10 September 2015

Tell Four Footmen To Call Me In Time For Lunch, Will You?

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.

Golly, how the home has changed since we went under contract last October. In the above photo is our darling Donna walking on what was then the first of only two levels of the site. Anyway, add about a hundred large to the home purchase price and you’ve got what we’ve spent, thus far . . . more or less. Yes, that includes incidentals such as my new pot rack and flag pole, plus all of the originally-over-priced planters that we shipped, etc., etc., . . . and let’s not even broach the subject of tools that Rusty continues to purchase. Oh, and a new garage, stairways down to the tee box and level IV, and some patio furniture. 

Anyway, we’re doing it . . . livin’ the dream . . . and I don’t lack for much . . . though yesterday I had a little melt-down brought on by who knows what. In the Peace Corps world (and also according to Dr. Freddy), three-to-four-months-in is about the time for the melt-down. At this juncture you realize: I’ve nested, I’m relatively culturally competent, if not fluent in the language . . . now what? Meltdown.

After Freddy talked me off the ledge (with the aid of some great I.V. drugs), I went shopping. After two months of accounting for every penny spent, I’m well acquainted with our cost of living. Our semi-luxurious lifestyle is so in budget (even with our high A/C bill) that I’ve got actual budget wiggle room. At least a bit. True, not enough for four footmen . . . just enough for three irresistibly lovable workers . . . five-and-a-half days a week. And enough for a few goodies here and there . . . and treats like Spanish class (more of a necessity than a treat) and a few other classes.

Fused glass. Say it with me. Fused glass . . . my newest obsession . . . (and this stuff ain't cheap) in a home so small that we barely have space to display items from our world travels, much less to display the dozens of glass dishes that I have planned. Guess I’ll somehow re-purpose (read: smash to bits) our old plates, and we’ll ever-after eat from my fused glass class projects. Honey, hand me your new Shop Fox hammer. Maybe not.

Now some expats complain constantly: the price of food, the price of their household help, blah, blah, blah. It’s true, some food items are very costly. I priced a bag of Ocean Spray® dried cherries. True, it was quite a large bag, but it was $16. Sixteen dollars?! Great googly-moogly. I really wanted those dried cherries for chicken salad. I settled for walnuts, at about $3.50 per cup. Is that pricey? I’ve forgotten what walnuts cost in Texas, though I do recall that the price increases near the winter holiday seasons.

I should mention that these weren’t your garden-variety walnuts . . . depending on your garden, I suppose. These were English black walnuts. Yum. And into Ina Garten’s carrot cake they went. I added mace. Ina, if it has cinnamon and/or nutmeg, it should always have mace. Mace goes with nutmeg and cinnamon as leeks go with potatoes . . . like French fries and ketchup . . . like pineapple and chocolate. Like vodka and . . . anything.

Yesterday it began raining before 3:00PM. I had to absolutely insist that our workers come inside . . . not merely tarry on the front porch, but bring their wet selves indoors, muddy shoes and all. It was pouring, and the lightening and thunder were so severe that the storm sent Jill running for her spot behind Rusty’s toilet. Anyway, Ina’s warm carrot cake was cooled just sufficiently to drizzle it with the pineapple-ginger cream cheese frosting. As stated, we don't want for much. Our guys are great testers of all things sweet. My new slogan is: Javier tested, Javier approved. I turned on the iPod for Tonio, Javier, and Melvie; fed cake to our guys; and intrigued them as I chopped and shredded a typical Tico slaw (to top fish tacos) for dinner . . . 'cause I am absolutely diggin' this Tico cooking-thing. Then came the slaw & fish sauce/dressing. Salsa, Javier said. Once again, Javier tested, Javier approved. I was so proud.

So as the guys were huddled in the corner on the floor (refusing to sit on our dining chair cushions, which I’m confident are washable), they were playing with someone’s mobile phone. A game, I presumed. There was laughter, which could have been a hint that it wasn’t a game. Rusty has been known to curse when he plays a game on his mobile . . . I never hear Rusty Angry Birds laughter. So as I approached our non-footmen to offer a sample of the fish salsa I peeked at the phone. Javier hid it as if watching something to which my delicate sensibilities shouldn’t be exposed. Javier! Turns out indeed it was a silly game. 

So there we were, having this nice conversation in Spanish about games, cooking, and thunderstorms. Okay, I’m lying again. I was trying to make myself understood with the six (6) words that I know in Spanish about rainstorms. And, yes, I partially fibbed again when I told the guys that in parts of Africa and in the U.S. there is a saying when the thunder roars/cracks (as it did yesterday): God is happy. When God is happy, he plays with us. I got so far as asking for the Spanish translation of the verb to play. I knew that it was something quite similar to the French verb for play: jouer.

Melvie knew precisely what I was trying to say . . . Melvie said, Play (in perfect English), like PlayStation. Yes, Melvie. That’s it! What’s the word in Spanish? Jugar? Okay, Dios juega. So the four of us struggled with my phrases; and I finally got up and walked back to the kitchen with my Javier tested, Javier approved sauce, when Melvie whispered to the others, in Spanish: God plays with a PlayStation? Okay . . . something certainly was lost in translation there. But the guys got a good laugh . . . and I live to make them laugh at me . . . and to make them sweet treats.

Jill had a tick. Over ten years with this dog and nary a flea, much less a tick. I don’t remember the last time that I even saw a tick on a pet, much less removed it. I was at the point of swooning. I won't pay for gardening work, but I'd surely pay for tick removal. Alas . . . suck it up, Kathy . . . the tick had to go. Over 100 days here at Mil Colinas and Jill has remained tick-free. Why now? Lubos observes Jill here and there around the mountain. Never far from our home, but still . . . I’d like her to remain in the yard at all times. But as Lubos says, She’s on a mission . . . and I suppose a dog’s gonna do what a dog’s got to do. One more thing to obsess about. And it’s not that Jill is susceptible to Costa Rica’s deadly tick fever. We’ve got preventative medication for that. Still . .  good God, folks, a tick! 

At nine o’clock last night the rain continued. It ended about 4:00 am this morning. More is predicted this week. This morning I made a rain gauge after much science instruction from Rusty about the importance of straight-sided containers and π. TMI . . . Honey, I just want a rain gauge -- that craft-a-day thing. 

So finally, I clearly can hear the western river from our kitchen window: yes, Kat, you're going to love that sound. This I’ve waited for since last October. Just when I’m convinced that the rains have arrived, we receive nary a drop for a week. But when the rains do return, each time it’s harder, longer, and more frequent. Rain gauge: good crafting day project . . . after I polish the copper, and check Jill for ticks, and make pineapple fried pies for Javier to test. You just can’t put a price on keeping happy our workers. It’s in the budget . . . so let’s keep baking . . . and buying. Lo que hay.