Sunday, December 09, 2018

Nigerian Romance Scammers

Last night I  toyed with a scammer. Many years ago in the early years of the internet I used to be part of a group that baited Nigerian scammers. If you could get a Nigerian to rush all over Africa on a safari thinking they were about to fleece you out of dough you'd scored. I loved doing this, but it made Jim nervous so eventually I stopped my amusing hobby.

But the other night it was just too tempting. I engaged with one of the newest wrinkles in the Nigerian scam - the Facebook Romance Scammer.

These are the guys that try to find women of a certain age, near retirement age. Their profiles always show Mr. Successful, as a military officer, big international businessman, or the newest one |I got, a doctor working with Doctors Without Borders in Syria.

None of them have friends, or many photos, or usually any posts beyond one or two. They show up, try to friend you suddenly. I always look at the profile, because I do get a fair amount of strangers hitting me up because of NLQ so I don't automatically delete strangers. But, that fishy profile with  no friends usually causes me to hit delete and report for spam because it's a Nigerian Romance Scammer who has jacked the photos and sometimes part of the name of someone else.

The way they operate is to start immediately PMing you if you are unfortunate enough to accept their friendship request. The words are too friendly from the beginning, calling you 'dear' or 'honey' before moving on from there, telling you within days they are in love with you, hooking you in with pretty words. They start talking of plans to retire with you in a world of happiness. Eventually there will be some crisis, something like a lost passport, or a huge fine this person must pay and the romancer requests help. Money is sent and you're played again and again for large sums of money and empty promises that the money will be paid back with interest and a romantic retirement.

Here's the thing. It never happens because it's not a doctor or officer or anyone beyond a Nigerian sitting in a boiler room of computers relentlessly working desperate women of nearly retirement age for their life savings.

The other night up Mr. Doctor pops on my Facebook. I knew the second I looked at his profile this was just a newish disguise for a Nigerian, but I  decided to play along. Below is our conversation, right up until the moment I posted on Facebook that I was toying with a Nigerian scammer. He blocked me and shut down the profile immediately.

Scammer: Hello my dear, I friended you after seeing your lovely photos.
Me: Do I know you?
S: No, am I bothering you? Are you angry sweetie?
M: No.
S: I am a doctor with Doctors Without Borders in Syria. What do you do?
M: *Made up bullshit because I'm not telling him anything real about myself*
S: When will you retire?

Yeah, he's going right for the info he wants. I say something inane that has nothing to do with retirement.

S: Can you retire soon?

Second time he's asked. This time I counter with I have poisonous fulmanating toenails and ulcerating whatsis of my whosis and lots of made up medical problems, but I never answer the retirement question.

S: If you retired you can take care of your health. Are you able to retire soon?

Okay, I just fed a supposed doctor a bunch of made up fake medical conditions and his only concern is when I'm retiring.

S: Sounds like your husband does not take good care of you. I'm an orthopedic surgeon and would take such good care of you...

M: Cannot afford to retire much work till I drop because of my peristatic bowel spacity~
S: I'll make it feel better if you want...

And I decide it's time to put this puppy down, posting that I'm toying with a scammer at this point and my loverboy disappears. I must say this is the quickest I've seen one of these guys ask about the retirement and go into the 'I'll take good care of you' crap.

And while I'm typing this I just got another one, a guy claiming to be a petrol engineer with a big boat in California. A few photos, a newish profile, and zero friends. Game over try again dude!

Don't be taken in by these guys. They just want to work you for your retirement money.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Grumpy As Hell

The asthma is still pretty bad because of the construction dust, concrete pouring, painting, spraying you name it. One thing I can count on when it's bad and I'm swallowing meds like a hyperactive kid with an industrial sized pack of TicTacs. So it was yesterday. I stepped up the drug options, damn the torpedoes, screw the possibility of high blood sugar and toss in the extra Metformin.

Between the noise and the fumes I'm very cranky. Cranky enough to take a joke wrong and fuss with Jim about it. I stomped away to worship team rehearsal still very angry. I don't think Jim will try to pick at my wheezing self ever again because when the asthma's that bad I tend to go insano nuclear once I'm filled with pills, potions and steroids. You take your life in your hands with me at that point. My snapping point is low.

But it turns out that having a meltdown at home before rehearsals was likely a good thing. I had to sing next to the same fluffy stomping woman as last time. She still made me nervous with her movements around not watching where she was putting her feet.

She's someone I've attempted to avoid because I could just tell from day one that |I have nothing in common with her. She confirmed it anew last night by talking about how wonderful it is to watch Fox News and other very ignoramus statements that just set my teeth on edge. Thinks she knows it all. I kept quiet like a mouse when an owl flies overhead. Not my scene, but not worth fighting with either.

On the house improvement front. The contractor put in the wrong colored tile in the new hot tub. You can stand between the tub and pool and see that the pool tile is several shades lighter and more of a turquoise than a teal. The steps into the tub are too steep and there's no handrail. I'm not happy at all.

I'm sure the gardener isn't happy with me either considering I made him move some of the plants he put in rather ill advised spots. Next week he's going to have to move all the ginger he planted too closely to the trees in the back.

Today's big drama was Jim at the furniture store ordering cushions for our teak lounger chairs and outdoor dining set. Our cushions and some of our outdoor furniture somehow is not among our shipped items so we're having to order custom cushions from the only place in town that offers them.  Which is sad because while ours are a few years old they are all great quality from Plow and Hearth.

Another case of things being shipped to Costa Rica that have disappeared between the house and the bonded warehouse.

The ones they had in stock were a beautiful blue but only 2 inches thick. There was also a set that was 3 inches thick in a brown and green foliage print. Jim wanted the green set and I wanted the blue. The foam used in the blue set is more dense and higher grade than that in the green. The other issue for me with the green is that one of the cushions already shows sun damage. These aren't cheap items we're buying either so it's really important to get it right. We came to no agreement so tomorrow we'll be meeting with the guy who actually makes them to see if we can get a custom made set we both like.

If we were in the States I'd just get a certain sun resistant fabric and foam and make my own. Here getting the supplies to do that is nigh on impossible and quite expensive. Or I'd run down to our local Plow and Hearth outlet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Broke

Broke, as in things aren't working right. There have been a thousand roadblocks, changes and not so nice things happening on the patios, yard, hot tub and gardening front. As in crazy asthma from the spraying of the weeds, the burning of the trash, the chemicals used all around. As in broke the crappy old sofa having some horizontal fellowship.

But none of those even began to touch the most awful broken. Which is hearing yesterday about a sweet boy from my old church, the place where the Possums run in fellowship - Possum Creek Fellowship church.

Ned was one of my bff Joanie's foster kids. She and her husband had him for more than a couple of years. They got him as a toddler out of an abusive home with substance abuse issues. Ned grew up into a nice boy in his time with him. Ned was sweet, well behaved, particularly for what he came out of, and the challenges of being born to an addicted mother, physical challenges mingled with psychiatric ones. He had a pretty bad seizure disorder from birth.

When Ned was nearly 12 years old the foster care agency began pressuring my friends to adopt Ned. His parents rights were finally severed enough for him to be adopted out. Joanie and her husband didn't adopt Ned.  They loved him, but he had issues, medical issues, that were going to be a financial strain as an adopted child. They wanted him to stay with them, but in a foster care status so that the state would keep paying for the therapy he needed.

What happened with Ned was tragic for everyone involved. A couple of years after I left Possum Creek and landed at the big mainstream church a couple I knew from the new church wanted to adopt Ned.

I'd had history with the potential adoptive couple, and I wasn't sure this was a good idea for them to adopt. The mother, Hope, was the daughter and sole employee of the town bookstore. She'd run me off from buying books at the store the moment I realized I could just hit up Amazon. Hope would make snide remarks about the books I was buying, once sneering over a Steven Bochco novel that I special ordered when it came out. Amazon did eventually complete the killing off of the shop, but I have always wondered how much of a part Hope and her attitude played a part in the death. People don't shop at stores with shitty employees, well, with the exception of Wal Mart.

Her husband Ryan was the manager of the service department of the car dealership I worked selling cars at for six months. I liked Ryan, he was laid back and no nonsense. When I found out he was married to Hope I was blown away because she seemed so completely negative all the time. They lived in a beautifully restored Victorian manse in the good part of town.

But after we joined the big mainstream church I got to know Hope pretty well, and she was nothing like she'd been years before. She explained to me that she'd been desperately unhappy during those years, dumped by a cheating husband who took custody of their lone child, and left with nothing but a boring job at her father's shop.

I keep forgetting that people tell you who they are by their actions, that explanations like this during good times aren't really trustworthy. But, hey, I took her at her word. Mistake. Mistake I will never make again with folks. Now if someone that behaved in an awful manner around me tell me they've turned over a new leaf I tend to nod, say something meaningless like, 'How wonderful for you!' and sit back to watch and see if they really did make that change. Most of the time the answer is no.

Two years into my new friendship with Hope she showed up with Ned.  I knew from Joanie that Ned had gone to Hope for adoption, that Joanie had tried her best to warn Hope about what she was getting into and the serious need to continue the psych meds and talk therapy. Hope blew her off, telling Joanie that her and Ryan would heal all of Ned's ills from abuse with love, not pills and shrinks. She also told Joanie that they would be able to visit Ned occasionally. But that never happened.

