Gobble, Gobble, Gobbled

Pavos
Pavos or turkeys

Yesterday our friend and guide Esteban took us up to his sister’s ranch. The rustic farm is about an hour from El Pescadero and located on the edge of an arroyo. This trip materialized the way so many things happen here. Esteban stopped by to say hi. Burt said let’s take a trip to the mountains. We think Esteban said, “Do you want to see my sister’s ranch?” I think we said yes. We are not entirely sure if he asked or if we asked or how we wound up agreeing. Turkeys were mentioned. We made a date for an excursion.

Yesterday we arrived at Esteban’s house a few minutes late. He was surprised. We were very punctual according to him. This was after we called to say we would arrive an hour late and we arrived an hour and ten minutes later than originally agreed. Oops. We try so hard not to be prompt and we always fail. We are continuously arriving before our hosts expect us all over the world. This fashionably late thing is beyond our skill set. We couldn’t even start our show fifteen minutes late as all musicians are expected to do.

The journey to the rancho was full of words for trees and birds we happened to pass. Esteban used to be the forest ranger in the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve. He knows all the local beings. What we could not understand was where we were going. Eventually we wound up at a very nice, brand new country getaway. There were two workers watering the plants. The yard was nicely landscaped. I pondered how a walk in the woods brought us to some rich person’s cabin in the mountains. I have no idea what transpired but the conclusion was that we were free to visit this spot and camp anytime we liked. I conclude Esteban was introducing us to the locals. I could be wrong. It was a very nice spot. Elvis peed on everything. When I said is Spanish that he had to mark everywhere we go the men all laughed. We piled back into the Exploder and headed back out to the highway. WTF. Are we going home already? Was that our trip? During all our visits Esteban and Burt and I have a three way dialogue that meanders and is very amorphous. I am never certain if we are going or coming, leaving or staying. His manner of guiding is similar. He takes us to a trail and says, “I’ll see you later.” We walk away wondering where we are going. We always get there, turn around and walk back. Esteban is where he left us. Everybody is happy.

At the highway we headed away from town and took another ranch road towards the mountains. At the end of this road we arrived at a ranch filled with animals. Cows, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys…The local lady of the house was working her butt of making cheese and doing laundry. The men were sitting and talking. I headed to the kitchen and chatted with another visiting female while we watched Lupita do her chores. Burt hung with us. There were wild birds in cages singing in the kitchen. I could hardly stand to look at the starling, grosbeak, sparrow and orioles but they are well loved by this quiet woman with few visitors. The woman was Esteban’s sister. She is also very comfortable in the wilderness and trapped all the birds herself. Now I know the whole family shares our love of birds.

Eventually Esteban takes us to a trail and say, “I’ll see you later. There’s water up there.” Burt and I and the Olvis walked until we found water. It was 4:00 PM. I could have spent the night there on the sandy bank with palm trees swaying and water trickling by. There were heaps of birds but we forgot our binoculars. Both of us. We returned to the ranch. There was Esteban waiting. I asked if we could buy a turkey. How much? $400 pesos. Muy caro, I thought but worth it to reward Lupita for all her hard work, so we agreed. They asked if we want it alive or dead. I envisioned carrying a live turkey back to town with Elvis and Olive and decided dead is best. One of the men caught the turkey while Esteban filled an enormous pot with water to boil. The unlucky dinner is caught, its feet bound, and it is hung upside down. Burt cut its throat. The bird was then plunged into boiling water and plucked and gutted. Both Burt and I have done this many times but it made us nervous doing it with a cross cultural audience but some things are the same no matter what language you use. Lupita gave me some much less expensive eggs. Finally we headed home.

