On top of the rock

On top of the rock
Our Cliff

Monday, May 31, 2010

THE U.P. (pronounced YOU PEE)

My drive through the U.P. as the northern part of Michigan is commonly called, was an interesting study in something I like to call “a different planet”. Of course I am from Wisconsin and there are many similarities in our sister state.

Both states are beautiful.

The upper part of Wisconsin is the same in topography and going from Michigan into Wisconsin you would never know where the border is.

Spring here is fresh and green, and the pines have new light green growths on all the ends of their branches. The maples and oaks have fresh, minty colored leaves sprouting from their branches. It is so lovely.

On the drive, I crossed the 45th parallel at Traverse City, Michigan. At this point, I was exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole. I also drove across the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw Island. This 5-mile bridge looks like the Golden Gate Bridge and is the conduit between lower and upper Michigan. I guess before it was completed in 1957 you would have to boat across. As I am taking in this beautiful scenery I am reminded exactly where I am by signs that read, “ELK CROSSING”. These are signs that Canadians may see while traveling through Northern Ontario. In fact, much of my drive was similar to that area.

There are things in the U.P. called “Totem Village”, Wigwam Palace” and places that sell "Indian goods". All radio stations are either Christian radio or play Country and Western music. You pass through existing mining towns and towns that are no longer towns, since the mines have long since closed. In these ghost towns you see abandoned houses and endless rows of roadside hotels that have long since closed down; their signs hanging crookedly on rusted posts. Places that were named, “Dew Drop Inn” and “Stay Put”. You pass logging trucks filled with huge logs that are being driven to places far away. A truck filled with wood like this would be worth a fortune in the Baja, a place where there in no wood.

Many things I observed are just like things you may see when driving up north or up to “cottage country” in Ontario.

What you will not see in Northern Ontario are billboards touting how the military is the backbone of our civilization. Each billboard supports a different branch of service. Now these billboards are not necessarily in support of our troops. They are letting every person seeing them know that unless you fight, you are really not valuable. “Fight”, not serve your country. This mentality is apparent when you see groups of men dressed in full camouflage, with military boots, pants tucked in, shaved heads, shopping or buying gas. These are not men who are out hunting, thus dressed in camouflage. These are men, traveling in packs, dressed for the day, in the clothes that apparently must make them feel like real men. Paramilitary, I guess. Where they go and what they do is the real question. Did they make me feel safe? HELL NO!! They creeped me out and I certainly would not follow them to a deserted road to see what they were doing.

Another thing I noticed driving through this area was the American flag. I have never seen anything like it since the serge of Patriotism after September 11th. Here people fly American flags on their homes, their cars, their businesses. You can barely drive a mile without being inundated with flags. Pride in being an American is obvious. To me, the disturbing part is what they expect an American to be. Driving you see billboards that quote Thomas Jefferson and read, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” I saw another one with a picture of a gun surrounded by the words “Your Right, Your Duty” and of course, “Impeach Obama”.

There are bumper stickers that read, “FIRE NANCY PELOSI”. “My child was inmate of the month at the county jail” “You’re for abortions but against killing terrorists?” “Hug a soldier - Shoot a Democrat” AND...drum roll...”Don’t blame me, I voted for the American”.

My take on all this is that people here are conservative and judgmental. Now don’t get me wrong, there is certainly nothing wrong with being a conservative. It is the judgmental part that concerns me, but of course that is exactly what I am doing, isn’t it! I am judging people without even knowing them. Let me just say that this is not a planet I would choose to live in, no matter how beautiful it was. BTW, the Knights of the KKK originated in Michigan. Enough said.

My drive through this area was 8 days ago. Since then I have spent a night in Rhinelander Wisconsin with my friends Tara and Jerry. I have spent a week in my hometown visiting with friends and spending lots of time with my family. Now I am at my sister Barbara and her husband John’s cottage. BTW she is still wrapping her foot from the fall down our road in Mexico. I guess she really did hurt herself!!! We have had most of our family come and go while spending the last 4 days here. It has been perfect.

On Tuesday, I am on a plane back to Maurice and Retro. I have a feeling this will shortly feel like a dream I had. Time goes so quickly and I have done so much in the past five weeks. I will have many great memories to think about in the upcoming months. It has been a great vacation from our life in Mexico, which is also a vacation. I guess that is retirement. One vacation day after another. I love that!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Parents

When Vanessa and Jay went on their honeymoon they left their 18-month-old daughter, Addison, with Jen and Chris, who also have a baby girl. Their daughter Eden is 14 months and their son Noah is four. For one 24-hour period, I was there with our three grandchildren, helping take care of them while Jen and Chris worked. It is not unusual that I spend time taking care of children, whether it was babysitting for money when I was younger, or taking care of my brother and nieces and nephews, or even watching Noah when he was younger, I have spent lots of time with children.

