Monday, April 30, 2007

Otherwise known as the black hole...

This is what the jeep looks like now. Cobbo swears it will be a thing of beauty when he's finished. We'll see! One thing is for certain -- HE is no thing of beauty right now. Pretty grubby. Except for those teeth. Get a load of those beauties! So far he has spent about 25 hours in the dentist's chair. Not a lot of fun. But he's a happy camper doing this!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Learning to watercolor

For the sake of history I am posting my very first watercolor. And then I cheated, I guess, by filling in the details with black ink. But here it is. Tah dah, or whatever..... Have to admit that watercolors are much more portable than oils!
If you want to see where this door is, click on this link to take you back to one of my prior posts. I now know the blue door leads into Elizabeth and Ingemon's back yard.

And by the way, we also got a scanner and after only six weeks of it sitting in the box, I finally connected it. Moving right along on the technical end down here!

The jeep

I mentioned earlier that Larry sold his surfing van. Well, he bought a jeep. It was not one of his finer moments as a car guy. Turns out it was lacking a few an air filter, a gas gauge, shock absorbers, brake lights -- I don't know what all. I sort of started glazing over when the subject came up.

Shortly after he got it, he tried to adjust something and blew out all the electrical. A brilliant kid down here spent a day sorting through the spaghetti behind the dashboard and got everything in electrical order. (He asked 150 pesos for his day's work. Larry gave him twice that and a lecture on valuing his skills.)

Now everything is ripped out of it. He's having new seat covers and a bikini top made, a new dashboard fabricated, filling in the holes in the floorboards. (No more up close and personal with those cobblestones!) He's repainting trim details and generally tricking it out. He's absolutely in his element, and I'm happy he's got a project. He tells me about every detail and I nod and smile a lot.

I think it's going to be all right after all. Believe it or not, someone's already offered him more than what he's got in it. There is no accounting for what guys like.

It's been a while....

I've gotten out of the habit of blogging. What's happened is that I've started WALKING in the early morning with a friend down the block. It's getting warm enough that any physical activity needs to be done in those early morning hours, but early morning has also been my time alone with my blog! I need to reset my internal clock!

Here are a few short entries just to let anyone who's interested know what's been going on around here.....

Friday, April 20, 2007

A House with a History....but which one?

A few months back Larry was sitting on the front porch watching the parade of tourists go by on their way to and from the beach. One very old guy stopped to talk. "You know the history of your house?" he asked.

Well we've heard a variety of histories -- as wide as the variety of things we found in the basement. But this guy was over 90 years old and has been in this area since he retired when he was in his mid-forties. ("My wife's a spring chicken -- not even 80 yet. Robbed the cradle, I did. Heh, heh.") So here is his voice, plus a few others. Anyone who's been here any amount of time has something to say about this house and its history. It's a story as textured and as colorful as one of Raul's Oaxacan rugs:

The house was built by a narcotraficante. Well, people said he was a drug lord. Who really knows? But there was a high wall immediately behind the swimming pool, right up close to the water. Not the deck and barbecue area that are there now. Jim, the guy you bought it from, built that. The estero ran right at the base of the wall, so boats could come in behind the house and throw bags of drugs up and over the wall into the pool.

No, it was bags of money. John Z, the third owner, found $40,000 cash hidden in one of those pipes in the basement. Only a narcotraficante could overlook such a sum -- actually forget where he had stashed it!

No. No! That's all just fiction. There was never a narcotraficante. It was Sandy Frank who built the house. He was a famous TV producer from New York. You remember Name That Tune? He liked his privacy. That's why there was the high wall behind the pool.

The narcotraficante's friend built another house over on Los Flamingos. Number 17.
It was #48.

No it was definitely #46.
Well, it was one of those old ones.
There was no narcotraficante. There was no friend.
Maybe it wasn't even on Los Flamingos at all. Remember the streets weren't laid out until much later, when they brought all those truckloads of fill in.

The narcotraficante's friend shot him dead in the living room of your house.
Oh, no! Not in the house at all! It was outside in the street. Everyone saw it.
Ridiculous. No one was ever shot. There was NO narcotraficante.