Zalate or fig tree
Zalate or fig tree
Presa or dam
Presa or dam
Borregos or sheep
Borregos or sheep
Wild birds in cages. Que triste.
Wild birds in cages. Que triste.
Haciendo queso. Lupita is making cow's milk cheese.
Haciendo queso. Lupita is making cow’s milk cheese.
Pavo sin suerte. The unlucky turkey.
Pavo sin suerte. The unlucky turkey.
Insertion into boiling water loosens the feathers.
Insertion into boiling water loosens the feathers.
Hanging fowl upside down calms them.
Hanging fowl upside down calms them.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Boots de-dusted

The star of our show
The star of our show

Even though he kept me up half the night snoring last night I still have warm feelings for this guy. He was a rock last night during our first show in 2 months. I was unaccountably unsettled. Where Burt was forceful and had a presence I felt timid and the notes recalcitrant. Our venue was Las Fuentes in Todos Santos, BCS, MX. The owners made a romantic ambiance for Valentine’s Day with flowers, candles, and balloons. They arranged the tables so everyone could see us and they installed a STAGE. All of this extra effort on their part has heretofore been unseen by any venue host in the history of our career. There were dinner specials and a house sangria. Usually we show up to a cafe and we have to move the tables and chairs to make a space to stand. We have to find room for our cases. In our experience nobody thinks ahead. These people asked if they could help us unload our stuff! If they want us I am sure we will be happy to go back.

Great hosts and then a passel of new fans made for a nice night. Previous events in Todos Santos have only yielded a few diehard followers. Sara Gay and her friends. The Elias Calles crowd makes the trek (kudos to them) but they’re not Todo Santeños. And that was about it in our 6 years of trying to get a thing going in TS. A lot of shows would be 6 or 10 people. Bridge is what changed the game. Duplicate Bridge friends came out in force and brought their friends. Add them to Sara Gay and the Elias Calleños peeps and a few random strangers and we nearly filled the large restaurant. And then everyone stayed and listened.

The highlight for me was when we bantered a bit and the venue owner, a local, forcefully yelled out, “Jackson!” Without missing a beat we launched into the Johnny and June standard. He was beaming. I presumed he was a plant because I knew Sara Gay had heard us do it but we found out later he was genuinely asking for a song his mother loved. Johnny and June were timeless and knew now boundaries. They speak across cultures and generations.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Just Doodling Along

Wistful Olive
Wistful Olive

In the photo above Olive is trying to decide what to do. Elvis had rolled in poop at a previous stop and needed to be spun in the Pacific-rinse-omatic for a while to get clean. Normally Olive would relish a run on the beach. I’m not sure if she knew Elvis was in for some disciplinary swimming or she was worn out from the walk. Perhaps she didn’t want to take the chances that she would be required to clean up, too. Maybe she just wanted to hang out with me while I waited. I was too pooped to walk more myself. Two weeks after her poisoning Olive seems her normal self but with less endurance.

New follower Kevin suggested a recounting of how we wound up wintering in Pescadero. I sent him deep into the archives for a full accounting but I can summarize here. The long and short of it is it is too expensive and cold to winter comfortably in the United States as full time RVers. We can afford to work part-time and live near the beach in Mexico. This spot is the least populated but not primitive location on the Baja with good surf. You can easily drive from the U.S. People are filling the place in rapidly since the road was widened from Cabo San Lucas but we’re still happy here. The food scene is fantastic. The scenery breath taking. Burt had been to El Pescadero in the early 80s. He and his family have always visited Mexico and being a surfer he was naturally drawn to this spot. Meanwhile a woman he knew from Helena, Montana, Janet, had settled here.

Seven years ago we hit the road and had no idea if we would last a week or a year or forever. We still don’t know how long we’ll go living nomadically but it suits us. The first winter we spent in the US and suffered snow in Pensacola and 40 degress and raining in Key West for $100 a night. Not comfortable economically or climatologically. The next winter we decided to visit Janet and see how we liked Mexico. It was a fit. The funniest part of the arrival story is how as we were pulling into town Burt turns to me and say, “I forgot what a shit hole this place is.” I replied I’d been paying attention since we left the US 1200 miles back and the place was just as I expected. Yeah, there’s garbage and bad roads and no cell service or wi-fi but it’s pretty and interesting. Six years later there’s a lot less garbage, phone work great, and we’re still pretty happy here.

