Jan 31, 2011

Hey-- I’m with the band...

When some folks get to talking about gettin’ old, as in being retired and not having much ‘regular’ stuff to do, they might say it‘s a good time to tap into some dreams of their youth. To revisit their childhood, to get down to some fun stuff, to go and play.
Of course it is important to find a good yard to play in, where you can find some good playmates.
Such a place is our winter home here in Paamul.
I wrote in this blog last winter about the joy of rekindling my old folk singing roots. We had a “guitar /song group” that met once a week. Our group, Joe, Mike R., Jim and I have been joined by a couple of others, Kahish and sometimes Richard and others.
There are a couple of others in PM who are working on their music : Mike M. and Carlos. Mike, who with his wife Veronique, have a boutique vineyard and winery in Quebec, has taken up the Fender electric guitar, and Carlos, a massage therapist, who comes to Paamul from Spain is a drummer.
You know when you throw a pebble in a pond and it makes ripples? Well, if you want to make some bigger ripples, you got to get some rock!

Rock on!!!
Jim, who started in our guitar group a couple of years ago, decided to take up the bass. He has always wanted to be in a rock band, so this year, asked me to join him, Mike and Carlos and see what we could put together. We only had Carlos for a month, so we had to work quickly. We had access to a couple of amps and one mic and began to make some noise.
Once we started, we seemed to click. First we thought we might only work on a few tunes, but it seemed to be going well and we added a few more.
We rehearsed a few different places in the park and attracted a few listeners. Then we were invited to play at a party at Lester’s house. Our debut went pretty well, with our 10 song repertoire and we thought we should do it again. So I came up with the idea of an all music evening in our back yard -- Saturday Night Live!

I set up a lighted stage area on our patio and put out the word. It was a great evening as about 40 people brought their chairs and drinks. This time we had our guitar/ song group join in with a few tunes each, ending with “the band” .

We have been throwing around a few names for our group but nothing has stuck.

One more time!
There is a popular bar in Playa del Carmen called Bad Boys. It is right on the beach, and two nights a week, it has a live rock ‘n’ roll house band, “The Nasty Bastards” The “Bastards” are a 6 man group who do straight ahead rock cover tunes. It‘s their tradition to finish the evening with guest appearances, usually vocalists who join the band to sing a number from the band’s playbook. We thought we might show up as a group and give it our shot.
What a blast! The place was packed - drinking, dancing and enjoying the big sound system. As I was listening to the “Bastards” performing, I feared we were way out-classed. However, we were on the list and couldn’t stop now. Besides, a couple dozen of our Paamulians had come along to see us.
After the band’s break, we were called up and shown where to plug in, and before we could take a breath, we were off. When the MC asked us our name, we jokingly said it was “To Be Determined” He added a “Yet”, then shortened it to “YTBD”
We knew we could only play a few tunes, so we started of with Dion’s “The Wanderer”, then “Love Potion #9”, and “Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day”. When the guy in charge gave us the nod for one more, we jumped to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” Mike was shredding on the lead guitar, Carlos was hopping on the drums, Jim was driving a wonderful big bass sound, and yours truly thrashed out the rythm guitar and vocal.
Yes, it seemed that we did okay. I thought it was our best. Several strangers in the audience give us props and our friends were most complimentary. I just wished I could have been out front to hear it too.
As our group sauntered along 5th Avenue back to the parking lot, I will admit to feeling a little high. No doubt this was helped by the triple chocolate Blizzard I was eating from the local DQ!

Jan 8, 2011

Two-wheel Tune-up.

