Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!!

To all of you scattered about this huge small wonderful world I send my very best wishes for a wonderful new year!! For me the celebration is quiet and this year is no different. I won't go out (amateur night) and will likely be in bed before the ball drops but I did see the Sydney celebration on TV this morning so there is my celebration. I'll look back on the past year and think about the upcoming one and be extremely grateful.

A few resolutions:

1. Re-do another room. Re-doing my kitchen and mudroom this year literally changed my life and the way I feel being in my home. I need to keep this momentum going and I think the next room will be the small bathroom off my study. I'll need help with that in the way of a contractor. It might only be 20 square feet but right now that is space that is a tragedy. Harvey can tell you. It sucks and is pretty much a toilet and litter box room.

2. Frame the 2 photos I took in Japan at Hamariku Gardens. I love them and got them blown up as soon as I got back. For 18 months they have lived in the mailing tube and possibly are covered with mold. For my birthday in 2006 I requested and received two Great Frame Up gift cards so I could go frame them (it's a do it yourself place and everything I've ever done there has turned out so GREAT). I still haven't done it but in 2008 I will. Included in this resolution is hanging them. On a wall. Not laying them up against the other artwork I have that is standing against a wall.

3. "Tweak" the mudroom. Need to get the coat rack up, change out the light fixture, buy or make a privacy screen for the litterbox . . . It's a great room that right now is just gorgeous but needs some work to make it welcoming. Just needs some attention and possibly about $100 total to make it right. My primary entry door is the back side door into the mudroom and I want to make this a room that is comfortable and exciting to enter.

4. Get rid of more crap. When I returned from Japan 2 years ago after living for a year in an empty apartment and sleeping on the floor and living happily with the barest of minimums I walked in my sweet little house and couldn't believe how much crap I had that I never used and didn't like. I spent 2006 getting rid of a great deal of it - I cleaned out every closet and made huge donations to Goodwill and gave away a lot on Freecycle and sold a few things on Craigslist. That was a huge accomplishment but now I need to go to the next level. In 2006 I was merciless. I decluttered without thinking beyond 3 questions: Is it necessary? Is it useful on a regular basis? Do I love it? In the 2 years since I have made an effort to keep myself clutter-free but I still have things I'm holding onto for sentimental reasons and they are freaking with my chi. Time to get rid of it so I can concentrate on taking proper care of those things that are useful and necessary and loved. Like putting ribbons and costumes on the cats for example. Because a pissed off cat is fun to watch.

Of course my resolutions also include the usual ones: lose the weight, stop the damned smoking, be healthy. But this is a journey and these things are not to be listed and resolved they are to be lived. As such they are not on my list. Lists are to put things that need to be checked off. For several years I've had on and off borderline high blood pressure and I've always had a problem with high cholesterol. I take NO MEDICATIONS and I would like to keep it this way. This year I will work to make better choices to keep me healthy.

Harvey I got your tag and I'm working on it. I swear. I am finding it difficult to find 7 things that migfht be even remotely interesting. I can find 3 but I need more time for 7!!! Since tonight is introspective for me maybe I will work on that! Also I need to brush up on my HTML so I can link properly.


5. Learn HTML and get a website.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I Am So Screwed

(Can't wait to see the search engine traffic results for that one)

So a week from right now I will be in Santiago. Here's where I will be staying I'm so freaking excited because it means that even though I will likely do more restaurant eating than I want I will have the option of preparing simple things in my own place. Mexico got so so so so bad when I had to eat every meal in the same restaurant in the hotel. And there's a pool on the roof.

The drawback: Right now in Santiago it's summer. It's hot. Freaking hot. I don't check every day but the other day I did check and at 10 am it was 85. Not that this is a drawback in itself but I'm totally unprepared. My skin has just now settled into the winter pasty white look where I can see my veins through my skin. Also I've just now become one with my sweatpants. I have very little in the way of summer clothing/shoes because back in the fall when it was pretty clear that I would not be going to Santiago I trashed a bunch of worn out stuff and didn't replace them because it was autumn and I wasn't going to Santiago. So I'm leaving knowing I will be wearing the same 4 outfits which show far too much of my pasty white skin over and over for the next 3 weeks. Sigh. I realize I have some readers from the opposite hemisphere but if you are right now experiencing daily temps that fall anywhere under 60 just sit for a moment and imagine pulling shorts and summer slacks and skirts and open-toed sandals and sleeveless blouses out of your closet and actually wearing them in public. Not pretty. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I have a feeling I might have to shave my legs soon.

I love this travel thing but someday I swear I will get a job where I can plan ahead. Also get a dog even though I don't really want one. I just want to know that I can if I want.

Soon to come: the New Years Resolution post. If I write it and publish it on the web it will make me more accountable.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I should say "Bad Dreams." I am sure they are entirely related to knowing I will be leaving my fur family for a few weeks. I have nightmares. Last night it was groupings of run over cats. There was a group of blue cats, a group of red cats, a group of green cats - all run over and dead on the street. It was disturbing and even though all my cats are indoor people except for Sonny who is allowed out IF AND WHEN he asks and only because he is too old and fat to jump the back fence I was so disturbed and woke up moaning. It's only stress about leaving them again. I am certain that the color groupings have something to do with the play mice they have. But I can't get those blue cats out of my mind. They were so small and so torn up.

My punks are safe at home. Well loved, well fed, litterboxes in pristine condition, sleeping on the bed and whoring for backrubs and headrubs. But I can't get those blue cats out of my mind even though I know they were a figment of my imagination.

I hope tonight I will go to sleep and have sweet, good dreams. Dreams where the blue cats are found and join my family and live happily ever after.

The Limbo Week Traditions

I have a kind of strange way of celebrating the New Year. I like to be by myself, reflect on the previous year, and do something small and active in the house. One year I removed everything from the kitchen pantry and painted it. Another year I cleaned out and de-cluttered almost every drawer in the house. I like to start the New Year organized and so there is usually cleaning and purging involved. It's a fun tradition for me and I enjoy it far more than I ever enjoyed going to parties. Except for that one when I was in grad school. That one was great. You don't need the details.

This year my plan is to replace the light fixture in the mudroom. Also get started on the coat rack. Yesterday, Christmas Day, I purged underneath my bathroom sink. Will someone please tell me why I feel compelled to hoard small soaps from every hotel? I have enough hand soap for years and yet I have pump soap in every bathroom and never use cake soap. But I just have to take it.

Also yesterday I cleaned out the fridge which was easy since I have been mostly away since Sept. 30.

I need a nap. Preferably with cats all around my legs so I can't turn over. And a book that I fall asleep on so for 3 days I have to re-read until I get back to the point where fell asleep.

I love this limbo week!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Y'all!

It's a strange one this year because I'm here by myself but not the strangest. The strangest was 2004 when my flight on the 22nd was cancelled because of a blizzard in the midwest and they booked me on a flight the next morning and I got to the airport almost 3 hours early and was still standing in the security line when it took off. You gotta love ATL. My luggage (and all the gifts) flew to Pittsburgh and I finally went home and sat alone. And waited for the luggage to reappear so I could mail them off before I went to Japan. This year is far better. Much less stressful.

This year my tree is up, I have a roast in the oven, and the cats are about to wake up from their 18 hour nap. Menu for tonight: A freaking expensive as hell rib roast smothered in a garlic/olive oil paste. Twice baked potatoes. Steamed asparagus. This roast just floored me. I went to the farmer's market today to get it and the price standing in the window was $5.49/pound. I bought the smallest one which looked to be about 3 pounds. When they rang it up it was $42!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jesus Christ (happy birthday by the way) !!! Turns out the signage was incorrect and I bought a roast that was $12.99/pound!! Fuck me running y'all! So I have been totally anal about preparing this thing. It could very well be the most expensive thing I've ever prepared! If it isn't perfectly rare and garlicky and tender heads will roll.

Today at the farmer's market I bought myself a stocking stuffer gift. A microplane grater. I've wanted one for a long time and it was $8.99 and. Well. I'm worth it. I'm even worth up to $10. SO I got it. And then I had to use it all over the place to prepare tonight's dinner so I'm waiting for it to dry so I can put it in my stocking and I promise to wake up in the morning and act surprised. Even though I have scraped most of the skin off my right thumb and will ingest it later with my twice-baked potatoes.

I found out today I will fly to Santiago Jan. 4 and be there until the 25th. Of January. I plan to fully enjoy the next few days and then start laundering my summer clothes. I have been warned to bring my bathing suit. Ouch. It's summer there and as of this morning was 85 at 10 am. Also they are having lots of earthquakes. So will be like Japan except totally opposite in weather. Just when I was bonding with my sweats . . .

