Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
"How did you end up living in Mexico, if that's not to much of a personal
question? And..... its so beautiful there, so what makes all the Mexicians leave and run the border to get into America?"
So, Marmite Toasty, I had always believed that I'd leave my hometown and teach somewhere else. My plan was to retire with a pension in Michigan and teach another 10 years in Florida or Arizona, then retire for good. Having two teacher pensions and a Social Security check would have made retirmement very comfortable. That all changed when I was involved in two car crashes. My neck injuries made life difficult. As soon as I was eligible for my Michigan teachers' pension, I retired. Unfortunately, I needed to spend some of my retirement savings to buy enough service time to retire with a "30 year" pension. I only taught for 25 years.
Living overseas was a dream that my partner and I shared. When my older brother actually made his decision to move to Ajijic, Mexico we thought more about that dream. After my life started swirling in the toilet bowl, it became easier to leave Michigan and move to where my meager pension would stretch enough to take care of both of us. We were struggling. Now, we watch our centavos and love every minute we are here doing so.
The very poor are desperate to live better lives in Mexico. One local teenager recently killed herself after telling friends she would rather die than be so poor and have to beg for help. We have quite a few folks that live hand to mouth in town. Those folks beg or sell junk to try and live. Some can't even afford to live here and take a bus from Guadalajara where the cost of living is less. After seeing how some of the "better off" folks live, I have a better understanding of Mexico and why some go North with some fragments of hope.
Surprisingly, we have met numerous Mexicans that had lived in the United States. They moved, didn't like the American lifestyle, and moved back to Mexico. Life is simpler here. Values are different. Time is different. And, here in the Lake Chapala region, there is a unique culture and lifestyle because of all the Brits, Canadians, Europeans, Americans, and "wealthy" Mexicans.
There are many reasons why folks retire and live in this community. We all have a story to tell. I'll share mine freely. And, with joy.
If I ever lose the sense of wonder as I travel about my part of Mexico, well, I'd be dead or an ungrateful wretch. Forget all the stereotypical images you may have of Mexico. The real Mexico is diverse in its climate, geography, languages, and culture. Nope, no snoring Mexicans leaning on a wall and covered with a large sombrero around here. The closest thing to the stereotype is the old American with Alzheimers that dresses in native garb and rides a donkey through the streets.
We walked about a lot yesterday. We, of course, enjoyed the weather, our beautiful surroundings, and watching the tourists. Yep, we've been reduced to gaining some of our entertainment from watching the pink-skinned folks from Europe, Canada, other areas of Mexico, and the United States. I found myself muttering to a family of "white" people that they mustn't forget their sunscreen. I don't think they heard me.
Ajijic and the Lake Chapala region are like Ontario's "cottage country" for rich and poor folks that live in Guadalajara. The really rich Mexicans own vacation homes here and may only visit a few weekends a year. Of course, when the snowbirds leave, the amount of rental property and hotel efficientcy apartments increases. Right now is the perfect time to scope out rentals. Tourists love the beauty of this area and enjoy the closeness to Mexico's 2nd largest city. The local pyramids, volcanos, butterfly forests, agave plantations, and the town of Tequila are favored attractions.
The first picture, above, was taken yesterday. I was on our sidewalk in front of the neighbors' empty lot. Facing south, you can see Lake Chapala and the mountains across the lake from us. The second photograph was taken with the zoom.
The third photo was taken from the lake front facing north. I will never tire of looking up at those mountains.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
We had quite a bit of rain the other night. We seem to have plugged the major leaks with the roof sealer and only found one leak. Unfortunately, that leak is in a new location. Crap. Well, I wasn't done with the roof anyway. Now I just have to wait for a few dry days.
The clouds hung low over the mountains for the better part of yesterday. We couldn't see any peaks. We had a brief period of mugginess but it blew off with new winds coming across the lake. The Pemex station in the first photograph is on the street behind our house and halfway down the block. God, I love the GREEN mountains and those wispy clouds. The second photograph, also taken yesterday, is looking uphill from the edge of the lake. The shot didn't capture the incline of the street going up the hill to the town square. Trust me, Ajijic is no San Fransisco, but it is plenty hilly. Some streets are steep.
I am continually amazed and grateful for the opportunity to live near the clouds. I think that I have adjusted pretty well to the altitude and climate. I am certain that come winter I'll need a sweater or a jacket sometimes. We won't be laughing at the acclimatized anymore. We'll be just like them...
I asked the doctor to take my blood pressure yesterday. It was 130 / 80. Not bad for an old guy. I'm maintaining my weight loss and hope to drop some more. Yep, all is right in my world.
