Katniss with snowflakes

Too cold for a sub tropical cat!

Most of you know that we have an inside cat and an outside cat. Katniss (the outside cat) is utterly feral and I can’t touch her (so is the inside cat…). We live in the sub tropics and she normally uses my deck as shade but the weather is crazy right now. Here she is with some snowflakes in her dense black fur. She complained bitterly to me but doesn’t believe that I am only the Goddess of tinned food, not the weather.   Fortunately, I have been feeding her like a Christmas Goose and she has a nice layer of blubber.  Houston has just closed for two days because of a ridiculous cold front. It went down to single digits (F) in some places.

Here are icicles still frozen on my bush.

Icicles!

I drove to the airport today and it was scary to see how much ice there had been. Not only do we not have the capacity to deal with this kind of weather but none of us know how to drive in it. I learned to drive in Texas so my only skills are driving fast (breaking fast when I spot state troopers), avoiding flash floods and parking under the only tree in the summer.

Poor cold aloe

Even my poor little Aloe Vera is completely frozen. About 10 years ago I planted an inch of aloe and it grew and grew like Topsy. I hope she survives this freak ice storm.  Teddy flew to Oklahoma (I always burst into song when I say that) and it will be even colder there, brrrrr!  I am desperate to share my adventure in Mexico with y’all amigos but am too tired to do it justice. Next week…

Until then, keep warm my friends.

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Huehuecoyotl is my new best friend…

My gorgeous four poster bed in Merida…note the mosquito net

Doesn’t it look gorgeous?  The tiles are original from the 17th century mansion.  The French owners have recently created this boutique hotel and coordinated everything with the tiles.  The back wall is the palest dove gray as is the new futon beside the bed.  The lamps were made of local limestone and I am taking the photograph from the stairs (yes two levels) in my suite leading to the brand new bathroom.  It was exquisitely designed with local stone in the huge shower.

So far, so good, eh?  The bed was rather hard but the bedding was lovely.  The mosquito net was not for decoration and the fumigator turned up on the second day (it smells of roses, Senorita…).  I look like I have had measles.  Eventually I caught one of the little f***ers and my blood oozed out of it.  The exquisite shower had only cold water.  On one fortuitous occasion I had a tepid shower – yay!  I was offered three other rooms which barely had a trickle of still cold water and realized I had the best room.  My French fellow guests had a trickle of cold water for their whole stay. Dirty froggies…🐸.  I know that is terribly un PC but it’s one of my resolutions.

The menu was translated by French people into English and they need not have bothered.  There is a local Maya language spoken and I have no idea what the menu said.  I ate dessert and breakfast with unidentifiable fruit.  I rarely spoke English to anyone.  Everyone at the hotel spoke French including the staff.  My driver’s English was as good as my Spanish and yet we talked for hours each day.  Google Translate helped with certain words until we were out of cell phone range.

THIS WAS THE BEST VACATION EVER!!!  I don’t know why but I loved every second of it, even my Eco toilet which means no paper down the drain (there was a little lidded bucket for the poo smeared paper).  It felt like glamping or glhostelling.  The day before I left I had received bad news about four friends with health and other problems.  I was so upset that I momentarily considered not going.  The saddest news was the death of our fellow blogger Pan otherwise known as Linda, beautifully memorialized by John Ray and Osyth. If you click on John and Osyth’s names you will see their posts about Linda. My head still has an image of her dog guarding her dead body for two days.

My mental health must be stronger than I imagined and I decided that life really was too short.  I compartmentalized all my bad news, got on the plane and prayed at every church that I saw in Merida.  I got lost twice in the pitch black but kept finding churches so perhaps Huehuecoyotl had an auspicious plan.  The beauty of nature and the kind, warm people of the Yucatan soothed my soul and provided much needed balm.  I have many stories to tell but I have a busy week helping friends and doing paid work so it may be a week or so before I share more.

I climbed a pyramid!


This is a shot from Mayapan, a huge Maya city that has NO tourists! My various DNA tests did not show that I am part mountain goat…all those years hill-climbing with my school friends, Katharine and AnneMarie have left me with a core strength. There was a small group of local school teenagers who struggled to keep up with me…

Most importantly, may Linda rest in peace. She was a loyal, funny and delightful blogger friend that I will miss.