With my best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and also Sonny, Dylan, Camille and Phoebe say hi!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

At Christmas I Reflect

I am alone. With my cats. And we are happy but somehow something is missing:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Decorating with a Cold

Got home Wednesday night. Woke up Thursday morning with a cold which is now raging. There is shopping to do and packages to wrap and mail and decorating to do and I've managed to get the house cleaned and I found a great tree yesterday - A Colorado Spruce - and Sonny has taken up residence beneath it. He loves his Christmas tree so much. He would rather sleep under it than eat.

I still need to get the lights on - the decorating is cake but the lights are such a chore and my ears are stuffed up and I'm sneezing my brains out so I'm not too inspired. I've managed to get the mantel in the living room decorated. I think I'm doing well.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Home Again Home Again Gi-Giss

Reference the title - it's from my childhood. I don't remember the source story but the tag line was "Home again home again jiggety-jigg." And I always said "Home again home again gi-giss." And so it was and so it shall be.

I AM HOME!!! I have escaped Mexico. Which is far more dramatic sounding than the reality but I got home Wednesday night about 8 pm and woke up Thursday morning with a raging cold and know what? I don't care because I'm home.

The cats are fine, the tubs of Christmas decorations are down from the attic, a slight bit of online shopping has been delivered but so much left to do. I knew from watching the internet over the past week that the temps here in Atlanta have been in the mid to upper 70s and I've had my windows open since I walked in the house but tomorrow the rain and wind moves in and Sunday more wind with temps not expected to rise above the mid 40s. It has just gotten dark and so I will now go out and put my C-7 lights on the boxwood outside my front door. Don't want to be rolling around a wet yard in cold weather so it must happen tonight.

I will check in later this weekend. I have to say I notice that it has been 2 months since fewer than 2 people read this blog (get a life people) and the number one search keyword is "Escamoles." So. Escamoles, escamoles, escamoles, escamoles. They are delicious. You haven't lived until you have tried them.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Boredom, The Shuttle, and Another Weekend

First off, I know I owe you part 2 of the weekend in Mexico City and I swear by the Virgin of Guadalupe it is coming in the next day but I had to interrupt and fill you in on the past few weeks.

Back in late October, when I returned from spending almost the full month here (working very hard I might add) I knew I would be coming back for a full month for the specific purpose of relieving one of the staff who was going to Santiago to conduct training there in Spanish, a language I have barely 50 words in speaking but oddly I can understand one hell of a lot due to the years of French I had in school. For the next two weeks I worked very hard to get myself organized and get my own job responsibilities in a really good place so I could come here and take over this guy's position without feeling like I had to neglect it for my own responsibilities.

I arrived November 20 and the first couple of days I had a bit of orientation and training and then I was set loose. Since I know the system and have a basic knowledge of this position it was a fast train and I was comfortable immediately. And then I sat. And I sat. And I waited and I surfed the internet and one particular day when I was feeling quite frustrated and generally pissed I actually took out my knitting in the office!!

Let's just say that a few days I have worked less than an hour doing this work. There was one day (yesterday) when I actually spent almost 3 hours doing it but that was only because the system was running very slowly and it took twice as long to complete the work as it usually does. There have been many days when there was absolutely nothing for me to do and so I came up with busy work for myself and watched the clock. Which brings me to the next point. I get picked up by the General Manager at 8:15 every morning. We are in the office by 8:20. We do not leave until 6:15 (the earliest to date) or 8:45 (the latest to date) so basically I am spending 10 - 12 hours a day in the office with maybe 2 hours of work to do if I'm lucky. And I repeat, I am talking about the work I was sent here to do, not the sum total of work I have to do in a day.

At the beginning of my second week here I emailed Sam and told him when I went home for the weekend on November 30 I really felt there was no reason for me to come back. I outlined the reasons and told him there was absolutely no reason for the company - and me personally - to have the expense of me being here when I can do everything I am doing perfectly well and faster from Atlanta. After he knew I was safely on the plane that Friday he sent out a very strong email which was basically a cut and paste of my email to him with all the bad words taken out. All last weekend I waited for a response and there was none and when I spoke with Sam Sunday we decided I would return as planned and see what happened.

It is now Friday night and I spent a total of 42 hours in the office over the past 4 days and exactly 5 hours and 12 minutes of that time was spent doing the job I was sent here to do. Yes this week I kept anal retentive notes. Today I made one 3 minute phone call and that was it.

So anyway today we had a small conference call. My hopes were that I would come back to the hotel tonight, call the company travel people, and change my flight to Sunday (I need to shop tomorrow!). Unfortunately, although Sam was pushing for me to leave and do the work from Atlanta, the 2 Mexico head honchos decided since I was due to fly home next Friday it was only 4 more days (I think this is a good example of Mexican math and logic it being Friday and all and a week consisting of 7 days and all).

I am going to put the most positive slant I can on all of this. I will work to help the new GM get his shit together and lay out some action plans for him and do the work that comes in for me to do and make my shopping list for the candy I will make once I get home. I think this year it is all about candied citrus and ginger in pretty jars. I'm not up for the gingerbread cookies this year but I did find an awesome recipe for banana bread with chocolate chips and crystallized ginger so I will consider making some mini-loaves of that. Also I will make luminarias this year for my yard and I also found instructions for making a homemade pop-up Christmas tree card!!!

Oh my God I want to be home messing around in my kitchen and doing crafts instead of watching old Men in Trees episodes with Spanish subtitles.

Finally, tonight I realized if I didn't get the hell out of the office when everyone else left I would sit there for another 2 hours waiting for my ride to leave so I grabbed a ride to the airport and took the Ramada shuttle back to the hotel. On the shuttle was a family of 3 - husband, wife, and a maybe 5 year old boy. They got on speaking German, or maybe Swiss-German, but they spoke to me in English and on the ride over they were speaking to each other alternately in Spanish and German. American are mis-educated. So many Americans can't even speak English properly and so much of the rest of the world routinely have a minimum of 2 or 3 languages. If I had it to do all over again I would learn as many languages as possible. In this day I truly believe this is one of the most marketable talents.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Weekend in Mexico City Part One

I've put this off long enough and it's time to write about the weekend in Mexico City. This was Thanksgiving weekend. Of course I worked that Thursday and Friday and then Friday night Lety and I met Tina and I stayed up far later than I like but I was having a great time.

Saturday morning dawned and I slept much later than I usually do but by 9:45 I was up and showered and about to go downstairs for coffee and breakfast when my room phone rang. It was Lety calling from the lobby. She wanted to get out and about and wanted me to join her and since my plans for the day included getting to the Mercado de la Ciudadela anyway I told her I would be right down. Of course my plans involved a taxi but Lety had a subway map and a street map. The station is only a couple of blocks from the hotel so we were off!

The subway here is very easy to navigate but the truly amazing thing is that no matter where or how far you are going the cost is 2 pesos. That is less than 20 cents US. I'm sorry but that is jaw-dropping to me. The ticket prices in Tokyo are based on how many stops you are going and to get from one side of the city to the other and back can easily cost $8 to $10.

So I wanted to go to the Mercado and Lety wanted to visit Zocolo (the Federal Square). Looking at the map it made much more sense to get off at Zoloco and explore that area and then go on to Mercado (who wants to be dragging shopping bags all over Mexico City?) so that's what we did. We walked in the direction of Zocolo and the streets were full of people and the sidewalks were lined with booths selling magazines and soft drinks. We walked down a side street that looked fairly safe and well populated. There was some kind of bazaar happening and two men on stilts were on the street shouting in Spanish to get shoppers down to the bazaar. When Lety and I walked down the street they immediately switched to English and started yelling "Hello! How are jew today?? You are so beautiful! Weel you be my geerlfriend?" It was obviously directed at Lety but was very funny and we had a good laugh.
Eventually we walked by The Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico (Museum of Mexico City). On a whim we decided to explore it. It's a very grand old restored building with an open courtyard and being inside it was easy to imagine Mexico City of the past. Admission was 25 pesos (less than $2.50 US). The first room was a display of about 14 Diego Rivera paintings, surprisingly all set on stands on a table. In the next couple of rooms were photographs of the artist Frida Kahlo. The route after that led into the open courtyard.
There were several rooms off the courtyard containing antique cars, busses and even a carriage. In another cubbyhole was a shrine in honor of the Day of the Dead which is a huge holiday in Mexican Culture.
Upstairs were a series of fascinating displays about the history of the City from the time of the Aztecs to the present day. Lety took the time to translate every bit of signage into English for me.

