Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plant Life in the Patio

The hollyhock is still flowering after several months.  It continues to bud deep wine colored flowers. The white petunias are still flowering and the purple petunia my neighbor gifted me is also in bloom.  We trashed the basil after it spread from the garden to the sidewalk.  What you see above and below is the NEW basil that has grown up in its place.  It smells delicious from inside the swimming pool.  It's almost time to collect a new large ziplock bag full of seeds.  Anyone needing basil, I have lots of seeds to spare.

Then there are the confused poinsettias.  Here they are called Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve (flowers), because that is when they usually bloom.  I remember lots of poinsettia in Hawaii.  Their leaves turn red in November and they flower around Christmas. The season is the same here, except for this year.  We never really had our rainy season last summer, and by the time rains came they were accompanying cold fronts.  This semi-wet weather pattern started in October and has been hanging on ever since.  The result is our three poinsettia bushes are all abloom and happy in February.  I remember that poinsettia should be pruned in the "A" months...April and August.  But since this is blooming in February, I guess I'll have to rethink the cutbacks for maybe June and Oct. 

One of the plants is dwarfed because for the longest time we had a giant ugly flower taking up its earth and its air space...so it is a bonsai poinsettia this year.  These two were planted from the same size little plant a year ago Christmas.

Cilantro seeds are now planted once a month in a different pot, sharing the atmosphere with another plant.  It is great to pick fresh cilantro as needed, but the plants don't live too long so it's good to keep young ones coming up.  The jalapeños are not pictured here, but they are keeping us in hot chiles.

This is diffenbachia, or dumb cane.  Have you ever seen it flower like this before?  This was a tall plant in the zen garden so I cut and moved most of it out back.  Now it is thriving in both areas.  But isn't this flower reminiscent of a spathiphilium?  The plant has had a couple of these appear already.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Hola.  Yesterday I couldn't get on yahoo.  I received an email from them stating someone had stolen my password. I was unable to access my account until today.  Today I changed the password, but whoever hacked me has changed it again because I can't get in again now.  I have a photo on there for security so they can't do much more, or so I hope.  A friend of mine will hopefully help me clean and secure my computer this week....

However I am NOT IN ENGLAND, and NOT BEGGING EVERYONE for money!  If you haven't checked your emails, PLEASE DO NOT OPEN THE EMERGENCY email (supposedly) from me.  I did not send it.  It is probably very dangerous.  I have reported it to yahoo and sent emails to all the folks I have in my gmail email address book.  But the yahoo account had so many more!  I haven't reached out to everyone yet.  I will post on Facebook too just to try to clear the air.  If anyone asks, I am alive and well at home.......and money may not be flowing, but I am not desperate or asking anyone for help.

I apologize for any inconvenience the asshole(s) who hacked me have caused you.  I will post something when I feel "safe" again!  Thanks. Muchas gracias.


This is our papaya tree.

It sits in the front Zen garden (and cat box).
I planted it from seed approximately a year and a half ago.  We have finally harvested two fruits!  The first one I blended with vanilla ice cream, a banana and milk.  It was delicious.  The second one we ate like fruit, though it tasted more like candy.  The third fruit is almost ripe.
This was grown from a local Yucatecan papaya seed.  It is not a seedless variety and I have no idea why it has no seeds.  It was delicious though, and the tree is still healthy and sprouting new fruits. 

Since the early 70's when I first started traveling through Mexico, I tried to like papaya. To me it tasted like my dad's stinky feet. Although I have never chewed on my dad's feet, my brothers used to have sniffing contests.....and I was put off papaya (among other things) forever.  Or so I thought.  I spent over 20 years in Hawaii and came to love papaya.   The best Hawaiian variety is called strawberry papaya; it's the cream of the crop! It's colorful and sweet like the papaya pictured above and not at all reminiscent of my dad.  I planted two batches of papaya seed at the same time last year, but unfortunately the strawberry papaya seeds I brought from Guatemala didn't fruit.  Or did they?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Idiomasyncracies: The Maricón at the Malecón

Before I get started, don't anyone get offended here.  Don't shoot the messenger!  I'm just reporting the facts, folks, just the facts.  I know I speak with a sailor's tongue, but that is basically confined to English.  When I speak Spanish I don't use that many expletives.  However when I learn any new language, one of the first things I want to do is recognize the "bad" words.  When I lived alone in Akumal, Quintana Roo, in the 1980's, I needed to know the Mayan cuss words.  If someone offended me I wanted to be able to recognize it and defend myself.  I approached Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Australia, Bali  and anywhere else I've been the same way. 

