Sunday, June 29, 2008

Musical Meme

Janna tagged me again but this is a fun one. I'm supposed to list seven songs that I'm really into, or are shaping my life in some way. Let me start by apologizing if I depress you in any way; seems I'm in a very melancholic mood these days.

First we have Si No Te Hubieras Ido by ManĂ¡, my favorite Mexican band. They're kind of like U2 for English-speakers, or at least they seem that way to me. I'm limiting myself to one Spanish entry, but I have to include my other ManĂ¡ favorites: Mariposa, which is HUGE here (we even sang karaoke to it last night), and Clavado en un Bar. Love them!

Next is Coldplay's Fix You. Sara from AW mentioned the other day and I thought "That's the song that's been stuck in my head!" Thanks Sara. :)

Then we have the first of my two copies from Janna. Say It Right, by Nelly Furtado, is a cool dance song that came out the month before I left Chicago. It's a cool mellow beat that is probably meant to make people move, but it just makes me cry. Every time. It makes me think of the last nights I spent with my friends, trying to soak up everything before I left. I was scared to leave, scared of my future, and I missed my husband terribly. He'd already been in Mexico for two months and we'd only been married for six. This song is a bit masochistic for me because I love it, but it makes me long for what I can't have.

Next comes love. Most people missed a movie called Happy Endings, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, but she sings in it and the soundtrack has become one of my favorites. Here she sings I Can't Wait, a song that gives me hope and reminds me of those butterflies at the beginning of a relationship. WARNING: there's a bit of swearing in the first 30 seconds, before the song starts.

While we're on movies, my favorite is Moulin Rouge and I can't get enough of Ewan McGreggor and Nicole Kidman singing Come What May. *le sigh*

My second Janna copy is Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis. Beautiful voice, beautiful song, more longing... are you depressed yet?

Finally, the ultimate I'm sad and why not listen to a song to make me sadder? song: U2's Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. I usually listen to this when I want to remind myself that it's ok to lean on others to help you through the rough times, but then I remember that all my loved ones are thousands of miles away and I'm back where I started.

Now I'm stuck in YouTubeLand. I hope you've enjoyed my selections. Let me know what you think. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pictures of the Path

My mom sent me pictures she took during a walk along the path last February. There's me in the lovely blue tank top. I look happy, don't I? Probably because I wasn't running. :)

Here's the circle thing I keep trying to describe.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fine, I Guess Mexico is Okay

I've been feeling a little guilty that I told the internet I don't like Mexico. It's normal to get cranky now and then and who doesn't take it out on their setting? Right?

Since posting yesterday I've watched for something good, something that I like about living here, something that I could never experience in Chicago. Today it hit me: my morning runs along the ocean.

Aside from the fact that I hate running and more times than not I'm chanting "I hate this I hate this I hate this" in my head, it's a fairly pleasant experience. The path is wide enough to pass people (assuming they move to the side and don't freeze in the center when they hear you approaching) with little decorative stones and a rope fence. It's cut into the rocks and winds along the shore so you never run in a straight line. That might annoy some people, but since I hate running the constant turns distract me from what it is I'm doing there.

The best part is at the end of the path. I've mentioned the large circle where we stretch out and watch the fish as they leap through the air. Some days the waves are big enough that they splash against the wall and onto the landing. I normally stand on the far side so I'm out of the way and don't have my back to anyone, but today I stood right at the edge.

Every few minutes a wave crashed against the wall and water shot straight above me. I'm not sure if it's a genius design, pure luck, or a combination of the two, but the water never hit me. I watched the surf swirl over the rocks, the water rising within two feet of where I was standing. When I leaned over to stretch my legs it was as if the water had surrounded me, and with my back was to the other people I felt enveloped on an island all my own.

I suppose a private island for working out is a good thing about living here. ;)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mexico, Mexico, Blah Blah

I'm not so thrilled with Mexico today. Last night we had drinks with a nice couple from the hotel and that was a nice distraction, but overall I'm getting very tired of this place.

Lucky for me it'll still be here tomorrow, and I'm sure more zaniness will ensue.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Success Story

One of the blogs on my daily reading list is Writer Unboxed. Several writers contribute and there's always a good mix of writing tips, interviews, and other writing news. One of the contributors recently signed with an agent and her post gave me renewed inspiration.

Read her story here.

Writers talk about needing a thick skin to deal with harsh criticism and rejection, and I've often wondered how I'll deal with that negativity. So far, whenever I've received suggestions, they've made sense. I have one reader who didn't seem to get what I was trying to do with my story, but other than that, most of the negatives have been things I already knew. My problem with commas, for example.

