Friday, December 31, 2010

what's you New Year's Eve drink?

Me, I'm bedding down with a nice bottle of NyQuil® to feed the nasty cold I have developed. Started with a sore throat yesterday morning, progressed to lots of sneezing, nose-blowing, coughing,moaning and groaning. I'm hoping things will be better tomorrow. I haven't had a cold in several years so I should complain too much - or should I?

From us to you, Prospero Año, make some good resolutions, drive carefully if you're out and about. For you opera lovers/listeners, tomorrow's live-from-the-Met presentation is Pelléas et Mélissande by Claude Debussy. Another long one; 5 acts. Starts an hour earlier (12 PM EST). I hope I can make it all the way through.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day in Bozeman

This is the first Christmas for Cait and Mike's dogs. They took them out yesterday morning for a romp in this beautiful setting. According to the weather map it was 10º!

We harnessed up the dogs and went for an early morning x-country ski adventure. We did not see another person the entire time. It was cold, crisp and very refreshing.

This morning we went to a lovely brunch party at our friends Bobbie and Philip's house. We stayed on to play a rousing round of Mexican Train Dominoes (the women and Jack [one guest's husband]) while Philip and Mr. C played chess. Then it was another couple of hours of idle chat, lots of laughter and good fellowship. B & P have put their wonderful big house on the market; they want to move back to Ajijic ~ but we are all hoping it doesn't sell for at least three years. Not very generous hearted, are we. But they are such fun we will miss them greatly.

Soon it will be time to go to the taco wagon in the jardin for tacos de lengue to bring home. There are a few holiday visitors in town, mostly day-trippers. The hotels are dark and empty. However, I have been told revelers will begin trickling in by Tuesday or Wednesday for the New Year's Eve parties. I can wait. Meanwhile, it's sunny, quiet and very, very pleasant.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

on-time arrival

Unlike other grim stories of Christmas traffic problems and delayed or canceled flights, we had an on-time arrival at the crèche on our street early this morning. No snow storms, no angry and frustrated travelers. This morning dawned sunny and bright to greet the new baby. You will note, no doubt, that this "baby" is about the size of a 3 year-old. Ouch!

Last night's festive gathering was probably the best one yet! Delicious traditional (gringo) dinner ~ turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, salads, veggies. Pies and cakes for dessert. Thirty of us gathered pool-side for a lovely celebration. We made some new friends ~ a delightful couple from Washington state who has just bought a house down in the colonia (the one previously owned by the Dutch couple we were so fond of) ~ greeted old friends whom we had not seen since our arrival, and welcomed others who had only recently arrived. It was a fine evening.

Merry Christmas to All!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve update

If I didn't know better, by looking outside I'd think I was in Morro Bay or Pacifica or some other mid-winter fog belt. Overcast and drippy. I know it will burn off eventually, probably before noon. I forget that this happens here at this time of year. After all, it IS winter! But enough of the weather. Here are the past few days (very thrilling) events.

We got up in the middle of the night on Monday to see the gorgeous lunar eclipse. We went up to the third floor, lay down on the cement bench and watched the show unfold above us. It was a blessedly clear night ~ stars everywhere, the big mood gradually turning a coppery red. Last time these two dates ~ Winter Solstice and lunar eclipse ~ coincided, Shakespeare was a baby!

Here's the equipale furniture we ordered. Picked it up a week ago. Looks so nice in the house and it's a much better arrangement with a larger, 4-person table.

Chairs around the table are those that I ferried down from home. IKEA.

The chair was in pretty bad shape. The back had been torn badly; it just got dried out and split. So we took it to the shop and asked if it could be repaired. Here's the result.

They did such a fine job we're going to take three more to be revived.

