When you’re a gonner for a dog

Some of you have seen pictures of my darling Asher, soon to be 9 years old.

Kosmic Asher, son of mom, Spirit of Shakespeare, and Dad, Starlite's Bit'A Sweet Hershey

Kosmic Asher, son of mother, ‘Spirit of Shakespeare’, and father, ‘Starlite’s Bit’A Sweet Hershey.’ 

I’m ecstatic to be reunited with Asher here in da ‘ville, though he doesn’t live with me at my new apartment.

Here is the reason why.


Miss Foosie Mae Belle from the holler.

You see, Asher is quite the ladies’ man and Foosie, well she fell in love the moment she saw him. They are literally inseparable.

This is their Easter picture. Asher has his normal "I hate costumes face on," but Foosie was made to model.

This is their Easter picture. Asher has his normal “I hate costumes.” face on,” but Foosie, well, she was born to model.

I adopted Asher four years ago, right around this time of year. He was five. His breeders, Madge and Don Cogswell, were putting him into retirement because he’d sired 106 puppies with 13 different lady mini-schnauzers. While I was visiting them to see puppies, they asked me to consider Asher.

He hopped up on the couch and looked deeply into my eyes. Boy, was I was a gonner! Later I learned that Asher hops on the couch and stares everyone deeply in the eyes. He’s just that sensitive of a boy – after he jumps up on your knees and leaves scratch marks out of the sheer excitement of meeting you when you come in the door. <grin>

My friend Peggy, with whom I was sharing a flat, rescued Foosie from an animal shelter about six weeks after Asher came home. She saw Foosie’s picture on “PetFinders”.

Yup. She was a gonner.

Within 24 hours the two dogs were an old married couple.

Cue “Belle Notte.”


So when I went to San Miguel de Allende for my adventure/experiment,

Aztec dancer from Tales of Mexico

I was fine with leaving Asher in Foosie and Peggy’s care.

But now I’m back. After staying with Pegs, Foosie, and Ash for seven months I miss Asher (and Foosie) wildly every day!

I just can’t take him from him away from his girl.

This is their christmas picture. Notice Asher has his "I'm a guy and I DON'T like this stuff" face on while Foosie is all mellow about it.

This is their christmas picture. Notice Asher has his “I’m a guy and I DON’T like this stuff” face on while Foosie is all mellow about it.

Which brings me to fostering!

I’m allowed to have one small-breed dog. I do believe that when I get settled I’ll find me a terrorist, um terrier, to care for while we find her/his forever home.

Which brings me to the dogs I fostered in Mexico.

Coyo was  first.

This isn't Coyo's picture because I can't find the damn thing, but it's a Coyo look alike!

This isn’t Coyo’s picture because I can’t find the damn thing, but it’s almost a Coyo double and I’ll look for his later.

Julie and I found Coyo dodging traffic on a rainy night in San Miguel’s busy jardin.

san miguel traffic el jardinHearts in our throat, we watched him cross the street four times, so tiny and grey it was improbable a driver would see him, and so skittery that he ran away when I clucked for him to come. We almost gave up but I pulled out my coo-voice-darling-child-don’t-run-away and he stopped. I slithered across the street talking softly non-stop and he actually came towards me – and I scooped him up!

Julie was my landlady.  I lived in a small apartment in a compound with her large house, another big house, another apartment upstairs from mine, and an adorable cottage with a teeny fenced-in front yard that I envied immediately. (Fenced in front yard = dog.) Julie already had two dogs: Cappucinno, a 9 lb. male Maltese mix, and Esmeralda, a nine year old shepherd mix with large soulful eyes. My 6-month lease didn’t include a pet, but Julie was as taken with our rain-soaked rescue as I was so she said, “Why don’t you keep him for a few days and we’ll try to find him a home.” Into my house came Coyo.

And promptly chewed the fringe off of Julie’s rug, peed on the floor, and jumped wildly into my arms to lick me when I told him he was a bad boy.

A ha …..