Yesterday Erica Orloff posted about needing honest critiques if you ever expect to move forward and I realized I've already grown a thick skin. I've been a graphic designer for twelve years and clients can be pretty rough with their opinions. To them, it's not your baby that you've worked on for three days, it's their latest ad and no amount of talking will convince them it'll work. So you start over. You edit. You revise. It's all part of the game.

Same with writing.

Yesterday I tackled a new design project: wedding albums. I've never done anything like it but figured I have a good eye and could stumble through it. Once I figured out the software I really enjoyed myself. Best of all, my friend/client loved what I'd done. Talk about validation. The past several projects I've worked on have been highly praised and my inclination is to tell myself that those people just don't know good design, but when a photographer tells me it's good, maybe it's time I accepted that I might know what I'm doing.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meme, and a Couple Other Things

Wendy from Writes in the City tagged me with an A-Z meme, but before I begin I have to mention a dream I had last night.

It was a college setting and I joined Nathan Bransford and Jonathon Lyons for a cup of hot chocolate. There were a couple other scholarly types there, one of whom I'm convinced is a character from the book I'm reading (Love in the Time of Cholera), and the entire thing was really bizarre. We talked about our blogs, and Jonathon whipped out a printout of all the comments he's received in the past months when I mentioned I left a comment last week. And, since it was a dream, I drank my cocoa out of a coffee filter. *shrugs* I saw a picture of Jonathon yesterday so I'm assuming that's where this started.

Now onto the meme.

A-Attached or Single? Attached. Our two year anniversary is in August

B-Best Friend? Kris and Ibis (weird, I never noticed that with the letters)

C-Cake or Pie? I'll say pie because they don't make pie here

D-Day of Choice? One with a breeze

E-Essential Items? lipstick/chapstick, lotion, water. I need moisture at all times

F-Favorite Color? aqua/turquoisey blue

G-Gummy Bears or Worms? worms, I like to bite things and it's easier when it's more than half an inch long

H-Hometown? Spring Lake, Michigan

I-Indulgence? Nutella

J-January or July? Normally I'd go with everyone else and say July, but I really miss cold weather

K-Kids? not yet

L-Life isn’t complete without… celebrity gossip, as long as it's not super intrusive

M-Marriage Date? August 26, 2006

N-Number of Siblings? two

O-Oranges or Apples? apples

P-Phobias or Fears? small spaces, not being able to breathe

Q-Quote? "Life is not measured by the number of breathes you take, but by the moments that take your breath away." (ironic considering my P answer)

R-Reason to Smile? I'm finally losing weight

S-Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman, wish I still had those Underoos

T-Tag 5 people. No

V-Vegetables? Sweet potato

W-Worst Habit? interrupting others

X-Ray or Ultrasound? ultrasound, you don't have to wear a heavy apron and it's cool seeing your insides

Y-Your Favorite Food? seafood

Z-Zodiac Sign? Pisces

And finally, I recently bought several dresses. Squee!

Monday, June 23, 2008

This is Just Weird

I could've titled todays post Another Observation, but what occurred this morning was much too odd for that.

Every weekday I drive Ibis to work and if I have any errands I try to do them while I'm out. Our fridge has been EMP-TY all weekend so I hit the grocery store after dropping him off. That's where the weirdness began.

The Commercial has a bazillion shopping carts, but this morning there were only three in the big corral. I looked around to see if the store was busier than normal and noticed a man pushing a cart FULL of white onions. Weird, but whatever. People cook with onions here.

Then another person went by and same thing, ginormous bag of onions. In the twenty minutes I was inside the store, I believe I saw at least two dozen people with nothing but onions in their cart.

Is there an onion festival coming up? A drop in onion prices? A scheduled salmonella outbreak next week so they all need to stock up now? I looked down and noticed an errant onion skin had wrapped itself around my can of peaches.

WHAT is going on?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Observation

I've mentioned before that the police in Mexico carry automatic weapons - machine guns - and while it was shocking at first, now it's just one more thing in the background as I go about my day. They drive by piled in the back of pickup trucks, they patrol the sidewalks on foot, sometimes they're even at the beach. But what worries me are the ones that travel by car.

They have police cars but they aren't the luxury cruisers like you see in the US. Here they look just like the cabs, usually an old Toyota Corolla type model except there's the flashing light on top. My point is they don't have a lot of legroom and there's almost always four or five cops crammed inside. Who knows what they'd do if they had too arrest someone. I guess they'd have to call for a pickup truck. Ha! Because they pick up people. Right, right, right.

