Friday, March 27, 2015


Tonight we went down to Dago's and lo and behold!  He was closed!  All the tables and chairs were stacked up and covered in tarps, the beach umbrellas, tables and chairs were wrapped up, and his sign was gone.  Yikes!  What about my shrimp salad for tomorrow's opera, "Lucia de Lammemoor"?  This is the first time in 25 years of patronizing Dago's puesto that I can remember him being closed.  It may have something to do with the horrid infestation of mosquitoes.  Yes, they have virtually taken over the town, thanks to all the rain we had a couple of weeks ago.  We've had them in the house, in the car, definitely in the garden.

But take heart!  The spray trucks came by this evening about 7 PM and thoroughly saturated the neighborhood  The truck drove by our house twice laying down its fog of who-knows-what so we should be bug-free by tomorrow.  Just in time for the Easter crazies which will start next Wednesday when the disco erects its light poles and speakers and begins its sound testing.  Fortunately we have been invited to sleep elsewhere.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

transforming the grey wall: step 1

My friend Liz has the best color eye, so I turned to her about the shades for the ugly grey wall across the street.  She gave me  sage advice and sent along some photos she had taken when she was in Marrakesh, Morocco.  This one grabbed me immediately!

To my eye the door color is not quite turquoise, not quite teal but somewhere in between.  I had decided to paint the bottom 3/4 a green shade, the top what here would be called Corona blue (for the beer company's ubiquitous advertising colors).  But what shade of green?  Too dark and the leaves of the plants would not show up.  Too lime-y and it would look like a giant margarita mix.  But this door color would be perfect.

So off we went to the paint store yesterday.  I fanned through two of their color wheels, hemming and hawing, picking and rejecting.  (I should note that my color vision is not what it used to be, especially in the blue/green shades; too much laser surgery.)  But I finally hit upon these two colors, had a liter of each mixed and hoped I was somewhere in the ball park.

Once I got a look at the allegedly "green" I had chosen I realized it was much too turquoise.  I put up a sample on the wall to see it in situ.

To my eye the turquoise shade is nowhere close to what I'm after.   I've looked around the house for something I have that is the shade I want.  I've come up with a pillow case that's closer, in the green family.   So it's back to the Prisa store toting my pillow case for another try.

I also looked at the paint job with the lighter color on top, the rich blue on the bottom but it's too  dark.  Besides, it would look like a giant Corona ad; all it would need are a few bottles painted on it.  I wanted the green to be sort of jungle-y with the blue of the sea on top.

You know, this just might be a fool's errand!

Monday, March 23, 2015

the garden wall

I put the potted plants back on the new garden wall and am delighted with how they look. 

So much nicer than those ugly, stained tops.  Thanks again, Eve!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

back in business

A year ago Fernando decided he wanted to put his puesto on the market.  Then, instead of selling it he rented it.  The rental period was up last week and he decided not to renew the lease.  He reopened it as his own again and we are delighted he did.  Chuy cooks the best fish on the malecón, bar none (Dago holds that honor for shrimp).  We went down for comida and believe me, she has not lost her touch; a beautiful piece of fresh fish fillet sautéed in garlic, some guacamole, rice, steamed veggies, fruit salad and house-made French fries.  What could be better on a beautiful Sunday afternoon?

And indeed it was beautiful; clear, warm, sunny with a light breeze.

The crowd was sparse when we arrived but by the time we strolled home it was jumping with families both in the restaurant and down at the beach tables.  Fernando and Chuy, along with their kids and relatives had worked all week getting the place ready.  I went down  during the week to check on progress; it was a terrible mess when the renters left ~ une disastre as Fernando called it ~ but today everything had been scrubbed and polished and cleaned and it looked almost new and unused.

This is the view looking north . . .

 and looking south.

Endless stretch of sand and sea and not too many people (yet).  That blue plastic tub on the beach is a little kiddie pool; all the puestos have them to amuse the small fry and keep them safely out of the (sometimes treacherous) surf.

Welcome back to the business of food and drink down on the beach.  Our Sundays haven't been anywhere near as tasty since you left!

Friday, March 20, 2015

five weeks and counting

We have only five more weeks here before we head home so I am looking around for something else to beautify this lovely place.  I've done about all I can do in the house; I've tiled every available surface, painted everything, seen to all the furnishings.  (We were in Colima today and I checked on the progress of the redo of the sofa and love seat; next week [hahahahaha]).  So I have looked beyond the walls of the house to something I can do to make the neighborhood surrounding us more attractive.  I am not the only one ~ resident or visitor ~ who tries to make our little village a prettier place.  It's true that there is a lot more that could be done to improve the streets, such as filling in killer potholes, but that's the city's responsibility, not ours.

