Sunday, January 15, 2017

TBD-The Black Dog

 She is a wily little bundle of energy with an agenda.  I noticed her the first day that I arrived. 
Something that is not typical for me.  But she was so intent on her  mission, which was to find anyone to throw the ball for her.  The first time I noticed her she was pushing the ball with her nose and aimed it directly for the back of the ankle of a little kid.  It hit like an eight ball in the pocket. 

The kid turned around, saw the ball, saw the dog and throwing the ball became all consuming for him
For TBD, it became catching it, if possible, in mid air or getting it fast enough and getting it back to the thrower fast enough so the game continued. 

The dog never became worn out, but the thrower, whoever it was, always did.

When I would come out on the balcony about 9AM, she was already sitting out on the beach with
the ball - ready and waiting.  It never took long.......or if there was no one, she played with herself by pushing the ball around in the sand with her nose or throwing it up in the air with her mouth and then chasing it. I swear it was like watching dog tricks continuously.

Two days ago I found out who her owner is and that her name is "Tia".  I was happy to know she has an owner and is not just a feral dog.

 I don't think I've ever seen a happier, busier dog.  From morning to sunset there she is bringing joy to herself and fun to others.  It doesn't take much - a ball, a rock, a stick and someone to throw it.  A life of simplicity. 
She plays well with little bitty kids or big burly men who think they can thrown farther then she can run.  Not possible.  Even when the little bitty kids throw it about a foot, she is still polite and brings it back to them.  Did you notice her ball in the surf, always nearby?

TBD, The Black Dog, as I nicknamed her, has a great life and has reminded me of  some of the important lessons in life these past ten days.  What a joy she has been to behold.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Here, Happy and Warm!

I'm here and happy to have the tranquility of the surf, the birds and, of course the whales.

Even though the trip was somewhat harrowing on approaching Guadalajara where the "people"
had commandeered the toll booth causing over an hour of sitting on the cuota, but other then that it was clear sailing and I can assure you, I was sailing...........

My gift of getting though that trip was to see a humpback whale come up and all the way out of the water yesterday afternoon.  I've seen them come up quite a bit before but never like this......the whale was HUGE  eliciting a large whoop from me.

I'm here in La Manz with friends and will leave here on Sunday to go to my usual place at the end of the goat Calechosa.

Life could not be better!  Sunsets and blue skies - perfect temperatures - woohoo.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Today was to be the day that I posted my annual "I'm outtahere" post as I head for the Pacific Ocean each year.  Sometimes earlier then this.

But today, the post is not outtahere, but "no fumar".  No smoking.

Let me explain.  I have received phone calls from friends earlier this morning telling me they are stranded in Lake Chapala and cannot go on because there is no gasoline at the Pemex stations anywhere in the area that they are located.  In fact, having driven from San Miguel yesterday to Lake Chapala there were many closed stations, and or, the few that were open had long lines and only one kind of gas, if any.

I informed them to look for little grocery stores called tiendas and to look for "no fumar" signs. ""What the heck?""was their response.  Here's the story.  It has saved my life, three times.  See those plastic containers in this photo?  They contain gasoline.  Now I don't know if it legal or bootlegged or what, but when one is
stranded in the middle of nowhere or in a little village or at the bottom of the canyon in Batopilas, there is nothing sweeter to see then a "no fumar" sign or those plastic containers.

The above photo was taken on my way from San Miguel to Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo in January of 2005.  Not only was there gasoline but also an outhouse.  Oh my, bliss, ha.

Another time while at the beach, as I left, I looked down and the orange button was lit and it was a long drive back to where I was staying.  What to do?  About that time I saw a little open air store with a "no fumar" sign.  I stopped the car, which contained some friends, popped into the place and came back with a woman who put gasoline in the car.  Somewhere I have a photo of that scene.

The last escapade was at the bottom of the canyon in Batopilas.  After driving for six hours to go ninety miles, I sure as heck did not want to make the drive back up without topping off my gasoline.  My fellow travelers assured me there was no Pemex station in Batopilas, which was understandable, but I knew that
there would be a "no fumar" sign somewhere.  Voila!  I drove down two streets and saw two signs.  Problem resolved.  Everyone else who had driven down were relieved as well and had no idea about the significance of a "no fumar" sign.

