Friday, December 21, 2007

Jo! Jo! Jo! (Ho! Ho! Ho! in spanish)

Merry X-mas to you all and I hope that 2008 brings health and happiness to you casa!
The X-mas music is drifting thru the house, the Santa collection is set out and the 18 inch artificial tree is standing tall on the back of the cocina counter. I even managed to put up one string of fifty multicolored lights around the edge of the cocina counter.
We’ve been to a few parties and one traditional Mexican Posada that Deb has written about in her blog. It is truly a festive time of year and once again I must say that we are so fortunate to have such good friends willing to share their lives and the Holidays with us.
Last night our very good friends Lida and Diana stopped by with a X-mas cookie basket and a music cd. We seem to go in spurts in regards to seeing them. But the good thing is that when we do see them it is always fun and the time between visits just seem to fade away. They are extremely good people! Of course we presented a problem to them as we do not have up to date electronics and the cd was an MP3 cd and I’m not sure but I think we’re just a bit ahead of eight track! LOL! So we can’t play it so they are going to do another one that is compatible with our capabilities!
We have been invited to our good friends Geo and Bebe’s to partake in their annual X-mas eve ham. As I have spoken in my blog previously you can’t go wrong going to Geo and Bebe’s for anything! Guaranteed good time!
X-mas day we have been invited to Faye and Victor’s house, another “can’t go wrong with these good friends”. Faye just found a new seafood shop and has changed the feast menu to surf and turf! Yum! Yum! If you ever leave their house and are still hungry then you didn’t do something right. Excellent friendship and food!
Now I must tell you that there is something that I do miss and will always miss being in the warmer climates. Night falls and a light snow starts, the X-mas lights are twinkling and dancing with the snowflakes and reflecting off the streets. Putting on a coat and hat and taking a walk with the quiet crunch of the snow compacting under you feet as you walk while that very silent sound of snow falling fills your senses. There is nothing else that can compare to that feeling of well being as the cold starts to penetrate and you turn to walk home where your loved ones are and their warmth is waiting to embrace you. This I do miss!
Again Merry X-mas to you all and may the walk back to your house fill you with joy and happiness!

By best to everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Belated Thanksgiving Day 07 Report

What would Thanksgiving be without friends? A question to date I am happy to report that I cannot answer. I hope never to be able to answer that question! I am a very fortunate fellow!
Debi and I were invited to our friends Geo and Bebe’s house along with some other friends. Geo and Bebe definitely fit the label, “Hostesses with the mostess”.
Always a good time to be had when you go there. They supplied the main dish and all the pre-dinner snacks and drinks. Everyone brought an assigned dish so we were sure to have the whole meal deal!
This is Geo at his bar on the terrazo at his casa. He is a superb bartender and you feel right at home everytime you belly up to the bar!
Geo and Bebe's terrazo is very nice and we all gathered in that area chatting and catching up. And of course enjoying some of the mixoligists master pieces prior to the feast!

Then it was time to get ready to eat and decide where to sit. There was also this fair maiden pouring vino for those so inclined. She's a cutie!

Next step is to load up your plate so get in line and load up the goodies! Yum! Yum!

Always after the meal you sit and talk some more. Of course you can't move so why fight it! LOL!
We hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving with your friends as well!
Our thanks to Jack and Beth Knepp for supplying the pictures.

Dengue and me!

You hear about people getting it but after almost two years I was not even giving it any thought. I knew that people say that it can be very debilitating and recovery can take weeks. I just hadn’t figured that I would ever get it. Surprise! What is life without a few surprises.

It was fortunate that my session with Mr. Dengue was two days behind Deb’s. Not that we couldn’t have gotten friends to take her to the hospital but I think it’s good to have one family member on the up and up to make decisions.

The speed in which it took over Debi was amazing. It supposedly takes an average of three to five days, once you are bit, for you to show symptoms. Only three hours passed from the onset of symptoms until Debi was in the ER! It was scary especially with her becoming delirious so fast due to the fever.

My symptoms started differently and less violently. I started getting eye socket discomfort, headache, and some joint pain. It progressed from there but I never felt the need to seek medical attention. Of course knowing what Debi had and then getting the same symptoms did much for the diagnosis and ease of mind.

The worst part for me was definitely the joint pain and the eye socket pain. The fever made things interesting with complete body flushes that made me feel as if I were a volcano and may explode. I did my best to counteract that by getting into the pool. Debi did not want to get in the pool as it was too chilly for her. I didn’t care because I knew that a temp of 103 had to be brought down.

Friends checked on us, ran to the grocery store and brought food. We did not lack in support in any way. We are very fortunate people to have such good friends.

Debi is at 99% now and I’m close behind her. My feeling is that of a car going down the road, I shift easily, seem to have decent power but I just can’t get into 4th gear. Our appetites are almost at normal. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is not to have that metallic taste in my mouth, another aspect of dengue.

Well, they say there are four types of dengue and once you have one type you can never get it again. That’s the good news! The not so good news is that if you get dengue again it is guaranteed to be worse. Not what I like to hear!

If you’d like to know more here is a site to go to.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wine vs Whine!

Wine, wine, wine, whine, whine, whine!

This post is especially for those of you that have shared in the updates that were sent before the blog was started. I am fulfilling a promise made to you well over a year ago about my background with wine and the selling of my wine collection. I had said that when the time came I would give you the whole story. The time has arrived.

When you first asked what I ended up doing with my wine you may remember that I whitewashed the whole subject with the statement that my wine collection was sold and would be replaced by a pool I would have here in Mexico. It is in fact what I did, and I stand by the decision. It is a wound that will never totally heal and it is one of those things in life that comes under that heading of “Ya’ gotta do, what ya’ gotta do”! Debi and I have been enjoying the pool very much! I can’t imagine being here without a pool especially in the summer months! However, a fair trade it was not - but a needed mental exchange at the time it certainly was.

