Saturday, January 31, 2015
First, last night's party was a true delight. There were all the usual village suspects there, friends old and new. The first thing everyone said when we arrive was "Congratulations!" For a minute I thought we'd won something ~ free tortillas for a year ~ but it was a resounding wish for our anniversary!
Good food, lovely setting ~ here's their unimpeded view up the beach to the north ~
and a great group of well-wishers and party-goers.
Now, one of Mr. C's favorite aphorisms when I blanch at the sight of spiders is, "Spiders are our friends." Well, here's one of his friends I found up in the corner of the living room ceiling.
I don't know what this particular species of "friend" is but it's big, it's black and it's ugly. I want it OUT of the house. But that's Mr. C's job and he has said he'll get it out and into the garden. It better be soon. The above photos courtesy of a really good zoom lens!
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The margarita was fabulous. Mr. C's special recipe is so lemony, so lime-y, and so delicious. The tuna casserole not so much. Too dry. The noodles got too hard because of not enough liquid. But it was a sterling effort ~ his first in probably thirty years ~ and tomorrow he'll add some more of some sort of liquid. Maybe mushroom soup if he can find it in the store. No matter, it was a fine celebration.
No Eve today; maybe tomorrow. Seems like I say that every day. I know what he's working on and where so I'm not really concerned. In fact we're not really in any hurry to get these done although I'd like to have them ready by the time Jaime starts the house painting in a couple of weeks. And I am eager to post the photos.
Tomorrow evening we will not be going to Dago's so I'll probably go down early to order a mess of shrimp to-go for the Saturday opera salad, it being The Tales of Hoffman. Then we'll head down to the colonia for the party. The invite offered margaritas and piña coladas. How could we possible say no?
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
At the tianguisI found these geraniums, the perfect accent for the front garden. Yesterday we potted them in some pretty clay pots we bought a few years ago in Patzcuaro. I put them around the little statue of a faux St. Francis. That is to say, I don't know who this bearded chap is but he seems quite happy under the palm tree in the little patio. I think I'll get another couple of plants next week if they have them. Meanwhile, the herb garden has grown by three; two basils and one rosemary.
No Eve today. Maybe tomorrow. Hot today but the sea breeze has come up and it's lovely and cool tonight. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary; 51 years of nothing but fun and games. We'll celebrate with one of Mr. C's dy-no-mite margaritas and a (his choice) tuna casserole! But Friday evening we're going to a little drinks party, not for us but we'll celebrate anyway.
Monday, January 26, 2015
This subject line refers to the book I'm reading. I finally crested at 413 pages and am now on the downward slope to completion at 826 pages. I almost gave up but I am so glad I didn't. It gets better and better.
Tianguis this morning with Ms. NN. Lots of good stuff; strawberries, sweet carrots, juice oranges for Sunday's treat, then the usual basics. Bought some more of those sawdust cookies I like; I wouldn't dream of eating them without coffee or some other liquid to wash them down, but they're actually very good. A stop at the fish market for tonight's basa, then home. I spent most of the afternoon on the above mentioned book. I am determined to get through it in one more week so I can move on to something else.
We are now through dinner and it is time for me to go out on the balcony and enjoy the cool evening breezes. I love sitting out there in the dark with only the little red twinkle lights glowing and a candle on the table. It's so quiet; no traffic, no music, no voices, only the low sound of the surf as it rolls in and out. I could sit there for hours listening to that sound, so closely aligned with my childhood at the beach. The bugs aren't too bad right now; I though I heard the spray truck coming through but I guess not. So I'll move outside for awhile and enjoy the peaceful silence. Gives me room to think.
This is what it looked like in our neighborhood tonight. How about yours?
Sunday, January 25, 2015
It's cool and cloudy here today which is good for the plants but not so good for the wet laundry. Eve is here chipping away on the tiles, turning the bathrooms into things of beauty and delight. I'll probably go down to Chuy's puesto in a couple of hours to order some fish para llevar (take out) for our comida. I don't want to ask Eve to stop work so we can have a seaside lunch; we'll do it here instead.
