When I was small we went regularly to the movies -- my mother, aunts & uncles -- together and separately each taking the kid along. That was me. When I was small I waited for the cartoon and the "good stuff" like Audie Murphy in To Hell And Back. The "mushy stuff" put me to sleep. Actually I usually ended up asleep anyway. Even Dial M For Murder left me asleep (I was 6 or so) and is now one of my favorite, great, classic Hitchcock masterpieces.
In those days we often went to the Tampa Theater with plush, folding seats, the smell of popcorn and my favorite nonpareil chocolate candies. The ceiling sported twinkling stars in a dark blue background and the seats were still comfortable.
Now in the modern technological world there is no need to journey out into the tense and frightening world. It is more than possible to set up a home theater. One company on the Internet, Stargate Cinema, offers home theater seating of quality and in a variety of styles along with posters, seating accessories (how about a lighted beverage holder?) and a wide selection of movie posters.
29 August 2007
27 August 2007
In my youth which doesn't seem to have been so long ago, I was always thin enough and reasonable unconcerned about "fatness". Times change and age changes us. Now I have a weak heart that does not want to carry extra weight I have added extra weight to this aging body. Not fair.
Then, following almost a week of living without electricity, refrigeration, telephone, Internet and fresh foods arriving at the stores; I boarded a Carnival "fun ship", the Imagination. I am never immune to a couple of days aboard the feeding machine that is cruising but this trip came as counterpoint to days of deprivation. I walked up the gangplank, was greeted by pleasant security people (it helps when only one person is boarding) and was nearly knocked over by the caress of air conditioning after so much heat and humidity. My bags stored in the cabin and Mexican residency explained to a Scandinavian purser's office assistant who had never known anything but tourist visas, I went up to the grill where I eat rather than the closed-in dining rooms. Food spilled over tables in a gluttonous cornucopia of excess and I was in heaven. Drunk on frozen yogurt, pizza and iced drinks.
Did I add more to the over-the-line weight of my waist-line? Yes. I am guilty and must watch myself now. Many of the passengers were of the wide-beam variety. America shows its affluence by the wealth of foods available and the plethora of fast food and junk food. America is swollen with these things, with the wealth, excess and convenience. The result is a population wanting and needing help with its diets, dieting and nutritional supplements like the hoodia patch.
Hoodia, of which I know nothing, is a cactus product and I am a pushover for cactus. Nopal cactus leaves are a favorite of mine in Mexico and I have been told they can also be blended into a drink. Tequila and Mezcal are also wondrous liquors. I don't drink much but they are my favorites with Kalua in my coffee and Napolean Brandy or, perhaps, its bouquet.
The hurricane came and did its cat5 best to destroy, dislocate and endanger. My house and I survived the direct hit with its 300+ km/hour winds with their noisy, deafening shrieks. It came and even this fearless observer of storms was left impressed with the storm, with the power of earth to taunt and try man. This was the summit of storms -- almost. Wilma, I have heard, was even worse in Cozumel where she parked herself for about 40 hours rather than the equally powerful Dean who came and went. There were about 6 or 8 hours of storm, a few at the amazing height of the winds but he did not stick around. Late that day the sun came out for a few minutes to really appreciate all the damage he had wrought.
Now I have been traveling. The trip had already been planned but it was surely a good time to leave. My garden was sad to face with its denuded trees and plants, the flowers blown to Campeche, the lime tree down and shrubs knocked over, all the fruits from the trees brought down. Electricity, phone and Internet services have not yet been restored. They are promised for this Friday but it is Mexico and time has little meaning.
Wander over to 7 Color Lagoon for a loose narrative of this epic voyage that I have begun. So far I have gone by taxi, bus, taxi and cruise ship and have gotten as far as Miami. My bags -- old black, wheeled things with dozens of ribbons to differentiate them from all the other old, black, wheeled things -- are again with me. My computer bag is artificial leather and was, I think, a long ago premium from buying office supplies in New York or some such. It is time, with a lovely, loyal MacBook Pro to upgrade to something like Samsonite or Timberland before all that computer finds itself on a floor somewhere.
