Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In the big city...

I spent the weekend in Guadalajara, thanks to Mary Louise, who gave me a certificate for a free weekend at the Hilton and babysat Biscuit while I was away. It was good to be out in civilization again, even if civilization is dirty, hot, busy, and illegible to me.

I made a couple of friends on Craigslist, so I had some companions to meet up with and explore the city. I also met up with a friend from the spa. Overall it was a very fantastic weekend.

Here are some pics:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy camper (mostly).

Biscuit has really never been happier. In the morning we go for a (leash free) stroll down to the pool area and Biscuit checks to make sure all the rocks and bushes that he peed on yesterday are still where they're supposed to be. Mostly, they are. Then we go back to the casa for breakfast (Biscuit's--home made chicken, rice and carrots). I usually check in on the internets to make sure they're where they're supposed to be (mostly they are) and then get dressed.

Biscuit tolerates this delay, but he can hardly contain his excitement until we are on our way up to the dining room for breakfast (mine--usually melon, eggs, and potatoes, or sometimes oatmeal). You should see him race up the hill. I've never seen him run so fast; he's like a new dog. In the dining room, Biscuit checks on all the guests to make sure that everyone is up, enjoying breakfast.

The only thing here that bothers Biscuit is the thunder. He shakes with terror when it thunders, and there is nothing I can do for him. It thunders pretty much every day, so I would have thought he'd get used to it, but apparently, he's not going to.

But when it's not thundering, Biscuit is loving life. Maybe it's the lithium water.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


There are fireflies here, which surprises me. When I first saw them it took me a minute to realize what they were. I think I associate fireflies with hot, humid, hazy nights and it is anything but hot and humid here. I have only been hot once or twice...the rest of the time, the afternoon rain keeps the day from boiling over. And my casita is at the base of a hill, and shaded, so it's always nice and cool.

Speaking of my casita, I know I have been promising some pics, so here are some pics of the inside. I really haven't done it justice, and (shockingly) it's not as tidy as it might be. But then again, I was never much of a housekeeper, and that's not likely to change.

It's been a good week and a nice and lazy weekend. I slept most of yesterday and I spent today devouring a book called The Doctor's Wife. It was intense and well-written and I enjoyed it a lot. I've had a lot of time to read, which is nice--I'm even thinking about flexing my own writing muscles again. I mean, beyond Blogger, of course.

The fireflies have gone to bed now, and I won't be far behind. Just going to set the computer up to download a TV show over night...it takes about 3 hours to download a one hour episode, so I do it at night.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New sign language needed...

Biscuit LOVES Rio Caliente. I mean, what's not to love, whether you have four legs or two? But for this four-legged little guy, life just got dramatically better, and his life didn't really suck before.

I'm still cooking for him (mostly chicken, rice and carrots--or pollo, arroz and zanahorias) and I'm going to make him some special dog biscuits on Wednesday with the help of the spa's bakery. (I forgot I didn't have an oven in my casita...a minor detail!) But now Biscuit gets to spend every day following me around which is about as close to heaven as he can imagine.

He usually sticks pretty close, but his favorite room is definitely the dining room, and once in a while he'll just beeline for the kitchen and dining room. He's also gotten so comfortable here that he isn't too worried about where I am, so yesterday when I let him out, I found him down at the pool 20 minutes later, collecting affections. Even now he's whining to go up to the dining room, and we just came back from there!

I can usually get Biscuit to pay attention to me by whistling and snapping my fingers, but in the past few days, that hasn't worked so well. I'm not sure if he's going partially deaf too, but he's not good with identifying the direction a sound comes from, so I clap my hands to help him find me sometimes. But when he's not listening, I try for a louder sound...so I smack my thigh or my butt in the universal sign language for "come on! let's go!"

Well Biscuit has not been listening too well, and my butt is starting to hurt!

I need new sign language.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Well, that answers that question.

Of course there are snakes here. It's the mountains. In Mexico.

Here's a pic of the charming fellow who was just peeking in my casa window.

And by "charming" I mean "eek! that is a real live snake! Biscuit come inside!"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ai yai yaiTunes

Okay, so my Microsoft Office programs haven't worked on my MacBook Pro for...oh, maybe a year. I have tried everything I can think of: uninstall and reinstall, upgrade, downgrade, delete permissions, use a different registration key (my copy came with three keys--yes, I have a legit copy). Basically, I've just lived without Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Entourage on my home computer, making do with Google Docs and Gmail (thank goodness for Google!).

But down here in Mexico, as I've mentioned, the internets are not that fast, which makes relying on online programs less than desirable. So I was poking around said internets, looking for a solution that I hadn't tried, and I found a brilliant one! Create a new user account and see if the program works in the new environment. Because separate user accounts have their own preferences, MSOffice would have a chance to start from scratch in the new account.