To make a long story shorter, ten days later Julie, who came to see Coyo everyday and oooh and ah over how adorable he was, adopted Coyo. “Be sure,” I said to her, “he’s a little bit of a devil. He’s going to knock Cappucinno off of his perch as top dog, and annoy Esmeralda because all he wants to do is play when he’s not chewing pillows.” And so he did. But Julie was a gonner.

Like this guy.

 You know, like this guy.

I volunteered with a rescue group in San Miguel named “Amigos de Animales.” These intrepid souls (mostly women) pulled dogs out of the pound who had five days to live.

Enter “Bobby”:

thief of hearts


Who was owner-surrendered to the pound by a woman who requested that he be put down because he peed in her kitchen.

An Amigos volunteer asked me if I could foster him while they searched for his home. I said I’d have to ask Julie first and at 4:00 another couple took him away from our adoption table in the jardin to see if things would work out -with my phone number as the back-up call. I went home and briefed Julie. I don’t think she was happy about the request, but she didn’t say no.

At 11:00 the next morning I got the call. “Bobby” was humping the couple’s female and would-not-relent. So, I walked to the couple’s home, put “Bobby” on a leash and began a relationship with one of the sweetest, goofiest dogs I’ve ever known. God! How I loved that dog!

I had “Bobby” for about three months. As you can see, he’s a looker. He’s the kind of dog who gets adopted, despite the fact that I was a gonner. I don’t remember how Kelly Karger with Save A Mexican Mutt got involved, but happily she did. Save A Mexican Mutt has a rigorous adoption procedure, and transports dogs from San Miguel to the U.S. and Canada. Kelly put “Bobby” on “PetFinders”. Bobby found his happy home.

"Bobby", now renamed Lincoln, with his mom Bella in Austin, Texas.

“Bobby”, now renamed Lincoln, with his mom Bella in Austin, Texas.

Bella emailed me recently to send pix of Lincoln. The woman is besotted and her picture comments are priceless so I’ve typed them verbatim. Here we go:

"Lincoln has been exploring his spirituality."

“Lincoln has been exploring his spirituality.”


"Here he is being adored by one of his minions. It is generally agreed around here that Lincoln is homosexula."

“Here he is being adored by one of his minions. It is generally agreed around here that Lincoln is homosexual.”

"My Valentine"

“My Valentine”

"Lincoln is now exploring other cultures."

“Lincoln is now exploring other cultures.”

And one more,

"This costume was inspired by 'Game of Thrones'."

“This costume was inspired by ‘Game of Thrones’.”Y

Oh my god, ya think Bella is a gonner?


I had only said good-bye to “Bobby”/Lincoln for a little less than a week when an Amigos volunteer asked me if I could foster another dog.

Enter Mia.


What a gorgeous redhead! Half-wild, and scared out of her wits in San Miguel’s streets, the pound picked Mia up pregnant. She was allowed to deliver her puppies – who were all adopted – but Mia was left behind. I remain convinced that the reason Mia wasn’t taken, and the reason that I loved her for nine long months, was because she was half-Chow. People are afraid of that black tongue.

It was a slow burn for me and Mia. Over a few weeks, as she gained her confidence, I began to see an astounding need in her for a person to call her own. Eventually her devotion made me burst into tears.

And I was a gonner.

Prospective adopters came to meet Mia. She was always skittish, but in a playful way. Some would bring their dogs. Good lord that girl loves to play! But months went by.

I wrote about Mia on this blog. When I knew I’d be returning to the states I called Save A Mexican Mutt. For her own reasons, Kelly didn’t want to take Mia on. So I played the “Bobby”/Lincoln card.

Hadn’t I been a great foster mom for Save A Mexican Mutt? I had to return to the states in two months. There was no one for Mia. Couldn’t she help me this one time? She did. She put Mia on “PetFinders”. 

And nothing happened.

Meanwhile, Lynn in Calgary, Canada was reading about Mia on my blog. One day she remarked again on what a beautiful dog Mia is and how my descriptions of her broke her heart. She simply could not understand why no one would adopt her.

And then I asked, “What about you?”

Mia at home with Lynn in Calgary. Her toys are Tubby and Hedgehog.

Mia at home with Lynn in Calgary. Her toys are Tubby and Hedgehog.