Every single time Joanie tried to set it up, or ran into Hope and Ryan at the foster care agent's events Hope ran the opposite direction, and took other evasive actions. They refused to let Joanie and her husband see the child they fostered for eight or nine years.

By that time Hope finally figured out that Joanie and I were close friends. Joanie showed up at the big mainstream church a number of times during the time Ned went to Hope's home. Hope did not know it but Possum Creek had blown apart at the seams, and we were getting visits from the marginalized spiritually abused people ran off during the split.

The very moment Hope knew that I knew Ned and Joanie I was the one getting the cold shoulder. Hope would see me at a service, and deliberately turn away, going down a side aisle if she sensed I was getting close to her and Ned. I received a stupid lecture from our pastor about not saying or doing anything about what I knew about Ned, which I know could have only come from Hope. The most I had done, or would do was stop to say hi to Ned. I knew Ned very well, and I wasn't about to say or do anything that would hurt Ned in any way. I loved that kid after my long years of being besties with his foster mom. He'd been at our house off and on for years, and he'd been the much loved child of my friend.

How upset was Hope by my talking to Ned? Well, about two years into her adoption process her social worker came up for prayer the weekend I was part of the prayer team. She mentioned her job, how stressful it was, and a lot of no-no identifying information about Ned and other kids. I stopped her and told her I didn't want to hear any of that because she was also Joanie's social worker, so it was not appropriate for me to be in on the conversation. She was upset by that, and later accused me of saying 'inappropriate things' without being able to actually verbalize what it was I said. I got in major trouble and I didn't do a thing except tell her I couldn't hear her complaints because I knew everyone involved.

The social worker and Hope were best friends.

As the years passed I did as the pastor requested and stayed away from Ned and family. I attempted a few times to talk to Hope about her snubbing, asking her what I did to deserve her turning on me. I asked her if I'd ever done anything to offend her, telling her if I had I was heartily sorry, and to let me know what it was I'd done so I could repent.

She got away from me so quickly with a snapped, 'Nothing, you did nothing, everything is FINE!' when clearly it was not fine.

Watched Ned from a distance right up until we left that church 3 years ago.

Yesterday I hear from Joanie on Skype. Ned is now 20 years old and very estranged from Ryan and Hope. His seizures are worse from their attempts to not medicate him. He has ongoing mental health issues from being pulled out of therapy and too soon from the drugs helping him with the chemical challenges of being born addicted and abused, from the PTSD. They never formally adopted him, choosing to keep him in foster care status because everything was so horrible. Now he's an adult with a seizure disorder bad enough to cause him issues with gainful employment.  He's bitter, he's angry and they threw him out on his 18 birthday without a place to go in this world.

Ripping Ned from Joanie to place him in Hope's home was a huge mistake, Especially since they didn't bother to adopt him. Joanie's heart is breaking and my own is bruised by the idea that this sweet little boy I once knew has been abused by those supposedly becoming his parents.

The entire foster care and adoption system is broken. I wish I could say his story was rare, but sadly it is not.




Sunday, December 02, 2018

Americanized?

One of the things I do not like seeing here in Costa Rica is that the worst aspects of America popping up here. Usually that means, for me at least, seeing Ticos flocking to McDonalds and KFC. This morning I witnessed something very different, awful and oh so typically North American. Road rage.

Once church let out and Jim went to fetch the car from a nearby hilltop (no parking at the church) I saw a blue car and a tourismo bus drive by fast, side by side, ignoring the oncoming traffic until the tourismo bus had to fall back behind the compact car or be hit. This took place on the one road leading to and from Tamarindo, simple two lane blacktop.

This happened a couple of times as I watched. I could see that the tourismo bus was attempting futilely to get behind another tourismo bus painted exactly like it. But the blue compact car kept speeding up every time the bus tried to pass.

By the time Jim brought the car around things had actually escalated, the bus had squeezed by the car, coming closer to a head on collision than before, whipped in front of the car. The blue car sped up and rammed the bus. Everyone hopped out of the car and bus and engaged in a screaming match. We came up behind them moments later and everything just intensified. Ticos started stopped their cars on both sides of this narrow road to join the confloption. I was seriously afraid we were about to witness a stabbing, or a riot or worse. Thank Jebus that the average Tico cannot afford a gun or the permit to carry one.

This went on for a good ten minutes, screaming, shouting, gestures thrown in the air, cell phones brandished and video taken. We were stuck right behind the wreck. The ending was anti-climactic. Everyone climbed back into their various types of rolling scrap iron and rode away. We were stuck behind the blue car for quite some distance and were treated to more of their aggressive driving, tailgating people, honking, speeding.

Ticos are some of the worst drivers I've ever seen. I've driven in Mexico City, Rome, Munich and San Jose where the peddlers stand in the middle of fast moving lanes of traffic with their mango slices and bags of cashews, but this is the first time I've seen road rage here. You could barely see a scrape on either vehicle.

It's disconcerting to come out of a sermon on unity and not taking offense and run right straight into this. This is not what I would chose to be something from the States for the Ticos. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Whatever Happened?

Things have really changed. Not here. It's the same old, same old in our little rural corner of Costa Rica. We roll past the mountains sheltering Playa Grande near our house daily. I wheeze from various things. Jim itches and scratches. The guys keep pouring the concreto for the patios and are putting the tile down now in the Jacuzzi. I think the tile is the wrong shade, slightly darker and greener than the pool but it's too late now. Shrugs, not the most interesting happenings I admit.

I did come to the realization anew about how much social mores have changed. That's if I'm not reminded every time I fly. I am so old I remember when people got dressed up to fly. No flip flops and yoga pants, suits and ties, nice dresses and heels. Don't get me wrong, I'm not lamenting the change because I'm also wearing flip flops and my favorite tee shirt dress when I travel. I still try to be somewhat stylish with my accessories and jewelry. But I really like comfort.

What I cannot figure out is seeing the sloppiness that seems to be pervasive on YouTube videos. That I cannot parse. Maybe it's because my always immaculately turned out mother drilled it into me that there are times when you're better off being well turned out. That you only have one shot at making a good first impression.  Church for one, job interviews, and, I'm guessing, if you were making a video. Seems to me that would rate at least as highly as an interview.

I have noticed when I watch the videos of a certain female cultural enforcer I will not name that she may preach keeping yourself trim and attractive for your husband, but she's missing some stuff. Yet she looks like some sloppy old rag on YouTube. She's appeared in what looks like her pajamas and robe, and a host of sad, baggy, gloomy-toned glad rags. Hair undone, no makeup beyond a lipstick once in a while, zero accessories or jewelry.

I just do not get it. Even when I was getting tipsy on tequila during my Facebook Live readings of Vaughn Ohlman's unintentional laugh riot of a book I make sure the hair was combed, everything coordinated, some makeup and accessories. Even the tequila I guzzled every time Vaughn mentioned sex was not enough to keep me from wanting to provide the best version of myself to the camera. Even the world's crappiest haircut didn't stop  me. I guess I really am my mother's daughter. You only have one chance to present yourself, you'd better get it right.

My thinking was that her appearance was more the exception than the rule, at least until I saw videos by various friends on YouTube, and saw with my own eyes that personal appearance isn't a consideration. I saw a handsome young man I think is so smart appear in his latest video with uncombed hair, and a wrinkled shirt. Another was on camera in a stained shirt.

These are folks NOT doing a momma blog talking about chasing toddlers, or teens playing Jackass like stunts, but mostly professionals seeking to be taken seriously. Seriously? Comb your hair.

You don't have to be a fashion plate or wearing a tux, but grooming matters.

Maybe I'm just getting too old for this shit and need to retire to my rocking chair and knitting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Naps, Alternators, Thinking

Jim's still down and out with his virus or flu. No longer throwing up, but not right. Swilling Gatorade and napping a whole lot. He does manage to get up and do some taking care of business, like running to the bank with our pool guy to pay him, or get over to the mechanic.

Me? I'm making like I'm still some sort of fundy wife, buying Gatorade, making soup, changing bed linens and scrubbing toilets. Being a good little wife. Sickness tends to bring piles of laundry and other tasks. I'd rather do the cleaning, and I hate cleaning, than nurse anyone.

It's funny to admit but I am a terrible nurse, I'm just awful and awkward with sick folks. Could have never been a nurse, even if I did well when my youngest was so sick. Everyone else of older ages? Oh please, I know I gag, get faint at the sight of their blood, have no clue what to do beyond settle them in the bed and bring drinks. That's it. I'm too scatter brained to remember meds, not even my own sometimes.

Even funnier to contemplate my life against Lori Alexander's of The Transformed Wife on days like today. Lori and I are roughly the same age, within two years I think. We both live in big houses on the Pacific. We both cook from scratch, we both clean. Wait, I'm assuming she's cleaning and not ordering around a maid. We both go to church and are roughly in the same socioeconomic range. I have a tad more education than she. She has one more child than I. But that's about where it ends. Lori thinks telling others what to do is her mission from God. I know telling others what to do is really none of my business if they don't ask my opinion.