Since I am going to tell this story allow me to take you back to the beginning. I caution you that this story is about a passion of mine so it will not be short and sweet, anything but! After all, it is all about me! LOL!

I’d like to let you know that wine is alive! It has a very complex existence from the time the grapes start growing thru and until you drink it. Its environment and each step in its life changes it for good or bad so it is forever in a constant state of change. All the vintners and wineries in the world have my complete admiration for their efforts, dedication, and creativity! They have helped to make the world civilized!

I was raised in a non alcohol drinking home with one exception which was one case of Rolling Rock pony bottles bought every Christmas by my Dad. He would have a couple and my Mom would have one and as company stopped by they got the rest. My sister and I would get a sip from time to time. I started enjoying wine when I was in my early twenties. Albeit Boone’s Farm, Riunite, Yago Sangria, and Lancer’s complimented by a couple of tokes. Regardless and as it is with many things you must start somewhere.

The two major events that had a profound affect on my future in wine happened in 1995. Those events were Wine Spectator magazine and a local liquor/wine store going out of business.

Early in the year I had purchased a subscription to Wine Spectator magazine. I had previously bought a few issues off the newsstand and really enjoyed reading everything in the magazine. I was amazed and enthralled that this enormous wine world existed. I also had purchased a few books on wine at one of the book stores. My knowledge was rapidly growing and the trips to the liquor/wine store were more frequent and the cart was always loaded as I approached the check out register. Not big expensive wines but wines that I could use to develop a taste for different varietals and slowly understand them more. Some were consumed and some were poured down the drain. I was learning what I liked and what I didn’t. Then one day I found that the liquor/wine store was going out of business. As the sale started the prices were discounted nominally. It was your typical sale and as the sale progressed the prices were reduced more and more. The wines started thinning out and as in most sales the only ones remaining were upper tier wines that were pricey. Be it good or bad they weren’t moving that well. For those of you that know me I smelled a deal to be had and I moved in. (Similar to the twenty-one chain saws I once bought!) The wines were still pricey for me but with the recent knowledge I had gained from WS magazine and the books I read combined with an unsinkable attitude I dove in. Without going into great detail I ended up with some fabulous wines at great prices, many of which were first growth French Bordeaux wines and big California cabernets! I then had the opportunity to drink wines that I would never have had the opportunity to had it not been for these events. I was overwhelmed; I was taken away by aromas, flavors and never was I the same again. I began to realize how complex but yet simple wines were. It was a great opportunity for me. However, it was a double edged sword in that I then knew what more expensive wines tasted like. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the more you pay the better the wine will be because I am not. But it did allow me to peek over the fence and see how the others live! There are some wines that cost a bit more that will reward you many times over. Having said that let me also say that there is no doubt that ‘knowledge is power’ and knowing what wines you like and the vintners that do it the way you like it best will trump money every time!

Throughout my wine adventure I developed a passion for finding wines that were $10. or less and that were outstanding wines and capable of holding up against the more expensive wines that were being touted on the wine scene. After a few years I had to change “The Hunt” to bottles that were $15. or less. I had even given thought to opening a wine store that only sold wines that were $15. or less. I never did it but that idea has been put into reality in many cities across the US.

Some of the wines I purchased at the sale were consumed and the others were sold and became the seed money that got me started. After that I continued learning and gaining understanding of where to buy and where to sell, etc.
I started making inroads with numerous liquor stores and being invited to wine-tastings put on by the distributors. My education progressed at a wonderful rate and I was very happy with my advancement.

While buying, trading, and selling I was making many wine friends locally and on the net. The ins and outs of various wines and what was going to be hot and what was not was the constant banter. It is certainly like playing the stock market. You listen for the hype and sift thru it all and hope to buy when it’s released or before it gets popular and then sell when everyone wants it. (My wife has said of me on numerous occasions in regards to wine that “The Hunt” for me is the thing I like the most.)
I need to say that I was not trying to make a living doing this. My soul purpose besides “The Hunt” was to lower my cost per bottle. It was fun, exciting and I loved it.

These actions necessitated a place to hold wines as I started dealing more and more and my collection was growing. If you are going to start collecting and thus cellaring wines you must have a proper area in which to keep them. I built a room with wooden wine racks in my cellar that held two hundred bottles. That was great but I found out quickly that if you have space something comes over you and you’ll do your very best to fill that space! So the cellar was only good for about a year. Once I got tired of moving cases of wine to get to the racks of wine I decided I needed to expand so I bought a commercial wine unit that held another two hundred and fifty bottles. After emptying the boxes of wine that had been stored in the cellar wine room I found that I had only filled half the new unit. About six months later I don’t know what happened but I woke up one morning and it was full! So boxes of wine started getting stacked back down in the cellar.

As time rolls by my network has expanded and I have contacts from NJ to Fl to Ca. I had become a known wine person and trader on a couple of wine internet sites. Again, the words that come to mind are “The time of my life”! It was a blast! My passion in wine had exploded beyond where I thought it would. The wines I had the chance to taste and collect would make any wine lover smile! (Please note that I did not, have not and will not use the word connoisseur as I am not. I am a wine lover that knows what he likes, that’s it plain and simple!).

My next purchase was another commercial unit that held four hundred and fifty more bottles. At this point the cellar was for whites, the smaller commercial unit was for my personal wines that I was collecting, and the big commercial unit was for the coming and going wines.