Across the street from our house is just about the ugliest wall anywhere.  It is a cement block structure, grey and stained.  A real eyesore.  It surrounds a lot that, I hope, will never be built on but I have to look at every day.  So I've decided that my new project is to paint it some wonderful color and plant bushes along the street to hide it and make looking at it a whole lot more pleasant.  First we hired Omar and his brother to clean the areas around the wall of all the weeds and debris.  That in itself made a huge difference.  Then we went to an excellent vivero on the road to Colima and bought eight plants, four bougainvillea and four oleander (adelfa or laurel).   Eight plants, the one-gallon size, set us back 200 pesos ($13.50).  We may need more but this will be a start.

 I'm not going to plant these things until after Easter as they will get trampled on by the revelers who park along that wall.  But after, Omar (gardener) and I will lay them out and get them in the ground.  Both are fast growing here and pretty tolerant of mid-level neglect.  I bought them now so they can acclimate to the Cuyutlán salt air and not keel over when I get them in the ground.

Before planting  I want to paint the wall before Easter so will go to the Prisa store in Tecoman to consult with the paint guru about what kind of paint to buy, how much, and decide on a wonderful color.  Something Mexican.  Bright!  If I concentrate I can get this done before we go and leave behind my contribution to the beautification of this part of town.  Lord knows it needs it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

world news roundup

From our reporters in London, these two are together for a few days.  Em arrived safely on Wednesday morning after an o'nighter from Seattle.

Looks cold.

The news locally is that the tiling project is done and looks gorgeous.  I don't know how he did it but the grout is almost the same color as the wall.  I'm very pleased.

In other news, we're just enjoying the beautiful sunshine which we are going to have for about 10 days.  Then there's another chance of more gray skies.  Trip to Colima tomorrow to check on the progress of the sofa re-upholstery, to pay a visit to a huge nursery for some new plants, and undoubtedly lunch at Cronos. 

Saturday's opera:  Massenet's "Manon ".  I'll be listening while enjoying my "opera" salad of shrimp from Dago's.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

blue skies at last

After 3 days of this . . .

we finally got this.

Blue skies today! We got an overall rainfall of 6".  I have been mentally urging the storm north to thirsty California but I don't think it has done much good.  I guess my powers of suggestion are weak.  After tucking up and reading for the past few days  I did finish "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" by Doris Goodwin; long but very good.  Now a quick read of Daniel Silva's latest Mossad caper, "The Heist" to be followed by Marilynne Robinson's "Lila" for which I believe she has just won the National Book Critics Award.

No Eve for the past few days but once things dry out a bit he'll be back to finish the wall.  All that's left is grouting but all the grout lines filled up with water during the storm!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

lull in the storm

It rained off and on all day yesterday, sending us over 2" of rain.  Just before dinner last night Mr. C looked out the window and saw this.

The other half went over the colonia and into the sea.  It was a lovely moment of clearing.  Then, later in the evening we saw this.

Shortly thereafter a cold wind came up and the rain started again.  We sent our guests home under an icy downpour.  It rained off and on during the night but this morning it is merely gray and damp and windy.  We slated for more rain today and tomorrow.   So much for the hot tripics!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

cool weather cooking

We have been watching the weather for the past few days.  BIG RAIN IS COMING, or so the weather sites say.  But it did look threatening on Wednesday.

Then this passed and we had a reprieve.  But it all started this morning about 4 AM with thunder rolls, lightening and a nice drenching.  It's  supposed to be like this, off and on, for three or four days.  Saw this beauty in the garden this morning, beaded with rain drops.

But the rain has returned big time.  In buckets!

 Right now, as I look out the windows and listen to today's opera, Rossini's Lady of the Lake, the rain is pouring down.  It will last for about 2 minutes, then stop for awhile to let it all soak in then start again.  I am having my traditional shrimp salad, thanks to dinner at Dago's last night.  It was the last Friday get-together with the Neighbor Nelsons who leave for the US on Monday morning.  It seems it was a mighty short season for them but they insist it was the usual time.  My assessment:  they need to stay longer.

To take advantage of the cooler weather I decided to do something interesting with fish.  On Thursday we did errands in Tecoman and ended up back in
Armeria for fish.  A Diane Kennedy recipe came to mind; roasting a whole fish.  I found two small red snappers at the fish market and hit on Huachanango Veracruzana.  I've made it before and it's always good.

First the little fishies, cleaned and gutted.  You poke it all over with a sharp knife, rub it with salt and lime juist and let it marinate.  T he rich and delicious tomato sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, jalapeños in escabeche, fresh oreganop (from my own garden!),onions and garlic.