Yesterday was quiet, also. No workers in the house, La Boheme streaming via CapRadio in Sacramento, lovely shrimp salad (thanks, Dago). Then a quick domino game with Sibyl and a delicious tomato, cheese and basil tart. I had some cottage cheese that was fast approaching its "sell by" date and this was a perfect way to use it. Recipe actually calls for ricotta but I like the results with cottage cheese instead.
I prefer using the Roma tomatoes we get down here; they hold their shape better and have a nice acidic flavor when cooked. Mr. C prefers the big Sinaloas that we get in late March or April. They're more like a Beefsteak but I think they're too big. No matter which you use it's mighty tasty.
A propos of absolutely nothing, I love this photo of g'son Andrew and his girlfriend Arielle. It was taken at some function they attended last December (note the black tie!) and then photoshopped over a picture of Big Ben and the London skyline. He's there now; got a short message from him while he was on a train to Bournmouth for business. We hope to see him in late May in situ.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
I have recovered from whatever ailed me on Monday and have spent the last two days in a frenzy of activity. Early Tuesday morning we took off for Tecoman to do a long list of errands. The first one was to the hardware store over on the far side of the city. Our search was for a couple of mezcladoras for the new sinks. We found just what we wanted; you'll see them in the "After" photos when the bathrooms are done. Then it was back into the middle of town to relieve our bank of the burden of some of our money so we could carry one shopping. Next stop was the big nursery for two bags of dirt and two new bougainvilleas to replace the very old one that finally died over the summer. Deep, bright purple. Omar will dig holes tomorrow and we'll get them into the ground so we can enjoy them this season (or until they die, whichever ends first). Next was a usual stop at the Bodega market for odds and ends. Home for lunch, dominoes at 2 PM (I didn't win), then an enjoyable happy hour in the puesto with fellow players.
Wednesday we left home at 9 AM for the trek up to Colima for yet another day of shopping, etc. We had been warned of the traffic problems due to road construction but it wasn't bad at all. We arrived at the front door of the tile shop at just aabout 10 AM after having to circle around for a parking place. The big mall across the street has been completely remodeled, the underground market is gone, the free parking lots are gone and it's now a very upscale, slick plaza. We found all the tiles we wanted, waited around while they were fetched from the warehouse, finally got them and we were on our way. Next stop was WalMart for more shopping of essentials; bleu cheese for Mr. C, some genuine Italian tomatoes in cans ~ a miraculous find last year and they had more (or more of last year's) this year. We bought all they had. They're probably breathing a sigh of relief that those old cans are gone! But the Mexican do not sell canned tomatoes. Don't know why; Lord knows they have plenty of the essential ingredient.
Next we went on to the equipal furniture maker and ordered new fabric for the sofa and the love seat. They are now 14 years old and need some refurbishing.
They will come to the house either tomorrow or Saturday to pick up the pieces (we have no big transport as you may recall) and bring them back in a week or so. New color scheme. Now I need new pillows . .
It was now about 1 PM and we drove over to our favorite Cronos for lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor Nelson who were also taking care of business in Colima. Delicious crepes, cold beer. We left about 2 o'clock and buzzed right along, no traffic UNTIL . . . UNTIL . . . a dead stop just over the top on the hill on the way down (fortunately). Thirty-five minutes later the long, long line began to inch forward. Accident. It looked like a container had slid off a flat bed truck and overturned. No evidence of the truck, however. Just the container. We finally got past it and it was smooth sailing all the way home.
Today we did nothing. Eve showed up to check out the tiles I had bought but didn't stay to work. He had to do the final tweaking on the pool surround at G & K's. Tomorrow he'll be here at 8 PM. Fernando stopped by; surgery postponed until tomorrow. Mañana. I am still reading the same book I've been dealing with for about three weeks. Every time I start I fall asleep. But I'm almost half done so I can't quit now. Besides, I'm intrigued!