By this time I had made some super friends - they remain very close personal friends to date. Randy will forever have me in his debt for soooo many wine reasons but also for just being a friend. He would invite me to the store he managed for tastings and we’d taste and talk and share and it was wonderful. I purchased many if not most of my wines thru him. We often commented “there were so many wines and so little time”! He certainly helped me along the way! Going out to lunch was great as well! One of the best all round experiences was going to Gary’s house for food and wine-tastings. All the invitees would bring something interesting to eat and at most every gathering Gary, who is an excellent chef, would handle the main dish(s). What was interesting is that it was agreed that we’d each have to bring a bottle or two of wine that we would all blind taste. The wines would be bagged and numbered and no one knew which wines were which except one person. We’d talk about the wines and write down what flavors and smells we thought we got and what type of wine it was, etc. This was not a contest nor was it to show who knew the most but just for fun. After tasting each bottle we’d expose it and then we would talk about it some more. It was amazing how we perceive a wine when we can’t see the label! It was a great time! I don’t believe that I ever guessed correctly out of all the times we did the tastings! LOL! But I also never had such a good time with my fellow enophiles. Those are times in my life that I’ll cherish forever.

By 2003 the big wine cooler ended up being the one I used for my collection.

One of my loves was and is Port wine. I fell in love with Port wine from my first taste. It didn’t hurt a bit that my most wonderful friend Gary (different from the previous Gary) introduced me to Port and I was hooked. In the end, my collection had in excess of 110 bottles of Port starting from 1970. My collection was heaviest with cabernet sauvignon. Out of all the different varietals this one is the best in my mind. I have been taken aback by more cabs than any other wines I have ever tasted. The complexity of this varietal is unbelievable! Some people feel that they are too big and bold and when pairing with a meal and they can overwhelm. I learned quickly that if you are showcasing a particular wine then the wine should be the center of the meal and the meal should not be in competition but nicely accompany the wine. The opposite rings true if you are showcasing a meal, the wine should definitely be in the background but again be a nice accompaniment. I however have come to like, love, desire one particular wine vs food fight. As a carnivore I cherish, no, no let me change that to covet a great steak and the same goes for a big badass cabernet. My idea of a perfect meal is having a flavor power struggle going on in my mouth between a steak and a cab! I have yet to be disappointed in staging one of these fights. But never doubt that both the steak and the wine must be up to the task! When it’s right ecstasy is the only word for it!

This finally brings us to the selling of my wines and the cooling units. By this time my collection had grown to just over 900 bottles. As we made plans to move and once we were 100% sure I sold as much as I could on the net and to the people I had been dealing with over the years. Remaking contacts and saying good-bye was a mixed bag emotionally. But of course being dealers they were only interested in the wines that would sell or that they liked personally. There were no mercy purchases. After that flurry of sales I still needed to sell more than 500 bottles. During this time I was trying to decide which ones I would bring with me and how many. I had a hard time with this decision as these wines were like my kids. Some of which I had had since the beginning of my wine life. After heart wrenching decisions I decided that I would take the chance and bring 52 bottles with me into Mexico. Quite a risk since between Debi and I we could only bring 6 liters, which was eight bottles. And needless to say all but a few were my most cherished bottles and not replaceable. The risk paid off as all 52 made it thru! The majority of the remaining bottles were sold to a couple that also took the bigger cooling unit. The rest was sold to an individual along with the smaller cooling unit. These were heart-wrenching negotiations that cut deep. Almost all of these wines were sold at my cost or below my cost. It was a hard pill to swallow but we were leaving and it had to be done.

As the last bottle was carried out the door I think I felt empty, possibly similar to a parent whose children have left the nest. I’ll never know that feeling but staring at the imprints in the floor left by the cooling units made me sad. The years of friendships, collecting, hunting and dealing along with the labels of the bottles I so much wanted to keep and that I thought I would sometime get to drink rushed by in my mind! I was frozen in time and space! Then as I stood there I thought I heard something. Did I? I did! I know I did! I slowly started hearing something far off in the distance and it was drawing me out of that melancholy place I was in………..something magical, something familiar………….magic,…..…… started getting clearer, it was magic………….”Magic marker, where’s the magic marker, we need to label this box!”


Friday, November 23, 2007

Casa Kuhn Utility Report

Quiet in the casa! Lights, power, water and we have action on the utility scene!
Utilities, well I said that I would report back once we had the information needed to determine the total monthly utility costs.
As a basis to work from let me tell you about our usages. The costs listed below are a good representation for the summer billing period. These costs are for summer rates. We do not leave lights on very often in rooms that are not in use however we do have two lights on timers that do their thing every day and the front two wall lights are on a photo cell. The pool filter runs twice a day for two hours each. When I need to vacuum the pool the system then runs as well and that is on average every three days. The water softener system runs every other day. There is a submersible water pump in the cistern out front that is used to pressurize our water system so it runs as needed. We have a submersible pump in the back pozo (well) that we turn on when we water the garden and that varies depending on the wet or dry season. This pump is also used to fill the pool as needed. The three ac’s are also used as needed with the master bedroom being the most used. The guest bedroom only when we have visitors and then periodically just to be sure it’s running properly. The office when needed during the real hot season and periodically just to be sure it’s running properly. None have ever run 24/7. There are two refrigerators and a small wine cooler unit that also run daily. Other than that the computer is on from the time we get up until we go out or to bed. So armed with that info here we go!
Electricity for Sept 10 thru Nov 9 came in at 1,508.00 pesos, our most expensive bill to date. At present the peso dollar relationship is 10.7 pesos to one green back. So our electric bill is $140.93 US for two months….or $70.47 per month.
Water holds fairly steady but I will quote our highest bill to date. The highest bill was 153.20 pesos and that amount covers two months. So dividing it by 10.7 we have a US figure of $14.31 or $7.16 per month. Again I’ll point out that the water usage in regards to the pool comes from the pozo (well) and the only expense for that is the electricity to pump it.
Propane gas is the hardest to be able to get an exact reading on. We have a large propane tank of the roof that they come and fill upon request. Averaging the last two fills our usage comes to $.81US per day. Or $24.30 per month.
Last comes the salt for the softener. On average I put in 25 kilos of salt each week. Each bag is 43 pesos or $4. US per bag which puts the monthly cost at $16.00.
So doing the big calculation our utilities run us a total of $118.00 per month.

