Mexico 2019 was another great trip

Getting up at 3:30 AM for the flight was the most challenging part of the trip for me, but was just the beginning of two big problems for Margaret.  One was her computer stopped working entirely on Day 4 of the trip, and on Day 6 she was awakened by the bank telling her that her credit card had been hacked.

Nonetheless, she bravely carried on before, during and after these setbacks as though they hadn’t occurred.  The worst thing I encountered was my camera breaking on Day 3 so that was quite the annoyance, but luckily Margaret had both her phone plus a camera so I ended up with a lot of pictures after all.

We really dislike Cancun due to the throngs of tourists, so landed, got into our rental and drove two hours to the largish town of Valladolid in the state of Yucatan.  We had our own little house there with a tropical garden out back.  Lots of wild cats so I put out a bowl of cream before bed and it was clean in the morning.

From there we saw both Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, which is smaller but was our favourite ruin due to the beautiful thatched roofs.  We made fun of a fat woman climbing down a pyramid then had to turn around and crawl down on our hands in the same embarrassing fashion.  Instant karma.

On the way to Merida we wanted to have lunch somewhere and saw a sign that said Izamal, and went let’s pull in there.  Little did we know we’d stumbled upon one of the oldest towns in the Yucatan with a 500 year old convent.

We had a very nice lunch there, then toured the convent as the bells tolled and three monks in brown robes tied with belts appeared, then a nun in a habit walked by.  The whole exterior, which is huge, is painted mustard yellow so it was a gorgeous sight on a sunny hot day.

We had an absolutely magnificent house in Merida, the capital of the Yucatan, and an old colonial city of about two million people.  Our house was a few metres from the fabled Paseo Mantejo the ‘Champs Elysees of Mexico.’  A great old colonial house, and a fabulous location made for a particularly enjoyable visit.

The only downsides were we weren’t able to figure out how to use the TV or watch a movie, and again, I’d noticed a black and white wild cat on our wall, so decided it’d be nice to put out some chicken, however was probably wrong.

My bedroom was at the front of the house, and Margaret’s was at the back, so while I heard a bit of caterwauling outside, I could put in ear plugs and close my door, so thought nothing further of it.

In the morning Margaret came into the kitchen pale, frazzled and saying there’d been hours of cat fights right outside her bedroom, sometimes with the sound of cats bouncing off the wall.  She said she had a few hours of sleep at most and said maybe it’s better if you don’t feed the cats tonight.

We spent four days exploring Merida, and one day we went to the town of Progresso right on the Gulf of Mexico and perhaps a twenty minute drive from our place.  We walked along the beach and took a boat out to a mangrove swamp filled with tame raccoons and several cenotes where one can swim.

In Merida there’s a lot to see and do, and I had the blistered and bandaged feet to prove it.  Plus the heat there is unimaginable, and what we found particularly fascinating were the old colonial mansions and the descriptions of people’s dress at that time.

The women would have on stockings, corset, slip, bustle, bonnet, dress, boots and gloves, and we were in sleeveless tops and shorts and bathed in sweat, plus in those days there was no air conditioning.  The natives must’ve really shaken their heads at that.

The former governor’s mansion is now used for government offices, however the ballroom contains 11 large murals depicting the history, and is open to the public.  It’s the usual disgusting tale of domination of the Maya who were minding their own bees wax but were unfortunate to have things like gold.

In both Valladolid and Merida we found ourselves shopping for hand made Mayan products, and came home with a few nice things.  It’d be wonderful to be able to buy things right from the producers as I’m sure those poor women embroidering away all day are given a few pesos for their efforts.

I bought a Mexican style Barbie dress with hand embroidery from an old gramma who was standing there crocheting as she waited for sales, so felt good about that, though it was only something like $4.  Needless to say, I didn’t haggle with the woman.

