Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life in Paradise: Narcolepsy and Dehydration

Today is the second day in a row that I 've had what feels like narcolepsy in the middle of the day. The temperature reached 105.8°F, also the predicted high for the rest of the days this week. April is not quite here and we already feel the intense heat. As I write this at 8:30 pm it is still 95°F. According to Weather Underground the humidity is only 46%, but it's sticky humid. I have been anxiously awaiting the return of the hot weather, and after only a few days of high temperatures I find I need to re-acclimate myself.

This afternoon I was diligently editing my story in the comfortable new space and my eyes got heavy. I felt like a bobbing head doll. I was literally falling asleep at the desk and saw my concentration flutter like a dead leaf through the house in the hot breeze. Eventually I gave up and closed the file. I had no choice: I couldn't make a full sentence or hold a complete thought. I settled into a hammock with two fans blasting and completely zonked out. It would be three hours and nightfall before I could function again. And as I try to communicate this right now I would still rate my brain function below par.

This will be my third summer here. I'm no stranger to this heat. The way to beat the heat is to start all physical activities super early, allowing for a drooling nap or a good read....in a hammock...surrounded by fans, in the blazing hot afternoon. Tasks can be attempted again after sunset and some caffeine intake. Last week I dehydrated myself. How could I do that? I know I have to consume massive amounts of water and other liquids. Ok, so I had a few beers one night, but I thought for sure I drank enough beverages the following day to compensate. Once you have dehydrated yourself, it takes a few days to get right again. It is not a habit one wants to start.

I easily downed three liters of water a day the past two summers without giving it any thought. Over the winter months, however, water just wasn't appealing and I got sucked into the Cokes. They deliver cases of returnable bottles, which we all know contain the best tasting Coca Cola, and I succumbed to temptation. I limit the Cokes to 1 or 2 a day, and even so ONLY if I have been chugging back plenty of water, gatorade, lemonade, watermelon or other fresh juice, and/or iced tea.

I wondered if the swimming pool had anything to do with it. When the sun is high and heat is blasting, I get into the pool and move around. I take some sun with my exercise but also move into the shady half of the pool. Whoever put the roof over the pool was a genious. This is the first year the pool is heated. Now that the air temp is so high we probably don't need it, but even the water we pump into the pool is bordering on hot, so it is now heating itself. I like the warm water because it seems to change its texture into a thick silky velvety liquid. I can spend a long period of time in the pool when the water is just below body temperature. Then I am not thirsty, and yet I am refreshed. That can be dangerous.

There are a few hours every night when it cools down, but it calls for minimal sleepwear and a sheet instead of sweat shirts and the blanket we craved during our winter. Even regular t-shirts feel too hot and heavy in this heat. Mexico will spring ahead this weekend, and that will confuse the issue a little. I need to psyche myself up for the long summer in the steamy heat. It is extreme, but I have always preferred a tropical climate. The humidity makes my skin actually feel smooth and not like the wrinkled leathery mess it really is. Laundry is a bit of a hassle when we change our clothes a few times a day after sweating through them, but a dip in the pool, a cool shower and a generous sprinkling of talcum powder freshen us up so we can keep on going. I can work with all this if I just go with the Yucatecan flow. But I am going to have to trick myself into staying hydrated, and change my schedule so that I can pass out in the afternoon when necessary.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air. The sun is in Aries. For whatever reason, I had to rearrange my surroundings.. I didn't want to buy anything new, but my desk was bugging me. It is a giant gray steel military size desk. It is the wrong height for me to type on the keyboard. My neck hurts. I don't think the chair with four pillows piled up was helping my back. After 10 hours writing the other day my feet and ankles were swollen.

I have been searching for a better desk for a while. I found the most practical and reasonable one at WalMart, which speaks for the quality of the piece. No matter! It is great. I now have my ergonomic work station. And I broke down and bought a chair. If I am ever going to finish this book and move on to other projects I have to like my workspace.

I made my office more comfortable by bringing the couch set from upstairs in here. The removal of the mammoth desk made room for plenty of other stuff. I feel like I have a place I can comfortably hang out, even if there are screaming kids in class outside. I reorganized all my beads, pens, papers, tools and materials. I always feel renewed when I get my shit in order. My mind feels less cluttered.

It was a great spring cleaning. I organized the cd's and put them on the shelves where the CD player is! Sounds simple, but I had the cd's in drawers across the room. I could never find what I was looking for because the cd's are not in their original jackets. Now they are labeled and handy.

We moved the big desk into the dining room. Everyone needs a place to create new piles. The desk attracts them. It was collecting too many distractions for me in the office. The dining room is big enough to handle it, and I think it looks good in its new location. I have high hopes that we can keep the kitchen table clear so we can sit down and eat without having to move miles of piles first.

