Thursday, April 30, 2009

wheels within wheels

I am still adjusting to the cycles of the new house.

Today was the first day the maid stopped by for a full house cleaning. She was here for four hours, and I know she was frustrated with my inability to communicate. But I took out my Spanish dictionary, and did my best to learn new words from her.

I also showed her my Spanish language program on the computer (from the Learnables). It is designed to teach Spanish in the same manner a child would learn. She got a big chuckle out of it.

While Marta was busy turning what was a dusty, sandy, dog-hair-ridden beach house into a Walt Disney set fit for Snow White, I had the opportunity to meet a long-time blogger and web page administrator: Sparks of Mexico. If you check the sidebar, you will find several of his web children.

I know I have said it before, and I will say it again: I am amazed at how well I know some bloggers through their writing. Sparks is every bit as fascinating as his posts.

He has volunteererd to help me get my FM3 registered in Manzanillo. After listening to him, I think the process should be easy -- if I get a few more items: additional photographs (of the appropriate size, style, and number to please even the most discerning bureaucratic eyes), a Constancia de Domicilio from the local government officials, and update my passport copies and bank statements.

I should have that ready for the trip south by the beginning of next week -- assuming the offices are open. Swine flu and all that, don'cha know.

I could get it all completed tomorrow if I did not need to spend more time trying to get a cortisone shot for Jiggs. I tried again to find the vets in their offices on Wednesday -- to no avail.

In theory, one of the vets (the one who does not speak English -- natch) should be in his office at 10 on Thursday morning. If that does not work out, New Beginnings in Manzanillo is offering to help connect me with her vet.

The internet is a great community.

On Thursday evening, I will expand my participation in that community by meeting American Mommy in Mexico. Details to follow.

I am starting to feel the cycles of the house. Of the village. Of Mexico.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

days slipping away

When I started thinking about retiring to Mexico, I had this vision of lazy days on the beach catching up on my reading. And just relaxing.

Somehow, I misplaced that plan.

Tuesday was a perfect example of how I seem to be living a life style a bit more alternative than the one I had planned. The photograph at the top of the blog is courtesy of my brother, who caught me napping. I am getting the relaxing part down without a problem.

(Looking at that photograph, it is hard to believe that I have actually lost 25 pounds in the last two months.)

I really cannot tell you the details of Tuesday. The day slipped by without much being done. I had hoped to work on the house's swimming pool. But my brother and I put that off until tomorrow.

I needed to get Jiggs to the vet for a cortisone shot, but once again both of the vets were not available -- and I really do not understand why. This is another example of why I need to get with my Spanish program.

I did accomplish one task. I needed hangers. I found the appropriate shop tucked away in its own bit of obscurity, picked out the hangers, and was promptly charged an excessive price. But I did not know enough Spanish to stand my ground. And I needed the hangers.

On a less mundane note, I have arranged to have dinner with American Mommy in Mexico and her descriptively-named family. Their Mexican experience is drawing to a close just as mine is getting started.

Speaking of dinner, I had planned on cooking a chicken dish tonight. I actually managed to gather most of the ingredients. I chopped. I diced. I mixed. The last step was to open the chicken.

It stank like -- chicken that has gone bad. So, we had the dish without the chicken. The menu: vegetable stir fry and a Greek salad. Not what I had planned, but it was good.

One last note. Some of you have started suspecting that my brother Darrel is a literary device and may be as imaginary as Harvey.

To prove otherwise, here he is looking for Hawaii or China. I am not certain which. You might notice a certain family resemblance.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

i have a little list

Well, I had a little list.

And it was little.

I just wanted to accomplish a few things on Monday. Get some pesos. Buy some hangers. Not much.

But I ended up not leaving the house -- except for one emergency mission to attempt to get Jiggs a cortisone injection.

The owner of the house where I am staying was up early this morning to drive back to her summer home in Wisconsin. We said good-bye to her around six. We also thought there would be plenty of time to sleep in.

But not so. At 8, the bell at the front gate rang. I thought it was the maid. But I was wrong. It was two fellows who were at the house to repair several errors in bathoom tile they had installed earlier this month.

While my brother was dealing with that project, I started laundry. The house has a washing machine, but no dryer. Like most houses around here, clothes are dried on the roof.

Four people can create a lot of laundry -- even when the laundry is primarily sheets and towels. After five loads of washing and drying, I have learned far more respect for people who maintain houses.

I had hoped to put my clothes in the master bedroom and to set up my computer in the office. But that is where the tile work is taking place -- and there is plenty of dust. I decided to wait.

Instead, I set up the kitchen while Darrel treated our fruits and vegetables to a nice bleach mix bath. The house is starting to feel like home.

But the day got away from us.

Several readers urged me to bring my own sheets to Mexico. Sheets do not matter that much to me, but I bought some fancy-schmancy high-thread count sheets. They certainly felt nice.

I washed them. Dried them in the sun. And was ready to put them on the bed.

I do not like fitted sheets. They always seem to outsmart me because I try to put them on the bed incorrectly.

I was in my bedroom muttering away that something was wrong with the sheets. Darrel came in to help me -- imagining, of course, that his brother was incompetent in another mechanical task. But he could not get the sheet to fit either.

We looked at the label: "Queen size sheet set." The bed is a King.

I was positive that I ha bought a King set. I could see by ther look in my brother's eyes that he was prepared to declare an "operator error."

I felt vindicated when we looked at the other sheet and the pillow cases: "King size sheet set."

Vindicated, but no better off. I now have a set of sheets that will fit neither the King nor the Queen beds in the house. Darrel will take them back to the store when he returns to Oregon.

When I stayed at the house in July last year, I recognized there was a real danger of becoming a hermit. Everything I need is right here. I can get almost anything delivered to the house. What I cannot get delivered, I can purchase within a few minutes' walk.

When Darrel leaves, I will need to consciuosly get out and learn my Spanish. I already know quite a few people from the homeowner's introductions and from my own efforts during the last two trips down.

I wonder if there is anything like a social hermit?

Monday, April 27, 2009

high on the dog

I nearly posted a premature obituary Sunday afternoon.

Recall when the Australian media prematurely snuffed the Queen Mother in 1992? It took her nine more years to catch up with the news.

My story would have been about Professor Jiggs. He fell twice on Sunday afternoon. His back legs simply would not hold him up. It reminded me of those news reels where race horses struggle to get up with broken legs.

Traumatic for him. Traumatic for me.

I spent a couple hours on the ground with him. Massaging his leg. Giving him a back and ear rub.

I was about ready to call the vet to make The Appointment. But I needed something upstairs in the house.

