Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
What I have discovered is that each group tends to have its own personality – dependent on the membership. For instance, almost every Mexican town has its message board. These boards have a very chatty, in-group feel to them. You really need to live in the community to understand the exchanges – exchanges that generally have the feel of a Methodist social (even though “naughty” topics -- such as, the best “gentlemen’s” club -- creep in now and then, to everyone’s giggling delight).
But, like all communities, there tend to be seedy bars where community members hang out because they probably have trouble fitting into other social environments. I belong to two message boards that fall into this category. They tend to attract people who believe that they know everything, but, in truth, have little experience to share with others.
Let me give an example. A woman wrote a very timid posting indicating that she was moving to Mexico with her handicapped husband, but she had certain fears for her safety. Obviously, what she needed to hear was that the city she was moving to was safer than most American cities and that with the usual cautions that people use in their lives, she would be fine. Instead, she got a series of stories about beatings, robberies, kidnappings, and physical disfigurement – all of which had either happened to the tellers or to their very close personal friends and neighbors. Most of the stories sounded as if the tellers had missed out on a couple days of medication.
I felt sorry for the story tellers. They obviously have control issues in their own lives. But I felt even worse for the woman who had asked the question. She had stumbled into the local dive thinking she was in the reference library.
Why not? Indeed.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
1. Everyone knows this one. The big R. The ski jump. The precipice. Pick your cliché. A recession is on the way. That will mean that housing prices will be depressed a bit longer. My home town already has a glut of unsold houses on the market -- some in my own neighborhood. But everyone knows this story.
2. This little piece of bad news is not as well-known. Buckle your seat belts for a series of mortgage insurance and bond insurance bankruptcies. The big banks may be writing off some debt, but all of those mortgage insurance policies that brokers scared young marrieds into buying will now come due. And too many were sold. After all, in an ever-expanding economy who is going to lose a job, and, if they do, they can live off of their windfall equity in their big home that their parents could never have dreamed of owning. Those insurance bankruptcies should start hitting in the next two years -- just about the time that the recession is waning.
3. But this is the big one -- and the most disturbing. All of we boomers have risen to the top of the economic pyramid with our big houses and big cars. We are now ready to retire. The kids are gone. All is well. But those darn big houses are so -- BIG. We will want somewhere with less space to care for. Maybe a 1 bedroom or a 2 bedroom. The trend has already started, but it will be in full swing in the next 3 years. The effect will be that a lot of big, formerly-expensive homes will come on the market. And who will be there to buy them? Remember all of those new schools built for boomers -- that needed to be shut down because boomers were busy having careers rather than kids? The long-range forecast is that big houses will drop in price because there will be no market for them. Opportunities for some, reversals for others.
Adding all of that together, if I time matters well, I may be able to sell my house in about 18 months or so. That will give me time to retire within the next year and to rent somewhere in Mexico for 6 months before I make the final move.
On the other hand, I could just play it by ear and enjoy even these nippy nights.
As I write, the moon has broken through the cloud cover.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Tonight a giant moon will light this expansive patio, and visitors will see what their ancestors saw a hundred or more years ago.
Monday, January 21, 2008
We are looking to Mexico to retire since I'm over 60. I'm looking for a comfortable life in my old age, and an affordable one. I think I can have that around Puerto Vallarta. At least I hope so. I would like to see the poverty level raised in rural Mexico, but I think that will be a very slow process. Exposure to new ideas will hopefully raise their awareness. They don't need to come to the United States to have a better life, they can create a much better life right where they live.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
And how about lap tops? Bring one? Buy one there?
Friday, January 18, 2008
The sorting begins this weekend. And it very well may take me 18 months to do what I have planned. I have decided that I want to do this only once. (I hear the laughter already.)
One of the categories I have developed could end up as the "I-don't-want-to-think-about-it-now" category. I just need to be brutal in getting rid of things. After all, when I start trying to fit the remainder into my Escape for the trip to Mexico, I will be happy that I tossed or gave things away.
Here are the five categories I will try to use:
- Trash -- stacks of papers that were supposed to be memory books, old programs, Christmas cards for the past decade; all can go out right now -- lots of candidates
- Salvation Army -- anything that any of our rummage sales groups can use, nothing that is simply passing through on the way to the trash
- Gifts -- heirlooms from relatives, art work, valuable books that specific people can actually use -- and not accept grudgingly (no sense in providing fodder for others who need to fill their own Category #2)
- Keep for 18 months, then sort -- items I will need day-to-day; a month or two before moving, divide into the other four categories
- Take to Mexico -- this group should include only those things that I know I cannot buy in Mexico and that I cannot live without
The categories appear to be simple. But, as my favorite president once said: "They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right." Translated: That means that I should have done this a long time ago -- whether or not I move to Mexico.