21 August 2007
The other end of the spectrum is berndes cookware, a German-made line of fine utensils since 1921. This is the real McCoy, the stuff from which memorable meals are made. Granted that nothing would have saved the simple boiled penne rigati I ruined the other night when I spaced out and boiled it for 22 minutes instead of my usual 11. It was highly suitable to feed the garbage can and I made sandwiches for dinner. They were good.
Using the right tools, the precision knife and non-warping pans and griddles is part of the process of successful food. They even have woks -- German woks, perhaps, but woks nonetheless. It appears to be the kind of site and company to supply the level of quality of a chef's tools.
Even my less-than-high-quality stainless pots keep being usable here no matter how I abuse them. Other pots and pans have long since hit the dirt. Simple, precise, quality tools turn a cook into a chef.
19 August 2007
Sometimes these sponsored posts are out of my line or just arrive at the wrong time. Tonight I am happily and mindlessly watching Catwoman in Spanish on TV. It is the night before what may be a bad storm -- Hurricane Dean -- and in the middle of a lot of hectic preparations. I can also celebrate that my annual visa to live in Mexico was renewed quickly and without hassles.
I stopped to see if I needed to research a company to mention here and I was taken to an on-line store that specializes in animal masks, costumes and stuffed animals -- The Jungle Store.com.
It has a lot of things for kids and infants. OK. And some to lighten the heart (hopefully for light-hearted people) of those looking for masks and costumes. The leopard masks and costume cheered me up. The movie, bad as it may be, is also cheering me with the sexy cat-woman and the silly, formula story.
What better way to forget the coming tempest than with a sexy cat woman dressed in leathers and a cat mask to (sort of) hide her identity?
I am slowly gearing up to sell my lovely house on the shore of the lagoon. There is a page on my site, 7 Color Lagoon.com with the house and, now, a first gallery of pictures.
A list of agencies handling the proposed sale will be added and a pdf download with a description. This whole process is to be done slowly to allow me time to attend to medical matters, family obligations, and that difficult, final decision to part with a home I love.
Stay tuned, save your pennies or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are in the Yucatan heed the message just received from local civil defense on my cell phone: If you are in a secure place, stay there. If not, go to a shelter. Obey, they say, the authorities. Since I will not evacuate my solid home for a Mexican shelter so there will be no authorities. My boxes of candles are here, some food and canned food, lots of purified water, matches, flashlights, gas for the generator, etc. Tomorrow the velador will secure all movable items and cover the pool filter. Most windows will be covered with the storm doors of mahogany. I will be fine if Dean actually hits here. The worry is not for me in my cement home but for the thousands of local people in palapas of bamboo and thatch and those inland in the jungle from here.
GOES image from NOAA of the Eastern Caribbean in infra-red.
As Hurricane Dean nears our coast of the state of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula, I have been following it and reporting on advisories and my thoughts of yet another hurricane.
For now I have moved Hurricane Dean reports to my long-neglected blog, Travel Dangers. Visit for links to official and commercial reportage, satellite imagery and, if the power and phone lines hold, my observations as he comes our way and (maybe) hits us -- or not. Please visit there for Hurricane Dean information.
I have been watching the approach of Hurricane Dean toward the border village of Bacalar, the Yucatan's Caribbean shorelines and, perhaps, Chichen Itzha and Merida afterwards. It seems more and more as if we will experience a taste of this one and that the Cancun and Mayan Riviera with Cozumel will be hit yet again.
Forecasts and satellite images (along with the links to keep in touch with updates) are being posted while the electricity and phone lines last to my blog, Travel Dangers.
I was about to delete it or shunt it aside to work on this one and 7 Color Lagoon.com when this subject fit in too well.
18 August 2007
The hurricane season is now better-than-officially open. Hurricane Dean is coming this way. He is not a threat yet, merely a phenomenon to watch. NOAA issued this statement and promises an update at 5 AM.
A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE SOUTH COAST OF THE
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM BARAHONA WESTWARD TO THE HAITI-DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC BORDER. A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE
CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24
HOURS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED
A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR JAMAICA. A HURRICANE WATCH MEANS
THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...
GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE BRITISH VIRGIN
ISLANDS....U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND PUERTO RICO. THESE WARNINGS
WILL LIKELY BE DISCONTINUED LATER THIS MORNING. A TROPICAL STORM
WARNING IS IN EFFECT ALONG THE SOUTH COAST OF THE DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC FROM CABO ENGANO WESTWARD TO BARAHONA. A TROPICAL STORM
WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN
THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.
A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF CUBA...FROM THE
PROVINCE OF CAMAGUEY EASTWARD TO THE PROVINCE OF GUANTANAMO. A
TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS.
INTERESTS ELSEWHERE IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN CARIBBEAN...INCLUDING
WESTERN CUBA...THE CAYMAN ISLANDS...AND THE YUCATAN PENINSULA OF
MEXICO...SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF DEAN.
I shall do just that and watch closely to see if the storm will ruin my hectic week's plans or not.
A sponsored hunt led me to a site that sells diamond rings as well as “teen jewelry” (like toe rings) and a neat catalog feature that opens and turns pages like the print version or on-line magazines distributed by Zinio. The diamond rings were more fun if the option to “Design Your Own Ring” was clicked.
When my wife and I were married the budget (Ah, those old-time hippies) did not lend itself to diamond rings (a small, antique one came much later). We did, however, know an I.B.M. engineer looking to remake himself into a craftsman. In his case that was a jewelry maker and cutter of semi-precious stones. He did design her wedding ring as a simple filigree band. It worked.
The idea of the wedding ring is the forging of bonds and the infinite continuity of the circle that cannot be broken. It is a wonderful idea that is sometimes the case in a successful marriage. Here in Mexico the more happily married women seem to call their man “corazon” or “heart”. I like that. It is sweet, brief and very descriptive.
16 August 2007
It may be fun to start over with another place to live at some point soon. We had more privacy when the major problem was keeping the jungle at bay. Now the boats, jet skis, tour boats and sightseers (as well as the black-hat boys) mean that leaving the large sliding-glass doors and sliding windows uncovered may not be appropriate. Surely if I were to live in a more urban area of whatever country I would need to cover windows for privacy and, it appears, for energy efficiency.
I have never liked frilly things nor gossamer curtains and the tropics mean that any such object will soon turn greenish from the mold, be torn or dirtied by the ever-present lizards and otherwise annoy me when they should be making my life more pleasant.
Check out not only the faux wood blinds but the energy-efficient models, wood blinds and luxury versions from the faux blinds to the Roman Shades including the textured linen model with added "cellular liner for superior insulation". Free shipping in the US and help with measuring as well as free sample swatches to feel the products. Amazing what the 'Net brings these days. Social networking, news from Peru and the ability to order window shades. What more could a person want?
13 August 2007
Things go on and life skips along on its merry way from good to bad, bad to OK and back again. That, as they say, is life. But then the unexpected happens in a heart beat and life changes or ends.
It tends not to advertise itself. Death's dark and sexy angel comes on quiet feet and might play chess with you as in a Bergman film or might just watch as your car rolls, your plane crashes and burns. If there is time to prepare -- it might be easier. If there is time then it is probably already too late to buy term insurance, other insurance, make a will, say what you wanted to say and do the things that had been put off so long.
The moral of the story: think ahead. Plan ahead. A wise writer on careers once wrote, "Planning without planning for change is not planning at all." Plan for change, plan for rainy days and hurricanes of problems and, perhaps, they results will be less intimidating.
11 August 2007
This is a sponsored post that included a request to mention an adult site offering "costumes", open tip bras,lingerie and "toys". It is surely not my normal kind of recommendation but I thought of the great photographer, Marplethorpe, being censured for his pictures. They often eluded me as to who and what was doing what to whom. But the image in its shapes, textures and quality often soared beyond the specificity of sexuality to the idea of sensuality in the abstract. In the case of the supplier of underwear designed for sexuality of the kind I left behind in my teen years, there is a certain amusement and even a few stirrings when thinking of people who need someone to wear a nurse's uniform to turn them on. I do, however, rather like the "pirate shirt". Just be warned that it is an adult-oriented site a bit off my usual subjects.