Our last five days were spent in Tulum, back on the Mayan Riviera, and just south of Akumal where we stayed last year.  We thought it’d be a quiet little town and were surprised by the volume of tourists there.  The only positive result of that is the haggling is good due to the competition.

Our condo wasn’t great, but turned horrible when on night #3 Margaret was awakened by the sound of something on her water bottle.  She turned on the light and a cockroach the size of a lighter was a few inches from her face, antennae waggling.

The manager came in the next day and together she and I lifted the mattress and saw a couple of them hiding on the slats.  We killed those and at least one or two more, but it meant Margaret had spent two nights with a family of cockroaches partying underneath her.

Once again we carried on, Margaret slept in the single bed in my room, and we went out to the beaches daily and often headed north to favourite spots from last year.

If you go to Akumal, you must find the Beached Bikini Bar and Restaurant.  It’s not only fabulous to sit there, eat and drink, or just drink, but they’re also very successful with their turtle conservation program.  Their website is easy, savemexico.org.

My final tip: stay the hell out of Cancun, there’s so much more of the Yucatan peninsula to explore.

Margaret and I are off on another adventure

You’ll recall Margaret and I went to the Yucatan last February and we loved it so much we’re returning in a few days.  I’m already frightened of how angry the cats and dog will be, but they’re absolutely safe in their own home with Nicky living right in it with them.  However Nicky isn’t their mom hence their ire over my absence.

And speaking of ire, last week I had to accompany mom to a couple of appointments.  The first was to her lawyer as she wanted to update her will and discuss some parts of it.  So picture this, the lawyer knows I’m the sole executor, and there I am sitting with mom, and she turns to me and says “now why am I here again?”

I said “oh um, to update your will”, and then she mercifully snapped out of it and said “oh yes” and began to address the areas she wanted to discuss.  But I was sitting there imagining what the lawyer was thinking, given mom’s 94 and I’m the executor taking her in to see him with mom starting out like a dementia victim.

The next morning we went to see the doctor.  We’re sitting there, he comes in, and mom turns to me and says “why are we here again?”  This time, I’m the sole person with power of attorney, taking her to the GP and so I replied nervously, “oh um, you’re here to discuss end of life planning.”

As with the lawyer, I was imagining the poor doctor’s thoughts, looking at this senior citizen who doesn’t appear to know why she’s there, and who’s been brought in by the daughter who has power of attorney.

At that point mom once again snapped out of the fake dementia, and started to discuss in rational detail why she didn’t want any heroic interventions in case of traumatic illness.

It’s particularly funny for anyone who knows mom, given her mind’s razor sharp.  She can recall things I can’t, and is able to correct people on facts regarding the Trump fiasco, one of her favourite topics.  So to begin those particular appointments like that was quite the amusing shock to the old senses.  I have to say it keeps me on my toes.

And I was hoping to visit mom on Tuesday, prior to our trip, but at this moment highway 97 is closed at Summerland due to a rock slide.  As you may know, I like to cook and bake for mom and have all manner of delectable foods frozen and ready to transport to her.  It’s really annoying as if that highway’s closed, there’s no other route south.

Though apparently one can detour west through Princeton, thereby making the trip something like four hours in duration which I refuse to do.  But can you imagine living south of Summerland and having to catch a flight or get medical treatment in Kelowna?

I’m grateful I live on the airport side of the slide, that’s for sure, as now that I know what awaits, I’m completely ga ga with excitement over the impending flight to Cancun.

The Retired Life

Today is one of those days I used to dream about when I was a working person.  I’m watching bits of CNN on You Tube, sitting in a clean and tidy house, and hanging with two cats and two dogs.  It’s almost too good to be true.

Once I’ve written this I plan to grab some pruning shears and try to tame the pyracantha bush in the xeriscape garden.  If you own one of these you’re wincing as you read this, as this horrible bush is covered in mean thorns.

But it seemed to be such a good idea 25 years ago when I bought it as a small potted plant.  It’s now the size of a Volkswagen beetle, so clearly I’ve allowed it to get out of hand quite badly.

