Swamp water and mud has a mighty aroma. Smells like love to a dog. Yesterday we took the dogs to Playa Las Palmas and did a bird stroll. I’m prepping to take out a pair of paying clients next week so I thought I’d tour the local bird hot spots and see what I could see. Most of the water is gone from our local oasis and a bunch of deep dark mud remains. Olive and Elvis plunged into the reeds and found some fetid, foul water and happy danced among the green. Swampy water reminds me of the back of a forgotten gym locker or a particular closet in my grandma’s house. Stale, anaerobic, moist, decay. The decay turned out to be actual rather than imaginary when Olive dug up the skull of a raccoon from her wallow. Mmmmmmm, good!
From the swamp we headed to the beach. My dogs took off at a run and left me trying to decided if I was seeing Common or Belding’s Yellowthroats. I counted 8 house finches and decided it was a Common Yellowthroat. When I finally looked up to find the dogs I saw them about 100 yards away rolling in a dead sea lion. Great Googly Woogly. This was a banner day to be a dog. Not such a great day to be a canine companion. Sara Gay and dad had mentioned seeing this poor dreature the day before and I had forgotten. My poor excuse for a nose could not detect the rotting flesh but it was obvious the dogs smelled it from a long way back. I saw the dogs see me and hear me and they got in one last roll when they decided I was too far away to exact a punishment. As I approached they ran off and kept a safe distance from me. They knew the fun was over. I looked over the carcass and decided it was too disgusting to snatch the skull. The smell was overwhelming up close. The turkey vultures hovered nearby waiting to get back to their feast. I remembered reading vultures don’t like putrefaction and pondered how far along flesh can be before it is too gross for a TuVu. Maybe a sea lion is just too tasty to pass by even with maggots.
Today’s assignment work within a limitation. Zoë had some good ideas and then I remembered a friend who told me I should try and write my blog in Spanish. Voy a empezar hoy. Here is a link to Google Translate if you want to see what I wrote about. This is a piece I wrote directly in Spanish for my Spanish class.
Mi tarea de hoy es crear con limitacions. Voy a escribir en español. Aquí es Google Translate si quires traducir a inglés.
Primero, la noticia mas importante: Olive esta mejor. Ella tiene energia y hambre. Todo esta bien. Elvis esta mejor tambien. El doctor dio a elvis paletas contra el dolor.
Qué pasó cuando yo estaba lejos de aquí?
Beto é yo tuvimos la intencion que no vamos a trabajar. Casí lo logramos. Despues de tres meses visitando familia y amigos en Montana un cliente nos contactò sobre un trabajo. No quisimos trabajar pero esto fue diferente. El trabajo estaba en el estado de Virginia. Virginia esta a dos mil millas de Montana estabamos en Virginia.
Tuvimos que decidir. Debemos tomar el trabajo ó no? No pudimos empezar antes de octobre. En octubre tendriamos que estar en Arizona. Despues de arizona habiamos planeado ir a México. México y arizona son vecinos. Virginia esta tres mil millas deEl Pescadero en México y dos mil millas de arizona. Oi. Oi. Ai.
Los detalles de trabajo fueron misterioso tambien. Somos carpinteros. Hay reglas sobre algunos proyectos. No supimos que hacer. Ir ó no? Finalmente decidimos a tomar el trabajo. Quisimos explorar una nueva area del pais y el trabajo estuvo cerca de mi familia.
Mi mamá tenía alzheimers hace catorce años. Ella estaba muy enferma. No pudo recordar a nadie ni nada de su vida. Ella necesitó cuidado completo. No pudo comer, ni bañarse…nada. Ella estaba en un estado similar de una coma.
Tomamos el trabajo. Empezamos a mediados del octubre. El trabajo fue fácil. Visitamos mi mami en noviembre. Ella se miraba mala. Era dificil de comer y beber. Yo dí a ella mis saludos ultimos.
Cerca el fin del trabajo mi mama se murió. Fue un milagro. Estabamos cerca y tuvimos tiempo de ayudar a mi papá.
Here’s hoping for the best after just experiencing the worst. I noticed a wobble in Olive’s step and then some drooling. By the time I covered the ten yards between us she was convulsing. Poison. That was my guess. Just 5 minutes earlier I had trouble getting her to come and I spotted her off eating something. I picked her limp body up off the ground and literally threw her in the car and drove away. She was in the far back and I could not see her. Dead or alive or somewhere in between. The car left the ground twice on the horrible beach road and then I hit 85 driving the highway to the vet. I made it in 10 minutes. I pondered the irony of killing myself and both dogs by driving like a maniac in our decrepit car but I could not slow down.
I screamed, “Ayudame, ayudame” as I ran into the vet’s office. Lucky for us all, he was available. Olive was doused with a hydrogen peroxide and several intravenous medications immediately. She had a high fever that was causing her convulsions. She pooped on me. I mistakenly thought I’d know if it was life or death when I reached the vet. It was in between still. The vet couldn’t say if she could survive. I regained my composure. It will be whatever it will be. I had done my best and so had the vet.
After an hour of treatments her fever was down and she could stand. The vet said to come back at 5, so I left. Olive is under observation. Hopefully she won’t need to be sedated. That is a sign she’s taking a turn for the worse. It’s impossible to tell how much might have gotten into her system. Burt is off on a day long adventure out of cell range. There’s no point calling anyway. He’d just be dragged into limbo with me. By the time he returns the question should be answered. It’s easier.