Huehuecoyotl is mischief making…

Courtesy of Pixabay

Huehuecoyotl is one of the many Pre Colombian Gods of Mexico.  The translation is very old coyote.  He is an auspicious God and is generally beneficent but can be a prankster.  I have decided that he will now be my spirit guide when I go to Mexico next week.  He has already started mischief making…

After my amazing list of resolutions, (I have done more than one #2 every day – yippee), I have a short gap before my first work contract and have decided to go to Merida in the Yucatan next week.  It’s a solo visit – I don’t think Teddy is ready for one of my Spanish speaking, taking the local bus and arguing with taxi driver trips.  My last trip to Merida was a disaster but despite that I longed to return in more clement weather.

Booking the flight was easy.  I used air miles and there were a few seats left.  The flight is just over 2 hours so there are many commuters back and forth between Texas and Mexico.  One of the problems with my last trip was that I was staying in a beautiful old building with all the problems that come with that.  This time I decided to choose a generic chain hotel so that at least there is another room to go to…

Huehuecoyotl had arranged for British Airways to send me an email reminding me that I had to use my Avios points.  Ah ha, thought Kerry, I can book a hotel in Merida and save money.  I chose the Wyndham but when I received the final confirmation, I realized that they had not used my points and cash but just cash.  Wily Coyote!  The only option was to phone British Airways.  They have a free number in the States but you are speaking to someone in England.   A very nice lady with a well enunciated English dialect answered the phone promptly – wow! It was such a relief to speak to someone who immediately understood my accent.  I have no idea what the problem is in the USA – I speak clearly and you have all watched Braveheart/Outlander, haven’t you???

As soon as I explained what had happened, she indicated that it would be complicated to sort out so I would be on the phone for a while.  One hour…but at least it was free.  Long story shorter, the first booking had to be cancelled and then she attempted to do it again.  Coyote was having fun because there were two Merida Wyndhams on the BA website, one in lower case and one in upper case.  I assured my new friend that there was only one Wyndham hotel even though they had different addresses!

Right in the middle of all this, my gardeners arrived.  I apologized and said I would have to carry the phone outside while I spoke to them. “Hola! Como Esta”, “Bien, y Usted?”  Then there was some bad Spanish when I tried to explain that I needed a brick stand for the Casa de Gatta (Katniss).  The nice lady said, “Do you live in Mexico?”  Well, if you ask a Trump voter, they might say yes, but really we live in the bilingual metropolis of Houston.  I used eastern Europeans in England as an example.  New immigrants always do the jobs that no one else wants to do.

Back to the strange website; neither the UPPER CASE nor lower case Wyndham would take my money or booking.  Likely they had no rooms left – welcome to Mexico!  Finally I decided that I would just completely cancel all bookings with British Airways and ponder what to do next.  The nice lady was very apologetic and had even reduced the price before I was banished from that hotel.  We bid each other goodbye and I wondered if she was going to tell someone about her strange conversation.  What was even funnier, in the middle of all of this, Toffee had a poo (great resolution) in her litter box and started caterwauling for me to clean it stat!  She was so loud that I had to apologize for that noise whilst escaping to the other side of the house with computer and phone to get away from the noise of the gardeners.

So, I sat thinking about a possibly ill-fated trip but was so amused by the whole situation that I decided to just do a Booking.com.  They allow you to cancel close to the trip time and you don’t pay until after you arrive.  They were problematic the last time (my hotel was not available and didn’t find out until the night before).  Maybe Huehuecoyotl would help out?  I chose the first one that had a great review and it is a 17th century mansion – uh oh.  The hotel immediately confirmed my booking in Spanish – excellente and it is so beautiful that I could just photograph that building.

I am going next week and Teddy is looking after the gattas.  Wish me luck and hope that my puppy God wants to play nice.

Say NO to aspirational New Year’s Resolutions!

I am really old and wise – aspirational resolutions are silly.  They give us false expectations or make us feel pompous until we inevitably fail.  Here is a list of practical ones –

 

  • Try to poo every day. That means you are eating fiber and you might even lose weight.  It also keeps toilet tissue manufacturers in business.

 

  • Smile at everyone. The worst that can happen is that someone thinks you are crazy or hearing voices.  The best is that you find a new friend or make someone’s day.