On Wednesday evening the village children had their Posada parade through the streets. The whole gang was there; Mary and Joseph in costume, the donkey (played by a very placid large dog on a leash). They knocked on the door, asking if they could stay for the night. The accompanying chorus told them no, sorry, no room in this inn. Their remarkably off-key little voices filled the air. After a resounding, ¡Feliz Navidad! I made the usual donation for their post-Posada party and off they went to the next prospective inn.

Meanwhile, down at the end of our street an enterprising group has erected a creche scene. I watched them constructing the "stable" out of palm wood beams and palm fronds.

Off to one side is a cluster of tiny figurines that are not really part of the traditional creche. Instead, they depict scenes of Mexican life of old. The woman in front is making tortillas. Miniature sheep are scattered around. (Please note the presence of the swan. That's a new one for me.)

The figures appear every afternoon, late, are there until after dark, and then are taken in for safekeeping. The Baby Jesus will appear for the first time at midnight tonight. Then he'll be there through January 6, La Noche de los Reyes Magos. Then it will all be packed away for another year.

Tonight is the traditional Christmas Eve party at Luly and Ed's house. Mr. C is making a rum-soaked pumpkin pie, I'm doing the floral decorations and bringing wine and four bags of ice. I got off easy this year. There will be about 30 guests. It's always a fine party.

Then as if all these festivities weren't enough, tomorrow, Christmas Day, the Met is presenting a tribute to James Levine on his 40th anniversary as music director. The performance will be from the archives: "The Bartered Bride" by Bedrich Smetana. Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers to do the singing thing. A splendid Christmas gift indeed.

From our casa to yours, wherever you are, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and peace-filled New Year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday in Suchitlan

We had a guest here for two nights while his apartment at the casa was occupied by renters. As a "thank you" he took us to lunch at Los Portales, a wonderful restaurant situated in an old coffee plantation in Suchitlan up in the hills outside Colima.

The seating is either outside under the coffee trees

or in a big covered patio that looks out on the other tables.

Mr. C and I both ordered chiles rellinos picadillo; Marie and Al both had Birria mixta, a stew of shredded beef and pork that you spoon into a tortilla, ladle on some of the spicy sauce, roll up and enjoy!

The restaurant was filled with gorgeous displays of noche buena flowers in amazing colors, even some striped ones.

This little town is famous for its mask-carvers, and the restaurant has many on display throughout. All of them are for sale. They decorate the walls of the patio; every time we go back there are new ones to tempt me.

It was an altogether lovely day. Good food, good things to look at, good fellowship. Thanks, Al.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

consider the talera

Mexico is not known for its fine breads. You get the traditional bollio, baked fresh two times a day, you get the Bimbo brand air bread, and you get taleras. These are made with the same dough that the bollios are made with but are handled and molded differently. They are more like a giant English muffin than a French roll. In this photo, the plate measures 7" in diameter, so you can see these are big!

And they are not easy to find. Most bakeries around here don't have them, or at least the ones they have aren't very good. The best ones come from a little vendor outside the indoor market in Manzanillo, but that's just to far to go to get one. However, a very charming gentleman who speaks a little bit of English drives his van (a new vehicle! Last year it was an old red truck. Things are looking up in the talera business) through town every evening about 7 o'clock with his loudspeaker advertising his baked goods. These include cookies and some breakfast things that resemble scones or soda bread. (This last item is so dry it takes every bit of moisture out of your mouth but they do very nicely with a big gulp of coffee.) We buy four taleras at a pop, spend 16 pesos (about $1.10) and they are absolutely delicious toasted and slathered with butter and jam. Plus they are brought fresh to our door. This morning I made a peanut butter/mayo/lettuce sandwich with one toasted. Brought me back to my beach days as a child in Newport Beach. Not a bad memory.

the twins go hunting

Sent by Caitlin this morning from snowy Montana:

Here is a great photo of "the boys" from this past weekend. Mike took them on their first pheasant hunt--mostly just to work on field commands. They did a great job, considering it was their first time. Two shots were fired at pheasants, and the dogs were not at all "gun shy", which was a big test. I love this photo of the dogs and Mike, who gives them their commands via hand gestures and whistles. Very fun to watch!

