Thursday, April 30, 2020

We've Got To Get Out

Juan power washing the pool deck while I took a break from mowing the lawn.

What a bummer of a day.  We try to make the best out of the situation and we always have fun working together, meals, happy hour, and watching something entertaining.  We had happy hour last night in the trailer.  It was nice, talking about all our trips and the ones we want to take in the near future.  One thing for sure, as the saying goes, you don't know what you have until you lose it.  

This was on Monday taken from the front yard.  We have some nice mountain views.

I took this on Tuesday on my exercise here on the road.

Today I woke up at 6 a.m. and ready for my walkathon.  A heavy mist was falling and I thought it wouldn't matter.  I started out and after finishing four laps had to come back to the house.  It was so heavy and I was getting soaked.  Now what?  I watched Dingus of Mexico on his morning conference.  Well, I should be wearing a turban and have a crystal ball.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that they were saying there was a rise in Atipic Pneumonia in Mexico.  I said it was really the Covid-19 and they were covering up numbers.  This morning, Dingus said they are now including the AP in with Covid-19.  Okay, so that means the numbers for Covid-19 are actually higher than previously reported.

He has lost so many supporters (sounds like the other two North American presidents) that he will no only hold a daily two-hour conference in the mornings, but also again at night.  He needs to convince his constituency (made up mostly of uneducated poor and indigenous people) that he is there for them and they need to continue to vote.  That may sound harsh, but very, very true.

As the morning progressed I had wanted to vacuum the pool, but by noon the rain was just coming to an end.  I ended up reading and watching a very good documentary on why Earthlings haven't made it to Mars.  The obvious answer is politics.  They started this project back in 1989, and here we are, still spending billions to fly in low Earth orbit.  Makes no sense.  One thing for sure, I won't be going to Mars unless it's in a small urn that is spewed out into space.   

I had a small bowl of chili for lunch and then a nap.  Juan had been at school social distancing while getting his pay stubs.  You have to show up in person every so many months to pick them up or they will stop direct deposit and you'll have to pick up your check every payday for life.  Silliness all the way around.

As I write this, it is now 6:52 p.m. and the sun is just starting to break.  I doubt I'll go out and vacuum the pool.  That's pretty much how the day went.

Maybe a surprise weekend, let's wait and see!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Mexico's Employee Benefits and Welfare Programs

Feel free to skip to the charts at the bottom of the page.  Also, leave a comment or send  me an email which is here at the top.

The reason I’ve written this is to make sure that those who help the poor in Mexico are aware of the programs and to ensure that those they are helping know about and are taking advantage of them.  In addition to whatever you are doing, it is important that we understand the help most Mexicans receive.  If families have children in public schools, it is almost a 100% probability that they are receiving funds from the government.  Why?  Because the public school and the school's principal will receive part of these funds via school activities, new school supplies, and cleaning materials needed to maintain the school.  Don't be fooled.  And if they aren't receiving funds, are poor and have kids in school, they have no business having children.

Feel free to skip to the charts at the bottom of the page that explain these benefits.  This is the law and our illustrious president has made this his cross.

I thought It would be interesting, while I’m sheltered in place,  to share information that most ex-pats and rvers coming to Mexico may not be aware of.  There are many groups, organizations as well as individuals who help Mexican families by providing school materials, uniforms, clothing as well as food.  Some have even adopted families and have helped them with surgeries for children or necessities such as wheelchairs, walkers, and the like for the elderly or handicapped family members.  I’m all for it but I would like to share that there are excellent government programs that are available and many people are either not aware of them, don’t know who to talk to, or are afraid to have contact with government agencies because they may be doing things that they fear would cause them problems.

For 36 years Mexico has lived a very progressive and what some call neoliberal lifestyle.  Whether one agrees or not, after the major the collapse of oil in the early 80s and the Great Devaluation under the regime of Lopez Portillo, Mexico began an economic resurgence.  International trade agreements were formed (Salinas de Gotari), Mexico allowed much more importation of goods available to the common person and Mexico’s middle-class began to flourish. 

When I first moved to Mexico in 1984, consumer products were very limited and electronics for example were limited to the upper class or those that had some type of government contact who could help with the purchase and importation of the product from the other side of the border.  What people see today, fast food chains, big box stores, supermarket chains that compare to those such as HEB Superstores and Mega Walmart, were non-existent.  