When I came back down, he was standing at the bottom of the stairs wondering where I had gone. Standing, but wobbly.

We went for a short walk that ended prematurely when he wanted to go wade in the ocean. Not with those legs. Not with those waves.

Other than heading off to church this morning, I spent the day at the house with Jiggs. And I am glad I did. I came down here to enjoy Jiggs's last days with him.

I am doing that.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

plugging in and on

Saturday was connection day.

The woman who owns the house that I will be watching this summer is a long-time resident of Villa Obregon. She knows almost everyone.

The trick is downloading her knowledge into a utilitarian form for me. Today was a major day for passing along information.

My brother had shoulder surgery just before we left on this trip. He needed to have a prescription refilled. In this instance, that meant a trip to the doctor.

The trip served a double purpose. Not only did Darrel get his prescription, I got to meet my new doctor.

But I am not the only being who requires medical care. There is the faithful Professor Jiggs. We were unable to meet the English-speaking veterinarian today, but I know where his office is.

Jiggs did very well on the trip, but his back left leg is barely supporting him. The slippery tile floors feel good to him when he lies down, but he struggles to get back up.

I also learned where the best pharmacies are located -- and, at another location, the best source of news around town.

Before anyone else says it, I will. I need to learn Spanish. English is not spoken or understood by many people in this village. And I will have plenty of opportunities to practice what I learn -- daily. Just to survive.

We also took a trip to a new Bodega Aurrera. The expatriate community is wild about the place. To my Costco-oriented eyes, it was a bit of a disappointment. I suspect I know which camp I will pit my tent in after six months of living here.

I have missed all of the hubbub over the swine flu. The only evidence of any concern I have seen was a bagger at Bodega Aurrera. He was wearing an ineffectual face mask. Of course, considering the high prices at the store, it may have only been part of his professional kit.

Jiggs and I are settling in well. We will bid adiey to the homeowner in one more day.

Then we are on our own in this great advnture.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

a night at the opera

I went to a cat house and found a dog.

Just be patient, and all will be revealed.

Friday was a day of Mexico firsts. Two of them were bound to occur; the third was merely a bonus.

And that is where the first first shows up. We were on our way to the local theatre for a dose of culture. To save driving around a block, my compatriots urged me to reverse a half block. I should have objected. I have no depth perception. As a result, I am almost blind when driving in reverse.

You can already see it coming. I couldn't. I drove right into the bumper of an expatriate's car, denting their bumper and tearing off a piece of my truck's trim.

At least that got my first accident in Mexico out of the way.

Getting that resolved, we headed off to our cultural event. Before I mislead you any further, we were not on our way to the community theatre to see the latest production of Hedda Gabler. We were on our way to see a transvestite show.

Melaque is not Milan. And the theatre was not La Scala. Farm building would suffice as a description. Corrugated metal ceiling. Open sides.

The show included "free" food. Just as it arrived, so did a small nudging on the side of my left leg. There is a bordello in back, and I thought someone was freelancing. I looked down and found a cute cocker spaniel, who did his best begging routine. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photograph.

The show was adequate to good. Most of the acts were adequate. Two were good.

I would like to say it was an entertaining night. But the best I can say is that it was my first Mexican transvestite show.

But the surprise portion of the show came from the audience. A fellow by the name of Jessy, who claimed to be a wealthy, former futbol player from Brazil, (you may insert your own doubts here) decided to interject himself into the performance.

There is no way to describe the fellow. But here he is. Feathers in his cap. Bling chain of beer cans. And several details I will omit in this G-rated site. At least, he appeared to be enjoying himself -- in an obnoxious, drunk sort of way.

But there was one more first. I had some trouble
figuring out the formatting for the .mov files on my camera. (And I never resolved the problem.) I felt a slight brush on my ear. Certainly the cocker had not followed me home.

I looked at the floor to see what I had knocked off my ear. And recognized it immediately. It was an Africanized bee. On its way to an immediate execution.

Then the pain started in my ear. Coughing. Hoarse throat.

My colleagues helped with a sting wipe, an antihistamine, and a baking soda poultice. All of it was probably unnecessary. I have suffered many a sting. But it was nice to have the assistance.

Thus the third Mexican first.

And I had to leave the dog at the cat house.

Friday, April 24, 2009

solutions on the half-shell

Mexican ingenuity never ceases to amaze me.

Several bloggers have made similar observations. But I witnessed two examples on Wednesday and Thursday.

The woman who owns the house where I will be staying has been putting a lot of effort into fighting the problems that come from owning a house on the beach. New paint. Rust removal. Salt removal.

She hired a young man named Juan to do the painting. But he has been helping her with other chores. On Wednesday, I witnessed one of those "other" chores.

She purchased two conch shells to mount on the gate to the beach. Juan looked at several options, and came up with an anti-theft method. He mounted rebar in the gate posts and then cemented the shells to the rebar.

But the most interesting aspect of the project was the manner of mounting. You can see the dedication of Juan and his assistant, Mauricio, in the photograph at the top of this post. OSHA would shut the operation down in an instant. But the job was also done in that same instant -- no harm, no foul.

On Wednesday night, we discovered we were without water. Thursday morning, Juan discovered the problem. The cistern was filled with roots from the neighbor's ficus tree.

Juan and Mauricio scrambled down a hole that I could not imagine Jiggs fitting through, and produced the following trophies:

I wanted to get a better photograph of the ladder they used for the project, but this is the best photograph I have. It is made of thin scrap wood and screws. But a full-sized ladder would never have made it through the opening.

I truly love Mexico. In both instances, the solution was simple and elegant.

We have shells and water. And I have two tales to tell -- and I just did.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

bunch of melaque

Your intrepid explorers have reached their destination: Melaque by the sea.

Wednesday morning we were up early to enjoy the cool morning in La Manzanilla. Mornings have always been my favorite time on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The air is fresh; the days are clear. (Talk to me again once the rains start.)

I showed Darrel several of the La Manzanilla properties that interested me when I was last here. One had sold -- and, of course, it was the one that offered the best potential for development and remodeling.

We then took the beach road to Boca de Iguanas to look at the development. My ulterior motive for taking the beach road was to show Darrel how close the crocodiles come to beach patrons. I had heard several stories that the crocs had become bold enough to start wandering the street near the laguna.

Imagine my surprise to discover that the beach end of the laguna is now surrounded by a chain link fence. The wild aspect is gone. Seeing the crocs in La Manzanilla is about as interesting as seeing them in a zoo. Das ist aber schade.

We then completed the drive over the hill to the Melaque-La Manzanilla area. In the hills above Melaque, we encountered this interesting road hazard. The load had not fallen off of the truck. This is how he was driving along the road, with the plam fronds sweeping the highway. I assume he was on his way to a palapa repair.