No interesting photos to put up. Too busy. So here's a little shot of my fledgling herb garden out on the balcony. Oregano on the left, thyme on the right. Both flourishing. Both so fragrant and tasty.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Fernando that the shrubs/trees in the lot across the street had gotten so big over the past two or three years that they obscured our view. These "trees" start out as spiky shrubs that grow into spiky trees and are almost indestructible. This is what the walled lot across the street looked like.
|This is from the 3rd fl.; view not so affected|
There's more clean-up to be done but it seems so much lighter and airier in the living room. The piles of greenery you see inside the lot will be hauled out and, of course, burned on the street after it dries out. As long as I'm not doing laundry on that day . . . All of this work cost about $75 and worth every penny.
One of the setbacks to this operation was that the electric lines ran right through one of the trees. Fernando was very careful about cutting out the branches surrounding the line but we think it was being held up by the branches alone! Sure enough, we lost power to the downstairs. But a couple of hours later one of the electric company workers was fussing around the lines up on a cherry-picker and restored power.
Meanwhile, Eve was finishing up the downstairs bath (it looks fabulous!) and moved on upstairs to start the demo on the second one. Since we need more tiles and the faucets, he won't be back until Thursday. We're going up to Colima on Wednesday to visit a terrific tile place that sells the handmade artisanial tiles we love.
One new addition to the furniture mix: new table for the upstairs. I had a ratty old square equipal table that was an embarrassment . I got a local carpenter to remove the top, save the woven base and add a round top to seat six. Perfect for dominoes!
I listened to "The Merry Widow" yesterday. Enjoyed it greatly. Made me want to get up and waltz! Next Saturday, "La Boheme" to jerk your tears.
A beautiful and colorful winter sunset.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Living at the beach can present some retail challenges, as I no doubt have mentioned before. Back "then" if you could get 3 of the things from your list of 12 in only 4 hours, you felt you had triumphed. And for usual shopping ~ marketing, I should say ~ you had to go to either Manzanillo or Colima There was little or nothing in Tecoman and only the tianguis on Monday in Armeria. This "old times" always reminds me of daughter Cait who, at bedtime story time, would say to her father, "Dad, tell be about the olden days when you were a boy down on the farm." He was 30.
But a new day has dawned here on the Costa Alegré. Now there are supermarkets galore, specialty shops, liquor stores, etc. So when we started out this morning we were absolutely sure we could get everything on the list taken care of. Almost.
1. Call Fernando to check on surgical dates. Yes, next Monday. Can we take you or pick you up? No, he has four brothers who will take care of that.
2. Head off to La Bodega to check the wine stock before heading into Tecoman. Managed to buy a few bottles but the favorite Chilean wine is nowhere to be found.
3. Go to the bank. Get a load of cash. Worked fine.
4. Haircut for Mr. C. Took 20 minutes, cost 50 pesos ($3.50). Looks fine.
5. Walk over to get bacon and cheese at the Italian deli-type store. Done.
6. Back to car and head to the Construama ferriteria for plumbing and tiling supplies. Done.
7. Around the corner is the nursery for soil. No room in car. Next time.
8. To frozen meat store to see if they have any sort of "American" cuts of meat. No time. Next visit.
9. Bodega again for more shopping now that we have some cash. Took about 1/2 hour to take care of that business. Done and out of there by 11:45. Good timeing all around.
You can see how much progress has been made. In 3 hours we got 7 of our 9 chores done and would have done more but for the size of the car.
Workers didn't come back this afternoon but we will expect them tomorrow. Spend afternoon reading my book; I'm finally about 1/4 through it. Seems like I've been reading it for weeks.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Bright and early this morning Eve showed up for more demo of the downstairs bathroom. I'm documenting the progress and will put up the pix when it's all done. He and I talked about some designs, colors, etc. It's going to be fabulous! Muy loco downstairs and a bit more refined upstairs, in a Mexican sort of way.
Next Fernando arrived to check on the progress of the pump installation. No, Elias has not been back. He called my attention to the poison pellets he brought, showed me how to seed the crab's mounds, and hurried off. His surgery is scheduled for next Monday and he has lots to do before then.
