Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pre Funerial Worries

Yeah, it's the middle of the night. Yeah, I'm up.

Why? I cannot sleep because I'm doing some pre-memorial service worrying.

A week from today we will be state side while a house sitter lives in our Tamarindo home to feed the kitty, water my sad attempt at a vegetable garden and keep random locals from breaking in and stealing our crappy tiny television. There will finally be a memorial service from my Maw in Law, who passed in mid October while we were also state side.

We wanted the funeral and memorial service to take place while we were there in October. Even our kids flew out to Texas in anticipation of a funeral. My husband's brother and his second wife, Mrs. Satan. insisted we not hold the funeral then, but do it the week between Christmas and New Years. Great, just what I always wanted to do, give up two holidays and pay outrageously inflated airline fare on the busiest week of high tourist season here in Costa Rica. We dickered back and forth a few times on the best day to hold the service and we insisted on it being in late January when we come up again against our 90 day visas.

If you've been reading here awhile you'll realize there's just so much to hate about this situation. But it does have the merit of being the last time I have to see those two, particularly Mrs. Satan. We have knocked heads now more than a few times. I believe I'm dealing with an odd strain of mental illness and manipulation when I'm around her. A ruined Christmas, some disrespectful attacks on my husband when he wanted to move the Maw in Law's investment funds and a long laundry list of crazy. See why I'm dreading this service?

When the Maw in Law passed we were told by her that no one could say a thing about it on Facebook. They were being oh so secret squirrel about the situation, and once the memorial service was planned they insisted no posting about the memorial service on Facebook. I've honored that even if I'm not crazy about it. Facebook is a great way to get out news on things like wakes and funerals to far flung friends and relatives.

A couple of weeks ago both Jim and I discovered that there were even family members that knew nothing about the funeral and many friends still in the dark. Jim worked the phones letting everyone we knew have the memorial times, bumping up the list of who was attending about a  100%.  I have told no one besides my kids, my mother and a handful of elderly aunts that knew the Maw in Law.

I'm grumbled to Jim, my mother and my eldest daughter on my thoughts about the fact that the grocery store deli at Winn Dixie would be catering the lunch following the service. In a city filled with better delis, better super market delis and tons of great restaurants and catering companies I'm puzzled by Mrs. Satan's choice. I think it boils down to money, I think they came in with the cheapest bid, and money really should not matter at all. She left plenty of money which we've already divvied up. I know her tastes and ideas after 31 years of being her daughter in law. She would not like this set up at all.

Maw in Law had a top of the line memorial service for her husband, with a wonderful catered lunch afterward (hey, it's Louisiana and most Cajun events are food-related, even funerals) and everything I'm hearing about this service seems nowhere near as nice.

I realize my bitching is ungrateful and my thoughts extraneous since I did nothing to help plan it, but then again we weren't consulted in the least, plus we're living overseas.

I'm likely in for it now anyway because I was discussing in a Facebook thread this morning with my ex Sister in Law what the weather was going to be in South Louisiana for the memorial service, forgetting that I promised we'd not mention it online. I've been seriously verklempting about this trip because of the extreme winter weather throughout the US and in South Louisiana. You know how many winter clothes I have here in Tamarindo? None. I have a few pairs of jeans, two long sleeve tops and sweaters and one rolled up down jacket. De nada for the forecasted thirties of next week.

While we were talking about the weather some people that knew the Maw in Law well through the ex SIL popped into the thread upset that they didn't know Maw in Law was dead and wanting to come to the service, sooooo,, it's likely that the final count for the funeral and luncheon is going to double again and Mrs. Satan is going to have to spend a lot more. I'll be blamed per usual.