Lynn took a tremendous leap of faith. Mary fostered Mia when I had to leave, while Lynn made the arrangements to transport Mia to Calgary. Mia reminded Mary of a chow she’d grown up with, so there was a love affair going on there too. After I left Mary told Lynn about Mia’s affectionate nature, her habits, her diet, all the one hundred and one things a person who’s going to adopt a dog they’ve never met want to know. Save a Mexican Mutt got involved with Mia’s transport. Over weeks it came together, with me listening in via e-mail.

Not for one instant did I have a single doubt that Lynn would love Mia.She was everything I said she was. And something more that I couldn’t even put into words.

Lynn stays in touch.  We talk about how Mia’s confidence has grown. How she loves the snow. How they have a nature preserve behind their house. Mia walks proudly on a leash  now. Lynn sends me .waves of Mia walking. Complete computer idiot that I am, I don’t know how to insert them so you can see how transformed Mia is by having her person. I’ll show you a still:

movie mia 2

Tail is up, up, UP!

I wish I could include those .waves. Calgary got a freak snow storm about 10 days ago. You can hear Lynn calling Mia to come in the house. Mia continues romping in the snow.  It must feel so good to her with that thick ruff and heavy fur. In that little movie she’s happy and mischievous and home.


I saw an acquaintance for the first time since I returned from San Miguel the other day. “So,” he asked, “how was Mexico?” I talked about Coyo and Lincoln and Mia. I certainly didn’t save them on my own. I worked with wonderful people who pulled together to find their home.

The only thing I did was love them when I had them.

“Truthfully,” I said, “it’s the finest thing I did in my 14 months in Mexico.”


Once I get settled in my new place I’ll be able to see Asher more often.




















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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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

happy new year 2014

While idling in neutral

Nobody wants a house guest for six months.  Nobody wants to be a house guest for six months. Oh, what to do?

It’s a curious position. As faithful readers know, I’m on the wait list for low-income senior housing in Louisville. I’m thankful that I have a good friend who’s willing to put me up but the apartment is small and let’s face it, it’s a burden both ways. I feel like I’m perpetually stuck in idle and I’m sure she feels like she has no privacy.

For a good part of each day, I find my mind leaving the present and looking forward to my own place with my own rhythms. So I’m revving constantly – day dreaming about interiors, decorating, sewing drapes in my mind … but there’s no place to go until I get that call.


This then is obviously a test in wrestling with Monkey Mind [though I know the objective is to simply observe without judgement.]

Artist unknown, but appreciated

Artist unknown, but greatly appreciated

Along with my monkey, I swing between the poles of quiet observation or attempting to quiet the monkey, resenting the monkey, laughing at the monkey, or sighing with resignation. Sometimes I can visualize my ego-monkey swinging through the neural trees as it rushes about spying shiny objects and grabbing at birds on the wing.

It’s tiring.

Then comes a night when the air is so still that it feels like life is momentarily suspended. Still as living in the country and hearing the Holy Baptist church choir two miles away. Autumn leaves are briefly held in amber while the street light illumines the tracery of veins. It is, of course, ineffable and even the monkey pauses in wonder. In these moments I go back to my life-long work – Baba Ram Dass’s “Be Here Now” -and allow myself to be overwhelmed by the magnificence of the human position.


What I am not waiting for:

Since I applied to Medicare and qualified for “Extra Help” on my prescriptions I’ve had three cat scans performed – chest, abdomen & pelvis – as a preventative screening for the cancer beast I’ve danced with twice so far. Instead of being asked for my $250 deductible up front as I was in 2011, nothing was said and I’ve yet to receive a bill. I’ve also learned that I will not be subject to the drug Do-nut Hole.  Yes, more than I could have asked for.


I’ve reached out via the internet to a Meet-up group in da’Ville around permaculture. There’s nothing shakin’ yet, but my next call will be to the Jefferson County Agricultural Extension Co-op.  I’m convinced that vertical vegetable gardens are an answer for renters in the city –

Vertical vegetable garden (1)



and I want to be part of a DIY movement that extends this vision in Lu’vulle. [It hasn’t escaped my thought processes that the 99 low-income senior apartment dwellers at Highland Court could use this too, but I think it’s too much to go into that setting with an agenda.] <giggle>


Today’s celebration:

In August of 2012 Mia was rescued from certain death at the hands of Ecologia in San Miguel de Allende. She had three foster moms, including myself for a bit more than nine months.  Today she is in the arms of her forever mom in Calgary, Canada. I’m sporting a big grin as I write.