I'm starting to think that Lori suffers from some version of mental illness after nine years of observing the Quiverfull female enforcers I'm starting to believe all of them, including Lori, especially Lori, may have some form of narcissistic personality disorder.  Many of them manifest the worst of the listed symptoms all the while yelling out that only they know the Godly way. Today Lori has been posting that God does not speak directly to people, except perhaps her. Bullshit. She's clearly lying, and she's not the only one.

Why is it that the three craziest women I know all have 'Lori' as their first name with that spelling?

Speaking of crazy, Jim is going to have to take our car back to the local con artist that told him the alternator was bad last month. Why? The battery keeps draining. The battery is new, the alternator is new, so now the mechanic claiming it's the starter. Starter my foot! I've had cars with bad starters before during my impoverished college years and our car has none of the usual noises that lead up to the starter dying. The starter sounds fine, we just go out there and the battery is completely dead. No starter engagement. I've been saying since the first moment we started having issues last month that it acted more like it was a short somewhere in the system, but the local mechanic does not listen to me, and Jim knows very little about cars.

This is the frustration of living in a Central American country with patriarchal views. Dealing with guys like the mechanic or the landscaper that want to pat me on my head and send me away for having a vagina. Which is silly.

I'm in standoff status with the gardener. The meeting the other day did not go well. He acted like I didn't know what I was talking about, right up until I threatened to fire him. We're going to talk more tomorrow. I'm still not happy with this sad line of birds of paradise planted around the pool, and he needs to stop trying to chop down my large ficus. The monkeys are always in it.

Making progress on the jacuzzi!





Sunday, November 25, 2018

Awakening to Garden Horror

Since the first week of September when I had my stroke I've been sort of checked out on a lot of things I normally micromanage. Hmm, micromanaging might be an actual stroke cause.

It's been a very slow awakening to real life. This week has been the closest to my old schedule and energy levels I've experienced in quite some time. The whirl of Thanksgiving, visiting San Jose and the shipping issues, Jim and I going shopping in Santa Cruz on Friday. Guess what we did yesterday? We went shopping in Liberia. No photos because I forgot my camera, but there's nothing interesting to see on that drive.

Found a wonderful jeweler in Liberia who not only fixed my gold watch, he also remounted the diamond in my wedding ring, and rebuilt the prongs. I really thought I would have to take my ring back to the States for repair. The last time I had tips rebuilt like that I think the bill was somewhere around $150 to $200 bucks. This man charged me the pittance of $30. Thirty dollars! I could not believe it, and he did it while we waited. Could not be more pleased.

We also hit Walmart for our monthly supply run of American products and the butcher, the German baker but no candlestick maker before heading to the vivero, plant nursery in Spanish. We'd recently hired a landscaper and his crew and he was eager for us to meet him there, and pick out plants for the backyard. We met, he kept shooting down my preferences, told me that one bush was the same type we had along the front walkway (it is not and I tried to tell him) and ignored my requests for orchid bushes and some crazy palmetto bushes with leaves like emerald wrinkled silk. He nudged us towards pink and red ginger plumes, which I did like.

Because of my recovery I've barely been outside for weeks. I've left everything to the landscaper. Discovered this afternoon that this was a huge mistake. Jim is sick. He spent the night throwing up miserably, and spent today in the bed chugging Gatorade. So I volunteered for plant watering duty, and saw the havoc wreaked on the acre.

We've had an abundance of birds of paradise, and needed to move some of the plants from where the hot tub is being custom built, to around the lamp posts in the yard. We have large wrought iron lamps around the pool, the front yard and the guesthouses. Some are ringed with birds of paradise, some are not. I wanted them all to have the ring of flowers. So the gardener did that, plus he put long lines of them around the pool, bumping up into my bitter orange tree I've been resculpting, and cutting off a large portion of the yard. They are sadly propped up in a line. I hate it, ruins the whole look of the backyard. Straight lines of anything in  landscaping is usually a very bad idea. Better to go with natural curves that follow the land.

Now I've been eyeing where Mr. Gardener insists we need the ginger plumes and they will never fit there. Our starfruit tree has taken over that area. The area around the guesthouse I want flowering bushes like the orchid mixed with the palmetto bushes. Currently quite bare. The gingers might look nice there.

I cannot make heads or tails of his master plan and am not liking at all what I'm seeing. The yard will be beautiful just the way it is now, with just some few new bushes around the guesthouse. Tomorrow he comes again and we're going to have a hard conversation. I want him to back off mowing the yard (he's mowed twice in a week with no rain~) because he's cut it way too short, and it's killed back the grass slightly while we're going into dry season. To live through dry season it needs to be a little longer, just like going into winter in the States.  Plus this strange overcrowded master plan of his. He put a pile of birds of paradise right where the second patio is going by the pump house that will have to be re-relocated before the concrete pour.

The curiosity factor for me will be if he listens to me and does what I want, or will he take the Tico way of smiling, promising and then doing what he wants instead. I am gearing up to fire him if it's option #2. I want what I want. I don't mind paying for it, but it needs to be done right and what I want. This isn't my first gardening job. I have a large garden in Virginia and in high school I worked at a plant nursery, and sometimes went out on the landscaping jobs too.

I am cursing the fact that I've taken so long to recover because if I had been my usual hands on gardening self none of this would have happened. Jim does not know a ginger from an orchid and says he knows nothing about gardening. He's gladly given this back to me.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Midnight Thanksgiving Insomnia

We had our Thanksgiving feast yesterday instead of Thursday actually on Thanksgiving Day. I was just too tired and burned out to cook after a few days in San Jose crawling through our possessions. Jim had a Thanksgiving dinner he went to at a church a few towns away on Thankgiving Day. I opted out because I was too tired.

But perhaps I should not have. Jim attended with J.A. and Derwent and family were there. From what Jim said it went oh so awkwardly once Derwent discovered J.A. there. I figured it might. Neighbor feuds. So silly.

Now I cannot sleep. Too much caffeine, too much food. And I didn't even eat a full plate.

Today we got up and Jim wanted to take a trip to Santa Cruz to get his watch fixed. I was in favor of this because the guys are still here tearing up the backyard to install the hot tub and patios, dust, noise, and lack of all privacy until the project is done. Plus the drive through the countryside is beautiful.

I brought along my wedding ring on the slim chance that one of the jewelers in Santa Cruz would be able to replace that broken prong and remount the diamond. No such luck.

But I did finally discover that Holy Grail of all stores, a legitimate fabric store~ With cotton quilting fabrics, blender fabrics in every shade, and enough home decorating fabrics to satisfy even a Martha Stewart type.

A few photos.



Tried to get a shot of the place on the road the iguanas routinely cross. I see them every time we take this beautiful back route. There's even a 'Caution -Iguanas' sign there. But it flew by so fast.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Chim-Chim-Chireeee

We got back late last night from a three day jaunt to San Jose, to beg, plead, bribe and cry for a chance to get all of our household goods.

At the last minute Jim decided we should stay in the same part of town with the bonded warehouse and shipping coordinator had offices, so there was no reunion with Marvin the kitty and Carlos his owner. It's hard to get around San Jose and very time consuming. We stayed at a place next door to a casino. Huge old place that once upon a time must have been a theater because there was a 1923 old carbon arc projector. I was fascinated to see it because when I first got to our Virginia town the only job I could find was as assistant manager of one of the town's two movie theaters. I worked in the projectionists booth many nights, even as both places on the same nights. I still love to look at the old equipment, new equipment and anything about the industry.


The way these old babies worked was that you would have two of them for each film, side by side with side by side holes to beam the film through. In those days you'd have to be paying attention as a projectionist, watching for the every 15 minute reel cues, round dots on the edge of the film and when one set came up it was time to switch on the second projector with the next reel. The carbon arc that powered the light needed to be changed out often too, with pliers and welders gloves if I recall correctly.

That was the bright spot in our stay. Our room was tiny, but that was not the problem. The rooms aren't usually very large in local Tico hotels. The problem was two fold. The room had at some point suffered some water damage and smelled strongly of mold. I am not good with mold, but just threw in extra meds and soldiered on. The other issues involved the noise levels from the casino next door. I slept very poorly. Jim slept well. The people running the place were so nice, even if the place smelled moldy. We weren't in the room long.

Sorting through a lifetime of memories was more problematic. That first afternoon we were told that the time to offer customs a bribe had long since passed and this is what it is. That we had to sort through our things and get rid of 2/3s. How do you do that with the possessions of a lifetime? We started on the task of sorting the 18 full pallets, not knowing what we would find because of the realtor packing everything.

It went well at first, but as the days drug on, and we had fewer and fewer options for what we could chose the task got harder. I griped at Jim that no way could have had an entire box of Russian language books if I could not have my set of Lomonosov china. It literally came down to choices that made me weep, like do I save my great great grandmother's wedding dress or my own. Laura's box of Barbies or her high school yearbooks. The realtor shipped so many things marked for my kids, or for friends. I found my good black leather coat that's lined with fur tangled in a heap with a million other winter clothing I'd earmarked for a friend to pick up.

On the last day, as I was starting to lose it for the first time, weeping over the wedding dress conundrum, I didn't notice that our guys from the shipping company were locked in earnest conversation with the warehouse manager and others.

