Sunday, February 28, 2010

the non-tsunami alert

There was a flurry of activity in the pueblita yesterday morning as news of the earthquake in Chile and the impending tsunami blew through town. I had been monitoring the weather reports carefully for any news about tidal activity along the Pacific coast but the only place that was mentioned was Malibu, about 2000 miles north of here. We deduced from all evidence that we would not be affected and so went about our daily rounds. Others in town, however, especially those with homes directly on the beach, took a different view and packed up and left. There was a 1-foot tidal "surge" in Manzanillo, 35 miles north, but otherwise absolutely no change in tidal activity. There was never any alert or warning here.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to contemplate what we would have done if there had actually been any danger. It would have depended on what was forecast. Huge, monster waves that would have engulfed the entire town? Get outta Dodge, no question and quickly. But a moderate surge, 6' to 10'? We are two blocks back from the actual surf line, on a very slight incline, with most of the living area on the second floor (all the better to see the surf and what it's doing). A surge of that magnitude would probably not have affected us except perhaps to make a mess of the downstairs garden had it seeped under our front gate. We have talked about an evacuation plan in case of another big earthquake like the one in 2003 that did so much damage in Colima, Tecoman, Armeria and here. We just happened to be up in Guadalajara when it hit and did not go through the trauma of the event. The house suffered no real damage; a few cracks here and there but that was all. Of course this evacuation plan depends on the garage not falling in on the car, the garage doors being operable, the roads being open and clear, and no one else clogging up the highway. Some plan!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

the alex chronicles

It's been almost two weeks since daughter Alex arrived to spend time here with us. We were so busy while she was here ~ going here and there, shopping, talking, reading, eating and sleeping ~ that I abandoned the Blog and concentrated on having a good time with her. On both Mondays of her visit we made our pilgrimage into Armeria to the tinagues as usual, and on both Sundays it was tacitos de lengue, her absolute favorite. We went up to Suchitlán Tuesday, stopping first at the exquisite little museum in Nogueres where there is a beautiful collection of pre-Columbian Colima dog statuary. There is also a thriving children's art school,

this being their latest display. Then on up to Los Portales, the lovely restaurant in the remaining gardens of an old coffee plantation. Chile relleno picadillo for me, half portion of birria de res for Mr. C., and both a picadillo and a queso relleno for Alex. I walked off without my blood testing machine which meant we had to go back on Friday to pick it up, so on the way home we stopped in Colima at Los Cronos for lunch.

On Wednesday we let Alex sleep in while we tore off to Manzanillo to renew our Mexican Ex-Pat passports, the FM-3. This is usually a month-long ordeal where we go in, fill out all the paper work, turn in some documents, pay the fee, then come back in a month to pick it up. But technology has invaded the immigration service big-time. We got everything done in 3 hours and walked out with our renewed documents. We won't have to show up again until next year. That evening Alex and I went off to the weekly domino game where she did herself proud. We had been playing every day since she arrived so both of us were in good shape to meet our opponents. Thursday the weather wasn't so hot so she spent the day in the hammock working her way through the stack of books I had left on the bedside table. Friday it was up to Colima and Suchitlán. To Dago's for dinner that evening. She got the whole weekly ritual as we live it here. Saturday and Sunday were also quiet.

A flurry of excitement on Monday, here in the casa. While writing a check to Alex to reimburse her for all the goodies she had brought at our request, I noticed that I was missing a notation in my check register. So I logged on to my bank account and, WOWZA! Someone had charged $896.10 worth of computer hard/software on my account! WTF?? Calls to the bank, calls to the credit card company, calls to PayPal (where the charge had been made). I think I have covered all the possible bases; card cancelled, affadavit signed and return swearing I didn't make the purchase. This is the first time this has happened to me. You hear about it but think the odds are so huge that you'll never be hit. Alas, my number (so to speak) came up. It will take about 30 days to settle this claim. Meanwhile, I hope the perp's computer has a complete melt-down.

Monday evening we went to the party over in the big yard at Neighbor and Mrs. Nelson's, just around the corner.