My friends were going to ride around Lake Chapala looking for the signs.  While doing that, I decided to go online and see what information I could find out.  Oh my, it's a mess.  A perfect storm.  It seems that, in fact, thirteen state are seriously affected with a major shortage of fuel.  Take all those traveling from the USA to Mexico for the holidays, the Mexican nationals who always travel for the holidays, a price increase that takes effect tomorrow on fuel and the fact that Pemex will no longer have a monopoly on fuel in Mexico effective tomorrow.  Let me reiterate, it is a mess.  It seems that in order to deliver fuel to the existing stations, Pemex sent out new contracts for the franchisees to sign and they only had 10 days to do so.  If not returned in that time frame, no fuel would be delivered.  Let me be the first to tell you that mail hardly ever gets to anyone in ten days even when mailed within country.  To send and return within ten days would be a miracle larger then the birth of the Baby Jesus.  I do not jest.

Of the thirteen states that have a crisis, I learned that Guanajuato, Michoacan, Jalisco, Colima and San Luis Potosi are at the top of the list.  Guess where I am and what states I would travel through?  Yup, Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Colima!

Needless to say, my "outtahere" blog might not get written for many days.  Even though I rented the house on the beach in LaManzanilla effective January 1st, I, unfortunately will not be there.  Bummer.  It might be a while before my toes are in the sand and I'm walking through this glorious surf.

And, so it goes in Mexico!  I remember this happening in the USA back in the late 70's when there was no gasoline to be had.  What does one do?  Stay where I am until this mess is over or I get word that there IS gas from here to there.....

Stay tuned.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Oh The Places to Sit and Read

Either life is getting busier or I'm slowing down - maybe a bit of both.  Much to my joy, recently I found out that my daughter, Mrs. Hogan, has written a proposal to help the kids she loves and teaches on a full time basis.

Now, both she and I have some homework for you so you can read about this proposed project.  I could not upload the page from the non-profit, so here is what you can do.

Type in, then  type in Oh the places to sit and read - Porter, Texas and the whole page will come up.  It's a relatively tiny project that will have a huge impact on these kids that come from low
income families.

Any donations made in the next four days will be matched dollar for dollar by Donors Choice up to $50USD, if you put LIFTOFF, in the Promo Code box.

The thing I'm so thrilled about is that my daughter, who has always worked for the underdog and kids, chose reading as the way to help these kids to expand their horizons.  Needless to say my pride in her knows no bounds.

Hopefully reading is important in your life.  I know many of you out there who are avid readers.  Could you help with a little donation?

Thanks so much!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

An Innocent Choice

On Facebook here locally there are several sites to sell merchandise that one no longer needs.  Several times there have been things that would be helpful or that I just wanted for my house or for me. Each purchase, at a modest price has been a really "good thing" as Martha Stewart used to say.

Recently it had occurred to me that I had several VHS tapes that I had no idea what they included.  I wanted to have them converted to CDs but first wanted to know what was on them.  Just curiosity.  I no longer had a VHS tape player.  Voila, a friend, Todd, posted one for sale on San Miguel Buy Sell Trade.  Not only was it a VHS player but it is a TV with a VHS player as one unit.  I immediately contacted him and on Friday evening he brought it by the house.I bought it for the BIG price of 500 pesos - $25USD!  In our discussion he mentioned that sometimes when tapes are very old it could be difficult to get them to work.  In my case one tape is a VHS that had been transferred from a video camera in 1961~ another from the early 90s at Christmas with the third being my 50th Birthday Celebration which was "mumble something" years ago.
I was concerned that I might never be able to see these tapes, after his comments.

Yesterday, I pulled a chair up, sat down, turned on the TV and inserted the first tape with my fingers crossed.
I truly had no expectations and since I had not seen this tape in possibly thirty years or so, had no idea what
to expect.

Oh my!  It was my wedding from 1961.  But, more then that there was on this video my parents, my older brother and of course my new husband, among others.  All of the aforementioned are deceased.  What a treasure to see everyone again.  The tape rolled to the end with my husband and I driving off on our honeymoon.  In that video are friends of mine who I have stayed in touch with all these years. Sitting there with tears streaming down my face with joy, it was a wonderful and unexpected gift. 

The tape continued with a segment of a time in Mississippi at my in-laws.  The scene was my oldest daughter Jennifer, who was about four at the time,  playing in their front yard with her uncle.  Scampering around and playing with a scene of my dear mother-in-law included.  A treasure indeed along with footage of my husband, Ted playing football with is little brother.  I can't wait for my son John and daughter Julie to see this tape!  Their Dad was 20 years old  on this tape. 

After it was over, the next tape was inserted, it was my 50th Reggae Birthday party out by the pool at my house with about fifty dear friends.  My son had recorded this lo those many years ago.  Again, in this video are dear friends who have passed.  But the fun of seeing them was to see everyone acting silly and having fun trying to do the limbo among other things. Dancing to the reggae band that was playing live was another thing to make me giggle.  What great friends I have always been blessed to have in my life.