Now imagine you're driving alongside one of these police cars, or better yet, you're walking past one stopped at a light. You take a peek because it's the police and who doesn't take a peek? Bodies are jammed shoulder to shoulder, the window down to provide some relief from the stifling air inside, and you notice a small metal cylinder poking out through the window.

Hmm. I wonder what that is?

You take a closer, yet still discreet, look and realize it's the tip of a machine gun. Sticking out the window. At YOU!

Most police officers point their weapon barrels up in the air, but there are quite a few who rest their weapons on their laps and let the tips rest on the window ledge. RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW AND AT THE INNOCENT PEOPLE OUTSIDE.

I was reminded of this last night on our way to Ixtapa. We were behind one of these police cars and I watched horrified as the passengers bounced along, their weapons waving every which way out the window. I'm amazed no one's been killed.

Can someone please explain the logic of this to me? I get that if the gun goes off they'd rather not shoot themselves, but aren't they supposed to be protecting us?

(I also noted that someone was tailgating the police, then passed on the right, on a curvy mountain road. Only in Mexico...)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I was sorting through old emails and came across one from last Christmas (yes, it's been awhile) that struck me as worth sharing. The bulk of the email talked about carrying burdens and how the longer we hold on to our stressors, the heavier they become. I won't bore you with all that since you probably already realize how true it is. Instead I'll share the list of how to combat the stress.

Consider it a pick-me-up for the weekend. :)

1) Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

2) Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3) Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4) Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5) If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6) If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7) It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8) Never buy a car you can't push.

9) Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10) Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11) Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12) The second mouse gets the cheese.

13) When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14) Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15) You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16) Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

17) We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18) A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Missed #200?

I was all set to write something special for my 200th post but I kept forgetting to check where I was at. I just looked and this is post number... *drum roll* ... 202!


Not as exciting as I wanted, so instead I'll tell you some exciting news in my world. Two things actually.

First, our second anniversary is at the end of August and my lovely parents have offered us a week of their timeshare so we can have a vacation. The company has places all over the world but our lack of fundage means plane tickets are out of our budget and we have to go someplace within driving distance. Acapulco it is! It's only three hours down the coast and the place we're getting has a kitchen (big money saver) so it won't be that different from the everyday. Really we're going for the pool and the maid service. Oh, and the Starbucks.

Second, three days after our Acapulco trip I'm hopping on a plane and flying home! I'll be in Michigan most of the trip but I am squeezing in a Chicago party my last day there. A good friend of mine offered to host a party so I can see all my friends at once. My last two trips were a blur of coffee, lunch, dinner, second-dinner, then breakfast dates, and it was more than a little overwhelming. This was I can see everyone from the comfort of my friend's backyard.

Once I return, puppies!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I think I've mentioned that my friend has a three-month old Chihuahua named Lucky. I go to her house a couple times a week and spend half my time playing with this ball of love:

Ugh, doesn't he just melt your heart? She has two Chihuahuas and two cats, one of each are two years old and the other two are babies. Here are the kitten and puppy playing:

A couple days ago she called us from the vet's office to tell us they had two Chihuahua puppies for sale. We've wanted a dog for quite some time and almost bought one while we were still in Chicago, but held off since we knew we might be moving. These puppies were very cute, looked healthy, and we could buy them both for a good price, but it all felt too rushed. The condo needs to be "baby-proofed" and since Ibis had to go to work, the thought of me having to get everything ready and buy supplies with two squirmy puppies was just too much.

That's when the vet told us Lucky's parents are having another litter in three months. That timing works much better because we'll be back from our trip to Acapulco and my trip to the States in September, and I'll have all my time to housebreak four-pound puppies. Best of all, they'll have a better chance of looking just like this:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One More Thing Off My List

Saturday night Ibis and I ran into friends downtown and after joining them for pizza, we tagged along for a Mexican tradition: chicken fights. (Technically they're called c**k fights but I'm trying to keep this family friendly.)

These friends go fairly often, at least once or twice per week, but we've never gone with them. I'm a very squeamish person and don't do well with blood, especially when it involves a living, jumping, squawking creature. Morally I don't agree with these fights and I feel bad for the chickens, but it's ingrained in this culture and not going away because I don't like it.