I still do not get all this secret squirrel nonsense because my Maw in Law was a university professor with many friends and colleagues that haven't been invited. Why not just list the announcement in the paper and prepare for a crowd. Very badly handled all the way around.  I can see I'm going to have to pack my emergency bottle of valium to get through those three hours, keep a civil tongue in my head and not say what I'm dying to say to Mrs. Satan. Thank God I never have to see her every again. If Jim dies before me I'm banning the two of them from his funeral.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Beaches and Bulls

I've not posted in awhile I realize. It's been days of guests, dealing with getting our investments moved here, days on the beach, well most days on the beach. Sometimes I have to stop and do things like laundry, buy groceries, slide on down to the chicken shack and the fruit stand. That's between having mojitos and chifrijos on the beach. Playa Conchal, Playa Avellanas, Playa Danta, Playa Langosta, Playa Brasolita, Playa Grande and many more visited. I'm as brown as a leather satchel without wrinkles now. I've swam daily in the Pacific Ocean. One day I stood on a high cliff over the ocean and viewed an endless vista of beaches tucked into mountain coves.

During the run up week to Christmas I had one of those most unique Costa Rican experiences. I went to the local bullfights at the festivals every village throws in mid December. They build the bullring from scratch every year with trucked in lumber, haul in carnival rides, cotton candy makers and other yummy oh so bad for you fair food. They even have stands selling go cups of mojitos and another drink that seems to be like a Bloody Mary but made with Clamato and spices.

One of the festivals was in our little village just outside the main drag of our beach town. Five minute walk on a Friday night brave with lights and music. We got there in plenty of time to get drinks, ponied up the monies to get prime seats in the stands after having some delicious grilled mystery meat on sticks.

 The view from our seats and my third mojito. Yes, I realize by fundamentalist Christian standards this makes me a nearly naked drunken whore.

Before you get too upset over the notion of bullfights here in Costa Rica they are very different than the ones in Spain and Mexico. The strict animal cruelty laws forbid the bulls from being harmed in any way. No matador in shiny outfits No spears, no swords, no pain and death for the bull.

What happens is that there are a bunch of young, mostly drunken, young guys that get into the bullring, and the bull is released. Instead of the graceful ancient dance between the bull and the matador you have foolish young men trying to either touch the bull or get very close to it without being hurt by the bull. Sometimes they attach a small balloon, ribbon or bell to the bull and the guys have to either get the item or ring the bell.

 But the bull is not your standard bull you see at the classic fights. They are trucked in farm animals, tricked out for one night of confusion. As we were walking to our seats we went between the two pens of the beasts and I noticed none of them seemed the slightest bit aggressive. I stopped to scritch one of them around the horns that was pressed up against the fence. Docile, tame and used to people.

So the bullfight wasn't nearly as interesting as the one I saw many years ago as a young woman visiting Mexico. What kept happening is that the chute door would open and Mr. Bossy would trot out with a local on his back, bucking off the rider in a few not so frenzied movements and then the drunken guys in the ring would start swarming around the bull. You could see that the bulls had no earthly idea what was going on. Most would freeze somewhere near the ring exit, caught in the bright lights, confused by the running and whooping men before a real caballero showed up to skillfully rope the bull and lead it out of the ring. At least a half dozen bulls refused to move more than a few feet from the chute door, one clamoring back into the chute to get away from the crowds.

Only one of the bulls exhibited any spirit you associate with a bull fight, rushing the crowd, chasing many of the men in the ring up the side of the ring, seeking to stick a horn in someone's ass.

One of the most fascinating parts of the evening was watching the artistry of the rider and horse in the caballeros roping the bulls. It's amazing to see a man and horse so in tune with each other that they work as one, making it look effortless. I know that type of riding takes so much time and experience. Discovering that Costa Rica is still deeply a horse culture was a happy surprise. I went from Virginia horse country to another type of horse country.

I came away with two impressions. First, bullfighting even when they don't harm the bull is still not a good idea. It's still cruel to the bulls to pull them off the farm and put them through this stressful ordeal. Secondly, you cannot force a bull to behave in any manner you want. You cannot control a bull.

Just like you cannot control other people, their opinions of you, and how they react. Yesterday I put up a piece at No Longer Quivering that was mostly a screen cap from pastor Tim Bayly's blog. He had said a load of offensive things, but he always does. This time it was putting down the entire idea of women are professional engineers, claiming that anything they designed would fail. That's when he wasn't stating things like opera turns you gay.