Mr. C decided he was not imperative to the demo downstairs so took himself off to Armeria to pay the year's taxes and water delivery fee. While he was off doing "important" work I bustled around in the kitchen preparing our dinner. The first item was to make a mirepoix as a base for the pork loin roast. A couple of weeks ago I got a message from one of my readers about my previous reference to a mirepoix: "I don't want to look ignorant to all the people who read this blog but WHAT is a mirepoix? Can you show me?" Yes, here it is, a tiny dice of celery, onions, carrots. I also added a dice of half a green pepper, a yellow banana pepper (medium hot), and some cilantro.
|Is that a beautiful dice or what??|
|The pool; sea in front, casita behind, main house to the right|
After this visit I went home for lunch. Not half an hour later Elias showed up with the newly cleaned and refreshed pump. For about an hour there was a whole lot of clanging and banging coming from the bodega where the pumps are housed. I thought he was probably trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and wasn't going to give up until it fit! But he eventually came upstairs and said (I think, because he's very hard to understand because he talks SO fast and really barks out his words) that it was all fixed, worked fine and that would be 400 pesos ($28) for basically two days' work. Needless to say we paid him more and off he sped. We believe in keeping people like Elias very happy; you never know when you're going to need them ASAP.
Eve and his workers finished up preparing the downstairs bathroom for its tiling. They built a new housing for a smaller basin, completely stripped the walls and countertops of old tiles and laid down a sort of mottled finish that will hold the tile glue (pegamento), the tile and the grout (lechada). We'll buy that tomorrow in Tecoman.
That was the end of today's commercial doings. The pork loin came out of the oven after four hours, tender and juicy. Topped off with some of Mr. C's strawberry ice cream for dessert. Perfect.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
How much action can one expect in a day? Well, we had our share today. Here's the story.
The morning started easily enough. First some nice coffee to wash down the usual dry, relatively tasteless pan integral muffins I bought at yesterday's market. Then some bustling about getting the house tidied up for Chuy's 10 o'clock arrival to clean. I thought I'd take a shower first, get it out of the way, etc.
WHAT?? No water? But we've been pumping water from the cistern into the tinaco every other day. Mr. C checks; no water in the tinaco. Que paso? So call Chuy and tell her that she doesn't have to come this morning because there's no water. Well, she'll send Fernando over immediately. He arrives, checks things out, thinks it's the pump switches that control water from the well and the cistern. There is indeed a loose wire but even when fixed the pumps don't work This is definitely a job for Elias! Fernando goes off to hunt him down. After conferring with him in an animated conversation, one with a lot of hand waving and head scratching, Fernando heads off to Armeria to buy new parts for the switches.
Next to arrive is Chuy to clean anyway.
Then Jaime arrives to give us the estimate on the painting job. He and I discuss how much paint to buy ~ A LOT~ and what color goes where. I will paint numbers on the walls to let him know if it's #1 (the darkest), #2 (the medium) or #3 (the lightest). Yes, a paint by numbers operation. He gives me the estimate (I am stunned by how reasonable it is to paint a 3 story house and redo the living room walls and paint it and the kitchen.) I smile, we shake hands, he leaves saying he'll be back about the 10th of February to start. The interior work will take about two weeks because of the time it takes for the stripped walls to age enough for painting. I shoot off an email to Al confirming we can rent his apartment. He says OK.
Meanwhile Fernando returns with the new switch box, this one all plastic with NOTHING to rust. He's happy, I'm happy.
Then Elias shows up to dope out what's what with the pumps. He soon discovers that the city water pump is basically buried in sand. Why? The infestation of land crabs. They live underground in the sand and had burrowed into the pump room. Here is what their presence looks like.
I saw these sand piles a couple of days ago and knew exactly what they were. Before we cemented the front garden I would see evidence of the crab invasion. Now you can see what it looks like. But these little critters had gotten into the pump area, clogged up the works and shut down the cistern pump. Elias gets busy digging out the sand ~ it smells awful ~ then disconnects the pump and takes it away to clean it. BUT, by this time the well pump is working fine. Then he tells Fernando that what he bought isn't the right thing so Fernando goes back to Armeria to buy a different control box and some poison to take care of the crabs. He returns, leaves the new switch box and the poison on the front table and disappears. He has a doctor's appointment in Manzanillo to find out when he's scheduled for knee surgery. He'll be out of commission for about 6 weeks.