Of particular interest to me (as well as a huge gross out factor) was an explanation of the Mexico City water system. Am much as I was able to understand the reason why you don't want to be drinking the water is because the same pipes that carry waste away are used to carry "clean" water. This is probably not entirely correct but it's the gist of the situation. After reading that I kind of don't even want to shower.

When we walked back onto the street there was a parade going on. I have no idea what the parade was about but it was festive and colorful and I just love parades, especially non-American parades.
After the Museo it was on to Zocolo! Zocolo was a beehive of activity, with enormous Christmas decorations being erected on the old Federal and District government buildings. We went into a jewelry market where Lety looked for earrings for one of her daughters and then to another "mall" off the street where she found a beautiful nativity scene to take back to Santiago for her family.
You know? I've come to the end of my ability to continue for today and this is already a bit long so let me leave it in wonderful Zocolo and carry on tomorrow with the site of 3 cultures - ancient, antique and modern. It will blow your mind. And what I learned about the Aztec civilization in a mere few hours blew mine!

To Be Continued . . .

Friday, November 30, 2007

Home For About 48 (horas that is)

I had the 1:32 flight from Mexico City to Atlanta today and I am home now, basking in the glory of my small old cottage house and I love it so much I can't stand it. It took the cats about 10 minutes to forgive me and I have loved on all of them and done 3 loads of laundry and loved on them some more and unwrapped all the shopping treasures from last weekend which reminds me that I have not told you about last weekend which was greater than I could have ever imagined and loved on them some more.

So I suck and have a lot to catch up on and I will. But for tonight I am totally content to rub Sonny's head and listen to him do this passive growl thing that tells me how much he loves the rub but is pissed that I've been away. Totally content to hold Camile and have her fall asleep in my arms and then turn into psyco-kitty and run off. Totally content to grab Phoebe and kiss her and let her go because she isn't that kind of cat. Yet. Totally content to be keying in this entry and stop to love on Dylan because he insists.

There is lots of love to catch up on. Later on once the punks are satisfied I will post about last weekend with my new bestest friend. It was the kind of thing that makes me grin every time I think about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An awesome Mexico City Weekend!

Y'all, I had the most incredible weekend and I really am going to write about it once I spend a paragraph or so bitching about a couple of tiny insignificant things. But tonight I'm too tired. Thanks to this perverse Mexican schedule I have just returned to my room after dinner (it's almost 10 pm) and honestly I just want to get in bed and read for about an hour and get to sleep. I don't know about you but I would far rather take 30 minutes for lunch and get home by 6 than take 2 + hours and get home between 8:30 and 9 pm). Sheesh. Remind me that I also need to write a little about the book I'm reading - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It is incredible.

For now I am looking forward to Friday when I fly back home and get to spend the weekend (possibly more?) with the punks. I am counting the hours. I miss having Camille and Phoebe taking up precious leg space in the bed. I miss Phoebe waking me up in the middle of the night so I will pet her just because she deserves it. I miss Dylan being neurotic and needy. I miss Sonny being a high maintenance and grumpy old man. Speaking of which I got an email from my catsitter today. She has managed to get fluids in Dylan a couple of times but hasn't been able to do Sonny because he goes into his drama queen thing. When he gets upset (like when I make him come inside before he is ready, or when I make him get OFF the kitchen table) he goes into this wheezing, coughing fit. Evidently he has pulled this every time Gale has tried to give him fluids. Did I mention he is a grumpy old man? He needs his Momma!

I'll try to get some photos and news posted about the weekend by tomorrow night or Thursday. It's full of adventure and insights and my God but you need to see Mexico City. What a history! What a strange and funny place!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meeting Tine (continued)

So anyway, I'm about to make my goodnights and leave and get in bed when I see this woman walking in the door and I noticed her only because she was walking like she was in a rush to meet friends and Laticia and I were the only two people in the place. She walks in, walks right up to us and asks if we speak English. Laticia was kind of taken aback and I jumped right in and put a very confused look on my face and said "Perdon. No habla Inglais." This woman looked kind of disappointed and then I came clean and told her I was American. She obviously was. She asked if she could join us rather than sit alone and we invited he to do so.

Tina turned out to be quite a character to say the least. She is into mountain climbing and extreme sports and had just spent the last week climbing to the summit of an 18,700 foot mountain close to Mexico City! How cool is that? She showed us photos and told us all about the experience. She lives in the high desert outside of Los Angeles where she has just bought a house. She travels the world climbing mountains and sleeping in tents on said mountains.

We had the most amazing time talking and laughing and I learned once again how important it is to stay open to new people and experiences.

She was leaving on a 9 am flight back to LAX and wanted us to "pull an all nighter" with her but by that time I was about to fall over with exhaustion and Leticia was too so exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes.

I would love to stay in touch with this crazy person. She's going to send the photos she took of the 3 of us and if this actually happens I will post them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Meeting Tina

I have an awesome story to tell but first you need a backstory and even though it is very very very late (for me at least) I have to tell it now so later I can tell you about tonight and meeting Tina.

So those of you who have been reading this know that my company is starting up an office in Santiago Chile for LAN Airlines. I have been pretty much on hold for almost 6 months in anticipation of going but am now in Mexico City. Because of the "language thing" and the fact that few people in Santiago speak English it was decided that a Mexico staff member would go for a month of training and I would take over his position here in MEX. TEMPORARILY.

At the same time a new hire in Santiago came here for other training in another area. Laticia is her name and she has very good english and we happen to be two doors down from each other in this hotel.

Laticia is 28. She is married with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. She is the friendliest, sweetest, most goodhearted person I think I have ever met. She is also a great deal of fun and is always smiling and laughing. I think I loved her from the moment I met her and I am sure you would too.

I have tried to avoid socializing with Laticia even though we are both stuck here in this hotel. Why? Because besides being the most truly sweet, friendly, pure heart you could imagine she is drop dead beautiful. I mean beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, beautiful skin, gorgeous body. To top it off she is very smart and has an enormous work ethic. This alone is nothing. I know several women with these attributes and I can't say much for their insides but Leticia is the real thing inside and out. But she is a knock out.

So why do I avoid socializing? Simply because when I am in her presence I become invisible. This really has never happened to me before. I am fairly decent looking for 45 I think. I am friendly and when I am out I am outgoing and my personality is good. A bit of age and a good job have given me confidence. I love people and I love talking to people. But when I am around Laticia I am invisible.

I am NOT jealous because I understand the attraction people have to her. Really I think it's funny in a way. When we go to the restaurant together for dinner the waiters gather around her and pull out her seat and cater to her every whim even before she has it. They fill her coffee and walk away basking in the glory of her "gracias" while I sit there with an empty cup in front of me. It is seriously funny to me but at the same time a bit annoying because I prefer halfway decent service as a paying customer. So I have kind of mostly avoided the breakfast/dinner thing with her.

Tonight we got back late from the office and I invited her to go with me to the lounge and get something very light for dinner. We walked in and immediately there were 3 waiters around us (her) and we ordered a cheese and cracker plate and spent about 90 minutes enjoying it while we talked and listened to salsa music.


(to be continued)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving or Thursday

OK. I'm feeling just a little bit down tonight. Just a little bit mind you. I mean, it's Thanksgiving and I'm sitting in a hotel room after a long day conducted in a language I don't understand except a word here and there so besides feeling isolated I'm feeling, well, isolated. At home I am isolated to some extent but that is entirely by choice. I always have the option of picking up the phone and calling friends or going out and driving around or cleaning something or pursuing a hobby. When you have to pack a suitcase there is only so much you can bring.

To give you an idea of how my life here in Mexico is (and will be until mid to late December), I am staying this time at the Ramada Airport. During my 3 trips in October I stayed at another airport hotel which was admittedly a bit more expensive but there were 4 different restaurants in the hotel plus another handful across the pedestrian bridge at the airport terminal. Also in the airport were shops and bookstores and 2 Starbucks and lots of people to watch. This is important because as I've mentioned before this is not an area of Mexico City where one wants to be walking alone, even in the daytime.

The Ramada is not in a complex. It is a stand alone building. There is one restaurant and the food is not terribly desirable as even the choices that read "healthy" on the menu come drowning in heavy sauce. Last night I had shrimp with brown rice. The menu left out the part about the sauce. Tonight I chose chicken breast stuffed with spinach with steamed vegetables. It arrived drowning in sauce, even the veggies. I just don't see myself making it another week without screaming. Other than the restaurant there is nothing. On the plus side there is free wireless internet. The other place had only wired internet at a cost of $22 per 24 hours. On the downside the room is tiny, painted a stark white, and because the floor is tiled with no carpet whatsoever it echoes like a cave. On the plus side once I get to my room and change I feel a little more energetic. On the downside there is nothing to do with that energy. On the plus side they provide an in room coffeemaker and a 3 cup "pod" every day which the other place didn't. On the downside I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do with myself this weekend.

