New Year's Eve. And I'm thinking that one of the top reasons to enjoy the expat life of Costa Rica will be tonight's festivities. This, from the gal who generally hates New Year's Eve. Resolutions -- bah! That obligatory must-have-fun thing -- bah! Finding the perfect dress . . . again, bah! Why do people make resolutions for a new year? Why not for each new month, week, day? This phenomenon is completely beyond my comprehension. I've not made a resolution in years (except for that November-gain-five-pounds-by-baking thing).
31 December 2015
26 December 2015
I'm half French, so why wouldn't I love the French? And they speak French! Not some bizarre Canadian language erroneously called French. The French speak beautiful, genuine French.
Let’s have a little language lesson. In French the word for or is ou. In Spanish the word for or is o. Would you like steak ou chicken? Do you prefer roses o tulips? In French the word ou (for or) is pronounced ew . . . as in ew, that raw chicken is slimy. In Spanish the word o is pronounced just as it’s spelled: oh . . . as in Oh how I love France.
Rusty cannot abide my explanations of Latin-based Spanish words and sentence structure through comparison to French. He’s had it! He’s even verbalized several times this week that he is sick of hearing me say, Well, in French . . . .
24 December 2015
A Toast Before We Go Into Battle: True Love . . . In Whatever Shape Or Form It May Come. May We All In Our Dotage Be Proud To Say, "I Was Adored Once."
It's Christmas Eve. For those who do not celebrate Christmas (which is absolutely acceptable in my world), it's merely another date on the calendar . . . December 24th.
We're hosting a luncheon today, and some of the invitees don't celebrate Christmas. So instead of a Christmas Eve luncheon we'll call it our December 24 luncheon. I'm thinking of making it an annual tradition -- like our Bastille Day Party (no need to be French to enjoy). After all, a successful party rarely depends on the date/holiday, nor is it about the food and drink. The measure of a gathering's or a union's success is always about the people (sometimes people and pets). Today we're blessed to be entertaining very dear friends.
I often joke about the quantity of alcohol that I consume. As with any party, my cocktail consumption is never about the quantity . . . it's always about the quality. True, from 23 through 25 December, I do begin drinking in the mornings. . . after all, 'tis the season and Irish Coffee is de rigueur. And I happen to have a full bottle of Jameson from that trip north to Coco. When the caffeine outweighs the effect of the Irish whiskey and the Amarula, I'll switch to Greyhounds. Again . . . that trip north -- we have fresh grapefruit, which is perhaps my best Christmas gift this year . . . except for one. My husband.
22 December 2015
Our dog constitutes 98% of my life's meaning. Rusty knows this. In fact, Jill The Pill occupies about the same percentage of Rusty's priorities in life (or so he claims) . . . which is really bizarre considering that his tools occupy about 98% of our 1.65 acres, more or less. So if we're working with percentages here, that leaves about two percent of our love and energy to devote to each other. Yep . . . sounds about right. I'm lying: last night we played a Christmas song game that Rusty found on the Internet, made Texas-style tamales, and had a generally fabulous evening. Plus, The Stars won.
Okay. So about our Sunday trip north to the Auto Mercardo -- we decided to visit the store in Coco versus Tamagringo. There is simply nothing good to be said about Tamarindo. Oh, wait . . . as my mother would say: if you can't say something nice, come sit by me. No, wait . . . . that's Sally. As my mother would say: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. So here's something nice about Tamarindo: it is far from us.
Speaking of dogs and mothers, I know parents of human children who are more devoted to their pets than children. Of course, these parents are my age with grown children requiring fewer hands-on parenting skills; but my point is that the devotion to our pets knows no bounds. Here in Samara we have Perlita the Wonder Dog. Her owners coddle her. Yeah, Bill, you know you do. Then there's Miss Marley, second cutest dog on the planet. I want Marley's life. I want to be reincarnated as C&M's dog. Such a life. And Bonga certainly leads a charmed life, but she's a Tico dog and has her own Tica agenda. This doesn't mean that she's neglected. Hardly. Bonga gets what Bonga wants; but her wants fall into the simple-life category.