We drove to a neighboring town and entered through a nondescript metal door. Bright lights greeted us and after paying a 50 peso cover fee, we approached the ring. A low wooden wall enclosed the large dirt ring that took up most of the outdoor area. We were offered blue folding chairs in the second row, which I later found out is preferable because the chickens sometimes escape the wall and jump into the audience. Second row it is.

Several women worked the crowd, selling beer, food, and a quick card game in between fights. When the first group entered the ring I was grateful I hadn't worn my glasses (I've gotten into the habit of going out half blind.) I could see well enough to know what was going on, but not well enough to see much detail. I'll give you the fuzzy details as seen through my blurry eyes.

The owners get the chickens riled up with other chickens, kind of like sparring partners. When the feathers around their necks fan out - much like a lion or peacock - you know they're ready. Then the referee winds something that looked like tape around one of the chickens' feet.

"What are they doing?" I asked my friend.

"Tying on the knife."

Yeah, a knife. Silly me thought they just pecked each other to death.

I won't go into detail but we saw two chickens die in four fights. The burial was anything but dignified; they were thrown to the side of the covered viewing area, next to one of the support posts and right in the middle of the spectators.

I always assumed chicken fights were illegal, but several armed policemen were there, seemingly on patrol. Whether they were betting or working, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Kitchen

After the talk of my view yesterday and this morning I decided to capture the morning sun and make you really jealous. ;) While we have a beautiful view, there are plenty of things I dislike.

1) The kitchen is really narrow. The property line cuts at an angle so the units on our end lose space in the kitchen. Notice how the counter extends beyond the doorway. Brings bonding while cooking to a whole new level.

2) The window doesn't have glass. While this keeps the breeze flowing, it also means we can't block out bugs, rain, smoke, or the neighbors' music. But it does give me a place to keep my clothespins.

3) We don't have a real countertop. The man would made our cabinets put plain wood on the top so we'd have a working surface, and we planned to finish it shortly after we moved in. One year later we still have the plain wood, gaps and all. We're hoping to get a concrete counter, but the car needs work so that may have to wait a bit longer.

4) The sink is tiny. No comment necessary.

5) We have very little counter space. What you can't see in the picture is our stove, which begins at the left edge of the counter, and the fridge is beyond that. I get very creative when cooking meals.

6) We don't have a stove or toaster oven. While I've mastered making toast on the stove (and actually prefer it that way) I'd LOVE to be able to toss dinner in the oven and not have to worry about it for half an hour. My mom is baking cookies tonight and now I really want homemade cookies!

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Raining Styrofoam

This morning I woke up to the sound of someone drilling the bedroom ceiling. The concrete ceiling. The developers have promised to finish all the work within the next couple weeks and one of the final projects is our roof deck. I use the word "deck" loosely since right now it's basically a concrete slab with water tanks and a couple palapas (thatch umbrella thingys).

The key piece they're working on now is a wall to keep people from falling off. We asked about it at the building Christmas party and (ticks off fingers) six months later it's finally happening. Building a wall doesn't normally require drilling, but remember my post a few weeks ago with the picture of our satellite dish? The one on the edge of the wall-less roof? Yeah, that needed to move.

Fortunately Ibis took it upon himself to move the dish (I was worried the workmen would drop it) and an hour later and several calls to the satellite company, we had signal again. Since I was awake I got out of bed to start my morning cleaning, and was greeted with this:

Zooming doesn't seem to be my strong suit, so what you're looking at are little styrfoam balls. Why is there styrofoam on your deck? you ask? Because of the materials used to build in Mexico. Most buildings are concrete and they use inch-thick styrofoam sheets with a metal frame/cage-like support around it. If you drill deep enough into the concrete, you hit foam. Pull out the drill and voila!

While I was on the deck I remembered to take a picture of our washer/dryer unit. Yes, I have a nice view while doing laundry. The white plastic box on the far wall is a retractable clothesline. I stood in front of the kitchen sink to take the picture, so this is also my view when I wash dishes.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

That's a Lot for a Saturday

I've had a busy day! I got out of bed when the alarm sounded and actually went running before the sun had fully risen. After dropping Ibis off at work, I bought groceries and vented in my journal. I'm feeling a little better now. Then I finished reading The Elements of Style (more on that in a minute) and finished a nagging scene in my wip.


Then I researched wedding photo albums for an upcoming freelance project. A good friend of mine is a photographer in LA and needs a fabulous designer to help with the album layouts.