Of course this may change as we haven’t had a full winter season set of bills as yet. We have turned up the thermostat on the water heater because as it gets cooler a warmer shower is more comfortable. During the hot summer months very little hot water is used. So the water heater will be using more gas. The water and electric should stay steady. For those of you that may say well those ac’s use a lot of electricity so with their usage being diminished the electric bills should be lower. This is very true but we are not the only one’s that understand this. CFE is our electric company, the only one, and they do have a few intelligent people in the company! So, they raise the rates for electricity every winter season as they too like to have things stay steady! LOL!
I need to add that CFE has levels of consumption that they rate. They charge more per kilowatt hour as your usage increases.

This will be our first full winter season in the house. Yes, winter season is cooler here but not cold by Colorado standards. But as your blood thins due to the higher temperatures the cooler months do take on a more chilled feeling. Some houses have fireplaces and there are space heaters that are sold here. CFE loves those who buy electric space heaters! LOL! You may remember that one of the reasons that Debi wanted to leave Colorado was each year she would have more issues with the cold. She has slept with the sheet and comforter on already this month and she’s wondering if we may have to end up getting glass put in the kitchen and pantry doors and windows after all. Time will tell and Debi will tell me! LOL!

Here are the average temperatures for Merida:
The first set of temps are the year's average, then Jan thru Dec.
°F 80 74 75 80 82 85 84 83 83 82 80 77 75
°C 26 23 23 26 27 29 28 28 28 27 26 25 23

Please keep in mind that it does get cold here from time to time. The coldest temperature recorded here is argued between 39 and 41 °F. That’s real cold for here and we’ve been here when it was 51 °F and that is a bit nippy as well. Our low temps right now are in the high 60’s
Some of the locals are already sporting sweaters, knit hats, and gloves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Healthcare, Second and First Hand

Stories on healthcare here in Merida all still come in on the great to super end of the scale. Reasonable costs and scheduling is amazing. Just imagine calling a Dr’s office that you have never been to before on Monday and getting an appointment for a physical for Wednesday. Then at that appointment it is decided you should have a colonoscopy and it is scheduled for the following Monday morning! Or how about falling and breaking your arm in two places, going to the emergency room, finding out that due to advanced osteoperosis you can’t get a hard cast, you must come back and get x-rays every three days for three weeks along with soft cast changes, and finally go through therapy and in the end not have spent over $600.00 US! Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! As I have said before the medical expenses are what makes it financially reasonable to live here.

Yes, I know what you’re saying, sure Tom this is all hearsay, yadda, yadda, yadda! Ok, I’ll admit that you don’t know these people like I do so the basis of fact may be sketchy for you. HOWEVER, I can now give you a first hand review of my personal medical experience. For those of you that know me real well you’ll have already guessed that if I’m talking medical it involved my head. It seems that through my life my head has taken the brunt of most of my disasters. My first was at age twelve, 10 stitches in the chin resulting from running in the bathroom and falling and hitting the edge of the toilet, age sixteen 8 stitches resulting from a car accident (not my fault), age seventeen 10 stitches resulting from a car accident (not my fault), age twenty one 238 stitches resulting from a car accident (again, not my fault), age twenty eight 14 stitches resulting from not ducking below the pipes enough in a basement, age thirty-three 8 stitches resulting from not seeing a piece of tin sticking out of the side of a truck. Numerous other items that maybe should have had stitches or at least a check from a vet might have been wise but with all the experience with head wounds I, we handled it ourselves. Now I can add my most minor stitch experience at fifty-eight, 5 stitches resulting from not seeing and catching the bottom corner of the upper closet door in the master bathroom. OUCH!!!!

I had gotten in the closet to get the light bulbs out to change a bulb in the ceiling fixture. I didn’t close the door and then turned and got the bulb and then turned and headed out of the room and rip. Down on one knee and the blood was flowing just like head wounds do. Debi was there pronto and made me stay on the knee and she was sopping up the blood saying, “I don’t know, I’m not sure about this one, it’s not deep but it’s long and laying open. I think you may need a stitch or so”! Ok, so here’s how it went after that….the bleeding slowed way down with direct pressure. We got in the car and drove to Clinica Merida which took about 8 minutes. Parked in the parking garage and walked into the ER. The lady looked up and we didn’t say a word as she was up and ushering us into an exam room. At this point I need to say that I was cleaned up and not a bloody mess just a guy holding a cloth to his head. Within two minutes a DR was in the room talking to us in fairly good ingles. Cutting to the chase from the time we walked into the ER and until we walked out it took 58 minutes on the nose. The charge for the experience was 439 pesos. We are still currently at 10.7 pesos per US dollar so that puts it at $41.02 US. Oh yea, and 10 pesos for parking! Debi says that the work was top notch and the stitching is superb. The DR was young, friendly and had a great bedside manner. Ok, so as you know I’m an experienced head injury person and I’d rate the care/service at 9.5 on the ten scale. I’m stingy with 10’s!!!

Needless to say I was very pleased with my treatment but very upset with my inability to keep the incident from happening! Hey, but what do you want from a guy that has taken so many shots to the head! LOL!

Debi's Blog is up and running!

Hear ye', hear ye'!!!!!! Debi's flying solo on the blog front. She has shed the chains of oppression imposed by me....hmmmmmmmm, yea, right! LOL! Like I can impose anything on that woman that she doesn't want! Chortle, chortle!!!!!!!!! Anyway she's got her first posts up and of course they're great! So stop by her blog and have a look see and say hi and post a comment if you'd like! Here's her address:

PS: As you can see I have a new header on my blog thanks to the help of our good friend Lida! The new header totally rocks as you can see but there needs to be a tweak or two and then it'll be perfect!!!!!!! Thanks Lida!!!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The short without the long of it!

For Debi to blog or not to blog....that is the question!

