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 . . .