20 December 2015
Ready or not, there is no stopping the arrival of Christmas. Perhaps there is no escape, anywhere, from lights, trees, tinsel, and wrapping paper. Not that I necessarily need to escape; it's just a tad incongruous think of Kris Kringle in 90-degree-plus weather with a beach view. And it's not our first Christmas spent by a tropical beach; I simply never get used to palm trees juxtaposed to Christmas trees. My failure to embrace Christmas in the tropics is odd because DFW weather can be 80 on Christmas day . . . or 25. So my usual need to decorate, evidently rooted deeply within my genes, is certainly not weather-related . . . it's merely gone missing this year.
01 December 2015
papagayo wind, some say not. Me? I’m inclined to agree with them. Imagine hours of sustained 40-50 mile per hour winds. Our large butterfly bush snapped in half. And we’re told by expats who have lived here for years that we’ve seen nothing yet – winds can be sustained for days at 60 miles per hour. I imagine pool furniture in the pool, along with our youngest papaya tree.
29 November 2015
Reason number 38 to move to Costa Rica and enjoy more free time:
Pinterest is the answer.
What was the question?
I lived a happy life until . . . one day my friend Sally spoke one word: Pinterest. Blah, blah, blah. Another Internet site in which I have zero interest. Like Facebook. But wait, Sally insisted, I must show you the miracle that is Pinterest, how it works, and what you can do with it. I patiently, if not enthusiastically observed the demo. So Pinterest was fine for someone like Sally. Someone who has crafty coursing through her veins. Someone who can take an antique ironing board and make art (she really can . . . and that was years before that detestable portmanteau: Pinterest).
28 November 2015
Golden years: noun, plural; the years of retirement, normally after age 65.
Perhaps I am the most gifted person on the planet, leading the most charmed life. Perhaps I’m an utter failure at everything. Of course the truth lies somewhere in between, but some days that needle leans closer toward utter failure. As we grow we hear proverbs . . . some so old that they’ve become adages:
- For better or for worse . . . .
- Where there's smoke, there's fire.
- A stitch in time saves nine.
- The early bird catches the worm.
- Slow and steady wins the race.
Adages come from many sources, but what they all have in common is that they’re now accepted as truths in life. Today we’ll address not merely the adage, but a very silly idiom, golden years, and the beat-to-death idiom, bucket list.
24 November 2015
In This. . . Grave . . . Hour - Fuck Fuck Fuck - Perhaps The Most Fateful In Our History - Bugger Shit Shit.
The most clear, beautiful day we've seen in a week arrives, yet 'tis a dark, grave time at Mil Colinas.
Accept it: we live in the tropics. Accept it: I am an excellent diagnostician . . . by anyone's standards. And I have a complete understanding of blood work/chemistry and internal medicine. I know what your platelet level should be. I can make your eyes roll back in your head discussing a left-shift of your differential. See?! You're already rolling your eyes.
So imagine poor Rusty. Perhaps he mentions an ache, or a new insect bite . . . or perhaps it's merely a series of sneezes. I go through my routine interrogation. Okay, honey, we've now ruled-out dengue fever, bot fly larvae, meningitis, encephalitis, and the common cold. You'll live.
23 November 2015
It's one of those oh-so-typically Kathy days. I'm staring into the abyss. I'm doing everything within my power not to cause Rusty to jump from the railing in an attempt to escape my world. Let's review:
Tick fever is caused by . . . (two guesses, you'll only need one): ticks. Not just any tick. The brown dog tick. This is not a tick with an affinity for brown dogs. Neither is this tick always brown. So as with everything else in my life today, the term brown dog tick is a lie! Anything in that photo below appear brown to you?!? It's like every suggestion for a Mason jar craft on Pinterest. Liars!
Tick fever in dogs is deadly. Period. There is no cure, so it's all about early detection and management. Think malaria, which can lie dormant in your liver for weeks or years only to surprise you one Christmas. Think of a slow-acting ebola where the patient essentially bleeds-out (internally and externally). Yeah. This tick fever stuff is serious.