Mia is now home for good.

Happy Dance!

All Hallows Eve

As we crest into Halloween and my friends in San Miguel gear up for Day of the Dead, I’m pet sitting today with Peggy and my dogs, Foosie and Asher, and Sophie, a black lab or lives with our friend Joanie.

Sophie, Asher & Foosie

Sophie, Asher & Foosie

My kinda rainy day!

While on the subject of dogs, let’s honor Mia, my Mexican sweetheart, who is soon traveling to Calgary to her forever home where, I believe, she will LOVE new mom Lynn and the cold climate!

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!

Then there’s Bobby/Lincoln, who now lives in Austin with Bella, the love of his life.  An unforgettable pooch!


And who can forget Cuyo, now all grown up, twice as big, and in the arms of his forever Mom & Dad, Julie and Cliff?


Yes, you do see the devil in those eyes

Between us all – Julie, Mary, Jill, Kelly, Gabrielle, Bella, and Lynn – we’ve done well by my Mexican darlings. Hugs, kisses, pats on backs ladies!

Now one more view of my one true love, Asher of Treetop Kennels. Asher is father to 106 progeny during his working life.  He came to me when he retired at 5 and is now chewing 8.5 on the chin.  And it’s not just me. Everybody loves Asher.




If it’s late October then it’s time to get ready for winter here in da’ Ville. Since I’m on the wait list for Richmond Drive, I’m sprucing up some of the items I have here at Peggy’s.  For a black metal oh-so-boring floor & reading lamp, that means gold spray paint.


Much better, don’t you agree?

This table is next.

Soon, just as golden!

Soon, just as golden!

I told you how desirable our neighborhood is, and that means people tend to decorate outside too.  Since we have slum lords and live in the most embarrassing building on the street our only solace is that it’s Halloween. Perfectly unkempt and shabby, we look like the block’s haunted house – for free.

Currently living on the second floor

Currently living on the second floor

Lest you think I’m not being as bourgeois in my current incarnation as possible, here’s a house two-doors down that gives tribute to the Highlands’ neighborhood.


Don’t you love gardens in the front of homes? I think of them as public art, or a gift the homeowners have given both themselves and passers by. Usually I transform wherever I live with a garden. But. I won’t be here long enough to put out that kind of effort.

Which brings me to vertical gardens:

vertical vegetable garden

I’ve come to think that vertical vegetable gardens are part of the solution to healthy living in cities, so I’m looking for a green group in Louisville with whom I can volunteer. I’m gifted as a public presenter and would love to travel around the city with a how-to slide show and/or raise some money. Talk about food security … wheeehaaa!


If it doesn’t rain like hell tomorrow night Peggy, Joanie and I will make ourselves up as a Katrina and venture out in the city.

We'll look something like this - only MUCH older.

We’ll look something like this – only MUCH older.



BTW, the state of Kentucky is now picking up my Medicare Part B premium ($104.00 monthly) and providing “Extra Help” with medications. Yippie Kay Yay.

So, while Fukushima sizzles, the US economy goes further south, and Winter bears down on us, I wait for my new (to me) place and take it at the usual one-day-at-a-time.

Boo redux!

Autumn in da’ Ville

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


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!


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


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.


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.


Back in da’ Ville



My first impression upon being back in Loo’vulle is how green it is. Of course, I’m staying with Peggy, who lives in a nice part of the city called the Highlands.

Lou house

This puts me back in the land of lawns, spreading oaks, flower gardens, and – flat sidewalks! [Readers in San Miguel will appreciate my happiness at being able to walk and look at the sky.] Peggy and I can walk to Cherokee Park, designed by Frederick Olmsted of New York city Central Park fame, with Asher the miniature schnauzer and the love of his life, Foosie, a black cocker spaniel, if we choose.