Turns out there is a way for us to have our things out of this enormous cluster situation. The warehouse was aghast when they discovered we were to donate the portion not on the bill of lading, like I said about a third. Most of that two thirds is junk, like a stack of scuffed up canvases, or a huge box of home repair supplies or  a box of left over ceramic tiles. But some was not, like my wedding dress.

The problem with the donation is that the second we sign the donation paperwork we are relieved of the responsibility of paying any storage fees on the pallets. Customs by their own rules cannot auction the things off until a full calendar year has passed, and the warehouse must keep the items without anyone paying for them. The warehouse is crammed full right now and is not willing to keep our things.

In the end it was worked out between the warehouse, our agents and customs that we will get our original things on the bill of lading that I meant to ship here in two weeks delivered to our house. In the meantime the powers that be will list everything else on a 'salvage' receipt and a month later, after I pay taxes on the junky stuff listed as salvage the rest of my things will be delivered here. No, no one has asked for a bribe or honorarium yet, but it does not mean they won't. I'm just so relieved that the end is now in sight.

We were so thrilled that we stopped oceanside in Punta Arenas for a seafood dinner during our drive home. So tired today we did very little, cooking, eating and some laundry. So relieved.

The bonded customs warehouse was filthy with black dirt and we kept laughing during our drive home because we both looked like Dickensian urchins with black faces and hands. We would have fit in very well in "Mary Poppins" during the Bert the chimneysweep sequences.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Oh-Nay Ine-Way

(pig Latin for 'No wine', not that I drink it much anyway)

Sunday could not have been more different than Saturday. Saturday was a day of cooking for the church Thanksgiving feast we were attending the next day. Sunday was all go, go and more go. I ended up stumbling around stupid exhausted by the end since I'm still recovering.

Saturday wasn't as relaxing as I hoped because the new gardener started and he brought a team of workers. They trimmed, they landscaped, they planted. The yard looks fabulous, but they were here with various buzzing and noisy equipment for six hours. My cat hid in the back of my closet the entire time, coming out to anxiously cling to Jim and I. Jumpy. I don't do well with that type of noise.

Sunday started with a bang, I was nervously rehearsing all those unknown Bethel and Hillsong tunes here at the house before heading into church for a full band rehearsal. Got there and found out the songs had changed again. I hate singing when I'm not fully on top of things. It was my first real time with the band since the stroke, and I was just nervous, nervous to remember the songs, nervous about my voice, nervous about if I'd have blood pressure problems and get faint. Many things to stress over.

But the only thing to go haywire is one of the other vocalists showed up that I was not expecting. She's a rather fluffy woman, and made me very jumpy when she kept stomping and moving around, getting closer and closer while paying zero attention to where she was going. My poor mrsa foot with three fractured toes, lumpy still painful toes and a few fractures in small bones of the foot. I started worrying she'd stomp my foot accidentally so I spent worship time easing farther and farther away from her until I ended up scrunched up against the bass player's music stand.

I didn't think worship went well for a ton of reasons too complex to go into her now. Equipment failure, human error, you name it. Mostly we need in ear monitors. But we got through.

After church Jim and I tried several times to slip in to see our doctor since he was the clinic doctor on Sunday, but kept striking out until ten pm. Once while we were waiting to see him a lady dashed in with two of her fingers hanging by threads, she's somehow managed to nearly amputate them. Gruesome sight. I don't know how she was so calm, but she was. A pile of odd emergencies. A few very bloody and horrible.

Jim needed to be seen because he's developed a rash all over his back and chest. I needed to have the toe looked at again since going swimming and it turning red again. Plus discuss the statins. He said the toe was doing better than expected and said within a week he thought it would be safe to try going back into our pool and into the ocean again. I'm glad because there is nothing more irksome to me that walking along some of the most beautiful beaches here on the Pacific wearing socks and tennis shoes. I like to walk in the surf.

The statin discussion didn't go as well. He wants me to restart them in two weeks and I'm not promising anything. I have a plan, but it does not involve going back on the statin. The muscle pains were too much to take. We're going to knock heads mightily I bet.

The rest of the afternoon and evening involved the church Thanksgiving dinner. I'd watched Jim calling both of our neighbors, J.A. and Derwent, the two older gentlemen that hate each other and both drink pretty copiously, and inviting them. Derwent turned down the invite, because J.A. was going. J.A. showed up, managed to hold his smoking down around me enough that we were able to be around each other.

No, he didn't pee on anything, but he was relatively sober. There was one long awkward tense moment when he whipped out a large bottle of wine at the church before someone explained there is no drinking in church, at least none that involves any sort of wine. I did watch J.A. scuttle away with a large amount of vittles wrapped in a go box he brought with him. He ate heartily and then took more away. It's all good, and I suspect he's not really getting what you  might call hot food at his place.

The food was good, but there was just so much of it. I discovered anew that my stomach has shrunken down to tiny, and I got full off tiny servings. Mostly I was just so tired I wanted to go home and go to bed.

Tomorrow is going to be another very tense long one. It's the day we drive the five hours to San Jose. To the bonded customs warehouse and start to haggle with the customs people. We've already been advised what the bribe asked for will likely be, and have the cash ready. I never thought I'd be excited to pay a bribe!  I just hope it works and we get all of our furniture from our house in D.C. along with our family photos and things. I hope it works.

We'll be spending the night in San Jose with Carlos and Marvin, who hosted us nearly two years ago.I cannot wait to see them. Hopefully we'll be driving back on Wednesday and hopefully we'll wrap this up quickly enough that I can hit the quilting store and Crate and Barrel for a few housewares.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Thinking Your Boyfriend Might Be Gay

I was going to speak today about humility. Michael Pearl has the strangest posting up at No Greater Joy about being humble that seems to boil down to trying to be humble is a prideful sin. I've been thinking about humility since, pondering how to be humble. I have a lot to say about it, but I think it boils down to putting others first, something I'm not always good at. Michael Pearl is wrong, it's never wrong to try and consider others before yourself.

Anyway, earlier today I have been cooking for the feast we're having at church tomorrow most of the day and somehow when Jim and I were talking I ended up telling him a tale that happened with my old boyfriend Tony. It was about the time I thought Tony might just be gay. Funny-ish story. I was so unaware of the gay world then, but I did pick up on some strange vibes.

Tony, like I said in an earlier piece about him, was a chemical engineer working for a big multinational company that used to send him to work around the world. For about 18 months they sent him up to New York City. Sometimes I'd join him there, for a week, for a month, once for a stretch of six months.

NYC intrigued me, a rather unsophisticated girl from South Louisiana and I loved visiting Tony there. Going to places I'd only read about, Macy's Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building, CBGB's. I'd go as often as I could afford it.

One Thursday night I flew in from Baton Rouge where I lived then, to Laguardia Airport. Tony was supposed to pick me up. In those long ago days of the late 70s you could walk right up to the gate to pick someone up, or to watch them depart. When I emerged I was puzzled because I didn't see Tony waiting for me. Even a little frightened.

I finally spotted him.  Tony was deep in conversation with a older man that looked so familiar, but I could not place him. The other man was toned and trim, dressed in bright lemon yellow tiny shorts, like Richard Simmons might wear, with a matching sleeveless crop top, matching tennis shoes and a headband.

While I might have been more innocent then when I walked up I was picking up the vibes, and saw this man put his hand on Tony's. Tony saw me and broken off the conversation about the same time that this man's guest arrived.

It's a good thing Twitter and Facebook didn't exist then because I would have so tweeted out, "Omg!! Langley Wallingford from 'All My Children' just tried to pick up my boyfriend!'

Found out later that the actor was from Baton Rouge and was meeting relatives. Turns out I'd been seated near his brother and spent part of the flight in conversation. I seem to remember his brother being employed by my university, LSU.

Tony did seem to attract an awful lot of gay men, and I've always wondered why.

Friday, November 16, 2018

New Facebook Strategy

...and it works!

One of the rare drags of NLQ is the random men that try to friend me. Old, wrinkly, fat, married, oh so not interested in other men me. I know it's not because of my sparkling wit or anything more than being a 'name' online.

Guys show up, pm me asking how I'm doing, or expressing a desire to be close friends, or just immediately hitting on me. heh! It's been annoying, I've discussed it with other female Patheos authors and others with the same low level type of internet visibility. It's common.

I try to screen these guys. If they have no friends or interested in common with me it's an automatic rejection. But every now and then someone fools me. I've discovered a fool proof method for dispatching them. I say like I'm a proper pearl clutching fundy - "I'm sorry, I do not have private message conversations with strange men because it dishonors my husband and our marriage." It works like a charm, I even get apologies from these guys whereas in the past I'd give them other excuses or shoot them down and get nastygrams. This excuse is golden~ LMAO...

At least I'm not complaining about my health for a change...

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Better and Worse

So now I've had 48 hours with the idea that our household goods shipment has gone sideways. I'm less upset. I've lived without this junk for 18 months now. Plus I are feeling like there will be a request from the customs officials for a bribe very quickly after we arrive on Tuesday.

I hope there will be a bribe request because that would be the easy way to solve this.

