Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: Highs and Lows

Every night when we ate dinner, Mary (our cruise director) made us go around the table and say what our high and low of the day was.  We all kind of thought it was hokey in the beginning, but it became my favorite way to end the day.

This is Nonie, my friend, travel companion and lucky duck owner of a condo in Mexico.

I have known her for years as our daughters have been friends since 1st grade.  It was our first time traveling together and I think we'd be good contestants on The Amazing Race.  Except we'd lose the first day because we both have to stop and pee all the time.  When that statue guy moved when we dropped money in his bucket, I seriously nearly peed in my pants.

What I found out about myself during High/Low time was that nature was my daily high.  I loved seeing the stars at night.  The moon over the ocean was jaw dropping gorgeous.  The sound of the waves crashing on the shore lulled me to sleep .  Sitting on the patio every morning with a cup of coffee watching bat rays jumping out of the water like they were on a trampoline.  The pelicans who seem to think they've been invited to every party.

And spending time with this cutie patootie before she leaves for college, who takes everything in stride including falling in the pool with all her clothes on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Riding The Rails

The Boy Child went with some friends by train to Chicago for spring break.  He toured a couple of design firms and said he just may end up living there after college.  Go for it, young man, go for it.

While they were there they had a discussion with an older, wealthy acquaintance of someone in their group about the trip.  They told him they came by way of Amtrak.  "Train?" he asked.  Why would you do that?"

The Boy Child told me this and said he never wanted to be rich because "those people tend to be douchebags when it comes to stuff like riding a train."

Lesson delivered.  Lesson learned.  All aboard.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: Making A Living

When I was in Mexico, I was amazed at how people go about making a living.  At the Mega store (which is like Target), the employees near the register are also selling time shares.  Asking where something is just might cost you a lot of bucks and a two week stay in a place you never heard of.

On the beach, you can buy a straw hat or a beach towel.  Just like hot dog vendors at the ballpark, these guys go up and down all day long trying to make a sale.

The stores................they're waiting for you.  Pretty lady, I've got some jewelry for you.  Or Viagra.

But the most amazing way to make a living to me were the guys in parking lots who wheel shopping carts full of buckets of water to clean your car, and do a fine job with little to work with.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Senior Tuesday

This is my favorite thrift store.  I frequent it often and have found some amazing things there.  Vintage picnic basket $4.99.  Camel hair coat $7.99.  Mad Men inspired cocktail shaker $3.99.  Silk black dress $12.99.

If you bring a donation, you get a 20% discount.  I can always find something to get rid of.  Like the cats.  Sometimes, though it's a little tough to come up with anything.

I have found out that at the age of 55 one qualifies for a 25% senior discount every Tuesday.  I don't think I look 55.  I usually don't feel 55.  The idea of saying that I'd like the senior discount is disturbing to me, but.........

I've always been a whore for a few bucks off.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: My Bags Are Packed I'm Ready To Go

On our last night in Mexico, Nonie and I went to an Office Max to use their computer to print our boarding passes.  First we had to have an employee unlock it so we could get on the internets.  Then, because we're 50-something dorks, we had to figure everything out like we'd never seen one of them there computers before in our life.  FYI.......imprimir means "print" in Spanish.

Nonie tried about five times to get their boarding passes to show up on the screen with the same response each time..........We're sorry  We moved on to ours and they printed with no problem.  Why the heck wouldn't hers print???  The confirmation code was some letters with an "o" or could it be a zero?  We tried every combination.

After a few minutes, she looked at the print out of her email and gasped.  Then she showed me.  We looked at each other and at the same time said, "OH MY GOD!"  With maybe an ef bomb or twenty in there, too.

At that very moment she was supposed to be on a plane that was minutes from landing in Phoenix.  El problemo amigo........she and I were cussing like a couple of sailors AT AN OFFICE MAX SOMEWHERE IN MEXICO. 

We drove like crazy back to the condo and she got on the phone with the airlines who got her and Mary on a flight leaving the day after us.  In the morning, she took us to the airport and came back here for one more day.........

...........while I was headed to Phoenix and taking a long, slow swan dive into the-vacation-is-over-pool.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: Until We Meet Again

Nonie took us to this cemetery which just about took my breath away the minute I walked through the gate.  The celebration of a life well-lived Mexico style................

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: Moby Dick

Amongst the five of us travelers, there was a discussion about whether we should take a sunset cruise or a whale watching cruise.  Whale watching, whale watching, oh please, oh please, oh please.  The majority decided on the sunset cruise.  Boo to the hoo.

We boarded a catamaran with the hunkiest deckhand in Mexico.  True story.   His name was Kale which coincidentally rhymes with whale.   This is the back of him because taking a picture of the front of him would be too obvious.  And desperate.  Maybe even pathetic.  Notice the cool tattoo on his right calf.  I did.  Often.