I'm going to get in bed and read now and in the morning I plan to get up with a fantastic attitude and make tomorrow the best, most productive day possible.

For tonight, if you are in the US, Happy Thanksgiving. If you aren't, Happy Friday Eve!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Ate Crickets!!!

Hi from Mexico City everyone! Things are very busy here since I arrived just about 32 hours ago. I came toting a brand new laptop because my old Dell finally started dying a horrible death about the middle of last week. I managed to limp through until I picked my new one up on the way to the airport Tuesday morning and I've been trying to load it with eveyrthing I need from the old one plus learn the job I am here to do plus continue to do my own job. So I'm tired but wanted to check in before I get under the covers and read.

Today at lunch we visited a street market that happens every Wednesday in this area. I was just amazed as usual. It was jam packed with people and I saw strange produce and meats and food stands serving things I had never seen before.
Of course me being me I had to try something I had never tried before and in fact didn't even realize people ate! And of course they were delicious. I had a blue tortilla quesidilla with cheese and crickets which was served with a side of crickets!

I realize the look of it might be a bit off-putting but these crickets are young. In fact Jorge told me that November is the perfect time of year to eat crickets since they are young and tender. As opposed, I guess, to the large chewy crickets you have to put up with in, say, February. They are dry fried on a very hot surface until they are crispy and spicy.

Of course this stand also sold some more run of the mill quesadillas but I found the crickets and cheese variety to be quite the thing on a warm November day. In fact I might go back for more next Wednesday!

Sweet dreams!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Six More Shopping Days Until Christmas

This is my last weekend before my Mexico stay. Even though I will be back briefly the weekend of November 30 - December 3 I truly have only this weekend and the last weekend before Christmas to enjoy preparing for the "holidays" so I'm trying to get a lot accomplished. Today I ran a few errands then came home and worked in the yard a little. Needed to get up the leaves from the cherry tree since it is just on the line between me and the neighbors, Glenna and Abbi (sisters who rent the house next door). Glenna is a real outside person and I see her a lot and she always beats me to the raking and mowing but today I beat her! I am well aware that this cherry tree throws junk all over her yard and so I used the blower and yard vac to get it cleaned up. Looks nice now. Tomorrow I need to get out and drag some fallen limbs from the backyard to the street but for today I have accomplished a lot.

I am working on a knitting project that I started last March. I got to a problem area in about April and waited until June for Mom to come down and have a professional look and she recommended pulling it all out and starting over. Two weeks ago I did so and ran into the same problem so I went to a knit shop here in Atlanta. Knitch is located in Virginia Highlands and it is the greatest place with the greatest people. Two high level knitters helped me and last night I finished the left front of this jacket. This morning I started on the right front and already I am at almost 9"!!!! One problem with travel is that when you're working on something like a sweater you have to travel with the whole thing, not just the piece you're working on. You have to compare front right to left right and both to the back as you go so I am really working hard to try to get a lot done before I go Tuesday. Once can only travel with so much.

After the two women at Knitch had looked at the problem and provided a solution I felt the least I could do was make a small purchase. This is a place with top of the line yarns and supplies and someday I will get there but for now I am using crappy yarn available at Michael's although I do invest in bamboo needles because they are warm and soft and happy. So I spent $15 on a little "kit" where you can make and then felt catnip mice for cats. The kit I got makes 5 mice. I did the first one and it only took about 30 minutes to knit. I think tonight I will do the felting to see how it turns out before I knit the rest.

I'm pretty sure there was another reason for posting tonight but my arms are tired from the yard and I just want to make a simple dinner and get back to this sweater. I'll post again if I think of it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I cooked my turkey! I bought it last weekend then last week I got my travel orders which meant I would be in Mexico on Thanksgiving so I put it in the fridge to thaw Friday night and this morning stuck that sucker in the oven. Nothing fancy. No cheesecloth. No stuffing. No pomegranate/dijon/horseradish glaze. Just a turkey. In an oven. I AM NOT MARTHA!!! (Although I aspire to this)

It came out beautifully. Not that it mattered. I only did it for the stock and meat and the fact that an American is required BY LAW to cook a turkey at least once a year so for another year I avoid incarceration.

I go back to Mexico next Tuesday. I'll be there for Thanksgiving and will return for 2 days on Nov 30 then go back for 2 more weeks. At least this is the plan now which of course with my company is never really the plan! For my less worldly readers they actually don't have Thanksgiving outside of the US (except Canada which is a different date). Really! I don't have a problem with this at all. Christmas YES! I must have at least a strand of lights somewhere. Thanksgiving no.

So I cooked the pitiful little turkey today. Today I kept running system reports and testing things and sniffing and thinking I should be watching a stupid blow up cartoon balloon impale itself on a light pole in Manhattan. Ah those Thanksgiving traditions! About 2 minutes ago I finished up officially so another good 10 hour day (I hope).

I love to cook. I love to keep a home. Typically for me I also love to leave it and experience different things.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Am An Amateur Vet

Dylan, who at age almost 11 is my next to oldest cat, is very thin. The others are extremely healthy and bordering on chubby but Dylan has always been frighteningly thin. In my honest opinion this is because he is a purebred Maine Coon. He was a rescue but he came with papers. Purebred anythings have lots of problems. Mutts and alley cats might not be the posh choice but they are sturdy and healthy. Also when they are rescues they know just how fortunate they are to find a loving home so they show it! When I was out of town last time the cat sitter left me a note and suggested that I speak with my vet about fluid therapy for him just in case it might help. I did so immediately and also consulted with my sister Page (the awesome vet who unfortunately for me lives in Cleveland Ohio). Page thought oldest cat Sonny (18) would also benefit.

I got trained on administering fluids and now have a little treatment center set up in my laundry room:
It's kind of amazing how fast Sonny responds. He immediately becomes bright-eyed and alert and after 18 months of not grooming himself he has begun to do so again! Dylan isn't responding noticeably so far but I am sure he will given time.

I'm not a total stranger to amateur vet care. Sonny has a couple of "old man" problems that I take care of myself. Both could be fixed with minor surgery but my vet doesn't want to put him under anesthesia at his age unless it is life threatening. These problems are a nuisance, but only to me. He barely notices. He has blocked tear ducts so his sweet little eyes run and the discharge gets brown and caked up so every few days I wash his face with a warm damp cloth and keep antibiotic ointment on the irritated places on his face. He also has a bump on the back of his head that gradually fills with fluid over time. I get this tested once or twice a year and it's benign and really it doesn't bother him but it can get very full and enlarged and it bounces around when he walks so every 4 to 6 weeks I suck it out with a hypodermic needle:

I've told a few people about this and they all think it's so gross and are amazed that I don't have a problem using needles on my cats. When I think about it that way I cringe but in reality it is just run of the mill and if I can care for them in the comfort of their own home without the trauma of a crate and a drive and the routine thermometer up the ass then it's a no-brainer for me. Far less gross than holding a vomiting human child's forehead as far as I'm concerned. For annual check ups and emergency situations I will always see my vet first but for simple maintenance that I can do here at home I think that's best.

Of course with the travel situation I immediately checked with my awesome cat sitter (Critter Sitters for those of you in the Atlanta area) and yes she has a lot of experience doing subcutaneous fluid therapy so I can continue to travel knowing my punks are getting exactly what they need and I don't have to quit my job just yet.

More about upcoming travel probably tomorrow. For now I have a knitting problem that needs to get resolved pronto!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I am so thrilled because tonight I resolved a system issue by thinking about it and drilling down into it and trying a few things out. The problem is that the critical call came in after a long day when I was just about to get on a conference call and after the call (during which I managed to force down my dinner of leftovers without audibally making chewing sound which means I will be constipated for 3 days) I just kind of settled in to the sofa with my knitting and the laptop in front of me to monitor the situation from afar and only after there was no response from on-call support after 90 minutes did I get bored and look into it myself. So I am both patting myself on the back because I resolved this and kicking myself because in the end it took 15 minutes and some instant messages with Mexico to fix. Also in the end it was a totally silly user problem which I should have seen immediately and resolved in the 4 minutes between learning about it and starting the conference call. Duh on me.

But I decided I have all day tomorrow to beat myself up so tonight I will pat myself on the back! Yay me! Wooooo hoooo! Me ROCKS! Tomorrow I am sure I will suck again but tonight me is Princess.