It’s odd to be out gardening mid-January, but this winter it’s so mild there’s no point in waiting.  Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to the heat of the Yucatan in February when Margaret and I return for another bit of Mayan adventure.

On days like this I think of my mother-in-law who had raised 11 children.  She retired to Sechelt and lived very close to the local seniors centre.  Her kids would urge her to walk down there and partake, and she’d always reply “I just want to be quiet.”

Her idea of bliss was her cigarette, CBC radio, the dog on her lap, while completing a crossword puzzle.  I can totally relate to that level of excitement after raising just two kids but working 40 years on top of that.  I always say I have PTSD from work.

Last night Margaret was over for dinner and I was telling her how I always wanted to be at home, and she said she feels the same way.  I was recalling my early days as a teacher of the deaf in Prince George.

I had three students in my class, while next door there were 30 kids in each of the other grades.  As a result I could arrive when the school bell rang, and leave as it was ringing to end the day.  I always went home for lunch.

I guess you’re thinking well there’s nothing much to have PTSD about there, and it’s true.  That was a sweet gig.  But after ten years of that when we move to Kelowna and no teachers of the deaf were required, I had to reinvent myself and then ran a business with a partner for 15 years.

I think that’s when the PTSD set in as we were overachievers.  At one point we had several contracts and 10 staff and I was one of those working moms who tried to pretend to the kids that all was normal at home.  As a result, I always made us lovely dinners so no one would notice.

And not to mention other work I’ve had including a terrible stint at a bank, waitressing, having a fruitcake business, medical office receptionist, and self employed vocational rehabilitation consultant.

And so today on a dreary, overcast gray Okanagan day I’m very happy to reflect back on the working life, but can honestly say I prefer the life I’m now able to live.  I suppose the truth of it is I’m content to do very little.

I killed then nearly killed myself

Mom wanted me to perform on Christmas Eve, given I keep talking about my weekly vocal lessons.  So I rehearsed two numbers, first Dream a little Dream sung by Mama Cass, and the second an Amy Grant rendition of Sleigh Ride.

I began to sing and all was going well when I looked at mom and saw she was crying.  Isn’t that adorable?  Afterward she said holy cow, that was amazing!  I think she was surprised such an old person could learn something new.

So I felt pretty good about myself, and the rest of the Christmas celebrations all went swimmingly.  I drove mom home on Boxing Day and the next morning I did my usual house maid routine.  I vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, changed the sheets, did the laundry and washed the floor in the kitchen.

As I was taught all floor washing is to be done on one’s knees to do a decent job, I was scrubbing away, and when done used the standard Teutonic force to stand up.  Prang!  I ran right into the corner of the counter with my head, and within seconds blood was pouring out.  You know what head wounds are like.

I held paper towels onto the wound and walked over to mom to let her know I’d injured myself.  She said “call Lynne” which I did.  Mom’s wonderful neighbour Lynne is a retired long term care aide, so has seen a cut or two in her life.

She came over and looked at the cut which she described as about two inches long, and which could use maybe one stitch.  I said there’s no way on God’s Green Earth I’m going to sit in a doctor’s office for one stitch.

Lynne’s husband Gerry is a person I’ve known my entire life, and someone who I find truly awe-inspiring.  She said one day she arrived home to all surfaces coated in blood.  Later Gerry came into the house (he’s a farmer) and said he’d cut his thigh with a bud knife, so grabbed a needle and thread and sewed the cut himself!

So around farm country, as mom used to tell her partner, also called Gerry, “unless your arm is right off you don’t go and bother the doctor. They’re busy.”  If more people would adopt this attitude I believe our health costs could be brought way down.

Just prior to banging my head, I dropped an empty measuring cup on the top of my foot which was completely blue for days.  It’s hard to believe how heavy one of those things is.