I'll first address the query that my most lovely (do you see that picture of her, isn't she just a doll!!!!) esposa has posted. I think she should certainly have her own blog. Not that I don't want her posting on mine because that's cool by me! I invited her to use mine. Geez, if she hadn't set my blog up I wouldn't be able to belabor topics and bore you to death as I so eloquently do! So I say go for it babe, go for it!!!!!

Steak Report!!!!!!!!

Ok, on the steak front I feel that I have arrived at a solution to my carne dilemma. The CostCo visit and steak purchase that I spoke about in the last posting was a great success. The NY strip was superb as was the 97 BV Vineyards Georges de Latour cab that was popped open for the occasion. Next I'll try a thick cut of rib eye and see what that holds in store for me. That along with either a 97 Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages cab or a 94 Silver Oak Napa should bring my carnivore self to within spitting distance of ecstasy! LOL!

Tis' the season!

Well the Christmas decorations are up in most of the stores. They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, hmmmmmmmmmmmm I wonder why! LOL! And Halloween is not as it is in the states. No trick or treaters but they do have decorations. They celebrate “Dia de los muertos” here, which means “the day of the dead”! It’s pretty neat! They emphasize departed friends and family and celebrate their lives. They make alters in the house or in the yard, they make the food that the person liked and the drinks they liked and they talk about them, eat and drink the food, etc. Kind of like an annual wake of sorts! There are also public celebrations and fireworks (oh yes, every celebration has fire works…ie noisiest place in the world! LOL!).
So any way, shortly after the end of September you start seeing the signs of Christmas. It’s the mother of all holidays here, the big kahuna and just in modern times has Santa entered the picture. Their celebration has always been and is still “the day of the three kings”. I’m not going to get into it as you can Google it and get all the info you want. I’m trying to enlighten you not be your maestro! LOL!

Short post!

Well, I have proven to myself and subsequently to you that I can deliver a relatively small post! Yea!!!!!! Now what the heck am I going to do with all this extra time? LOL!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Debi's Dilemma

OK, so here's the deal - I want to post also; should I just post on Tom's blog, or should I create my own?

I know there is a way to do a Poll, I just can't figure it out, I'm sure as soon as I hit the 'Publish Now' button I will see it!


To register a vote or opinion you'll need to leave a comment - Thanks, Debi

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Late fall update

November 2007
As you may remember we moved in the house right before X-mas and it will soon be one year. The boys are well and happy! The pool was completed the beginning of June and that’s when the last worker walked out the door.
We now employ dos ayudos (helpers), Martha who helps with the housework, and Tiburcio who does the maintenance of the garden, and cleans the patios, they both work on Wednesdays.
We have started the process of getting a wall built out front and as soon as our architect has her baby the project will proceed. These and a few other things are what will be in this blog.

After the last worker walked out the door we were still social but we really locked down and enjoyed our privacy. We went out for food and to visit friends. Of course our friends knew that we just got released form “the workers” and since most everyone knows this type of release they just left us alone.
Lazy days of getting up whenever, wearing little or nothing around the house and the pool, and just the luxury of not needing to make construction decisions, etc was delightful. Since it was summer the pool was the main focus and we easily spent 3 to4 hours a day in it; An oasis from the heat while floating lazily in the sun tanning, reading, and sleeping. Yes, the siesta is alive and well! LOL!
Here is a most recent picture of the pool and jardin area and you can see that things do indeed grow quickly in the Yucatan.

After about two months of quietness and solitude we decided that it was time to start our social thang’ and we slowly started inviting friends and acquaintances over for little soirees, cocktail parties, and dinners. All the while constantly meeting new people and making new friends. I know that you probably get tired of hearing me say this but the diversity of these people, their ideas, their knowledge, their insight and the subjects that come up are amazing. If you want to have your ideas and beliefs challenged and shook up just get around these people. People from every walk of life, from many countries and with as many ideas and opinions as there are waves in the ocean. Fascinating is the word. One of the things I like the best about being here!
So we have opened the social gates and are now engaged in all that is social. It seems that whatever your interest(s) are you can find a venue for it/them. All things to all people…….I know it’s not, but it’s close! People and art are our things and we are pleased with what we have found! More importantly is what has found us!

“The noisiest place in the world” still rings true. The “sala de fiesta” right behind our property has slowly become part of our lives now. The loud music on most weekend nights has become just another part of our new life here! For the most part we have minimum other noises to deal with. It seems that more people than not have numerous noises to deal with. It usually comes at unexpected times but some are constant. The neighbor’s barking dog(s), the neighbor’s or neighborhood’s rooster(s) at 3 am until 6 am, much worse in our humble opinions than the scheduled noise of the sala! I have always been the one that had the problem with the noise. Debi falls asleep real easy and I envy that of her. It doesn’t bother me as much now and I can only hope that as more time passes I’ll just let it all go!

The new wall out front will dampen most of the street noises and quiet things down from the front. The wall has always been in the plan but after the remodel we had to replenish the coffers in order to pay for it. The wall will be 10 to 12 feet tall. It’ll have a garage door (porton) on each side and center entry doors. It will be very plain in appearance, nothing fancy as we want it to just be part of the “hood”! Our architects, Alvaro and Mercedes Cervera Sanchez are wonderful and they are expecting their third child. Mercy is at the drop point and has requested that we put the wall on hold for a bit and we agreed. We think that Alvaro and Mercy are definitely worth waiting for! So after all the kid stuff happens they’ll get back with us and we’ll proceed with the wall; Probably the beginning of December. That’s not a problem for us as the one thing we have had great success with is in the development of the “patience” thing! We’ll do pictures and stuff once it starts! Just to jog your memory here is what the front looks like now!