Because we were a bit early arriving, we took a side trip to Barra de Navidad to see some of the houses that I looked at on my last trip. The one that interestred me the most is still for sale.

I also had my first run-in with a Mexican policeman. He was sitting in his vehicle at an intersection. As I started driving across the intersection, he waved his finger. And you all know what I thought. But he was just calling my attention to the fct that I was about to enter a one-way street. The encounter was friendly and helpful. This trip has been almost charmed.

And it was then back to Melaque to settle into my home for at least the next six months. The woman who owns the house greeted us -- along with her dog, Playa. She warned me that Playa is very dominant and protective. She was correct. Jiggs was ready to get out of the truck, but not to deal with a dog herding him about.

We settled in for the night after another Mexican experience -- failure of the water system. That simply did not matter to us at the moment. We were ready for bed.

A good sleep and we will be on our way to more adventures. Well, maybe after a bit more relaxation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

sunset boulevard

That title is a little premature. We are not yet at the sunset of our little journey south. But, we are literally within sight of it. This photograph is a sunset at La Manzanilla, where we spent the night.

Hold it. Weren't Darrel, Jiggs, and Steve supposed to be in Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday night?

That was the plan, but it went out la ventana before we left Rincon de Guayabitos on Tuesday morning. We had doubts whether we wanted to make such a short drive in one day.

We decided to take a quick tour of two villages north of Puerto Vallarta that were on my potential retirement list: San Francisco (or, as it is known by its nickname, San Pancho) and Sayulita. I had stricken each of them for various reasons. I was probably right about San Francisco. It is far too crowded, almost claustrophobic.

I have changed my mind about Sayulita, however. We visited only briefly, but both Darrel and I liked the feel of the vilage. I surprised myself because it has that patina of gentrification that makes me feel uneasy in Mexico. A certain San Miguel de Allende aura by the sea. I will be back for another look.

Because we were alreay so far out on the point above Puerto Vallarta, we decided to take the road out to the tip of Puenta de Mita to see where the Rich Folk live.

There are some extraordinary houses on the point. But I cannot understand why anyone would want to shell out millions of dollars to live so close to your neighbors. Upper class tenement living, I suppose.

1st Mate had suggested that we stop by La Cruz de Huanacastle. That was an easy choice because I had looked at condominia near the marina in the past. After getting a better look around Mexico, I do not want to live as if I am in San Diego. But it is a very nice area.

It was just about noon when we decided to drive into Puerto Vallarta to take a look at accomodations -- and to find a bank. The peso reservoir was once again drained.

I have been in Puerto Vallarta at noon hour before. It is a big town and lots of tourists and locals are on the move. Tuesday was no exception.

We had intended to take the bypass around Old Town. But I could not find it. As a result we went through the center of tourist mania. But I have no complaint. I had not visited that area of town, and I found the experience interesting -- even if it was not unlike seeing Manhattan at noon from the driver's seat of a truck.

Once we were out of town, we hurtled down the road toward Melaque.

Somewhere along the way, I decided LaManzanilla would be a great place to stop. I could show Darrel one of the world's best beaches, and we could look at the houses I had considered buying a year ago.

For those of you who complain about the road between Puerto Vallarta and Melaque, I offer a dissent. The rural roads of Oregon are no worse. My brother and I learned to drive on roads just as narrow with hazards equal to those we encountered. That does not mean the road hazards are not be be respected. Even the cuotas can be dangeropus. We saw a disemboweled horse just south of Mazatlan on an exit ramp.

The photograph below is a good example of mobile hazards. The pickup is filled with field workers -- all standing. And the motorcycle is driving at Little Old Lady from Pasadena speed. Try coming up behind either one at 60 MPH.

Even with those dangers, we made the drive from theairport at Puerto Vallarta is just under three hours. And that was with a gasoline, bathroom, and peso exchange break along the way.

We pulled off of Highway 200 at La Manzanilla and met with my real estate pal, Daniel, who directed us to a good dog-friendly hotel. I suspect we ended up paying about double tariff again, but I was just happy to have a nice bed for the night.

For dinner, I took Darrel to one of my favorite little restaurants in town: Lora Loko. I had enchiladas Mexicana; he had shrimp enchiladas. Maybe we have just been on the road a long time, but both of our meals were some of the best Mexican food that the two of us have eaten.

And our view for dinner? The photograph at the top of the post. What a great way to end a day on the road.

But we still have one last segment.

On Wednesday, we will complete the drive to Melaque. That should not be difficult. It is just over the hill. But, before we leave La Manzanilla, we will have a look around to see if it might be a good spot to live when I leave Melaque.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

from sea to shining sea

Four beaches. One day.

We woke early on Monday to sneak Jiggs back to the truck for our big drive to an unnamed tourist town south of Mazatlan. We were going to meet one of my favorite bloggers:
American Mommy in Mexico.

I wisely checked my email to discover that she informed me she will not be in Mexico on Monday. So, flexible guys that we are, we decided to simply drive where the mood directed us.

We took a quick stroll on the malecon in Mazatlan. Beach one.

A quick stop at the dreaded W---Mart, and we were on our way south.

I have heard such divergent opinions on San Blas that we decided to see for ourselves if it is heaven on earth or Dante's Inferno personified.

We drove through Sinaloa and slipped into Nayarit. Once again, the flora changed drastically from corn fields to mango orchards -- and dry rolling hills.

But the big change was the road. We went from toll roads to the narrow coast highway -- where there are plenty of opportunities for error, and little margin for them. Fortunately, we tested neither option.

When we arrived in San Blas, we found another heavy army presence at the city's entrance. I should note that today we saw more federales and army convoys than I have ever seen in Mexico. The obvious reason is Presence -- to show the narcoterrorists that they do not rule any part of Mexico.

I don't think the army presence colored my opinion, but I was not very impressed with the town. The beach gets very high marks, though. Beach two.

Our next stop was a sentimental one. I needed to see Chacala. As we drove through, I felt as if I knew almost every house and street due to
Andee's very explicit posts. We even encountered one of her hated dump trucks.

I wanted to stay the night -- to walk the beach in the early morning in memory of our friend, Andee. However, we ran into the dog problem. No one would accept Professor Jiggs as a guest.

Chacala was beach three.

A short note on my good friend, The Professor. This trip has been very hard on him. And today has been one of the worst. He does not like the heat. But he insists on going where we go.

And where we went next was Rincon de Guayabitos. I had once considered this town as one of my retirement sites. I like it even more after our brief visit.