Can I tell you though that at 6pm this day I truly thought it was time for the kids to go to bed? I asked Jen if it was time yet??? I mean, if I am exhausted, those children must be, right!!!! I am not sure if it was the two hours at the park, or the constant playing, or the 4 poo filled diapers, (two per girl) or the feeding, cleaning up, and the feeding and the cleaning up, then the juice, and the bottles, or maybe it was that extra child that was put into the mix....I am not sure, but WOW, that 24 hours took a lot of energy.

These thoughts brought me to thinking about all you parents out there. The time involved in raising children, and the dedication it takes to raise good, responsible citizens of the world. I also realize the never-ending concern you have for these children, no matter how old they are.

Of course my Mom still worries endlessly about me. I am 55 years old and she still worries about my safety, my choices and what I am doing. During my last weekend in Canada, at Jake Lake with my Ya Ya’s, everyone one of them was worried about their children. Megan was concerned about her son who was driving home from University in Nova Scotia. One of Linda’s sons is planning for his future and she was worried about the choices he had to make. Ann was concerned for her son who is competently competing with much older boys for a choice goalie position. Being successful in this league could help get him a scholarship for school. Susana has two little ones...she was worried about...well maybe she was just thrilled to be free from changing poo filled diapers for a few days!!

I realized that as a parent, no matter how young or how old your children get they will always be your main thought and concern. It begins when they are born, with feeding them and making sure they are safe. You will always sacrifice your needs or desires to insure they get everything they need. It was such a great pleasure for me to see that amazing parents are raising our grandchildren. They are good, kind, and light hearted little people. They are being primed to be intelligent and productive members of society. That makes me proud. My little bit of time with all of them helps me appreciate what Vanessa, Jay, Jennifer and Chris, as well as all of you who have parented, do with your endless energy, love, support and selflessness.

I am already missing them all.....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some pictures from Maurice

I wanted to share with you pictures Maurice has sent me of what has been happening in Mexico as I am roaming around Canada and the mid-west. What he sent is some of the stone work that is being applied, by hand, piece by piece, to the bottom of the bodegas. He also sent me a picture of the round opening that was put in for casita number 2. I wanted put this large window in there so when someone is laying in bed they can look north, up the Pacific coast.
Than the coolest thing is that he went to the neighbouring land and captured the road, the bodega at the bottom and how the whole project sits on the cliff. It is much closer than it appears here, as there is an illusion of distance from the buildings to the edge. This does not exists since the cliff juts in and out. You can even see the path they made, from the parking lot up to the casitas. We will be getting a UTV of some sort to bring people, luggage, groceries, etc. up to the top.
Now they will begin our private area on the north end of this all. I get back in 10 days...
My next posting, when I get a minute to sit down and do it will be on parenting. After which I need to tell you about my drive to Wisconsin through Ontario and the UP..which is Upper Peninsula in Michigan.....can you say DIFFERENT PLANET!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Almost done

It will be two weeks tomorrow since I arrived in Toronto. Our reason for coming was, of course the wedding. It was held this past Friday and it was beautiful! Vanessa and Jay seemed so very happy.



The ceremony was precious! Addison, their 19 month old daughter cried for her parents so Jay held her in his arms throughout the entire ceremony, changing arms only to put the ring on Vanessa It was adorable!



The dinner was great and the reception was a blast! Everyone partied and danced until they threw us out at 2am! Certainly a memorable day for all. Maurice’s speech was heartfelt and Vanessa’s made me cry. All was good!








Now Maurice is gone and I am on my own for the next two weeks. He arrived back in the Baja last night and picked up Retro today. Of course he excitely peed all the way to his master....I mean Retro peed, not Maurice!!

While Maurice was in Canada they finished the block work for the pool, cemented over the blocks on the main house and began the rock fa├žade on the casitas. Maurice was happy with what was done while he was away. We hired one of the workers to stay there for Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights, as this is when the normal “vigilantes” go home for the week. Arriving back on a Sunday Maurice found the worker there, with his wife and baby sleeping inside his workshop. He knew the worker would be there, but not his family. I guess this place was better than what they have at home, which is so sad. Maurice was thrilled with them, saying the palms were well watered and everything was so clean and nice. I hope that one day we may be able to share the inside of the bodega with them.

Tomorrow I will go to Jen and Chris’ house to spend 24 hours with them and watch Noah and Eden, as well as Addison. Vanessa and Jay left her with them while they went on their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. That will be my final visit with the family. My last three days in Canada will be spent with Susana, our newly anointed, and long overdue, YaYa - as well as the rest of the YaYa’s on Jack Lake...then I drive to Wisconsin.

For now I will say to all of you here that I have been lucky enough to spend some time with, "Thank You"! Thank you for caring about our adventure. Thank you for asking the right questions and listening to the answers. Thank you for opening up your hearts to us and in many cases your homes! Over and over again I realize how blessed we are and I will never take that for granted.

