Monday, December 30, 2013

Holey Moley

"Put on your oxygen mask first..."
It's like when you're about to take off in an airplane, the part where the stewardess gives you those counter-intuitive instructions about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping your gasping child. That's what this situation reminded me of. I was pleased with the analogy, and gratified for the guidance.

I was about to prepare a wine spritzer for my thirsty spouse, and I'd just gotten a beer for myself. I was faced with the dilemma of what I should do first, open the IPA, or uncork the Pinot Gri. That's when my questing mind remembered that aeronautical lesson so many of us simply let pass through one ear and out the other. But with enough repetition, the lesson sticks. The answer in this case was obvious: pop open the pale ale. "You can't help others when you are in need yourself" is the takeaway here.

It must be the free time afforded by retirement that lets me philosophize like this, and I'm grateful. The little wheel around which my mind turns these days seems circumscribed by only a few essential things: loving family, supporting friends, keeping healthy and happy, and dealing with those pesky moles.

One of four hills made by moles last night
Yesterday, I counted 21 mounds of newly turned mole earth in our lumpy courtyard lawn. Of course, that was accumulated over the span of six days, but still.

I imagine that this travesty weighs somewhat upon the souls of our apartments' other tenants, but my tolerance is demonstrably less than theirs. About once a week I take a flat-bottomed shovel and with a quick scoop I pick up most of the fresh dirt at each mound and toss it under the rhodies. A few flicks with a broom and all sign is gone of those weird little critters that I hope I never see, with their creepy pink fleshy snouts wiggling sensuously. Seriously yuck.

No offense, though, Moles. Really...

Which charitable afterthought leads fittingly to a deeper contemplation; I think it might be from The Bible*: "As above, so below." Hmmmm.

*Actually, my research tells me it's one of those Hermetic, Theosophic, Masonic kinds of things. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Test Results Are In

My sweet wife got the phone call yesterday--a day earlier than expected and therefore immediately suspect. Tests, and waiting for tests, and waiting for the results of tests had dragged on for weeks. Regardless of the diagnosis, she was damned if it was going to ruin or even rain on our vacation.

The word she heard has to be one of the top ten Best News words in the English language: Benign. Ta Da!

When I got home a little later and she told me, we laughed and hugged and had a happy dance.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve

I forgot the booze! So, just got back from a quick jaunt to what-used-to-be Petosa's Market with a fifth of Gentleman Jack. The checker and I joked about this almost-omission and wished each other Merry Christmas Eve.

Three jiggers down and my exponential spouse and I realize that someone here at our little apartment complex got left behind and that someone is us. Looking around the courtyard, this is what I realize:

Our creche with the usual suspects
The Little Family left three hours ago in Jesse's car; no sign of Jerry, but he could be bartending. (His sometime squeeze, Not-Hannah, was spotted earlier in the day walking across Petosa's parking lot wearing reindeer deelie-boopers and jingling boots.) Ralph's Subaru is gone. Where? We don't have a clue. Marion is at one of her daughter's houses where the whole clan gathers annually for an Italian Christmas Eve Fish Fest. Warren must have flown back east, so no noise of weights being lifted next door. Poor Crazy Carrie and her Prius could only be at her parents. Dwayne, best guess, is with one of his skanks (not charitable, but true), Sam with one of his many Catholic children.

This place is empty, but we are here together, having a feast tonight--ham, scalloped potatoes, spinach, pecan and cranberry salad, and then, after gingerbread and whipped cream, an early bedtime.

We will channel Christ's love into this evening, and into tomorrow, as always, when we will welcome the daughters for gift exchange and brunch.

Merry Christmas Eve to all!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dollars to Pesos

Yesterday we ordered a whole bunch of pesos for our annual adventure down south of the border in MEH-he-ko.

We're behind the coconut palms between the orange and white buildings at the right.
For the past half dozen years we have spent several weeks each winter in a little fishing village near Puerto Vallarta. This is near where the classic movie "Night of the Iguana" was filmed.

(Last year I was mouth agape watching a bunch of these four foot lizards climbing from branch to branch in a tree a mile up the river from the cove at the left of the picture above.)

We stay in a penthouse apartment atop several other concrete and rebar additions to the home of a well-connected family in the village.

This is one of your hard-to-find getaways. The only way for people and commerce to get here is by water taxi.  Our balcony patio looks down on the muelle [MWAY-yay], or pier, where the water taxis come and go a dozen times a day.

From here we can watch trabajadores trotting their high and precariously stacked wheelbarrows from the pier up the narrow, winding cobblestoned alleys to tiendas and construction sites throughout the village.

In the morning, if we arise just before the sun comes over the jungled hill on the opposite side of our cove, we can see the unhurried activity of fishermen, and service workers at the many tiny beachside restaurants, as they slowly begin their day.

We usually do little more than just watch the daily round of people, small boats and birds from dawn to night time. Our portion of this activity may (but not necessarily) consist of strolling, drinking, exploring, smoking, visiting, eating, shopping at Hortencia's (mostly aguacates, papayas, limons y tequila), plus various forms of artistic noodling, and canoodling.

We're leaving for our idyl on New Year's Day. This year we'll be there for an entire month.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cold Coffee or Beer?

It's the shank of a dark, cold and foggy afternoon. I'm coasting on a gymrat high that I want to bring inside and channel.

I know that a quarter cuppa my ultra-strong joe, half and halved, barely sweetened, will keep my keen intellectual buzz going.

I also know that twelve ounces of a pretty decent India pale ale will taste pleasingly bitter and loosen me up a bit.

I'll go with the high/low approach and take both.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cold Spell With Hummingbirds

Ice at the Victory Fountain, across the street
It's been five or six days now, seems longer. Sunny--that's a plus--but cold. Our trio of crows is sticking close together, more huddled than perched, on the utility pole at the corner. A squadron of Canada Geese has been wheeling around in the air.

One of the Bills--our collective name for all the ruby-faced hummingbirds around here--has been in a territorial snit lately, rattling off a tsk-ing scold at any rival who gets near his feeder just outside my wife's window. He puffs out his iridescent chest, and blindingly thrums his little wings, holding himself in a dynamic but stationary posture of confrontation. The interloper zips away as Bill gives chase.
Bill, being Bill

Between these moments of drama, Bill poses and grooms himself, using the perch as a strop to straighten his needle-like bill. The sugar water in his feeder is mostly frozen; perhaps it's the cold that's making him so tetchy. Whatever--it's not long before we'll see another hyperactive skirmish. As she looks out her window at the nearby rhody upon which hangs the feeder, K gaily exclaims, "This is a hell of a lot better than watching television."