He wasn't shot. He left the country fleeing for his life. He's living in the States now. And you say he forgot the $40,000?! He never had a chance to get it!

The narcotraficante's friend is in prison now. No one knows where. No one knows for how long.
The friend is dead.
What friend?

Sandy Frank bought the house cheap because of the murder. But he hardly ever came here.
Sandy Frank was a very good friend of ours. He was down here all the time.
Sandy Frank was an eccentric loner. He built that sink in the hallway so he could wash his hands constantly -- just like Howard Hughes!
Sandy Frank is dead. He left the house and all the property on the otherside of
Golondrinas to a Jewish Foundation.
Sandy Frank is alive, well, and doing fine in Manhattan. Unless that's another Sandy Frank!

The house sat vacant for a long time and became the rat trap of the neighborhood.
A real eyesore.
A total wreck.

John Z bought the house. He was a soldier of fortune. All those flag holders bolted to the roof are where he displayed the flags of the countries who hired him to fight. People around here used to call your house "the embassy."
John Z was the meanest SOB that ever lived. He hated Mexicans and they hated him.

John Z was a really interesting guy. He did a lot to improve the house.
John Z kept order on the street. There was never any carousing in the cul-de-sac when John lived there. He had a stick with a big nail in it and would go down and beat the crap out of anybody partying.
John Z lives somewhere south of here.
John Z went back to the States.
John Z could never go back to the States. No one knows where he is.
John Z kept remodeling the house, looking for more cash. You know he found $40,000 in one of those pipes down there in the basement?

Your guy Jim bought the house from John Z. He and his wife did a lot to it. Built that little room up on top. Built that deck and barbeque area out back. Tore out the whole kitchen. Did you know there used to be a fireplace in the kitchen? See, that's where the chimney went up through the roof. You thought that little thing-a-ma-jig on the roof was just for decoration? Nope. When this house was built there was no electric, no gas. How much did you pay? You're kidding me! Damn, I sold too soon. Sold my house back about the time your guy Jim bought this one. Shoulda waited just a year or two more. Woulda been a rich man. But couldn't keep up with the maintenance. Gettin' old. Houses are hard work. You been in that basement lately?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More creative impulses

Sometimes this blogger program lets me insert pictures, and sometimes it doesn't. This is one of those doesn't times. So I'll just give you a link to a website with pictures!

My neighbor Bobbi Atwood hosts an artists gathering every Tuesday morning. (It was from her roof that I took the photo of our house in my last post.) I'm really grateful to be included in this group. It helps to have a designated time to pick up and go paint. I just started a couple of weeks ago, after the guest instructor they'd had for the season finished her course. As you can see as you browse through the site, just about everyone is doing watercolors and flowers. New territory for me!

With watercolors you have to plan ahead, know where you're going and how you're going to do it. Really new territory for me right now. But Bobbi put up some of my older work on the website she and her daughter Debbie created, and trusts I'll produce more. She's provided me with paper, loaned me brushes, and given me a lot of encouragement. Did I mention she used to teach elementary school?

Click on the link and come meet some of my new friends!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The snowbirds are leaving

But the cormorants are still hanging out in our tree. They sound and act like pigs. They've pushed the snowy, elegant egrets across the estero and into a tree on the island. Here's a photo of some of them hanging out on a branch. I took it from our veranda. The distance shot shows the dome of our house on the left, taken from the upper level of Roger and Bobby's house. You can see what a mess the birds leave in the tree. The guayaba tree looks frosted!

There's still frost on the ground up north, but our snowbird neighbors are headed home anyway. Up and down the street they've been packing up and leaving, gifting us with the contents of their refrigerators and cupboards. We won't have to eat out for weeks. Which is probably a good thing, because it looks like the eating establishments in town are closing down, as well. We drove into Guayabitos around 12:30 today (looking for our mail at the post office -- we found a bunch more), and even though signs in restaurant windows said "Abierto 11- 6," there was no sign of life at all. It's like a collective sigh of relief after Semana Santa.