Ta Da.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Commitment

Me
Me

Woweeee, we made it. Day 31 of the 31 day Art Journaling/Blogging Challenge by Zoë Dearborn. Wow. Just wow. Years past this would have been very difficult due to data limitations. I feel compelled to thank Verizon for including roaming in Mexico in my data package. Thanks to you, dear readers, for following along. Several of you have mentioned you’ll miss the daily posts. I can’t thank you enough. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue the streak. Help me out by sending in your questions and ideas if you have something you want to know. It can be about the natural world or my inner life or anything else. All ideas considered.

Today’s subject is commitment. This month has found us neck deep in commitments. I like it this way. We’ve got each other and the Olvis and Mimi. We’ve got tennis and music and Spanish. The neighborhood kids. We count on them and they are counting on us. As I search for something to say to sum up the writing and thinking and feeling of this month I come up with that aphorism of a few days ago, “Just show up.” My commitment is to continue showing up. Here on the interwebz, at my classes, for the kids, on the fretboard of life. And I commit to putting out oranges for the birds. I hate chores but I’ll commit to slicing open and putting out oranges even though it makes my hands feel sticky and I’m scared of the knife. It’s a really big knife. The rewards are worth the discomfort and risk. It’s  an analogy for writing and life.

This practice has shown me how much I enjoy thinking and writing. It’s renewed my interest in what I can learn by taking the time and working deeply even for just a short time a day. As I tell all beginning music students that ask our advice, “The secret is ten minutes a day, every day. An hour once a week will not get the job done.” Thank you, Zoë for prodding and feeding back and inspiring.

the kids in the neighborhood.
the kids in the neighborhood.
Our place in the world
Our place in the world
Orange
Orange
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

In Summary

Sunset at Roc's place
Sunset at Roc’s place

On January 1st we had just arrived in Pescadero, Mexico and I was wondering if I would lose my mind to the ant invasion. A month later I am on the cusp of completing a thirty-one day marathon of writing every day. It’s a first in the seven year history of this blog. I didn’t see that coming. Recently I’ve felt like I had nothing to say. I just needed a little motivation and some fresh ideas. Many thanks to Zoë for her stupendous work pushing us along. A long time ago I thought I’d love to be a newspaper or magazine columnist. Celestine Sibley of the Atlanta papers reeled me in with her clarity and down to earth observations of a regular life. Her writing made the mundane spiritual. When I started this blog I thought of it as my chance to be my own columnist. I could write about whatever caught my fingers as Burt and I wandered the country working and playing. Over the years I wished I had some things Celestine had that I lack: an editor feeding me ideas and creating a deadline, a copy writer clearing up my grammatical challenges, a wider audience (for more ideas), and a salary. This writing project gave me a wider audience, a deadline, and new ideas. I didn’t see that coming.

Today’s assignment is to take stock of what we’ve accomplished. My first post of the year exhorted us to be nice. I believed we are going to need a lot of nice. I still believe it. But I also believe we are going to need some backbone and deep reflection on our core values. It’s a time of action. I hope you all are doing what you can to make your concerns heard. Know that I am.

This month we achieved transition into our Mexican lives. We are playing tennis, teaching music, losing and learning at bridge, studying Spanish, eating well, staying cool and warm, visiting friends, doing yoga and writing. We have lost some sleep over our health insurance. We have grave concerns about the choices we will have to make if we lose coverage. We are grateful we have choices we can make. We can stay in Mexico where health care is affordable. We can move to a state that has a good public health system. We can try to get jobs with health insurance that doesn’t exclude pre-existing conditions. We shall see. We shall stay vigilant and try to make a rational decision if the system changes.

