Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Animal Friends

I sneak a cat photo into a blog now and again, but I haven't posted many animal pics lately. I can't post other folks' animals without showing off ours too, and recently I took lots of pictures of our newest animal acquaintances.  I guess I could say I really enjoy photographing animals. Last year I lost a lot of photos in a computer crash, so this update is for me as well as friends who ask how the kitties are doing. 
First, some photos of the commando.

Buster, deep in thought.  Comandante-in-Chief. 
Princesa Sak Boox.
Weasel,  adopted by the comando and Busmo's best friend.
Busmo cleans up while relaxing in the hammock. 
Little Lorenza.  The littlest comandante. 
Moka and Mokito.  He's into the catnip.  Mom's not thrilled.
Moka, THE Comandante General y Inspectora Principal.

Mokito's favorite sleeping position. 

Below are some of the animals NOT part of our comando, but with whom we spent the holidays and we visit from time to time.  They're all unique characters, provide a lot of laughs and love for us, oh, and their owners are great people too.

Willy, the whispering cat with the softest little "meow".  He loves to play with Izzy, Poodle and Klem the dogs.
Willy enjoys a spell in the hammock.
Rodney and Cheetah cuddling on a cold morning.
Rodney, Simba and Cheetah.  Brothers and best friends.  They live with Jack, Lynx(not pictured) and the two Juniors(look like Rodney-not pictured).
Can't resist a spin in the dryer. (Just kidding!)
Jack the tough outdoor cat.
Jack the gentleman wants to go inside.
Izzy the eternally playful dog.
Poodle and Klem pondering the day.

And this is Rupert.  He is from France. He looks like he could speak French, doesn't he?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Idiomasyncracies: Ambition

This is something I was seriously lacking last week, ambition. In English that is. I tend to avoid using the word in Spanish because it just doesn’t translate.

In the American Heritage Dictionary, ambition is defined as: “An eager or strong desire to achieve something; The object or goal desired; A desire for exertion or activity.” That’s how I use the word, to express my degree of eagerness for an event or a wish.  My head cold zapped all my ambition last week and left me feeling rather worthless.

I think we English-speaking people are an ambitious bunch. We are goal oriented and like to discuss our desires and ambitions. We also tend to judge one another on our ambitions or lack of them. Isn’t the first question we ask a person we meet, “What do you do?” It seems that here in México people are more interested in where you come from than what you do. Maybe it is because so many of the people in this big city are from somewhere else and seem to have dabbled in several types of employment. Or maybe it's the kind of people I attract because of how I have lived. 

In the Velázquez Spanish-English Dictionary, ambition is defined as covetousness. Here in the Yucatán the word is used to express greed and avarice. If someone tells you how ambitious you are (¡Qué ambicioso eres!) that would be an insult. You’d have just been called a greedy bastard and might want to ask yourself, am I being ambicioso or am I simply ambitious?  Good luck explaining your way out of that one.  I recommend avoiding that conversational path. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Write Fright :) Discombobulation

Yesterday I found a clean notebook and set out to blog about last month’s events. The pen saw the paper and (we all) felt a brief moment of panic. It’s the first time that’s happened to me in nearly four years. I know I set by the wayside all my half-written articles for the holidays, but write fright…that is just plain weird.

In November I suffered a severe reality check when I finally accepted the fact that I have gone through my one-time wad of money from the Hawaii home sale. With the settlement I was able to move here, buy a house and fix it up, create a new life and live for nearly three years. I am pleased with my decisions and I am happy. But I have a worrier’s genes and battle fret and anxiety all the time. A little herb helps with the anxiety, and Pablo helps me overcome worry. We make a good team and with his youthful energy, creative ideas, and stick-to-it-iveness along with my idealistic positivism, we make things happen! I am finally re-learning to NOT live to worry, but to just live to live. And this is a good thing because it was specifically THE POINT of the move.

Pablo and I invested time and money in the construction of four bodegas and ten rooms to rent. The project was completed in mid-2009 and it is now a source of income for us. The rentals are low-cost, simple rooms with only a bath and a bed. But they are always occupied, and are an excellent transitional place for some of the village folks who work in the city. Pablo’s vision is to see a medical clinic there one day. That is easier said than done, of course. There is no medical service out in San Pedro Nohpat or Kanasín, and our location is convenient for the folks in those surrounding areas. Pablo put the word out on the internet and has received a few interested callers from the medical profession. This is a live and learn project, and until it blossoms we collect rent money every month.

If you have been following this blog you know that we opened the swim school in March 2008. Since then, Pablo’s taught most of the kids in the neighborhood and some adults to swim. In 2009 the first cold front hit us early in October, putting a quick halt to all swimming activities until spring. Yucatecans are funny about swimming and the weather; it is strictly a summertime activity. We even had to shut out our faithful pool exercisers this winter because it got super-cold.

Earlier in ’09 I rented out the upstairs room, but that didn’t work out. I rented it to the wrong person and it put me off renting for a while. In November the reality check woke me up and I put the upstairs room as well as the two front living rooms on the internet to rent. The response was overwhelming, so much so that I made a couple overbooking errors. In the long run though, we have perfect renter #1 upstairs, an engineer from Mexico City. He decided to stay here for nine months. Up front is perfect renter #2, a young guy from Spain working toward his dive instructor’s ticket. He’s staying for four months. In the heat of it all, I ended up renting out another room, the “office”, to a Cowboys fan from San Diego(perfect renter #3). And when he departed, perfect renter #4 moved in, and is still in the office now. The ambience at the house is positive and friendly. The email inquiries were flying through November and December and interest continues to this day. If I owned the house next door I could probably rent that too! Pablo painted over the swimming school sign to make way for room rentals

Meanwhile, my reputation as the cat whisperer provoked a few opportunities for us to take care of pets over the holidays. This year the “sitting” responsibilities branched out to art galleries, houses, newly laid sods, dogs and iguanas. Over Christmas we each had to sleep at a different place, feed of a set of pets, water lawns, and come home to take care of our pets and renters as well. My writing was limited to emails. My internet time was consumed mostly by Farmville and Yoville because I was too scattered to write. Our holiday was a true trip to nowhere, because we had to pack suitcases and vacate our own bedroom due to my overbooking idiocy. We were living out of the car, but sleeping at the most incredible places, surrounded by amazing beauty and wonderfully appreciative animals.

Around the 10th of January things started mellowing out. All the owners came home. We unpacked our suitcases and moved back into our own room. The perfect renters are content, and peace has been restored on 75th Street. Now I find myself less drawn to Farmville, and more drawn to this blank paper. Time has come to move the miles of piles again, finish those unwritten articles, and rewrite the book I wrote. Or write another one. Try again, so to speak. I’ve been easing myself into writing mode again with insane blabbering emails, and today I had the wherewithal to sit here and publish this. Here’s hoping 2010 is a better year for everyone, a great year that draws us together as people, to love and live and let love and let live. ¡Próspero Año Nuevo!