Thursday, January 25, 2018

Househunting, Funerals, Immaturity and the TSA

We survived the flight, the memorial, and the trip home. No, I did not mud wrestle Mrs. Satan. I did drink a lot of tequila. But we still had behaving badly relatives and for once it was not either Mrs. Satan or I even if she did wear a rather questionable dress to the graveside service. Very flashy to the point of almost inappropriate. Not that many others dressed like society usually demands you do for a funeral. But none of them wore attention-getting get ups either.

I wore my expensive black lace dress and was clearly very overdressed by today's funeral standards.

My mother did not show up for the service, which was awesome because I know I would have been treated to a many months long rant on the evils of violating Miss Manner's and the Junior League's ideas on funereal splendor. I consider the issue really a non-issue. Wear what you want even if family members will snicker over it for ages, like the entire family still does over the low cut nearly red dress my mother wore to my wedding.

My mother kept asking what my husband was going to wear and I had to explain that my husband is a grown assed man who could pick his wardrobe himself. I also had to tell her that a fight on funeral sartorial was not the hill I wanted to die on, that I pick arguments in our marriage I chose to only on important things. Like when Jim refused to refused to wanted to not have medical tests last January when he had symptoms that we thought perhaps his cancer was back.

The service for the Maw in Law was very nice, the speakers all said wonderful things about my mother in law, my husband gave the eulogy, right up until his brother got up to say what a caring saint his wife is. Yes, Mrs. Satan got some atta girls from her husband in the pulpit.

The church ladies, God bless them, realized that the whole shebang was about to be catered by a cut-rate Southern grocery store deli counter and jumped into action. They jumped into the fray and created a beautiful and delicious luncheon that cost the family not a dime. I was so grateful they did this considering some in the family were trying to cheap it. I thought we should have hired the catering from one of the local awesome restaurants. This is not something you pinch your pennies on. It's a final send off for a beloved member of the family.

The only issue with the entire five days was one relative pulled a very odd stunt. She drove a very long way, 1,600 miles roughly, had a fight with the others that rode with her, stomped out during the argument, packed the car leaving her other relatives/rides without a way back home. We had to tote these folks around because they were stuck in Baton Rouge with no car and no way home. Eventually they rented a car for a one way trip back home.

It made for an awkward time at the funeral because other relatives from other states kept asking me where she was. I had to keep saying I didn't know for sure but I believed she was on her way home.

Still haven't spoken to this lady, but I understand my name was thrown around during the fight because I'd urged her to talk to the others before the trip. She was upset with several of the folks riding with her but instead of actually talking to them about her issues with them she went into super passive aggressive mode. She did send me a very passive aggressive text but I responded mildly. Do not feed the passive aggression.

Everything else went well. Our hotel room was beautiful and right by the airport. I was spared being trotted around to a plethora of family member's homes because many had minor illnesses due to the crazy weather. We got to eat out at all our favorite places. I ate my weight in Crawfish Etoufee. We went to the drive thru Daiquiri stands. We stocked up on Cajun foods to put in our suitcases on our return trip to Costa Rica.

The only flies in the trip ointment was that as we were leaving our home we're rented at with the idea of paying next year our landlord told us that our rent would be 900 bucks every month for the rest of high season. Increase of an increase of a 300 dollar sum. It's illegal in CR laws.

We talked about it during the trip what to do, and we've decided to buy a beachside house. Today, tomorrow and Saturday we're touring houses in our budget. Almost all entirely houses custom built for American tourists sign to buy and build who have buyers remorse who have taking a financial dubbing, eager to unload. One of the places we visited today was designed by a famous architect, very modern and a five minute walk, another had a guesthouse, and still another had several guesthouses, a pool and three bedrooms. All new. I'm pretty excited to be buying my second home and writing a check to pay for the entire thing So the negative is about to change.

The beautiful house we are renting is having electrical and plumbing issues plus a dead washer and dryer. This is not at all acceptable. I really liked our landlords, I do not like the lack of repairs and high rental.

I'm still laughing over the the TSA slitting the five pound bag of grits in my suitcase and the boxes of beignet mix. This Cajun is so not muling drugs in her grits.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wasting Time WIth Monkeys

So I'm supposed to be packing for the funeral trip right now, cleaning the cat box, making sure there is fresh bed linens on the spare bedroom's bed for the house sitter. What have I been doing? Watching the monkeys instead.

This morning instead of the usual lone ancient howler monkey that lives on our hillside he showed up with his entire troop, babies, mamas and himself. I was fascinated. They were up in the trees just beyond my patio. I sat outside much of the day, watching the babies climb up and down and the adults flop down on the branches to snooze. Endlessly entertaining instead of shoving clothing into a suitcase for a trip I have no desire to take.

Tried to take photos but it's dark in the trees. I put a few grainy edited ones on Facebook of the howlers.

We've already run into some crazy schedule hassles. The airline changed our flight to an earlier one so now into the three hour layover to get through customs in Dallas we have a four and a 1/2 hour layover in Atlanta. That means we're going to have to get up an hour earlier here.

The other hassles include various dinners, lunches and who goes where situations with the Maw in Law's service. Mrs. Satan wanted all of us to get together on Friday and Saturday night, but I already promised the first sister in law and nieces I'd go to their home for pizza, wine and reminiscing on Saturday night. Just watching Jim verklempt over this is giving me an ulcer. I finally had to just man up and tell him I would only go to the Friday night dinner, not anything else involving or organized by Mrs. Satan.

Makes me so happy that I booked a suite at a hotel across the street from the airport and a quick hop, skip and jump from my elderly mother's house. Sunday is her birthday and I plan on taking her out for lunch. Can't wait. We are staying nowhere near our kids or Jim's brother. We're all scattered acros the town, the kids in a fancy AirBnB in the downtown near the river and Bro and Mrs. Satan just off the college campus. Space is awesome, particularly since Jim moaned and complained about the adult children drinking back in October

The other thing I cannot wait for it coming home from this trip. The reality of this now after four months in Tamarindo is that this place is home now. Where else can you waste an afternoon watching monkey or a Sunday afternoon wandering the vacant lot next to the pizza joint and photograph and feed an assortment of the strangest color iguanas you've ever seen. I've not seen a golden one before. Tried to get a shot of all five of them lined up underneath the pizza place's windows begging for pizza but the shot came out too dark. Put a few of those iguana photos on Facebook too.

So when Mrs. Satan is being her most obnoxious I'll just think about the monkeys and iguanas and the beach and take a mental break.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pre Funerial Worries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Beaches and Bulls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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