Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ready to Send

I know it's only September, and this may sound ridiculous, but I have finished making out my Christmas cards.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that each year I paint a picture which I use for my card.  This summer I took the painting to the printer, and before I left for Mexico in August, I already had my cards.  I send out the cards the day before Thanksgiving, and my friends have come to expect my card as the first that they receive each year.  I used to take the cards with me on my October trip to Mexico and make them out down there.  But the last few years I have completed them before my trip.  They are now ready to send when I return from Mexico a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

You also know that each year I create a calendar featuring my own photos.  I give those out as Christmas gifts.  That project was completed this summer, and several months ago I received the box shipped from Shutterfly.

Some of those calendars are shipped to my cousins in Europe.  I have to fill out a customs form for each of those.  A few weeks ago, when I was at the post office, I grabbed a stack of the forms.  

I filled them all out the other day, and today I am going to send them, avoiding the Christmas delivery rush.  The postage will cost as much as the calendars themselves.

The question is, will these traditions go by the wayside when I move to Mexico where the mail delivery is notoriously slow and unreliable?  I suppose I could get the Christmas cards for 2023 printed out, addressed and stamped before I make the move, and then have a friend send them out at the appropriate time.  But after that?   I create my calendars online, and I could have Shutterfly send them to the recipients in the U.S., but I doubt that they would ship them to Europe.  These are the sort of things that I will have to figure out when I am down there.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Looking at the Apartment through Different Eyes

As you know, since 2017 I have been renting a very nice condo in Mexico City.  It has been an ideal situation since I am the only tenant, and the owners only charge me for the months that I am there.  In the coming year, they are going to sell the apartment, and I am planning on buying it.

The owners are going to leave all the furnishings, which will make the move down there much easier for me.  Although the condo is very nicely furnished, I do, however, have a few pieces of furniture that I will want to have shipped down there, and I will want to make some changes in the decor to make the place my own.

So, on my recent trip, I was looking at the apartment through different eyes, thinking of what changes I will want to make.

In the living room there are two framed art prints which are very nice.  However, I want to replace them with my own artwork.

Over the sofa I want to replace the print from the Art Institute of Chicago with a large painting I did of Toledo, Spain.

On the other side of the living room there is a print of a painting by Kandinsky.  I will replace that with a painting I did of a waterfall in the Mexican state of Chiapas.  Also, the knick-knacks on the cabinet will be replaced with some of my things.

The metal rack for music CDs is going.  I will replace it with a large, black storage unit that I have for my CDs and DVDs.  The antique-style mirror and table are not really my style.  I am thinking about replacing them with a black-framed mirror that I have in my living room, and a more modern table that I use as a telephone stand.

The black lacquer dining table and chairs and the china cabinet are much more my style.

In the guest bedroom, you can see that I have already set on the bed a throw that a friend crocheted for me.  I have a couple of end tables that can go on either side of the bed.  There is plenty of wall space for more of my artwork.

There is a cabinet in the guest bedroom that is a perfectly good piece of furniture, except that the top is badly marred.  I have a Mexican table runner, already packed in my suitcase, that will cover that up nicely.

In the office there are two bookcases filled mostly with aviation books (the owner is an airline pilot).  I had previously asked his wife if it would be presumptuous of me to start making room for my things.  She said to go ahead.  So, you can see here that I cleared out several shelves (I stashed the books in a closet) and set out some of my Mexican handicrafts and other mementos.  I also put a few of my books on one of the shelves.  There is lots of wall space in this room also for hanging pictures.

In the master bedroom there is a print of a Van Gogh painting.  I will replace it with a piece of original artwork that I bought many years ago in Mérida, Yucatán.  

I also have two custom-made Amish end tables that can go on either side of the bed.  The television is opposite the bed.  Since I just bought a new TV a little more than a year ago, I will have that shipped down.  I have no idea how old the TV in the apartment is.

So, those are my plans for the apartment.  

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Clearing Out

I am continuing my preparations to eventually sell the house and move to Mexico.  

This past Thursday was the bulk garbage pick-up date for the month of September.  My friend Frank came over and we cleared out the storage shed in back of the house.  It was a two-day job.  There was even more junk than shown in this photo, but a lot of stuff was taken by passersby long before the garbage truck came.

I will be in Mexico during most of October and November, but, when they have bulk pick-up for the month of December, we are going to clear out the attic.

A different kind of clearing out has been an ongoing project this month.  Even though a killing frost is probably several weeks away, I always need to chop down the garden perennials before leaving for Mexico.  I have made good progress on that, and the project will probably be completed with just a couple more days of work.

I am hopeful that by this time next year, I will be living full-time in Mexico, and that this will be the last time I have to clear out the garden.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Another Quake

Mexico was hit by another earthquake in the wee hours of Thursday morning.  The 6.8 magnitude quake was an aftershock of the 7.6 earthquake which struck on Monday.  It too was centered on the Pacific coast in the state of Michoacán.  