Cherokee ParkMr. Olmsted designed a necklace of parks for Louisville back in the day. Because Cherokee Park is in the Highlands, so named because it is on high ground and less likely to flood, Cherokee is the park best maintained and probably most used.  It is a sprawling, winding wondrous place.

May I introduce Asher,

Ascher 001


And his lady love, Foosie:

In her Christmas Snow Princess outfit

In her Christmas Snow Princess outfit

The back story:

When I moved to San Miguel 14.5 months ago I left Asher, my male mini-schnauzer, with Peggy and Foosie – from whom he shall never be parted.

Asher began his life as an AKC stud dog.  He has 106 progeny.  That, and his winning personality, are probably all you need to know. Foosie, who is also an AKC cocker, is Peggy’s rescue girl. Asher and Foosie became an old married couple as soon as they met.  It’s really sweet.

And sweet to be with them again.

Flying.  I remember when it used to be fun. This is my third day back in the U.S.A. and I still ache from lugging suitcases around airports.  I miss the Sky Caps!




Good night, San Miguel de Allende

Photo by Tracy Gallagher

Photo by Tracy Gallagher

It’s less than a week before I’ll lift off from Mexico and, within 12 hours [no creeks rising and all of that], be back in Loo’vulle, Kentucky, USA.

Louisville skyline.  Affectionately known as "da Ville."

Louisville sky line. Affectionately known as “da Ville.”

Right now I’m staying with friends Bill & Jane in SMA’s Guadiana neighborhood who, I’m sure, won’t be broken hearted when I go. [Three days for fish and guests, as we say.] Still, for these few days it feels like I’m traveling again, which means it feels like a tiny vacation, which means it feels great!  Thank you Bill & Jane.  You’re welcome to lay your heads in whatever small hovel I can afford in the U.S.

Why Loo’vulle? you might wonder.

There IS the Kentucky Derby.

But the primary reason is that’s where my healthcare paperwork is set up. You see, each state has different Medicare managed plans and you can only change during a window of time starting October 1st  … and all that rot.

It will just be simpler to see physicians, of which da Ville, being a regional health-snare, oops -care powerhouse has plenty.

The GINORMOUS plus is that I have three truly good friends there who make me laugh and spit wine out of my nose whenever I see them. I’m sure I’ll have need for that sort of thing as I attempt to live in a car-culture American city with a crap public transportation system.

If there is some way I can swing it, I dream of, ta da!

LOVE this color!

LOVE this color!

Only, because I’m 67, I think I’d like fatter wheels, a windshield, and a rack on the back for groceries.  That should be another $500.  Of course a car would be more convenient, but I’d actually have to get a job to afford a car and you know how I feel about that.

With a scooter there will be challenges …..

Ah, no. Probably not a good idea to scoot today ...

Ah, no. Probably not a good idea to scoot today … taxi!

but, I am Woman.  Hear me roar.

Between you and me, getting a scooter is probably going to mean getting financed which, if someone is stupid enough to do it with my credit score, means descending back into the Credit Maw. Something I’ve avoided for five long and satisfying years.

Well, that would be the future, and right now there’s good news.  The beautiful Mia, my Manchurian Princessa, is being fostered with her and my friend, Mary, who will be extremely picky about a permanent home.

Mia loooves Mary and actually doesn't look terribly upset that she doesn't have me any longer. Gee, you raise 'em and then they fly away.

Mia LOVES Mary and actually doesn’t look terribly upset that she doesn’t have me any more. Gee, you raise ’em and then they fly away, huh?

And, tomorrow I’m having a Bon Voyage party with 10 friends at “Hecho en Mexico” which has a very nice courtyard where I’m sure we’ll all be using hand fans if it’s as hot as it was today.  Hot but dry, I hasten to add.

…. Ya know, there really is no way to describe the deliciously cool mornings in San Miguel, the difference between being in the blazing sun or under a big tree in the afternoon, or the slow return to mountain night air after twilight. Without a doubt San Miguel de Allende has one of the finest climates on the face of the earth.  I hope I get to return for a visit!










My propane war

My propane woes continue …

propane tank


I purchased my third canister of propane in a one week period this morning.  The first was last Wednesday from Noel Gas, but it was empty in three days. Leak!