The boys, what can I say? They are great! Tate has settled in to a life style that his fellow gatitos in the states would envy. We call the spare bedroom Tate’s room as that is where he sleeps most of the time. He loves the jardin and will spend his entire day in it. There are many places for hunting, lounging it the sun or siesta’ing in the shade. Mat loves to be out as well and mostly stays close to the back of the house and likes to lounge on the rocks. Mat gets more wobbley as time passes and he is without a doubt totally deaf now. He had his 24th birthday this year! His appetite is as strong as ever and he still kicks up his heals from time to time. We are now trimming him most of the time to control his mats. It is unbelievable how easily they form. We are better at trimming than we used to be but we still do not have the professional touch. In a recent visit a friend commented that Mat looked like a roadie for KISS. We all had to agree! LOL! But the important thing is that they are both happy and enjoying their new home! Here are recent photos.

I am still on the lookout for a great steak here in the Yucatan. I did have a great steak and let me emphasis “A GREAT STEAK” in Ajijic (just out side Guadalahara on lake Chapala) when we visited our very good friends George and Janice in mid September. They just bought a summer home there this year. Ajijic is very Americanized in things that are American but those things are at a premium since it all has to be shipped in. But nevertheless the steak, visit and friendship was well worth the trip!
In my “find a good steak effort” I have gone to CostCo and had them cut me Angus New York strips at about 1 ¼” thick. Cost is no object when it comes to finding a great steak. LOL! Now I’ll fire up the grill and see what I got. Meat is plentiful here but the flavor seems to have been forgotten. They also do not have thick steaks as that isn’t their way. Thick is a gringo thang’! Meat is thinly cut thus easily cooked. I’ll keep you informed on my progress!

Well that’s it for this time. I plan on doing my best to post more often and in turn it may reduce the size of the posts….or not! LOL!
My most sincere wish that this post finds you well and happy
From the heart of Merida, Mexico this is Tom signing off!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tatie the pool cat

by Debi – July 27, 2007

I swear I think Tom can get this cat to do anything! It’s an amazing relationship!

Tate seems more dog-like than cat-like, I think it’s just a matter of treatment, training, and understanding.
Tate comes when called, and/or whistled for. He will sit and lay at Tom’s feet for long periods of time.

Never sleeps on Tom’s side of the bed disrupting his night of sleep.

He follows Tom around, and talks to him constantly.

I think getting Tate so comfortable at the edge of the pool speaks volumes, or gallons, about their relationship.

Now if we could just get Tate to chase the iguanas out of the back yard.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We Bought a Toaster

We Bought a Toaster
posting by Debi, 7/22/07

We bought a toaster two weeks ago. OK? So what’s the big deal? Well the big deal is why did we buy the toaster?

We’ve been here a year and a half and never even considered the need for a toaster. Whenever Tom wanted toast we just laid the bread across a burner on the stove till it browned, easy enough. Or if I needed toasted rolls or loaves for something I went out to the grill.

So why now did we need a toaster? Bagels! We found bagels at Mega. Mega is a higher end super market. Well higher end than the Chedraui I generally shop at. Now don’t get me wrong, Chedraui is a fine store. It’s just that MY Chedraui is on Avenida Itzaes and is older, less well maintained, and less well stocked with little gringo delicacies than the North End Chedrauis.

OK, also we had friends arriving from the States and I was trying to be sure we had sufficient stuff for mornings. I knew we’d be out and about most days so was mainly concerned with getting started in the mornings. Fruit, yogurt, cereal, eggs, and now lovely bagels; multigrain, cinnamon raisin, onion, yummy, yummy, yummy.

UMMMMMM, I smell the bagel

Sunday, June 3, 2007

It's a POOL!!!!!

June 11, 2007 - Tom cleaning his finished pool!

June 2, 2007 - Tom in his nearly completed pool.

we still need to get plants for the pots next to the fountain

Happy Birthday to Tom!! Birthday

Here's the pool as we bought it

Photos on left are in February 2007,

the pool was usable, but was rough cement.

It took quite a while to get the tile installed

photos on right are June 2, 2007

In these photos you can see quite a bit of change to the garden as well.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

5/26/2007 History of a Pool!

Hi there! I hope that you are well and happy!