It was strongly felt in Mexico City, but there were no reports of any major damage.  Two deaths were indirectly related to the quake.  One man suffered a heart attack, and a woman fell while hurrying down the stairs of her home.

(image taken from the internet)
Residents in Mexico City gather on the street in the middle of the night.

The earthquake app on Alejandro's cell phone went off, followed by the neighborhood alarm.  He got his father out of the house.  His sister Sandra woke up her son Ezra and brought him outside.  They waited on the street for around ten minutes after the quake.  Ezra was half-asleep, but visibly frightened.  He returned to school on Thursday.  Apparently, there were able to do an inspection of the building before the beginning of the school day.  There was no disruption of electricity or cell phone service.

Hopefully this will be the last of the aftershocks.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Taco Night

Yes, I have been home for two weeks, but I still have some photos from my trip to share with you.  

I spend the last couple of nights of my trips at the home of Alejandro and his family since it is closer to the airport.  The night before my departure the family decided to get tacos for my farewell supper.

I know that many people say that the tastiest and cheapest food in Mexico comes from the food stalls on the street, but I usually avoid them as a possible source of "Montezuma's revenge".  Perhaps I am being a silly, overly fastidious "gringo", although I am not alone in that opinion.  Alejandro and his family generally avoid street food.  However, they do make a couple of exceptions.  There is a vendor in front of the nearby parish church from whom they occasionally buy tamales on a Sunday morning.  There is also a taco stand a few blocks away that they frequent.  

The stand is called "Taquería El Paisa", and, according to the sign, it has been there since 1978.

I was with the family the first time they went there about five years ago.  Alejandro's mom had passed away, and for nine nights after the funeral, the rosary is said at the deceased's home.  On one of those nights, a friend of Alejandro wanted to take all of us out for tacos after the rosary.  I was a little dubious.  However, there were a lot of customers at the stand, and that is obviously a sign that the food is good.  It also means that the food has not been sitting around for a long time.  The tacos were delicious, and none of us got sick.


The "trompa" is the vertical rotisserie from which the pork for "tacos al pastor" is sliced.
Notice the pineapple on top.  Its juices flow down to flavor the meat.

I have eaten tacos from there with Alejandro's family several times since then, and the night before my departure we bought a bag of several dozen to take home.  They are greasy, but very tasty, and, knock on wood, Montezuma has never inflicted his "revenge" upon us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Passing of the Queen

There are those who would argue that the British monarchy is an irrelevant, anachronistic institution.  Yet for seventy years Queen Elizabeth II has been a constant, a symbol of continuity throughout the tumultuous years of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.  She is the only monarch of the UK that I have known in my lifetime.  She ascended to the throne in the year that I was born.  That fact struck home when, toward the end of the funeral service at Westminster Abbey, they played their national anthem.  For the first time in my life, I heard a live performance of "God Save the KING".

I woke up yesterday just a couple minutes before six in the morning.  I immediately turned to PBS on the television just as the Queen's coffin was being borne into Westminster Abbey.  I watched the funeral service, and while eating breakfast I watched the procession through the streets of London.  I had errands to run, and chores to do, but I kept the television on and continued to frequently take a moment to pause and watch the hearse as it made its way to Windsor Castle, and the second service at St. George's Chapel.

Here are a couple of photos that I managed to take during the broadcast of the service in Westminster Abbey...

 Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Curse of September 19th

I just wrote this morning that today, September 19th, is the anniversary of the two worst earthquakes to hit Mexico City in modern times... in 1985 and then again in 2017.  

This afternoon Alejandro called me and said, "Have you heard the news?"   There was another earthquake today.

Shortly after noon the national earthquake drill was held in commemoration of the two deadly quakes that occurred on this date.  Alejandro said that when the seismic alarm went off for the drill not many of his neighbors bothered to leave their houses.  Less than an hour later, at 1:09 P.M., the earthquake app that Alejandro has on his cell phone went off.  He thought that there must be a mistake.  Then the city's seismic alarms went off.  Many people at first thought that it was just a snafu related to the earlier drill.  Then they started feeling the vibrations of an earthquake, and everyone was rushing out of their homes; some were in tears.  

The quake was centered along the Paciific coast near the border of the states of Michoacán and Colima. Its magnitude registered at 7.6 on the Richter scale.  That is stronger than 2017's 7.1 quake.  Fortunately for Mexico City this quake was centered farther away than the one in 2017.  There have been no reports of death, injury or damage in Mexico City.  There has been one reported death in the city of Manzanillo, Colima.

I suspect that people in Mexico City are going to view the date of September 19th with even greater trepidation, and perhaps they will not ignore future earthquake drills.