On the other fronts on Saturday the new gardener starts revamping the landscaping. Monday the backhoe arrives to resculpt the land around the pool, put in the patios and start on the hot tub finally. Photos when it happens, if I remember.

On the bad side two days ago I started having pains in my large muscle groups. This has happened when I take Bactrium and some other antibiotic that starts with an A, Avelox perhaps? Written in my medical records. The muscle pain is because of the statin I've been supposed to have been taking since the stroke. I took it for a month, had to stop because of the MRSA and throwing up. Restarted it recently and now this. I cannot take it. Had to get off.

This evening during worship team practice I started getting that distinctive pain where my kidneys are I usually only get on those rare occasions I am bad and take Aleve. It's connected to the muscle pain likely. So tomorrow it's off to the doctor to make sure the statins haven't trashed my kidneys. Oh joy!

Still not allowed to swim in the pool or at the beach because MRSA toe is not healed. I'm getting cabin fever here, which is why I went to rehearsals at Jim's encouragement. I've turned into something of a shut in lately.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Need That Rocking Chair Now!

Today has been a series of shocks in trying to get the last of our things here. It didn't help that I'm dealing with my unpleasant horrible emotions since the stroke. I have cried a number of times today after discovering after five months of the shipping company telling me various things followed by a two month strike that we discovered this morning that they have decided not to import any of our things beyond what is listed on the manifest.

This is after I paid a huge fine AND provided about a million explanations of what happened AND our U.S. realtor fucking it all up. If you recall when I was in the States back in late April I went into my storage room over the garage, chockablock full of everything we owned. I sorted the boxes out. So many coming here, so  many to be hauled to the dump or Goodwill, so many that family members were picking up. The last lot was all  for the kids to pick up. Guess, what? If you say that the realtor had all of it packed into our shipping container along with all of our things in the garage and shipped here you'd be right. ALL OF IT. Trash or whatever.

We have to go to San Jose next week and pick through it. We're only allow the number of boxes on the bill of lading, about a third of what shipped. Which means I'll be abandoning all my winter clothing, my wedding dress, my good china and a pile of other things. I'm being told I must 'donate' them to Costa Rica for auction. They'll take the proceeds off my taxes here.

I am red hot because the U.S. shipping company and the Costa Rican one assured me that they could get customs to agree. Turns out that's not true at all. Why the fuck did I pay a big cash fine?

Beginning to wonder if they'll try to shake us down for a bribe and end up releasing it all. My friends that used the exact same CR shipping company was told the only way to quickly get their stuff through customs was with a bribe to the right official. I suspect we'll be asked while we're there for a bribe, and we'll end up paying it just to get a lifetimes worth of junk.

They are allowing us to go down to the bonded warehouse to sort through it, and only take the things we really want. Already I am revising that list, abandoning about 95% of the furniture and outdoor things. We will see what happens.

I really did not need to be hit with this while I'm still struggling with my body.

Maybe I'm freaking out for nothing and some hard cash will solve this issue.

Last year when I shipped two pallets of household goods and our car here I had to wait about 5 months of pure run around with customs and the shipping company. I'm at the 5 month mark now so it makes sense they suddenly want to settle.

Frustrating because it's so random who charges you what here. It literally depends on which customs agent you get and what type of a mood they are in. I knew that before moving here but had no idea how lengthy this stupid process is. I guess I should be grateful because I know a few people that ended up waiting over a year.

Getting my C.R. lawyer involved now.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Do I Look LIke I Need a Rocking Chair?

I must because on Sunday two different people tried to offer me the leather and wood rocker at church. Which I declined. There were kids sitting in the rockers, plus I have done so much sitting in my own two leather and wooden rockers.

Still struggling with my health. MRSA is back and making me feel sicker than hell. Especially today. Blood pressure still too low, so it's down to a quarter of a pill daily.

We're going back and forth daily with the new gardener and the guy putting in the patios and hot tub. Jim changes his mind about details more than any woman I've ever seen. I am coming to realize I care less about the details than he does. He does this when there is a major money outlay. I am sure whatever he ultimate choses will be fine.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Customer Service in Other Languages

It's situations like these that make me decide to cut off contact. This morning we went down to the local Kolbi office because starting about two weeks ago our internet and television decided to start cutting in and out, off and on all day long. I didn't call because I could not find any information on their customer service among my contract paperwork.

So we drove down to the nearest office. We get there and find that the same guy we've been dealing  with in the past is there, one of three regular customer service agents. He happens to be the only asshole of the bunch, so of course he is the only one working. It is always the assholes that are consistantly on the job. Like a Tico Patty and Selma from 'The Simpsons' being as difficult as possible every time we're there.

Today was no different. This time he refused to help us because we had not brought our copy of our service contract with us. So he refused to look up the account number, which I know he can do because he's done it before. We've only been in there five times over the last year, so I know he could have looked it up. We just wanted to put in a service request, he wrote down the service number and sent us on our way.

I kept trying to explain to him as long as our internet was spotty making the phone call from the house would be nigh on impossible since we get very crappy cell phone reception at the house and must run it through the internet to get any reception. He didn't care.

So home we went. I called, got through quickly, but immediately hit a snag when the person I was talking to insisted I provide a certain number off the contract that was different than what the guy at the shop was demanding. The problem with providing this number is that our original contract is one of the documents that got waterlogged when I was in the hospital, the ink is faint and hard to read. I ended up having to get a magnifying glass to read it, and go back and forth between the only spot in the yard I can get cell phone service and the router.

Transferred four times in total. Each time asked for that certain number which kept changing, the account name, our incorporation name and other info with nothing done, no appointment made and no help before being transferred. Started getting majorly annoyed when on transfer number three I asked the man if he spoke English instead of trying to negociate this in Spanish. He made a huge loud dramatic sigh before answering in English.

I didn't appreciate the attitude for a couple of reasons. First, I had pressed the number for help in English when joining the queue, and secondly I do not try to negociate important things in Spanish. Ordering fried chicken down at the Pollolandia, or buying groceries? Spanish all the way. Chatting to locals? My horrible pigeon Spanish. Dealing with peddlers? Spanish. Talking to the lawyer? English. Dealing with buying a CD at the bank? English. Trying to set up a repair from a big company? English. If it's relatively important and the company offers the English option I'll use it. If not Jim translates.

Fortunately I finally got someone on transfer four that didn't act like I was annoying them in some way by merely calling. The man was helpful, polite, in an old fashioned courtly way. He even had patience with me while I kept trudging back and forth between the router and the one functioning spot for the cell. He was able to determine that the router is failing. It's equipment failure. I have a spare router and replaced it myself this evening, but he scheduled a service call. I am not holding my breath. The last time I had to wait for them to come out it was several weeks.

And I thought Comcast was awful in the States. Makes me miss being a Cable Tica customer. They were quick and never did this run around when you called or stopped by the office.

I've got to admit I do not get why some folks seem to get their jollies tormenting others like this, playing the transfer around game, not dealing with problems or taking any responsibility. I just know that I have no liking for that. Do your job, do it right the first time and stop trying to pass the buck. There's no reason the first guy shouldn't have been able to put in a  service request.

The last guy I spoke with gave me the online addy for service requests so that I don't have to deal with the indifferent queue or the guy at the local office. If I had that before I could have taken the cell out to the road, accessed the internet there and put in the request.

Difficult people suck and are just not worth the energy.

After we went to a new Tico soda and I had real Chop Suey. I didn't hold out much hope it would be decent, but damn, it was one of the best meals I have had all month. We picked up a go menu and found out from the smiling helpful ladies working there that they deliver all the way to our house. Good to have some other options for those sick days when cooking is beyond you that do not involve having to leave the house.

Friday, November 09, 2018

And Where is That Line Exactly?

Today was slightly disturbing because of lying liars who lie. One of the things that has been rather unnerving to deal with is the Tico tendency to smile, nod and agree. Ticos do not say unpleasant things, or disagree, or tell you that they have no intention of showing up on time, or even on the day they are swearing to. Or even the week.

We've now experienced that from plumbers, landscaping dudes, painters, the guy that put in the automatic gate opener, the guy who adjusted the gate hydraulics, various pool installers for estimates, you name it.

Not all tradesmen here are that way. I have found an excellent plumber, ac repairman, pool builder and general contractor who are quick, respond to emails and calls, come out exactly when they say they will and do the job on time and on money. But these guys are few and far between here.

What is more typical is that they show up three weeks later than the agreed upon date or time, completely misunderstand why you are mad, and state baldly, "But I'm here now." That's if they show up at all.

I would rather have the truth, even an unpleasant truth, than a smiling lie. The problem with smiling liars is that they are so adept at lying it's not always easy to pick up on their insincerity. So you, as a trusting gringo, get left holding the bag yet again waiting, or get openly lied to, eroding primary trust in that person and many others. What they don't seem to understand is once trust and integrity are gone getting them back is sort of like trying to catch the Mississippi River in an old gunny sack. Despite the best intentions it's just not possible.

I have lost all patience with liars of all stripes now, and just do not want to be bothered with it. Life is too short to waste it on people that treat lying like a sport. Yes, I'm irked by that, and as a result have had to cut off all business with certain folks with only a passing acquaintanceship with the truth.

