin. A full house coming up. Some years nobody comes to visit, but we like the years when family is here. They all so enjoy the house and the island and we love to share it and have someone other than each other to talk to and cook for.

Over the Christmas holidays we had former guests and now friends Troy and Carreen come to stay. Carreen has a high-pressure job in Arizona, and Troy is a dog-trainer (really a dog-whisperer). Whenever they are here they get involved with Amigos de los Animales (Alison's house and dog rescue), and they give our brood here at the house lots of attention. Troy also gives tips on managing Loco, who is actually a pretty good dog but he does have his moments and room for improvement when it comes to walking on a leash.

It was timely that Troy and Carreen were here during the holidays because Miguel and I went up to our fourth level roof to watch the fireworks. The only access to the roof is via a long ladder propped against the edge of the wall. Up on that terrace are our water tanks. And nothing else. So when the ladder fell when we tried to come down after the fireworks, we were rather stranded. Nobody available to come and help us at 12:15 on New Year's Eve, no hidden key in case a neighbor could be roused, and no piece of rope. Nothing.

But Troy and Carreen aren't late-night partiers, so after watching the fireworks in town they decided to come back to the house and see what we were up to. The red Christmas jacket that Loco was wearing for the special day was a tip to Carreen that we hadn't gone to bed, rightfully thinking we wouldn't have left him roaming the house dressed like that for the night, and so they decided to head up to the roof to see if we were up there watching fireworks. Thank goodness! They saved us from who knows how many hours of sitting up there waiting to be rescued. We celebrated with chips and dip and cheese and crackers and called it a night. I wasn't sure if it was a good sign or a bad sign that we started the New Year like that, because the very next day we broke the microwave plate, a ceramic spoon that I hadn't even used yet, and a glass candle globe. I guess I should be glad nobody broke their leg jumping from that fourth level (that would have been Miguel because I wasn't about to attempt it), so maybe that means it was a good sign. The jury is still out.

In February we were delighted to have Jen, Miko, and 14-month-old Kyle come for a week. I was able to rent a pack and play and high chair which made the travel much easier for them, and made the week easier here at the house. Kyle adjusted to the pack and play for sleeping, the stroller and the golf cart for napping, and the high chair for throwing Cherrios on the floor.

Kyle's favorite toy turned out to be a ball about the size of a volley ball - he carried it everywhere and had a blast with it. His second favorite thing seemed to be a spoon I gave him to dig in the sand. Oh - he also loved the balloon we bought him at the circus, but unfortunately when we left the protection of the circus tent, the wind grabbed that balloon right off his stick and away it flew.

 Kyle loved riding on the golf cart, even when it was windy

Sometimes he was just worn out from all the adventures

What did he do while he was here? What babies are supposed to do - he explored his environment, played with simple toys, and dug in the sand

Sadly, the week went quickly and I wasn't able to convince Jen to stay longer. We'll just have to hope they come back again soon, and often.

Yesterday my brother and sister-in-law arrived, so we're looking forward to a week of relaxing and eating and lots of pictures. On Thursday my cousin is coming for the first time to Mexico, so that will be an experience for him - staying in the colonias and seeing some of the culture. The house is a great home base for those visiting - and some days nobody really wants to go anywhere, they just want to hang out here. That's ok with us, one of my favorite things to do is hang out around the house.

*Update on the kittens - they are also still hanging around the house. Still living in the back terrace area although they are free to play in the front garden. Each day they get braver but when they get tired, they take themselves to the back shed for a nap. Now I'm worn out from writing this blog, time for a nap myself!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy New Year!

I know I'm just 1 month and 24 days late, but better late than never, right? Because 'never' was definitely an option for this blog, I just don't seem to have the energy to keep blogging. Why? Because...(my short list of 7 excuses coming up):

  1. It's high season
  2. We've been busy with cats
  3. Family and friends have visited
  4. I'm putting my web business together
  5. I built a website for
  6. Keeping (or rather, getting) the house in order is a challenge
  7. I do all the communications for our online businesses
 If you want the details, keep reading.

#1 - It's high season. This means that every day we look at the schedule (based on a database I created) and determine who is checking in, who is checking out, who needs water, laundry, pool-cleaning, housekeeping, cleaning supplies, meet and greet, key retrieval, garden maintenance. Off -schedule are all the maintenance issues that arise on the fly: plugged toilets, broken toilets, broken a/c units, broken hot water heaters, electrical shorts, water leaks, empty water tanks, torn screens, broken water pumps, empty gas tanks, lost keys, clogged drains, plugged showerheads, broken mopeds. Capi's Property Management takes care of 8 properties along with our own 2 - that is a lot of maintenance, a lot of laundry, and a lot of coordination.