It was a pot-luck affair, starring tatemada pork stew, featuring rice, beans, handmade tortillas, salads (including Alex's best-ever cole slaw), lots of good snacks beforehand, and a couple of cakes and some really rich brownies for dessert. Music, laughter, good food, followed by swarms of mosquitoes that drove everybody home about 8:30.

Tuesday was departure day for Alex, and on her birthday, no less. Not the greatest gift I could possible think of, but the previous 10 days had been one big party! It was such a treat to have here here for 10 days, the longest vacation she's taken in years, and unencumbered by family or work or anything mildly distracting. Plenty of time to read and swing in the hammock and doze. No swimming though; too cold. And besides, big remodel going on over at Jack's casa so he emptied the pool. He's having a new roof put on the place. Believe me, it needs it. A massive undertaking that will last about 3 months, but at least when it's done big chunks of cement won't be falling from the ceilings onto guests sitting on the terraza. Tuesday afternoon we drove over to Manzanillo, got Alex checked in for her flight, hugged farewell, and came home.

It's mighty quiet around here, except for the jack hammer and sawing and noise of the rubble sliding down the chute into the waiting truck across the way at Jack's. And of course the racket coming from Javier's surf board emporium around the corner. This guy is a genius with fiberglass but Lord! such a din!

On Tuesday we are heading up to San Miguel de Allende for a week, then on to Patzcuaro where we have rented a little casita for an additional week. Home on the 16th just in time to greet our friend Liz who arrives from Baltimore to thaw out for a few days. It will be nice to be away from the beach for a bit although I know I will be eager to get back to the sand and the salt, even though there are all sorts of delightful things to see and do in those two cities. Come along with me and we'll share the adventure.

And now it's time for the opera.

Friday, February 26, 2010

don't forget the opera

Much has transpired here in the Mexican tropics over the past week. Yes, I know. i have been remiss. I'll fill in the blanks soon. But i just want to remind all you readers that tomorrow's opera is La Bohème. Mimi and Rodolfo go at it at noon (our time). You won't want to miss it. After listening, I'll write and post photos.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

tomorrow is National Margarita Day!

Just in time to celebrate this great, unheralded holiday, Neighbor Nelson and Mrs. N. Nelson are having a party tomorrow night. It will also be an early birthday party for Alex, who departs back to the US on Tuesday. I will fill in a week's worth of frenetic activities soon, but right now we are much too busy to take time out to write.

Have one for me! And make it with Herradura Añejo!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

On this manufactured celebration, a boon to See's, Hershey's, Hallmark Cards and rose growers everywhere, I wish you a happy day filled with hugs, kisses and the blessings of loving and being loved. I, for one, will have my Valentine's gift waiting for me at the Manzanillo aeropuerto at 3 PM tomorrow afternoon. Not even Tiffany's could top that!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Juan Diego does Donizetti

If you want a preview of what's on tap for tomorrow's opera, Fille du Regiment with the sensational Juan Diego Florez, listen here for a sample. To my relatively easy-to-please ear, this is one of the most beautiful and spirited tenor arias in any opera. It's not as breathtaking as Nessun Dorma but it's close. So tune in on Saturday morning and get ready to enjoy a great sing!

Much bustling around the Casa de los Sueños as we get ready to welcome daughter Alex on Sunday for a 10-day visit. She hasn't been here for about 5 years; much has changed. New floors, new kitchen, new patio, new paint job. And I think this may be her first "solo" vacation is many years; no kids, no spouse. Heaven! The guest quarters are waiting for her, stacks of books on the bedside tables for her lying-around pleasure, windows and screens cleaned (that's such a nasty job you have to have a really good reason to do it). The foccacia is about to be put together, shopping list is made for our trip to Manzanillo before we pick her up out at the airport in the late afternoon. I just hope we have good weather for her stay. She deserves it after spending a wet and cold winter in Long Beach.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

tapas or Super Bowl?

Sunday we went to a great party that was billed as a tapas party but toward the end had a distinct Super Bowl air to it. Whatever it was it was terrific. Great food contributed by the hostess, of course, and also by the guests. Everyone was to bring something that resembled those delicious little botanas served up in Spanish bars and cafés. Quite an eclectic selection; everything from tsaziki to Kraft singles and Ritz crackers.

