Feliz Ano Nuevo!

May yours be healthy, happy and wise!

If I could give my readers one gift with which to start the new year it would be this book:

love letterDuring the last few months this work single-handedly shifted my philosophical perspective from a long-held atheism to full blown animism ala The Dancing Wu-li Masters. I now whole-heartedly worship the ground I walk on!

And all the critters who walk it with me.  Let’s start 2013’s countdown:

During the fall my San Miguel de Allende foster girl Mia went to her forever home in Calgary, Canada. Here she is with Mom Lynn in her festive new home:

mia christmas 2013While I was in San Miguel my black miniture-schnauzer Asher stayed in Louisville with my friend Peggy and his one-true-love Foosie Mae Belle from the holler. We are all together again.

Here’s Peggy with Foosie looking beautiful in her sparkly pink and Asher looking miffed in his Santa hat.

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In the “Who Knew?” department, I’ve been turning in to a baker and a cook. As readers know, I’m in Wait Mode for my low-income senior apartment, it’s cold, and without a car (lower carbon footprint!) I have few places to go.  Thus that old thudding feeling of eating too much processed food [isn’t it all!] grew louder and suddently I’m baking quiche, meatloaf, apple cider beef stew and making cookies, pies, and fruit loaves. Today I’ll start on a pear-cranberry crostada –

Oh, yum!

Oh, yum!

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Louisville Pride

Peggy’s 20 y.o. niece Elizabeth is writing for a local web site and getting paid for it. Liz, who grew up here, wrote a good piece on some of Louisville’s charms.  As I read it I realized that I’m living in an incredible little city which is to Kentucky, culturally speaking, what San Franciso is to California, or Miami is to Florida – diverse, artistically alive, foodie-ville, and celebratory with the fabulous Kentucky Derby.

KentuckyDerbyRace

People are friendly. The park system spreads out before us. There’s a roaring local music scene.

Yes, the Ville has the same ills as other U.S. cities its size: a lackluster public transportation system, strip-mall-itis in the burbs, a disappearing tree canopy, and unsafe neighborhoods, but there’s nothing to single it out as being boring, intellectually retrograde, or rigidly conservative.  It’s a surprising place and, while it may not be my end-game (who can ever tell?), I’m proud to be a booster while I’m here.

Y’all come down, now.

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During Wait Mode I’ve mentally redecorated my upcoming 526 sqf apartment in several color schemes. Initially I promised myself I’d go with a pared down, simple Zen environment. Upon returning and looking at the few pieces of furniture I have to move it was obvious that wouldn’t work. The stuff is all consignment and it has scrolling legs and sleighbed looks. Hmmmm.

I’ve decided to let my inner glam loose.

Small interiors cry out for reflective surfaces.  Mirrors work to enlarge a space but I’ll be painting my black 4-drawer dresser SILVER. Here’s a photo from a blog titled “My Champagne Tastes Beer Budget” and she actually used faux silver leaf.

MY CHAMPAGNE TASTE

Martha Stewart [yes, that madwoman!] has a line of paints titled Precious Metals. I’m going to go for a more dialed-back look ala this example from a blog titled Petticoat Junction.

mixed-metallic-pic-monkey_thumbHa ha! And I just treated myself to 2 years of DIY Magazine. Whee ha!

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Cooking, mentally painting furniture, playing with the dogs.  Nothing earth-shattering here as I fold myself back into an American city after nearly a year and a half in Mexico. My fall health visits put me as healthy as a 67 year old woman who still smokes could be, give or take the cartilage that’s failing in my knees, the fact that I need new glasses again, or that my hair grows alarmingly thin. Like most people my age who tell the truth I am a failing wreck, trust my self-wisdom very little, and muddle through old age a little bit dotty and many times surprisingly happy. I don’t expect this will change, even in a “new” year.

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Now if you’re determined to have new revelations in the year to come, then –

happy new year 2014

Autumn in da’ Ville

They’re here.  The days when your breath floats on the air and the fading afternoon light glows gold.

Louisville-Autumn-950-5

This year isn’t as dramatically gorgeous as past; possibly it was too wet this summer? Most leaves are yellowing and falling, but the air is as crisp as high meadow and the rain raw with foreboding.

I’m acting like a squirrel acquiring stores. Yep, buying flannel pajamas, snuggly slippers, and snow boots. When I moved to San Miguel de Allende a year and a half ago I let most of my winter clothes go.  I came to regret it when San Miguel’s winter dropped down. Loo’vulle’s winter will not find me unprepared.