#2 - The week between Christmas and New Year's the stray female we call Rabana brought her family of 4 one-month old kittens into the garden, and they are still here, 2 months and many bags of cat food later. We have had a great time watching the kittens play and interact with each other and their mother - it has been an interesting lesson in animal behavior.

We had some chilly and rainy days so Miguel rigged up a little tent roof over a tree stump to give the kittens somewhere dry to sleep. One day Loco found a kitten that was in trouble - it had climbed inside a stack of 2 tires, but couldn't get out, and eventually it gave up and was just sitting inside the tire that was full of water. At this point the kittens had been wild and impossible to touch, but I was able to pick that kitten up, dry it off, and put it in a cage inside the house for an hour or so to get warm again. I fed it and then took it back outside to join its mother and siblings, none the worse for its near-death experience.

We have had our challenges with all these kitties in the garden. Blacky shows some aggressive tendencies, so at first I kept her on a short leash, and later, when the kittens got bigger and started exploring the terrace, I took Blacky over to her other house. The cat family quickly claimed Blacky's bedding.

Rabana also attracted 2 males who tried to mate with her, and they, along with another male who sleeps on a chair on the terrace, eventually grabbed and followed the kittens too. One night a kitten was crying from being held by a male, which caused us to catch the kittens (still wild) and put them on the back terrace. The one kitten I'd rescued from the tire was the only one that was easy to catch, as I'd been trying to get it used to being handled and it let me pick it up.

We went to the clinic for traps, and over the period of two weeks, we trapped all the males and Rabana, and they, along with the 4 kittens (all females!), have had surgery and can no longer add to the over-population of cats. We also caught another female we didn't know, but we took her in for surgery too. Almost all the adults cats were brought back and released in their territory, and they are doing fine. We are still waiting for the last male to come home (the one who sleeps on the terrace). It is nice to not have that odor of male territorial marking lingering around our front door and garden, some days it was pretty potent.

The kittens recovered from their surgery on the back terrace, and in the time they have been there, they have gotten used to being handled. I can't say they enjoy being handled, but they tolerate it, when we do manage to catch them. The one kitten is quite tame and loves to be picked up and petted, she will probably hang around and live on the property, not sure about the others. Right now they keep going to the back terrace to sleep and eat, even though there is food in the front garden and the side door is open for them to come and go. At night I shut them in back there, just to avoid any dangers lurking in the dark.

Well, it is 8:30, I need to get busy with our hopefully will get to excuse #3 in the next few days. Adios for now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh Happy Day

The golf cart is back! The golf cart is back in business. It was sick for so long - every week for the last 7 weeks. The final gasp (literally - on Monday) brought things to a head. And now it sounds healthy and happy. It worked all day and never complained. It hauled huge bags of laundry back and forth. It hauled the big water jugs. It hauled groceries. And finally, it hauled people - us, Loco, and a family of 4. No stalls, no stutters, no hesitations. Yeah! (don't ask about our finances - gulp).

I love having Chedraui here. I love the parking, the lockers, the selection of food, the happy vibe in the store. Happy, happy people. Feels like we were prisoners and have been given a reprieve. Freedom at last from bad product and limited stock. I was given a shopping list, and I found everything on that list at Chedraui. And for our home I found an oatmeal cookie mix, and little smokies (tiny sausages), and frozen green beans. Happy!

Driving into town today, I passed a man cleaning the street. He had swept up a pile of plant debris and loaded it on the dustpin (one of those with the long handle, great to avoid all the stooping). He had the dustbin in his hand and tried to empty it into a group of plants and the handle broke in his hand, leaving him holding about 4 inches of handle while the dustbin flew into the bushes. It was the grin on his face as it happened that I noticed - he wasn't annoyed, he was amused. He just picked up the shorter dustbin and kept on working. And I drove by and was grinning from ear to ear at the image. Little things amuse me, obviously.

Sitting on the cart this afternoon, waiting for Miguel to buy his lottery tickets, our carpenter came by. We chatted about this and that and it was a nice feeling to be a) recognized and acknowledged, and b) comfortable enough to carry on a conversation - on both sides. I speak pretty good Spanish, and that makes me happy.