Bayly always makes me roll my eyes, groan out 'Knitta, please!' and wonder why he seems to be so incredibly threatened over the ideas of gender roles and masculinity. We've quoted him a million times as he's bashed things like hipster beards, millennials, feminists, "soft" men -whatever those are, and a host of things Jesus never once referred to.

Yesterday Bayly finally figured out he's been quoted at NLQ, fired off a series of terse, whiny and demanding emails claiming I am slandering him by using his own words and stating my opinion on his sickening and disrespectful words and ideas. He is demanding an apology.

The very things he's complaining about are covered under fair use and the First Amendment. Opinions.

You know perhaps he shouldn't have said those things on the internet.

He's reminding me of those bulls, completely not understanding the situation or the nature of what's happening.  But he clearly does not understand that I am like those bulls too. No one could force the bulls to be aggressive, and Bayly cannot force me to apologize for pointing out his theology is warped and sick. He needs Jesus and to learn respect for all women.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Of Mountains and Con Men

I haven't posted in a while because of a few things. One of the coming changes with Google Ads means I had to make a big change to how I am posting at No Longer Quivering. I had to think about how I was going to accomplish this change and it took me a good month to decide how to handle the changes coming. I finally did come up with a new working model but I've not managed to update daily like I have been for years.

Truthfully I am going to have to decide if working as the admin over at NLQ is even worthwhile any longer for a number of reasons, like the new changes which are much more time consuming, dealing with a plethora of Russian trolls coming into the comments daily while attempting to use NLQ's comment space to build their reputation so that they will be able to post whatever propaganda they want later. All the email addresses are coming off a Yandex server, all don't post any original comments, they copy and paste someone else's comments in that same thread to garner enough likes to avoid the dreaded low rep/spamming.

I keep seeing this happen on many sites across the board, but damned if I'm allowing them to gear up for a promotion of anything. I had to alter the comment policy and make it an immediate ban if you copy and paste without adding to the dialogue.

This has been ongoing while I'm busy, that and some rather silly and stealthy attacks by the fan girls of another Patheos blogger all over social media. Yawn.

Here in Tamarindo I've been very busy. We are gearing up to have friends come stay with us from both the U.S. and the high school kids Jim taught here in Costa Rica are coming down from the mountains to visit along with their chaperones. I must be crazy to be hosting nine teens.

Jim and I are also in the stages of getting suppliers for our new online business, selling hand made things from Costa Rica. We've both talked to local artisans making things as diverse as pottery, hand carved wooden items and beautiful carved wood pipes and a pile of other items. There are so many clever and talented artists here that I'm excited to be opening an exporting business here.

I spent a pleasurable afternoon on Sunday sitting down with a local potter, a sweet very shy man by the name of Luis. His work is so beautiful and he's going to be supplying pottery to us.

Unfortunately not all people wanting to supply us have been entirely nice. Most are wonderful people, but somehow Jim has hooked up with someone that gives off serious con man vibes to me. He makes my inner 'Lost in Space' robot wave those dryer vent arms and yell out 'Danger, Will Robison, Dr. Smith'

His name is Steven (clearly not his real name) and I don't remember how Jim met him, but he lights up my inner warnings like the other con man in the States did. He pretty much straight up barged into spending the night at our house and accompanying us to San Jose the next day to pick up those wooden pipes.

Jim had been dickering with him over supplying us with the pipes like this -

The pipes are a mixture of wood, bamboo, clay and resin. This photos really don't do them justice.

Steve called up on Thanksgiving Day and said he would be in town the next day with a package of pipes for us, claiming he was working as a go between with us and the guy making the pipes. He showed up on Friday, no pipes. The story kept changing, now we were going to meet with a friend of his who had the pipes while he stayed to work in his mother's restaurant. Then the story changed again, Steve wanted to spent the night at our house and ride with us the next day to San Jose to pick up the pipes.

We warned him we were getting up and leaving at 5 am because we were due at the school Jim used to teach at far south of San Jose on Saturday afternoon. The kids were graduating and the school wanted as many of the teachers from that year at the graduation.