Friday, December 10, 2010

clean clothes and cold beer

Toñio the fix-it man came to the house to give a diagnosis on the washing machine and the fridge. He decided both could be fixed and set about doing so. First the washer. It was some sort of gear problem; it wouldn't "shift" into wash mode. Yes, he could buy and install a new one, no problem. Then upstairs to check out the refrigerator. Since it was under warranty he suggested we take it back for repairs. Are you kidding? First, how are we going to get it downstairs? Once there, what will we carry it in to go to Tecoman where we bought it? Third, what will we do for a fridge in the meantime? True, we should have gone to the store and told them we wanted a replacement. But I was not prepared to drive over there lugging my big Oxford Spanish dictionary and spend an hour haggling. The diagnosis was not so serious, actually. New infusion of Freon and we should be back in business. Toñio went away, said he'd be right back, and was at the front door in about half an hour. He took the washer apart, put in the new gear/timer, demonstrated that it was now running again, and was ready to tackle the fridge. It took several hours while the Freon recharged. Finally, about 6 o'clock he packed up his tools, handed us a bill, parts and labor, for 1600 pesos ($130) and everyone was happy. I did two loads this morning. Perfect. And there are now solid ice cubes and cold beer.

Two other items of note.

First, the death of the stalwart Elizabeth Edwards. Way too young. The first time i learned about her in 2004 I liked her immediately. The first time I learned about him in 2004 I didn't like him at all. Smarmy. She kept her cool, remained a gracious, graceful woman to the end.

Second, remember the birthday of the delightful grandson, Andrew? His mother sent me this photo taken of him on his 22nd birthday. Take a look.

And now it's time to don long pants to foil the bugs and head on down to the beach for dinner with friends at Dago's. I'll take the camera in case there's a good sunset.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a big FedEx thank you!

All I did to deserve this spectacular bouquet of Bird of Paradise was to ferry down 6 boxes of Jello Instant Pudding (chocolate), three cartons of Japanese pickled ginger, and an envelope containing some bank business. These treasures went to one of the year-rounders. Her gratitude far outweighs the deed, I think! These beauties now reside in the sala and add a touch of exotica perfect for the seaside jungle.

Thanks, Maria.

Monday, December 6, 2010

an avocado a day

I'm down to two bars of reception on the internet so I better get this posted quickly!

Tianges this morning in a hurry because we had much to do today. I took my camera in case I saw the radish man ~ a lovely gent who brings the most gorgeous bouquets of radishes in his wheelbarrow. Yes, he was there but my camera battery was out of juice. So no photo. Next week, I hope. While Marie and I shopped, Mr. C drove into Tecoman to visit the ATM. When he got back we hunted down the new location of the Sol deposito for beer. The delivery guy hasn't figured out we're back! Saturday is his new day; we'll look for him then.

Home to deposit my purchases, including a bag of lovely strawberries and more avocados, then off to Colima to order a new equipale table and take the torn chair to be repaired. Again, I wanted to take a photo of the old chair but alas. . . Next week we will pick up the new table (950 pesos equals about $90) and the repaired chair for 300 pesos ($26). Have you priced equipale in the US? You can buy a nice chair for $179 or a table for $450! Next stop was lunch at our favorite spot; Kronos. Greek name, Mexican owners, French and Italian food. So delicious; crepes and beer. Then to WalMart for more things than we had originally planned. Then home. It was a very satisfactory day; we got all our chores done and were propped up for an afternoon of reading by 2:30.

We are prepared for the washing machine repair man tomorrow. Who knows when; none of this "Between 8-12 or 1-5" business. He comes when he comes. But if he can salvage the machine for another year, I can deal with his time schedule. It will probably cost 200 pesos and I can deal with that, too.