Christmas is in the air here - lovely lights, decorated golf carts, singing in the parks. I passed at least two parties where people were sitting in the sidewalk eating cake. One party was at a kindergarden - a little girl was dressed up like a princess. The kids were excited, and the parents were enjoying the cake. The other party was in town - the municipal workers and their families, I think. For a minute I had a lump in my throat, remembering Christmas parties many, many years ago - at Norton company, where my dad worked. We all got dressed up and went to see Santa and get a present, eat cake, and run around the hall. Even when my daughter was young we had employee Christmas parties - used to be at the Skylon tower where the kids could go on rides, see Santa, pick up their gift, and eat cake. I like cake. Especially chocolate. This week I made a chocolate cake, with chocolate icing - I can buy the mix and icing at...CHEDRAUI!

Tonight we checked in guests - a family with two small boys. We left them at La Bruja, but then went back a bit later to give them a card with our contact information. The boys were hanging off one of the great trees that grows across the road from La Bruja - a small park-like area where local kids set up make-believe stores where they pretend to sell mud pies and fake ice cream sundaes. One of the little boys called me Sammy. Why he thought Sammy was my name, I have no idea; other than the "S" at the beginning, we have nothing in common. That made me smile. Actually, I think I've been grinning all day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's best not to ask

We took the golf cart in for an oil change and new filter - more than 3 weeks ago. We also asked the mechanic to fix the brakes, as we could barely stop when going forward down a hill, and could not stop at all when backing out of a sloped driveway. The cart came back, all happy with new oil - a purring motor. The brakes were tight but still much better than they had been.

And we've been paying for it since.

First something happened with the accelerator - we'd be driving along at normal speed and then suddenly the cart would speed up and start back-firing. Miguel would have to keep letting his foot off the gas in order to slow down - resulting in a very jerky ride. On, Off, On, Off - our bodies lurching forward each time. It came to a head the evening we were going out for rounds. We got to the corner on the block next to us, and the brake pedal hit the floor. No brakes, nothing, not even the little bit we'd had before we got them 'repaired'. We went back home and Miguel headed out alone on his moped. Loco was thinking that it was a short tour, he's used to going from one end of the island to the other.

The next day was Sunday and Miguel decided to try to drive the cart again. Still no brakes, but in the daylight, with light traffic, we were able to do our rounds using the jerky motion all the way (on, off, on, off). Our old golf cart didn't have brakes for a while either, and we really didn't need them most of the time. But with this cart and the problem with the accelerator, we needed brakes.

Somehow we managed. Until we got to the curve by the new Chedraui. There, on both sides of the street were groups of teens cheering and handing out candy to passing vehicles. With full acceleration and no brakes, we were dismayed that one of the kids came right up to me as we were passing by and tried to hand me some candies - unaware we were unable to stop or even slow down. Miguel told her to move aside - "no frenos!". She stepped aside and we blew past, backfiring as we went.

That was enough to rattle the nerves, we weren't going to take any more chances. On Monday the mechanic was called to come by and pick up the cart. Obviously he needed the cart at his shop - but how to get it there? He asked "no brakes?", and when I confirmed, he flinched but the next thing I knew I looked out the window and the cart was gone. I also asked him to fix the bucking bronco - the nasty habit the cart had of jumping whenever we took off from a dead start.

And so it came back in a day or so. "All fixed".

Or was it? After a trip out to Garrafon, we drove the carpenter to his place where the cart simply died. Since it was a Sunday, Miguel tried to fix it himself, without success. The next day, heading to Cancun, we sent the mechanic over to fix the cart, and if possible, leave it for us at the ferry. It was so nice to find the cart in the parking lot when we got back, "all fixed".

Until the end of last week, when we were out by the airport and suddenly the headlights went out. We pulled over, and Miguel fiddled with this and with that and finally found that the cable to the headlight switch had broken off and was just dangling. Being the electrician that he is, he found another orphan end and stuck them together and bingo - we had headlights! Off we went, continuing on our journey.

The next morning (Saturday), I was going to the market. I backed up the cart, put the gear in forward, and the cart was dead. Not a sound. Must be something electrical (hint: the headlight cables?). Another day without the cart, another day for no tour for Loco, another day for Miguel to do rounds on his own.

We called the mechanic. Please replace the switch for the ignition (which was in bad shape from kids playing with it), replace the light switch, and fix the electrical problem. By 4 pm the cart was back home. "All fixed".

Sunday the cart was great. Yesterday the cart was great. Until Miguel got a flat tire in the afternoon - but those things happen...sigh...