Steve shows up, and I scramble to set him up in the guestroom, hurrying to put sheets on the bed after an exhausting two days of cooking for Thanksgiving parties at several places the days before. I was tired. But I didn't openly grumble. I put the sheets on the bed, laid out fresh towels and told Steve to let me know if he needed anything before doing like I always do when put into the awkward situation of forced host, retreat behind my own bedroom door.

Steve over the course of the evening smoked copious pot, starting here in the house before I insisted he move outside with that stuff, telling him I was very uncomfortable with him bringing that stuff into our house. He managed to let our kitten outside three different times that night, which meant Jim and I had to run around in the dark trying to corral the poor scared kitten.

The next day went downhill. Jim and I slept through the alarm and were late getting out of the house. It's a good 5 hour drive to San Jose and we had another hour past that to the school. I gritted my teeth and didn't say anything as this young man kept calling me sweetheart and honey, acting so patronizing towards me the entire trip, actually becoming offended when I took over the driving when Jim got tired. Me, a mere woman, driving! I could not wait for him to get to the city and get the hell away from us. Bad, bad vibes.

We got to the city and had to have a slight repair to our car at the Honda dealership. Our radio apparently decided during the sea voyage to reprogram itself and it would not cooperate with our attempts to reset it using the owners manual. The dealership had to program in a code so that we could reprogram the thing. Took forever.

I hate, hate, hate driving in San Jose. The drivers are crazy risk takers, the streets are oddly laid out and numbered and the traffic is horrible. In the middle of all of that there are swarms of small motorcycles zooming around traffic and guys walking down the middle of the streets trying to sell things. This is why I prefer the bus when going into the city!

We get to Steve's contact to get the pipes and it's just another rip off the gringos souvenir shop, the guy wants full retail. He's not the manufacturer, he is just another middle man, just what we'd told  Steve repeatedly that we did not want. We bought very few pipes, Steve insisted we leave the pipes and he would take 'professional photos' for us and deliver the pipes on Monday, last Monday. We still don't have the pipes, I discovered he's broken a lamp and left a cigarette burn on the sheets. I'm not happen with any of this. Thank goodness we know of another guy who makes the pipes and will be dealing directly with him instead. We're out the costs of the lamp, the sheets and the pipes.

Live and learn I guess.

We went to the graduation and discovered that there were some problems with the lady who replaced Jim. The board had problems with her. She stayed just till the end of the graduation ceremony and hightailed it for the airport. Things didn't go as planned for her. I was afraid of that.

It was great seeing everyone at the school again and hanging out with old friends. The only bad part of the trip is that the mountain roads into the area are still very messed up from the October hurricane Nate. We had to traverse on at least ten places where the road was just gone between the small mountain towns and San Jose.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

We finally picked up our car on Monday. I'd left it at my mother's house for pickup to ship here to Costa Rica in late June. Discovered when I got to Mom's that my title didn't state that the car was free and clear so they refused to ship it until I got another title from the state of Virginia with a stamp and signature certifying that there were zero liens against the car to be sent to my mother. She was supposed to let me know when she had the new title and I would call the shipping company for a new pickup date.

The title took almost a full month to get to her. She and the shipping agent whose English is not the greatest did not understand each other so there was some delay and we missed the July date due to the misunderstanding. It finally left the port of New Orleans in late August - arriving at the port of Limon in early October.

Then we had that hurricane and had to go to the States for Jim's mother taking a turn for the worse, delaying pickup even more. Add in getting the needed import fees wired in from our US bank and the endless paperwork and money to get the riteve and marchamo paid. Dumb things like having the original car title take a plane to the import lawyer in San Jose/Limon and we didn't get pick up our old Honda CRV until Monday afternoon.

This is the thing about the experience that sort of blows my mind. We're out about a grand total of $5,500 bucks total for a car only worth about $2,000 in the States. Here the taxed value was a shocking $12,000. Yeah, I was blown away by that amount, but SUVs are worth their weight in gold in Costa Rica and I discovered why on my way home to Tamarindo.

Tamarindo is a good four or five hours from San Jose and to get the bus there we would have had to either hop the 3:30 am or 5:30 am bus ride, so we broke down and rented a car to take us to the import lot.