For example, at a Gigante supermarket (they still exist in California), there was one type of milk.  There were no options and I am not referring to imported products.  Today, complete supermarket aisles are dedicated to milk, with the Lala brand (Lala refers to its home office location of La Camarca Lagunera in the area of Torreon, Coahuila) now offers more than 14 different types of milk multiplying that by the other ten or so national brands.
In terms of incomes, which have risen over the years, minimum wage has increased considerably percentage-wise.   As many of you know, very few  Mexicans earn minimum wage as defined by that term.  I won’t go into too much detail but minimum wage is the value expressed in pesos, individually or in multiples thereof, to determine administrative penalties and fines, payment concepts and reference amounts, provided for in the current local regulations in Mexico.  For example, speeding in a school zone (20KPH) in Monterrey, is 1200 pesos or as it states in the transit handbook, 10 minimum salaries.  Here is an established list of average salaries by profession. 

Average Mexican Salaries By Job Description

A public school teacher who works two shifts in the northern state of Nuevo Leon (most public schools have morning and afternoon classes, despertino y matutino) and the salary averages 16,000 pesos per month after taxes.  There are federal schools and state schools and they can be in the same neighborhood and the pay can vary.  All Mexican salaries are listed after tax.  You are probably aware of the benefits (prestaciones) that an employee receives.  

Let me digress for a minute and explain that for a person to receive benefits they must be registered and work in the formal economy, blue and white-collar jobs.  The informal economy includes people who sell things on their own, have a small business that is not registered, and so on.  The benefits that a formally employed Mexican receives “by law” are the following; profit sharing based on position, Christmas bonus based on years worked, INFONAVIT which is a federally backed first-time buyers home loan based at a low fixed interest rate, food coupons (vales de despensa), and free medical healthcare for the worker, spouse, children and any parents living in the household.  Mexico has an informal market (those that don’t pay any taxes) of 54% and ranks as number 15 in the list of countries and informal markets.  Sad but true and there are those that are informal but make quite a bit of money but pay no taxes.

There has also been, for many years, programs that provide assistance to the poor.  Among those are Liconza/Diconza which is a program that provides free milk to all children and pregnant women under 18 years of age.  In rural areas, there needs to be a minimum of 100 children to be eligible for the program.  A person is assigned in the community to be the distribution point.  You’ve seen women walking around with a pail with a cloth over it.  Many times it is milk or corn masa.

A program started in the late 80s early 90s was Oportunidades.  Under different administrations, it has undergone name changes such as Próspera and today, Bienstar.  The programs cover health and education.  As you can see from the charts below, a family with three children and a grandparent in the home can receive as much as 10,550 pesos bi-monthly (every two months).  Going back and looking at the salaries webpage, you will see that many Mexicans make this monthly amount (roughly 5000 pesos).  That in addition to the financial benefits in the chart many families should be living quite well.

These funds are paid directly to the family or individual via a debit card.  The current federal administration is opening 2700 small bank branches in rural areas to help distribute and make the receipt of the money easier.

The reason I’ve written this is to make sure that those who help the poor are aware of the programs and to ensure that those they are helping know about are taking advantage of them. 
One additional program added this year is the “Tanda”.  Tandas generally are made up of a group of people who decide to each contribute a weekly or monthly amount into the pot and one of the members receives what’s in the pot each month or week.  It makes its rounds until everyone has received their money. 

The government now is offering a “Tanda” which is a “no interest” one-year loan with “no strings attached”.  You have one year to pay it back and if you do you can ask for another and increase the amount.  If you don’t pay it back, nothing will happen but you will no longer be eligible for more.  The maximum amount is currently 25,000 pesos and is offered to small family businesses that are not registered.  No, I don’t get it either but that’s our new president.

Friday, April 24, 2020

One Thing You Need To Know To Rv In Mexico

Apart from my workout and chores around the house, I have spent time reading Mexico blogs and Mexico YouTuber videos or vlogs.  One thing keeps coming up over and over again.  People get into trouble because they don't understand the language, the money, and the system.  Granted, if you're a first-timer or an old-timer, that doesn't mean you have to be culturally literate and speak 100% Spanish.

But let's get one thing straight.  Most Mexicans speak little to no English especially in the places rvers tend to frequent.  What are those places?  Small towns, out of the way places such as RV parks on the outermost limits of cities, and in rural and secluded beach areas. 

