Tuesday, November 30, 2010

this is not going to be easy!

I am standing on the third floor with the LapMac perched on a serving shelf so I can get the signal for the internet. This is NOT the way to do this. But we seem unable to use the computer without these gymnastics. I don't know if it is our receiver or our cable. But nothing works inside. We'll have to take the equipment to the computer store in Tecoman to get it all tested.

Meanwhile, all is well. It's about 80º with calm seas and a high blue sky. Tomorrow morning begins the 12-day Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. That means fireworks at 5 AM. It also means charming little shrines to the Virgin at homes throughtout the village. Photos as I get them.

First guacamole as a before dinner treat coming up soon. More later.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Topolobampo to Cuyutlán

We are here, we are safe, we had a completely uneventful trip. Arrived at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. No internet as the house; something isn't working. But perhaps by the weekend we'll get it sorted out.

From Topo to Tepic is a long day; 8 hours with a couple of gas stops. When we got off the toll road we drove into a huge traffic jam occasioned by (a) a stalled bread truck on the off-ramp and (b) a police roadblock just beyond where four lanes of traffice had to merge into one. But we finally got shut of that mess and headed for our favorite hotel. We drove up only to find it boarded up, looking every bit like it had gone out of business. But the barricade was covered with posters that I couldn't read because we went by so fast. Around the block and back, this time we pulled off the street and learned that it is undergoing renovation but is open and if you just turn in (way back) there you can fine the office, etc. I walked over to the night watchman's office to check, found an employee who got into the car with Mr. C and together they did a few fancy traffic maneuvers to get the car back where it needed to be. We checked in, found out that the main renovations were to the two dining rooms. As a result, they were closed except for a little outdoor cafe set up on the patio outside our room. By 6 o'clock when we were hungry the cafe had already shut down and packed it in for the night. But that was fine; another yummy turkey sandwich and a bottle of wine and it was time to go to bed. There was no internet available; it had become a casualty of the remo.

Left Sunday morning for a fast trip to Guadalajara. Stopped at the CostCo/Mega shopping center for some last minute items we can't get around here, and then headed for home on the last leg of a very long trip. We pulled into our driveway at 2 PM, and it sure looked good. Chuy and Fernando had set up the house for us; cushions on the sofa, chairs and tables where they belong, beds made, towels out. It's as though we had never left. As an additional treat, Chuy had made a big pot of her to-die-for chiles picadillo for our dinner. That an a cold Indio is all a body needs. The garden looks beautiful; everything survived the summer rains and heat.

I had a good night's sleep, vaguely aware of the low murmur of the sea, a few dog barks and cat screams, and the rumble and whistle of the train speeding by on the edge of the village.

I'm home!

Friday, November 26, 2010

San Carlos to Topolobampo

Yes, this is really coming to you live from Topolobampo. The last time we were here the hotel had no hot water. Now the place is all wired up. Amazing.

Another easy trip today. We left San Carlos at 8:30 and arrived here at 2 PM. Only one checkpoint. The policeman, a roly-poly chap with curly back hair stuck his head in my window and said, "You Americas?" We said yes, he smiled broadly and said, "OK, good-bye." And that was it.

We'll stay in for dinner tonight ~ sandwiches made with turkey we brought from Alex's feast, either some wine or beer, and a big avocado. Tomorrow morning we'll be out of here early as we have a long slog, almost 500 miles to Tepic. More from there tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tucson to San Carlos

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. We have made it safely to San Carlos so right there, we have much to be thankful for.

We pulled away from the hotel at 6:45 this morning, bought a NYTimes, and headed for the border. It was 30º and the sunrise was spectacular. My camera, of course, was buried somewhere in the mid-section of the car so you’ll just have to believe me.

At the first check point the Border Patrol has laid out a cement barricade maze that you have to drive through. We made it without scraping up the car. We drove past the various lights and alarms. Got the red light and set off a wailing siren. We were prepared to unload the car (gasp!) for inspection but nobody even looked up. So we drove away very slowly, expecting a bullet in the tires or something. Nada. We drove on to the second check point where we have to get stamped in to the country. Very busy. Us Americans (and some Canadians) are NOT scared away from this country we love so much. Got back in the car to go to the second set of lights and alarms. Green! Go! Pase. And we did.