Susan and I have old bikes for riding around Paamul. I bought mine at a yard sale about 20 years ago - a real solid Kuwahara mountain bike - no shocks, but strong enough to last for years more. I was riding through Guelph Lake Park a couple of years ago, a very popular biking place, and another rider commented as he overtook me “Wow, a classic”. I took it as a compliment.
Anyway, I have hauled our bikes south and north for years, bouncing around on a bike rack, adding dirt and other road detritus to their patina.
(I’ve always liked the word “patina”. While it properly refers to tarnish on bronze and other metals, or the wear and weathering of lovely things like wooden furniture, I often use the exalted “patina” to glorify an old pair of work jeans, paint splatters on my shoes or the state of my t-shirts from my careless eating habits. But I digress.)
After several seasons of wintering first on the Pacific coast and then on this Caribbean, the coastal salt air has added a lot of rust. As some gears were not used regularly, some metal parts had gotten jammed up good. Maybe this was the time to give my “Classic K” a little service.
I had thought about a bike tune-up last summer up in Canada. My main sprocket gear shifter did not budge at all, and the rear shifter was sticky. Several bike shops quoted me a “Spring Tune-up Special” of $75. (reg. price $90.) with parts extra. That seemed steep for my old machine, as I had only paid $60 for it in the first place. Still not having all my gears did limit its capabilities around the Ontario hills.
When I unpacked the bike this fall, I found that one tire would not hold air for long, and with the other issues I lifted it up into the truck and took it into town.
I knew this little bike shop near the tennis park, and took it there. I communicated that the rear tire wouldn’t hold air -- new tube please. No problem. Quanto? (How much?) $25 (pesos -- the Mexican symbol for pesos is the same as our dollar sign, very confusing).
Then I pointed out that the cables running from the handle bars to the gear shifters were badly rusted. Change them? Si, $40. So two guys went to work on my bike, installed the new tube, and then sprayed penetrating fluid and other oils on the shifters. The main sprocket shifter, which hadn’t moved in more than a year, was frozen, requiring a new shifter. How much? $90. Okay. So they put on the new shifter, got all the gears adjusted and working well, give it an overall spray and wipe-down with silicone, and I’m good to go.
Altogether, it took close to 45 minutes. Time to pay up?
Quanto? Noventa. Ninety? For everything? Si.
As we were adding repairs to my bike, they were giving me the running total, not the individual costs, as I had assumed.
In the end, I gave the guy a hundred with many thanks. A hundred pesos is somewhere just over 8 dollars Canadian. A good job, a good deal, and I’m a good little boy riding my bike again.

Jan 1, 2011

Happy New Year in rhyme...

Last night, as we were enjoying New Years Eve dinner with our neighbors, Bob and Dot, we of course, got to talking about the year past and the year ahead. Then Dot pulled out a sheet of paper and shared the poem below.
I suppose it is a little personal, but I would like to share it, firstly because it is so sweeeeet and secondly, because it expresses a bit more of what I try to portray of our life down here.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we met Bob and Dot our first year here in Paamull, and after we both decided to build palapas, chose to build them side by side and share in a lot of the planning, building and finishing. We have our back yards and patios conjoined and Susan and Dot do our gardening together. Bob and I designed and built our kitchen cabinets together. We are always sharing rides in to town for building supplies and groceries.
As Paamul is an ex-pat community far from our northern homes, I observe that it is quite usual for this sharing and caring with our fellow Paamulians.
However, I have to say that Bob and Dot are special. Dot has a habit of bringing a some newly minted verses to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries that we share. Indulge us here in which which Susan and I would like to “pay forward” our best wishes for a Good New Year to you.

New Year’s Eve 2010

I thought I’d write a poem inspired by our way
of living together, harmonious every day
It’s quite amazing isn’t it, the way we work it out?
The sharing and the borrowing and never once a shout.

Our individual quirks are just accepted as okay
In fact I’ve grown quite fond of yours, those funny little ways.
And mine, of course, are minimal and normal by all counts
Unless you note that thing I do, that snippy little trounce.

But that’s enough of harping on the things that could annoy
I really meant to talk about the things that bring me joy.
Like asking for an onion when I’m desperate for one
Or sitting sipping beverages at the setting of the sun.

Or even just concurring that so-and-so’s an ass
Then gossiping about him, with you it seems not crass.
Admiring Glen’s pajamas & his arctic robe as well,
And Susan’s recitations -- now those are really swell.

I guess I’d sum it up by simply saying this,
You are truly very special, and when summer comes we miss
Your lovely smiling faces but it brings us peace to know
That in the fall you’ll join us when harvest moon’s aglow.

Long winded though I am, there’s something more I need to say
This evening‘s very special cause tomorrow’s New Year’s Day
A day when we look forward to good things that are our due
And when we do, the list is topped by who else but you two.

Happy New Year.