The thing is, I find this is true in my "real" life as well. Something goes wrong and I go into panic mode and grab at the first life raft available when it probably would be better to live with the pain while I examine the situation and find the best choice. Usually this takes no time at all but the first knee-jerk reaction is to grab for the person who knows more than I do. And if I just relax and take the time I realize in the end I had all the necessities to resolve the situation by myself! Note to self.

So anyway I am totally stoked (do the kids say "stoked" anymore?) and have a renewed love for what I do which actually happens in some form once a week or so but this was a major one so maybe it will last a while.

The best thing about my job is that I learn something new ABSOLUTELY EVERY day. Almost this is without exception in 5 years. The other best thing is that I am able to work with some really great people in all corners of the world. Sometimes they are coming from different cultures and so I have to try (and fail) to present the information in an interesting and new way because they ignore it because I am a baka gaijin. Or a gringa stupida. Cultures have really different (read this as "backwards" unless you are a Republican in which case read "appropriate female who is born again") take on outside people with vaginas. And sometimes I have learned something they haven't and can pass this on. And often (very often) it is the other way around. I come from a family of educators and I taught college once for a few years but nothing compares with teaching outside a classroom. I swear to you that without this I would have walked off the job 4.3 years ago. Because otherwise it sucks. But in a really great way! I only wish I could somehow get rid of my vagina because it seems to be a liability to me outside of the US, Canada and the EU. The ERA fights were, like, 2 or 40 months ago and how could this critical information not have gotten to giants like Japan and, well, someplace in South America?

That said I have another massage tomorrow at 4 which is far more important information. One was not enough and despite the budgetary concerns I know I need it and also I deserve it and the cats need to lose weight anyway so I'll just feed them less (kidding!). I IM'd Sam tonight that I was totally taking tomorrow afternoon off. I am going to have my massage and come home and drool. But I will probably work until 3:45 because I think I'm addicted. Also there is testing to be done But after I swear I will drool. This lady kicked my ass last week and I had BRUISES on my arms and legs until Wednesday! THAT is a great massage! The sissy massage shit pisses me off.

Over the weekend I will give y'all the update on my upcoming travel because I know for sure all 6 of you who read this crap might actually be interested!

Sunday, November 04, 2007


This time change from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time and back always messes me up. It's like jet lag without the benefit of seeing a new exciting different place. And this time it's going to be even worse because I stayed up late (for me) last night and watched SNL for the first time in about 8 years to see Brian Williams because I knew I would sleep late(r) today.

At 6:50 my land line started ringing. I vaguely heard it and ignored it because I always ignore my landline because it's usually someone wanting money. 5 minutes later it rang again. I finally got up at 7:03 and checked the messages and it was Miss Jessie next door. Worried that she had fallen or was not well I called her back immediately and here's the story. She was sitting reading her bible before church today and a bulb in the overhead light in her den went out. She went into her kitchen and another bulb went out there. She was extremely upset because she was sure her house was on fire. I assured her it wasn't and since I have no lightbulbs in the house told her to go on to church and I would run out to the store and get some bulbs and fix things for her this afternoon. Being the neighbor of an almost 96 year old woman can be a challenge at times.

So I'm sleep deprived today. Which will only be compounded starting at about 5 when it gets dark and I start counting the minutes until I can go to bed without feeling embarrassed.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Bud Richard

Tonight I had dinner with Richard.

I've known Richard for almost 5 years. He was a co-worker. For 3 years he sat at the desk across the chest-high cube wall from me and I liked him from the minute I met him. He's a weird old curmudgeon, about maybe 10 years older than me although I realise the age difference does not excuse my own weird old curmudgeon-ness in the least. We had an open office system thing except for the chest-high cube walls that separated various groups within the company so I could always hear him on the phone. He was in procurement and did a lot of selling. Not just selling things but selling ideas and making deals and that kind of thing and he is the perfect person for this kind of job because he plays golf and people really like him. His conversations on the phone always made me laugh and now and then I would tell him he was totally full of shit.

During my year in Japan the company moved headquarters and Richard ended up in another job at a different company but he always kept in touch.

To tell the honest truth I always had a bit of a crush on him. The spring after I came back from Japan I read about growing potatoes in trash cans. I challenged him to a contest. We put $25 on who would have the biggest harvest. He went out and purchased 4 huge brand new trash cans and top-of-the-line soil (about $200 total). I ransacked my shed and used nasty old containers that I had to clean the squirrel poop out of first. 3 months later I had an extra $25! I still call him "Farmer Dick" and for some reason I think he thinks this is funny.

About a year ago he sold his condo and ended up buying a house very close to where I live and so I used this as an excuse to ask him out to dinner at a local restaurant so he could get to know his new neighborhood. For a time I actually had hopes it might turn into "something" but it never did and that is fine with me.

We talk regularly and get together maybe every couple of months and have dinner. I gave him a call Thursday and he immediately said we needed to have dinner and we made plans for tonight and met at the German place up the street from me.

As always it was 2 hours of constant talk. We never have a lull in the conversation and talk both business and life.

It was a good time and I am happy to have a friend like this!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Massage Report

I'm back from the massage. As I said yesterday it has been 2 years since my last one and oh sweet mother of GOD!!! IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!! My previous massage therapist, Laura, was just great and if I hadn't been desperate I might not have gone to a fresh therapist today. But I was desperate. I'm not kidding. When I walked in the office Hamrawit (not "Hamuri" as I spelled it yesterday even though it's pronounced that way) was behind the counter and I took one look at her and realized I was in for a big expensive disappointment. She is about 5 feet tall and just a tiny, pretty little Indian lady. No way could she give me what I needed. Before the massage she asked me about where I carry my tension and what my job is like and I told her I work weird crazy hours and I carry my tension in my shoulders but lately my lower back has been very sore. She told me she could concentrate on those areas only but she prefers on a first massage to do full body work so she can assess the situation. Since I had no great hopes anyway I told her to do what she felt was best. She also asked me what kind of pressure I like and I told her intense pressure - that I like to feel pain because it seems to work best for me. Again, I had no hopes but figured if I told her intense pressure she might do a halfway mediocre job of it.

It was the BEST MASSAGE OF MY LIFE!!! She frigging SLAYED ME!!! This tiny little woman who was wary of using "too much pressure" because it might tear at my muscles after so long without a massage knew. She knew where it hurt and she became a 300 pound weightlifter and just frigging worked me. I have motion now in my neck and back where there wasn't any 3 hours ago. She hurt me! This little thing that I could take out in the parking lot made me wince in pain! It was good pain though and she knew exactly what she was doing so I sucked it up and let her.

When I tried to get up from the table I couldn't. I had to work for 5 minutes to just roll over and kind of roll off the thing. My bra went in my purse because no way could I get it hooked. I was lucky to walk out wearing pants. The totally awesome heating pad I got for Christmas last year (and yes I specifically asked for it) is out and ready for me to crawl in bed with it.

I told her that when I walked in I decided she couldn't possibly have the strength I needed but I was just amazed. She smiled and said "sometimes the strength inside is not apparent on the outside." I got a massage from Ghandi for chrissakes!

I like this chick. And while it is a luxury I can ill afford with my recent addiction to small electronics and at this time of year especially I realize how much I need to do this to compensate for the tension in my life and so I'm going back next Friday. If I can wait that long!

If you live in the Atlanta metro area and want the best massage of your life let me know and I'll hook you up. If you don't live here you should consider coming just for this!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Only 14 months to go!

I am a born and bred Democrat and I take great interest in this political process, when it is a process - which it has not been for the past 8 years and two presidential elections.

So I am interested. On and for about a year after 9/11 I would have voted for Rudy. Now I wonder what he has to say beyond reliving 9/11. Romney seems a nice guy. But so much for the other side.

After the past 8 years all I want is a complete dis-association from what has been. I want an educated, intelligent person as President. I want someone who speaks and challenges me to think and pull out the dictionary. I want someone with a fucking MIND.

I love Hillary. She has made mistakes but haven't we all. She is so smart it makes me sting. But she is a woman. And when I say that I know I am the worst of hypocrites. What I want is for this country to begin to get back on track and I am not entirely certain the country will elect a woman. After all we have "elected" an ape for the past 8 years.

I love Obama. No really. I love him and I hang on his every word. He inspires me. He gives me hope more than anyone else. But I am not sure America is ready to elect a black man.

And then we have John who is totally cute and his wife is not going to survive the election probably and I just love him but he doesn't stand a chance.

It will be an interesting 14 months. And as soon as the negative ads start flying I will be out of it.


Y'all - when I first got this job, which has always been very stressful, I went for a massage religiously twice a month and there were times when I splurged and went every week. It has been two years since my last massage. Usually I can deal - I try to meditate and when I get tense I will lie on the floor with hard little balls under my spine and this works. But today I called for a massage appointment.