*stretches arms, pats self on shoulder*

While clicking through the various links she sent me, I was getting worried that the designs she wants may be beyond my abilities. I worked on auto ads for so long that soft and fluffy weddings seem like an alien being. Can you shove a close-up of a Hemi in there? Really jazz it up! The voice of my former boss whispered in my ear. But the more I compared her notes with the different sites, I realized she and I share a similar vision. Besides, she can't expect me to nail it on the first try, right? That's was revisions are for.

That's when a passage I'd just read in EoS came to mind and I realized Strunk & White's writing advice can apply to more than just writing:

Revising is part of writing. Few writers are so expert that they can produce what they are after on the first try. Quite often you will discover, on examining the completed work, that there are serious flaws in the arrangement of the material, calling for transpositions... Do not be afraid to experiment with what you have written. Save both the original and the revised versions... Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common occurrence in all writing, and among the best writers.

Switch the writing terms with whatever task you're facing - design, cooking, or child-rearing - and this advice applies to most anyone (ok, maybe not that last one). I've always tackled design projects with the idea that it's easier to work on something one the bones are already there. It only makes sense that the same applies to writing. I just hadn't figured that out yet.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th

Crap. How did this day sneak up on me? I'm usually very aware of an approaching Friday the 13th and take the necessary precautions to prevent anything bad from happening, but not this time. I didn't realize it until I turned on my computer an hour ago and saw the little icon in the upper right corner. (Which, by the way, is often my only clue to what day it is. Side effect of not having a job.)

I should have known this day was coming because all week, nature has been - how do I say this - attacking me. On Monday, I was checking a few things online before going to be when a jumping, buzzing creature landed on my back. I leaped from my chair, screaming and swatting at my clothes, expecting to see a cockroach or wasp. Instead it was a cricket. Yes, a cricket. I didn't know we had those in Mexico. I chased him outside and figured that was the end of it. He's come back a couple more times but yesterday I swept him off the balcony so I don't imagine I'll be seeing him any time soon.

Wednesday I was hanging out at my friend's house. She has two cats and two dogs, plus three wild iguanas that patrol the outer wall of her property. My friend knows the iguanas eat the plants when no one is around but for the most part the animals have an agreement on their boundaries and they don't breech their respective turfs. Until Wednesday. I must have an iguana-friendly scent because the one they've nicknamed Kong came climbing down the wall, into the plants, and right towards me. I didn't want to move until her boyfriend came outside and saw it but I was freaked out having that thing so close to me. These are black with blue markings and look street tough. As soon as the boyfriend appeared he said, "Move! Those things can attack!" and off I ran. It stayed in the plants long enough for the older dog to spot him, then climbed back to his side of the wall.

Last night should have been the real clue that something was up. There's a giant wasp that comes to visit me every afternoon. He flies back and forth through the apartment and leaves me alone unless I accidentally end up in his path. Then we do a little dance trying to get out of each others' way. There are always bugs near the ceiling, flying near the lights (why is that, really?) and I've learned to ignore them.

So yesterday this one bug was flying around the living room for over an hour and when I turned off the lights and went to bed, he followed the light. I quickly turned off that as well. Not two minutes later there was a buzzing right in my ear. I swatted at my head, sat up, swiped at the pillow, then turned on the light. It was a bee! And it was back in the light. I woke up Ibis who grabbed my shorts and swung at it. He missed, so now it was really pissed off. He trapped it in the light to "heat it up" (hmmm, ok...) then hit it with my shorts again. Declaring it dead, he went back to sleep.

Except it wasn't. I could hear it buzzing so peeked at the wall along the head on the bed and it was crawling towards me!

"Honey, it's not dead."

"It's dead."

"No, I'm looking at it right now and it's coming to get me." I grabbed my flip-flop, ready to strike. I have a big thing about not killing bugs that can squish so I just swiped at it with my shoe. That knocked it to the floor, where it walked in circles until I decided it couldn't climb anymore. I was worried I'd wake up with an injured bee in my throat, but when I woke up this morning it was dead on the bathroom floor.

I can't wait to see what's in store for today.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Last week I joined an online writing group and I was a little nervous about not living up to the expectations. Over the past several months it's been difficult to force myself to write. I wasn't sure if the encouragement of strangers would do it for me, but I haven't been able to do it on my own I figured it couldn't hurt.

Well, five days into it and I've written five days in a row. The group only requires 100 words per day which works out to about half a page, or one full page since I'm writing by hand in a notebook. The first couple days I wrote about 300 words, but Day Three I wrote a whopping 700 words! While writing my memoir my daily word goal was 1000 words and I'd often surpass that, so my memoir-writing self is still looking down at my new novel-writing self for being so pleased with a couple hundred measly words, but every little bit helps, right? In five days I've written about 2000 words, more than I squeaked out in the past month.