Thus far four people have tried to diagnose the problem.  The second canister came from the delightful Arturo from Soni Gas on Friday. He checked and rechecked the disappearing gas and decided that I needed a new regulator.  That was $11.50 for the part and $13.00 for his time. Cheap, if that fixed the problem, because at $30.00 a pop per cylinder, we’re only at a total of $84.00.

But, noooooo.

Soni Gas’ cylinder too went into the wind.  Empty three days later. Yesterday.  Arturo is handsome, but he didn’t fix the leak.

This morning the father of the family across the street came to sniff and test anything visible. First he took the stove apart and pronounced it as’ not the problem’.  Then he tested all the lines by pouring soapy water on connections and cords. This is the standard method to detect leaks.

leak in propane lineHe, like Arturo the Handsome, was looking for air bubbles.

But, there are none.

Without air bubbles, el padre thought disconnecting one piece and capping the extraneous line might be the problem. The cap cost $2.00 and I gave him $8.00 for his time.  With a lot of muchas gracias.  And now I’m at $94.00 for two tanks of gas, parts and tips.

But, el padre thought we were on the good foot at last.

That’s when I ordered the third tank.  I asked my neighbors which gas company they used? Express Gas Nieto – and they delivered in 10 minutes after the neighbors called.  How I was looking forward to a hot shower.

But, noooooo.

The Nieto hombre installed the new cylinder of propane and began to re-check the connections. Forget the cup of soapy water, he used a  bucket.  Finding no bubbles, he tried to re-light the water heater.  Oops. Nada. He pointed towards a metal tube going up (somewhere) to the roof. Then he scaled the building.  When he was on the roof with his soapy bucket he told us that he smelled gas on the roof but couldn’t determine where it was coming from.

Ut oh.

Ut oh.

[The tube enters the house at some point and travels somehow to get to the stove.]

If the leak is in an exterior fitting, it’s the gas company’s responsibility.  If the leak is in the interior of the building (behind a wall, running underneath the floor, wherever) it’s the landlord’s responsibility. I know this because when Niet0 Gas guy No. 1 left he told me he would send out a Nieto Gas Expert.  Then I called the landlady.

Nieto Gas Expert came within half an hour.  He re-soaped all the connections, scaled the building, and called for a hammer when he was on the roof. Fifteen year old Alex translated something along these lines: “There’s a pipe/tube that runs a foot or two and then goes under the concrete.  The pipe/tube has a hole in it the size of a nail head and there are other smaller holes.  The pipe/tube is very old.  He could replace it for $25.00 (materials and labor) but he’d have to tear up some concrete to do it.”

Rut roh.

That would be an interior job.

Enter Emilio, the landlord’s maintenance man.  Though he’s a little old and rotund to be scaling the roof, he makes it.  He sees, hears or smells the holes in the pipe and, proving that everyone has their own solution, retrieves a hand-held, gas powered welding machine from his truck. I hear 30 minutes of hammering, banging and tapping. I don’t hear any concrete being ripped up, which begs the question of additional holes in what Nieto Gas Expert termed “a very old pipe” beneath the concrete.  But, there is only Emilio standing between me and a hot shower, so I must trust that if he wants to weld the holes he can see shut, that will do the trick.

Exit Emilio.  Despite the fact that there was a mini-explosion when he re-lit the water heater, I now have gas.


You probably have much bigger problems than going without a hot meal or shower for a couple of days.  It’s been raining this afternoon and there are people in San Miguel without shelter.  But, life is nothing if not quotidian, so I offer you the story of five Mexican men and one Mexican teen ager who cheerfully tried to help.

Let us hope I have gas in three days.

Now, as your reward, here is a picture of Hungry Cat:

dinner cat












Talking propane in San Miguel

Nearly all homes are powered by propane in San Miguel.  Homeowners have huge gas tanks on the roof while casitas and apartments order by the cylinder.

propane tank


You’ll notice that these tanks have no gauges, so the only way you can tell if you’re getting a full tank is by tipping it back and forth to guesstimate the weight. I’ve never felt adequate at this – is it 3/4 full or full-full? – and at roughly $30 USD per tank it can get critical on a slender budget. My best guess at what I’m getting has been how long a tank lasts. On average, about a month.