I like this time of year.  Far from feeling autumnal, Fall makes me feel bountiful. It summons the holidays, makes memories around a fire, transforms the earth in her cycles from summer matron to slender, wintry hunter.  I want to eat anything with pumpkin, ginger or nutmeg! So, tomorrow I’m making these soft Pumpkin Gingersnap cookies with – yum – unsulphered blackstrap molasses. Whee Ha!

pumpkin-gingersnaps1

Last week I revisited the senior low-income apartment on Richmond Drive to measure the rooms.

CIMG2337

Because the carpet installers came at the last minute I was foiled, but I can tell you, sans furniture those rooms look small. This will give me an opportunity to experiment with tiny dwellings. I won’t have a pink couch, but I like the idea of these shelves.

modern small aparment

While the name of the senior low-income apartment building is Highland Court Apartments, Peggy has taken to calling it “Happy Acres.” I am sure this is her image of living there; in fact, the manager in charge looks eerily like the standing woman in this Internet grab photo:

happy acres retirement homeMe, I just see the peonies and hope Highland Court will give them out to all us low income seniors come spring.

My time now is spent in spray painting old lamps and hopefully soon refurbishing an entertainment center into a contained office/t.v. space. Oh. And investigating Medicare Supplement Plans.

There are 22 Medicare Supplement plans in Kentucky. Each one must be explored singly and applied to individually. It’s a friggin’ full time job.

tearing-your-hair-out

So, I went with an anonymous agent from the anonymous Internet site EHealth.com and provided ALL of my personal information to get an app into Mutual of Omaha – at $120.00 a month the most reputable at the least expense. I found out that if you choose a supplement plan when you turn 65 and first get Medicare you can get a policy without being medically underwritten.  After that the jig is up and, trust me, companies are looking for any reason to turn you down. I should know if Mutual wants my money within the next day.

Arggggggggggg,

Richmond Drive

CIMG2337This is the “high-rise” for which I’m on the waiting list. Peggy and I had a 5:00 appointment yesterday so she could see the interior and figure out if she’d like to apply too and I could see a now vacant apartment and measure before the resident moves in. Tra la la, here’s the rear entrance:

CIMG2338

The manager, with whom I’d reconfirmed our appointment earlier by voice mail, was nowhere to be found. Errrrrg! We don’t have a car so a friend of Peggy’s took us over. The manager’s absence made us both furious but, trying to make the best of it, I showed Peg the common rooms and asked a couple of residents about mail boxes [yes] and individual climate control in the apartments [yes].

Here’s the lovely sun room, which I imagine on a winter day with snow gently falling:

CIMG2339

And, what respectable over-62 income-based apartment building would be without a crafts and Bingo room?

CIMG2342

So much for the common areas …

Damn it, I want to measure an apartment! So …seeing residents about, I start to schmooze. “Oh gee, we had an appointment to see Janet at 5:00 … she was going to show us a vacant apartment so I could measure and Peggy can see if she likes them … we don’t have a car, so it’s difficult to get here … and Peggy works during the day …”

The first woman looked suspicious and wiggled out of showing us her apartment with, “Oh, I don’t think I should. I might get in trouble.”

Excuse me?

On to the next woman inside the laundry room and out of hearing range (I hope) from “I might get in trouble.”

Success!

Joanne cheerfully showed us her apartment which, because she’s on the fourth floor and her windows look out at trees, I immediately coveted. No, I didn’t take pictures because that seemed rude after I’d self-invited us up, but she is such a nice woman that she showed us every nook and cranny – which I measured. 

Doncha love that feeling of “mission accomplished”?

O.K., so this is not your dream home. I, on the other hand, think of it as an apartment building in Brooklyn.  My grandparents lived in a similar building way-back-when with all those lovely things like mailboxes on the wall, elevators, love seats on each floor opposite said elevators so you can rearrange your packages – everything except the bingo room – so I’m o.k. with it.

Besides, I need some time to ‘calm my ship’.

Painting by Horatio Ordoza

Painting by Horatio Ordoza

[Yes, the canoe would approximate the size of my ‘ship’ right now.]

The rent on Richmond Drive is right, and it’s location, location, location.

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Now I’m calling the manager-who-doesn’t-write-her-appointments-down so I can see a vacant apartment and measure properly!