Meanwhile, I still haven't had my shower. Mr. C and I rig up the hose to go up into the tinaco to fill from the well. Works just fine. So I finally get to have my shower, flush the toilet, wash the dishes, etc.
The next thing is the arrival of Eve (a-vay) ~ short for Everado ~ the tile maestro, to see what needs to be done in the two half baths. We talk about tiles, designs, colors, the basins, etc. Basically I turned it over to him and said, in essence, "you do it!" With someone as talented and artistic as he is that's the best way. When can you start? How about this afternoon? Fine, I say. He leaves and I haven't seen him again.
I went off to the Tuesday domino group thinking that by the time I got home the two bathrooms would have been demolished. Got home. Nada. It's possible mañana. But that's OK because we have to buy more tiles, some pegamento (grout) and new faucets.
Tomorrow this madness may start all over again, except for Jaime who is working on another job out in the colonia. We expect to see Fernando, Elias and perhaps Eve. Meanwhile, here what the evening sky looked like off the balcony on this very busy day.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Ramiro came at 11:30 and fixed the fridge. He replaced the motor, the freon, tinkered with whatever and we now have a fully functioning refrigerator. In fact, Mr. C has made his first batch of ice cream. Strawberry. Yummm.
Jaime the Contractor came by this afternoon to measure for a big paint job (the entire house), and a tiling job in the two half baths. He'll come back tomorrow with the (bad) news on the cost and how much paint we need to buy. It's going to be a mess; he has to remove ALL the old paint from the exterior of the house so he can slather the walls with a water repellent treatment. But we'll go to Jack's to avoid the mess.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Just as we were about to leave for comida the refrigerator repairman showed up. We told him what the problem was, left him in the good hands of Fernando, and strolled down to the beach. It was a beautiful clear, sunny day and the sea was sparkling. Lots of people in the puestos, frolicking in the water and sitting along the shoreline.
We had a lovely fish fillet cooked in garlic, some hand-made potato chips, still warm and very crispy, a Victoria beer, some crunchy sliced cucumbers and some orange wedges. Perfect. It wasn't crowded inside so we could actually hear the sounds of the surf stretched out in front of us.
When we got home we got the diagnosis on the fridge. It needs a new motor. OK I guess. Better than having to buy a whole new machine since this one is only 4 years old. But life at the beach is very hard on appliances; they rust out, get jolted by frequent power surges/outages, and it's hot and they have to work hard. For $140 US we are getting a new motor, new freon, a house call on a Sunday, installation and labor. Otherwise it would be about $500 for a new fridge. A no brainer, wouldn't you say. Ramiro will be back tomorrow around 11 AM (after tianguis, of course) to do all the tinkering. Meanwhile our freezer contents are over at Jack's and we're trying not to open the fridge compartment more than is absolutely necessary.
Fell asleep again listening to "The Luminaries." This ought to tell me something, don't you think?
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Today's opera was "Aida" and it was just as glorious and moving as it always is. The role of Aida was sung by a young American soprano, Tamara Wilson, who has been doing this part for several years. She did not disappoint. Then for dinner Mr. C whipped up a chiles rellenos casserole he has made at home (US home, that is) and it was yummy.
I was feeling a bit dragged out today. Don't know why. I had a delightful lunch with two friends yesterday over in Tecoman. We went to a juice-bar-health-food place they like and I certainly know why. I had a delicious crepe with chile poblana strips, mushrooms and a light cheese sauce. I was feeling VERY healthy afterwards. But today I seem to have had the tropical blahs yet again. Tomorrow will be better, I'm sure.
I took a little nap this afternoon and slept through two chapters of my new book, "The Luminaries" by Eleanor Catton. 2013 Mann Booker award.
It's more complicated that I though because I am not one who knows what each Zodiac sign "means" as far as personality types go But I'll keep going. It's been described as a "brilliant shaggy dog story." We'll see.
