Monday, May 4, 2015

Beat The Thunderstorm and Hail

We had a great weekend with friends celebrating birthdays.   We also had a chance to visit our tenants only to find out that they love the house and it is in pristine condition.   They purchased their own lawn mower and weed eater saying they want to do the yard work themselves.   They have made some minor improvements and I am ordering an a/c maintenance tuneup.   

They showed me their new washer dryer acquisition in the garage.   They told me there was no dryer vent outlet.  What?  Not sure what the other tenants did but no one ever said a word.   I went to Lowe's and bought a longer vent hose and a vent wall outlet.  

There is also a lot of ground movement in the area, always has been.   I don't like cracks and like to stay ahead of them.   Sure enough, there were the normal settling cracks in the corners of the windows in the master bedroom.   I found someone to fix that and replace the sheet rock.  The last two attempts to tape and float doesn't seem to have done the job.

We did some shopping, bought some grass seed and fertilizer only because we were there and it hit us in the face.  "Do it now" is the slogan.   We hit some garage sales and picked up a few things to further clutter the house.   We saw an estate sale as well and it was a gold mine.   

The hotel in Laredo was exceptional and the one in San Antonio marginal.  I'm pretty critical of hotels and I guess the San Antonio was pretty good but could use some minor improvements or suggestions.  

We drove home with an overcast sky.   I started out a bit sleepy but by the time we hit the border I was wide awake.  We took off at 8:25 and arrived at 2:35.   It was a fast trip and a good one coming home.   No issues of any kind on the road except for after we unloaded the car.   A huge "tromba" or downpour hit.   Soon I could hear ice hitting the dome in the entry way.  Sure enough, it was pea-sized hail.

That's all for now.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Overnight In Laredo

We took off around 2:30 this afternoon.   Not in a big hurry as we decided to stay in Laredo for the night.   We found a great deal at what used to be Holiday Inn and is now the Ramada.   Same everything but a different name.  

The trip was tough getting through Monterrey.   Traffic was heavy as everyone is on the move to go somewhere for the four-day weekend.  Once through town I stopped for a coffee and a pee break.   From there we hopped on the libre and went through several small towns.  The libre is in very good condition and once we reached the end where it hooks up with the toll road traffic stopped.  A very long line up to go through a military checkpoint.   Didn't take us long though, they were waving most people through.   The soldier was actually waving me over when I remembered I had my sunglasses on.  I pulled them off and he then changed his mind and he waved us through.   Off we went.  

Sorry no pictures.  I couldn't get to my cell phone.  Juan was asleep and to get the phone meant waking him up.   No way.   As we got closer to Nuevo Laredo we decided to go through town and take the old bridge through el centro.   As you head north you can take the route to bridge II or take the fork in the avenue to the left and take bridge I.   We went left which takes you by the old train station.  The train station has been remodeled and turned into a literature center.   Beautiful restoration.  

Once to the bridge, we found no cars.   I was almost hesitant to make the left hand turn but did anyway.   Crossing the bridge we were number 3 in line.  What???  This is a major holiday weekend.  They waved us through and told us to park downtown and walk back for the visa permit.   Took all of 10 minutes and off we went to the hotel.  On the five block ride to the I-35, we passed bridge II.   Nightmare in progress.  It was packed.   

Picked up a veggie burger and salad and we are checked in, cocktail in hand, and great internet access.  Up and off early to San Antono.  It's only 2.5 hours away.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wow, We're Actually Going Somewhere

With the sun shining the last couple of days, I've got grass growing under my feet.  Time to get out of here.  As I said the other day, we are headed to San Antonio.  It's car trip but hey, that's on the road.  We are making a leisurely trip out of it.   We plan to take off tomorrow around noon.  With a four-day weekend, the border bridges are going to be packed.  People will pull their kids out early tomorrow from school to try and beat the crowd.  Come Tuesday and classes, they will not be returning either because they got home late Monday night or decided to stay another day.  