I called Laura Latorre's number. She did me for several years. I left a message and 30 minutes later received a return call. From a lady named Hamuri. Laura has returned to Uruguay. I will miss Laura but have great hopes for Hamuri. I go tomorrow at 4 pm and I can't wait. My only requirement is that she has very strong hands and is not afraid to hurt me. My shoulders are big and pain is good. Pain means the stress is gone.

I totally expect to break into tears.

I am so excited I can't stand it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I have all this stuff running around my brain that I want to talk about but for the past 3 days I've been working on this project that is about the slowest, most tedious thing you could imagine. I have to research, then print out reports for information that is missing, then sit and enter the missing information piece by piece. This morning I woke up at 4:30 with all of this on my mind and it was less painful to just get up and do it then to lie there and toss and turn so already, even though it's only 6:30 pm I am ready for bed! Must .. .stay . . .up!

Had two vet visits already this week and I am now an amateur vet with supplies in the laundry room but will give specifics on the next post.

For now I just wanted to say hey.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Free Rice Word Game

I found this site a couple of weeks ago. Sent it out to my folks and Dad at least loves it. Increase your word power while donating rice to people who need it. A game and a charity all rolled into one. Play it daily and help the world. (Actually I have not looked into the specifics but it is a great word game. Bookmark it NOW!)

A New Water Dish and More Mexico Observations

Last weekend when I was home for about 40 hours before heading back to Cuidad Mexico I ran out to PetSmart for cat food and litter supplies. The cats have a food dispenser and a water dispenser but the water dispenser has bothered me for a long time because it can get pretty nasty and there is no way to clean the reservoir. Also it's stagnant water which is why they routinely drink from the toilets - after all it's the freshest water in the house! In PetSmart I discovered the Drinkwell recirculating water dispenser. It has a large reservoir that is removable and easy to fill and clean. You plug it in and it delivers a constant stream of water freshly charcoal filtered. When I came in Friday night I was thrilled to see how clean it still was, and the cats love to drink directly from the stream!

I'm sure it would work well for small dogs too so if you're a pet owner consider purchasing this item - I highly recommend. It's available on the Doctors Foster and Smith site but I found it on sale at Petsmart. As a bonus since it's moving water it will improve the Feng Shui of your home!

So anyway, my assignment to Santiago is going to be slightly delayed (I know, it already has been delayed - that's the nature of working for this company). Because few people in South America are bilingual in English, and because I am not nearly to the point of being able to communicate in Spanish, they have decided to send one of the guys from the Mexico office to Santiago to do the first part of the training. I will go back to Mexico to cover his job while he is gone and then once it's time to train in the part of the system I know best they are hiring a woman who speaks excellent English and I will go to train her.

I got this news Wednesday and initially was tremendously disappointed but over the past few days I think it's a good thing. For one thing I will be a short 3 hour flight from home and so hopefully I can work it out so I am only gone for a couple of weeks at a time and then able to be back here for a few days before turning back around. Since I'm a total sucker for the holidays I like this idea. Secondly, Carlos (the guy who will be going to Santiago) works in an area that I am not terribly familiar with and taking over his work will give me excellent training in this area which I think is crucial to me for future projects as well as my ongoing understanding of this business and our system.

Also I like the Mexico office. The people are great. Typical for me I tend to get along well with everyone but especially the guys. Don't get me wrong - the women are great too but they are very young, petite, pretty, fashionable, quiet and they just do their jobs and don't offer opinions. So I can't really identify with them at all. The guys are outgoing and voice their opinions and they're funny and smart. They're really aggressive about teaching me Spanish and making me use what they teach me. They say "fuck" like me.

Part of the reason why I work from home mostly is the Atlanta office is miserable. Very quiet - no one likes each other, everyone gossips, people are miserable - this attitude permeates and I tend to not get much done when I'm there because the environment is so awful. In Mexico everyone gets along, or at least they act like they do. Everyone eats lunch together. In Mexico (and this is not just in our office but everywhere) it is customary when arriving in the morning and departing at night to personally greet all your coworkers with a kiss on the cheek. Men shake hands but women/women and men/women do the cheek kiss thing. It freaked me out my first week but I've gotten used to it now and it's kind of nice.

So I'm looking forward to going back in maybe a couple of weeks to do whatever work needs to be done. The nice thing is that I will have different accommodations, although at this point I'm not sure what they'll be. This means I will not be a prisoner in the hotel at the airport and will have more of a Mexico experience that I can share with y'all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Pile of Loot!

Another week in Mexico is finished and I arrived back home tonight about 11 pm in a cab from the airport which feels terribly excessive and non-frugal to me. I try to hit hitch rides to the airport whenever possible because I like to leave my truck in the driveway because I don't have a security system and it makes it look like I'm home what with the lights on timers and all. But it seems not at all easy to find free rides back from the airport. I have the option of taking MARTA (the Atlanta "subway" system) but I would have to go all the way into the center of Atlanta and then change lines and come all the way back to my side of town and THEN take a cab from the station to my house (about 10 miles). All the while dragging luggage and my own tired ass. Sam kind of laid it on the line and told me to just take the cab and stop mooching rides from my friends because I can expense it. I'll still take rides where I can find them because even if I walked around with $1000 in 20's it is gut-wrenching to watch a cab meter ticking off the 1/8 miles. I'm hopeless.

So anyway I'll spare you the details but it was a fairly brutal week. Brutal in a weird kind of exhilarating way. Problems like I dealt with this week make my stomach burn and yet it really pumps me up to deal with them and make progress, and progress was made although it could have been better. Still I find myself sitting here in front of the computer at 11:42 pm on a Friday night (10:42 pm Mexico time - oh sure that justifies it) and I just kind of have to write a bit before I can wind down.

I've spent 16 of the past 26 days in Mexico and I'm fairly certain I'll be back, maybe soon. I changed most of my leftover pesos back to US dollars after the first trip but now I don't bother - I simply empty my wallet in flight and change back over to whatever I have of the currency of the country I'm flying to. I have a little change purse from Japan that I use for the purpose of storing whatever currency I won't be using for a while. Tonight I emptied my wallet of pesos and put the US money back in and I was shocked at how much Mexican coinage I had accumulated:

I know a lot of people who throw all their extra change in a jar and then once a year take it to the machine at the grocery store and buy a new BMW or whatever but I always try to keep my change to a minimum which I suppose is why I drive a 6 year old truck. But at least it's paid off! I found myself wondering how on earth I had managed to accumulate so many coins and realized with some embarrassment that Mexican coins are confusing to me! I far prefer to pay with paper money because I have to look so carefully to figure out which coins to hand over to round out a purchase. What a doob I am. Some of these are 10 peso coins which is roughly (very roughly) about $1 US and are highly useful for tipping bellboys and the guy who opens the car door in the morning. But the rest turn me into a babbling fool. So I have this pile of loot because of my own pride. I would rather walk around with 2 or 3 pounds of metal than embarrass myself with a cashier. Today in the Mexico City airport I went to the bathroom 3 times hoping there would be an attendant so I could put down a fistful of coins as a tip (fistful = roughly 30 cents) but no such luck which is unheard of in my brief experience there.

So anyway as I mentioned it was a rough week and long hours and no time to flit about Mexico but in the interest of sharing I have to tell you that I was there alone this week for the first time. The first week was me, Sam and Michael and during off hours we did that kind of business/social thing and it was great. The second short trip it was me and Michael and we did the same. This time me. The office have come to know me as a bit of a culture-glutton and this week instead of going in a car to a restaurant for lunch the whole office walked to a nearby "place" for take out. I can only describe this place because I don't know what to call it. It was kind of like a garage - with a roll up door onto the street. The whole place was maybe 400 square feet and most of it was a sit down dining area with about 5 plastic patio tables. The kitchen was not much bigger than my tiny bathroom and the cooks were a mother/daughter team. Every day there are two main selections that come with rice and plantains or rice and an egg, soup and a large drink (Monday it was a lime juice drink and Tuesday it was a guava drink). It is a full, hearty, home cooked "real" Mexican lunch and for everything it is $35 pesos (roughly $3.30). Unfortunately they don't do receipts so I can't really expense it but I'll try. It's just that down home. It was fun. You kind of walk into the tiny kitchen and tell momma your order then wait outside on the street and they bring it out to you and take your money. Then you walk back to the office, dodging stray dogs and vehicles. This is not what you should imagine Mexico City to be - this is just the area where the office is. Mexico City really is a very slick cosmopolitan city with a rich history but I think it is very cool that one can have an experience like this without ever leaving the city limits!