14 November 2015
10 November 2015
Under the heading of 1001 Reasons to Move to Costa Rica, reasons 99-801 should involve completely embarrassing yourself. I’m really good at it. Luckily, I packed my sense of humor.
I love Eduardo. He works at our little specialty store. Eduardo is the gentleman whom I kissed in my joy about the arrival of grapefruit juice. Last night we made a quick run to town for a few items. I’ve learned to always grab one or two tins of cat food. One really doesn’t want to be around Nut-Meg when she’s low on food. She senses it. I declare, Meg can see that there is only a single tin in the home. So I squirrel away cans of cat food in secret places as I used to squirrel away a joint in my college days. Why, look, Meg/Kathy . . . here’s an unexpected little surprise.
08 November 2015
Let’s stroll back in time. Our darling neighbors are back on the mountain. We stopped by their home yesterday, and up for discussion came the Texas flag that we’re proudly displaying to welcome them. To welcome them, and for the celebration of Sam Houston’s birthday on the date of their arrival last Tuesday. Rusty said, Honey, it’s wasn’t Sam Houston’s birthday, it was the birth date of [insert name of some other dead Texan here]. I said, No, it was Sam Houston. Rusty said, No it was . . . blah, blah, blah. Okay, dear, I replied.
Well our neighbor (who is Scottish) jumped all over that noting how quickly I acquiesced to my husband’s brilliance. I assured John that if I had my calendar with me, I would at that very moment be flipping to the November 3 page to prove Rusty wrong. But John’s point was made . . . wives should all be happy little ladies, such as myself, and support their husbands, if not in silence, then with a smile, a cocktail, and a wink-and-a-nod. Actually, John implied almost nothing of the kind. He’s Scottish . . . therefore way too smart for such talk among the lassies. Way too smart.
Moments ago my computer popped up with a window saying that Your Sarcasm Is Not Responding. Now I ask you, is that the ultimate in irony? Is that truly mind-blowingly ironic? Yes, in order to have a Sarcasm Not Responding prompt, one must have a Sarcasm folder, and I do . . . oh, I do.
23 October 2015
“There was that pregnant silence in the air, the silence between a husband and wife who have just had words, and it is unlike any other silence except perhaps the awful stillness you hear between the flash of an atomic bomb and the blast. Five, four, three, two, one.” *
12 October 2015
Man plans, God laughs. October is National Dessert Month and I am committed to a minimum gain of five pounds. Minimum. I'm going to need dessert rehab. Anyway, Costa Rican humidity be damned – I was going to make chocolate cream pie for Rusty . . . with a mile-high meringue topping. If my Kitchen Aid can turn cream into butter in less than five minutes (it’s like Butter Jesus in that regard), it can surely whip into stiff peaks a few egg whites.
And then it started to rain. That was yesterday. It’s still raining.
10 October 2015
08 October 2015
Let's talk turkey . . . or cooking . . . or chicken . . . or butter. Today we'll discuss all of these. Let's begin with butter. Remember Vacation Bible School? Yes, I attended every summer; and one of my best memories is making butter. I can't imagine how the butter-making demo was linked to a Bible tale (water to wine?), but it remains as my most clear memory from VBS. Each child was given a sealed Mason jar filled half-way with cream. We were told to shake. Perhaps this was just a clever trick to seal our little mouths as dozens of children shook vigorously their jar. My recollection is that it took an hour, but in reality, it was probably only about seven or eight minutes. You can do this same demo with your child. One moment there was thick white cream coating every inch inside the jar, and a moment later there were balls of butter floating in a slightly milky liquid. Bam. Butter. Well yesterday I performed that same dairy process with a Kitchen Aid mixer . . . quite by mistake.
07 October 2015
About our move to Costa Rica, my darling friend Maggie recently stated that I hope it is all you expected. That simple statement made me wonder . . . I really don’t know what I expected.
I certainly expected to run far and fast from U.S. politics . . . and pharmaceutical commercials . . . and reality TV (except for American Ninja Warrior – I love that). I guess I expected that Rusty and I would wake-up every morning and say to each other, What do you want to do today? In fact, I know I expected that . . . I articulated that sentiment to many friends and family. Well what was I thinking?