 

  • Use your common sense. Millennials – google common sense and try to incorporate it into your life.  It’s like skateboarding but more fun.

 

  • Choose an appropriate seat at Starbucks. One person needs a small table.  If you choose otherwise, 40 miles north of Houston, a strange Scottish lady will come up to you and ask you to move from the table with 6 seats that she needs for her friends.

 

  • On the same topic, get a more appropriate office.

 

  • Try to remember which airline your relative flew on and which city they left from in Latin America/South East Asia/Africa. It helps the frazzled volunteers.

 

  • Rescue an animal or check on an elderly neighbor. Try not to cry when the cat hisses at you or the neighbor says, “I’m fine” and shuts the door in your face.  Remember I write with experience.

 

  • Try to read global news from reputable sources – even real news is biased. It might make you realize your life is blessed.  Think about Puerto Rico.

 

  • Whilst perusing the World Wide Web, try to avoid following those topics that we know rot our brain. ‘Caitlyn and Kris Jenner get married again’, for example.  Nooooooo!

 

  • Say ‘Hell No!’ to political correctness. Here is an example – Our President is an ass wipe and not the nice Preparation H ones.

 

  • Read your horoscope. It’s all unicorn and rainbows. You will meet the man of your dreams in 2018, write that book and win the lottery. Promise.

 

  • Be good or you will go to hell. This is gospel from a lapsed Catholic…

 

Was Toffee on the naughty list?

Sorry it’s blurry – it’s an action shot…

Toffee is our elderly Egyptian street cat who hardly ever spoke until the other two alphas died.  Now she won’t shut up.  I have no idea where she gets it from (says the girl whose Nana exclaimed most nights, “The child has not stopped talking all day”).  I am a little annoyed with Toffee because Dad was in Europe for almost three weeks and she stopped saying thank you (a deep strange noise).  As soon as he returned, so did the thank yous…

We always get her a Christmas present, usually her favorite knitted toys filled with catnip.  As the Youtube video below shows, some one wasn’t entirely happy with her present.  I don’t know what’s funnier – her talking or me and what Dad is breaking in the background.  The video is also blurry (mom takes medication) but it is the sound that matters.

Given her human age is about 70 (15 next year), she got tuna for breakfast anyway, as did Miss Katniss.  Katniss is our feral outside cat who is about 3 years old.  She refuses to be trapped but is coming around for food 2 or 3 times a day.  Her fur is glossy and she is a little rounded but I don’t think she is pregnant.  Sometimes she runs towards me and then hisses when she remembers I am not her mom.

Katniss and her shadow

Doesn’t she look incredibly healthy?  She talks nonstop as well – no idea why…😸  Below is a shot of Dad in his enticing nightwear feeding her on Christmas morning.  She is pretending to be Greta Garbo because she sees me photographing her through the window.

Katniss hiding from Mommy Paparazzi

Christmas letters are sooooo boring…even mine

This is the real Christmas letter I sent to friends and family this year.  They know less about our lives than you do…

How about some astonishing facts to brighten things up?

• Teddy and I are still married after 35½ years. Whaaaaaat?

• We both have jobs! Admittedly, I earn peanuts and only work occasionally. A variety of foolish events companies contract my labor; team building, meeting VIPs and other nonsense. Andy pretends he is a genius and does something with rocks.

• Despite our many diagnoses, neuroses and medications, we are reasonably healthy.

• We have one Egyptian cat still living. Toffee is almost 15 years old, amazingly healthy and very kindly tucks us into bed each night. She jumps on the bed, gives us both a cuddle and then goes to her own bed. Katniss is our feral outside cat, born under our deck a few years ago. She refuses to be tamed and hisses at me when it snows (see below).

• Teddy talks to our visiting Armadillos, at night, and they answer back. This is one of the many new Texan skills he has developed, along with eating too much and dressing like a gay cowboy.

• I still can’t get the hang of political correctness.

• It really snowed in Houston this year.

• It really rained in Houston this year, 51.88 inches to be precise.

• Teddy and I rarely vacation together anymore. That might explain the 35½ years of marriage.

• I discovered I have a long line of Mexican ancestors, including some Maya DNA. For some reason I look like a Swede. Andy is Scottish.

