Dec 29, 2009

My Top Ten of 2009

As this is a season of lists of Highlights, Best of’s, I have compiled this list of memorable events for the last 12 months. In no particular order:

• Snorkeling in the Caribbean, beautiful water, pretty fish, turtles, coral -- saw my first squids this week. Yes, squids are pretty in the water.
• Palapa Life: We have gone from being homeless (home-free) to building a new home from scratch out here on the edge of the continent. (For more step-by-step detail than you may ever want to know, go back through the archive of this blog) This leads to:
• Sharing our palapa life -- Now that we have a Mexican home we can have visitors. Last winter, Glen’s sister Gail and Walter, our daughter Juliet, Gerald and Martina; and already this fall, Cathie and Howard, and Susan’s brother Rob and Cheryl.
• Managing to stay active - Playing tennis and biking with friends in Guelph, On. Our team, Rockwood 1, won the inter rural league for the season. Also playing tennis and volleyball with friends in Paamul. I am a late bloomer in volleyball but am determined to master the “bump”.
• Roger Federer - won the French Open (career Grand Slam), won Wimbledon (most Grand Slam singles titles ever), regained #1 ranking. I am a fan, Roger is my man, and this is my list.
• Health (getting older): Susan had both eyes “done” (cataracts) We both got new glasses and see the world much better. On the less positive, in the work up to the surgery, Susan was diagnosed with type II diabetes. She has become a model patient in her dietary regime, as well as her exercise, biking and swimming. She is looking great, her numbers are good, but suffers from arthritis too.
• Getting together with the Myrfield clan (my mom’s side) for a reunion at Sproat Lake BC. About 70 uncles, cousins and young’uns spent a lovely weekend catching up and re-bonding. It was especially inspiring to be with our family elder, (eldest) Uncle Willard, still going strong. Thanks to Lyle and Cheryl and all who did so much work.
While out west, we spent some time with Susan’s family and her mom, now 95 and slowing down.
• Anniversary: 30 years with Susan. We passed 3 decades of making our life together. Mmnnn, good.
• Anniversary 2: Also for me: 20 years without alcohol. Been there, done that, struggled, gave it up. This is better.
• The birth of our first Grandchild, Amelia. We were delighted to be on hand at the hospital in Toronto to welcome her, August 29. We had many visits before our fall departure and a few on skype during the winter. Can’t wait for spring to see them all again.

Dec 20, 2009

Holiday Spirit

This morning the temp was in the 60’s (high 60’s) and with a breeze I distinctly felt something like wind chill. So I have been in long pants the whole day.
While I worked on getting more lighting up around the place, Susan cheerily put up our tree. Yes it came out of a box (the box said 6 feet), but it was the first “tree” larger than the 6 inch miniatures we have enjoyed inside the RV for the last six years.
We ran extension speakers from the tv out into the palapa and have been listening to Channel 940 - Traditional Seasonal music all afternoon.
Now where do I set up a chimney for Santa?

Tinker, Tailor, Cabinet Maker

I have always tinkered, even tailored a bit, but this was the first time I set about to build kitchen cabinets.
Once again, the tres amigos were in action with ideas and support. Dale was way ahead, having taken measurements home to BC and in his fully equipped shop, prebuilt some upper sections and had them installed quickly. Dale also brought down a little table saw which we installed behind Bob and Dot’s. While I was busy for a week or two with my “sticks” project, Bob launched in to fabricating shelves and drawers for their lower cabinets. I managed to get some lower shelves installed and we have added a temporary store bought drawer unit.
But the upper cabinets beckoned and along with Bob we had "shop class" for several days. We had fun consulting and comparing our styles and plans. And commenting, encouraging and adapting our work as it went along.
My project will not make it into the pages of Fine Woodworking, unlike Susan’s brother, Richard’s work. However I am pleased with the results made with my little cordless Ryobi skil saw and drill set.
With 3 upper units painted in two colours and installed, it is still a work in progress, but we have most of the plates, bowls, mugs and glasses on display. Still not sure about doors.

Dec 14, 2009

Getting old together.

I turned 63 my last birthday. Pippin has just turned 9. So if we apply the commonly used multiplier of dog years = 7 human years, we are the same age. However, he is a shih tzu, and like many small breeds, may likely live many more years than typical big dogs.
Certainly he seems young, but is older and wiser too. We have finally gotten him to be a “home” dog. When we go out walking, he is not a natural heeler. Instead, he wants to explore in all directions. When we travel, we keep him on short or long leashes. This winter, we gave up on the leash and he is accepting his place sitting on the doormat and watching the world go by. He has developed quite a vocabulary for expressing his needs and I am happy to take him for walks when asks.
He also has specific words for, “its time to feed me”, “my water bowl is empty”, “can I come too?”, and when we do leave him and then return, we are greeted by a long chorus of, “where have you been and why were you gone so long?” followed by the best expression ever, mostly in body language, “I’m so glad to see you, and everything is wonderful!”
Yes, we are a little dotty. And everything reminds us of our dog. On the way into Playa a couple of days ago, I shot this cloud through the windshield. It IS the spirit of Pippin.

Dec 13, 2009

More converts.

We have just had our first guests of the season. Susan’s brother Rob and his wife Cheryl were here for 12 days. It was their first trip outside of Canada and the US. They went quite native in a short time. Cheryl turned golden brown and Rob sort of mahogany.
It has been glorious weather, if a little warm. They slept in the newly set up guest loft under a net with a fan. Of course, the beach and the Caribbean were enjoyed virtually every day. A couple of times they went for a second, late afternoon cooling dip. Rob and Susan are of the water baby species and would go out for long swims. Cheryl discovered she could float in the salty sea.
We showed them around town and to a couple of our favorite eateries. Of course, tortillas, aracherra and papayas were in regular rotation at our table as well as daily doses of avocado.
They also rented a car for a week, and headed out several places on their own, including a overnight trip to visit three of the main Mayan ruins and a night in the small Mexican city of Valladolid.
The third photo represents a cultural leap. Rob and Cheryl brought back this sea fan from the beach one morning. It was a beauty, and sort of looked like the maple leaf. Since we will be absent during the 2010 Olympics, I am sending this out as a “Go Canada!”

Dec 5, 2009


We have a regular parade of four legged friends through our house and back yard.
The prettiest is this little gray fox, who comes by a couple of times a day. She is usually on her own, but sometimes is joined by the male. She is only the size of a cat, very timid, and when we throw out bread crusts, retreats to the jungle, then trots out and sometimes passes within ten feet of where we are standing, loading up her jaws with two or three pieces and heading back out of sight. We keep Pippin under control and while he is curious, is okay to wait on the palapa step.

The most plentiful are the little geckos, from the smallest, barely an inch to perhaps 5 inches long. They climb about our walls and ceiling and are busy catching flies and bugs. They also chirp quite a bit. One morning, we opened our fridge and found this little guy nestled in our egg tray.

My other favorite are the iguanas. I have photographed many and even have one as my laptop screen saver. I admire their wise, inscrutable expressions. They do look like they have been here for thousands of years, and we are the green horns.
There are a couple dozen iguanas resident on and in the rocks that make up the boat dock down at the beach. Others scavenge around the park. Their only sins are eating flower petals and leaving their poop. They are sometimes tamed by regular feeding, but are wary of dogs. There has been one climbing around our place recently, and when, a couple days ago, he came down the stairs from the loft, Pippin gave pursuit. The little lizard got his windmill legs in motion and was well ahead before we stopped Pippin. P remained on smell alert for several hours. I think it may have been the first creature he has successfully chased away.