A smooth, uneventful, quick drive through Hermasillo and on to San Carlos to the lovely little hotel where we always stay. By now the temperature was 74º and downright balmy. I’m sure you get tired of seeing this same old place, so just scroll on by and don’t look.

The hotel is having a special Thanksgiving dinner in the dining room but we’ll probably pass. We never seen to eat a lot when we travel, so it will be their delicious Tortilla Soup and a good Mexican beer.

Tomorrow it is on to Topolobambo. No internet there ~ it’s a pretty primitive town ~ so next word will be from Tepic.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

from Tucson

Completely uneventful drive from La Jolla to Tucson today. Pulled away from Phemie's house at 6:15; arrived at the hotel at 2:30, with a one-hour time change. I-8 is a great highway; not much traffic, speed limit of 75 MPH. A stop for last minute supplies at Trader Joe's, a read, a nap, then it was time to head up to have dinner with Susan Wyckoff (astronomer extrordinaire) and her husband Peter Wheninger (also an astronomer) at their wonderful house out in the boonies of Tucson. Splendid meal, fine conversation. After dinner, Susan's sister, Katy, kindly drove back to our hotel with us so we wouldn't get lost in the wilds of the suburbs. Now it's off to bed to rest up for tomorrow's assault on the border. Providing we don't get hung up for one reason or another, we should be in San Carlos by noon. More from there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

leaving La Jolla

We have been here for two days, visiting friends, enjoying this beautiful place in what remains of good weather. Long walk along the beach front this morning with hostess Phemie and her delightful dogs. Brisk and energizing in the morning sunshine. Delish lunch of mussels at a really terrific restaurant, Whisk and Ladle in downtown La Jolla. Lovely. Expecting rain tonight. Tomorrow morning we'll take off for Tucson. Planning dinner with school chum. More from there.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the food, the tables, the guests

Last night we were (almost) all together for an early Thanksgiving feast. Alex had shoved the couch and chairs into the dining area and set up two lovely long tables to accommodate 13 of us for the usual fare.

Everyone pitched in with the cooking: Pete did the turkey and stuffing, Alex handled the brussel sprouts ~ Miss Brussel Sprout, USA ~

and gravy, Andrew did the mashed potatoes, Mr. C made two pumpkin pies, Cait and Mike (the "almost" in the almost all ~ they had to return to Bozeman on Saturday morning so missed out but we were together for dinner Friday night) made an apple-cranberry-walnut pie, I baked breakfast breads before I left home. Peter's mother, father and brother joined us. Kaley, Rob and Ruby are out from Connecticut and were there too, recovering from a 4-day assault on Disneyland.

Both grandchildren were in attendance. Andrew is on the left; my brother-in-law, Tom on the right.

And the beauteous Emily, home from boarding school for the Thanksgiving week, with her mother.

I first met Ruby five years ago, at a similar celebration when she was 8 months old.

She is now a kindergartner, frighteningly articulate, very funny, and still curious about the necklaces I wear ~ my travel talismans.

It is so wonderful to have still have a small person in the family.

On Friday, Cait and Mike flew over from Bozeman to see everyone. Their visit was very short ~ just over night ~ but sweet. They flew back yesterday morning, fearing they might get snow-bound in Salt Lake if they waited another day. Good thing they went; bad storms on the way home, snow-buried cars at the airport. It was something like -2º when they finally landed on the last flight, but clear and sunny this morning with a temperature of -10º. She gave a quick report on the results of the Delta Non-Rev Challenge and her team's accomplishments.

"I was able to get a tiny bit of info from my co-worker when we landed about the Non-Rev Challenge results, but more facts coming your way. Out of 44 teams, we finished in 21st place. There were MANY teams that completed the entire list, and the top 5 teams had point scores of something like 2800 (compared to our paltry 790). We won for BEST BLOG (yeah!!!!) and we won for BEST TEAM PHOTO (our photo at the wind turbines with all of Candy's props, cowboy hats and the American Flag). We won special recognition for our ABOVE AND BEYOND tasks, especially the photo of me with Michael Keaton and Peggy with her llama. But I'll get more info soon, as all this was captured in a 5 minute quick conversation with Peggy."

I especially like the part about "Best Blog!"