05 October 2015
Rusty and I have known each other since school days. During a college break a mutual friend invited us both to a party stating (I’ll never forget it), I think you’d make great partners in crime. The rest is history. A long, crazy history, but hey, it's our history. So after many decades together you’d think that we could manage something as easy as preparing a meal together without getting snippy. Think again. Actually, I never get snippy. Right. Someone recently dubbed me chirpy. Believe me, it wasn’t intended as a compliment.
October is National Pork Month. Seriously. It’s also National Pizza Month. Come on, folks. Pick a food, or at least a food group. It’s also National Apple, Caramel, Cookie, Pasta, Pretzel, and Seafood Month. So, by God, let's set off to make some cookies with caramel, and a pork sausage pizza . . . and that's just for starters, right, my pet?
30 September 2015
Crème Brûlée Day is right around the corner.
I hate acronyms, but I accept them. You can’t work for the U.S. Peace Corps and not accept (if not embrace) the acronym. I know thousands, truly. But the portmanteau is an entirely different matter. And if you can’t define portmanteau without Google, you’re probably today’s target audience. Now I will accept brunch, and possibly even smog. But there I draw the line. Labradoodle. Really?! It is too difficult to explain that your dog’s sire and dam are a Labrador retriever and a poodle? And don’t get me started on text/blog/Facebook abbreviations. PGOC, really? How utterly unromantic. Whatever happened to beautifully written prose? Were Hemingway alive today, he’d kill himself.
28 September 2015
Just another monkey Monday. Our troupes seem to have their weekly staff meetings near our home on Monday. Today was no exception with a troupe of at least 20 coming very, very close.
So, I’d like to tell you the story of how our 17-pound terrier caught and killed one of the deadliest snakes in Central America; but such was not the case. I’d also like to tell you the story of my first successful experience with laminated dough here in Costa Rica. Sadly, I cannot.
I want to eat my cake and have it, too. I want to embrace all things Costa Rica (including snake names), yet I want to retain enough U.S. mindedness to celebrate National Strawberry Cream Pie Day, which is today.
23 September 2015
You know what makes me completely bonkers? . . . besides the fact that humidity is already oxidizing the copper. Okay, silly question, and I left myself wide open with that one. Just leave the sarcasm to me. What makes me bonkers is that one of the best-ever pirate lines contains poor grammar. I know, I know . . . I’m still on that pirate-thing. In pirate-speak one may simply use be in any conjugation of the to be verb (ye be, she be, he be, they be, we be). This should make me crazy; but I’m totally okay with it and find myself using it year-round, especially with Jill The Pill.
22 September 2015
G'mar Chatimah Tovah. And I'll leave that to you to Google.
We've chosen for the title of today's post a quote from the lovely film, Atonement, based on the brilliant novel by Ian McEwan.
No, I never name film names in my posts, but for this most important day of atonement, I felt it important to mention the film lest you not recognize the quote . . . and it fits with the tale of our pirate festivities. I should add that it seems a tad disrespectful to talk of food and parties, but it's I, so ye be not surprised, right? Thus, on to the tale of what's happened of late in Costa Rica.
Saturday was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and I believe that our little celebration did not disappoint. All of our friends were in attendance (save and except our beloved Donna and Kat, who were out of the country). Then there were the friends who brought new and delightful friends. I lost count of the guests, and certainly lost track of the names. One day I'll see one of these new friends at the Pali and have no idea of his/her name. But such a minor faux pas will surely be forgiven considering the grog-effect. At least no furniture or unwilling guests went overboard into the pool.
15 September 2015
September. There’s a lot happening on the planet. Hajj comes soon; Oktoberfest begins Saturday. Saturday is also International Talk Like A Pirate Day (always 19 September), and yes, we have quite a party planned.
Today, however, is especially important. September 15 is Independence Day for Costa Rica as well as Mexico and other Latin American countries. This is the date when Costa Rica celebrates its independence from Spain.