The last few days here have been involved with getting our old Honda CRV fixed. The A/C is out, one of the windows has a burned out motor plus there's something wrong with one of the bushings I believe. We've been shuffled off to Buffalo by various folks here with changing prices and changing  things wrong with the car. It appears we've in the clutches of another set of lying liars who lie.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

With Friends Like These

An open letter to a friend, or someone I'm starting to think of as a former friend....

Dear "Friend",

I was surprised to hear from you after nearly a year of radio silence. Since you married the guy you were complaining about abusing you and moved away I don't hear from you at all. I was assuming it had more to do with his controlling ways than anything else. Guess I was wrong. I'm no longer useful.

But you contacted me merely to ask for information on a third person. You didn't even bother to ask if I minded, or anything else. You didn't even bother to be even slightly polite, never once asked how things were going for me. One short sentence of a demand. No even surface social niceties.

I have chosen not to reply to your email at all. Trust me, it's kinder this way because I would say something both of us would regret and I would rather not end it that way. Nicer to say nothing.

Roughly eight weeks ago I had a mini stroke followed by broken bones and mrsa. I don't have time for your bullshit because I'm busily engaged in recovery from my various misadventures and my recovery has been slow. I run out of energy quickly every single day. I can handle my life, and that's about all I can do.

Not your doormat, social secretary or your Nexus-Lexus. But I still worry about you.

I hope one day you decide to have a real conversation with me. I would welcome it. But not this quick attempt at using me.  I now have boundaries.