Today Miguel was out all day with the cart. Tonight was Loco's turn - he hadn't been on the cart since last Friday. I had baked pumpkin pie and had my hands full with dishes of pie to deliver to friends at two locations. I also had hold of Loco's leash. Off we went and made our first delivery. But when we tried to pull out of the driveway, the engine died. We had lights, but no motor.

Are you flipping kidding me? It was all I could do to protect the dish of pie, control Loco who was bouncing around on and off the cart, and hold the flashlight from my cell phone so Miguel could look under the seat. We also called the mechanic - he couldn't come until morning.

So we pushed the cart over to one of the homes Miguel manages. I collected the plate of pie, my jacket, my purse, and with a strong desire to give the cart a swift kick, we left. Miguel walked Loco home and I hailed a cab to make the pie delivery.

And that's all I have to say about it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bad memory

This morning I opened a new page to put up a new post. It's now a couple of hours later and I've completely forgotten what I was going to write about. And I can't think of anything interesting to put up instead, so I guess I'll just sign off and call it a day on this one. Hope you all have a great day!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cookies, cheesecake, and Friendship

About a month ago, during a stormy day, the neighbor's daughter brought us some rice with milk - a wonderful snack here, especially on chilly or rainy days. I have sent them brownies and cake in the past, but I got the idea that I would make some cookies.

I pulled up a toll-house cookie recipe (always remember that Friends episode where they tore their hair out looking for Phoebe's grandmother's secret cookie recipe - with the French accent they didn't figure out until the end that it was toll-house, and right on the package...hahaha).

While searching for the toll-house recipe, I found one for chocolate chip peanut-butter cookies too, and since I happened to have crunchy peanut butter on-hand, I decided to make a batch of those while I was at it.

The cookies all turned out great, but way too many for us. Some went to the neighbors (I put the cookies in the dish they used for the rice with milk - was taught to never return a dish empty (although I sure have, lots of times)). Some cookies were given to Miguel's daughter, some were given to Ed (a client who was here on his own for a month), and some were given to another client (along with some of my home-made lasagna).

The peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were the best, and from now on those are all I'm going to make - we love them and so does everyone else we share them with.

And the lasagna - one of our clients loves lasagna, and so I wanted to share some when I made it. In exchange, they made lasagna a couple of weeks later, and delivered it to the house, along with some gnocchis, a stick of bread and a nice slice of cake with chocolate icing. In exchange I made them some chicken vegetable soup, and sent it over along with some fresh rolls, and a few more cookies from the batch I made that morning.

I've also shared some soup and cookies with the carpenter who has worked so hard the last month. He didn't say anything about the food so I'm not sure he liked it, but I'll continue to share with him anyway, when I make something I think he will enjoy. He lives alone and I know he doesn't cook for himself, other than eggs.

We have exchanged meals with other friends too - they came for breakfast a few months ago for Miguel's chilaquilles (the best in the world). A month or so ago we went to their place for dinner - Italian night - baked ziti, Italian sausage, salad, and lime pie. Delicious!

Ed also came for breakfast one day - once again we did chilaquilles since we know he loves them. Then he took us to Cafe Hidalgo for breakfast, and a couple of weeks later we shared a delicious pizza from Barlito's. We couldn't just have the pizza though, we also shared the Anthony Panini (meatballs made with their own Italian sausage) - the best sandwich in the world.

On Thursday my ex-boss and his new wife came to the island for a day-trip. I took them all over the island and we ended the day with a shared meal on the beach at Sunset Grill. I ordered aztec soup and it was so flavorful - I will definitely go there again for that soup.

Last night we had guests who checked in at one of the homes and they were hungry so they followed us to La Bruja since we were going there anyway. We ended up sitting together and we ordered way too much food but it was all great - they loved it, and we found a lot of common interests and spent a very pleasant time.

Our clients that we exchanged lasagna with just made some cheesecake to share, so our evening rounds may involve a drop-in to pick up the dessert. It will taste great with our coffee later this evening. Now I'm subscribed to daily recipes from, and since I saved a cheesecake recipe that came to my email last week, I'm probably going to make that in exchange.