I realized recently that other than tables, chairs and hammocks, there isn't anywhere to sit in this house. The living room furniture which was not comfortable to begin with, was taken over by the cats long ago. Yesterday I put some temporary slip covers on it and cleaned it up. I moved furniture around in the living rooms to accommodate the cats' toys. Pablo reinforced and improved their play station. They had toys all over the house, scratch blocks, etc. Now it is all in the living room and they can run and play and climb....and soon, roll in catnip.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Play Ball! Lions and Tigers!

The baseball stadium at the Parque de Kukulcán, home of LOS LEONES DE YUCATÁN.

Wednesday, March 25th was opening day for baseball....or beisbol....season here in México. Our team, the Leones de Yucatán played against the Tigres de Quintana Roo. It was an entertaining game. The Tigre opened the first inning with a run and the Leones followed with five runs! Off to a good start.

The last time I went to an inaugural baseball game was the LA Dodgers in 1979 (I think) where Fernando Valenzuela was the star, and thirty years later I watched his son, Fernando Valenzuela, open the season for the Leones in Mérida. Fernando hit a grand slam in the first inning, but slowed down considerably as the innings wore on. Hey, first time out for the season so I see it as a warm up game. We hope to have a strong season. We have some great players who last won the national championship in 2005. Wednesday The Tigres beat the Leones 10-8, but we put up a good fight.

The stadium reminded me of the days my brother Jay took me to see the Mudhens play in Toledo, Ohio. I don't remember the exact size, but it looked like a similar layout. Above the teams are being introduced. The Leones, whose colors are green, orange and white, on the left, and the Tigres on the right. We didn't catch any foul balls but we had great seats near the first base line.

A few differences I noted: They do not stop selling beer after the 7th inning. What if there are extra innings? A fan needs his beer. I noticed they were selling beer even after the game ended.

They have cheerleaders! For me that was a first at a baseball game. They didn't lead any cheers but they kept the male fans entertained during inning changes with their sexy salsa dances.

Although they have bat boys, they have ball girls. Good looking girls in short shorts and tight tops bounce out to the umpire with new balls every other pitch.

They eat different foods at Mexican ball games. Below is the kibi/piedra salesman. In his glass box he has the Lebanese treats ready to dress up with their repollo. Below him is the pepita, pistacchio and cacahuate (peanut) vendor. The vendors walk around with hot pizza in individual boxes, platters of fresh made tortas (sandwiches) on bolillos, tamales, corn on or off the cob with seasonings, candied apples of some sort, probably tamarind, air puffed chicharrones, cotton candy, frappuchinos, strawberries and cream, something that looked like Chinese stirfry but was actually Mexican nachos, home made potato chips and fried banana chips, candies, gum, cigarettes, etc. Also they walk around the stadium tossing out promotional items. This week I got a new pen and a handful of new cookies made by a local cookie producer. There was a lot going on, the atmosphere was light and happy, the spectators were good sports, and we had a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pride and Joy: Busmo

Busmo at two weeks.

Six weeks old.

All the cats like to hang out in this desk drawer when I am working. I fixed up the drawer to keep them off the keyboard.
Busmo was born at least an hour after the other three. He is bigger than all the others except Buster, his favorite buddy. He doesn't miss a meal and therefore has a huge stomach. He is the quietest cat and sleeps the most. When he likes something he says "Wow!". When he wants something he follows me around and tenderly bites me, crying with a small squeaky voice.

He likes to go over the wall to check out the other side, but he is quiet about it. He rarely brings home the prey, but he likes to play with his siblings' catch of the day. Last weekend he accidentally got closed in the upstairs room, but he was non-plussed about his near 12 hour incarceration.
He doesn't care that much for human contact, especially children. He enjoys his affection, but like Buster, he doesn't like to be picked up and coddled. He is probably the mellowest of the cat commando, with Lorenza pulling a very close 2nd.

One last note. Thanks for indulging me if you made it through all the cat update posts. I wanted to show them off a little. They really are my pride and joy. This should satisfy me. I was concerned that I wasn't showing off the kitties' growth, and they have really changed from adorable kittens to beautiful, friendly, healthy cats. I promise this is enough on the cats for a while!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pride and Joy: Mokito

July 9, 2008, one month birthday, first meal away from Mom.

At six weeks, all played out.
January, 2009, at six months.

Mokito's motto is "Born to be loved." He is very sensitive. He does not understand the concept of "No!" and when he hears it his feelings are hurt. He is curious and therefore finds plenty of problems in his path, but he's so innocent. He will climb up on the counter (no!), but once there he just wants to sit and watch what I am doing. His sister Sak Boox climbs the counter and rearranges it while getting in my face as I repeatedly put her back on the floor. He watched me put a jigsaw puzzle together, while Busmo chewed the pieces beyond recognition. He is quite vocal but also pretty well behaved.

He likes everyone. He loves to hunt down and play with giant cockroaches. He plays fetch with his Coke bottle cap, bringing it to Pablo so they can play soccer. He loves Pablo and is heartbroken if Pablo goes out. He can sit for hours and watch the giant iguanas on the wall. He can't climb the tree or the wall and evidently prefers his own home space like his mom. He begs Pablo for tunafish every day, and of course, there is no saying no.