Nonie and I sure were having fun on that cruise with the mai tais, the sunset, the girls, the scenery.  Kale.

The captain came on deck to tell us that the whales have been active and we should look out yonder.  Whales on the sunset cruise?  Oh please, oh please, oh please.  I was scanning the water constantly, but the sun was going down and the water started looking blacker so every ten seconds I thought I saw a whale.   False story.   I gave up my search and told myself to enjoy the night, stop whining about the whales, get over it sista.  You still have Kale to look at.

And shortly thereafter, that's when I saw a spout of water in the air and I jumped up in the boat screaming, "THERE'S A WHALE!!!  THERE'S A WHALE!!!"  I took this pic..........

Which won't make the next issue of National Geographic.  Or ever.  Moby gave a slap of his tail and headed down to the underbelly of the ocean.  It was the best day.  Ever.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: I Say A Little Prayer For You

The most lovely Catholic church in the village of San Jose del Cabo....................

Whose interior was just as beautiful.................

With a place to light a candle to Mary.............

............or Joseph.

Or write your worries on a ribbon and leave them to a higher power........

 ......and then a reminder that the least among us need our help.


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: The Common Denominator

Our first full day in Mexico, we went to an organic market.  Over the bridge, through the desert, past some livestock working their cowbells and along some bumpy terrain, we arrived.

We wandered past food cooking on a grill that smelled so good it stopped us in our tracks, as well as fruits, veggies, flowers, a dog adoption booth, handmade knit sweaters, homemade English muffins, jewelry, painters, rug weavers..........

We stopped at a table where an artist sold milagros and little altars that were incredible.  He described the process of making them, and the passion he had for his wares jumped into the air and bounced everywhere.   He had a story about everything he sold and said, "In order to be protected by the Holy Spirit you must believe."   He looked me straight in the eye when I handed him my cash and asked, "Do you believe?"  

I think the flame of the Holy Spirit finds a home in the soul of those who create.  How could I not believe when I'd just come face to face with him?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Mexican Diaries: Leaving On A Jet Plane

When I am about to go on a trip, I go into full-fledged anxiety mode.  Under my fat hair, my brain is in overdrive thinking of everything that can go wrong that will lead to A LOOMING DISASTERWhen somebody asks me if I'm excited about my upcoming travels, I'll say oh yes can't wait, but my smile says root canal.  By the time I get into the car to go to the airport, I am fine because my brain has finally worn itself out.

The night before we left for Mexico I had a dream.  A shopkeeper I know who was so horrible with customers that her employees rarely let her out of the back room, was putting "locator pins" in my neck so in case I got lost I could be tracked.  There were 19 of them.........three large the rest small.  She put them in by first boring a hole with an electric drill and then inserting each pin into the hole.  The big ones?  They kinda hurt.

I related my dream to The Big Daddy in the morning and he said, "Sheesh.  Do you ever do anything thinking you'll have a good time?"  Eventually Obi-Wan-Kenobi, eventually.  We chuckled over my freak night and I got some coffee and the paper.

This was my horoscope............

You might want to rethink a decision, even if you thought it was a good one.  Someone around you could be explosive and quite different than he or she usually is.  Tonight:  Head home.

Aye carumba.
Source: via Matilda on Pinterest

Everybody's Irish

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Break

We are the peeps who never go on spring break.  When the whole town clears out, we take care of our neighbor's dog and bring in their mail.  We have been doing staycations long before they were called that.

But not this year.

Mallie Bee and I got invited to spend a week in Mexico (Cabo) with some friends who have a condo down there.  We couldn't pass that deal up so we head out today.  I'm not sure what the computer situation will be once we're there, and maybe I need to just enjoy the sun and water and company and not worry about posting anything.

Yes, that's the plan.

I'll see you in a week.  Rested up for the Easter bash we always host, Mallie Bee's graduation in May, Teacher Girl's wedding in June, and an empty nest in September.  Oh my, there's some stories on the horizon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Drip Drip Drip

When the weather gets nice, we live on our screened-in porch.  It's all kinds of cute and homey and summery.  And the best place to have a gin and tonic.  It is also so much work to keep clean and maintained that I sometimes curse it.  When we had it rescreened many years ago, I wanted it painted white.  Between primer and paint, it took THIRTEEN gallons.  If you saw it's teeny size, you would think I'm lying, but that raw wood sucked up that primer, spit it out and said "more please."

A couple of years ago, we noticed the paint on the ceiling kept peeling in the same spot, and we would scrape it and patch the paint job.  Then we noticed it was wet.  Then we said screw it.  We own this porch, it doesn't own us.  By the end of last summer, chunks of paint would fall down, and if you sat in the corner it wouldn't have been a bad idea to put a hardhat on.