I thought my discourse on duality would be about feeling more at home as a foreigner in a foreign land than I do as a native in my homeland. Not today.
My style choice of black on charcoal paid off under the disco lights at New Year’s Eve. We had some fun making moves to the funky music. Our host’s tastes runs to the mid 80s so we share a lot of common musical history. Despite the fun vibe we only last 2 hours. Six to eight. The long drive from California and we are just plain old party-poopers. Go ahead, you can call us that. We’re not embarrassed.
Landing at our property is always preceded by worry about what we will find. Two years ago we arrived post-Odile’s the Cat 5 hurricane. That was a mess and a disaster and troubling. It took weeks of dirty effort by us and helpers to make the place livable. Since then we’ve had our neighborhood weeders come in before we arrive and it has made parking the trailer and getting down to real work of setting up house keeping easier. Day 1 was filled with Burt opening the rumpus room, bodega, and bathroom. Plywood covers all the windows and doors while we are away. Six months is a long time for a home to be empty. Nature moves in. We had quite a cop of roaches living in the bathroom. I did not know roach frass could accumulate to such a degree. In the arena of shit cleaning it’s much harder to clean the gecko droppings. Score one for roaches in the bathroom. Meanwhile, the rumpus room was full of gecko droppings. I think I see the pattern. Water in bathroom makes great habitat for roaches. Geckos visit the roach buffet and return to the dry and airy rumpus room to digest. Spiders were everywhere.
The next day I tool a broom to the rumpus room and got it presentable. Then I took a cloth and water and started on the bathroom. I have to develop a new plan and attitude to really get it clean. The roach poop will not come off. It’s sticky. Here’s to hoping white vinegar does the job.
Today’s big goal is Olive. The poor pooch is a walking sticker remover. She is wall to wall spines. Today I will give her a close cropped hairdo. It’s all the rage for the terrier set. This afternoon it’s bridge. This evening some fine dining.
My bike is broken. Four years riding on the back of a trailer and it disintegrated. It was new when we left. Burt’s bike, pushing 25 years old, still runs fine. I was kind of bummed because I was really getting into hoping on it in the morning and arriving at yoga in 12 minutes. The car takes 8. Two weeks ago when I made the turn to head up hill I did an poorly timed gear change and the stress snapped the chain. The local repair shop looked at it and offered to fix it but said it was likely to break again because it was thoroughly rusted. For $10 bucks they fixed the chain. It broke again two days later. There’s no chain the right size here and, as I understood it, there is not point in getting a new chain anyway. Wear and tear and corrosion have created a situation requiring an overhaul; new gears, new derailer, new chain. The bike pretty much isn’t worth the investment. Maybe. It has a good, comfortable frame and shocks. I don’t know what to do. Haul it to the US and try to fix it or dump it here? And Burt’s bike is fine. It makes me think I bought a lemon.
So without a bike I’m back on foot. Walking is a high risk sport in Mexico. Sandy sidewalks undulate and a rife with ankle breaking holes. Eyes must be glued to the ground at all times. New holes open up hourly. My daily commute has stretched to 26 minutes more or less. More if the dogs in town decide I’m trouble and I have to negotiate passage. Less if they sleep while I pass and nobody else tries to talk to me. A few years ago I did this walk every day as I walked to the bus station to catch a ride to Spanish class in Todos Santos. Dogs were a problem then, too. At 7:15 AM there is a new annoyance. Men working or waiting for their rides to work. Without women around to moderate their catcalls it’s open season on the gringa. The dogs I deal with by using my mean voice and stooping down to pick up a rock to toss. This is the universal sign in Mexico and scares almost every dog. Sometimes I wait too long to stoop and the dogs are too close and I feel uncomfortable lowering my neck to their level. I stop, face the dog, kick (only one kick this year, today) and yell, GIT. That wakes the homeowners and their neighbors and the dogs turn away. The barking men I ignore. The first few early morning works had me reconsidering the car, global warming, the cost of fuel and my growing waistline. Maybe I should throw rocks at the men, too. I realized after a few daily passes the men gave up and stopped hooting and whistling. The dogs are less predictable. Today I was swarmed twice. It gets the adrenaline going. Friends have told me they’ve all but given up after bring bitten. It scares me, too, but then I remembered in all my years walking in Montana I was bitten twice and neither dog barked first. I never saw either of them coming. They lunged from their hiding place and took their flesh toll (no skin broken either time) without a warning. I was bitten one other time by a dog at Burt’s work site. Rocky, the bulldog. He was a neighborhood terror. Once he broke into a neighbor’s house and assaulted the little dog that lived there. One time he took a mighty chomp of my thigh and left a bruise that lasted weeks. I got away by hiding in the bathroom. I was trapped there for twenty minutes. Burt was off working on the second floor somewhere and couldn’t here my screams for help until he came downstairs. That dog snarled at the door the until Burt dragged him away.
For now I’m going to keep walking with my eyes peeled and my NO voice ready. I think the adrenaline rush might increase the calories burned. And for a little color consider the nicknames I have given the dogs I routinely see: Beagle/boston terrier cross with tongue permanently hanging out, Ugly Elvis, Olive/Elvis Cross or Ugly Elvis II, Twiggy II, Two Deaf to Hear Me, Two Tired to Move, Sleep in the Street Dog, Dog-Magi-Might-Have-to-Adopt, Hungry puppy 1-8, Is that a dog? and lastly, Why won’t you leave me alone?