"First, I think it's impossible to believe the city charter intended
people who were voted off the council to be appointed to council
Okay, hang on Ralph, the first person to whom the vacant city council seat was to be offered only failed to be re-elected. I think that it is presumptuous to believe that the VOTERS didn't want Ms. Sample-Winn on the city council. Didn't she receive the highest vote count behind the, what is it? -- seven? -- folks ahead of her? To say that she was voted off the island is inaccurate. She had more people vote for her to be on the city council than the two outsiders illegally appointed to the council. They didn't even run for office!
If anyone really follows these little conversations with myself, you know how pissed I am
about the Port Huron City Council. In the beginning, I thought that Mayor Brian "I-got-fired-from-my-police-job-in-Port Huron" Moeller was just stacking the city council with his friends. Ignoring the clearly written and well-understood City Charter was easy if any legal hack said you could. Asshole. Anyway, it seems that the motivation for this corrupt coup was more sinister.
I love Math. The rules don't go wonky. I hate it when some jerks try to tell me that two plus two doesn't have to equal four because some phreaking lawyer told them so.... It's almost like the Port Huron Area School District officials bragging about an award given to them by the folks THEY PAY to audit the books. Well, maybe that doesn't track, but the point is -- it is self-serving. In these cases, its just plain ignorant.
So, the self-righteous arrogant boys that hood-winked the electorate believe that they have some sort of "mandate" to rule the City because just another alleged tax-payer revolt occurred. Those guys know that these anti-council groups form on the drop of a hat in Port Huron. It's gotta be the water. They stir people up and thrust a "trusted" candidate in the lime light. Yep, ya'll got a couple of winners.
And, they believe they have all the answers.
I'm just waiting for the shine to wear-off.
The re-call petitions and future candidates are just on the horizon. Just another day in that little little town.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Surprise surprise! I got out of the house by myself the other night. That, itself, is a minor miracle. We are somewhat joined at the hip and I still managed to go out, eat, talk with friends on the Plaza, and find myself talking to a 7th grader from Chicago. After the interview, the boy's mother told me that what I said was what a lot of people say about living in Ajijic.
Nope, I'm not unique in my reasons for dumping the condo, car, and most of what we owned. Don't look for really rational reasons for uprooting and transplanting ourselves several thousands of miles south. We no longer have all the expenses associated with home ownership. No condo fees, no incompetent and criminal condo board to stress over, no condo insurance, etc. We don't have to repair an old car, pay for insurance, vehicle registration, etc. And, our lives are no longer cluttered with multiple TV's, electronic equipment, old toys, and crap we rarely used.
Instead of the noise from the eighteen wheelers on the Blue Water Bridges we occasionally hear a truck grind gears to get uphill or squealing brakes as it goes downhill. We get to listen to roosters, the clapping of horse hooves, vendors, and, when desired, absolutely nothing.
We love learning Spanish, the food, the cost of living, the food, the people, the food, the climate, the food, the beautiful surroundings.... Did I mention the food? Yep, I'm feeling great about the decision to move.
My general mood seems to be stable at the moment. Replacing Lamictal with Criam was a good move, too. Criam is a tablet form of valproic acid that is used in treating epilepsy, just as Lamictal. (In Spanish, Criam is valproato de magnesio.) I still take Welbutrin, vitamins, fish oil capsules, and the usual blood pressure and thyroid medications. We've added another drug finding multiple uses – Provigil. All is well. My psychiatric cocktail seems adequate for now.
That's Billy, above, shirtless and sitting at the computer – in negative. I love my $99 camera. I'm still discovering all the kewl things it can do.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Update: I'm the last guy -- about 4 minutes into the video. The young man has a short tour of Ajijic here.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Many many years ago I spent several months in Bozeman, Montana. I was thrilled every day when I would look at the mountains that surrounded the Gallatin Valley. The house where I stayed was a half of a block from a city park and we had to use a small foot bridge to cross a cold and rapidly flowing mountain stream to get there. I absolutely fell in love with living in the mountains. The only thing that Bozeman lacked was a huge blue lake.
Living in Port Huron spoiled me. I lived most of my life within walking distance of the shores of Lake Huron and the banks of the St. Clair River. I learned to swim in the deep waters of the river. I fished in the St. Clair River and the Black River, a tributary flowing through Port Huron. And, our beaches are beautiful. Watching the flow of lake freighters, ocean-going vessels, sailboats, and power boats going up or down the river while having ice cream from London's or DQ was just part of life.
Living in a border town was also quite an experience. I may devote an entire post to the advantages of having been a border brat at some time in the future. Suffice it to say, I have a unique appreciation for my Canadian cousins.
Right now, I live less than 1/2 mile from Mexico's largest lake, Lake Chapala. I also live, as do most of us in Ajijic, on the side of a mountain. I am really spoiled. I live on a mountain and near a huge fresh water lake. I love this town. I am continually in awe of my surroundings here and each day I am appreciative of the breathtaking views of the lake and of the mountains here and across the lake.