This called for action.  Ya think?

Back in the day, The Big Daddy was a roofer, and considers himself to be an expert at finding leaks.  After many trips up to the roof, he couldn't find where the water was coming in and said, "It's the goddamn shingles on the house.  The water has to be getting in underneath the shingles."  He took me outside to show me the goddamn shingles and pointed out the goddamn gutters, too.  Home ownership sometimes always wears on his last nerve.

I called a repairman who found a hole in the corner of the roof about the size of the tip of your finger, and with some checking and double checking to make sure, he put some caulk in it and we should have no more problems.  Total cost $50.00.  I was so happy we got off that cheap that I TOLD EVERYONE, and in the telling The Big Daddy would huff and puff about this leak that eluded him.

When The Leak Hunter came back for the fix, The Big Daddy kept him company.  He told BD that he's been doing this for eight years, that leaks are a very tricky business, and he once found the source of one 200 feet from where the ceiling stain was.   Wow.  I guess.

The Big Daddy took a liking to that repairman, for in the midst of fixing this troublesome roof of ours, he restored his customer's bruised Man Card. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hats & Babies

Fifty five years ago today, I made my entrance......which BLOWS MY MIND because it hardly feels like I'm that old.  Oh, but I am. 

The Big Daddy and the kids had a celebration here on Sunday.  There I was standing at the kitchen counter clipping the Sunday coupons that I never use, and in comes The Boy Child from the university to surprise me with a day visit.  And that turned my mood right side up.

The story my parents related to me of my birth day goes like this............My dad took the train to work.  He got to work, hung up his hat and was about to take off his coat when the secretary said, "Not so fast.  Gerry called and she's in labor so you need to get home."  He turned around and went back to the station he'd just come from, and waited for a train that would take all morning to get him back home. 

These are my dad's hats which hang in my house.  Sitting beside him on the seat of the train that day, the felt Stetson was the keeper of his worries while he made his way home to his wife, and the new baby that was on her way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Before There Were Trophys

This was my 1st grade report card that I found last week.  The one where I was below average in every single subject the entire year.  They sure didn't sugarcoat anything back in the day if they thought you were dumb.

Sheesh.  I was six years old.  According to them, I even sucked at praying.  Who grades a little kid on how she prays?  The Archdiocese of Chicago in 1963, that's who.

One day when my older brother was on locker duty, he walked out the door and headed home because my grandparents and Aunt Belle were coming to town.  At 8:00 in the morning.  No cops were called, no code red, no worries.  Just a call from the principal telling my mom he was missing.  I'd give them an UNSATISFACTORY in Christian Doctrine for not getting on their knees and begging God to find that missing boy who disappeared on their watch.

He showed up at home awhile later and Mom told him he had to go back.  "You can't walk out of school every time we have company come to town."

He was pissed.  I don't blame him.  By the looks of my year I wasn't having much fun there either, and if I knew what he was up to I'd have taken my thumb-sucking, scared self right out the door with him.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Words From The Wise

Yesterday, I was hell-bent on finding something I drew back in the day.  I took an art class in college, and I'm no artist.  It was a pear and it got a raving review from the teacher and a big, fat "A".  I saved it, came across it recently, and when inspiration struck first thing in the morning, I could not find it.

I did find my 1st grade report card that was a collection of four semesters of straight L's.  As in low.  Even in Christian Doctrine for God's sake.  I found my high school journal and yearbooks.  I found a print The Big Daddy and I bought ten years ago and surprised him when he came home from work with it framed and hanging on the wall. 

Alas, no pear.

In my digging, I found a letter my dad wrote from him and my mom to all of us on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary.  The six of us kids pooled our dollars and came up with enough money for them to take a trip to Hawaii that Dad's company was sponsoring.  I remember getting the squeeze from one of my brothers to come up with more cash, I remember the party for them, and I remember them being over the moon about this trip.  For once, we got our act together and did something great for them.

These are some of my dad's words, written 36 years ago..............

As we said in our invitation, we looked upon it as "the birthday of our family."  It was not something that belonged to the two of us exclusively.  Rather, it belonged to the eight of us collectively.

God did not bring the two of us together just solely to please each other.  He joined us so that we may serve others........and in doing so together discover true happiness that comes from trying to live unselfishly with each other's help.

It takes a lot of whole lot of years of even come close to understanding that fact.  For us it seems we're only beginning to learn.  After 25 years we're just emerging from the kindergarten of discovering what life is really about.

He was a great writer, a great dad, a kinder man I have never known.  I'll keep looking for the pear, but in the meantime, the company of my dad by way of letter was a lovely way to spend the morning. 

I think it's what he'd call a discovery.