Let’s talk pools! In espanol es piscine. The dictionary says it's "a small body of still water". Ever since I was a kid I have always associated it with that lovely contained body of cool water that someone else had in their back yard. A splashing, cannon balling rampage that was soooooo much fun. The place I never wanted to leave when I was told that we had to go. In addition it was always associated with a gathering of friends, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, smiles and laughs. So as we all did when we were kids with the things we really liked but couldn’t have then we say that “if I ever get the chance I’m gonna’ have on of those”! I have always liked the water and obviously the reason why I became a scuba diver. As Debi and I like to say, “if some is good, then mo’ is better”! So becoming one with the water seemd like a great idea and it was.
Fast forward 45 years and guess what! LOL! We’re moving to Mexico and there are lots-o-pools there! So having a pool became a want, a need, a must! To that end I set aside the proceeds from the sale of my wine collection. (That heart breaking subject will be fodder for another story at a later time!) So now loaded with pool money and looking for houses in Merida the pool was a driving force in regards to the size of the property. The pool didn’t have to be humongous but I did want to be able to dive in without having to pull up short before hitting the other end! Those of you that still remember me know that stretched out I take up about eight feet in length. So calculating that with the speed of the glide thru the water after the dive, multiplied by the force of the dive, divided by the density of the water, yadda, yadda, yadda. So after doing the detailed calcs (yeah, right) I arrived at “I’ll know it when I see it”! LOL!
We were fortunate in that the place we found already had a pool. Good fortune or misfortune……..the jury is still out! The pool existed at 14’ x 29’ with a max depth at 7.5’ and no filtration system. The pool was a priority but getting the house livable trumped the pool. As the work proceeded on the house it got to a point when the pool remodel could be started. The pool workers started by checking the level of the pool border/walkway. They found that the NE corner was lower that the other three. I thought that that was a good sign! They demolished the border/walkway to install the new piping for the filtration system and when they re-poured the border/walkway they made sure it was level. The existing steps were not what we wanted and they were demolished. The depth was deeper than I wanted so as the remodel was going on I had the workers toss the concrete/rock debris in the pool. It got rid of a lot of debris and we didn’t have to pay to have it hauled away. Double bonus! After the debris was said to be sufficient by the pool guys they poured a new floor and steps. So joyously I filled the pool, it leaked, it took five weeks to find the leak, it was repaired and I filled the pool again. Everything worked well and it was very nice. I enjoyed getting up, making coffee, taking my coffee and my water test kit and walking out to the pool and checking the chems. It was nice to have it while Joe and Suzanne were here even though the weather was a bit chilly at times for pooling! LOL!
Then as reported in the last posting the tile color deleima which took some time had to be dealt with. So now the tile is almost done. Salvador said that it would be done today Saturday the 26th. It will not be. But that’s ok. As you can see I have an alternate source of coolness and sometimes it's just too relaxing! But such is life while one must wait for his pool! LOL!
One thing that usually takes a while to comprehend is that the culture here in regards to time lines and disappointment. Time lines mean nothing! Nada! It’s best just to view or think of what someone tells you in regards to when something will be done or when they’ll show up as optimism. This is a very optimistic culture. They do not want to disappoint you so in most cases they will tell you what they think you’ll want to hear. Similar to stopping and asking for directions, which Debi refuses to do any more. If you ask someone how to get to a certain place and they don’t know they’ll give you directions. Yes, that’s right, rather than disappointing you by saying they don’t know they’ll send you on your way pleased in the knowledge that they helped you. Of course not all do this but the majority will. So when a worker leaves for the day and you ask when he’ll be coming the next day and he says 8 AM, it’s a guideline. It will usually mean that he’ll get there sometime in the morning. But of course he may not show up at all. Adjusting to that has been hard, especially for me. I get in to that “my time is valuable” thinking and it is important to me but me only. If the worker is coming the next day and we decide to go to the market and he shows up to work it’s fine, he doesn’t have a problem with it. He’ll either hang around or leave and come back later or just show up a day or two later. No one gets upset. Now I don’t know if this process is good with the corporate world here but I have only been exposed to the everyday construction, cleaning, and gardener type people. Oh and very few of them are without a cell phone but they never call you to let you know that they are going to be late, not coming, etc. So the “laid back” lifestyle is exactly that but carried further than one might think. This fact is the reason why most people will set out to try and accomplish only one thing on any given day. There are so many things that can affect what you want to get done that if you try to do more then you are probably setting your self up for disappointment. Now after you’ve been here a while and get a better lay of the land things get somewhat easier but more importantly understandable! LOL!
Kind of got off the subject of the pool but all things are relevant! So here is the most recent picture of the pool for your viewing pleasure!
Here also is the most recent picture of the orchid we have blooming right now. We have a total of ten orchids right now. We are learning more about them as we go but the climate here makes it pretty darn easy to keep them happy!

The rear of the house has gone thru a few changes and getting it painted will probably be one of the next things in the future to have done. But in the mean time I keep talking about the jardin so I guess I should show you a photo of it. Debi has been steadily working away and she is doing an amazing job with it. Except for the iguanas it would be perfection but there always has to be some one or something messing with the order of things! You'd think that they were here first or something and we are just planting things for them to snack on!

Well, we are looking forward to having the pool completed. Not only because it will be nice to cool off in it but it will mean that there are no more workers coming every morning! We have had someone showing up every morning except Sundays for way too long. It will be nice to have the mornings and the house to ourselves for a change. A worker in the house or outside the house creates restrictions and removes our ability to go some where together except on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. We'll be getting into what will be normal living here in Merida!

I hope that you find my ramblings and pics at least entertaining! I enjoy sharing what we are doing here.

Until next time take care and keep in touch!


Saturday, May 12, 2007

5/11/2007 Update

We have not done an update for a long time. So we figured that we would do our best to bring you all up to date in regards to where we are with our new life.

We are well and adjusting more and more every day. My Spanish education has not progressed very much due to the remodel. Yes that’s partly true but some of it is just laziness along with the fact that I always seem to get by. Of course as Debi told you I would, I use her as a crutch more often than not. Debi is doing extremely well with it but she doesn’t think so. Everyone is impressed with her abilities and they say she has a great accent. The accent that someone has makes a great deal of difference in how well the people can understand what you are saying.

The house is done as far as the contractor/architect are concerned. We are in great shape with the exception of the pool. A while back we might have told you that it had a leak and it took five weeks to find it. After that we filled it and used it for about a month. We had scheduled to have the pool walls and floor tiled and so it started only to find that there was a problem with the batch numbers for the tile. After a few tries at getting it right and having to tear out half of what was installed the people doing it decided that the tile would have to be sent back to the supplier and new tile with all the same run numbers would have to be used. So that took a little over three weeks and the tiling should resume this coming week. In the meantime we did purchase a temporary pool to tide us over till work is completed on the 'real' pool. The house has turned out very much to our liking and we are pleased. We using our newfound knowledge and some folks we came across along the way can handle the items left to be accomplished. Now that we have had the chance to learn the ways and lay of the land we feel that we’ll be able to get things done with out the architect/contractor folks! We are visitor friendly in case you’re inclined to mosey down South!
Debi has been transforming the back forty into a recognizable garden area. With what she started with it is truly a miracle. Now that things are shaping up the iguanas that were around before and dropping by have decided to make it their home and we are now the proud parents of about 20 iguanas. Of course the trouble with that fact is that they need to eat and they seem to like everything that we plant with the exception of a couple of plants. So we have another learning curve to go through! LOL! Of course we have been told that iguana is yet another food source that tastes like chicken!