The drive down was largely uneventful and we had some errands to run before we left. We stopped at a restaurant named after Princess Diana for lunch. The place had typical Costa Rican dishes in a buffet line with a faded poster of the Princess tacked to the wall. This isn't the first time I've run into someone named for her down here. The funniest part is that I was so excited to see carrot raisin salad on the salad bar, got a heaping helping and prepared to have one of my old favorites from childhood. Took a heaping spoonful and discovered that their version had very hot peppers chopped up and mixed in, the kind of peppers I like to call Guatemalan Insanity Peppers. Burns going in, burns coming out. That's saying a lot considering I usually douse my food with Tabasco. The salad was very tasty even with the peppers.

By the time we picked up a new car battery and got to the import agency it was 3 pm. We finally met the older lady that handles all the import registration and paperwork and she was nothing like I imagined by her voice on the phone, a very sweet older lady who seemed more like someone's grandmother than a business woman.

Her office was right across the street from the airport and our car was being stored on the median near the big Holiday Inn hotel and casino. This stretch in front of the hotel and airport is one of the scariest intersections in the entire city of crazy drivers in San Jose, so we wasted no time getting the heck out of Dodge.

Jim took the rental car and I took ours. When we were on Route 1 headed back up north just at dusk I ran into an unexpected difficulty. A car with one flickering headlamp, no back lights just reflective stickers glued onto the back light lenses. The backseat was full of small children, at least four of them that looked under six or so.

I almost rear-ended the car because it's so dark on that road. No overhead lights and I feel pretty certain that the oncoming traffic wasn't seeing him either.

So I did the only thing I could do in good conscience, I got behind him, stuck with him the entire time I was on the road. At least others could see him while I was shining a light on him. He was driving so slowly that the entire drive took longer than I thought it would. But I just could not put those kids at any further risk.

Lately I've been thinking about just being helpful and encouraging as much as possible. At my old church one of my friends used to say when she got irked over something 'Thank you Lord for another opportunity to offer mercy and forgiveness!' While I'm not jumping up and down for joy to be doing just that I'm convinced that doing just that is the way to go.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When Comedians Are Just Creeps

I wasn't going to share this story any longer. But the Louis C.K. news and news of so many others being exposed as sexual predators has triggered me so badly that I'm vomiting up my tale of sexual weirdness with a well known comedian yet again.

My family knows it. They witnessed a fair part of this too. My eldest child who is now in her forties was involved in this episode too. Neither of us took it laying down. A tale from the late   90s/early 00s.

This was right around the time when I first started questioning what I'd learn at my old church, around the time of the yoga incident and the cracks were first starting to appear in my evangelicalism. How badly was I impacted? I'd gone back to work against all advice of our pastor and everyone I knew at church, not as a social worker, but I was working in the national licensing office in the D.C. area, working helping others obtain nationally recognized licensure.

One of the things that happened to me there was that the organization wanted to put up a website, making registration for the exams both available over the phone and online as well as streamlining and offering study guides and training for the tests on the website. It was decided that I would help out with that project and they paid for me to take classes in website design, coding, various internet things and yes, eventually I and several others did those things listed above.

I started to do websites for others as a sideline, on top of my regular job. Designed many local churches web presence including my old church. But around the same time I ended up connected to a couple of small indie film companies, even designing websites to promote films premiering at smaller film festivals. I started attending some of the smaller festivals. It was an ego-trip after the years of being ground down by my theology.

Still had not abandoned my beliefs, in fact I was still actively trying to have more children, rationalizing it that I would re-retire from working when I ended up pregnant and past the first trimester. Truthfully I was changing inside, and finding I was having less in common with those at church, while still spouting the party line. But I was starting to get some pushback for working and the trips to the film festivals.

At one festival I met a young film maker with a low budget and a cute comedy film he's put together on a shoe sting that needed social media help and websites a plenty. Saw the film, loved it and ended up helping him for very little. After I'd known him for about a year he asked me if I'd help out one of the actors of the film, who'd scored a television show that was soon to premiere, a 'clean' comedian. I did as he asked, setting up a Yahoo Clubs fan page for this comic, even if I rarely checked on it more than once a week to make sure the conversations were respectful and nice. Yes, Yahoo Clubs, you know that was a long time ago when that was state of the art social media. Cannot remember if My Space was around yet or not.