Does it really matter?  Most people move around the planet waving, pointing, and in most cases screaming thinking they will make themselves understood.  We all know that at least in Mexico, unscrupulous Mexicans can see a gringo coming a mile away.  And I'm sure some of you will raise the flag and say, "we speak enough to get by", "we meet or know lots of Mexicans who speak English".  

Recently, I guess it doesn't matter if the people I am going to reference read this or not.  My true circle of true Mexico rving friends is very limited although I would love for it to be bigger and be able to, as always, help more people enjoy Mexico via rv.

A couple returning to the border recently had a breakdown on the highway.  They couldn't say the following basic phrases or words in Spanish which led them to not receiving help and having to take very dangerous measures to repair the problem; GPS, flat tire, jack and lug nut wrench, coordinates, etc.  It is very difficult to carry on a phone conversation and use the same phone to rapidly look up words especially if there isn't any internet signal.

So let's take a test of these phrases and see if you pass.  This isn't an I'll show you how good my Spanish is or that you're not prepared for Mexico travel.  We each need to develop a basic dictionary that fits our situations meaning, where do we normally travel and what are the basic geographical surroundings, types of RVs and equipment since rvs are not common in Mexico, medical issues, medicines, foods, and supplies, etc.   Good grief, it's not like any of us have to go back to work tomorrow as most of us are here for long stays or are retired and have more than enough time to travel.

  • GPS
  • FMM
  • TIP
Add to this list for your own needs as this is just an example.  Think about food in the restaurant. How many times have you ordered something only to get another dish or not what you wanted and then piss and moan or even worse, scream at the person?

This is a cultural fact.  Remember this.  Piss off a Mexican and they will raise the barrier and cut you off.  It has happened to us when we were with other gringos and it was not only embarrassing for us but for the Mexican.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Something I Never Posted About Rving

Today I went to pay the electric bill.  We aren't receiving a government subsidy as we are still in Spring.  Next billing will have the summer subsidy.  Our bill for the last two months was 1028 pesos or $48 USD for the two months.  Usage was 548 kWh.

This was the line outside the building.  Most with masks waiting their turn.  I told you I went last week because I hadn't received the bill.  I commented to the clerk that people weren't wearing masks and there were 10 people inside when the sign said one person at a time.  Well, I guess something happened because now they are following the guidelines.

Before we started rving, we had been looking at motorhomes, travel trailers and the like.  We decided to rent a small motorhome in California.  A trip we will never forget.  We rented the Rialta below.  For us, the first time, it was a dream.  I had the trip all planned out.  We flew to Los Angeles where someone picked us up and drove us out to San Bernadino.  We had the walkthrough and off we went.  The first stop, of course, was a Walmart to pick up supplies.  We had packed as much as we could carry in our suitcases.  Back then it didn't matter.  

1997 Rialta road trip.

We rented for a week and the idea was to try it in all of the conditions.  We first went to Big Bear in the mountains.  Everything worked great, we had a blast with happy hour and walk through the woods.  Went to bed and the next morning there was snow on the ground.  The heater thermostat had been set by a previous renter so we woke up to a nice warm home.  It had a built-in generator as well which we really liked.  Then we went to the desert and camped out stopping by to see an old friend.  A very good friend I miss to this day.  We spent two nights there and then off to the beach.  We stayed at a resort in Newport Beach where we were put with small travel trailers and popups. They said we couldn't park with the big guys.  A trip to remember.

I really don't like looking at old pictures of me, too many memories and then I get a bit sad.  I guess I'll get in the pool with a drink, that might cheer me up.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Virus Won't Stop Us

I've been behaving myself sticking to the rules.  I only go out for exercise on the road and have yet to encounter anyone.  But yesterday, enough was enough.  We had to do something.  So I pulled out the awning, set up for happy hour and we grilled a couple of very tasty steaks.  It was fun and the weather was nice.  Today however, it is 39C or 102F.  We may still go out there for a bit.  We are cooking dinner in the trailer so we don't heat up the house.  Everything is closed up and we limit our in and outs to keep it cool inside.  I'm sure we will turn on the A/C in the bedroom later to watch a movie.

More of the usual.  We don't use our awning ever.  I would say that in 10 years we have used it maybe five times.  It's windy wherever we go and the arms rattle on the trailer while you're napping.   Also, it can cause the trailer to rock in higher winds.  I always say I want to take it off.  When I rolled it out, it was practically stuck together.  Today I gave it a good washing with soap and bleach.  It looks better but it's time to either take it down or off completely.  