Several of you have also told me that I am really overanalyzing this process. I will concede that point. From here on, I will try to streamline the process.
Possessions -- prepare to meet your categories.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Robins in January. Flocks of them. Having never been a police public relations officer, I have no way to estimate large crowds. But I swear a flock of at least 80 robins are currently stirring up the neighborhood. They have covered the neighbor's lawn and have now begun the equivalent of the Normandy landing on my fence. Apparently, cottonester berries are the daily special.
I called a friend to tell him about my Alfred Hitchcock moment and noticed that from my computer I can see the robins, several juncos, a nuthatch, two chickadees, and a flock of bush tits. If John James Audubon were to stroll through my back yard with a breech loader, I would not be the least bit surprised.
Mexico planning has taken second -- or third -- place for a moment. Jiggs's recovery has been amazing. (I use "recovery" advisably because I am fully aware his leg problem is only going to be the first in a series of problems.) He is running on a regular basis during our walks. To accommodate his leg pain, he runs like a rabbit propelling himself with both rear legs simultaneously. It looks funny, but it is utilitarian.
I am going to enjoy his companionship in the moment. If I have learned anything from nursing him through this crisis (I think he may have provided more care for me), it is that worrying about the future is a sucker's game. Playing the cards we are dealt in the moment is far more important -- and then doing the right thing.
I have also decided to not cancel a trip to Brazil, Morocco, Spain, and Portugal in April. I was getting far too concerned about finances. Professor Jiggs says: Go.
My brother and I have not yet made plans on when we will go to Pátzcuaro. We are still trying to get together to celebrate Christmas. We can make our plans then. This morning, I caught myself thinking about living in Barra de Navid. I guess I have not completely eliminated the idea of living near the ocean.
And in just a few days, I will celebrate another birthday. It is time to enjoy the day. I think I will order a pizza.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Having rolled in the mud, Jiggs inventories the ducks in the stream.
Well, it has not happened; and it looks as if that day will not be soon. This evening, we went for a walk in the park. Rather, I went for a walk -- Jiggs went for a jog. He literally ran more steps than he has for years. I was amazed.
Is this the burst of energy before the end? Does he really feel that much better? Have I witnessed one of God's small miracles? I don't know. What I do know is that I am going to enjoy life just a little better because of what Jiggs and I have been through. I have had my first real taste of grief. After 58 years, it is time I learned to taste that particular dish. But, more important, I have learned to enjoy each moment as it occurs.
That is an incredibly important lesson that I can take with me to Mexico.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I was looking through some of my pictures of my trip to La Manzanilla tonight. (Yes. I am still dreaming of living in a little fishing village.) And I ran across this picture. The structures are tombs in a cemetery right off of the beach. Two things struck me. As I look at the picture I realize that the three tombs almost look like a sailing ship -- as if the whole structure was ready to sail to the Undiscovered Country. The more poignant point, though, is not apparent in the picture. The black tomb is for the body of a 14-year old boy. From the pictures left on the structure, I would guess he succumbed to cancer.
All of this caused me to think again of how cultures deal with death. In our rushed culture, we go through our ceremonies and forget the dead. (This appears to be a relatively new American phenomenon. I remember going to the ceremony with our full family on Memorial Day and decorating the graves of all our relatives -- not just veterans. And the other families in town were there, as well. Maybe we can no longer stop for death, but he will certainly stop for us. -- Sorry, Emily.) My father's ashes, for instance, are in a cardboard box on my piano. On Father's Day, I put a tie on him and take him to church.
The Mexican remembrances of the dead are well-known: day of the dead, night of the dead, standardized mourning customs. All designed to steal part of death's sting. As long as we remember those who have gone before us or were taken from us, parts of who they were will always be a part of who we are.
For those of you wondering when I am going to return to writing about my planning for Mexico, you just read a segment of those thoughts.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
I received an email from the friend I have known longer than any other. He had read my blog through, and, as always, had some sage advice.
To paraphrase, he told me stop thinking and start doing. He suggested that I retire right now and head off to Mexico and start renting.
There is wisdom in that advice. But, for some practical reasons, I will need to wait until at least next year at this time before I begin my permanent change of address.
I will put a piece of his advice in operation right now, though. I need to stop overthinking this move. Calvin Coolidge once said: "Never go out to meet trouble. If you will just sit still, nine cases out of ten someone will intercept it before it reaches you."