Well, here is some info and a few costs in regards to the house for those of you that might be interested. We paid our property taxes about a month ago, $24.00. Milk is $1.00 per liter and there are 3.79 liters to a gallon. Trash service is three times a week and it costs $1.70 per month. Water and electric are billed every two months. A normal water bill runs about $15.00. FYI: They cannot turn off your water for lack of payment. We can’t tell you about electric yet because we’ve only gotten one bill so far so it’s not a fair representation. However, it was $100.00 for two months. Electricity is the most expensive utility here. We just renewed the insurance on our home for $587.00 for coverage of $150K. There is a 10% deductible on just about everything. Most people do not carry insurance since everything is made mostly of concrete. This area is not in an earthquake zone, they never had a tornado and the only thing that can burn for the most part is your furniture and clothing. Oh, and the garden during the dry season, LOL! Yes the house is insured for hurricanes. A fideicomiso is the document that allows non-Mexican citizens to have property within 50 miles of the shore. It is a 50 year lease that is yours in perpetuity and is renewable each year by paying a fee. That fee is what I look at being more in line with the taxes in the US and it was presently paid at $450.00. It does increase a little each year they say. We’ll keep you posted. After five years we can apply for Mexican citizenship and then we would have dual citizenships. Once you obtain Mexican citizenship then you no longer need to pay the fideicomiso fee. Health insurance is a lot different than the states. There is no coverage for dental or eye. Those items are strictly out of pocket. We both just went to the dentist for the first time. The check up, cleaning, and panoramic x-rays were $65.00 each. Fillings are $50.00 each. We have not been to an eye doctor but have been told that the check ups are relatively inexpensive but the cost of the frames and lenses is high. A friend had to pay $450.00 for his glasses and lenses and no, they were not designer frames nor an unusual prescription lens. So to our optometrist back in CO that said glasses would be a lot less her we say “bull”. We just paid $1,610.00 for our health ins coverage for a year. It covers just about everything but it is not an HMO or PPO etc. There is a $400.00 deductible on each occurrence and then above that there is a 10% co-insurance fee. We are covered when we travel to other countries in case of an accident. Once you are capable of being transported they will transport you back to MX so you can finish being treated here. We can come to the US to be treated for any major illness but there is a $50,000.00 cap and a10% co-pay. As we have stated before we have top rate hospitals and doctors here in Merida. We have seen the medical care here in action on a couple of our friends and it was exactly top notch! Gasoline is about $2.65 a gallon. Debi feels that food overall is less here than in CO. Finding the herbs and spices that she is used to cooking with is very hard and in many cases they do not exist in this country. Eating out certainly is less here than anywhere in the US. That’s not saying that you can’t go out and spend a bundle if you want to but in general it’s less. They are hard pressed for a great steak. It seems that the best US type meat is in CostCo….go figure. However the beef farmers in MX have already grasped the idea that their herds need to be feed grain for at least the last month or so of their lives in order to soften up the texture of the meat. People that we have met that have been her for decades say that years ago you could hardly chew the beef. It was more like rubber bands. So they have come in the right direction. As a matter of fact there are some of the local small markets that cater to gringos that seem to have grasped the idea and many are touting their meat. So who knows maybe there will be good steaks on the bar-be soon! Yum, yum! Electronics are still outrageous. Shoes in our sizes and then with arch support are almost non-existent. One thing for sure is that we are painfully aware of the lack of diversity in all things that the US has that MX does not and will not.

We have been meeting all sorts of different and interesting people from different countries with very varied backgrounds. The diversity is amazing! So far the people we have met all seem to lean a little to one side or the other. Of course so do we! LOL! But most are not to far off the scale, not real strange, just different and very adventurous. Yes there are few that have fallen off the edge of the universe and reality seems to be on a totally different plain but hey, they are everywhere aren’t they? Yes they are! LOL! If my memory serves me correct there is one leading the US right now! LOL! Sorry, couldn’t help myself! LOL!

Debi follows more news than I. She can read some Spanish so she gets the local paper once in a while. Big news items she tells me about sometimes but I’m like an ostrich, what I can’t see or hear can’t hurt me. We have cable TV but just the lower tier so we get four or five stations with ingles and for an extra $1.00 per month we get CNN. However, just about every time we turn it on there is some event going on like sports, or an expose on the fashion industry so we rarely turn it to that station. We get about three programs that we used to watch back in CO. However, our favorites are not on the lower tier. It may become something that we’ll investigate later but for now the remodel has taken most of our time and since that is almost over we hope to have travel take up a lot of our time. We hope to get a dive trip in soon!

Merida is still holding its reputation as one of the safest cities in MX. We walk most times and have never felt threatened or leery on any street or at any time of day or night.

I don’t mind driving here but many gringos can’t stand it. It’s a bit too aggressive for most. That along with there being no rules that are actively enforced. Road signs, speed limits, and such are treated as guidelines. What best suits your needs at the time is what you go by. Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes and can be a brand new Mercedes or a car made up of six or seven different vehicle parts. No air control or monitoring program! LOL! Lights of any kind on a vehicle are nice but not necessary. Total awareness when you’re on the roads is a must.

In regards to our houses back in CO we have just listed all three of them with a real estate agent and hope that someone buys all three. Yeah, right, like that will happen! LOL! One at a time will be just fine with us.

We have started growing many plants in pots and in the jardin. Orchids are a new thing for us and we like them. We have native orchids and they have much smaller blooms than the imported ones. We have purchased many cement and terracotta pots of numerous sizes. Once we get the greenery stuff done in the back it should look great.

Our health is good. Because we are very active and sometimes do too much in the jardin we get sore muscles and such but that is it for the bad stuff. I think that my vision is getting worse but I can still see what shelf the cerveca is on in the frig so I’m not ready to panic yet! LOL!

That’s a good overall summary of what is happening with us up to now.

Please take care of yourselves and we hope that good health and happiness ride with you wherever you go!

Tom & Debi
May 11, 2007