We're still waiting for the numbers to rise here.  We know that doctors and nurses have either contracted the virus or died from it so that is a good indication that the numbers are much higher than being reported.  They will be opening areas of the country in the next two weeks.  Monkey see monkey do.

I read the RvTravel newsletter both daily and on weekends.  This week Chuck said that Gary Bunzer who writes and vlogs about rving, has been in ICU.  Four weeks in the hospital so far.  I can't imagine the cost.  Juan's BIL has been hospitalized for three months now.  His kids pay for the insumos y curaciones (small disposable items, some minor pieces like the trachea insert and his diapers.  We offered to pay for the private nurse that keeps an eye on him during the day.  The kids take turns and each spends a night with him.  He's getting better but I we are not optimistic.  The good thing is that there is no charge for surgeries, room, meals and doctor/nurse care.  Can you imagine what that would cost in the U.S.?  Granted, it's not a private room and it's not the Hilton, but it's clean and seems to do the job.

I am very disappointed, highly upset, and almost jumped out the bedroom window!  We binged watched Making a Murderer.  The case of Steven Avery and his nephew Branden Dassey.  25 one-hour episodes.  We promised each other we wouldn't peek on the internet to see what the end result was and we weren't familiar with the case living here in Mexico.  I'll be damned we finished it today and the case has yet to be resolved.  I went berserk. Nuts.  Crazy.  

Until next time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

A Huge Thanks To Our Canadian Friends - Remembering April 14 2014

This was the morning we took off for our Canada tour.  April 14, 2014.  The trip of a lifetime.  We learned so much, visited a lot of Rver's we had met and some we hadn't.  We ate a lot and that included fish and chips, Copper River salmon, Mexican food, pizza on the grill, chile enogada, lobster and so much more.

Canada is a beautiful country.  We were shocked by the cleanliness and the beauty.  We talk about the trip all the time.  The longest RV trip we have ever taken and hope it's not the last.  The beauty of Vancouver Island, Kelowna, all of BC, Saskatchewan with its rolling hills and the fields of Alberta.  Our dip down into the states around the Great Lakes with the Mennonites, home-cooked meals, friends in Chicago.  We returned up through Detroit which was a shocking experience and then crossing into Windsor and on through Ontario.   The history of the First Nations, curling, and the first settlers.   Flying to Nova Scotia and seeing even more beauty.

A bit verklempt with the current shelter in place and seeing so many rvers still moving around in the U.S.  I know this will pass but again, we are grateful for all our Canadian friends and their hospitality.  Also, to remember my brother Steve and my SIL Michelle who rv'ed with us in Oregon for a week.  

One thing we would change, the time we spend there.  Next time, seven months. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

What Social Distancing Looks LIke In Mexico

Just one quick shot.  This is from grocery shopping yesterday.  A person comes out and keeps insisting we keep our distance and give us antibacterial gel.  Only 10 customers in the store, one in, one out.   At the check out there are stickers on the floor with an X that marks your spot.  People here have to be reminded because everyone knows everyone else in town and want to catch up.  

Men don't usually use the mask because it's not macho.  They are convinced it won't happen to them.  On television interviews, many people insist it is a plot against the Mexican president and destruction of the economy.  That's a laugh because most of the people out here in the country are not registered taxpayers so they know nothing about economies. 

At the HEB closer to Monterrey, it is much more sophisticated and everyone has on a mask or a shield and gloves.  Very strict rules compared to out here in the countryside.  

We hadn't received the electric bill yet so I dropped by the CFE.  Payments are made via an ATM.  It said, in huge letters, only one person enters at a time.  It was like old home week inside.  I finally had to go in otherwise people would have trampled over me.  I'm in line and two women say goodbye to each other with a kiss and a hug, no mask, no gel in the office either.  

As I was waiting, the only employee behind the counter said, "no touching the screen, use the bar code".  Well that doesn't always work and you need to enter your account number.  I was going to do that because I didn't have a new bill.  So I barked out loud what I wanted to do and she motioned me over.  I told her, "todos estan picando la pantalla, no tienen mascaras mucho menos guardian distancia" (everyone is touching the screen and no one has a mask much less keeping distance).  She smiled and laughed.  Sometimes I think we're all going to die. 

I did my exercise again today sticking to our road and left while it was dark.  I didn't land in the slammer but was ready to stand my ground.  I didn't see a soul in the hour and half of exercise.

Monterrey now has drive through testing for those that think they may be sick.  As we all know, numbers are increasing because of that.