So when I ordered a tank last week to discover it was empty within 4 days, I thought I’d gone all wrong, or the gas company had truly cheated me.

These are the kind of situations in Mexico that get me depressed because without a good grip on the language one has no recourse. Facing my next expenditure of $30 how, I wonder, can I explain to the gas person that I haven’t used any more gas than usual, but I’m now empty?

Here’s where I apologize to Soni Gas.

When I moved in last October I used Soni Gas for my first delivery. I can’t smell.  Some friends came by who could smell and warned me that I had a gas leak.  Using Noel, another gas company, I discovered that the delivery guy with Soni hadn’t hooked the tank up correctly. I made a big stink about it and was chastised for dissing a company without giving them the chance to fix it. But I didn’t have the language to explain the problem so I just switched companies.

But Saturday I had an empty tank from Noel who have been delivering regularly. Had the same guy who’s been here month after month slowly reduced the tank’s capacity while pocketing the difference (plus tip) I gave him? Without gauges it’s easy to do.  And San Miguel is full of stories of how it’s done.

What to do?

I decided to give Soni Gas another chance.

Enter the young Arturo who wasn’t in a hurry to hook-up the tank and run. In fact, because friends had been by on Friday and smelled gas again I handed Arturo a cup full of soapy water and asked him to check for leaks.  [Could an entire tank have leaked out over the course of 4 days? Was I impugning Noel for something that wasn’t their fault? Arrrrrgh!]

It turns out that my recent $30 expenditure had leaked out.

propane valveAnd Arturo found the reason why.  Between the two tanks is a piece of equipment called a regulador para dos tankes de gas. Young Arturo heard a sound and beckoned me to listen. Sure enough, the ancient regulador had sprung a tiny hole.  Without a replacement my second $30 dollars in a week would leak out again and, as Arturo informed me, it was peligroso. Dangerous, yes, and no gas to cook on or hot showers until I have it replaced.



Deep breath.

O.K., so how much is a new regulador?  $120 Pesos mas o menos. (About $10 bucks.)


Arturo sez if that I go buy it he can come back later and change it out.

happy cartoon

Good. Because I have NO IDEA how to do it myself.

I say, in mangled Spanish, is it possible I can give you the money and you can buy it and come back later to change it?

Arturo sez, “No problema.  Yo regresso in un hora.”

Happy dance!

Happy dance! 

So now I wait for Arturo’s return so he can fix it and I can kiss his feet.

The Moral of the Story

Can you imagine a supplier in the U.S. patiently diagnosing your problem and cheerfully volunteering to run an errand for you so they can fix it?


Yet, with patience, you can find a wonderfully gentle soul in Mexico who will take your problem on as his/her own. Sure I made the appeal to Arturo that I’m an elderly woman living alone with no sons to help me, but Arturo didn’t require much convincing.

Again I realize: the vast majority of Mexicans in San Miguel de Allende are so damn nice – and friggin’ cheerful while they’re at it! – that along with the near perfect climate they will be the single most important thing that I’ll miss when I leave in another few weeks.

If YOU don’t have the health and financial problems that I have and are considering Mexico as a retirement option, THIS is what they mean when they say “It’s a different way of life.”

No snarling clerks, genuine smiles on the street, shy children who can be coaxed to smile with a game of peek-a-boo over the seat on the bus and, once discovered, service providers who, with a relatively generous tip and true appreciation, will go out of their way to be of help.


Now, if Arturo pockets my money and doesn’t show up to replace the equipment I’ll be writing an addendum.  But, based on my experience of a year in San Miguel,



I have hope.

No small thing in today’s world.

Viva Mexico!


So, I gave Soni Gas another chance.  I have no animus towards Noel Gas. They delivered on time at a fair price, but their guy didn’t figure out the problem. This is how we roll in San Miguel as we search for the best service for our specific circumstances.

Good luck on your search.  Unlike the U.S. where we can spend hundreds just to diagnose the problem, here there is a chance to fix it without pledging your first-born.

Yep, it is a “different world.”