I forgot about the comedian mostly even after watching a few episodes of his show and adding in screen caps to the show. He contacted me, asking me to do screen caps from his highlights reel for a possible website. Did the screen caps and charged him very little since I was trying to help out someone just starting out. Exchanged a few pleasant emails, wished him success and that was that. I wasn't a fan, I'd done the club as a favor to someone that was a friend.

And then the trouble started. I got a private message followed by a pile of emails from the angry father of a teenage girl. This girl was a 16 year old of Asian heritage who'd joined the club and her father was claiming that this comedian was sexually harassing his daughter, begging for nude photos, asking for cyber sex and a host of other inappropriate things. I didn't believe him at first because this guy was billed as a clean comedian, but then the father sent me screen shots of the exchanges, I still didn't believe it was Mr. Comedian because the Yahoo ID this person was using could have been anyone.

The most disturbing thing was that the profile photo this person was using was a nude shot in what looked like an anonymous hotel room in a big city. The pasty white body was bent over, exposing glowing white buttocks, an anus and below that the scrotum and penis being pushed into view. I immediately messaged the offender to knock off the behavior and remove the profile photo or I would ban him/her. Saved screen caps of everything on my external harddrive, shrugged, thinking there's a new weirdo online born every day and moved on.

 By this time I'd left my job at the licensing agency and was doing website design and content provision full time from home. Everyone at church that had expressed concern seemed to be fine with me doing that, and I've done that in one form or another ever since, even with the fact that post-church I worked off and on outside of the house in my field.

A few months passed and I started getting a flood of messages and emails from underaged teen girls, all Asian, all under 17, that claimed they were getting sexually harassed online by Mr. Comedian through the Yahoo Club. I started investigating and found that whoever this was had returned, same profile photo, same modus operandi. Once is a careless mistake, over and over is a toxic pattern.

My daughter and I decided most meanly to Catfish this weirdo and try to figure out who he was. We both put up fake Yahoo profiles with photos of young Asian women and profiles to indicate we were high schoolers that liked Mr. Comedian. It didn't take long for the creep to strike, friending both of us, chatting for a few days before begging for three ways, cyber sex, phone sex, nude photos etc all the while claiming he was Mr. Comedian. I finally said I would have phone sex with him, having him call my business line. Time to find out if this is a random creep or really Mr. Comedian. The caller id flashed that the call was coming from Universal Studios in the Los Angeles area and I answered. It was Mr. Comedian..........

.......who was calling from his dressing room, telling me he was currently having cybersex with his girlfriend (now wife), but he really wanted phone sex with me. I made some lame excuse about my mother coming home unexpectedly and hung up. I immediately closed the Yahoo Club, called my friend at the indie film company to tell him exactly why I did it and that I wanted zero contact ever again with Mr. Comedian. My friend told me I was seriously mistaken because Mr. Comedian was nice, normal, kind blah blah blah! He couldn't be a predator on the internet of teenage girls! He refused believe me, even after I forwarded him all the screen caps.

One of the victims put up a hate page for him on Yahoo. I wrote about Mr. Comedian there and a couple of other places warning others he was a predator, posting up the screen caps. I got threats from fans and his management and had to take down the warnings. His manager was completely uninterested and unperturbed by his attempts to lure in teenagers for sexual purposes.

But interestingly enough I received many emails from women working behind the scenes in the industry with tales of Mr. Comedian's behavior towards them during movie and television projects he was in. His sexual harassment was in real life too, not just online.

So for years now I've gagged every single time I've had him cross my radar, when he appears on television I turn the channel, which is hard to do considering he's starring in a series of car commercials right before I left the U.S. for Costa Rica.

I am not going to name him here, in fact I am kicking myself that the external harddrive containing all the information is stored right now in our storage unit stateside because I would so out him right now. He's still out there playing the righteous good clean family man and I seriously doubt he's not still up to his dirty antics. I've met him at film festivals and the Improv in D.C. and I have photos to back up everything.