Back in the U.S.S.A.

I know the Beatles did “Back in the USSR” as a nod to Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA”, but it’s the Beatles’ song that’s playing in my head – with my own rearranged lyrics that repeat “Back in the, back in the, back in the U.S.S.A.” Why, you might ask, am I conflating these tunes? I’d answer that few things make sense, much like my home nation’s current jihad on Syria.

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Last week was Doctor Week!  A new GP and three new Specialists. New Rx. New strategies for chronic conditions. Thus the following phrase is to be sung to the tune of Joe Cocker’s “Many Rivers to Cross” – with new lyrics: “Many co-pays to pay …..”

doctor extracts money

That’s why I’m devoting time this week to finding a Medigap policy.  We’ll just see about that, won’t we?

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I got in touch with an acquaintance here in da Ville who told me he had an old 80s Honda Spree in his shed that he wants to sell.  Synchronicity.

I chose this picture with a person riding to show you how tiny this scoot is.

Honda spreeFrankly, I was shaky when I took it for a test drive. My balance isn’t what it used to be. The fact that it will make up to 30 mph with so little between you and the asphalt is scary. It’s hard to imagine putting this thing into a car lane where most people do NOT drive the speed limit.

street traffic

Eeeeeeeeeek!

Gawd, I’m old.

Well, the scoot’s in the shop for an estimate on making it road worthy (yes, I’d like the back brakes to work and mirrors in the front) and if the numbers play I’ll be buying a helmet, knee pads, cable lock, orange caution flag, and trunk of some sort to store same, ‘cuz there is zero space for anything on this baby.

Yesterday I was in a thrift store and found a pair of kid’s Hot Wheel knee pads for a dollar each.

Hot wheels knee padsThey make dandy elbow pads.

My final scooter related purchase will be a street map of Lou’vulle so I can stay off the main drag.

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Last week, for one miserable day, I was defeated by the heat and the public bus system.

humidity

It was more the bus system because I HAD TO TAKE TWO BUSES. Like any mediocre transit system, transfers aren’t synched. Many bus stops have zero shelter.  As the wait grinds on, one bakes or one freezes. I suppose it’s more or less the same to the intellects who design the schedules.

Surely, if I have to see that specialist again there is a back way upon which I can scoot.

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It looks like Mia may be going to live in Calgary, Canada in November. Her now-foster-mom Mary deserves a double-fudge chocolate sundae with her choice of toppings.  Yeah for Mia!

Mia at Mary's house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

Mia at Mary’s house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

On the other hand, Asher, who is married to Foosie here in Peggy’s house in da Ville, hasn’t left my side much since I returned.

Ascher 004

Did I tell you Asher was a stud-boy for Tree Top Kennels before he retired and came to me? He has ONE HUNDRED SIX children. [That’s in caps because even with thirteen females, that’s a lotta kids.] Yes, he’s marvelous with puppies. In fact, Ash is marvelous with just about anybody he meets. Though he’s older and … ahem … broader than he once was, kind of like a middle-aged guy in Miami with a beer belly – he has the most generous spirit of any schnauzer I’ve met.

When I move I won’t separate him from Foozie or Peggy. But I hope I find a place near by so I can come visit often.

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yada, yada, ya … and the beat goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polvo

That’s the Spanish word for dust.

The desert is a dusty place, San Miguel de Allende is a dusty town, and my new rental is a dusty house.  Notice the floor in the bedroom:

And, Ms. Mia Honey Bear Jones sheds like a trooper:

Yes, I let her on the bed when she was recovering from surgery. It is now HER bed and I just sleep in it.

Also, look at the floor in the sala:

This is a concrete house.  None of the windows are tight.  The flooring is what you might find on a patio in the U.S.  This is frugal living in San Miguel de Allende in a house that reminds me of a summer cabin in Maine (not by the ocean.)  Yet, when I dust it (continuously), oil the furniture, and sweep the floors, I’m happy.  I’ve simply had to lower my cleaning standards<grin>.

Many people in San Miguel de Allende have carpeting – and a full-time maid.  Their rent for a one-bedroom climb into the low $1,000’s and the maid goes after the polvo. My rent is $400.00 US, so let’s take a look at that garden again:

Yup, rentals can be had here for less.  But it would be muy dificil to find my wee casa AND this much private space. So I dust and sweep and wash dishes in my teeny-weeny sink AND NEVER WANT TO MOVE AGAIN.

Bwhaha!