But this was Jiggs's first visit to a Mexican beach. He enojoyed the ocean,as always. But, as I feared, his back legs are so unsteady that he does not brave the water as he once did. But he ended up a soggy doggy as a result of his day at the beach. Beach four.

Darrel and I then had dinner at one of the little tourists restaurants that stand like aging dowagers along the main street of the town. We both ordered pollo con mole, a traditional dish that can be delicious or very suspect. I would like to be kind, but this dinner fell into the usual suspects file. I suspect the cook may be missing a Cadbury bar.

Tomorrow we are aiming for Puerto Vallarta, after driving through San Francisco and Sayulita -- two of my earlier retirement candidates.

Jiggs should be rested and ready for another day of adventure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

corny as sinaloa in april

I feel as if I have just met Dorothy and Yosemite Sam. Perhaps, we could title it: The Grizzled of Oz.

And why the arcane entertainment references? All will be revealed.

This was the first day we allowed ourselves a relaxing day. We slept in until 7 and then had a nice slow breakfast before we took a quick tour of Guaymas. “Quick” because our next goal (Mazatlan) was over 500 miles south.

The Guaymas waterfront was our first glimpse of the Pacific. We wandered around the plaza. Jiggs attempted to make friends with far many more people than wanted to make friends with him. But like the girl left sitting alone at the prom, he remained hopeful that one day everyone would like him.

We were then on our way south. I have not yet mentioned my impression of the cuotas: Mexico’s toll roads. They are in better shape than almost all of the roads I have driven in the States for the last decade. And they are almost free of traffic – with some very obvious sections that carry the bulk of local traffic.

On Sunday, the cuotas took us through an amazing change in climate and topography. We started in Guaymas with the typical Sonora desert. But that soon changed south of Guaymas. The brush was thicker along the road and there were fewer (but flowering) cacti. We even saw toll way traffic stop to allow genuine cowboys to herd cattle from one field to another.

Then, somewhere in Sinaloa, fields of corn appeared – stretching from horizon to horizon – more corn than I have ever seen in Kansas or South Dakota. Of course, corn is a major staple crop in Mexico. If it had not been for the mountains in the distance, I would have expected Margaret Hamilton to ride by on her way to see the sheriff.

Because we took quite a few breaks from driving during the day (for the sake of all three boys), we were pushing our luck on getting to Mazatlan before the sun went down on us.

To hear old Mexican hands tell it, vampires and werewolves (or worse) lurk in the dark looking for unwary night travelers. Well, we did not get to Mazatlan by sundown, but we finished the drive unscathed.

We checked into the Hotel del Sol in the mistaken impression that it had a pro-dog policy and free internet. Neither was true. But Jiggs got in – even though I did not get to the internet until Monday morning.

We managed to fit in a late big dinner at Roca Mar restaurant. I had jumbo shrimp. Darrel had a great beef dish called Moleajete. His was the far better choice. For 400 pesos, we could have done far better. Our entrees in Guaymas were better, and a quarter of the price.

For those of you who have been worried about our safety in Mexico, I can assure you we have been in no gun fights, we have discovered no severed heads, and drug lords have not recruited us for their nefarious ends.But, just to prove that Mexico can be every bit as colorful as Portland or Boston, a young man approached Darrel as we were leaving an Oxxo store (similar to a 7-11), and asked Darrel if he was interested in buying some coke. He apparently did not see that we already had sodas.

Why would anyone believe that two upper middle aged (and I am being kind with that description) men would be interested in recreational drugs is beyond me. I suspect the young man was either fishing in the wrong pond – or (well, I guess the possibilities are almost limitless – fill in your own).

Most likely, nothing that exciting will enliven the remainder of our trip. If all goes well, we should be meeting with at least one more fellow blogger.

Monday, we will leave both Yosemite Sam and Dorothy behind as we enter the more tropical regions of Mexico.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

high dawn in yuma

Gary Cooper had until noon to face his devils.

We faced our at 4:30 AM in Gila Bend. That was our roll-out-of-bed time on Saturday to get an early start on our run across the border.

But we were not leaving without our free breakfast. I should have learned by now that free is fair warning that what shows up on your plate will not be getting rave reviews in Bon Appetit.

Breakfasts at the Space Age Restaurant are not the way to start your day -- no matter where you are going. But unlike the old Woody Allen joke, even though the food was bad, the oportions were large.

Having downed our breakfasts, we were off on a one-hour jaunt to the border at Lukeville. The road down is beautiful. Much of the vegetation has been preserved in either a bombing range or as part of the Organ Pipie National Monument. Had we had more time, I would have taken a series of amazing photographs. As it is, I have my memories -- and that should last about a week.

The crossing at Lukeville is simple. You drive across the border and you are on your way to the main immigration point several miles down the road.

I should note that when you cross the border, you are faced with the monstrosity of a wall (pictured above) that stretches futilely over the hills -- attempting to repeal everything Adam Smith taught us about free markets. Some people see the fence and are reminded of Robert Frost or the Berlin Wall. I see it, and think of Krusty the Clown.

We could have slept in a bit more. We arrived at the main immigration point before the opening time of 8, even though all of the emoloyees were sitting around chatting well before then.

There were a total of three people requesting vehicle permits. One was immediately turned aside because he was trying to bring a rental car across the border.

So, the two clerks had one customer each. It took each clerk a full hour to compare documents and issue the permit. They were very friendly -- but very deliberate.

The officer at the immigration table next door could have stepped right out of central casting of a 1940s movie. His English was perfect, but he had a way of administering his official stamp that left no doubt who was in charge.

We were off and running. Darrel with his FMT; me with my now-stamp FM3.

And then it happened. The dreaded red customs light.

We pulled to the inpection area. The officer opened the rear door and looked at the sleeping Professor Jiggs. Asked for the receipt for the vehicle permit. Inquired of our destinartion. And waved us on our way.

We felt like two lucky fellows.

The drive from Lukeville to Highway 15 is picture perfect desert. It reminded me of sailing. The desert floor as flat as the sea with island mountains on the horizon.

Once we joined 15, our idyll was over. The traffic was much heavier -- and noticeably faster. Where trucks had set the pace on the rural road, BMWs and Mercedes now ruled. We tooled along making good time, but setting no records.

When we arrived in Guaymas, we settled in to our room at the Motel Flamingos. It was rather Spartan, but it met our needs: plenty of cool tile for Jiggs to sleep on.

The big event of the evening, though, was the Abbreviated Bloggers Conference -- Western Edition. We had dinner with Bliss, and Brenda and Roy at El Barca -- one of Brenda and Roy's favorite Mexican restaurants. I concur with their opinion. It was a good meal. And I thank them.