One of the terms I have heard often here is "maricón".  It is the Spanish equivalent of a derogatory term for gay, like "queer" perhaps.  It isn't a term I use at all, but I do hear it a lot.  The local guys use it liberally in their salutatory banter.  Therefore it sticks forefront in mind as an important idiomasyncracy.

I often find myself walking along a seawall, or malecón.  I hear the word malecón and images of La Paz in the 70's, Cabo San Lucas or Cozumel in the 80's, and Progreso or Celestún in the 2000's are conjured up in my mind.  I think of a romantic stroll along the seawall in any sea town, Mexico.....but the beautiful thought often gets interrupted with the sound of the word marícón flying through my head.  If I see a male prostitute on the seawall, I want to break into song.  Watch out for this idiomasyncracy, you could get yourself into trouble. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jaguar Golf Course

"Imagine playing golf where the Mayans played ball more than 2000 years ago."  This is a quote from the Jack Nicklaus Designs Golf Website.   I think it's kind of funny.  I have never imagined the Mayans GOLFING exactly.  Nor do I imagine golfers contemplating archaeological ruins.  Imagine what you will, it is still a beautiful restoration of a Mayan site.

In May, 2008, the Jaguar Golf Course was opened in the area around the ruins of Dzibilchaltún.  I had never heard of it until our friend Mikey showed us in December 2009.  Last weekend my brother Jay, an avid golfer, was visiting us so we included a drive-by of the new course in Friday's tour.  It isn't easy getting into the gate, but my brother looks like a golfer and was wearing a PGA cap, so we got the first class treatment.  One of the caddies drove us around the course in a golf cart, pointing out ruined Mayan temples as well as reciting all of the course's golfing data.  Since I don't golf, it is Greek to me....but for those of you who do golf, this par 72 campo de golf is one of Jack Nicklaus' signature courses.  The 7282 yard masterpiece has a unique layout including five restored authentic Mayan ruins, 5 par five holes, 8 par fours, and 5 par threes.   My brother and Cherie, his wife, read the stats on the course and both felt they could accommodate their skill levels at the Jaguar.  Although they didn't indulge in a day of golf on this trip, I imagine next time they will.  They were very impressed with everything about Jack Nicklaus' Signature Jaguar Golf Course at the Yucatán Country Club.

The website states Mérida has been overlooked as a tourist or retirement destination because of the lack of great golf.  I have my doubts about that, since the people I know who have retired to this area don't have the bucks to play USD$200 rounds of golf every day.  Then again I have never hung out with the golfing set, other than caddying for my brother once when I was in high school.  Back to this golf course....the grounds are beautiful.  720 acres of plush green carpet.  Hidden deep inside is a pro shop, a restaurant/bar, big gymnastic complex, four giant swimming pools: babies, little kids, Olympic, and Indoor Olympic.  Photos below. 

Jaguar Golf Club is hyped as "soon to be home to one of the most important PGA Championships" and it plans to offer Mexico's first "Active Adult Community".  There is a lot of land attached for future upscale housing developments, but for now it is still dry jungle scrub with an emerald green 18 hole gem smack in its center. 

Pro Shop and 19th Hole.

Manicured greens.

The indoor pool.

The adult outdoor pool.

Clubhouse, restaurant, gymnasium etc.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Carnaval 2010: Regional Parade

Last year I was on a mission, so we attended every parade during Carnaval.  By the time Tuesday came we had already attended four long parades, and I could have skipped it.  I remember though that it was a hot and sunny day, and I had to avoid being poked in the eye by sun umbrellas.