Two nights ago Burt and I went birding. Our friend Roc had texted about a flock of dark birds roosting outside his home every night. A raucous bunch of dark things coming in just at dusk. Burt and I thought, let’s go and figure this out as if we could do something a perfectly capable guy like Roc couldn’t do. Ha! We arrived at 5:30. Roc owns an organic farm halfway between town and the beach. His home is nestled in some palms and carrizal. The birds like the thick, bambooish carrizal. Burt and I quietly sat in two different spots. Burt on the roof overlooking Roc’s fields and me on the steps with Capi, Roc’s assistant. Roc was texting for updates from Cabo. Capi assured me the birds come every night. WE sat still. A Xanthu’s, an oriole, a white-winged dove. Nothing more for 25 minutes. Quiet. Darkness falling. Slowly darkness descends but them suddenly it is too dark to see. Right at that moment the tiny birds started darting from I-don’t-know-where and landing in the hedge not ten feet away. They were loudly singing and chattering. I could imagine them saying, “How was your day?” “Meh, some seeds, some bugs…the usual.” We couldn’t see anything but small black silhouettes. I tried to find the call on iBird. I made a recording of their nightly debriefing and emailed it from the scene to two friends in Portal, Arizona.  I felt like a naturalist using my skills at observation and problem solving. We realized there was no hope of a visual spot. The birds all disappeared deep into the bushes. We went home.

I listened to my recording and compared it to the ones on my phone. I narrowed the bird down to a sparrow. It sort of made me feel better. I can hardly identify sparrows during the day. A night ID would be impossible. The next morning the word came back from Portal that indeed it was a flock of sparrows. White-crowned sparrows. Oddly, coincidentally, ironically? White-crowned sparrows are one of the few I can identify in sufficient light.

Here’s the obituary for Celestine Sibley. She had quite a career.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

En Español Hoy

Olive ready to snuggle/ ella esta lista a apapachar.
Olive ready to snuggle/ ella esta lista a apapachar.

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.

El Fin

Elvis quiere visitar el veterenario tambien. El sintió jeloso.
Elvis quiere visitar el veterenario tambien. El sintió jeloso.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Collaboration

Ruth representing Bridge players.
Ruth representing Bridge players and new friends.

Cooperation and collaboration are what it’s all about. Here at the Gypsy Carpenter’s goat pen I sometimes think I am just along for the ride. I have so many good friends full of ideas and a drive to do I only need say yes and good stuff is going to happen. Frequently I see myself as a loner removed from the ‘group’ but it’s not a complete picture. Without my people I could not do any of the things I love to do.  I need musicians to play music. I need card players to play Bridge. I need somebody to cook and my cook needs somebody to eat. I don’t need a co-birder but is a lot more fun with someone else. So here’s a photo essay in tribute to this month’s collaborators. Special shout out to Rosemary and Ed who taught me how to row a raft and survive my cultural shift from easterner to westerner twenty-five years ago. I feel like they are the older siblings I never had.

P.S. I am officially 17/31 of the way through this writing every day gig. Today I feel like I kinda mailed in the writing part but I did (and will continue) to reflect on the collaboration part.

Marla for all of Portal Irish Music Week
Marla representing for all of Portal Irish Music Week and girlfriends in general.
Well, this guy might as well take title of director, producer, and co-star.
Well, this guy might as well take title of director, producer, and co-star of this movie. He’s part of everything. Perhaps we are co-dependent.
Collaborating for 25 plus years with Rosemary and Ed.
Collaborating for 25 plus years with Rosemary and Ed.
The newest collaborators.
The newest collaborators.
Tom and Jolyn music and eating collaborators.
Tom and Jolyn music and eating collaborators. Bad picture. Sorry kids.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Antapocalypse

Mimi, 18 years old, greets me every morning. After all these years I'm still not sure she likes me.
Mimi, 18 years old, greets me every morning. After all these years I’m still not sure she likes me.

I had two writing assignments today. The journal project asked us to photodocument our day and write about the mundane and special. My Spanish teacher wanted a discussion of my time outside of Mexico in the past tense. I woke up crabby. Mimi glared. Ants crawled. I had writing to do. Before eating I did my Spanish homework. I made a passable job of describing how we took a job near my family and my mom’s death. Cranky me. I wonder why?

Next I turned my attention to the ants. I’m spraying them with white vinegar and soap. They disappear for a while and then the next generation shows up. How many must I kill before they are satisfied with the hummingbird feeders? Must they come inside, too? Irritable me. Burt fed me. We went to the beach. Elvis and Olive gamboled. I started to perk up. We came home. I killed more ants. I (delusional) thought I made some head way. I ate lunch. I panicked over a potluck dish for tomorrow’s Bridge game. I developed an idea for a salad.