I took the photograph, above, sometime last week (ignore the incorrect date/time). A friend from back home wanted to see what the streets are like in Ajijic. This street is in really good shape. Yes, you have to learn how to walk up and down hill on uneven stones. I don't trip much at all now.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
I was deeply offended by a Christianist minister that came to our door many many years ago. He was the pastor of a large Baptist church in our community. My wife and I greeted him warmly and invited him into our home. We thought we might have a pleasant visit. Minutes later, Deb was asking him to leave. We hadn't invited him in to disparage our church and question our relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Question" is actually incorrect -- he stated quite boldly that unless we accepted Jesus Christ we would burn in Hell. You see, that minister's brand of Christianism gives him the right and the obligation to JUDGE. And, he did. Shortly after crossing the threshold of our home he was telling us how very wrong we were and all that going to Hell shit. It didn't matter what we said because his mind was closed to the possiblity that anyone from my faith could go to Heaven. He totally rejected our "Christian Witness".
Yes, Christianists love to be lions and eat Christians.
I have to admit that I couldn't just let him walk away after Deb's demand. I followed him to the bottom step of the porch and as he walked away -- I brushed the dust off my clothes and shoes. I really shouldn't have done it -- but I was taught that sometimes you have to walk away. I put him in God's hands.
Senator Barack Obama is continually having his Christianity questioned. TV and radio "ministers" just won't take Obama at his word. I guess when someone tells you that he submitted his life to Jesus Christ it isn't rude to say "No, you didn't!" I got an email today and was sadly informed that several Christianist groups were already ripping apart the Matthew 25 Network radio ad. The letter had a link to one site where some guy claims that the Matthew 25 Network's radio ad is going to cause traffic accidents. What? Christianists can't drive and condemn people to Hell at the same time?
James "I'm not a minister, but I play one on the radio" Dobson seems to be the worst Christianist hate-monger so far. I feel so very sorry for these guys. Don't they realize that "if it doesn't invite you to Christ, it is not of God"? Unfortunately, there are no invitiations to Christ just solicitations for money so they may continue their hate. There are no invitations to the listeners/viewers to become as Christ and feed the poor, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and visit those in prison.
Just hate. And, it is so very very sad....
Matthew 25:35-40 - "'For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?' And the King will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.''
Matthew 25:41-46 - "Then He will also say to those on the left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn't take Me in; I was naked and you didn't clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn't take care of Me'… Then He will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
You may donate to the Matthew 25 Network here. I just might be able to find the $35 to run a radio ad somewhere once more...
I've had a busy day. Right now, I am killing time. The first application of the roof sealer is on the front half of the main house where all the rain came inside. It was pretty easy. I used an old broom to apply the sealer. And, wait.
We walked to the Plaza this morning, had lunch at David's Cafe, pulled a hunk of dough out of the money puker, visited Dr. Polo, and bought needed medication. I lost Bill after that but continued on to order cat litter from a vet store on the main drag and to order gas from the Zeta Gas folks. I walked and paid cash in advance. The "arena" will be delivered tomorrow and the gas truck already came and filled the pig out front. Oh, yeah, somewhere in there I managed to go to the store for a Coke (Coca) and a chocolate muffin for Mariana, our part-time maid.
I got a little manic and exploded at Bill for no good reason after breakfast. I apologized and let him go off to visit with some of our friends while I worked on the roof. He would have been underfoot anyway. Yes, I made a few extra trips to the roof with water for the mix but I am glad I got it all done -- the first coat.
The picture above is of a section of the roof. Note the mirador where I lounge and listen to the town. The dark stains on the brick are "high water" marks -- yes -- on the roof!!
Oh, crap. I hear thunder in the distance. I guess the roof only gets one coat today. Our friends tell us they only put on the first diluted coat. I want to do it right. I think the first coat will be dry before the rain gets here....
Yesterday was a "dry" day and we managed NOT to get any of the roof work done. By the time the roof was dry enough it seemed too late to proceed. The clouds were relentless and occasionally spat out some raindrops. Maybe today...
The picture above was taken last week before our several days of rain began. It was a cloudy day and when I spotted the blue sky I had to have a picture. Note the storm cloud over the mountain peaks. This shot was taken from our roof facing northwest.
"Part II: In today's program Brannon exposes that lie that Hitler killed
homosexuals. Even a homosexual writer admits that is false. Some of
Hitler's inner circle were homosexual and bi-sexual. The Brown Shirts
started as a homosexual and bisexual organization."
What a terrible terrible disrespectful thing to say. The Pink Triangle is the patch that the homosexual inmates of Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps wore. Jews wore the Yellow Triangle. Petty criminals, Gypsies, and Communists wore triangles of various colors to designate their "crime". And, the Brown Shirts........
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Hhmmmmm.... is Candice Miller (R-10) planning to join the lobbyist ranks? Is she done with public service and ready to cash in on her political achievements and connections? She doesn't seem to want anything else in Michigan politics.....
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
And, Jesse Jackson?