But, more important, it was great to meet three people I have "talked" with for over a year. They were each exactkly as I pictured them, but I found out things about each of them that I would never have known without our little "conference."

So, you hoity-toity bloggers on the east coast, take heed. We are busy building up our reserves for improved west cloast blogs.

We were planning on stopping at Mazatlan tomorrow to see Nancy and Paul. But they will not yet have returned from Merida. I hope to see them on another trip. But we may stop there -- simply because it is a natural stopping point on our way south.

Tune in tomorrow to discover if we made it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

racing arizona

I feel as if we are on one of those crash diets. Day one: starve. Day two: eat what you want.

On Thursday, we drove almost 1000 miles and spent almost 16 hours on the road. By contrast, Friday was a veritable day of leisure.

We slept in until 7, ate breakfast, took a walk with the dog, and did not get on the road until after 9. I had not driven along the west shore of the Salton Sea. So, we did.

The Imperial Valley is an extremely interesting place. Not only for all of the produce it -- produces, but also for the wildlife along the shore of the lake. One of these days, I will need to spend some time there.

But Friday was not that day.

Instead, we took several short breaks along our drive along the California-Mexico border into Arizona. We encountered one Border Patrol "administrative" road block. We were waved right through. But a very despondent family was sitting under a tent. Apparently, their papers were not in order -- a phrase that still causes my blood to chill.

We discussed whether to stay in Gila Bend or Lukeville. The decision was rather easy. After Thursday, we were both tired. Our short jaunt from Ontario was enough to make the first available motel look inviting.

And that motel would have been inviting without the fatigue factor. We decided to stay at the Best Western in Gila Bend -- also known as The Space Age Lodge. It was the dream child of a NASA retiree. When the place changed hands, the new owners retained the decor.

To call it cheesy would not do justice to the place. It looks as if George Jetson designed it while sipping one too many vodka tonics. I especally like the rockets shooting in space pictured above each bed.

But it met our needs: to get rested for the border crossing.

After a full year of exchanging email and comments, I actually talked with 1st Mate on Friday evening. We are going to get together with Brenda and Roy for dinner on Saturday. It should be a hoot.

If we do not get lost in Guaymas. If we do, we will simply have another good tale to tell.

Friday, April 17, 2009

steve and darrel's excellent adventure

It is easy to stay on plan when you don't have a plan.

If that is true, Darrel and I are right on target.

We planned on getting on the road on Thursday morning at 4:30 AM. We left the house around 5:15, and made rather good time for a leisurely road trip.

The original plan was to drive east and south through eastern Oregon and central Nevada. The weather put sold to that idea. So, we struck out like 49ers down the I-5 corridor.

Our stops will not inspire remake episodes for Route 66. We had breakfast in Roseburg. Gassed up in Ashland. Gassed up in Sacramento. Gassed and ate dinner at Buttonwillow (on the outskirts of Bakersfield).

In Buttonwillow, we discovered that the ride was taking a terrible toll on Jiggs's legs. He walked as if he had fallen down a flight of stairs.

We weighed our options and decided, rather than skirting Los Angeles by driving through Bakersfield out through the desert, we would drive through Pasadena and come out near San Bernadino, where we would stay the night. It was late enough to avoid rush hour traffic, but not the usual mayhem that passes for traffic around Los Angeles.

We are now at a hotel in Ontario. (We fell a little short of our target.) And the amazing Professor Jiggs has shown a Lazarus-like recovery. I was going to take him up the elevator, but he rushed up the stairs right after me. With a little walk, he was well enough to enjoy his favorite treat: a hunk of baguette.

Every time I drive through the central California valley, I marvel at its simple beauty. Most of the colors are tans and browns, but the vistas are wide, and the contours fascinating.

I wish I had taken a few more photographs. But I thought this one would interest my friends who are fascinated with signs in Mexico warning about dangerous crocodiles. We saw it at a rest stop in central California -- in the middle of the dog walk area.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

9 - 8 - 7 --

Like all delayed countdowns, ours has resumed. We should be blasting out of Salem some time between 4 and 4:30 AM on Thursday morning.

This extra day gave me a little time to tie up some loose ends around the house -- such as, arranging the drainage of the beloved hot tub.

Jiggs has been in a real mood for the past few days. I have never seen him mope as much as he has. Of course, he knows something is afoot -- and it violates the first rule of dogdom: nothing must change.

I took him for a long walk through what he considers to be his park. Tonight, he is his perky self. We will see how long that lasts with at least five days of riding in the truck -- an activity that ranks right up there with cats in his yard, but with less activity.

If we can find WiFi along the road, the posted saga will continue.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

t minus one and holding

Remember the Apollo program?

Getting up early in the morning to watch that stationary Saturn rocket enshrouded in vapor straining to send an astronaut into orbit. An American astronaut.

Walter Cronkite was there to remind us that this was Really Important. But what we waited for was the voice of Chris Kraft counting down to lift off.

I also learned that NASA used the same clock as the NBA -- one minute could last a full day; and always the last minute before launch.

Chris Kraft came to mind this morning when my brother called to let me know that our route through eastern Oregon and central Nevada is covered with snow. My Midwestern and Canadian friends are probably laughing right now. But I know my limitations when it comes to snow driving.

So, we are on hold for travel today. My brother will call this afternoon. He may drive over to Salem later today, and we will then consider driving south on I-5.

But, as several of you have reminded me, I am retired, and I have no deadlines.

I will keep you posted.

d-day is here

This will be a very brief post.

The last day in Salem turned out to be just as I thought it would: filled with lots of good wishes from friends and colleagues, mixed in with a last minute trip to the vet to get Jiggs a cortisone shot and a health certificate, and the usual packing decisions.

As always, it all worked out well. I disconnected my internet Tuesday afternoon. I am currently pirating an unsecured line. I need to be fast.

The plan was to get on the road by 3 or 4 AM on Wednesday to drive over to Bend to pick up my brother. But I did not get to bed until after midnight. More likely the departure time will be around 8 when we leave.

But the day is here. And we intend to make this trip as leisurely as possible.

More to come -- you can count on it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

odder ends

I can always tell when I am about to come to the end of project. All of the pieces are there, but they start looking like odds and ends.

That was my day on Monday: odds and ends.

Despite this pesky head cold, I got up early and did a few chores around the house. But I was soon on the road checking off some last-minute details.

After picking up my last bit of dry cleaning (severing a 20-year relationship with the owners), I stopped by the Salvation Army to drop off another load of clothes: shirts, sweaters, and trousers this time. I hope that they can be put to good use. After all, some of them have served me well for almost thirty years -- since law school.