So I tried it.

And it worked.

Rejoicing over my triumph, and kind of embarrassed that it took me a year to figure this out, I started trying to transfer all my files over to the new user account. And here is where I made what may turn out to be my fatal mistake. I tried to move my iTunes library.

A quick Google search (thanks again Google) showed me that it was a pretty simple matter to drop my iTunes library into a shared file so that the second account could access it, and then open iTunes under the new account and viola! all would be well.

Well, all was not well. I moved the file, opened the program under the new account, and...nothing. I knew the music was still there, because I could see the files in my Finder, but there was absolutely NOTHING in the iTunes library.

Back to Google. There were some instructions for modifying the ACL (which sounds like a part of the kneecap, and not something I'm interested in meddling with), and other tips on how to start iTunes from an external drive, but I couldn't find help for my particular problem. Somehow, moving the iTunes library into the shared folder scrambled the xml file that holds all the iTunes data. I tried importing the music, but with over 30GB, my computer choked and stuttered after just a few. Then I tried importing just a few folders, and it choked and stuttered on the album artwork.

After restarting four or five times, I got so frustrated with the whole thing that I turned the computer off and went to the pool for a soak in the lithium hot spring. There are advantages to having technical problems at a spa.

When my hands got pruny enough, I was driven back inside to try to deal with the problem again. Of course I can't just leave it alone. This time I started by setting up some other apps, like Firefox (installing my Pink Hope theme and Delicious toolbar), changing the desktop background (with images from my downloads which are located in my other account's images folder), and setting up iChat. Although it seemed doomed at first (when I first opened Firefox it was hanging the way Word used to hang, which was the reason I started this project in the first place!) but after a few minutes, it seemed to sort itself out and work normally.

I still wasn't quite ready to tackle iTunes, so I Googled again for info on how to get to iPhoto from the new account, and found a very simple solution. When you open the program, you can hold down the alt/option key and force iPhoto to ask where the library is. You then browse to the old location and viola! And this time it really was viola!

I tried the same thing with iTunes, but somehow when I moved it, I think I deleted the whole library. Fortunately (and unbeknownst to me) I had a very recent backup stored in a folder called "Previous iTunes Libraries." I was able to load this library THANK GOODNESS!!!!!! Then all I had to do was import the few songs that I've added since that back up. I really don't have any idea where it came from.

Now the only problem is that I seem to be storing music in two locations...some in the shared folder where I moved my entire 30+GB library, and some seems to have been copied to a new music folder inside the "Previous iTunes Libraries" folder. I don't like that situation, but I think I will wait till tomorrow to try to resolve it.

Now I am going to go open a Word doc!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The internets...

Biscuitprefers browsing the web with...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Into every life a little rain must fall...

"A little rain" doesn't say the half of it! It's a deluge. Absolutely pouring! And thunder cracking around like nobody's business.

Caroline called for one of the men to pick us up and take us from the dining room down to our casas, which are opposite each other. Several other guests also needed a ride, so five of us plus two dogs, Biscuit (mine, of course) and Panchito (Caroline's) piled into the back of one of the spa's VW buses. We rolled down the hill, windshield fogged up and wipers not doing much to help matters. At the bottom of the hill, we discharged two passengers near their door, then rolled forward a few feet to the next guest's room.

Unfortunately, the driver overshot the doorway a bit, and it took about five minutes of pulling forward and back, at various angles, before we could impress upon the man that where we were was close enough. Just after the woman closed the door, she opened it again quickly and pointed to the gym, where a lone figure waved frantically from inside.

After several further lurches forward and backward, we managed to pull around to the door of the gym and pick up the yoga instructor, who had been preparing the next day's class. From there, we drove down to Caroline's casa. We tugged the door open and Caroline stepped out and tried to put up her umbrella, but was hampered by the bushes, which we had practically parked inside of. Since she couldn't manage the umbrella, the bushes, the car door, the keys, and Panchito, I grabbed the pooch and made a run for the door.

Of course, I got thoroughly soaked. And of course, the first thing Panchito did after being deposited dryly on his doorstep was step back into the rain to look for Caroline.

By the time we pulled out of Caroline's drive and back onto the road, the driver had already passed the shortest route to my doorway, so I asked him to back up. It took a few tries to get the VW into reverse, but he finally managed it. I took two trips to the front door, first to carry my computer and the provisions I was bringing home (popcorn, oil, honey, butter...YUM), and then to get Biscuit, who was, after quivering on my lap for 20 minutes, starting to make himself quite comfortable in the bus.

We finally made it inside, and now Biscuit is cowering in the bathtub and I've got a fire going in the fireplace. It's still raining a little, but the thunder has stopped.