The beauty of such a low daily goal is it's really hard to come up with an excuse not to write. What, you can't spend ten minutes writing? Half a page is too much for you? You could write that much and be back to AW before the conversation refreshes!

Yes, I like to trash-talk myself.

Anyway, I'm feeling much more optimistic about my story and my writing in general. I've had to rethink my expectations but this new outlook seems to be doing the trick because I'm finally writing again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

36 Hours Later

It finally stopped raining this morning. I guess Mexico is an all-or-nothing kind of place. Last night we lost power off and on from 10-11pm and the wind whipping through our windows made it feel like we were part of a horror movie. At one point cracked the kitchen window to see how bad it was and realized it wasn't as windy as I thought; the windows aren't sealed so it was only howling inside the condo.

We didn't go running this morning because when it rains, it pools, and I didn't feel like drowning my sneakers, so our first venture outside was bringing Ibis to work. The streets were still wet, but not flooded, and they were filled with debris from trees and homes alike. The paper said eighteen trees and two posts were knocked down, and one professional surfer washed to shore. I'm not sure if that was related to the storm but Kin Kin's body was found in Ixtapa. I imagine the waves were huge last night and oh-so tempting to those who seek out the big thrills. At least it wasn't a shark.

I've gotten so used to the intense heat that comes with no rain that I was surprised yesterday's laundry was still damp. Typically clothes - even jeans - dry in a couple hours, and dishes take even less time. When the sun came out this morning around 9am and began drying up the remnants from the storm, I put our still-wet laundry back on the line. While hanging it, I looked down at our neighbors and counted three other women doing the same thing. Either I'm turning into a Mexican woman or it's just common sense.

I just checked - it's been a couple hours and everything is dry!

Monday, June 9, 2008

New Routine

My migraine is almost gone so this morning Ibis and I drove to the beach for our run. The beach he works at, Playa Madera, is the midway point of the oceanside path so we can get our exercise without any hassle from the locals.

I wanted to run at least the same amount as I do when we leave our place on foot, but after going back and forth a couple times, I think I went even further. Ibis stayed at one end to do weights (rocks) so I joined him after my run and worked out for another half hour. I hate the fact that we drove to exercise but I enjoyed the whole experience so much more than before that I think I'll go more often. I typically aim for every day but now I realize it wasn't the running I dread, it's the people on the streets. Remove them from the equation and I may finally lose some weight!

It's started raining this past week and today has actually been cloudy. Go figure! So far all the rain has come overnight so I didn't give it a second thought when I started laundry this afternoon. Well, now it's raining all over my washer/dryer and the clothes that I hung outside to dry. After a little reorganizing, my house is filled with damp clothes and the laundry is almost finished. It's not raining very hard so the machine should be ok.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Migraine Day

Yes, it's been awhile but apparently my body felt we were overdue for another celebration. This one struck around midnight Friday as I was whipping through a chicklet book. (Maybe that was a sign.) I haven't read one in ages but there's a free book exchange at Ibis' hotel so I thought I'd give it a try.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella, the same author who wrote the Shopaholic series, is about a woman, Emma, who spills her secrets to a man seated next to her on a plane they think is crashing. Turns out he's the owner of the international company where she works, zaniness ensues, and they end up together, of course. Kinsella has a knack for creating characters that I can relate to - they mean well but keep putting their foot in their mouth.

I almost wet myself over one particular line, despite my headache. Emma recently broke off a long-term relationship (who also works at the same company) to pursue the big-wig, and the ex just found out:

Connor's face is slowly turning different colors. "NO," he gulps. He looks as though he's seen a ghost. And not just any old ghost. A really big ghost with clanky chains, going "Whooo!"

Maybe it was my delirium but, good lord, I thought I'd wake up the neighborhood. I couldn't stop laughing!

One other thing: I've been playing around with some settings on my blog - shuffling the links and adding a keywords option - but I'd also like to add a section with important posts to read. I've recently had some new readers and I don't expect them to dig through almost 200(!) posts to find out why I'm here. As readers, is there something in particular you think I should include? I know my first post should be highlighted, but other that that, I'm not sure.

I'd love your input.

One final thing: yesterday I joined an online writing group (THANKS Spyscribbler!) so I might make some progress yet!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Flying Fish

I've mentioned before that Ibis and I often run along the ocean in the mornings, but what I haven't told you about is the show nature puts on while we're there. A walking path follows the shoreline for half a mile and there are several lookout spots where you can take in the scenery without getting in the way of other people. Most of these lookouts are circular and have decorative stone inlays that must have taken a lot of time and effort.