Suzanne

~~~~~~~~~~~

After my friend's attempt to pump me for information Jim and I took off to tour Flamingo for the afternoon, looking at properties and the beautiful views up the hills. It was what I needed. I had to run to Flamingo to find my one discontinued drug.

One of the other things I did today was have a very long phone conversation with a television production person about various people we write about at No Longer Quivering. Possible new series exposing the usual suspects. Hope it happens even if all I plan on having to do with it is point them in the right direction and provide deep backgrounds.

Jim is sick right now, fighting off some sort of infection. Hope he sleeps tonight.

Me, I likely will not sleep. Mind whirling right now. Watching a fellow Patheos author friend fighting with others over the whole no medical interventionists during birth crowd and seeing some of the same ugly things going down that happened with NLQ during the Carri Chmielewski tragedy. Mothers who lose babies by their own poor choices make a very sympathetic character and anything you may say about what they did just makes you look petty and churlish to the world. I learned that the hard way nine years ago.


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

A Series of Bad Decisions

The title seems to be the theme of the last few days here.

My toe healed up closed and a week later I finally got the okay to get back into the pool, where my toe started oozing and hurting again. Too soon and now it's not so good. The infection is trying to come back.

During my trek back into the pool I decided to finally try on the stack of swimwear I got off the 3 dollar final markdown rack at the one store I shopped at in the States. Here's what I learned. Never buy swimsuits off the discount rack when you're in a hurry, you're on narcotics, you have a high fever and you can barely stumble around because that swimwear is going to be weird as hell. \

The one piece fits wonderfully everywhere but my boobs. I would need to smuggle bowling balls in the top to fill it up and I'm not small up top. The bikini bottoms and tank top fits tightly but will do. One of the random bikini tops to wear with my shorts was so bizarrely cut I've already taken it apart and recut it. The only black top fit wonderfully, but I cannot find what I did with the bottoms. Go figure.

Not upset because the chemicals in our pool eat swimwear so there was no way I was ever going to spend much for suits for the backyard.

I went out this morning to fill my prescriptions only to find that two of the three drugs I'm on post stroke have been discontinued here in Costa Rica. Lots of calling and chasing around just to discover that the original pharmacy has generics of the same drugs made here in Costa Rica. This is just so typical on the completely inefficient way things happen here.

While on my way in this morning I was in a long line of cars stuck behind a farmer's tractor, behind a goat and a herd of cattle. Some dumb gringo tourist decided to drive around the traffic jam very rapidly on his rented four wheeler and head on collided with a bus. Viewing another gruesome accident.You just cannot go fast here, and if you try you are risking life, limb and limbic system.

On a good note the contractor thinks it might be dry enough to start on the hot tub and patios. One can only hope.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Diamonds and Blood

Friday was all kinds of odd. It started out in a way that was so lucky I should have bought a lottery ticket afterward. We were headed out to Liberia for a Wal Mart run and to pick up a part for the car. I noticed as I stepped off the patio and onto the mud leading to our garage a sparkle out of the corner of my eye. Looked like a big sequin glimmering on top of the mud. I bent down to take a look and it was the diamond from my engagement ring perfectly laid out on top of the mud like a perfect decoration.

Yes, I found the central diamond in my wedding ring set sitting there in the mud not ten feet from the front door. Very odd. I had perfect peace about this all along, but I figured I would never see it again. Was I happy!

Unfortunately things went disturbing shortly thereafter. We were driving along on the road between Huacas and the turn towards Liberia and came up upon a wreck mere seconds after it happened. A collectivo pirata taxi had stopped suddenly with no warning and the man on the motorcycle riding too close slammed into the taxi. I don't know for sure how fast everyone was going, but we were going about 45 mph, about the fastest you can manage on the crappy narrow bumpy roads here.

There was a car ahead of us that witnessed the entire thing. We came along just in time to see the motorcyclist's unfastened helmet sailing through the air to land roughly thirty feet away in the nearby cattle field.

The rider of the bike never lost conscienceness, and was moving his head and talking, but bleeding so much, blood everywhere. Head wounds tend to bleed like that. But I was pretty shook up, searching my car for a towel, asking the others stopped by the accident who had a towel or something to help staunch the blood while we waited for the ambulance.

One of the things I love about living in Costa Rica is the people, how they will help when bad things happen. No one hesitates, they help if they can. Within moments people were helping the victim, looking for something to stem his bleeding, on the phone, pulling out first aid supplies, you name it. When's the last time you saw that happen in the States? I've seen it again and again here.

The couple in the car in front of us that witnessed the whole thing were Americans and the man was just losing it. Not helping, but a whole lot of freaking out. He kept screaming that the guy would be dead before the ambulance got there and saying 'God damn the fucking collectivo!' I have to think his behavior was due to some sort of shock, at least right up until the moment he turned his car around to go down a dirt road far away yelling about being late for client meetings. Not blaming him, some folks are just useless as tits on a boar hog in emergencies, not knowing what to do.

By the time the policia showed up and loaded the rider into the ambulance it looked likely that he might be alright with a few broken bones. There's no way of knowing, but at least I'm hoping he made it. He was talking and rational the entire time. At least a broken leg and some bleeding.

It put something of a sober note in a day that started giddily over the diamond. One thing I do know. At Wal Mart I picked up everything I needed for a first aid kit and once I got home I packed it into a giant zip lock bag, one of the XXL ones, including the several towels I'd recently ruined during the leaking silicon disaster in the bath. They are stained but still servicable. I never want to be at the scene of an accident again and be scrambled for gauze and towels.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Hiding in the Bedroom

Today didn't go quite as well as the previous days. My asthma flared up hard, but it happened because of the plumbers and our mystery pee-er of the sofa J. A.

I've had three different Tico plumbing outfits in to replace the wax gasket under the toilet in the master bath. One used too small of a gasket, and it leaked. The next guys set the gasket wrong and tried to hide their error by running a beat of silicon around the bottom. When it started leaking again I had goopy white silicon residue melting into the water and whenever I went to wipe it up with a towel it would ruin the towel. It's not like you can buy decent towels in Costa Rica anyway. It requires a special trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond in San Jose. A five hour drive that I only do once or twice a year.

The last guys did apparently put the right size gasket on, get the toilet to seal and ran some foul smelling sealant around the toilet. I started wheezing from the smell before they even left this morning.

The second asthma trigger was our neighbor J.A. He. invited himself over, like he is wont to do occasionally. Jim keeps him outside because he's a chain smoker and he knows I want no repeats of accident sofa peeing. Plus he's usually pretty drunk, and I don't handle hard core alcoholics well. I'm jumpy and nervous around them. Usually J.A. shows up, I come out and say 'hi' and retreat into my studio to paint or sew. He picks a few starfruit or grapefruit and goes on his way about an hour later. It's fine.

Today was not so fine. Today he stayed three hours,  sat in the chair next to the front door and chain smoked. There must be 10 butts on the patio now.

When I emerged from the bedroom to say hi I started coughing and wheezing so I turned around, went back into the bedroom and settled in with that crazy Dr. Phil and a crochet project of a rug. Even with the AC on, two doors shut between J.A. and I his smoke kept drifting back to me, and my asthma got even worse. Nebulizer meds before putting on my nighttime VPAP mask to read book.

Let Jim know later why I disappeared and never reappeared. Going to be awkward with J.A. next time he visits because we're going to have to tell him to smoke out by the perimeter wall. Not near the house. He wants us to come over for lunch on Sunday but I cannot do that. Told Jim to go without me.

Why should Jim suffer the loss of a friendship because my lungs are crappy?

Tomorrow we must make our monthly run to Price Smart and Wal Mart, the butcher, the German baker and a million other stops. I even found a fabric store in Liberia I need to take a look at. Going to bed and hopefully will be better in the morning.

Amused Pirating

No more whining about my health. I feel better. I'm just back on my prescription night time allergy med and boy is it making me have some very strange dreams.

Just in time because yesterday one of our friends spent the better part of an afternoon here and  I got to know him just a little bit better. His name is Bobby and he's been living here and near where we used to live in the States part time for a few years. He came over to help me set up my new Fire stick.

Last year I'd made do with my ancient Roku device, a first or second generation model. I'd had to do something squishy and possibly illegal to make it bypass the safety features of Hulu and Netflix that involved booging on into the server at Cabla Tica and resetting my ip addy to a Stateside one. Unfortunately Kolbi has much better security and a much less easy to guess password into the server so it was time to upgrade and do it (semi) legally.

Bobby had been telling me at church that he knew all about setting up and the best ways to spoof out your ip addy to resolve to anywhere in the world. He offered to help, and since I've not quite kept up on the world of pirating in from anywhere I asked him in to help set up a vpn and get me on Netflix again.

He showed up. I just wanted help getting my Hulu and Netflix back, but he set me up with things I will never use, a huge pile of peer to peer services that pirate the crap out of movies and shows. I smiled, nodded, let him put all that stuff on, but once he was gone I removed it. I do not do P2P because it's a great way to get a virus. I'm just interested in those paid services my daughter and I share and share the bill on, and my Amazon Prime account. I don't need the other stuff.

But... here's what I find the most interesting about my pleasant afternoon with Bobby. I didn't come out and say it, or ask him, but... I have to wonder how he mentally justifies pirating shows and movies. He's one of those braying 'I'm a GOOD CHRISTIAN' types, that did try to witness slightly to me, and later gave Jim the HARD SELL.

I don't care that he uses P2P services. That is strictly on him. I do not feel the need to tell others what to do. That's between them and whoever. But I admit I'm always a tad curious to see where that line is in those that shout the loudest about being a person of faith.

Yeah, I know, I'm a huge hypocrite for going into the server of the cable company and changing my ip address. They should not have been using 'admin' as their password to my router. I exploited their stupidity. Gotta watch 'Game of Thrones' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' and that was the only way to get easily around the no foreign ip addresses. Particularly since I've been paying for the services. I wish they would just open it worldwide because it would make my life much easier.

It's just interesting where the moral line falls for folks. I find it fascinating, and sometimes, like yesterday, amusing.

Kind of a moot point anyway because I have the thousand plus channel package with U.S. channels and all the movie networks. Plus the ability to turn the audio track to English at any time. Here's the fun part, the costs of this cable package and internet is running me about fifty bucks U.S. every month. In the States the same package with Comcast was running a good 135 per month.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Several Come to Jesus Meetings

Been an odd couple of days. Cutting my blood pressure pill in half did nothing. Still low readings. So I got off, stopped taking it altogether and my pressure came up to normal ranges and I started feeling normal for the first time in two months.

Decided yesterday afternoon I needed to have that "Come to Jesus" meeting with my young doctor over the blood pressure meds. I went in with my blood pressure monitoring cuff and my records of readings for the last month. I figured there might be a fight. I was prepared for a fight. I know that doctors hate you going off meds without their approval.

But, I was surprised. After all our recent blood pressure discussions, two months worth of records and my description of what happened Friday he said I needed to cut the pill in half, that it might be time for me to get off altogether if the half pill gave me too low of readings. I almost passed out again when he said I'd done the right thing completely stopping the meds for a few days. That went much better than I thought it might. No threats or pleas.

When I got home Jim took it to a stupid place. He solemnly informed me we needed to talk, followed by his expressing concern that I was not exercising at all right now, and leaping right to the 'I'm worried about you because I always end up walking way ahead of you...' and it was on like Donkey Kong with those words. Another 'Come to Jesus' moment that had me reacting in one of my non-finer moments, hissing out 'Hey dumbass, I had a stroke followed by MRSA! OF COURSE I'm not in the pool swimming or trotting along on the beach. Both are forbidden for another WEEK!' Yeah, I overreacted just a hair.

One of the drawbacks of marriage is that you both know exactly where the buttons are to push. He pushed mine, even as I was pointing out that telling me I walked too slowly was akin to challenging me to fight to the death. I would fight to the death like the chubby little raccoon I am when I am mad, and boy was I mad.

I have felt like three inches of shit for two solid months now. Not much exercising can take place if you are puking or passing out. He's so competely clueless sometimes. I had to point out anew that if I started speaking in jibberish and passing out he needed to call for the ambulance or get me to the clinic immediately. No dicking around like on Friday asking me what I wanted to do when I could not string together words enough to say.

I had to point out that the walking thing is just a sore spot with me. It always has been. He sniffed that he and I never had trouble walking together when we were dating and I roared out that back in those days he was on his best behavior. Seriously, the man is a full foot taller than I with much longer legs, I have to take more steps to each of his strides and since the marriage he has had the tendency to gallop on ahead and not wait for me. Which pisses me off so badly. I've let him know that too, yet it never alters his behavior. So for him to bring it up like that as if I'm somehow at fault just irked the hell out of me.

Plus on pleasure walks places like the beach I stop and look at things. I go exploring. I chase crabs, I poke shells. He pounds on like he's on some sort of Nazi death march. Like it is his job. Like he's being paid by the foot.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Now Let There Be Fainting