This year we attended two events, returning on Monday night for the Regional Yucatecan Parade with some visiting friends.   We had box seats.  The weather was not particularly cooperative; it was cold and rainy, so of course the people were toting umbrellas and raincoats instead of beer coolers and lounge chairs.   The box seats were only half filled, giving us a chance to really rake in some loot.  Mikey joined us, Pablo caused plenty of desmadre playing his tambor and spurring the paraders to dance for us, and Eric, Jane, Fletcher and Dylan remained wide eyed during the entire evening.  Some of the scantily dressed girls that were supposed to be atop the floats hid inside the double decker buses.  It may have rained on our parade, but that didn't stop us from having a great time.  Some photos to peruse:

Box seats along the Zócalo.

Singin' in the Rain....
Great box seats in Santa Lucia, photo opportunities abounded. 

The costumes were unique.

Parade participants were enjoying themselves too.

They were ready to pose.

Pablo y Linda

Lots of loot.

Carnaval 2010: Corso Parade

Carnaval is over for another year.  This year's theme was El Ritmo del Mundial....The Rythym of the World Cup (Soccer), or maybe just El Ritmo...it wasn't quite clear to me..  We attended the Corso Parade on a refreshingly cool Mérida evening, securing bench seats in Santa Lucia Park near the food, beer and portopotties. The parade was shorter than I remember from last year; it was over in less than an hour and a half. That is quick by Mérida's standards. My brother Jay, sister-in-law Cherie, Pablo and I drank beers cooled in our Carnaval bucket, took photos, reached out to catch some loot, and later danced to the original music of the Miguel Gomez band in the park.  That was Friday night. 

Jay, Lin, Pablo

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Goodbye Sigh

I got up and flipped my calendar cube over to 7 February yesterday and WHAMMO! Flashback to the past….to probably the saddest moment I have ever experienced. Four years ago yesterday Jim Dorton took his last breath, and sighed his way over to the other side. Grief is a weird concept. My mind still wrestles with the mixed emotions I remember from that time. On the one hand I was happy that he would no longer suffer, because by the time the Lord took him he was tired of the suffering. At the same time I was horrified that the twenty plus years we spent together were over. He was gone.

The fact is I am still completely mixed up emotionally and I don’t think I operate at 100% of my past potential. I was very sad for a long time, but I am resilient and managed to bounce back to a certain extent. I am learning to work within my new limitations and I take a new approach to the concept of happiness. The only way I could see forward was to move from Hawaii, where Jim and I met and spent most of our lives together. I felt I needed to go back to my roots. Ok, not all the way back to Lagrange Street in Toledo, Ohio, no, that would be too far back. I went back to some roots I established in early adulthood traveling through Mexico and then living/working in Akumal, on the Caribbean coast. Although I no longer teach scuba diving and couldn’t afford the Mexican Riviera, I was drawn back to the Yucatán in a desperate attempt to crawl out of my grief stupor. And in retrospect, I feel happy and content living in the heart of Mérida.

For me, Mexico is a constant reminder that I am alive. The sights, the sounds, and the smells activate my appetite for living. I feel like my feet are on the ground when I am here, although I know I live in a bit of a dream world. It is and old, sturdy and settled world. I am intrigued by the Mayan history that is present all around. And although Jim wouldn’t have chosen Merida as a place to live, what drew us together when we met was our mutual love for Mexico. I remember much laughter and rum shared at the Pioneer Inn, Lahaina, Maui, over conversations about our separate adventure tales south of the border. I think he would have liked it here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mamey: Up Close and Personal

        I spent most of yesterday trying to upload the photos that follow.  Had I done my homework I would have realized that not only had I wanted to write about this tree, but in fact I already did.  Here:  The first MAMEY post.  That didn't stop me, not after spending the entire day working on this piece.  