The largest of these circle is at the end of the path and we often join a group of Mexican women to stretch before heading home. At this spot the path is cut into the rocky hill so you feel almost embraced by the landscape. This isn't a place for swimming - the shore is full of rocks that have broken free from the hill - and I'm often mesmerized by the crashing waves.

I don't have to watch the water for very long before I spot a fish leaping into the air. Followed by another, and another. On a typical morning I'll see a dozen fish break the surface and my imagination goes into overdrive trying to figure out why they do it. Mating ritual? Fleeing a shark? Getting a suntan? They are roughly a foot long (Ibis says more like a foot and a half) and their white bellies flash as they flip through the air. It's nothing earth-shattering - most everyone's seen a fish jump at some point in their life - but the fact that we see them jumping every time we're there is pretty cool.

Yesterday we went to Playa Madera, the beach just before the end of the path, and the fish were in their prime. I was rinsing off after a vigorous game of kick the ball back and forth when I spotted a fish pirouetting in the air. Then four more leapt at the same time. Then another, then three more.

Ibis was further out than me and he turned around to make sure I saw it. We watched for five minutes and must have seen thirty fish flying through air, all in a row, from one end of the beach to the other. Other people on the beach stopped to stare at the fish parade, all of us transfixed on the spectacle. Over and over they jumped in tandem, twisting and turning in the air, oblivious to their audience.

When five fish broke the surface at once, I felt like I was at an aquarium watching trained animals. A small child clapped her hands in excitement as the adults watched on in silence, in awe of Mother Nature and how selflessly she shares her beauty. Of course I couldn't help but think how easy it'd be to catch one; they'd probably jump right into the boat.

This morning Ibis and I reminisced about the fish parade and he told me there was another kind of parade three days ago. Apparently a pair of sharks took a detour into Zihuatanejo Bay and had to be chased out by the Naval ship that's stationed here. So maybe the fish were flying for their lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm Going to the Beach

Ibis managed to get two consecutive days off so we're off to the beach! Have a great day!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Red Wings Win!

I don't talk about sports much here but I am a big fan. My favorite is hockey and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup last night for the fourth time in eleven years. Can we say dyna– maybe it's too early for that.

Game 5 was such a let-down, with the Penguins tying it up with less than a minute to go, and they almost repeated with only a few seconds left last night. BUT, the Wings showed why they deserve the cup and Osgood held on to the lead.

I went to the parade in Detroit in '98 and I wish I could go again this year. Ugh, so exciting!

I borrowed these images from the Detroit Free Press. Click on if you care to join the celebration!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Commanding Presence

When we first moved here we lived with Ibis' family, which included our two-year old (now three) nephew. I re-learned my Spanish vocabulary alongside him, and also picked up quite a few commands. Eat that, don't eat that, don't hit me, leave it alone, stop shouting... the list goes on and on.

Since moving to Zihua I haven't had many opportunities to use those commands but this morning I used the following in the space of one hour:

¡Callate! - Shut up!
¡Dejame en paz, por favor! - Leave me alone, please!
¡Nunca toca mi carro!* - Never touch my car!

(* I don't think that's grammatically correct, but they understood well enough.)

The first two were directed at a man who kept calling me guera, not an offensive term but really annoying when said repeatedly. This isn't the first time I've seen him while on my morning run so I was ready to yell at him. After I told him to shut up I hurried across the canal to where there were more people. He followed. I walked quickly - I refused to give him the satisfaction of making me run - until I was near other people, but he stayed right behind me.

There are several restaurants there along the water and I always say good morning to the workers, but this morning they were all closed. I could still see him out of the corner of my eye so I headed towards the tourist police, located next to the plaza. Just as I was about to turn the corner, he ran to catch up to me and said it again, "Guera."

I told him to please leave me alone, he said something about hermosa (beautiful, whatever), and I walked straight to the police. He took off as soon as he realized where I was going so I leaned against the wall, five feet from an armed officer.

Ibis was still at the beach so I planned to wait for him there and as I rested, a Jehova's Witness approached. There are a lot of Witnesses (Testigos) here but they rarely attempt a conversation. I assume they know I live here since we see each other every morning, but I suppose they only talk to people who aren't hustling through the plaza. The woman came over and asked if I wanted to talk, I told her I'd talk to her, just not about her religion. My aunt is a Witness and so is Ibis' immediate family so this woman can't tell me anything I don't already know. We spoke for about ten minutes, me constantly looking to see if the man or Ibis appeared, then she went on her way. (Weird thing: she said I have a Brazilian accent.)