So I've had a physically rough day today. My health is a big reason I cannot be too involved in relatives hijinks. I wish them well, I just do not have the energy, which is why I started crying immediately upon hearing of this latest situation. I was thinking,"Oh no, I cannot do this!"

Today I fainted and more.

This morning I felt fine. I was working on NLQ, preparing a piece for tomorrow written by Michael Pearl where he makes a pretty crazy claim that being angry with your husband is like murdering him, or wanting to murder him. I can honestly say even at my most miffed with Jim it would be more like the throttling Homer Simpson does to Bart than any amount of murder. "Why you little..."

I felt good. I made breakfast of grits and eggs, did some laundry, worked on putting back together our personal files that got soaked 8 weeks ago. And then we went back to the clinic and our doctor. Not for me. The day before they'd done my final foot and toe scraping before releasing me with a thick coat of Muprosin smeared over it all and no bandage finally. I go back next week.

Today was Jim. He had a physical back in June, and refused the blood work because it would be two hundred bucks out of pocket. In the wake of my various medical snafus he decided to get the blood tests run. All the tests came back in decent ranges, his sugar was little high and so was his cholestoral. Our doctor scared him by telling him what the algorhtyms forecase for his chances of a heart attack or stroke based on a number of factors, including the fact that the ones in the normal ranges were high normal. Today was his meeting with the nutritionalist.

I started having issues as she was explaining to him that he has to start eating the identical way I do, low salt, low carbs, and low fat. We're on a modified Keto diet basically. As she spoke and I took notes I started having issues writing, not remembering what letter words like 'cider' started with. Happened the couple of times, but I said nothing.

We left, driving off to the Auto Mercado to get a few things she suggested that we were not eating and the troubles got worse. I started losing words, and was very unable to speak rationally. Yeah, verbose me lost words for about twenty minutes. Started having tightness in my throat like I had a suddenlyanaphlaxis shock happening, tightness in my chest and feeling very strange. I blacked out for a moment or two.

But because I'm all kinds of extra stupid I pulled myself together, stumbled around the Auto Mercado and shopped, coming close to blacking out again. The clerks there that know me kept asking me if I was alright. No, I was not.

We got home and I went straight to the  bedroom. Blood oxygen levels and blood pressue very low, in the 80sfor the osygen and something like 75/50 for my blood pressure before it quickly came up to 100/55. Better but not optimum.

I've had several conversations with the doctor over the fact that I'm starting to have crazy low dips in pressure but he wants me to document it with my cuff. I have been. I think it's time to have that discussion and back off the blood pressure meds. I'm cutting the pill in half tomorrow to see what happens. It's got to be better than this. I spent the rest of the day in bed, getting up just an hour ago to drag my ass through cooking dinner for the first time in ages.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Let There Be FOOD!

I feel like I should be singing and praising food like the orphans in 'Oliver' in the opening sequences.


Today was the first day I was officially off the high powered antibiotics for my MRSA toes and off some of the stroke meds. I didn't feel like I might hurl at any moment. No acid reflux. No pain. No lingering dizzy feeling. No gagging. No repulsion to the very idea of food.

About time because I've been living for the past two months on toast, yogurt, bananas, jello, soup, oatmeal and the occasional toasted cheese sandwich. Gagging them down like I was being tortured.

Today we ended up going out for the business lunch and I had food, glorious food, and enjoyed it! My stomach has shrunken to the size of a small rock, but it was FOOD!

Tonight I get to SHOWER!!!! something  I have only been able to haphazardly do with my foot wrapped in plastic, juggling soap and water to make sure I didn't get water on the bandages. A pain. It will be as glorious as the food. I won't even complain about the lack of hot water.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rather Strange Fruit

Been an exciting few days. Epic. Not really, mostly it's been me schlepping around moaning with a blood pressure hovering around 67/50 and more extreme nausea. Like yesterday, when I had to ditch life and just go to bed as soon as we came home from the doctors office at noon. Cannot read, cannot look at the internet, cannot crochet, cannot anything because any movement makes me spew.

On the bright side, today is my final day of high powered antibiotics so I'm hoping this means the nausea will fade quickly.

Jim has been more amusing than ever lately. Some of it scary, least later after finding out he didn't injure himself.

He fell off a ladder. Well, actually the ladder broke under his weight. He's been landscaping the yard after all my medical misadventures makes it impossible for me to do.

A couple of months ago we put in a bunch of bougainvillea bushes, the bushes that line our walkway we replaced the failed ones and some other exotic plants. So far we've worked together. But for some reason here I'm not the one doing primary gardening like I was in the States. I direct Jim.

Jim took it in his head that we need to trim back the trees more and he took that task on. I don't always agree with his choices on landscaping, but it does look worlds better.

But then he decided to take on the grandaddy of all the trees on our little acre, standing in the corner shading the shallow end of the pool. I was initially opposed because this is the same tree that monkeys will get close enough to you for you to hand them a banana or a starfruit if you were inclined.

The tree is big. Jim is big. The ladder is rickety wood, screws, nails, bailing wire all held together in a shamefully lax manner.

As I was going to run down to Auto Mercado to pick up something to nuke for dinner because cooking is impossible when literally everything makes you hurl Jim was cliimbing his ladder. I didn't see how high he got but he admits he might have been too high on it. As I'm sliding my wrinkly ass into the drivers seat of our Honda SUV I hear a mighty crack followed by a thud, and turn just in time to see him sprawled under the tree with the remains of the wooden ladder splintered around him.

Now my father used to always call my husband 'The Nutty Professor' because of his lack of practical skills combined with his intellectual prowess. There's some truth to that, but since we moved here Jim has taken some effort to try and correct that lack. He goes down to the local hardware stores and buys equipment while asking for step by step instructions.

Apparently that did not extend to tree trimming.

He wasn't hurt thankfully, even if he fell a good ten feet and now we have a much taller brand spanking new steel ladder. He does have some aches and pains as a result. Anyone would.

That's another new thing with me, besides finally developing some boundaries. I no longer micro manage him, tell him what to do, or how to do it. I leave him to work it out on his own. What was I thinking all those years when I did literally everything and allowed him to do nothing?

The rescuing and doing it all came about because of toxic teachings at my original Quiverfull church. Good effing riddance~ This is much more emotionally health, with division of emotional labor even, than the way we lived for years.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Opinions and Unconditional Love

Since one of my relatves to reading here and not answering my pm I have no choice but to anwwer her here,

I made a stupid joke here last week in the wake of her personal difficulties.  I joked that I've gotten very worked up and too emotionally involved with her situation and I had decided to sit back to watch what happened next with popcorn and coke.

Tacky maybe, but I have used that expression often when dealing with situations I can have zero influence on. It's a dumb joke that I will hereby retire because it hurts people. I have removed that bit from my journal.

Never have I ever claimed to be perfect. I'm okay with that. I'm human like everyone else.

There is a great deal behind my reaction.  When we first arrived home from the States I was rather worked out. Ask my doctor. I cried copiously and worried for a couple of days over her situation before I realized anew my hands were tied, that the best I could do for her was to allow her to vent to me and possibly supply her with money for a lawyer. I knew I had to take a step back because of my own health, as I was getting unbalanced over it and that does no one any good, especially her. So I threw oiut that reaction I've used a million times before.

I'm sorry she was hurt by it, but it just wasn't that deep. Please do not overthink my reactions and motives.

This last year has been a particularly painful one for me. We moved. We sold our house of 28 years. I have had to let go of so many things. But from  that pain I have gleaned a few things (some of it courtesy of my therapist)

  • Unconditional love does not mean rubber stamping with approval everything going on with that person or their circumstances. You can try to be there for them, listen, give advice if asked and still hold an opinion about them that they may not like. Example: I love my husband dearly, he is constantly dieting and constrantly not losing weight. Most of the time I listen and say the right things, but just sometimes I'll say something real about my thoughts on his lack of weightloss. Like his recent statement of 'I eat a VERY healthy diet' while he was shoving potato chips in his maw. I had to stop him and point out he was eating one of the most unhealthy foods ever while making that claim. We laughed and move on.
  • Unconditional love does not mean you don't get frustrated or exasperated with some of their actions. Like I said, we're all humans, we all flub up and it's okay. Jim's pretty frustrated with me right now because I sometimes fight with my doctor. That's okay. We'll live, life goes on and we agree to disagree.
  • Unconditional love does not mean you always view the other person as perfect or some great thing. We live in a broken, fallen world and I've always felt it's better to be emotionally honest with oneself, even about loved ones. Sometimes it's the broken places that are the most appealing. Who wants perfection? Perfection is freaking boring and too safe. 
  • Unconditional love is not a slavery and does not mean you must give up who you are and your own quirks and flaws to meet the demands of others. Likely I will always be flip and sarcastic. Humor, gentle or crude, has always been my go to in uncomfortable situations and with difficult people. Someone insisting I only behave like I'm going to a funeral is going to be disappointed sorely.
  •  Unconditional love cannot be dictated. You cannot tell someone else how they must love you. Love does not work like that. It's free form and it's flowing. It shifts and is very individulized. 
  • But on the flip side here's what unconditional love does:
  •  
  • Unconditional love does not look for insults, slights and take offense. It allows you to offer a bit of mercy, not immediately rashly condemn someone for a thoughtless remark or not rushing in to be savior. There have been a zillion things said to me by friends and relatives that I could take offense over that I've chosen not because it does not matter in the long run. I know they still love me deeply.
  • Unconditional love loves unconditionally no matter what, through all sorts of stormy weather. Even if the person is upset with you and you back off you're still going to be hoping and praying and thinking loving thoughts toward this person, even from a distant. They stay in your loving thoughts throughout your day.
  • Unconditional love does not mean you don't stand up for yourself when warranted. We all have boundaries, but unconditional love means we can request that things that harm us stop in a rational way, without fighting or arguing. Love is bumpy and sometimes hard to navigate. 
  • Unconditional love is patient. Know how easy it is to misunderstand or take offense you sigh, put a bookmark in that place and know that the time will come when you and the other person will reconnect. It does not end or impact your love for them at all.
Wow this is getting long winded, more long winded that a fundamentalist preacher on adderak,

Let me recap:

Dear ___________,

I am fully human and I screw up.
I am sorry you were hurt.
My door and heart are still open to you no matter what. I love you even if I don't always approve of your actions. That will not change, I'll still be praying for you, hoping that the universe is sending you only goodness and mercy. Nothing will change my love for you.

Suzanne

Thursday, October 18, 2018

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Motherfucker

I am getting my ass kicked by the medications for the MRSA combined with the meds for stroke prevention. If throwing up was an Olympic event I would have taken the gold. I cannot sit at the computer more than a few moments without getting nausea and dry heaves. Which is why I didn'[t update NLQ today. They put me on one of the anti nausea drugs they give cancer patients and it's starting to work. Just a little. I kept dinner down.

I've had to ditch many of the daily meds I take and concentrate on the most important for the MRSA. I'm turning into a pill head and not the fun kind.

Got into a huge argument with my doctor. He started nattering at me about my blood sugar levels, I told him to relax  because I have Metformin and a meter so my levels will go back down as soon as I kick the MRSA. He said stuff about not taking diabetes seriously. I pointed out it only happens when I have MRSA or use certain asthma drugs and I take appropriate steps. He wants to give me an insulin shot to bring in down and I said oh hell no!

My levels aren't unmanagably high. I can get them down in a few weeks after the infection is gone and I've started the Metformin. But the main reason I did not want him giving me a shot of insulin besides the fact that it is crazy overkill is because of what I'd observed at the clinic I used to work at.

I have seen several patients given insulin for a suddenly spiked reading have some crazy things go wrong, from being hospitalized with low sugar later that day. I know of several that passed out and fell off the table, one who broke her nose, another that sustained a concussion. But the worst was someone I know that actually ended up in the locked mental ward after having an episode after one insulin shot by an over eager doctor.

That's the real issue here, the way Costa Rican medicine is done is very different and very much more hands on. It can be nice, but it can also be an enormous pain in the ass. Take my MRSA toe. When this happened to my thumb in the States (first time I ever popped a high blood sugar) I was seen at the hospital where they drained the absess, loaded me down with prescriptions and sent me on my merry way with the instructions to follow up in a week with my regular doctor. No skin picked off, no daily debriding of the digit. I have been going every damn day for a week followed by every other day here in Costa Rica. They picked all the dead skin off, without giving me a painkiller first I might add, and now every time I go they scrape the toe. I am seeing less improvement from this aggressive approach than the less invasive American treatment.

The discussion between the doctor and I got rather heated. I said some things about high blood sugar that he said were a lie. Later he came back in and apologized because he looked up what I was saying and realized I had a point. So we're at a stalemate. I told him that I will always stand up to medical personnel when they try to do something that I personally feel is contrary to my best interests, like the time I stopped him from giving me a steroid injection because I'm now steroid intollerant after so many years with asthma.

Nope, dude, I will continue to do what I believe is right for my health.