Pride and Joy: Sak Boox

The girls at two weeks.

Still growing.

Six weeks.

Sak Boox (pronounced sock boash) was the second born. She is black (boox in Mayan) and white (sak in Mayan) with a Siamese personality like her mom's and the two are inseparable. Moka just stopped allowing her to milk a month ago. Moka cut off the others a long time back!

She is the most adventurous of the litter and a great hunter. Her prey is primarily the lizard family. She has no trouble facing off the giant iguana who suns himself in her path on the wall leading to the other side. She is a "gritón", or quite vocal. It's hard to tell if she is griping about something or just talking, but there is no mistaking her cries when she is hungry. Busmo likes to play too rough for her taste, and she really yelps when he is chasing and cornering her.

She is the thirstiest cat. She drinks water from the pool, her bowl, toilets, showers, the five gallon jug when the spout is open. Basically any running water she can find will do. She is slender and delicate and the cleanest kitty. She acts aloof but is a very loving sweet cat.

She has Moka's face and supervisory qualities.

Pride and Joy: Lorenza

At two weeks.

At six weeks.

Lorenza was the first born of the now ten month old kittens. She was the smallest and now is the chunkiest. She has the job of licking a human awake when the commando is ready for breakfast. She is tender, sweet and delicate.

She likes ACTING! There was a spell when she pretended she couldn't get down from the tree she climbs, and made us rescue her a few times. But now she adventures over the wall and returns with no problem. She is a good hunter, preferring little lizards. She loves cookies, potato chips and chicharrones.

Pride and Joy: Moka

Baby Moka in early December, 2007, not long after she appeared at the front gate, sick, abandoned and frightened.

Things got better with time. January, 2008.

Moka is a year and a half old. She has the biggest bright blue eyes. She is beautiful. She is small, delicate, and has a tiny but persistent voice. She can be a bit hyper but she has an important post in the commando. She is Mom, Queen, Chief of Security, and Caregiver.

She likes hunting rubber bands, supervising all household activities, receiving lots of attention, hanging out with me in the desk drawer when I am working, and when I'm in the hammock.
She doesn't like to climb trees, leave the property, visits by veterinarians, or the printer...she attacks it whenever it is doing its thing.

This is her seat in the desk drawer. It is not exclusively hers, as I write this Lorenza is sleeping in there.
Moka guarding the toys from the inside of the toybox, clutching on to her favorite things.

Moka guarding the back gate from this giant rat bastard, the intruding possum, below.

Pride and Joy: Buster

Buster went missing for two months when we arrived in Mérida. This photo was taken in late September 2007 the day he was found. He looks a little relieved, spooked and thirsty.

Buster is 10 years old. He is big, healthy and handsome. Friendly but a little timid.

Buster relaxing on the coffee table in the evening in the living room.

He likes catnip, feathery toys, tuna, hanging out in the abandoned lot by day and in the house at night, playing with Busmo, licking the other cats, and bringing his friend Cuate home to eat, play, and when available, roll in the catnip. He likes to be brushed and petted, but hates to be picked up. He dislikes children, fast movements, and unexpected noises.


Photos and the Cat Commando

Mokito cuddles with Mom Moka for an afternoon nap.

I have been looking through all the digital photo albums lately on both computers. Our pictures tell the stories of our lives, and I love the ideas and memories that flow when I peruse them. I got so into organizing my paper photo albums two years ago, I wrote an article called THE DIVINE ORDER OF PHOTOS, published last June in Simple Joy Magazine online. I also wrote a step by step guide to organize one's shoeboxes full of photos, and sent it to several friends in an envelope full of my duplicates. I thought there were memories inside they might enjoy and at the same time I tried to inspire them to organize their photos. I thought it was funny and it was really fun. But I'm not sure it was successful. One of my friends wrote back and thanked me but said, "I'd rather scrub toilets than organize my photos."

I liked the process, so much so that recently I decided to try to organize the photos in the computer. Since going digital, I have taken an excessively excessive number of photos. I realize that I am compulsive with my camera and its seemingly limitless capabilities! I am learning to use the delete button all along the way from snapshot to online album. Anyhow, once again I have photos that need to be organized. I thought that having digital albums labeled and chronological would simplify things. It's not true.
For some time I have wanted to post an update on the commando of cats. The kittens are now teenagers. I looked through the photos and decided to post a few "family shots" here and then give each cat a post with a photo and bio. A bit excessive? Who me?

Busmo is now as big as Buster. Buster has a bigger head and Busmo has a bigger stomach.

They love to play rough.

Moka the inspectress at work, checking out Busmo.

Lorenza and Moka were napping, until I came along.

Wherever Moka goes, Sak Boox follows. The inseparable duo.
This would probably be enough update on the cats. It shows just about everything they do. They eat, sleep, play, and sit around. They have us very well trained and are pretty pleased with their lives.