Today is going to be a clean-up-the-hotel-room-and-get-packed day. We'll mosey over to Alex and Pete's for lunch ~ looking forward to turkey sandwiches ~ and a visit. Back to the hotel for reading and resting, then with them again for an early dinner. We'll be out of here sometime late tomorrow morning to drive down to La Jolla for two days. It has been such a lovely time together. I am deeply thankful that everyone is well and thriving and that we could spend this time together on a happy occasion.

Speaking of reading, Kaley (who is a buyer and manager of the children's and young adults departments at an indy bookstore in Guilford, CT) gave me this book, "The Blind Contessa's New Machine." I am looking forward to it. I'll let you know what I think.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

first stop, Long Beach

Mr. C woke me at 4 AM this morning, not a smart move on his part but necessary. At 5 AM he announced that the handle had broken on the master bathroom toilet. Also not a smart move. Yesterday we thought the washing machine's spin cycle had conked out. Now the toilet. As it happens, the washer was fine, but the toilet was not. The hardware store is not open at 5 AM. What to do? Could we fix it with a paper clip and some masking tape. Hardly. So we continued to pack and sent our tenant an email saying, "Sorry. You'll have to fix this." I was not happy about doing this but really had no choice. This is probably the first trip we've taken that Mr. C hasn't vacuumed as we are locking up. I did it yesterday with the wonderful new Oreck he bought while I was schlepping around Paris. I know he's always wanted one and was waiting for our old machine to finally take its last sucking gasp.

We pulled away from the house at 6:45 AM, loaded to the gills. We made good time all the way to Long Beach, arriving here at 2 PM. Four stops along the way to stretch and snack. I took a nice q1 1/2 hr. nap after we arrived and settled into the hotel. Then over to Alex's for an early supper. Now back for a good night's sleep.

The drive down the Central Valley is nothing if not boring. I-5 needs road work all the way from Sacramento to Buttonwillow. Alas, probably no state funds to take care of it. Maybe Jerry can find some cash. The air quality is horrible; dusty and smoggy and reeking of cow poop. Then up the Grapevine to clearer skies, past Gorman to Lebec where there is a very nice Rest Area where we always stop for lunch. Up past Pyramid Lake, then down into the LA basin past Magic Mountain "amusement park" (is anyone amused by this place?) past the turn off for Sepulveda (my father amused himself by pronouncing it "Se-pul-VEE-da"), Crenshaw and Pico Rivera,the Getty Center, the round apartment building that was once a Holiday Inn hotel. Then Mulholland Drive, the AmEx, FedEx and LAX, Bel Air, bel paese and bel canto. Beverly Hills, Woodland Hills, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Newport Beach and all the other landmarks of my childhood. Along the way I saw three Smart Cars; one was bright blue, two were black, a Smart new look for the mafioso. Toyota is still the vehicle of choice, according to my unscientific survey of the passing traffic. Silver, once again, the color of choice for the majority of all drivers.

It's time to turn off the light and get some sleep. Tomorrow we will see Cait and Mike, providing a new storm in Salt Lake doesn't ground them, and Kaley, Rob and Ruby. We are all having dinner together tomorrow night at George's, a wonderful Greek restaurant on Long Beach's famed 2nd Street. Meanwhile, Mr. C has to make a couple of his famous Pumpkin Pies and I have to huddle with grandson Andrew to find out what he has in store for the world.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Seven months surely go by in a heck of a hurry. It seems like only 3 or 4 weeks ago we arrived home, but I can see by all the stickies and notes to myself that indeed it's time to leave again. "Do this," "buy that," "pack these but leave these here." I can also tell by the fact that I had to put flannel sheets and the electric blanket on the bed. Not to mention all the piles of fallen leaves along our city's streets. And it's pretty much all done. The car is so full I don't now how the pilot (Mr. C) will be able to see out the rear window. As I am the navigator, that's my job.

I've pruned the t-shirts down, added a pair of well-worn sandals, baked two loaves of breakfast bread for the Long Beach crowd. Mailed back the last of the Netflix® movies, returned all library books, bagged up old bank statements to go off to the shredder. Now I have to dash up to the laundry to pick up the gigantic bed pad for our bed: instructions said "Front loading commercial washer only." OK by me. I didn't want to wrestle that thing around anyway. No more buying of any food stuffs; we eat up what's here. That could get interesting if we wait much longer. Mr. C. has left some room in his duffel bag for what I grab at the last minute; mine is already packed and stuffed into the car.