Then a few days later I was putting a bottle back onto the shelf when the little plastic clips underneath gave way from the weight, and the whole thing, covered in various bottles of liquor, collapsed.

I then had to use my wits to carefully remove some bottles, while holding the end of the shelf with my other hand, so they wouldn’t hit the ground and be smashed.  Later I told Nicky about it and he said he’d noticed the bottles were on a lower shelf, and thought I’d just gotten really smart and decided the shelf was too high to reach.

I said no, it was an accident that forced me to use common sense.  So perhaps there’s been a reason for all these mishaps, but I’m now ready to start 2019 minus them.

My Trip to Disneyland with Jan

Jan and I flew to the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana California, which was very convenient for our visit to Disneyland.  We took a cab to the Days Inn, which was a bit of a trial to get used to, but by the end of five days I liked it a lot.  The staff was very nice and appeared as frustrated as Jan and I were by the lack of wifi.

I had my new tablet with me, and to log onto the Internet I soon learned I had to sit right in their lobby.  This was fine, as they had the free breakfast down there.  From the offerings, I had raisin bran daily, and watched Jan eat Danish pastries by the half dozen.

We inquired about public transportation, and soon figured out an easy route to Disneyland which cost $2 each way by bus.  This took us to Harbor Blvd which we hiked up for about fifteen minutes to reach the main gates.

The weather was sunny and warm on Monday and Tuesday, so there were quite a number of people at Disneyland and the new adjoining California Adventure Park. However we didn’t wait more than 25 minutes for any ride, and the people working at the park said it was actually very quiet.

Our very first ride was the Matterhorn, which was quite a bit of fun.  We then worked our way through as many rides as humanly possible, doing the Star Wars ride twice.

On Tuesday we checked out the new California Adventure Park and did the Radiator Springs Racers ride.  That’s quite a lot of fun as at the end they pretend your car is racing the car full of people beside you.  They take those funny photos of you screaming right at the scariest part.

On Wednesday the weather changed a bit, and was cloudy and not that warm.  I had to wear my jacket, but it was fine as most of the things we did were inside.  I used to have a great fear of the submarine ride at Disneyland due to claustrophobia but found it was fine.

Jan wanted to buy souvenirs so she got a set of those cute mouse ears on a head band.  She also got a t shirt and a couple of sweat shirts.  I got a tree ornament and we both bought key chains and fridge magnets.

On Thursday we awoke to driving rain, however I’d rented a car and had purchased tickets for Universal Studios, so off we went.  It took two hours to get there, but it was worth it as the place was practically empty and we walked onto every single ride without a minute’s wait.

On Friday we flew home exhausted, yet satisfied that we’d done every single ride and had seen every attraction at three theme parks in four days.

All of my Bees are Dead

If you’re a friend of Nuttier than a Fruitcake on Facebook, you already know a filthy bear came by one night last week and beat up my hive and ate every single bee.  The two hive boxes remained stuck together from propolis (the bees’ wax) and were thrown about 20 feet.  Some of the frames were out of the boxes and were scraped clean of honey, and some were broken.

At that temperature the bees wouldn’t put up any fight at all, and the cold night air likely killed them on contact.  So it was easy and convenient for the bear to sit there eating bees and honey to his or her heart’s content.  I thought that bear was the one that I’d heard had been shot but I guess not.

I’d already ordered a hive for next year, thinking it’d be a “second” hive, but now it’ll be back to the beginning with a new hive of baby bees.  No honey next year, and then hopefully they’ll make it through bear season and over winter.

There’s been no winter here to speak of, and that’s likely why that pesky bear decided not to hibernate.  Yesterday I was outside washing windows and pulling old perennials out of the garden, sweating with a winter coat on.  That doesn’t seem normal for the end of November, but I don’t mind it.