Pour over the fish and pop into the oven. 

An hour later, dig in (watch for bones)!  ¡Muy picante y sabroso!

The internet is very sporadic today so I better get this posted before I lose it again.  Some dinner guests tonight so I must bustle around and get things ready.  Mr. C is making coffee ice cream for the event.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

a milestone birthday

Today is granddaughter Emily's 21st birthday and we, down here in the tropics, send her our heartiest felicidades up there in Walla Walla.  She is taking off in the next few days to visit brother Andrew in London.  Then (oh lucky woman) it's off to Paris for her very first visit.  Imagine being 21 and seeing Paris for the first time.  Dreamy!

Here,  where it's just about as far from Paris as possible, Eve arrived yesterday to begin the wall project.  First he chipped away at the wall cap to make some grip surface for the pegamento.

Next he began the layout for the tile pattern.  The big ones are the tiles we used when we redid all the floors.  The patterned tiles are left over from the kitchen remo.   Never throw anything away; you never know when an opportunity to tile something may arise!

He should be back today to finish the layout on the tops, cut the pieces for the sides and maybe even do some grouting.  I like it!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday pizza party

Blanche and Bob have built a pizza oven in their garden and today was its inaugural firing.  Pizza party for about a dozen!  Neighbor Nelson came over this morning for a pizza dough lesson, made one batch.  I made two batches and took down some pesto and fresh basil to garnish the pizzas.

This is the best pizza dough recipe I've ever found.  Thin, crispy crust, delicate interior, great flavor.  Quick, easy, failure-proof, delicious.

We went down to the party site to inspect the new oven.  Very nifty!

It is heated by both charcoal and wood and the temperature got up to about 850º.  There was a big table covered with dishes and platters of trimmings ~ veggies, cheese, meats, pesto, sauces, flavored oils ~ and bowls of dough ready to be pinched off, shaped and layered with toppings.

Two of the cooks, Sibyl and Neighbor Nelson, preparing a pizza for the oven

it took about 15 minutes for each little pizza to cook.

Ready to eat!

And to wash it down . . .

Much good conversation, good food and drink, good fellowship.  After the pizzas were finished and the place cleaned up, it was time to haul out the fixings for margaritas.

Sibyl, Blanche, Mrs. Neighbor Nelson
Here's to women behind the bar . . . and everywhere else, too!

Friday, March 6, 2015

check out the paint job

This morning, while waiting for some guests (who never came because the Ms. was sick) we marveled at how beautiful the house looks now that it's all done, new and shiny.  We sat up on the third floor and enjoyed the view, the new paint, the cleaned up cracks, etc.  I realized then that I had neglected to post many of the "after" photos.  So here are a few, along with a couple of pixof the "before" jobs that Eve will start on Monday.

The two photos above show the "weather wall" in the house, facing southeast.  This is where the heat and rain beat on the house and paint jobs don't last too long.  But they did a great job of peeling off great slabs of old paint, repairing the cracks and then repainting.  The area in the foreground belongs to the Hotel Oasis, across the street.  They have expanded into this formerly vacant lot to build a little kiddie pool and places for people to sit under umbrellas.  The cement pilings will anchor a wall before too long (maybe by Easter).

Here are the "after" shots.

Here's the lovely house in its new paint job.

These walls are now as smooth as anything.  Of course when they demolished the old cement they removed all the nails we had pounded in to hang pictures so it looks pretty bare.  They also fixed a wall in the kitchen that was cracked and terribly moldy because of the damp.

Much better.  They also fixed the cap on the cabinet and the crumbling cement inside it. 

Those are the most visible fixes.  Otherwise it's just a fresh coat of paint that gives the whole place a new and shiny look.

Now for Eve's next project.  In the kitchen, some of the drainboard tiles cracked because the underlying cement support had broken off.

Eve will remove all the cracked tiles and lay down new ones.  Jaime built up the interior of the cabinet underneath so this shouldn't happen again.  Then there's the entryway project.

This is the entry from the street.  On the left is a wall around the little guest garden.  The wall has a cap on it where I set plants; spider plants, geraniums and anything else I can get to grow.  But doing so has badly discolored the paint job  ~ and it will only happen again ~ so I'm having the top tiled.  Eve will use a mix of the same ceramic tile we have on the floors and some traditional Mexican bara tiles.

You can see how grungy they look.  I have great expectations!

So that's how it is here in the tropics.  Weather continues to be gorgeous with occasional cool mornings and evenings but usually it's just like this.

So how's the weather in your neck of the woods?  Ours is pretty darned nice as you can see.

Tomorrow's opera:  Carmen.  Tune in.