We will spend tomorrow night at the Ramada (used to be the Holiday Inn) in Laredo.  Getting there a bit early we will do a little shopping and sit around the pool.  Hey, I'm on vacation.  That way, Friday isn't a wasted day sitting at the border.  We need permits so the lines will be long.   Better to do it Thursday and get it out of the way.

I got a call today for an invitation.   I've been asked to speak again at the national convention.  This year though, all expenses paid, airfare, hotel, membership, meals, and best of all it's in Cancun!  So we will probably make it a week at the beach for two.

Not much else to report.  Anxious about seeing what is happening with the house in San Antonio and meeting with the accountant.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Taking A Short Trip

I probably mentioned it in the last post that we are going to San Antonio this weekend.  We have a four-day mega weekend celebrating Cinco de Mayo.   It was going to be a three-day weekend with school on Monday and then Tuesday off.   I went to the committee last month and recommended we add a day to the school calendar or trade a day for another so it would be a five-day weekend.  If they didn't do that, based on personal experience, 40% of the students wouldn't show up on Monday.   Finally, last week, the education department changed the holiday to a Monday so that we have Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off.

We won't be taking the trailer as we can't get it out of the driveway with the road work going on.  How is that going?  Slow.  We have had constant rains since January.  Saturday the sun shone and it will do the same for the next week.  Work has begun again.  They have spent past rain free days pumping water out of the trenches.   Today  they made some progress.

I took advantage of the sun too.  I am rewiring the 12V system adding new terminals, cleaning things up and installing the new inverter I had bought.   The solar is working but now I have no 12V.  I'll figure it out I'm sure, it's not rocket science.   I took a break from that today to power wash the roof and the sides as well.   I am caulking tomorrow and wanted a clean surface.   

We're still a bit somber around here.  Little Bit seems to be on a decline.  He's very lonely with Missy around.  At 15 I've seen what can happen.  We try to involve him when we are at home but he likes to sit out on the patio.   He still looks around when he hears something.   I guess I might do the same in the future if I'm in the same position.  Who knows.

Let's hope the sun continues to shine.   We will drive through Laredo taking the libre from home.  It's fast and in good condition not to mention much better scenery than the toll road. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Architectural Tour of Monterrey Centro

Friends of ours are architects that teach at the state university.   They posted on FB that they were giving a walking tour class to their students and it was open to the public.   We decided it would be a good thing to get out of the house and clear our heads.   We stopped for tacos first and then went to the Colegio Civil which is now the University Autonomo de Nuevo Leon.  The original building dates back to the 1850s and was remodeled again in 1933.   

The pictures are not in order, not sure what Blogger did to them but I'll leave them this way.  Our friend Elisa and her husband Carlos worked on the restoration of the building since 2008.  They traveled to Mexico City to find the original plans for the building, spoke with experts familiar with this period of architecture and learned the ways of doing the work and having other famous people who did nothing be recognized.  

This is the theater built in the middle of the school.   Colegio Civil was originally a fortress during the American and French invasions, then it was converted into a hospital and finally a university where Spaniards and high level indigenous leaders studied here in the north.

That's Elisa in the middle with the pink top and black tights explaining how the theater was restored to its orginal condition.  It took someone famous, Dolores Del Rio a Mexican actress very famous in the 40s and 50s in Hollywood, to come for a theatrical presentation to make changes to the original structure. 

Parque Alameda, where I have never taken any visitors and shame on me for not doing it.  It was designated a park by Bernardo Reyes governor of Nuevo Leon in 1885.  His idea was to create an open area where residences would be built.  The idea didn't catch on until he waved property taxes for home builders for a 10 year period.   It worked and families came to live.  One of the first urban planning schemes in Mexico.   This park is famous for indigenous Mexicans who come to Monterrey to work in houses as maids and gardners.   They come on Sunday, their day off, and the girls walk in one direction and the boys in the other.  It is not uncommon hear many different languages or dialects on a typical stroll.  Two of the guys who worked for us in Monterrey came from indigenous parts of Mexico and they too spent their Sundays here.