Actually, the more I look at some of the pages -- like the "sexy costumes", the more fun it seems. The sexy nurse (and I have been attracted to or thankful for a number of nurses both sexy and not) costume promises:
If a spoonful of sugar can make medicine go down, then this
sweet-as-can-be Student Nurse costume should cure everything! It starts
out with a stretch polyester contoured dress that caresses the body and
accentuates your hourglass shape. The drop shoulder styling and lace
ruffle trim create a feminine look that will make any man happy to be
your patient. Shiny satin ribbons and bows add all the right touches.
The matching nurses hat and a stethoscope that looks like the real
thing are included.
I love the fact of a fake stethoscope -- genuine polyester too.
My newly painted office/study looks better, the piles of unfiled papers hidden, the walls fresh, the windows washed and wood polished. One piece of junk furniture remains from when we bought the house -- a disintegrating, rolling table with shelves and a now doorless cabinet. Quality rating: 1 on a scale of 10 when it was new. In the middle of thinking of moving is not the time to buy furniture. But, if I move, the next study will be studied and planned, the furniture invested in as a part of the appliances, electronics and photography equipment.
Another office furniture site from Pennsylvania offers desks, cabinets and the essentials of Office Furniture Concepts. They add a large section of "healthcare solutions" -- furniture, waiting room furniture and "office essentials" for the offices of health practitioners. What really turned me on was that they also offer a large selection "Corporate Art" which turns out to be photography, painting and prints framed and ready for the office. The photography section included someone I did not know of whose flower prints were quite good and certainly appropriate interspersed with Ansel Adams and what were probably good reproductions of fine old prints. In the abstract art department there were contemporary unknowns along with a fine looking reproduction of a Picasso and this Wassily Kandinsky, Farbstudie Quadrate, 1913, that I thought was a particularly well-chosen graphic for an office.
My walls are empty and need color. Who can work without the magic of pictures surrounding them?
The attraction of Florida has been continual since the turn of the 20th century. There was a "boom" before the stock market failure of 1929 and a "bust" that came after. As a boy the remnants of ambitious (for the time) development projects still existed as ruins of a past culture -- water towers and partially-built buildings -- pointed out by my mother. For her they were the symbols of her childhood memories of the "Great Depression" and a warning to me to always plan for the unexpected.
As a young man I drove trucks throughout Florida in a period between a southern state university and entering a fine, old Yankee college where they actually served up knowledge and waited for understanding to take root. One of my stops to unload mufflers, pipes, brakes, generators and boxes of spark plugs from the crematory of the closed back of the truck in the Florida sun was Kissimmi, Florida. It was a small town centered around the cattle ranches and its primary claim to fame was the annual rodeo. A sneeze of a town where I knew my delivery of parts would please the local cowboys fixing up their 'rods and pickups.
That was 1965 and 66. Walt Disney had probably just begun his buy-up of a huge tract of land for what was to become another American icon, Disneyworld, which would catapult Kissimmi and Orlando into a place of international importance in the world of those seeking "theme parks". That is a big world as it turned out. It is now Disneyworld and the Orlando cloud of tourism and corporate headquarters in the symbol of Sunbelt growth and dominance.
One way to visit is to prepare for a vacation rental rather than just a hotel room. Settle back and feel more home-like with a Vacation Home Orlando.
I am beginning the search for a Miami sublet for my time there. For someone undergoing any medical procedures, it is far more amenable to recuperation than a hotel. Last visit I rented a overly-large condo in the Kendall area near my medical practitioners. That was a crowded time and all I could find. This time I am looking on Sublets.com for a studio or 1 bedroom somewhere in the Miami area. The difference in comfort is, for me, immense in spite of giving up some hotel services. No room service but who can afford room service? The kitchen lets me make my own carefully controlled meals and enjoy quiet breakfasts as well as storing the left-overs of my Chinese dinner taken out or delivered. There is more of a sense of control and of life lived in reality rather than in the fairy tale version of comfort of hotels.