One day.  That’s how long interest in new projects lasts around here.  You’ll recall Luke was all excited to help me with the old German stamp collection.  He photographed the one set of full sheets of un-cancelled stamps, put them on Reddit, and when there was no interest, he moved on.

I said but when will you come back to help me with the much harder part, IE the individual cancelled stamps?  He said he’s far too busy building a sound proof room and did I have any old towels he could use?  I didn’t ask what this room is for, as I imagine it’s just another bit of nonsense for his computer gaming.

On Sunday Jan and I are off to Disneyland, and I believe I’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.  The seats are booked for both flights, the Kelowna to Seattle, and the Seattle to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

Two single rooms at a filthy old Days Inn are booked, and I’ve packed my bathing suit as it says they have a pool.  Even though chilly there (18 degrees today) I’m damn well using the pool as long as it’s heated.

Two three-day passes to Disneyland and Disneyland Adventure Park, and two one day passes to Universal Studios have been bought.  Today I got some American money and wept a bit at the till.  $300 US cost me $408 Canadian.

Here’s some annoyance, but in my research on the theme parks I see the Jurassic Park ride at Universal is closed for renovation.  That was one scary ride.  However someone kindly filmed The Mummy ride, and it is scarier than close-ups of Trump’s head.  I wonder if Jan and I will have the nerve to ride that coaster in the dark.

Tomorrow I’m getting my Christmas tree and decorating it so will be curious to see what the cats deign to leave standing for me upon my return.  Hopefully Nicky will think to right the tree if he sees it lying sideways in the living room.

Stamp Project

When the German Mark was being devalued during and after the second world war, my grampa bought stamps, hoping they’d eventually be valuable.  These were brought over in the wooden crate they packed with their worldly goods, and were shipped along with my gramma and grampa across the ocean to Osoyoos.

As I was growing up I have memories of my grampa sitting at the kitchen table with the stamps, a pair of tweezers and his lupe.  I wasn’t allowed anywhere near them as my grampa explained any damage would ruin their potential value.

These were stored for several decades, and then I took them home and put them into the huge safe I have in the basement.  It’s actually an old vault from a bank, so will never ever leave the basement due to the weight of the thing.

But now, 68 years after my grandparents landed in Osoyoos, I’ve opened the box of stamps, and want to learn more about them.  I thought it must be kismet when I found a stamp reference book at the recent Friends of the Library book sale.

Yesterday I browsed through the book, and Luke came over so I showed him the stamps and the book.  He did some quick math and went, hey, some of these might be worth some money.  So now we’re going to digitise them and put them onto a site and sell them, if possible.

I reminded him they were left in the house in 2003 when we evacuated due to the forest fire, so I said any money made from these is found money.  Not a soul gave a whit about these stamps for almost seven decades, so whatever happens, happens.

Fortunately we’re the type of people who go Huh! when we find out the collection is worth a hundred bucks, at most.  We really don’t cry over spilled milk around here, given the gallons of it that have been splashed about over the decades.

As you know, Jan and I are off to Disneyland, and I’m quite excited about it.  Hopefully the forest fires will have died down a bit by the time we arrive, as I can’t take the stress of having to tell Jan Disneyland is cancelled due to fire.

I sent Jan a message and said now I’ll get us health insurance for the trip.  She replied so adorably, “I think we no sick we go short time, mom”.  Isn’t that cute?  I said to some friends so when she breaks an ankle at Disneyland on the first day, I’ll have to say well you’ll have to hop around until we get on the plane on Friday.

And besides that, I still need to get the three day Disneyland pass and a one day pass for Universal Studios.  The flights and rooms are booked, so now just need the passes and then get some American money, which will be a sad moment at the bank given the appalling change rate.

I’ve already got Denis lined up for December 1 because you know how strict I am about the timing of the outdoor Christmas lights.  We’ll also get the tree that day, as the next day Jan and I are off to the Happiest Place on Earth.  As I write it’s a gray, blustery November day so even the Tea Cup Ride is appealing.