So anyway I took a couple of photos from my hotel window. I was looking out across at the airport and they are working on some landscaping. They are tending it carefully. I looked out the window at the exact right moment and saw a Mexican sprinkler system:

Can you see it? A big water truck and a guy on top hosing down the landscaping! WAIT!!! Here's a better shot!
Time to go now. Time to sleep in my own bed with my cats hogging up all the space. I have some other things to share about this week but will do it later when I've had time to vacuum and recover!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hasta Manana y'all!

My flight back to Mexico today is a night flight which means I will be landing after dark which I have heard is a sight not to be missed. I know from my vast 3 weeks and 2 round trip flights so far that Mexico City is enormous - it stretches as far as you can see. Michael (our developer and IT genius) flew in at night and tells me it is Christmas with Santa Claus. As much as I am sad to be leaving home once again I am really looking forward to seeing this. I've requested a window seat and hope I can get it and I'll try to take pictures. In the meantime, here are some daytime views from the airplane: Mexico City lies at the bottom of a "bowl" created by mountains. The air pollution is kind of rough on me - the second I step off the plane my eyes get red and watery and kind of stay that way until I get back. Evidently the winter months are the worst so I am really hoping we get this project finished before December! Nevertheless it is a breathtaking view from the airplane.The above shot is about 15 minutes out of Mexico City. I always ask for a window seat. This really isn't smart because if you have to get up it's a true pain unless you end up with empty seats next to you. But I love looking out at the ground. When I was flying to and from Japan we flew over the southern coast of Alaska and it was just the most amazing thing - so rugged.

I used to be terrified of flying. In my previous life (the early 80s) I remember one flight from Houston to Ontario, CA that was so frightening I wanted to hit the pilot when we finally landed. Also I've had a couple of commuter flights that made me understand what it's like to be a falling leaf in autumn. But when I started this job and was ordering truckloads of orange juice and toilet paper into warehouses it finally hit me that there are tens of thousands of flights per day and maybe once in a blue moon there is a problem. Now I'm more terrified of driving 285 than flying. The sky is full of highly trained professionals with other highly trained professionals watching their every move. The ground is full of idiots who use their vehicles as weapons. I just watch the flight attendants. If the day ever comes when they freak out I will freak out but until then I'll just white-knuckle my armrest if there is turbulence!

How could you not love a sight like that?

Sam (da boss man and cool dude with tattoos) called this morning. He's been bouncing back and forth between Mexico, Santiago, and his home in Reston, VA for the past few weeks. I never know exactly where he is but he went home to Reston this weekend. Turns out we will both be in the international terminal at Hartsfield this afternoon and so I'm leaving a couple of hours earlier than planned so we can catch a late lunch and get caught up in one of the fine terminal dining establishments.

It's really difficult to blog from the hotel. For one thing the hours in Mexico are all crazy - in the office at 9 (I like to start working at 7) - lunch for 2 hours at 2 or 3 -- back to the hotel by 7:30 or so unless there is a business dinner in which case back to the hotel around 10 or 11. The hotel charges $5 per hour or $22 for 24 hours for internet in the room. I hate getting only one hour because I feel like I then have to be tied to the laptop for that whole hour but also hate getting 24 hours when I know I will maybe be online for a little while. It's not my money - this is all expensed - but I think I'm too frugal for my own good. Anyway, since I will be there this time without Sam or Michael to dine with I might be online more and will try to check in a bit.

Adios for now!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sydlantajap Mexiago

Follow me here y'all - I promise there is a logical train of thought.

I hate commercials. They are an unwelcome interruption in the few TV shows I like to watch and since I don't have tivo I have to mostly put up with them. Usually I spend commercial breaks getting little things done - put a load of laundry in, take the trash out, dust, shred the day's junk mail . . . but there is one series of commercials I love and I drop everything to sit and watch them with delight. Hoping you have them where you are. The AT & T series of commercials running now just delight me no matter how many times I see them because they are brilliantly creative and funny.

I was back in Mexico this past week - left Wednesday morning and drove back into my driveway at 10 last night. I discovered that some of my very favorite shows are available on the internet once they have run and so I figured I could watch them in the hotel at night but that connection is so slow that the steam runs about 30 seconds and then there's a wait while it buffers and then 30 more seconds run so I gave up and now that I'm back I'm spending the day cleaning the house of cat hair and cat gak and watching the past week's episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Actually watching on the internet is kind of great. Your average one hour show is about 42 minutes of show and 18 minutes of stupid commercials. When you watch on the internet you might be behind the times but if you can ignore people talking about it the next day and watch your one hour show on the internet you are saving about 7 hours a year. I have about 4 hours of not to miss TV per week so I am spending about 28 hours extra per year living my life. But this is Barbie math and if you challenge me on it I will simply go get a pedicure to avoid your logic. When you watch on the internet there are fewer commercials - a one hour show has maybe 3 or 4 15 second interruptions.

Anyway, today I pulled up ABC on the internet so I could watch the Thursday episode of Grey's Anatomy and there are four 15 second commercials that you have to live through and today's commercials were the AT & T commercials that I love and while I was listening to them and mopping the kitchen floor I made up my own:

I'm a Project Administrator. I live in Atlanta but my boss bounces between Sydney and Santiago. I've lived in Japan but recently began commuting to Mexico. I need a network that lives where I do: Sydlantajap Mexiago.
I have been cracking myself up all morning.

I fly back to Mexico tomorrow night for another week trying to get this project solid. The cats hate me but luckily it's a hate/love relationship. They are getting lots of wet food right now. Between bites they give me the cold shoulder and I mop around them.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


As promised . . .

Jardin Botanico at the AeroMexico Complex

The AeroMexico Complex could not be described as even remotely attractive. It's a huge complex about a mile from the airport, surrounded by high chain link and razor wire. They have tried to make it a bit better though and one of those improvements is a small botanical garden. It begins just outside of where our office is located with all sorts of wonderful plants and a few umbrella tables.

Mexico City weather is not terribly different from Atlanta weather and I was surprised to see ficus trees growing in the garden but even more surprised to see that they are treated as topiaries! I think this one is supposed to be a chicken.The garden is in 3 sections connected by a meandering walkway. The first section is flowering plants and trees. The second section is medicinal plants. The third was my favorite - native cactus! I have no idea why it was my favorite because I'm not a huge fan of cactus but these were enormous and there were so many varieties that it was truly eye candy.
Well done AeroMexico!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Postupus Interruptus

Y'all I just have to interrupt the fun Mexico postings with a bit of local stuff and I hope you will bear with me and follow and hopefully you will comment.

I live in this tiny little village which is essentially a suburb of Atlanta but it is tiny and the local city council is essentially a group of neighbors who vote for each other so they can all have a "title" and make bad decisions while they all pat each other on the back.

For instance, our Main Street used to be a small 3 block area with sweet quaint awnings covering the walkways of the shoppers but it was decided that the awnings should come down and now Main Street is a ghost town with the sun glaring in the shops and no one willing to walk down sweet Main Street. Stone Mountain is now a ghost town.

Our "mayor-pro-tem" is "NN", a drunkard. Over the past 8 years I have voiced my concerns to her and the mayor and the chief of police specifically about the traffic on my street. On Fourth Street there is a posted speed limit of 25 MPH. In February of last year I finally got the county to do a traffic study and 50% of the traffic on our street travels in excess of 75MPH. No one cares. I think this must mean that if I care to murder someone it is OK. A law is a law, right? In my last email to her Nan responded to my concern of the traffic by telling me that E. Mountain (where her house is located) had the same problem! FYI NOT and what kind of response is this? If we had drug dealing on Fourth would she say the same? We all have drug dealing so just deal with it! A very bad city council person.

I received an email notification of a "meet and greet" for the new candidates for City Council. It will happen tomorrow and I am so disgusted with my past experience that I really don't care to go. I took a nap today and didn't sleep trying to figure out a way to record them - I needed something. And then I realized I have a video recorder!

Tomorrow I will show up with my video camera and will let them all know that the resulting video will be posted on you tube and distributed to my neighbors. My feeling is that all the bums should be thrown out.

We wiill let the video speak for itself.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday in Mexico - Less Food, More Fun!

When the alarm(s) went off Friday morning I really really did not want to get up. Gaga was tired y'all. My usual bedtime is between 9 and 10 and I spend maybe 30 to 90 minutes reading before I turn off the light and sleep in the glorious company of CATS. I eat lunch at noon and dinner at 6 or 7. I am entirely predictable. My work schedule is basically 7 - 4 or 5. To be in Mexico where I was up at 6:30, absorbing all sorts of new things, eating lunch between 2 and 4, absorbing more new things until 7 or 8 and then thinking about dinner about the time I usually go to bed - this messed me up all week but it was fun because it was different. Nonetheless, by Friday at 6:30 am I was tiredand into total cat withdrawals!