Again, these pictures aren't in order but this is a famous landmark.  It is Clinic 6, the IMSS hospital or universal healthcare hospital located in downtown Monterrey.  Of course we have many IMSS hospitals for transplants, newborns, cancer care, etc.   This hospital is from the Streamline period built in 1950 and is very well-maintained.  I recently joined the universal or social healthcare system here.

Where we had tacos in the morning.  Get this, most of you travel in the south so you understand prices.   We had tacos here.  134 pesos!  Yikes!   That's why we don't eat out often in Monterrey as some of you have witnessed on our tours.

Okay, so this is where our tour started.  The windows were reduced in size in 1933.  Our friend Elisa and her staff had them returned to their original size and returned the balconies that were removed.

Interesting staircase.  It was not like this until the restoration was completed.  Under all the plaster and cement they found the original stonework.  There is no metal support of any kind in the stair case.  All the blocks are placed strategically to support the stairwell.  Also, as they removed the 30s floor tile known as piso de pasta, and many of you are familiar with it which looks like creamy swirls in the floor, the orginal was solid three inch black marble.  The wood handrail and the ironwork is original.

As I said earlier, Colegio Civil is a school today.  Since the thirties many of the arches were used to divide the building into classrooms.  A debate with officials and restorers took place as the school didn't want to lose their classrooms.   So they found a solution.  The removed the 30s walls, returned the blocked archways to their original openings but covered the works with heavy industrial glass allowing division when desired but returning the building to its original condition.

And this is a picture of one lonely cat not to mention his owners.   Little Bit sits in the living room and perks up everytime he hears a noise.   He's waiting for Missy to come home.  I told him but I don't know if he understands.  He won't leave me alone and follows me everywhere.  Poor boy, he doesn't have his pal anymore.   And neither do I.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Somewhere . . . Over The Rainbow

The day she came to stay.  Bye sweetie pie!

I haven't posted as there was not much to say other than Missy was in decline.   She's on the other side of the rainbow bridge along with Friend, Gum, Tasha, Gingi and Maggie.  They're together and waiting for my arrival.  I'm sure it will be a happy reunion.  Tails a waggin' that's for sure.   I miss them all so much, too many good memories.

A bit sad about the whole thing but not much else we could do but provide lots of love, care and tenderness.  She/he will not be forgotten and we have many pictures of them all.  

Just like me, I don't want to suffer much.  I'd prefer to hang around to say my goodbyes and then let me drift off into a deep sleep with good music and a video screen in front of me flashing all of my pictures.   

Thank you Missy for being a part of our lives.   We miss you already and we hope to see you in the future.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Trip To McAllen And Back - Missy the Cat

I drove up early Monday morning to McAllen for a course I taught at a local high school.   Monday was the return to classes in Mexico after Spring break so I took off at 6:30 a.m. to beat the traffic.  Made it through town and to the toll highway in an hour, that means past the international airport and beyond to Cadereyta.   Smooth sailing all the way.  At the border there was a 30 minute wait and I was waved right through.  

Did my school visit to set things up and deliver materials.   After, I checked into my hotel and did some shopping that was on the list.   Off to bed early and up just the same.   The students were the best and the reviews were excellent.   Work has been slow because of some corruption that has taken place.  That's corruption in Texas not Mexico.  Turns out that a state official was able to convince school districts to adopt a certain school that has never taught a prep course.   We were left by the curb but it is being exposed in the news.   Interesting. 

Came home late last night arriving about 8 p.m.   Faster going home for some reason than going there.   

As for Missy the cat, he is failing fast and it looks like the end is near.  Not much else we can do at this point but continue the treatment and follow the vets orders.   Sad, but Missy was a feral cat and got into a lot of stuff over the years.   I'm hoping we are doing all we can at this point and it has turned into a waiting game.