Dingus said today in his conference that private hospitals are now taking patients with Covid.  Not true at all.  The private hospitals have agreed to accept patients with a small list of issues; childbirth, X-rays, endoscopes, hernias, in other words, minor things.  The Covid patients go to the social medicine hospitals.  Why do politicians have to lie?  They all do.  Democrats, Socialists, Republicans, and the list goes on.  One lie after another.  

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Baking Bread And Exercising

Always looking for things to do around the house.  Today it was baking bread, making a grocery list, exercising and watching news reports, international, from the U.S. and Mexico.

This sign appears frequently now wherever we go.  It says, "Dear customer, due to the eventuality that is affecting us at this time and following the recommendations set out by the authorities, we are obliged to close.  We will be in contact."  This happens to be our neighbor's furniture business and they employ about 12 workers, all of whom are out of work now.  Knowing our neighbors they are surely paying them something in the meantime.

Irish Soda Bread, easy to make and fast.  It's plain but good for toast and when freshly made before a meal, hot with butter.  I had a slice with peanut butter and it wasn't half bad.  I don't have any yeast in the house and tomorrow is shopping day.  Monday, we will have three days where no one is allowed on the streets and if stopped, walking, on public transit or by car, you need to have a pretty good excuse and some proof of where you are going.  We'll see how that works out.
On my walk, I discovered a couple of vultures up in the trees (hard to see with my cell phone camera) and I wonder what they were thinking.  They kind of followed me.  

I never peek around the corner of our house.  It is a dead-end street and forms a "T" and there are only two houses.  So with my new exercise strategy, hiding from the police, I am forced to take every turn.  This is the only bugambilia around these parts with this purple color. 

This is our road.  If anyone has been down it before, it has been in different states of condition.  This last repair has kept it in pretty good shape, going on two years now.  Today I saw no one.  Starting Monday, I will have to leave earlier while it is still dark.  9 laps, I'm learning more about what is around me.  

Presidential update:  I wish Margaret and Helen could write this, they would do a much better job.  Now that dingus has accepted the fact that the virus is real, he is thanking us all for being as he says, "good boys and girls" (dictator acting internally) by staying put.  Too little too late.  He bunged it up for everyone as the beaches and markets are full for Easter and people are all over the place.  Big cities not so much, but smaller towns, like ours, and beaches are hard to control.  What is said and what is happening are two different things.

People are dying the IMSS hospitals for lack of supplies.  During a live news report, a person succumbed to the virus and died on television.  He had not been tested but was on a ventilator.  Cause of death is being listed as Atipic Pneumonia, Not true and they are using that as a cause of death for many, many people so we know the numbers are being fudged.   Doctors all around the country in the IMSS system are catching the Covid and some have died.  This has become a bungled operation. 

You may have also heard that our communist friends from Cuba are here now assisting in the contingency.  Did you know we are paying Cuba $55,000 USD for each doctor while the Cuban doctor will only receive his normal $60 USD monthly pay?  That's how these communist/socialist dictators operate.  Scratch my back, I'll stretch yours.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Warned By The Police - Stay Home

As you know, we live in a very small town with a population of 8500 inhabitants.  I showed you the road where I exercise and do my 10km brisk walk/run.  It's 35 meters or 115 wide and at any given time there are 30 people on bikes or foot on the road that measures 10 km in length and there is no one living there as of yet.  They are planning new neighborhoods but construction is barely starting.

As the picture shows, that's pretty much how it works.  This morning, after the rain had stopped, I went out.  As I turned on to this road, a patrol car pulled up and a policeman with a mask advised me that from now on the road would be closed to exercise.  So that's that.  I will do 18 laps on our road which measures 650 meters one way. 

I turned around and headed back home but took a longer route.  I passed a total of eight people walking either to the store or exercising.  We are all aware of the issues and crossed the street when someone came in the opposite direction.  I know that outdoor rules apply because there are people without common sense.  

In Mexico, the problem now is accurate reporting.  Today our illustrious Messiah quoted the Pope and used Jesus as his salvation from the virus and his conviction to the poor.  He consistently quotes his favorite history lesson, the Mexican Revolution, which by the way has a specific article that prohibits religion and politics in the same sentence.  Well, he's a politician.  As of last Friday, he seized the 32 states' pension trust funds that protect government employee pensions.  I'm sure he will destroy that soon like everything else he has touched.  Venezuela here we come!  Numbers for the virus are low as they are counting many as Atipic Pneumonia.   