For those of you who pretend to like us so you can come visit us and stay for free, that is O.K. We really do not know the difference and are grateful that anyone likes us at all!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You can’t escape Montezuma

Of course I come to Toronto and get sick. It is not from running non-stop and sleeping in 10 different places during my first 14 days here. It is not from too much activity, or wine, or good food. It is not because it is freezing cold here and I have no coat. It is not from STILL not knowing what I am wearing to the wedding, which is in three days. It is not even from yearning for our bodega! It is from a little bug that crawled into my stomach and has been trying to get out of me, using both ends of my body. Can I tell you this sucks hugely? I missed our overnight with Rudy and Edwina. I missed our dinner with my most favorite ex-client, Jerry Cayne and his partner Carol. I missed two days of just being around the city and running into people, shopping for a dress, and enjoying our time here. We are now sleeping at the Park Inn, Hi 27 in Etobicoke, the only advantage is that I can sleep and wake when I wish…and I hope I am not infecting anyone else.

Tomorrow is Wednesday. Need to get stuff done. Need to buy a dress!! Need to get Maurice’s tux. Need to go to the bank and all the errands we have been putting off.

Tomorrow I will wake up healthy and good.

Yes, tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Toronto

I have been here 6 days now. Every day has been amazing. Toes are painted. Hair is cut, and I have worn make-up almost everyday! How easy it was to slip right back “into it”. The traffic is brutal!! My friends are great!! Today I attended a sales meeting at CHFI. I sat in my same chair and for the first time EVER I kept my mouth shut...well almost shut. Of course, I had to give SOME feedback! It was fun.

My first highlight began the minute I got inside the limo to take me to my car. American Airlines got me a room at the Sheraton at the airport. Nice. When I asked the concierge for a cab, unbeknownst to me they sent for a limo. My first thought, was “Gees, how much will this cost,” but I was too embarrassed not to get inside.

I climbed in and the driver looked in the rear view mirror and said, “WOW, I love your eyes! You are beautiful.” I was happy I had put on make-up!! I decided than I really did not care how much the limo cost!!!

SO, we start the chat. He starts telling me that he is not from Toronto and that he does not really drive a limo for a living. Of course I ask where he is from and he goes on to tell me that he moved from LA where he tried to get into acting but after the “favors” the producers wanted from him he realized that he could not “give himself” to get into the business. Now he is a dancer. “Dancer?” I ask. My tone was such that I may as well have said “Stripper??” “Yes,” he answers. My next question was, “With clothes?” He answered, “I start out that way.”

OOOOOOKay I am being chauffeured in a limo by a stripper who thinks I have beautiful eyes. My first culture shock. But wait, it gets better.

He goes on to tell me that he is Armenian and that he prefers blonde blue-eyed women to the dark complected women from his homeland. Besides being a dancer for “Thunder Down Under” (Google it) he is a male escort. “Women come from all over to be escorted by me,” he says. He tells me that he looks so much better when he escorts women. He showers, dresses well and is a great conversationalist. He is intelligent, knows many things about the world and would be a great companion. His name is Victor, but his American name is Justin. Women really prefer the name, Justin. He said the sex part is up to me, and if I was happily married, that is O.K.

WHHHHHATTTTT!!!! Beautiful blue eyes my ass! He wants me to hire him!!! I can promise you this does not happen in Mexico. Never. Being blondes, my sister and I were whistled at a few times in Guadalajara, but we were not asked if we wanted to hire some guy for sex. I guess somewhere between LA and Toronto Victor/Justin changed his mind about “giving himself”.

We get to Ann and Brian’s house and he gives me his number, and I ask him how much I owe him. He tells me $35. $35!!! That is what we spend for all-you-can-eat-pizza and 4 margaritas on a Wednesday night!!! That was a lot, but there was no meter was running. He asked if that was O.K.? I said, “NO! That is a lot!” He told me he would make it up to me when I called! EEGADS!

Now I did find out afterwards that this is the normal rate but I still should have just called just to get my monies worth!!!! LOL!!!

I am still shaking my head! WELCOME HOME!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

REWIND

To those who have read my story from day one this title will make sense. To any newcomers, who did not start at the beginning of the blog, this, like many of the references in my writing, may not make total sense.

It has been 4 months, almost to the day, that I boarded that plane that took me through Phoenix into Cabo San Lucas to begin our new life there. Nervousness is a word that really understates my feelings and fear of the unknown. I was frightened to leave my family and friends. I was frightened to move to a place of so many things out of our control; but I guess that is life. We never really have, or can have, control over our lives. We may try. We may even fool ourselves into thinking we do have control, but I have learned we never really do. Of course we can control our own actions but since we can not control others’ actions we really do not have any control at all, do we?? Life is given to us on a daily basis and each day is as unpredictable as the day before. All is predicated on who we deal with, who we meet, and the decisions everyone makes during that encounter.