So off we go tomorrow morning for another hair-raising 2500 mile drive, part of it through questionable territory. I do wake in the night and think about it. Then I remind myself that I'm going there by choice and not to fret. We'll be careful. Next post will be from Long Beach where it's sunny and clear but with rain expected just in time for our celebration on Saturday. In Cuyutlán it's in the high 80's with thunderstorms due next week.

Hasta luego.

Monday, November 15, 2010

how many T-shirts?

I'm trying to whittle down the pile of clothes I'm taking down to the beach. I leave quite a few things there to summer-over in the heat and humidity. So far everything has done OK. Believe it or not, it's an infestation of cucaraches that I have to worry about. They get into the clothes and eat and poop themselves to a fare-thee-well. When I check out my wardrobe there are tiny brown stains on everything. Not a good sign. So keeping all these possibilities in mind, how many T-shirts do I need to make up for those possibly lost? I've decided I've put aside too many. Let's pare down to, say, five. That should be plenty.

Then there are the sandals and shorts. Three pair of each. Check. That means I have to off-load the extra two pair of shorts and one pair of sandals.

Part of the problem, too, is that we will do quite a bit of socializing before we cross the border. Can I get away with shorts and T-shirts at these events? Do I need something more presentable? Who cares? It will be all Mex from the time I leave home until the time I get there! With a sweater.

This all means I have to revisit my duffel bag tomorrow morning to weed out stuff I know I won't need at the beach. The things I can't do without, however, are my books. With the 5 boxes of books currently stowed in the car I will have no lack of reading materials, despite the fact that 4 of those boxes belong to others. Everything will eventually end up in the local librario anyway for everyone to enjoy.

As for family on hand to celebrate the pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving, it will be both daughters, their significant others, niece Kaley and her family, grandchildren, and brother-in-law. We have not been together since my sister's memorial. It will be good to celebrate the bounties of the season as a family.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

3 books, 2 movies, 1 mess

Over the past couple of weeks I have read three really good books in a row. No picking up, reading through the first chapter and discarding. Start to finish. They were The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, The Help, and just finished Mr. Pip. Three very different novels, the last one set in Papua New Guinea. Lots of stars for each one. I thought the ending of The Help too contrived and I would have written it differently. Or I should say I might have reached the same denouement but would have gotten there by a different route.

Two movies I watched: A Single Man and The Band's Visit. The first, with Michael Douglas, made me squirm with discomfort, not because it was bad but because Douglas plays such a pathetic character and does it so well. Interesting ending. The Band's Visit was great fun to watch. It's about an Egyptian police band that goes to Israel and gets lost in the desert and ends up in a tiny Israeli settlement. Charming and witty and ultimately quite satisfying.

The mess concerns the entire house. We are heading to Mexico in four days. We are living around and among bags and boxes and suitcases filled with "essentials" including 5 mop heads (can't get them in MX), 6 boxes of Jello® Instant Pudding and 2 bottles of Kraft Tartar Sauce (for others), 2 jars of Mr. C's favorite peanut butter and horseradish (!), and who knows what else. Oh yes, 2 cases of good wine. Insanity on wheels!

The paper has been stopped, Netflix® suspended, the pool guy and gardener notified. I've had my teeth cleaned, legs waxed, tomorrow is a haircut, Tuesday is a pedicure. That's it for personal maintenance. Today I have to go through my stack of unread New Yorkers to decide which to take, which to donate to the local hospital's waiting rooms. Final chore is to get the house back into some semblance of its usual order for our tenant. We've been slowly working through each room so that on Thursday morning, around 3 AM, Mr. C doesn't feel he has to vacuum the floors and clean the windows before we drive off at 6:30 AM. Getting out of here is not easy! I'm glad we'll have a few days to rest from our labors before hitting I-8 on our way to Tucson.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

they did it!

After 56 years of trying, these Boys of Summer finally won the World Series last night. Splendid pitching by Tim Linsecum and Brian Wilson for the Giants and Cliff Lee for the Rangers. Edgar Renteria the MVP, well deserved. I wish the team had been in San Francisco for the win. It's going to be quite a parade, I'll wager.