I went to Spanish class. I love our 1991 Ford Exploder. Before I left the neighborhood I stopped at Rafa and April’s and April helped me decide which clothes to give to which kids. I had bought a bunch of girl’s clothes in the states of various sizes but I had no idea what would fit whom. On the way to Spanish I passed Federal Police stopping oncoming traffic. There’s been some mild agitation in the area over skyrocketing fuel prices. The police seemed to want to remind people they are here. The blockade was gone by the time I returned home.

At Spanish I read my essay. I didn’t make too many gross errors. Writing in Spanish is very hard for me. Writing requires grammar and spelling. Sentence structure matters. Conversations are much more forgiving. Communication can happen despite faulty pronunciation or disagreement between nouns and verbs. You can see the corrections below. I love my Spanish teacher Yvonne and my fellow student Alexina. They are both decades younger than me. Alexina is also a civil engineer. What are the chances?

After class I stopped for groceries. Agricole has a diverse selection of locally grown and made organic products. I spent $10. Then I went to Fidel’s highway fruit stand. I spent 0.25 cents. I was equally happy with both places. I arrived home to find Burt tuning up my mother’s guitar. This guitar had spent 7 years hanging outside as a yard ornament and after minor repairs was playable again. Weird. That’s a tough guitar. I killed some more ants.

Next Burt and I practiced. It was rocky for me. I couldn’t quite get the bow under control. Burt and I are contemplating where to play music this winter. We have ideas. The Gypsy Carpenters may have a pizzeria revival. After practicing I collapsed for an hour or two. I got an email from friends that were planning to visit saying they had cancelled their trip. The civil unrest north of here has closed gas stations and parts of the highway. We are sad but also glad not to have to worry about our friends on the road. I called my dad. He said to stop bothering him.

This evening we went back to my Spanish school for a Rosca de Reyes party. Today is when the wise men finally made it to Jerusalem bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. In Mexico it’s a nice holiday. They have a wreath like cake. Inside the cake is a baby. If you get the piece  of cake with the baby you have to host a tamale party in February. Nobody at the party found the baby. There were only three pieces of cake uneaten when we left. Speculation was that the cake was defective. There were at least 20 relieved people that did not have to host a party in February. Burt and I played music and got some of the other students to sing. We inspired one woman to ask for guitar lessons. We’re meeting up next week to learn some Mexican folk songs and teach guitar. That is the biggest news of the day. Possibly the week.

On the way home we stopped at Luciano’s Pizza. Luciano’s is what was known as Napoli 6 years ago. We started gigging in Mexico at Napoli and met many of our friend’s while playing there. Napoli sort of fell apart, then moved and got there act together in a new inconvenient for us location. Now this place is at the old spot and using the same pizza oven. Tonight’s pizza was great. We are in negotiations to start all over again where it all started. Stay tuned. We’ll let you know if we’re going to do a show there.

That’s it. Time for bed. Birding at 6 AM tomorrow.

One ant of the thousands I killed today. I stopped feeling bad for them a day ago.
One ant of the thousands I killed today. I stopped feeling bad for them a day ago.
I've been using this to kill ants and clean their pheromone trail. It might be time for petrochemical derivatives.
I’ve been using this to kill ants and clean their pheromone trail. It might be time for petrochemical derivatives.
We took the Olvis to the beach.
We took the Olvis to the beach.
Spanish Class with Yvonne and Alexina.
Spanish Class with Yvonne and Alexina.
My trusty (or should I say rusty) steed.
My trusty (or should I say rusty) steed.
Journaling in Spanish.
Journaling in Spanish.
Some grocery shopping at Agricole. Local and organic.
Some grocery shopping at Agricole. Local and organic.
Burt repaired my mom's guitar.
Burt repaired my mom’s guitar.
Gypsy Carpenters at practice. Will I ever manage this fiddle?
Gypsy Carpenters at practice. Will I ever manage this fiddle?
Rosca de los Reyes. The three kings cake. Avoid the baby doll or you have to host a tamale party.
Rosca de los Reyes. The three kings cake. Avoid the baby doll or you have to host a tamale party.