This is the big picture.  This tree provides shade from the brutal summer sun, live entertainment for anyone sitting in the patio, a bridge to "the other side" for the cats, as well as (fingers crossed) edible fruit.  It's been a while since I have been in the swimming pool at all, let alone whiling away the hours thinking, writing and watching the life that abounds in the mamey tree.  The tree definitely brings back fond memories of a more productive time in the water. 

I was surprised to read, in my own blog mind you, that this is an evergreen tree.  Once I stopped to think about it, it not only sheds its leaves twice a year, but I don't remember a stage when it isn't full and green and leafy.  It also grows new flowers as soon as it is finished dropping the load it currently has.  The bees love them.  There always seem to be flowers growing mysteriously on its branches.

The flowers fall off by the thousands, it seems, covering the patio in a fragrant layer of yellow.

The tree makes a huge mess every day, all year long.  And we have yet to harvest one edible fruit.  Walking underneath is reminiscent of being under a coconut tree; you always have to be conscious of the noggin whacker that could drop at any moment.   

It is somewhat of a pain to maintain......but it is a great reminder of the amazing ecosystem that surrounds us. And it stirs up that longing for the good old days of summer.  I may be the only one looking forward to the intense heat, but hey, that's life in the tropics!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Animal Sterilization Mérida: More Photos

Did you really think I could post a story about such a huge venture with only one handful of photos? NOT!  Here is another handful....

Super-Volunteer & Dog Whisperer Extraordinaire, Jill.

Patiently waiting.

Poor baby. 

Surgeons and Vet Techs in translation.

Critters came in all kinds of containers.

Off to the recovery room.

The last stop:  recovery.  Whew!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Animal Sterilization Clinic - Mérida, Jan 11-15, 2010

Our friend and neighbor Jill volunteers at an animal shelter outside the city. Silvia the owner, Jill, and other volunteers feed and shelter over eighty animals at the Albergue Evolución in Umán. In December, 2009, they held a fundraising art show where Pablo donated two of his paintings. At that event we learned about the sterilization clinic being coordinated for January in conjunction with Planned Pethood of Mérida and other local animal shelters. Twenty veterinarians were coming to the Yucatán from the United States prepared to perform 1500 spay and neuter surgeries on our local pet overpopulation. Ten clinics were set up in a five day period at different locations around the city and beaches. At Silvia and Jill’s shelter alone there are some 80 dogs and cats, and the clinics gave them a miraculous opportunity to sterilize as many of their animals as they could transport to the facilities. Interested folks were invited to bring up to ten animals each. Lots of volunteers were sought for the program and we participated.

The scheduled week was from January 11-15th, 2010. If you know me at all, you already know how I feel about operating on animals. “Off with their balls,” I say! So on the coldest Monday morning in decades, we battled the elements before dawn to shuttle two friends and three dogs (without cages) from the shelter to Xmatcuil, the first day’s clinic. I sat in the back with Dixi, a pudgy 7 month old pup, who was well behaved on the ride to the location. But when we got there she could no longer hold her excitement and vomited all over me, perhaps in response to my “Off with their balls!” remarks.

As everyone met up at Xmatcuil, Pablo assisted in the moving of the animals through the sterilization process, and I was assigned the job of taking photos. I was fascinated at the opportunity to see this surgery for myself, and I took my task seriously, rapidly filling my camera. Once we emailed photos off to the newspaper, we took up positions in the recovery room. We held and rocked the anesthetized dogs and kitties like little babies, watching them change from limp creatures with their tongues hanging out of their mouths back into the beloved pets that came in the door. Everyone involved hustled around all day and an incredible effort was met with total success.

The next couple of days we spent actually managing the clinics: registering, weighing, tagging and moving the animals through the system; assisting the vets, and caregiving in the recovery room. Everyone involved worked long hours, and together we all made it a success. By the end of the week each clinic met its goal, demonstrating the overwhelming response of the people. Folks were very appreciative of the program, and we hope it is possible to do it again next year. 

Lin, Chloë & puppy, and Julie off to Xmatcuil.

Line 'em up!

Two adorable and adoptable puppies from the shelter.

Good morning, Mérida!

The vets and surgical area at Xmatcuil.