My next task had two purposes. I needed to drive over to Monmouth to purchase Mexican insurance and to reduce my Oregon insurance to liability only. The drive gave me an opportunity to test drive my weekend project -- the carrier construction. It has increased the external wind noise, but it held up in the weather. No cracks. No loosened bolts. No unidentified flying objects. Chuck Yeager could not have been happier.

Nothing like successfully constructing something to top off the testosterone.

I stopped by the house to pick up some items for a lunch with former work colleagues. Just as I was heading out the door, I discovered
Cynthia and the amazing Sitka stopping by for a visit. We had a nice chat until I had to be on my way to lunch.

And a good lunch it was. The two lawyers, who I worked most closely with, wanted to take me to lunch to say a final good-bye. I really appreciated seeing them again. They were a true joy to work with over the years.

About half way through lunch, my vision started acting up on me. So, home I went to lie down -- and woke up 5 hours later. That may have been my body's way of saying that I needed some rest.

And I am glad that I took the nap. When I got up, I was able to arrange the first steps of my packing. I have a bit to do yet, but it is getting there. I will certainly be ready to go early on Wednesday morning.

The move is finally starting to seem like a reality to me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

cold front hanging over salem

This cold is starting to take a central part in my moving plans.

I was prepared to get up early on Sunday and get some closets reorganized before church began, and before my house sitter arrived for a walk through of the house procedures. But it did not happen. I woke up wheezing like a tin lizzy.

I managed to get to church on time, but the chapel was so crowded I left early to return home for a quick nap.

That was enough rest for me to give my house sitter a thorough orientation of the house. He has household goods of his own that he will store in my house until I can sell the place.

I was then off to Easter dinner with Beth of Minto Dog and her parents. I would have liked to stay longer, but I needed to feed Jiggs, and her parents needed to get home.

I have loaded 30 years of sweaters, coats, and shirts in the truck for delivery to the Salvation Army on Monday.

Only two full days before I head south.

I certainly hope the cold clears before then. Or I am going to be napping at the wheel.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

escape to mexico

I am one lucky fellow.

My sainted brother, who is still recovering from right shoulder surgery, drove over the mountains from Bend -- merely to help me put together my rooftop carrier.

And I am glad he did. Even with the two of us using our encyclopedic database of engineering, it was a close run thing -- as the Iron Duke may have said.

The carrier is American-made. And the instructions to assemble it are proof of that fact. There were enough warnings to make the tender-hearted turn back on the first page.

It does prove one of my theories, though. It seems as if everything I buy requires assembling multiple parts, guided only by instructions that are about as vague as a politician's grasp of economics.

Speaking of politicians. The American variety loves to to claim that American manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas. But politicians are wrong. The manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to American back yards and basements.

But I now have a rooftop carrier, thanks to the good offices of my younger brother, and I can now start measuring for serious packing.

Our mother showed up just as we were finishing up the job. So, we took her out for a delayed birthday dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant. In talking with the owners, I discovered they are returning to Mexico -- Colima, in fact -- to open a restaurant. I certainly wish them well.

The rest of the day was devoted to sorting things to give to the Salvation Army, to keep at the house, or to take to Mexico. I think I have everything that I will take reduced to four plastic containers and one suitcase -- with soft things stuffed in between.

The "to go" pile includes some clothes, more toiletries than I can use in six months, my computer and related supplies, a few books, Jiggs's supplies, and my kitchenware and utensils.

If anything rings the Mexican customs bell, it will probably be the toiletries. I buy in bulk at Costco. I have enough soap, deodorant, and tooth paste to make any customs officer believe I am opening up a hygiene shop on the side.

I have not mentioned Jiggs lately. I am getting a bit concerned how he is going to hold up on the trip. He is getting reluctant to go for his walks. Instead, he sleeps a lot -- and deeply. I know he is getting anxious with all of the people coming and going from the house. On the other hand, he is old.

But, for now, I will simply wish each of you a very happy Easter!

how was your trip to moscow?

The first thing to go in warfare is the plan.

The adage applies every bit as well to moving. At least, that has proven to be the case for this particular Mexico move.

The plan for Friday was to drive to Bend where my brother and I would purchase and assemble a cargo carrier. It didn't happen.

Just before my mother arrived in Salem, I was hit with a bad bout of -- hmm, what is a good word; how about the real thing? -- diarrhea. My brother then left a note that there would be snow and ice in the pass. To top all of that, the store where we were going to buy the carrier, went into liquidation that morning.

Rather than make the trip, my mother and I drove over to a local b
ranch of the store, braving the mobs of bargain-minded scavengers, and bought the carrier. Of course, they did not have the mounting kit.

But, fear not, my brother is a genius and a saint. He is driving to Salem on Saturday morning with a mounting kit he purchased in Bend. We will get the carrier installed and start packing some items.

I assembled part of the carrier, and then spent most of the day in bed trying to fight off whatever has got its grip on my head and bowels -- and not necessarily in that order.

The rest was enough to allow me to attend Good Friday services. I have always had very mixed feelings about Christmas and Easter services. Something I may (or may not) share one of these days. I suspect I am more of a son of the post-modern era than I like to admit.

I bought four large plastic containers to organize the things I want to take with me. Even with the cargo carrier, I need to start cutting back on items.

And it will be good to soon stop writing about "what-I-didn't-get-done-today," and start writing about "what-I-chose-not-to do-today" posts.

Now, that is a good plan.

Friday, April 10, 2009

my days are numbered

The pudding dream.

We have all had it. Run as fast as you might, you make no headway because you are running through pudding. I like to think it is banana cream.

That is what I felt like Thursday. Partly my own doing.

I started the day by filling the truck with the clothes I sorted on Wednesday. The largest portion were suits I have accumulated over the last thirty years. The Salvation Army has a job interview clothes closet. And they desperately needed men's clothes. I was surprised to discover that my suits alone filled up the space I intended to use to take my possessions to Mexico. Not a very realistic plan.

I then rushed over to a memorial service for one of our congregation members. I have known Elizabeth for about 11 years. I would have cancelled any other appointments to be there for the service.

And I was then back in the truck to run errands for a message board member who needed a mechanical part. I ended up going to four different shops before I found what he needed. I hope it works for him.

When I returned to the house, I moved several pieces of computer equipmenmt into storage, sorted books, and washed some clothes that will be headed south with me. (I also had a small fright. I could not find the title to my truck. After looking around for almost an hour, I found it in a stack of papers that were on their way to the shredding bin.)

I finished that up just in time to head over to my neighbor's house for a farewell party. My neighborhood is a very special place. I do not know many neighborhoods where all of the residents know one another as well as we do -- and who actually care for one another as we do. For them to put together this gatheri
ng was special. And I will always remember them for the special people they are.