 

 

 

Luciano's Pizza in Pescadero.
Luciano’s Pizza in Pescadero. Shall we gig here?
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Where to Start?

Supermercado en la noche.
Supermercado en la noche.

So I was a very bad gringa last week. I was trying to do the right thing and it turned out all wrong and now I am ‘the puppy stealer of Pescadero.’ It all started when we arrived in late January to find Chicharron gone. Down the gully and up the hill just across the way from us, lived Chicharron (pork rinds in Spanish). Chicharron was a chucky (meth addict) but harmless and kind of a good neighbor. He helped out with other neighbors.  He collected stray dogs. He strummed a guitar. Rumor was he wound up on the hill across from us in a trailer because a gringo in another neighborhood got tired of living with him in close proximity and set him up with a trailer and lot of his own in our neighborhood. This happened two years ago. Burt and I were distant but not unkind neighbors. We’d say hello. Chat a little. Chicharron was hard to understand. He lacked some key dentition.

I’ve been writing of Chicharron in the past tense but he is still among us. He was relocated to Ensenada in December after kidney failure induced seizures while he was visiting Rafa and April’s home. Rafa and April are very kind and generous. I’ll skip the gory details of his decline into kidney failure. It was malodorous. Somehow he survived and had a family with enough resources to take him in and relocate him to Ensenada. That’s 1000 miles away. Chicharron’s 4 dogs were not so lucky. When we showed up the dogs had been living at Chicharron’s trailer for a month unattended. Another neighbor was throwing food to them. The dog’s were unfenced and anti-social. More rumor has it that even Chicharron could not touch the dogs. The pack began to roam. I tried to visit them but they just scattered. Chicharron’s trailer was hauled away for scrap metal. The dogs relocated to an abandoned house just down the street from us. They were noisy.

One day I walked home the back way and the pack of dogs came after me. I scared them off but was unamused. Neighborhood efforts to capture and re-home or euthanize the pack had failed. Now they were expanding their territory and becoming aggressive. I am not warm and fuzzy in situations like this. People are mauled by dogs every day. I play bridge with a woman mauled by dogs here. I think these dogs must be eliminated. Group efforts to come up with a collective solution fail. There are plans to sedate and relocate.  Pills were acquired and lost. Burt and I are hesitant to be obnoxious gringos so we step back, stop complaining, and do nothing. Rumor is the dogs are at least neutered. We walk home a different way and ignore the barking.

Well free feeding and a pack of dogs leads to more dogs. Puppies were born under the ‘date rape’ van just 100 yards from our house. Mexico is a land of magic and miracles. Opinions vary on whether or not this was a virgin birth, a failed clip job, or an interloping dog making a move on the free food. Puppies on the scene paralyzed us. The people we know that take care of strays were overwhelmed. They couldn’t help. Meanwhile the dogs were obviously well fed. These were fat puppies and mama. I assumed that the neighbor was still feeding them. This is the precise moment and assumption where I go off the rails and become the big jerk in town.

A friend sees the puppies one day when leaving our place and asks if they are being taken care of. I say they are but the guy wants them gone. He doesn’t want to take care of them. She says she’s going to bring a friend the next day to collect the dogs. I say, “Great!” I am thrilled that doing nothing has turned into at least the puppies are going away. Do I confirm or check with anyone in the neighborhood? No. These dogs, to me, are an obvious pestilence. The puppies need homes. Once the puppies are gone I could get to work with the aggressive adults.