Today is our precious grandson's birthday. Andrew is now 22 years old. Seems only a moment ago when daughter Alex put this tiny bundle into my arms for the first time and it was absolutely love at first sight. Amazing. Happy Birthday, Andrew.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

season openers

I have internet this morning but who knows for how long. I discovered why it goes off. Javier's mother runs the town laundry (the antenna is on its roof) and every time she needs to run the dryer she unplugs the modem . . .

OK, it's now 6:30 and we've been without internet since I started my last post. Now that everyone's clothes are dry, we're back. So let's move on.

Today's excitement included discovering that the washing machine will not "agitate." It will fill, spin dry but not wash. So I took my wet and soapy wash to Marie (see above) and asked her to rewash everything but not to put it into the dryer. I would hang it out in my drying yard. So far, so good. She did as I asked and an hour later she showed up with a basket of wet clothes. It was clear from the scent that she had used a huge amount of soap that had not really rinsed out of the clothes. Plus they were gritty, as if there had been sand in the water. So we refilled our washer and tried to agitate the clothes by hand to get rid of both soap and sand. I spun them dry and hung them out. When I brought them in there was a fine dusting of sand all over everything. I have no idea where she gets her water or how many cups of soap she uses, but she told me her repair guy is coming on Tuesday and I asked her to send him on over. I am hoping he can figure out what's wrong with our machine, a real work horse for the past 10 years.

Let's go back to Friday.

We had dinner at Dago's on Friday night. Delicious as usual. Dago was his usual cheerful self, happy to see his contingent of winter gringos back for another year of good food and fellowship. It was a bit foggy so no great sunset photos. But they will come.

Saturday was spent doing what Saturday's are for; relaxing and reading. The pool at Jack's is not quite ready for swimming. He is still treating it after refilling it a few days ago. That will come soon, too.

Today we drove out to El Paraiso for lunch at the San Angel hotel with friends Helen and Linda. We had ferried down for them a 45 lb. box of "necessities" and they very kindly treated us to a lovely lunch as repayment. Beautiful setting right on the beach, delicious seafood, fine fellowship.

Tonight will be a light supper of salad and bread. Tomorrow is the market, plus in the afternoon we will go up to Colima to order a new round eqipal table and will take one of our chairs to be repaired. A quick stop at WalMart for things we can't get anywhere else, such as good butter. Then home. Tuesday the repair man comes to diagnose the washer; new or fix? Wednesday Rene comes to do so repair on the sliding screen doors; the little wheels have rusted and won't roll so we can't open them. Rust never sleeps.

This is how the time goes here. There's always something that has to be done to get the house back in working order.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

internet en plein aire

This is our computer set up for now. Mr. C has carried the LapMac all over the house, indoors and out, to find the perfect spot for reception. He tried several places on the 3rd floor, two or three on the 2nd floor, including sitting on the end of our bed, and decided this is the best place. It's outside our bedroom in the corner of the walkway. There is a perfect shot across our lot to the top of the laundry shop in the next street where Javier installed the antenna. It's not a bad location, either. I can see the ocean, watch the squirrels race across the fence line and leap into the palm trees, and keep my eye on the passing crowd (not much). I asked Neighbor Nelson's advice on how to fix our connection. He's the one who set it up in the first place. His instructions indicated a level of comprehension on my part that is sorely lacking so we'll just make do until his computer wizard son arrives in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the bells and rockets greet us every morning at 5:30 and bid us good-night at 10 PM, all in celebration of the Virgin. Winter tenants are beginning to arrive; three more yesterday. The clan is gathering for another season of the mad social whirl. I brought with me two big boxes of books that I am determined to get through, or at least make a considerable dent in. Finished last night "A Spot of Bother" by Mark Haddon, who also wrote the splendid "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time." This afternoon I am heading up to the hammock to finish "The Blind Contessa. . ."

Now it's time to rustle up some chilaquiles and cut into the pineapple Fernando and Chuy brought us. Then I'll think of something else non-taxing to do.