I think I'll make some popcorn.

33 on the 3rd day of 8/08

Yesterday for my birthday, Caroline took me and some of my new friends to Teuchitlán to see the round pyramids of Guachimontones. These beautiful structures are set high on the hill, with a lovely view of the town and the lake below.

There is a very soft and peaceful feeling in this place, and I loved walking around the grassy shapes. Although we couldn't climb the smaller structure, which has been restored, we were allowed to walk up a switchback path to the top of the larger structure.

Because of the trees covering the mound, and because tomb raiders dug deep tunnels into the center weakening the structure, this pyramid can't be restored.

We went to lunch afterwards at a lovely little restaurant called Soky, on the lake. Our table was right at the edge of the water. The food was very rich after a week of eating the light, vegetable-based meals at Rio Caliente. First we had queso fundito and marlin stewed in tomato sauce and vegetables (I think). Then I had camarones al coco, which I thought would be shrimp in some kind of chocolate mole, until I remembered that coco was not coca, and it turned out to be coconut shrimp, which was delicious.

Of course, no lunch is complete without a serenade from a passing Mariachi band, and I was serenaded by two of them! A ten piece group in full Mariachi regalia with guitars, bass, violins, and trumpets played Las Mañanitas. The second trio of guitars followed up with La Bamba and a few other fun songs! Videos coming as soon as I can upload them, which might take a while, the internets being what they are down here.

Top that all off with a little birthday cake, a little margarita, a little glass of vino...not necessarily in that order! Thanks for a GREAT day, Caroline!

Las Mañanitas

Las Mañanitas is a traditional Mexican song that is sung on birthdays and other important holidays. It is often sung as an early morning serenade to wake up a loved one. At birthday parties it is sung before the cake is cut.

Las Mañanitas Lyrics:

Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,
Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti,
Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,
Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte,
Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte,
Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio,
Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.


This is the morning song that King David sang
Because today is your saint's day we're singing it for you
Wake up, my dear, wake up, look it is already dawn
The birds are already singing and the moon has set

How lovely is the morning in which I come to greet you
We all came with joy and pleasure to congratulate you
The morning is coming now, the sun is giving us its light
Get up in the morning, look it is already dawn.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Shoes on the horizon.

I took my first trip to town yesterday. This was not a trip to expand my horizons and explore my new environment (I'll be doing that tomorrow). This was a trip to acquire some basic necessities that I wasn't able to bring with me in my luggage. Like conditioner.

I didn't pack shampoo or conditioner because I was trying so hard to keep my suitcases at exactly 50 pounds, and the shampoo and conditioner and lotion and sunscreen and bug spray and self tanner and contact solution that I wanted to pack weighed about 6 pounds. I was not about to pay a $100 overweight baggage charge for $40 worth of creams. I realize now that I should have packed them anyway, because the guy weighing the bags didn't care at all if things were a couple of pounds over.

When I got here I asked theoffice to procure some shampoo and conditioner, but I had a feeling that I was going to get 2in1 shampoo plus conditioner. That's what I got from the front desk the last time I came here on vacation. I am not a fan of 2in1 haircare. One step at a time please.

Sure enough, they picked up some Pantene 2in1 shampoo plus conditioner. I suffered with this for a few days, much to my hair's detrmiment. I was so glad to get into town to shop at (of all godawful places) Wal-Mart. Of course, selecting my own shampoo and conditioner was a bit challenging, because everything is in Spanish. I ended up getting some shampoo that was in a pink bottle. I like pink. I think pink is the right formula for my hair.

I also picked up a pair of decent, cheap hiking boots. Apparently these were the only pair of hiking boots for women available in the entire town of Guadalajara. We went to two giant malls and two standalone stores with no luck. We even went to a place called the Shoe Mall...or at least that's what I call it. If I had known a place like this existed, I would have moved to Mexico ages ago.

This mall consists of about 30 stores, and all they sell is shoes. I am a big fan of shoes, and I came to Mexico with FEWER THAN 10 PAIRS OF SHOES. That was not easy. Because I was on a mission for hiking boots, and because I live in a place where I walk on dirt, cobblestones, and grass, I did not indulge in any of the fabulous shoes. I didn't even look at them too closely, so they may not be all that fabulous. But I love just knowing the Shoe Mall exists.

They did have a small selection of very women's hiking boots at one of the stores, but they were ridiculously expensive, and my mission was to get cheaper boots than I could get in the States. Shoe Mall was to leave me unfulfilled in that respect. I also spied a pair of amazing cowboy boots that I might have to go back to get. They were gorgeous, hazelnut colored snakeskin (fake, I think) with green and yellow vines. They zipped up the sides. They had very pointy toes. They had perfect cowboy boot heels.

They were meant to be mine.
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