The recipe today calls for triple-dipped battered chicken. The calorie count is off the wall, but it sounds so good I'm going to have to make it soon. You can be sure I will not be short of people to share it with. Just have to figure out what to make for dessert (I bet peanut butter chocolate chip cookies would be just fine). Although Ed's wife Judy sent me a recipe for a chocolate chip cheese ball - since she's coming next month, I might have to make that and share it with her. She is doing some research so might need to include that dessert as part of her investigations.  ;-)

All this friendship has resulted in widening waistlines, but it's so much fun to share that I think it will be part of our routine now. In fact, I'm almost tempted to suggest a monthly food fest amongst our friends and clients - hosted at one of our homes, depending on who is here and when. We all have at least two things in common - we love Isla Mujeres and we love animals. I guess we also have a third thing in common - we love to eat good food and we are all good cooks (is that four things in common?). We'll see how it all unfolds over time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My life as it is today

Golf cart is back - hopefully all is fixed, we'll go out in a bit and take it for a drive. Need to pick up laundry and meet with the owner of one of Miguel's homes.

Soup is made and consumed. Dishes are done. Kitchen shelves are cleaned.

Animals have been fed. Chicken scraps were put out for the street animals.

Bed is made. Laundry is done. Living room is vacuumed.

Referral letter written for former boss. Access databases are updated. Quickbooks is updated. Online banking transactions are done.

Why do I still feel there is so much pending? I rarely make a dent in the clutter, the stuff that needs organizing. On the other hand, I realize my time on this earth to do all that organizing is dwindling, and in the end, who will care that I was organized? That my cds and dvds and photos and books are all neatly catalogued, like in a library. Who lives like that anyway? I think I need to forget all that, and just put stuff away and try to remember where I put it so I can find it if and when I need it. That is always the challenge, remembering where I've put things. So many places to tuck stuff little time to hunt...some things will be lost forever because while I'm looking for them, I'll come across something else that will make me forget what I was doing and that will be that. So that is my future, I guess...staying unorganized and looking for stuff. Oh well...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Working like a dog

Loco's #1 passion is to go with us on the golf cart; he loves it  more than food. And although he hates water, he doesn't care if it's raining, he still wants to go with us. On Monday and Tuesday it was almost impossible for us to get out to take care of business due to very heavy rain, so we made Loco stay home for most of our trips.

But yesterday, he was not to be denied, he was sitting by the gate patiently waiting for us to get organized and get out on the road. By 9 we left the house, leaving Loco home as we planned to run some quick errands and he would have been in the way. He was not pleased, he tried everything to go with us, including hiding in the garden instead of coming when called. But in the end we had our way and Loco was left behind.

At 11:30 we were picking up laundry when Cablemas called to say they were headed to one of the three houses we'd reported with internet issues. We stopped at the house to pick up the laptop and Miguel wanted to take Loco too. Happy dog!

As we were approaching the first house, we saw the Cablemas truck pulling away - we'd taken too long to get there and they weren't waiting any longer. I tied Loco to the back terrace, making sure he couldn't reach the ledge of the patio and jump off, as he did once before (lucky he didn't hang himself). While we did some things around the house, waiting for Cablemas, Loco sat and watched the lizards playing in the beach plants. Eventually I moved him to the front of the house and attached him to a concrete block so he couldn't run off. He loved that view - the iguanas were right across the street and there was a nice patch of sun on the sidewalk for Loco to bask in.

Finally Cablemas came back, fixed the internet, and we all packed up and headed to the second house.

Loco loves the second house because there is a lizard living somewhere in the house. I suspect it might be in the maid's closet because Loco spent most of his time sniffing under the door. When he got tired of that he stood at the front door and watched the gardens, patiently hoping for a lizard to run around. We were at that house for a good hour trying to get the internet going, but Loco didn't mind.

Finally off to the third house where Loco sat tied to the golf cart. This was a short visit because the internet issue turned out to be a downed cable - nothing the technician could do except report it to the office.

Off to La Bruja for lunch/dinner. Loco has spent hours sitting on the golf cart at La Bruja, he is so patient - maybe because he knows he will usually get a piece of chicken when we are done. Yesterday a child was trying to fly a kite, and that caused Loco some stress as the kite hit the golf cart and he didn't like it. During our meal we got a call that the check-in at another property needed something, so we gobbled down our meal and decided to go straight to the condo rather than drop Loco off at home. We were probably a good half hour at the condo, leaving Loco on the golf cart, where he made himself comfortable on the front seat.

Finally it was time to head home - 4:30 pm. All day on the road for us, and 5 hrs for Loco. Miguel wasted no time flaking out on the bed. I fed the animals and joined Miguel - we both went right to sleep, with Loco resting in his usual place - under the bed.

At 6 we dragged ourselves out of bed to make our final rounds for the evening. I didn't think Loco would be interested but he was right at the door as soon as he heard the jingle of my purse keys. When we finally got home for the night, Loco was done - he flaked out for the rest of the evening.

This morning, guess who was raring to go again?