06 August 2007
Here in Mexico the rule is to have a lot of bathrooms. It is not just luxury nor large families. Some of the plumbing is always acting up. One of our chores has been to slowly replace what were de luxe hardware 25 years ago with locally-available fixtures. Twenty-five years ago the nearest city, Chetumal, was a small, sweaty border town on the edge of the jungle. Now there are new businesses springing up near the new mall with its own fast-food joints, Office Depot and Cineplex with 12 screens.
In the States the secret would now be to look on the Net for shower faucets that have cost me so much annoyance and time.
Thinking of moving again and knowing the need of Mexican houses for renovation -- especially in the faucet and shower controls department -- fills me with some dread. I have been looking at some properties in another state that have already been renovated by industrious, younger urban homesteaders. What surprised me were houses that had been renovated, painted and, even, furnished in taste that would have been my own or better than my own.
The decision to part with my own house is a large and difficult one.
04 August 2007
Reuters reported that the blame falls primarily on human actions. The zone of oxygen depletion below Louisiana seems to be caused by fertilizer-laden water run-off from the farms along the shores of the great river. The Louisiana dead zone is about 20,461 square kilometers (7900 square miles). The nitrogen-based fertilizers present on American farms assists in the algae growth of the Gulf which uses up the oxygen in the water. The rapidly increasing popularity of ethanol used as a gasoline additive/alternative comes from corn grown in the "heartland of America" but also uses more fertilizer that other crops.
The new zone found off the coast of Texas is said to have been caused by the heavy rains earlier this year that added layers of fresh water to the Gulf. The fresh water lays as a layer above salt water and prevents oxygenation.
The largest dead zone in the world's water is in the Baltic sea and is also a man-made area. It is 4 times larger that the Gulf zone.
In 1998 my wife and I made a trip from Tampa/Clearwater where I grew up, around the Gulf to the Mexican border at Brownsville/Matamoros. We then continued down the coast (I can stand no altitude and the coast was mostly sea-level except around the lovely village of Santiago Tuxtla north) with some routes a little inland until we ended up near the Caribbean on the Yucatan Peninsula. I had loved the clean Gulf around Clearwater and St. Petersburg when I was a boy and it remains one of the best areas on the Gulf. Tecolutla, Veracruz is another.
However, the overwhelming feeling of touring the shore of the Gulf of Mexico is its contamination and destruction. From Pensacola and sleazy Biloxi through Louisiana and the coast of Texas the smell and air pollution from refineries is all-pervasive. The waters of the Gulf touch the shore with foam colored a bilious green that seems to have more the texture of styrofoam than seawater. In Mexico there is less until Poza Rica, Villahermosa and Campeche where the Pemex fields and installations have altered the ecosystem. Further evidence of this alteration is sad indeed.
Posted by HFD at 10:48 AM
Whatever the market does there will still be people seeking elegant homes, starter homes, land for the future and vacation homes. All come down to a real estate broker. Of those there are many and varied. Now comes the Internet with its webs of electrons carrying pictures and virtual tours of properties, email, access to MLS and more.
After weeks of surfing housing, rental and sub-let sites I have become familiar with the new Internet way of seeing the world. Sometimes with the all-encompassing virtual tour done with attention and slide shows of excellent pictures that show the place and the feelings that surround it. And sometimes not.
As I begin to think of where I might go if I sell my Laguna Bacalar house I have been virtually visiting Mèrida and the surrounding Gulf Coast and suburbs along with Florida's south. In America I might need to go 1 or 2 or more hours from Miami (I thought a dose of urban life, museums and galleries would be good for me) in order to afford to be there. There is a temptation to live back home in the States but I fear that the States have changed in the decade I have been gone -- and the prices 10 times higher.
It is a puzzlement and here in Mexico where finding reliable real estate information is so difficult, it has been difficult to decide on a price and I continue to waver a little. The process is beginning, however, and life will change. It is the part to remember. Life will change whatever happens.
A new sponsor has added their link for Puerta Vallarta Real Estate. Puerta Vallarta is north on the Pacific coast. I have not been there but the site shows big swimming pools, modern condos and villas with the kind of amenities that we have not seen until recently in the more distant part of the country where I live. Real estate is on my mind these days.
Posted by HFD at 1:12 AM