An hour later I pulled into the grocery store and before I could turn off the car, a small hand tugged on the driver side door. I slammed it shut, yelled no, and shook my finger at the little boy on the other side of the glass. He scurried away but not so far I couldn't see him. Several boys hang out near the entrance, hoping to help tourists with their bags, a cart, whatever, in return for a tip. Recently they added opening the car door to their repertoire and scared the bejeezus out of me the last time they tried to "help."

They stood huddled near the door and one approached with an empty cart. I looked at them and yelled never touch my car. They turned their heads and I went into the store. When I left twenty minutes later, one boy politely asked if I needed a cab but the others stopped their approach when they saw me. I hate being mean to children but they have no respect for personal space.

It's just noon now so I'm hoping I have no further need to yell at anyone. Ibis better watch out! ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rajas en Crema

Rajas en crema is a traditional Mexican meal that I've actually mastered. Me, the non-cook. :) I've mentioned it before and after some encouragement from my Absolute Write friends, I took pictures as I made it last night. Ready?

Equal number poblano peppers and tomatoes (7-8 for 4 servings)
Half red onion
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
Mexican cheese - an amount roughly the size of a stick of butter
3 heaping tablespoons sour cream (one small container)

First you grill the peppers without oil/spray. I have six here, which makes enough for three large servings. I'd recommend a couple more if you have more people.

While they are grilling, chop all the veggies.

Here comes the fun part. Cook the peppers until they are blackened and the skin starts to bubble, then remove from heat. The more bubbled the easier it is to peel, but be careful they don't burn. They only need to cool enough that you can handle them.

While the peppers are cooling, coat a large skillet with oil. Add the garlic once it's hot, cook for a minute or two, then add the onion. Cook another couple minutes, then add the tomato. You might have to add more oil; use your judgment. As long as nothing sticks, you're fine. Add several shakes of salt, then lower the heat to medium and throw on a lid.

Now back to the peppers. They should be cool enough to handle so now you need to remove the skin.

Next, cut off the tops, discard the seeds, and cut the peppers into strips roughly half an inch wide.

Add the strips (rajas) to the cooking vegetables and mix. Next add the chopped cheese and cream.

Cook for a few minutes, just long enough for the cream and cheese to warm up. Serve,

and Enjoy! We eat it with tortilla, but a fork is fine too. :)

I have no idea how many calories or fat grams this has. I use low-fat sour cream but everything else is healthy (enough). If anyone tries this, let me know how it turns out!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thank You to My Blog Friends

From now on whenever I'm feeling unmotivated I'm going to write about it here. (Not really, don't run away screaming. I won't whine every time I'm blocked.) In yesterday's post I complained how I can't seem to get myself to write. Even though I said I was out of excuses I managed to come up with a few more in the comments.

My regular commenters were very encouraging, as always. And what happened today? I wrote! Not much, only about 500 words, but I started a section I've been dreading. My MC needs to get a ride from some men but didn't know how to ask them, which means I didn't know how to make him ask them.

This afternoon I shoved him around the corner, forced him to make eye contact, and what do you know? He's getting a ride. He has to help them build a wall for their efforts, but he's in!

I know this seems silly, especially to those of you who aren't writers, but it's amazing how many mental blocks we throw in our way. Maybe I should look at it that it's my character who's hesitating, not me. All I have to do is show him what to do next.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I've Run Out of Excuses

My house is clean, fridge is full, laundry is folded. Blog is updated, email checked, friends talked to on the phone. I've watched a movie, written in my journal, and made a pitcher of peppermint iced tea. All I have left is to write.

So why can't I make myself pick up my pen? The notebook is on the table, pulled off its shelf, the pen is resting on its cover. I've cut my writing goals in half in an effort to eliminate the fear that I won't write enough each session, and that seemed to help for about a week, but here I am, not writing.

I've tried to be honest with myself and questioned whether my hesitation is coming from the story itself, but I'm still very excited about the overall idea. I can see my character doing the things I have planned for him and I'm looking forward to the upcoming scenes. Maybe I need to skip ahead and work on those? I'm making very little progress with my current linear plan, so it can't hurt.

That doesn't resonate with me either, so I think for now I need to just sketch out the basics and worry about filling out the details later. At least that way I'll make some progress.