For the last few days the reality of me “going home” has been hitting me little by little. Now Maurice says I can not say “going home” anymore since our home is in Mexico now. It still feels like I am going home.

Packing has been a huge problem. First, because much of what we have is in storage so I have really nothing to pack. What I flew down here with is now going back with me. That, and some shorts and tee-shirts. (Although Jonathan sent me a message yesterday that it is supposed to SNOW in Toronto!) What am I wearing to Vanessa and Jay‘s wedding? No idea. I could not find any dress clothes in our two storage units.

Emotionally I stupidly feel fragile. I am insecure about going back. Our world in Mexico is so safe, simple and easy. Now I am going back to the traffic, the hordes of people, and CHFI. Even writing that freaks me out. I worked there for 17 years. Deep inside for the past 4 months I have felt like we were on vacation and that I would be going back. Back to my clients, back to my friends. Now I am going back; as a visitor. I remember “visitors” coming back to CHFI after leaving us for whatever reason. There is always huge excitement in the halls...people bustling around saying hello, some really excited, others not really so happy to see you back in the halls. Everyone stands around for 10 minutes and the superficial conversation flies around. Please don’t let that happen to me!!! It is kind of like going to your class reunion and having everyone say, “HEY HOW ARE YOU!!!! What are doing now?” Please...if they only REALLY knew, or cared!! There will even be some at work, like I did on occasion, that will say, “Hey, haven’t seen you in a while! Been away???” I am sure that will happen to me.

Don’t misunderstand, I am beyond excited to see the people that I really care about, and there are many. We have been in contact over the 4 months and my dear friend Susana has organized a special evening on Thursday where a huge group is getting together. Wish Maurice would be there, but he is staying behind for one more week...too much going on with our construction. ANYWAY....I am so excited about seeing all these wonderful people...yet nervous.

Silly things that I would never have thought about before are now issues. I have not had my toenails painted since December. They have been fine and very sensible since I walk barefoot on the beach every day, but now they seem unfinished. When I get to Toronto I will get a pedicure.

I have worn make-up four times in 4 months. Now I am packing my mascara, my eye shadow, and even put some on this morning cause, “I am going home.” BTW I really love not wearing make-up. But yet, this morning, I liked putting it on again.

I have lived in my Croc flip-flops almost daily for 4 months. Now I have 5 pairs of shoes packed in my carry-on...and trouser socks. TROUSER SOCKS!!!! Come on…trouser socks??

Yes, I am excited to see everyone in Toronto, yet I feel like I am going to throw up. It is that same feeling I had 4 months ago during my travels when I moved to Mexico. I still have my thumb ring on, and my “Dream a little dream” bracelet. I am tanner than when I left, but other than that nothing has changed...except everything has changed.

Later that same day...in Dallas


Boy was I right about that control thing. Up at 3am this morning. Maurice drives me the hour and a half to the airport for my 7:30 flight. First stop Dallas. Second stop Toronto with Megan picking me up and her and me heading to our Ya Ya dinner at Ann’s house. The only problem is my flight was canceled, after we sat on the airplane for two hours...some mechanical issue. Now I will not arrive into Toronto until 11:35 which is long after the Ya Ya’s will be home getting ready for their work day tomorrow. I arranged for American airlines to give me a free hotel room when I arrive...you see I have no home there anymore. WOW...that was hard to say. So my first reunion has been scraped. Here I sit in Dallas, with my $10 food voucher, waiting another 3 hours for my flight. I will land in Toronto and spend the night alone. I will take a taxi to my car in the morning, which is at Ann and Brian’s house.

O.K. sidebar here. I have an old Chrysler Sebring convertible. So old that to sell it would be worthless so we decided we would leave it in Toronto so we have a car when we come back. Ann and Brian graciously offered to keep it at the extra cottage (yes, extra cottage) for me. The bad thing is that when they went to take it here there was so much snow, and I had sold my new snow tires, so they ended up keeping it in their driveway for the winter. If you can imagine...their lovely home, in a fabulously old, large treed, beautiful neighborhood, filled with houses that most of us could never even imagine owing...there sat my car...all winter, in their driveway. That is true friendship!!! :)

Anyway, tomorrow I will get my car and begin my time in Toronto. I missed my night with my Ya Ya’s. How can I be so sad!!! Gees that sucks!!! Thank heavens we will havw three days together on Jack Lake before I leave. Tomorrow evening I have a night all alone with Susana. We need to have some time together. We missed a lot of each other’s lives in the past 4 months. I know for sure I will make this date...this I can control.

Damn!! I put on make-up for nothing!!! Do I need to wash my face tonight??!!!!