Hoping that someone who worked with him outs him soon publicly. He's not as famous as Louie C.K., but he's pretty well known now.

Karma is coming.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Unboxed Red Tape

On Saturday morning our possessions from the States finally arrived! Delivered by a nice Costa Rican man who spoke no English. Jim speaks Spanish pretty well, but I've still not far past my ugly American one semester in college Spanish. I can get around, I can shop, I can find the restroom, but not much beyond that. But between the three of us we managed to communicate plenty well enough while unloading the truck and putting the boxes in one of the spare bedrooms.

In a few minutes flat we had the 31 boxes of household things we'd shipped down. the largest amount being kitchenware and art supplies. I worked like a grunt all day Saturday unpacking boxes and washing the contents. I'd forgotten from our other overseas moves that the USA. some shipping by boat companies and other countries frequently insist that your boxes all be fumigated before they are loaded. Ours obviously were, and I reacted, it was wheezy day.

Pleased we didn't have more broken items. The ones that did break were a surprise. Both of my small crockpots ended up with the inner crock part broken to pieces even if I wrapped the crocks before putting them in the crockpot and overwrapping the entire thing in bubble wrap. There were a few plastic bowls that broke. No big loss. But I did discover that our microwave seems to be possessed or broken as it's working on low no matter what setting you nuke it on.

What is always interesting in an international move is what turns up missing. Let's not kid ourselves. somewhere along the line I always end up a few items short on these moves. This time we are missing a brand new toaster, I'm missing a fancy blowdry with some sort of op art motif on it in loud colors and I'm missing my turquoise blue Swingline stapler. They complete ignored the 1 Direction in drag lunchbox I keep drawing pens and markers in.


Saturday and Sunday were filled with unpacking and putting things away but this morning we had to go take care of one of the more frustrating things to deal with here involving mucho red tape - simply paying our electric bill.

Remember last moth when I was so thrilled to have a sixty dollar electric bill? This months bill ran right around one hundred and sixty dollars and last week we had to go by the electrical co-op and ask why so much this month. It was a silly exercise in the fact that local Costa Ricans do not like to say unpleasant things that will upset you. They may jump in front of you in lines all the time, or try to shake you down for more money that the average Tico for the same taxi ride, but they will not usually stand up to you and tell you bad news.

First they had to write a report about our claims that our bill jumped suddenly and we weren't even in the house for the full month. Then I had to get a digital photo of the meter and email it to them. After that they had to come out and test the meter. We went back today to find out what they'd discovered and pay the bill. They claim that they found nothing wrong with the meter and have no explanation for the huge increase. I am wondering if we're suddenly paying a gringo price on the electric. It is still cheaper than any electric bill from the summer in our house in the States, but it's just the idea of the price jumping around and all the hoops we had to jump through last week just to get them to take  look.

Jim's still dealing with trying to get the car delivered to San Jose, and there's been some red tape, requests for more money that is starting to feel like bleed the gringo. I guess it's the price you have to pay to live near the beach.

On better note Negrito is doing well. He gets into every single thing. Even going so far as to chew the hell out of the top of the pineapple in our kitchen.

Tomorrow is likely to be a heap of red tape too. Jim has to send the car import people more money.

Anyone considering coming to live here in Costa Rica really needs to budget three times the money they planned to bring just to help with the red tape.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Stinkster

Last week we got a kitten, a poor miserable tiny kitten who the vet named Negrito - meaning 'Little Black One'. His markings look like someone stood over him and poured black paint over his white fur. We got him at the veterinarian clinic that also does animal rescue across the street an down a little bit from our home here near Tamarindo.

Here he is the first day:

Silly little thing!

We'd met the vet and her assistant during Tropical Storm Nate hitting this area. As the rains got stronger and weaker and stronger again they showed up on our doorstep wanting permission to leave food out for strays on our spacious tiled porch. Of course we said yes, and got to talking about animal rescue, how I ended up involved in it by default when people started dumping stray animals behind my home in the States. We told her we'd already decided we had to have a cat when we get back from our trip.

Get back we did, and yes, I visited my new friend the vet, who had a crate of four kittens. This guy was clearly the pushiest, demanding petting and to be picked up. Jim loves himself a pushy obnoxious kitty, he picked Negrito.