Think Fourth of July in the U.S. It's a big deal. The celebration here actually began days ago as the Torch of Freedom made its way through the country, arriving yesterday in Cartago, the original Capital of Costa Rica. Think Olympics torch.
Last night children in cities and villages across the country held parades just after sunset with their illuminated and hand-crafted faroles. The farol commemorates Maria Dolores Bedoya, who carried a lantern through the streets of Guatemala on the evening of 14 September 1821, urging residents to support independence.
11 September 2015
Amazon . . . it's not the Scout book. The Secret Handbook contains myriad boy secrets. And I know that they’re closely guarded because Rusty will occasionally reveal a boy secret . . . perhaps after watching me struggle with a task for hours . . . perhaps after struggling for years! For instance: did you know that cleans-up with soap and water refers not merely to skin but to paint brushes? This was a life-changing revelation of what I believe to be a boy-only secret.
10 September 2015
Anyone recall how this blog began? I do. It was ongoing tedium -- how we purchased an inexpensive home in Costa Rica for far below $200,000 and intended to retire rather early (well, no early retirement for Rusty, but such was my intention) . . . living a semi-luxurious lifestyle (pool, ocean-view, great friends, monkeys, beaches) . . . and all for about $2,000 per month.
29 August 2015
Our Internet is so lightening-fast that I’m reticent to utter aloud how thrilled we are. Baseball, streaming radio, YouTube. Fluke? Sun spots? Regardless, it makes for an easy Google search of gecko/scorpion lifestyles . . . and we all know that the Internet is authoritative. Who can say what was on this gecko’s (smart? stupid?) mind; but evidently what happened here is that the gecko thought it would eat the scorpion (maybe . . . perhaps), but foolishly underestimated the neuro-toxin of the scorpion, which paralyzed the gecko allowing the scorpion to feed at its leisure.
28 August 2015
Gar·ret/noun; a top-floor or attic room, especially a small dismal one, not to be confused with a penthouse, and traditionally inhabited by an artist.
Montmartre. Still, there were damp yellow Chestnut leaves and corner bistros for morning croissants and coffee. At that time of year the smaller Left Bank streets of Paris were just beginning to offer trees, lights, and menorahs for the holiday season, and everything was bedecked with little lights. Did I mention that the entire country’s transportation system was on strike? La grève! No trains, no planes, no Metro, no taxis. Did I mention that it was cold and that I was on foot in my little Chanel hounds-tooth skirt and black tights?
13 August 2015
Golf clubs and Belding bags. Ship on pallets via boat? Pack? Sell?
True, I haven’t played a full round of golf in ten years . . . but I could . . . I know how. The few holes that I played with my shared/adopted Daddy at Lago Vista didn’t count, other than to confirm that my swing was M.I.A. (though I could still occasionally wow ‘em with my driver). Still . . . don’t let this diminish my commitment to and love of the game.
Sean Connery . . . and it’s difficult to find a bad John McTiernan film. Die Hard . . . Hunt for Red October . . . hello?
I’d seen Medicine Man long before our first trip to Costa Rica, which helps us date the completely forgotten time-frame of our first visit decades ago. DVDs existed then (versus VHS) . . . an additional hint about the forgotten time-line.
Our first experience on a zip-line came during our first holiday in Costa Rica. My first zip-line was when I learned that the phrase My knees are shaking wasn’t just a random idiom. Knees really can shake uncontrollably. Anyway, the very afternoon that we arrived back in DFW I ordered Medicine Man from Amazon. It was that zip-line thing. Honey, let’s please pay for overnight shipping. The DVD couldn’t arrive quickly enough.
07 August 2015
I pride myself on clean ears. In Samara the other day I saw an ear containing some debris. It wasn’t necessarily dirty, but I really wanted to hand over a Q-Tip® and say, why don’t you work a little harder on that? I mean, really . . . I didn’t need to see that.
05 August 2015
I met my first gecko many moons ago when Rusty’s older brother rented a home on Kauai. I was still fairly girly then and was initially spooked by the dozens of little lizards on the property. But one quickly adjusts, and after a couple of weeks they were rather cute. Then came the incident in Ouagadougou with a gecko the size of a kitten. Truly, the lightening-fast creature was enormous. Picture a hotdog bun with legs and a tail. So to this day, after a gecko reaches a certain size (nowhere near kitten size – Ive never seen another that large), it is not my friend.