Sam and Michael were booked out on a Friday afternoon flight but I was not leaving until Saturday so my Friday night plans involved going back to the hotel, taking a very hot shower, crawling in bed and ordering room service. NOT. TO. HAPPEN. GRINGO ES MUY STUPIDO.

After Sam and Michael left for the airport Jorge R fulfilled my greatest desire - to grab a real taco at a sidewalk stand. Earlier in the week a few staff members had asked me to join them doing this but Jorge B nixed that and told them it would make me sick because American stomachs are not accustomed to that kind of assault (I was so underestimated) so he took us out for Mexican sushi which includes roasted jalapenos and salsa which is just plain weird to me but a lot of fun. Jorge R made up for Jorge B's decision.
The taco stand was located only a short walk from the office and we didn't even have to leave the AeroMexico property. Aeromexico has a miniature botanical garden set up and we walked through this and Jorge pointed out several interesting native plants (I will post photos of this over the weekend - it was quite wonderful). Then we walked up to the 10 foot iron fence that surrounds the property and through the fence ordered our tacos. I got 2 pork (!!! It's all about the pork and I wonder how Sam and Michael didn't starve to death - thank you JC for the loose dietary restrictions - almost makes putting up with Republicans worth it) and one chorizo (Mexican sausage - of course made from PORK) taco and we walked back and met Oscar, Sol, Max, Jessica and Carlos at an umbrella table outside to enjoy our lunches. Once again they all watched me as I added the cilantro, chilis and fresh lime juice to my tacos and when I poured on the red sauce they all started speaking very fast in Spanish and then watched in amazement as I tolerated it adn thoroughly enjoyed it. Very funny. The conversation was both in Spanish and English and I was surprised that I could follow a little of the Spanish conversation. Maybe there is hope.

After lunch we went back into the office and there was a definite Friday feel. Someone turned on some wonderful Mexican music and an impromptu dance party ensued for about 5 minutes before we got back to work.

After we got the dancing out of the way Jorge informed me that he would be taking me on a tour of Mexico City after work. Oh great. I wanted to sleep and relax but it would have been quite rude for me to decline and anyway, I wanted to see the city and he promised that it would take maybe 2 hours so I thanked him and prepared myself.

At 7:15 Jorge dropped me by the hotel for 15 minutes to put my laptop in my room while he went and filled his gas tank. Then we started out. He took me by the Revolution Memorial first. Here I am inside the open air memorial looking up at the domed ceiling:
This thing was first built as the grand entrance to what was planned as the President's residence but once this memorial was built they ran out of money so it sits alone on a plaza in the city.

While we were at the Memorial Jorge's phone rang and it was his wife. I felt really bad that once again I was taking him away from his family but when he got off the phone he told me his wife and daughters really wanted to meet me and we were going to his house to pick them up and then we would all continue the tour of the city together and end with dinner. And y'all this was at 8 PM!!!!!! I couldn't exactly say "No, please take me back to the hotel" so on we drove.

Jorge has a small apartment in the city, surrounded by a high iron fence manned 24 hours by a security guard. We walked up a few flights to his apartment and were almost at the door when Jorge admitted that his family does not speak English!!! OK. Now this was getting interesting.

His wife greeted us at the door with his 9 and 12 year old daughters behind her. I was completely welcomed, with his family telling me in very broken English "Nice to meet you" and me saying in very broken Spanish "Mucho gusto!" We sat down and did that wonderful universal communication thing involving hand gestures and high vocal volumes. I met their new 3 month old poodle mix puppy Peluche (pay-loo-chay). Peluche means "plush."

After about 40 minutes we all piled into the family mini van. All of us, even Peluche!!! On our way out Jorge told me how much he appreciated me coming to his home and that always his home would be my home. He gave me a CD of Mexican music and an airline-sized bottle of tequila as souvenirs. We set back out and visited fountains and monuments and the government square and drove through really cool areas. I had no idea. I think it's so funny that now in my memory Mexico City will always live at night! All of the photos posted here were taken in the dark, most from the window of the mini-van because it was not safe to get out. I had to mess with them to make them viewable. I actually considered going out and getting Photoshop until I found out it costs $400 - $600!!! Oddly this makes me covet it more! If you are reading this and can get me Photoshop for under $200 I promise to only use it for white magic.
A few photos from my night-time tour of the city:
This is a huge fountain located in the center of a round-about in the middle of the city. It was a gift from Spain and the original, which is much larger, is there.

This is the facade of the soccer stadium at the huge university which I don't EVEN remember the name of. It is a world class university and it costs each student 250 pesos per year to attend. That is $25 US. This university is where world class doctors and engineers are educated. $25 per year. I think we need to figure a few things out in the US. Also they have these great buildings which are decorated with art by famous Mexican artists. Here is another building on campus - it was a 12 inch nipple kind of experience to see it in person. So beautiful and I guarantee thsi photo doesn't even begin to do it justice.
After the university we drove to the bullfighting stadium. It's across the street from the soccer stadium. I would love to see a bullfight. I despise the idea of the death of a bull for the sake of human glory but again it is a cultural thing that I want to see someday with my own eyes. I know I will cry if I ever do. Anyway, the bullfighting ring was another piece of art which is impossible to convey in a photo taken at night and microsoft-adjusted but anyway here it is: You totally can't see it in the photo but there was this great sculpture on top of the marble gate. At this point Jorge and his wife did indeed get out of the mini-van to smoke a cigarette and the girls got Peluche out and he almost ran into the street so I totally threw myself on him and saved the day! I looked like an idiot but I did not want my memories to include a puppy run over by one of those insane Mexican drivers. I think Jorge bitched everyone out about letting the puppy out of the van but of course it was in Spanish so he might have been bitching about how he was missing his favorite TV show!

I guess most of y'all might remember about the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. When things like earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes are so far away we kind of register them as a disaster and then file them away. I asked Jorge about it. His recollection was so familiar to me after my Japan experience. For those who have never felt one most mild earthquakes rumble horizontally. The movement can be intense but it is only sideways and not so devastating. The bad ones begin horizontally but then quickly become an up and down shaking and this is what brings buildings down. When I asked Jorge about the 85 quake he showed me with his hands and I knew immediately what he was talking about. In Mexico City there was another earlier devastating earthquake in 1962. It caused a lot of damage and destroyed the angel monument:
It was rebuilt quickly but the original gold angel was not restored until a couple of years ago. It is beautiful. I started to take a phot but Jorge's wife pulled me to another vantage point. I think she must hold stock in HSBC!
By now I am so tired and amusing myself in traffic that is unbelieveable for that time of night by playing with Peluche and allowing him to teethe on my fingers. Such a sweet puppy! Our next stop was what I must describe as the Opera House although I am certain this must be a language thing. I could so see kd lang performing here: Finally we went to the main square (I guess though I am not sure as much as I am not sure about any other information I have posted here). On one side is a Catholic Cathedral, on another the City buildings, and on another the Federal buildings where the President of Mexico receives foreign dignitaries. It took my breath away and I can't imagine seeing this in the daylight as the lighting at night was romantic and just totally amazing:
On the other side of this plaza was the Cathedral and I totally know you can't see it but it was so beautiful at night so I'm posting the photo anyway. You need to go to Mexico City and see it with your own eyes!
At MIDNIGHT - yes MIDNIGHT - Jorge pulled over at a real down home cafe and we sat and had tacos and watched very funny drunk people wander out to go home. I had eaten so much all week that I wasn't hungry at all so I ordered only a taco to be polite and Mrs. R spent the rest of the time pushing her food on me, worried that I wasn't eating enough. Because god only knows I could only live off my own fat for about 3 months. I swear this eating thing really is a matter of universal acceptance! I can tell you for certain that Mexican food in the US has not a whole lot to do with what real Mexican food is like. First and foremost one can't even acquire escamoles in the US. I know. I've researched it in depth. Evidently the f**king FDA thinks anything ingestible should be pasteurized and processed and then labeled with statistics and warnings and they just aren't capable of comprehending things that have been eaten by ancient cultures since the beginning of time.
The R family dropped me back at the hotel at 1:15 am after they went out of their way to spend 5 hours driving a strange foreign person around their city. I hugged his wife (God - can you believe I didn't even get her name? This is because Jorge introduced her as "my wife." I will have to find out. I do know his daughters are Brenda and Ericka. Good Mexican names.) It was a glorious night and will always be one of my favorite memories.

Tomorrow I will post photos of the botanical gardens at the AeroMexico complex, along with a photo of a very funny sign so check back!