Refrigerator repair man expected tomorrow ~ TOMORROW!! SUNDAY!! ~ because the machine is not keeping cold. Needs freon? Who knows. Again, we'll see.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
In all the years we've been coming here ~ almost 25 ~ we've never experienced weather such as this. If we were in California we'd call it a Santa Ana. It's the wind and heat that burn down anything in its path. It's the wind that helped to burn down Oakland in 1991. It started yesterday afternoon and blew all night and most of today. In the night I though it was raining because of the rustling of the palm fronds outside our bedroom. I stepped out on the terrazo and was hit by very warm air. Everything got completely dessicated overnight. It all looked limp and beaten down this morning. Chuy came to clean this morning and remarked that it was very strange, not usual. I played dominoes this afternoon and we all sat around the table feeling enervated and wilted. Even this evening we're not getting any relief. The spray truck is driving up and down spewing out poison to take care of the mosquitoes that have shown up since the Christmas rains. Not a breath of air to blow it around but perhaps that's OK. Strange.
Tomorrow it's in to Manzanillo for a giant shopping. Maybe lunch somewhere.
Then the great Jaime Hunt begins. Jaime is the contractor who redid our floors, kitchen and bathrooms. We have more work for him, including a repaint of the entire casa on the outside. He's very popular and we need to get on his list soon.
Just started reading this. I got it through my local (US) library's audio book download service, a God send for such as me. So far I am liking it very much.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
A quick update so I can get back to my reading. Yes, last night was awful but I think I was better able to shut out the horrid noise. I went to bed about 11 PM, snoozed in and out until 3:15 AM, then waited for the silence I was sure would come any moment. At 4 AM the disco stopped but some worthy turned on his car stereo and there was another hour or so of music and voices. Then all fell silent and I went to sleep. But I woke at 9 AM anyway and got the day started. The best sounds of the day were those of the sound truck dismantling the scaffolding of the disco. By 5 PM tonight the whole thing had been dismantled and put on a truck to be stored away until, unfortunately, Easter. But that's 2 1/2 month away so think of all the quiet nights we'll have until then!
I am currently reading " Four Seasons in Rome" by Anthony Doerr. It is a wonderful journal of a year he spent on a fellowship in Rome while researching and writing a new book. He is a new father of twin boys, has never been to Rome and speaks no Italian, and is wide open to the history and culture of Italy and the city. I am loving this adventure of his. His attention roves all over the city and he gives us off-hand comments on what he sees, what he eats, who he meets. For anyone who has ever been there, or anyone who wants to go there, I recommend it.
One reason I wanted to read this one first is that I will read his newest book next. In fact, this is the book he was working on while in Rome.
(NOTE to MSMASSF: It took him eight years ~ 8 YEARS ~ to get this one finished. Keep typing!)
Tianguis tomorrow. Don't need much but plant lady said she'd have some oregano plants. I want one for my newly establish herb garden out on the front balcony.
It's 8 PM and time to go to bed to repay my sleep debt from last night.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
It's 8:30 PM and we are just waiting for the disco at the end of the street to start its blast that will last until probably 4 AM tomorrow morning. This will be its second and last performance over this particular holiday.
Its first appearance was on New Year's Eve. We did indeed go to a lovely little party but were home by around 10:30. As we're driving up the road toward our house we could hear the music (aka noise) and it didn't stop until the wee hours of the morning. We had some nice ranchero dance music coming from the Oasis Hotel next door, mariachi music from the house behind us, and the horrid disco at the end of the street. It's actually 2 1/2 blocks away but it might as well be in the front patio. I could not sleep by any means so I sent out emails, watched the fireworks at midnight, played solitaire and just waited for it to be over. I finally gave in about 3:30, went to sleep and woke up at 11:30 Thursday morning to blessed silence. In fact it has been quiet until tonight. But they'll make up for it I'm sure. We were planning a foray up to Colima tomorrow but have cancelled for two reasons; lack of sleep but even more importantly the roads are being worked on between here and there and the traffic will be horrid. Maybe Manzanillo, but I think we'll wait a few days until we're fit to be on the roads.