However, as you can see in the video below, some states are taking the virus into their own hands.  These tunnels in the Monterrey Metro area are mandatory if you want to use the subway or transfer from buses to the subway and major bus line transfers.

As an interesting side note and also newsworthy, the ultra-rich that are the families, friends, and relatives of the Venezuelan socialist revolution (Maduro's and Chavez' children along with those of other socialist cabinet members, have the penchant to spend time on islands off the coast of the country.  Well, the millennials headed to the islands with their papis money, flew in prostitutes from Europe, and partied for days along with drugs and alcohol.  They have now contracted the virus and have pissed off the followers of the socialist revolution who were not familiar with their leaders' proclivities .  Oh, those Latin American socialists.

Stay safe.  

Saturday, April 4, 2020

It's Never Been So Quiet

I just love this new retirement thing.  I've never worked so hard.  One thing I don't like about homeownership is maintenance.  It has to be done be it by someone else or myself.  

Like most things, once I get started I can't stop.  Just like restaining the baseboards.  Then it became the window seats, the front door, bases of wood furniture and the list goes on.  With the yard the same thing.  I have to cut, then trim, then blow the cuttings, empty out the mower bag, clean it, and so on.

I guess that's good.  

No outdoor pictures.  It has been raining but I've decided that if there is rain tomorrow, I will put on a poncho and find a place in the hills to walk.  I can't sit around the house and I won't be coming in contact.  We're also going to the grocery tomorrow so I'm like, not sure I can sleep I'm so excited.  

It has been so quiet except for the birds.  The chachalacas really wake you up in the morning and then once you're awake they go away.  Nature's alarm clock.  Like everything else, it's really not up to us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

How We Are Sheltering In Place

Apart from going nuts, we are finding ways to keep busy.  Without a gardener, there is plenty to do.  I cut a little grass, clean a little pool, do some inside housekeeping as well.  Even though we are not having public contact I am still doing my 10km brisk walk/run each day.  A couple of pounds have melted off which is better than doing the gym.  There are lots of tips and tricks for doing exercise at home.  I also do planking, seated planking, and pushups.  

There is more than enough food in the cupboard and it's a chore to keep away from it.  We do our grocery shopping during the senior (arghh that's hard to say) hours from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.  The same goes with pharmacies and banks.  

At the bank, we have to stand outside and it is one person into the bank and one into the ATM area if they are separate.  A bank employee stands guard with antibacterial wearing a mask and instructs everyone to maintain the six-foot rule. 

Supermarkets are pretty much the same but they are going to the extreme on cleaning the carts.  Many shoppers are using masks and disposable gloves.  We are using masks in all public areas as I believe it worked in China apart from their shelter in place.

This is where I am doing my exercise now.  I changed this week as the route I was on had too much litter.  This is going up in the hills but it is less stressful as the litter really burns me up.  As you can see in the picture, people keep distance as well as go around each other if and when we cross paths.

In Monterrey, all public parks, plazas and open markets are now closed.   You can see that when you get off the bus at major transfer points from other lines as well as the subway, you go through inflated tunnels where you are disinfected.  Our state, regardless of the federal government, is taking this very seriously.

The kitchen took quite a long time to get remodeled.  We only allowed one worker to do the job.  We took his temperature every day (along with ours) and asked him some basic questions about his home, wife and kids.  Working with concrete and block is always a mess but we got the house back in order as of yesterday.  Lots of dusting, mopping, vacuuming and touch up.  Cement flies when you're chopping it with an ax and chipping the old tile.  We did tile over tile using a special adhesive but you have to help it stick by chipping the bottom layer.

New tile, appliances, and the quartz countertop.  It may not seem like a big deal to those of you north of the border but for us, it's truly luxurious.  Shows you how we each take certain things for granted.  But it's done and we will enjoy it until the time comes to move.

We had received an email from our resort south of here saying they were closing.  I was insistent on calling them to see why, if we are landowners there, why we couldn't come down with the rv.  We called today and they have shut down all the services but there are people who live there fulltime.  No pools, tennis, clubhouse, the internet turned off to deter gathering, no water in public areas, and so on.

We got permission from the manager to park away from all services as long as we are self-contained.  We may take the rv out.  I have wanted to test drive it since I turned the hitch upside down to give a little more height off of the rear end of the SUV.  Sound fun?  Now the rains are coming.