We took our last set of houseguests to the airport Thursday. Friday was "Princess Day:" I went to the dentist, and then to get a haircut. At the hair salon, I found Jeanette getting a final pedicure, so I stayed and got one while she got her hair cut. Then we both went home to let Patricia work her magic on our backs (see Jeanette's blog entry, "The Gals Who Spoil.")

Saturday was tons of laundry day; Sunday was for saying goodbye to friends. Today was stare-at-the-walls day -- the first day of starting to catch up on paperwork stuff that has been left undone for a long time. So, of course, I played a lot of Minesweeper and Free Cell. Tuesday, tomorrow -- that's when I'll start being productive.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet....

....but maybe sunshine. Postal service is iffy, at best, around here. Larry got a birthday card yesterday. It wasn't delivered by the postman. A neighbor down the street brought it to us. They found it at the post office, because the envelope was a real stand out. Thanks, Dee and Warren! You got it off in plenty of time, because it arrived in our town on March 28, which is one day before Larry's birthday.
But there it stopped! Seems the postman here was in an accident and he can't ride his scooter, so there hasn't been any mail delivered for several weeks. And he's not expected to be back on the road any time soon. So after the five day period (see postmarks on the back of envelope above) that it takes for mail to get from La Penita to Rincon de Guayabitos (about one mile) mail is sort of dumped behind the counter, and residents can go down and sort through it themselves. We just found this out. Yesterday we went down to see if there is anything else for us, but it was after two o'clock, and the place was closed for the day.
At least we don't have to deal with junk mail. Like I say, anybody want a paper shredder -- cheap?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Our guests are in shock

When Peggy, Rachel and Ayumi decided to come for spring break, none of us knew about Semana Santa. They are now talking about a shopping trip to Guadalajara this weekend. Exit, stage left!

Click the link in this entry and have a look at our cul-de-sac. The photo with the yellow hibiscus in front is taken from our front porch. Do a little more scrolling through Jeanette's blog and get the bigger story on Semana Santa -- the wonderful faces and happy people. Bruce and Jeanette are such caring, big-hearted, generous people. But so are our other neighbors! Paul and Bobby, Susana and Siro, Chuck and Wendy, Danny and Nancy, Dave and Ally, Keith and Sharon, Charlie and Mona -- all up and down Las Golondrinas: we are blessed beyond measure with the neighbors we have! I'll get some pictures of our gringo friends pretty soon and let you know what a great group we've got here! Right now, I've got to see about hotels in Guadalajara. From the looks of our beaches, they should all be empty!


These are some scenes from the plaza in front of the church in La Penita last night. The mass was going on inside -- a somber commemoration of the betrayal and crucifixion. Yesterday's Mexican TV news was full of Good Friday fulmination and self-flagelatory footage. (How's that for alliteration?) Not only did we have processions of penitents whipping their own bare backs, but lots of Catholic bishops eager to give their opinion on just what they think of the Mexican Parliament voting this last week to legalize abortion. It's like there IS no other news. Humanity is obviously going to hell in a handbasket, and Mexico is leading the way.

But in La Penita last night a quiet kind of happy carnival atmosphere prevailed. Nothing really raucus. A band would play now and then. There were games: foosball and shooting galleries, and places where you could throw three rocks at a line of empty bottles for the privilege of winning -- a beer! But from my observation, there was a lot more interest in blowing bubbles, watching sugar transform to cotton candy, and painting ceramics than in smashing and shooting things.

Life -- creation and creativity -- go on. Outside the church. In the plazas, on the streets and by beach fires and homefires everywhere. No by your leave or any official sanction is required. No one can impose Life, and no one can ever really stop it. That's just the way Life is. All by Itself.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Semana Santa has begun!

Two shots of the beach across the street from us -- in front of Jeanette and Bruce's place. One with friend Jerry from last week. Then the tents arrived last weekend. Haven't had a chance to read Jeanette's blog this week, but I imagine she's had something to say about the situation. Houseguests here. Taking them into PV today. Hilda comes tomorrow. Next group comes Wednesday. Hope THEY get a chance to see some sand on our beach.....maybe not! More from me later. Longing for that hamaca!