Roasted tomatoes with garlic, goat cheese, roasted jalapiños

Raw vegetables that had been marinated over night in a delicious dressing. I spent a lot of time at this dish!

Five different cheeses, each one better than the last.

Lots of interesting wines from Mexico, USA, Chile and France, too. In general I would say it was a "tasting" party all the way around, and everything tasted wonderful.

Round about 6 o'clock many of the guests congregated in front of the TV to watch the game but it didn't seem like a very dedicated crowd. People just wandered by, gave a glance, and headed back to the tables to graze on the goodies. The party was hosted by a couple with a lovely beach front home. Big, open rooms, lots of mingling space, a screened-in patio (no mosquitoes at this party!), and a great dog, Sammy, who strolled through the crowd from time to time, hoping some goodies had dropped on the floor. He finally gave up and stretched out on the patio, bored yet patient, knowing when we all left he'd have his house back and probably his dinner would be served.

At 2:30 AM Monday morning it started to rain again, just lightly. By 7:30 it had stopped but the sky was filled with beautiful big clouds and gorgeous light. Quite a spectacular start to the day. Worth getting out of bed to see.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Old School

I was reading this book while in Tlaquepaque and came across a bar and restaurant by the same name. Unfortunately, I erased the photo before it ever reached the blog site. What caught my eye about it was that the font used in the bar's name was the same as that on the cover of the book (Collins OE? Burgundian?). But of course that is now lost for your inspection. The book, however, is readily available and I highly recommend it, especially to any readers who are interested in the education of a writer.

NOTE: It's Saturday morning. In the night I remembered where I filed the photo of the Old School bar and restaurant. Here it is. I guess, now that I compare the two, the font isn't quite the same. But close enough for me to have noticed some similarity.

Another gorgeous day today. First thing, laundry. It is sure to get dry. Tonight, dinner at Dago's. Another big pile of succulent shrimp done just the way I like it. And good fellowship, too, as always.

Tomorrow's opera is Simon Boccanegra with Placido Domingo in the title role, one of his signature operas. Tune in and enjoy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

look! up in the sky . . .

What is that big yellow thing? Good grief! It's the sun, after four days of clouds and rain, el sol is back. What a welcome respite.

It started raining Saturday in the late afternoon and kept it up off and on all night. The sun was out ~ barely ~ on Sunday morning when we went into Tonala. It was cloudy when we went to El Tacote, but rained heavily Sunday night. It had cleared up a bit by the time we left and between there and here, just a few occasional sprinkles. It started raining here Monday evening and has kept it up for 3 days and nights, including a 2-hour sheeting downpour with strong winds between 1:15 AM and 3:30 Wednesday morning. I jumped out of bed and moved furniture, closed doors and louvers to keep the water out. Then Mr. C got up and did more of the same and laid down beach towels in front of the living room door. When he got up he found the kitchen flooded with about 1 1/2" of water. He swept and mopped and finally got it all out. A couple of hours of calm, then it started again. The skies were dark, the wind cold and clammy, and everything is damp and musty.There was standing water everywhere that had to be swept off the terrazas down into the gardens. We won't have to water for awhile. The turtle who lives in the garden was overjoyed at all the water; he was out wadering around and having a fine time. New crop of bugs soon.

This went all all day yesterday and through most of the night. It was overcast and grey again this morning. We were about to come down with a bad case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder!). We went off to do errands in the gloom but about 10:30, the sun broke through bringing with it bright light, blue skies and warmth. The breeze is up but not at hurricane force. We've got our beach back. For how long I don't know. The forecast is for more rain, not only here but all over Mexico. So we'll enjoy it while we can.

I had no internet connection yesterday so couldn't put up a birthday remembrance for my beloved sister. She would have been 63 years old. Instead, she will be forever 62. I looked carefully at a photo that my niece had put up on her blog that was taken when she checked into the rehab clinic where she eventually died. Yes, there's a "smile" on her face, but as I examined it she seemed to be gritting her teeth, gathering strength for yet one more ordeal, one more hospital stay, one more struggle with pain. I miss her every day but I rejoice in her release. I hope she's kicking up her heels in celebration, wherever she is. I miss you, Vicky.