• We didn’t vote for Trump because I’m Mexican nor did most of Houston (which is also Mexican).

• None of our relatives died this year…we think. We might find otherwise in Christmas cards, yet to arrive.

• Mail comes by stagecoach in our area. Why else does it take 3 weeks to arrive from Europe?

• This is the longest time we have stayed in one place during our marriage – I guess its home.

• Teddy will be 60 next year. I’m not sure I can stay married to a pensioner even one that makes me laugh at both ends.

• I am almost through the ‘change’ which might not be apparent from this letter.

 

Random Christmas Cheer

Fishy Christmas Tale

Teddy is coming home from Frankfurt today and I woke up to a frantic email to say that he had caught his plane with 5 minutes to spare; de-icing and other crazy northern stuff. This morning I did my usual hausfrau duties – fresh clean bed, washed the floor and went for food. When Teddy is out of town I eat like a squirrel; a few nuts and berries when I notice my tummy growling. We are fortunate enough to live a few minutes’ drive from all our grocery stores and most importantly, PETCO! Katniss has been eating twice a day and now runs to me. Then she stops and thinks, “Hang on, that’s not my mom – I am a proud feral cat”.

On my third trip out, I slowed down when I noticed a Volvo with no tire, collapsed on the road in front of me. I stopped behind it and put my flashers on. The young man (in his 40’s) looked shell-shocked, so I asked what had happened. He had just had an oil change and the mechanics hadn’t tightened the nuts on the wheels. “That place is crap!” I responded. He wasn’t sure what to do as he was partially blocking a junction. I told him to put his flashers on and I would drive to the auto shop to give them hell. As I drove in, they were just casually doing (crap) work. I suggested they get their asses in gear before the police came. This particular auto shop blatantly lied to me the only time I visited them, telling me I needed new brake pads. My sixth sense was alarmed and I checked with a decent place before letting them do it.

I returned to the broken down Volvo and he was still a bit panicky. It hadn’t occurred to me to wonder where the tire was but just then a Samaritan in a mega truck turned up having rescued the tire further down the main route. He was Shrek like – huge with a bald head. I have no idea how he lifted that tire, as if it was a soft toy. Then the auto shop idiots turned up. I wished the stranded Volvo owner a Merry Christmas and left to the sounds of police sirens. Since the hurricane, people have bought mega trucks in droves and it drives me CRAZY. Teddy has a whole list of acronyms for them: A.I.A.T; D.I.A.T; F.I.A.T. The acronyms spell out Ass in a Truck, Dick in a Truck and so on. I suspect they were bought to replace flooded vehicles and these new owners don’t know how to drive them properly. But Shrek was a hero – S.I.A.T!

Then I went to the supermarket, full of adrenaline because I have always wanted to shout at that auto shop. I hope he sues them if there was damage to his car. Then I saw the weirdest thing in the fish aisle. A lady was filling her cart with packets of salted cod. I knew she was not from Texas and suspected she was from Latin America. Curiosity overcame Kerry and I asked her where she was from. Mexico City was the answer and we chatted about our shared ancestry and the salted cod. She was making a dish called Bacalao – click on the word to find a recipe.

I would no more eat salted cod than roasted cockroaches but it brought back a nostalgic memory of Teddy’s mum. Nessie was from a farmer’s family and Teddy’s Dad came from a fisher family. Usually never the twain shall meet or certainly marry but Dad was a handsome POW that caught the eye of my pretty mother in law. Once they were seriously courting, Nessie was invited to the Duncan family home in Peterhead, Scotland for a special dinner. She was used to eating what we consider normal food – meat and two vegetables. Nessie wasn’t really keen on seafood or fish so when she was offered a choice of Sea Pie or Hairy Tatties, she somewhat tentatively accepted Hairy Tatties assuming that Sea Pie was full of seafood. Little did she know that Sea Pie was actually a gorgeous steak pie that the fishermen took out on the boats. Hairy Tatties was much worse… The fibers of salted cod were the hairy bits in the tatties (mashed potatoes). How she ate it was beyond me; a true heroine.

So, I helped a panicky man, found a new friend from Mexico and retold my favorite story about my beloved mother in law. Finally, I have some real Christmas Cheer! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Feliz Navidad!