He should really be called 'Tornado' or 'Hurricane' because he's the most high energy kitten I've ever seen. There's nothing he cannot climb, jump, bite, crawl under, undo, you name it. When he's not leaping tall buildings, biting my feet or climbing you to get to whatever it is that you are eating he's snugging up on you purring asking to be petted. Unfortunately that seems to be when he farts a lot too. We sometimes call him variations of the name 'Stinky'. So so tempted to change his name to 'Pepe' for 'Pepe le Pew'

The funniest thing about this little guy is that he 'talks' to you. When you come in the door he meows 'hi', when you get up in the morning and are stumbling around before coffee he greets you. When you talk to him he talks back. When Jim and I talk to each other he chimes in on the conversation.

The most heartbreaking thing is that when Jim and I were in the States the vet placed him with a family in the nearby apartments and they returned him to the vet after a week, said he was 'too rambunctious'  Makes me sad that Negrito has been rejected at least a couple of times. I could never, even if we have a crazy day with him like yesterday. If I didn't cut off his tail behind his ears yesterday I never will.

Yesterday morn I got up first, staggered out into the living room, cheerfully greeted by Negrito surrounded by a sea of plastic shopping bags, unrolled plarn, a partially unraveled afghan I'm crocheting for the living room, yarn unrolled and various and sundry things. The living room was a sea of crazy things. He murped and meowed proudly showing off his destructive handiwork.

I went a little nuts, yelling and tutting 'Bad kitty! Bad kitty!' unable to figure out how he had managed to get into the little drawer in the coffee table I store my crocheting supplies and in the cabinets I had the bags and other things in. I did a fast pickup and power clean of the living room before coffee

When Jim finally got up he told me that, oh yeah, he'd opened the coffee table drawer and cabinets to get a few things he needed this morning and must not have closed them. Negrito had human help.

If there is one single thing that Jim does that drives me absolutely nuts, that I've gone from mentioning with a smiling face all the way to shouting at him about is his tendency to NEVER close a drawer or cabinet door. I've walked into open cabinet doors in our house and given myself a black eye in the past. I've pitched my request for closed cabinet doors from most polite to scary mommy and it seems like after 31 years of marriage he sometimes still forgets to close those cabinet doors.

So I started the day on a cranky note, knowing that this must have happened during Jim's morning ramble before I get up. We have had such different sleep schedules for years now. I go to bed at 11 and usually sleep soundly till 7. I find I need 8 full hours or I am totally useless.  Jim, on the other hand, goes to bed at midnight or 1 am, sleeps till 4, gets up for  couple of hours then goes back to bed from 6 till 8. I don't know how he does it because I would be a freaking wreck sleeping like that. I'm after him to get a physical because I think his crazy sleep hours are affecting his functioning in daylight hours and his memory.

Around 9 am I'm folding laundry and Jim is watching the fantasy football report on ESPN when Negrito jumps up on the bed next to me, sits down, then gets up and jumps on me just as I notice a weird spot where he'd been sitting. Then Jim starts yelling that he put his hand in cat diarrhea and I can see a drippy little trail of poop drops coming out of the room with the litter box leading to the living room and on to the bedroom. By that time I realized I was going to have to wash the quilt on the bed, the quilt on the sofa and the sofa cover and mop everywhere.

As I was getting the quilt off the bed to wash it Negrito jumped up on the bed and started doing the booty scoot across the sheets. I was something less than pleased and hurdled a few more curses.

Later that day we had to take Negrito back to the vet for his worming appointment and I told the vet about that morning's disgusting diarrhea antics. Turns out Jim has been giving him the milk from Jim's cereal bowl in the mornings before I get up. Negrito got a clean bill of health and has gained weight!

I finally managed to de-poop the house and this afternoon as I was making banana bread he was up in it, watching everything I do closely as always. All is well. I guess I need to remember that you can always pick up things he drags out and the most important - poop cleans off so it is really not that big a deal. Life lesson - you can clean up poop.

From this afternoon. Negrito trying to get right in the middle of baking.