And then it was off to bed.

My mother and I are leaving for Bend first thing on Friday morning. It will give me an opportunity to catch up on her trips to Hawaii and Tennessee. We will then have two days with my brother's family before I return to Salem for Easter Sunday.

When I return, I should have a carrier on top of the truck. Then the true packing will begin.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

out of sorts

Sorting. I have been half-heartedly doing that for the past year. Today I started in earnest.

My original plan was to leave an empty house when I headed south to Mexico. When the bottom fell out of the housing market, the bottom fell out of that plan. As did the urgency to do anything.

My plan now is to leave the house as organized as possible for the house sitter. I have been going from room to room sorting items in three piles: 1) Things that will go to Mexico with me; 2) Things that will stay in the house for my return trips (such as selling the house); and 3) Things that are bound either to the Salvation Army or to the dump.

The Bette Davis dump category is not very large. I took care of most of that on Tuesday night with either the recycling bin or the garbage can. It was not much. But it is now gone.

The Salvation Army pile is mainly clothes. I will take the first installment to the shelter on Thursday afternoon -- following a memorial service.

The category that never ceases to grow is the Mexico-bound stuff. I was convinced that I could get everything into two suit cases. If I had been satisfied with merely taking my lap top, I could have made it. But, by the time I added a printer, speakers, a large monitor, and a UPS, my fate was sealed.

And somewhere along the line, I forgot that the dog will require space for his basic needs, as well.

So, I am biting the bullet. Or, rather, I am buying the bullet. I have always made fun of the car-top carriers that look as if residents of Transylvania are involved in a mass migration. But, it is either buy one or leave all of my clothes and books behind.

My brother has found a good buy on a squarish version of the carrier. More space. Not so aerodynamic. But I am after space, not aesthetic applause.

Off to Bend I will head on Friday. It will also give me an opportunity to drive my mother across the Cascades for an impromptu Cotton family gathering.

Procrastination is worth waiting for.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the game is afoot

My left foot is not an artistic tool. At the moment, it merely hurts.

Today was another truckless day. Because I had errands to run, I set off on foot to take care of them. All in all, I probably logged another 10 miles today.

But halfway through, my left foot started hurting. I have a pair of Dockers shoes that are my favorites for walking. And, as is true for all favorite shoes, they are about to give up their sole.

Because I am moving, I thought this was a great chance to get two pairs of comfortable shoes: a brown pair and a black pair. Enough shoes to outfit a man's closet for two or three years.

I had seen sales all over town for Rockport and Dockers shoes. Apparently, the retailers are as desperate for traffic as a Buick salesman.

Here is the tricky part. I inherited my grandmother's feet. Well, not really. I inherited her genes. She still had need of her own feet for an additional three decades after I was born.

I wear a 7 1/2 W. In the days when shoes were built for customers, rather than accountants worried about inventory, I wore a 7 1/2 EE.

The problem is easy to visualize. My feet are almost square. Imagine Daffy Duck looking for shoes. That would be me.

I visited six different stores today. They all had shoes I was ready to buy, but none had 7 1/2s, and Ws were as rare as they were on White House keyboards in January 2001.

Each salesman tried the ugly stepsister routine on me. "Here try this 8M. It will stretch out." Rip out is more like it.

At the last stop (Nordstrom's), I was ready to give up until the salesman had an idea. Some of the European shoes are wide by American standards. He whisked out pair of Eccos that looked just this side of being a bowling shoe.

Voilà -- or whatever the Italians would say. If I were Cinderella, I would be a step closer to happily ever after.

I told the ingenious salesman, I'll take them. Gave him my credit card. And gaped at the total.

I will spare you the gory details. Let me just say that I could have had four pairs of Dockers in my closet -- all of them the wrong size, of course. I expect a personal thank you note from the president for keeping the Salem retailers in business.

Will my left foot feel any better? I'm not certain. What I do know is that these Eccos are not made for beach walking -- no matter what Nancy Sinatra may sing.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

cuando el mundo gira

One thing I was positive I would have time to do in retirement was to keep up with my blog and reading all of my fellow blogger entries. Wrong.

I find myself furtively looking through my blogroll each night around midnight trying to catch up on the latest posts. For those of you who have not received email responses from me lately, I also apologize. They will eventually arrive.

So. What have I been doing?

Monday morning I was up literally at the crack of dawn to drive my truck to the local Ford dealer to get some major work done before I hit the road. I have oil leaking from three different points on the engine -- and my accelerator has a tendency to get stuck. I was not willing to risk either one becoming a larger problem on the drive south.

I got a call in the afternoon adding coolant problems and a loose windshield to the list. Based on an earlier estimate, I expect that I will be leaving $3K on the table before I drive it away this afternoon. I suspect I could have spent two days in the Salem Hospital and have owed just about the same amount of money.

I turned down the offer of a free van ride to my house. Instead, I walked the 3 or so miles. On a beautiful, clear morning, I enjoyed the exercise.

I did a bit of weeding, and then set out to resolve some financial issues.
Brenda suggested I should get extra ATM cards -- just in case one wore out. I thought it a brilliant idea.

Wells Fargo did not share our enthusiasm. One card per account said they. Asked I: What happens when it wears out? Said they: Order a new one that will go to your Oregon address only. Security. Liability. Blah blah blah. ARGHH!

And then I had the brilliant idea to ask my credit union if we could set up emergency access to my account. Certainly. If I would merely stop by the credit union in person when I needed a week's authorization. I asked if they would waive riding the usually-required elephant, but she seemed to miss my point.

I then walked to three department stores to buy shoes. Not one of them had anything in my size. So. No high quality walking shoes for me.

It may just be me, but I am convinced someone has enrolled me in Mexico Survival Tips 101.

But I had a success today. My purchase of MagicJack for telephone calls from Mexico. And I would have forgotten that if my brother had not reminded me. It should be arriving in the mail within the next few days -- he said with hope rising in his breast.

I also shoe horned in two long walks with Jiggs. He loves getting out in the warm weather, but he seems to tire quickly in this new-found heat.

This was the day I was going to start on organizing closets. At least, I managed to fit in about 6 or 7 miles of walking. I have not weighed myself recently. I think I will wait on that until the move is complete.

For those of you who thought I could not enjoy the non-business aspect of retirement, I am doing fine. Of course, I really do still have a job. This business of getting out of town is as much of a job as the one I just abandoned.

I will eventually catch up with all of these tasks -- and with all of your posts. I am hanging in there until the better end.

Monday, April 06, 2009

spring in my step

Tap. Tap. Tappity. Tap. I heard the distinct sound of rain hitting a corrugated roof.