P.S.  $400.00 rent may not sound all that great for Mexico.  And, while San Miguel de Allende has a perfect climate [except for April and May when it’s hotter than Arizona and I’ll be employing the siesta technique], lovely heart-of-Mexico colonial architecture, and a thriving restaurant/art scene, IMHO it is way over-priced. But, American fascination with San Miguel continues unabated and there is the Grey Wave, of which I am a part.

Two available apartments in San Miguel de Allende

This is a frugal blog, so you’re at or under $500.00 USD on these rentals – but sorry, no pictures this time.

In Guadalupe on Calle CriCri: a one bedroom bottom floor apartment that allows (encourages!) a dog. Behind the metal gates, the big garden is FABULOUS! You share it with the upstairs apartment and it has a separate open air dining room seating 8, a completely roofed outdoor living room with two couches, two comfy chairs, standing lamps, big coffee table, a wet sink, and a humongous hutch for your dishes and … tequila. Mature plants, a garden ‘reception area’ for your guests, another small seating area, and a fountain! Utilities plus gardener included for $500.00.

The reason the outdoor space is so grand is because inside you don’t have a living or dining room, just a table and two chairs in the kitchen. With good finishes, the interior is waaaay small (though the owner will remove the king size bed that’s eating the bedroom.)  If you don’t mind a tiny interior – nicely appointed but small – and love outdoor living, this safe, quirky neighborhood could do it for you.

Here’s your contact:  Angelo at 152-3444.  Tell him that Jackie told you about it.

Next.

A one-bedroom, first floor apartment is open at Chelo’s apartments next to the Oxxo on Ancha San Antonio.  These rent for $300.00, including utilities (I think.)  There are 55 units in this complex and I’m told they are a beginning point for *many* gringos in San Miguel de Allende.  Super safe, with a great location and off-street parking, I learned that people take a one bedroom and wait until a 2-bedroom opens up.  Two-bedrooms rent for $500.00.  And, they go quickly.

While you have a small front porch or balcony at Chelo’sthere is no real garden or common space.  But, with 55 units, you’ll probably make new friends quickly!

Here’s your contact:

Your best bet is to go to the apartments and talk with Pablo, the manager.  Senora Chelo owns and works at her farmacia on the corner of Canal & Hernando Macias, but she’s just going to tell you to go over.  Her number is (415)152-1198 and the email is enterobacter1@prodigy.net.mx

Good luck wherever you land!

 

 

 

 

Mobiliario rústico mexicano

Or, rustic Mexican furniture.

Out today following up on a recommendation to visit the furniture makers at Arliquin, Loreto 7. Thanks, Brigid!

I met the charming father/son duo who make this furniture, but talked mostly with dad Fidel about prices and their ability to tailor pieces to your space.  Mainly interested in the side table to the left in this picture, which runs roughly $14.00 USD.  After purchase, the pieces are sanded down to full finish, and either you can stain or paint them yourself, or throw in another $8.00 and dad or son will do it.

The hutch is $200.00.  (Sliders on drawers cost another couple of bucks.)

At Arliquin these chairs are called the “Reina”.  They cost $36.50 unstained.

I think they’re wonderful, but of course you’re in for the cost of pillows for the seats.  Still ….

I forgot to write down the cost of this book case, but it was just as reasonable:

Sunday Mary and I are going to Comonfort, a small town outside of San Miguel de Allende where she has her go-to place, Diana’s, for furniture. I’ll do ye olde compare & contrast.

Now back to my hang up on hanging lamps.

I love the cobalt in this one in the store next to Arliquin named Arte Magico.

But, when I told the lovely Miriam at Artesanias Chely [at the entrance to the artisan’s market and frente al Hotel Quinta Loreto] the price the kids at Arte Magico quoted – $53.00 – she gasped.

Miriam has this lamp for $25.00:

I could get over my cobalt fixation.

Oh!  Three store owners complemented me on my Spanish today.  I know (and support) their desire to sell merchandise, but I don’t think that was the reason.  As I apologized for my weak Spanish, Fidel told me that I was “claro” in what I can say.  Two women and I talked entirely in Spanish.  One said “Your Spanish is very good” (in Spanish), and the other … well, we just had this easy relationship right away, so when I said “Lo siento” about my skills, she vigorously declared (in Spanish) that she understood me and I spoke *extremely* well.

I don’t.  But as we say in Mexico, “poco y poco.”