The third tape was not marked so it was with great surprise that I found out it was our 1990 Christmas gift exchange that went on for about an hour.  My boyfriend, at the time along with his son Barry along with John, Jennifer and Julie with her husband were all there as well.  The banter and humor were fun to see.
The reason for the video camera was that the kids were giving me a portrait of the three of them and they knew in advance that their dear old Mom would cry.........I did not disappoint.......they know me well.
This is the only portrait of my three grown children that I have.  This was taken in 1990.  Of course I treasure it and it sits where I can see it daily. Opening this gift was one of the highlights of this video.
However, the highlight also was watching my kids interact with each other that Christmas.  Later I realized this was the last Christmas before grandchildren as well!  Jessica was conceived the following year and was around for Christmas in 1992.

Whew, watching those three tapes was joyful along with being very emotional.  It is interesting how an innocent choice to buy a TV/VHS player could bring back so much joy.

Today I hope to watch a few more videos, but I need to get some things accomplished before I take the time to sit and reminisce. 

An innocent choice certainly led to a few hours of great memories.  I've received a Christmas gift that money can not buy.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Lists

Having always been a list maker, this time of the year that list making goes into overdrive.  There is the list of who to send money cards and Christmas cards.  Then there is the list of who to buy gifts for.  That has a sub-list in the case of the little grandchildren separated by names, items, and costs so that everything is even, money wise, at the end.

This year there is the Amazon list which seemed like a dream to just sit down, order and wait.  But, then
that one order became four orders with one item never shipping, so that one item went back on the list of things to buy for one of the grandchildren.  I knew it was too easy.

Now I'm to the Baking and Grocery shopping list.  What to bake - what ingredients to buy to bake all the goodies and who is going to get the goodies.  First off are the men in the parking lot where I park.  The first
year I brought a goodie plate to them, their smiles said it all.  Can't forget them.  And so, the list goes on.
It is such fun to take gifts to those who don't expect it.  It is getting harder and harder though to stand for hours in the kitchen and bake all this stuff.  This tradition may be ending in a year or so.

I'm not the only one making lists.  Matilda and Sebastian sent their lists to Santa around Thanksgiving time.
I photographed it as I think it is so cute that Mati wrote it for Sebastian.  His list is very long, her list, not so much.  She also asks for things for Scout, their dog and her cat.  Precious.

Of course, the one with the blue hearts is Sebastian's and the pink hearts are Matilda's list.  Just to make sure that Santa noticed them, they included messages to him of how much they love him and drawings that are
adorable.  Well, to a Grammy anyway.

Over the years I've seen many lists, but the most memorable have always been the ones that the kids and grandkids have written.  It is always refreshing to see life from their perspective.

Being a list maker can have its hazards.  One year, many years ago, I lost my main list for Christmas.  Honestly, I wondered if it would all get done.  If I would find all the things I had hidden from the kids - I did not - which became a family joke every year.

Truly, I don't know how anyone can get through this season without a list........or in my case, many lists!

Feliz Navidad.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

It's a JUNGLE Out There!

Many times the blog posts have been about the many creatures who have from time to time taken up residency in the gardens or "nature sanctuary"" as I call, it outside my windows.

There was the coatamundi who fell in the fireplace chimney several times several years ago.  Then the hissing opposum that sounded much much bigger then it probably was as it stationed itself on the ledge outside my bedroom wall of windows at night.  Still there is the fluffy, big grey squirrel that scampers around.  Assorted feral cats pass through or take a siesta from time to time on the chaises in the sun, but, the most fascinating creature  lately, besides the golden leaves falling, is a BIG black bird.

It has decided to adopt me whenever I come home, or am sitting in the gardens or even when I'm on the other side of the wall of windows at my computer! 
How do I know this?  Well, because it doesn't just bathe or drink water from the many bird baths, but it squeaks and squeals so that I turn around to see it.  At first it appeared it was my imagination.  Then one day while eating my lunch outside in the upper garden, the bird perched on the balcony of the guest house and trilled and sang and I sang back.  The more I made sounds, the more it did.  Fascinating, to put it mildly.  Of course I have become more aware of it now that I pay attention to the sounds and flying of its big wings.

 Here it is greeting me as I came in the gate yesterday and it was making all kinds of noises.
As I walked farther into the garden it scooted down the railing and sat there watching and serenading.

The big black bird does not bother the plethora of hummingbirds or the many species of butterflies in
the gardens these days.  It is a Peaceful Kingdom within these walls.  Everyone gets along!

Wouldn't it be nice if the peacefulness of the garden could be replicated everywhere?