This is Oregon, after all. But I was sitting in my back yard reading a book under a clear blue sky. Odd.

Then , I looked behind me and saw two fox squirrels bent on a bit of romance racing like whirling dervishes up, down, and around the trunk of my spruce tree.

Spring has finally arrived with temperatures in the high 60s. It is probably not a good sign that I liked the temperature boost, but I thought it was too hot -- as did the good Professor.

But it is time for new beginnings. And everywhere around me on Sunday there were symbols galore that I should look forward to the trip south.

The daffodils just outside my library are in full bloom. Cherries, plums, and apples are blossoming -- with nary a bee to speed them on their appointed rounds. Even the Mallard pair in the park were oblivious to the danger of my dog as they shamelessly courted in public.

And the symbols swere just as true at Sunday school and Church yesterday morning. My class gave me a very nice send-off. I have enjoyed being their teacher over the past few years.

Not only was it my last class appearance, it was my last drama appearance at church. Fortunately, my cold dissipated enough to let me do my little monologue without croaking out my lines. The congregation then gave me some very nice gifts -- and I had an opportunity for another farewell address.

I am beginning to think That I get to do more farewell tours than Barbra herself.

Monday and Tuesday should be days devoted solely to cleaning up closets in the house. I am taking my truck in for some expensive maintenance. It is now 8 years old. Eventually, I am going to need to replace it. Perhaps, in Mexico.

But the days are ticking past very fast now. The 15th is approaching faster than a politician on his way to a fundraiser.

Somebody else is going to have to take care of the baby squirrels this year. Because I will be in Mexico.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

one saturday to go

Wow! Time disappears even on Saturdays.

I knew that most of the day was going to be well invested in another retirement party. My management colleagues wanted to do something special as a farewell.

That did not keep me from sleeping in on Saturday morning in a feeble attempt to fight the dreaded Head Cold. And when I did get up, the day was beautiful. Clear and in the 60s. More like the Oregon springs I know.

Professor Jiggs had been very patient with me throughout the past week. He obviously enjoys the attention I give him while I am home. But we have not had our traditional morning and evening walks.

Saturday was different. We walked through his park. But we added an extended excursion. The cherry blossoms are in bloom around the capitol building. They are a little late in blooming, but the show was spectacular. You can see the result in the photograph at the top of the post.

We got home an hour later than I had planned -- just in time for me to get cleaned up for the drive to Portland. I drove up with my former supervisor, who is also the mother of my insurance agent -- for all things American and Mexican. We had a great conversation. The type of talk you can only have after the business relationship no longer exists.

My colleague, who put together the farewell party, really outdid herself. The food was bountiful and delicious. And the camaraderie was every bit as good. I ended up trooping away with more gifts -- all of them very practical.

Speaking of stuff. I took a closer look at the few items I am taking along to Mexico. Even with my stripped-down list, I cannot fit everything into two suit cases. The pots and pans alone could fill that space.

My brother has advocated the purchase of a truck-top cargo carrier. I think he is correct. As long as the dog is making the trip, I will need the extra space. His food alone will take up room. (Even though I have heard that the customs officers are quite methodical in confiscating dog food with any beef byproducts. Mad cow and all that.)

So, I will be in the market for a roof-top carrier during the next week.

I had hoped to retire early on Saturday because I was feeling a bit better. Several weeks ago, I commented that I had presented my last sermon and drama presentation at church. And I thought I had. Instead, I managed to get myself talked into another skit for Sunday morning. This time it is a monologue -- about three minutes.

I stayed up far too late memorizing lines. Because I cannot say "no."

And I wonder why I end up missing deadlines on other projects. Go figure!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

cold cash

Another bump in the road today.

I had planned to sleep in this morning to fight my cold. My voice was just starting to return, but I thought a little rest would help.

But first thing in the morning, my cell phone started ringing. I had the option of ignoring it, but I am glad I didn't.

On the other end of the telephone was the manager of the credit union. I had been waiting for her call to set up my debit card to work in Mexico.

In a far-too-chirpy voice, she informed me that I had been misinformed. Debit cards could not be unblocked in Mexico. Security. Liability. Blah blah blah.

Kim of Boston had warned me that this might happen. Many credit unions are simply too cheap to install the necessary protections for their credit cards. Apparently, my credit union falls in that category.

My Nyquil-befuddled brain figured out I had a problem. As matters stood, I would have no cash access when I cross the border.

And driving to Tuscon every week to get cash seemed to be a bit counter-productive. Not to mention, the Homeland Security guys would most likely decide I needed a little talking to. And I do not like to talking to them -- ever.

So, up I get. And trundle off to the local branch of one of the few surviving MacDonald's-like banks in town. After an hour, I had my new account information.

I was going to follow Felipe's advice and open an account through CitiBank, but I could not get my cell phone to cooperate. Maybe another day.

I wish I could say it was a nice Spring day in Oregon for this errand. It wasn't. I ended up schlepping through rain and hail. Remember. I am walking to improve my health. By the time I got home, I was ready for bed.

Six hours later, I woke up just in time to get back in bed for the night.

I am looking forward to getting rid of this cold. But I am one day closer to wheels up on my runway south.

Friday, April 03, 2009

revenge of max headroom

The head cold continues to take its toll.

I was going to sleep in on Thursday morning in the hope that a little rest would help me to battle this thing. But I had put a memorial service on my calendar. So, up I struggled to walk over to the church at 9.

Nothing. No cars. No people. Locked doors.

The rest of you have already figured it out. The service is next Thursday.

Home I tottered. Because I was up, I took the dog for a long walk. By then, there was no hope of falling asleep. Instead, I decided to notify all of my friends and acquaintances of my new internet address.

Now, that should be an easy task. Mark all of my contact
s and draft an email.

Of course, it is never that easy. There is always one address that has a flaw and causes the email to fail. Just like that one blasted Christmas light that causes he string not to light.

I ended up sending almost 300 small groupings of addresses. There went three hours of the day.

The result is that I have now heard from a lot of people I have not talked with in years. The email keep rolling in. That was worth all of the trouble.

I then drove over to Best Buy to purchase two volumes of CD/DVD holders. Each volume has room from 300+ discs. I filled up both volumes. And I was surprised how long it took to open each case and put the disc in the book. Not tiring, just boring.

This will be an interesting test. Mexican Customs restricts duty-free crossings to 5 DVDs and 20 CDs. With the few items I am taking, I hope I will not be a duty target. But we will see how the trade war instigated by our president will play out at the border.

And then I was off to bed early. A former client is stopping by early tomorrow to pick up some things I will not be leaving in the house.

The preparation continues.