30 July 2015
I can't speak for an East African safari, but with the very private safaris of the Okavango and Zambezi, one learns very quickly that stealth is the key to keeping the animals from scampering away and to continue doing their natural animal-thing. When you've got a lioness and her three cubs feeding on a recently killed warthog, and all of this is happening less than 10 feet from your camera lens, it's really not the time to to speak up and say, hey, honey, hand me the video and the tripod.
I somewhat jokingly (somewhat) say to Rusty (as in: all the time) that we really (I mean really) need to work on our communication skills. Rusty would tell you that all we need to improve our communication is a quieter wife. Still . . . when called upon to do so, our communication is actually superb . . . as in, eye movements speak volumes (so does a kick underneath a table), and body language says it all. Such was the case the other day when the monkeys came to lunch, less than ten feet from our poolside railing. We were able to trade positions and cameras with the stealth of an F-177. For the howler troupes that live near Mil Colinas, this is as close as they've ever come.
27 July 2015
Our river. It’s not the Volga . . . which starts in Belgium . . . and ends in . . . Wimbledon . . . where they grow the coffee beans. The rains are here, as I’ve mentioned. Some days the river is quite high; and we can usually hear the rushing of our eastern stream (yes, we have an eastern and a western river). So, is this really the season to begin construction of a carport? Let’s have a slide show while I tell you a story. Spoiler alert: to preserve your sanity, stop reading now and just look at the pictures. Really.
Russian, Setswana, Shona, Norwegian, French, Spanish, German, Kasem, Mooré, Afrikaan, Italian, and recently Czech. I can say at least a few of the following phrases in each of the aforementioned languages: good morning, please, thank you, where’s the bathroom, how much does it cost, and we’ll have two more beers. What else does one need, right?
24 July 2015
Jill The Pill has cataracts, not uncommon in a dog over age seven. This isn’t new news; and one day if/when the cataracts mature, she’ll have surgery to remove them. In the meantime, I worry about her vision. Especially in the blinding sunlight less than 10 degrees above the equator. Well, Kathy, worry no more.
Jill naps much of the day. All dogs do. Yesterday she awoke and deigned to remove herself from our bath mat so that I could use the sink. We both exited into the hallway together. And there she spied a decent size lizard scrambling into the guest bathroom. She was on it as a good terrier should be . . . as if it were a mouse. Now I hate to see a lizard lose its life; they eat all manner of insects, so they’re relatively valuable fauna (despite the poo that they leave everywhere). Luckily the lizard escaped underneath the bathroom scale, and Jill bedded-down on the mat in the guest bathroom. As I said, the dog naps a lot.
21 July 2015
Things happen quickly here. Seconds matter. It’s difficult not to live in the moment. And Rusty and I find ourselves worrying (read: obsessing) over the flora and fauna. Perhaps fascinated is a better word than obsessing, but make no mistake . . . we’re rather caught up in all of the second-by-second changes.
Last October when we arrived to house hunt near Samara, we based ourselves at a fabulous little boutique hotel called The Flying Crocodile. Its proud proprietors are German, and it was great fun to practice my terrible German with Petra and Andrea. The breakfasts were outstanding . . . felt like Rothenburg again. And with advance notice the staff would prepare a by-request dinner. One day we asked for a typically German dinner, and Petra personally ensured that we were served several types of wurst. We were thrilled -- the best of the wurst . . . okay, I concede . . . how often has that line been used? Nevertheless, recently I’ve been craving wurst again.
Flying Crocodile . . . especially in rainy season, though it is always worth the effort. After the rains some roads are closed due to high water (though probably not as of this writing). In the driest season, it’s a far piece down the road from Mil Colinas, and that road is bumpy, and I don’t have Petra’s number, and I really can’t commit to which night Rusty will drive there for wurst, and my excuse list could easily continue. The answer?