The next morning the two innocent victims come to collect the puppies. The new person is unfamiliar to me but well known as a dog rescuer. As soon as she saw the dogs were well fed she balked. She insisted these are somebody’s dogs and that they shouldn’t be taken. I am not amused. I go to great and a bit pushy lengths to convince them that nobody wants these dogs. I insist that the feeder is our neighbor and that he is tired of feeding them. Eventually I prevail. I am so driven with desire to get rid of these dogs that I fail to see what is obvious. That this person is correct and knows what she is doing. Somebody was taking care of the puppies and they had gone beyond the basics. They built a pen and supplied food and water. The pen was in an abandoned house and there are no neighbors closer than us and the feeder and another gringo family that wants them gone but somebody was coming and taking care of the puppies. They were all socially comfortable with humans. This should have been the big sign. Stray puppies generally avoid people. These dogs couldn’t wait to play with us. My desire to have these dogs gone overruled my ability to listen to reason. So I convinced the women to take the puppies. They did but they left their number with some nearby workers in case there is a hidden owner. I was so not into that but whatever. I couldn’t have been more wrong on so many levels.

That afternoon I saw a woman wandering up our street looking under our cars. It’s obvious she’s looking for the dogs. OMG. I’ve stolen her puppies. Long story short I confessed my crime and offered to help get them back. Another woman approaches. They are mad as mad can be but they refrained from abusing me. The workers had fingered me and gave them the contact information. The women realized it was all a misunderstanding tainted with a bit of Gringo-do-gooderism. In that moment I say: What about the adults? They are bad dogs and need to go, too. So here is my only strand of righteousness. They realized then that leaving the puppies there had created a bad scene for the people that actually live in the neighborhood. Burt piled on and emphasized that the adult dogs were an aggressive group of dogs. Quiet all around. They calmed down. I felt like an idiot. A massively culturally-insensitive idiot.  This conversation would have been awful if we spoke the same language fluently. Maybe our weak Spanish saved us. They left. Burt and I were not sure if they intended to retrieve the puppies or not. I had offered to get them myself but they didn’t respond. It might have been a case of well at least they went to good homes. But it wasn’t.

My friend had to give the puppies back. She seems to be okay with the misunderstanding. The next morning the puppies were reunited with the women. They have not been returned to the abandoned house. The adults are still around. And the rumor mill started. My friend April was accused of stealing the puppies by a random business owner near the supermercado. She had to point out that it was actually me that instigated the puppy stealing but that I had the best intentions. I’m not sure I did have good intentions but I appreciate the vote of confidence. April and I both ponder the chance of retaliatory dognapping.

Any advice on how to manage Chicharron’s pack would be appreciated.

Burt and Jen singing 'I've got a brand new pair of roller skates'.
Burt and Jen singing ‘I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates’.
May and the newbies.
May and the newbies.
These dogs were not kidnapped. Yet.
These dogs were not kidnapped. Yet.
It rained.
It rained.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Is Duplicate Bridge a Cult?

The Battle of the Sexes
The Battle of the Sexes

One of the definitions of a cult is: a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing. Another take on cult is: a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

I think Burt and I may have joined a cult. We’re a spending an inordinate amount of time playing Bridge with a bunch of people we didn’t even know six weeks ago. I wake up dreaming about how to bid in Contract Bid. I can’t even discuss the basics of the game when conscious yet I am dreaming about it. I wish I would dream in Spanish or about music but my mind has been completely taken by Bridge. Learning the game wasn’t even my idea. Burt has had it in his mind for a very long time. I happened to read a notice about free Bridge lessons and I mentioned it to him. I could have prevented this. Now I may be more obsessed than him.

Don’t try an intervention yet. There are minuses for sure. Sitting around for hours and hours staring at your hands. Losing contact with former friends and family. Falling behind in musical and Spanish efforts. A doughy middle. On the upside we have only spent 30 pesos and people feed us when we go to their homes to play. Also, most people seem nice enough. And I think Burt and I can get this thing in hand. It seems like we can learn it. Maybe it will take years but we are already having fun. Last week I played my first 16 hands of contract Bridge. My partner (not Burt) and I did not come in last. Everyone, including my partner, told me we would. We came in second to last. So there.

Meanwhile, we are still maintaining a strenuous tennis schedule. Here are some pictures from our non-Bridge playing moments.

Burt went swimming.
Burt went swimming.
I forgot to bring a change of clothes.
I forgot to bring a change of clothes.
The Gypsy Carpenters
The Gypsy Carpenters
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest