Raining on My parade

The weather in Tulum and all over the Rivera Maya is a totally new experience for me. Sort of.... I am originally from Portland, OR -known for its ridiculous amount of rainfall and grey cloudy days. Then,Spokane, Washington with the most 4 season system I have every seen. There is extreme hot (110/) in Summer) and extreme cold (-15 in winter) The fall and winter were very rainy in Spokane!!!!Then it was off to San Francisco where the weather was remarkably like Oregon. There were a lot of overcast, foggy days and a lot of wind and drizzle.

And now I live in the tropics where the back of my house sits against the rain forest and all its fun inhabitants. (Both sarcasm and not meant here!)

I have often said how much I love the rain here and I do. I love the feeling of being warm and feeling warm fresh water fall from the sky. it blows in fast and hard and usually comes and goes. Often when coming in as fast and hard as it does our street gets a little flooded. But oh well.

Well, YESTERDAY!!!!! Oh WOW- There was thunder and lighting for hours. Akilean woke up at 5:00 and just was awake! not upset -not scared- just up. Thanks you for that!

We sat up for the next few hours and listened to the storm which at times was very scary sounding. ti sounded like the earth was going to open.

The rain came in a few hours later and boy did it come in. It did not take long for our street to flood. I looked out side and saw that our garbage can was floating away. After a quick rescue I was soaked. I went to the back yard where things were even worse.

Our back patio has a lip from the kitchen so it would have to have at least 7 inches of water in the backyard before cresting into the house. As we only had about an inch of safety left, I ran out side to make sure that drain was not blocked by the fallen jungle leaves.

The water started to go down but it was re flooded a short time later. It turned out to be quite the project to keep all the leaves clear on the drain but we managed.

The kids of course just LOVE to swim in the rain. They love to swim all the time but especially in the warm tropical rain.

But now we have a new problem. The sheer amount of jungle creatures that are finding their way into y home. there were many frogs in my grass, tons of cockroaches all over the house, spiders that I have never even seen before, and the mosquitoes are going to send Ruben right over the edge.

As I was walking to the store last night I had no choice but to drudge through 9-10 inches of water because there was no way to get thorough. When my friends poked their head out of their doors with smiles on their faces and laughing at my situation- I said "ah well, es Mexico! and sitting under a palm tree on the beach is soooooo worth this."

A True Memorial Celebration

Well, sorry for the hiatus. I have been in the USA for my grandmother’s funeral service. I must say that although it was for a sad occasion and there were many hard and sad moments, the service and the visit with my family was really wonderful.

The biggest regret was that my little brother Kevin could not be at the service. He is wrapping up his 3rd tour in Iraq and was not able to get leave. I really wish he could have been there and he was really missed. My dad was there as was my oldest brother Craig with my 2 nephews and it was really nice to see them after such a long time and my other brother Ryan and his wife Amme. All the kids got to stay grandma's house and most of the time everyone else was there setting up or cleaning up or just hanging out.

My Aunt and Uncle that live in Fresno were around a lot really doing everything and we were trying to help where we could. And my aunt is one of those genius event throwers.

We spent all Friday setting up, cleaning things, arranging stuff. And then there was plenty of time to hang in the pool. Now this pool has so many memories for me and my brothers. This was the site of countless splashing games, whirlpools creations, wrestling matches and crying fits for years. It is also known a bit as being a spot that people tend to get pushed in. (This is a favorite game of my family)

It was really cool to see my brothers and my nephews, even my uncle and Dad at one point, all playing and enjoying themselves in the same way 20 years later. It really was a nice way to bring to a wrap-up , a lot of the experiences that we have had there.

That night my sister in law Amme Standring whom I ABSOLTLY LOVE! (She is truly a rock star) took me with her to get some of the last items that we needed to pick up for the memorial when we heard a little band playing in the parking lot of the local outdoor shopping center. We stopped off to get some wine at a little place called the Patio Cafe. We ordered a flight of red wine and a goat cheese appetizer. The flight came out with about twice the wine I was expecting. I am not complaining but for $9 I certainly feel I got my moneys worth.

It was so good. We sat there for a while and enjoyed our snack and listened to the band. We had no problem taking care of that wine though!

The next morning was what you would expect. We all got up and started to do the last few details around the house before guests arrived and also got ready ourselves and then it was off to the service.

I do not know if it was inappropriate but I took some pictures with and of my family members and even again later at the memorial celebration. I hope that no one thought that was wrong of me. I recall my memories through my photos and when I look at my old photos I remember the events more clearly in my mind.

The service was okay during the arrival process when guests were coming in and signing her book and sitting but once the minister started to speak I had a really hard time. You know that feeling when tears fall from your face so fast it puddles when you blink? Well, that was me. I was attempting to hide behind these almost see through blue glasses and by now drying my eyes was pretty useless.

Pastor Jack from my cousin Bob Standring's church did an amazing job. I have differing views on religion then my Catholic husband and Christian (even if loosely) family tending more towards Buddhism including the idea of reincarnation. I was so thankful that the words that he spoke reflected my views and feelings as much as anyone there and that was so appreciated. It was a beautiful service. My Dad spoke as well and that was really nice.

The service at the house was exactly what it was supposed to be... a celebration of her life. Her beautiful garden that she took so much love and care in was the perfect backdrop for such an occasion.

Her gardner and friend Alejandro came and it was great to see him. He had given me a Mexican cook book when I was in town a few months ago and was such a wonderful person to my grandma. She absolutely loved her yard and they had worked together for the past 10 years.

Many of her friends came and it was really wonderful. Every one was so nice and had such wonderful things to say about my grandma. It was really touching. They all had fun stories to tell and memories to share. It really was a wonderful afternoon. I must take a moment to thank my Aunt Nancy and her wonderful friends who set everything up and helped everything run smoothly. We could never have done it- especially as beautifully - as they did for us. Thank you so much Nancy, Jeanie (sorry if spelt wrong) Carla and I am so sorry but I do not know that last women's name.

Once everyone had left we all just sat around outside and talked and hung out. It was really nice. There was one point that my brothers managed to get all the forbidden items away from my dad in preparation for throwing him in. As they lifted him to go to the pool he instantly grabbed the belt of my aunt Nancy. Nancy is not the wet kind of lady. Everyone knew that it was going to be bad if she got wet. That is what my dad was counting on. My Uncle Brad, knowing that it was going to be very bad if Nancy got thrown in the pool danced around helplessly trying to get them to stop. Finally, my brother Craig, starts to try to help Nancy but not before my uncle brad resorts to tickling Craig to try to get him to stop. It was a pretty funny moment. I am just so lucky that it was all caught on video. :) Sorry Brad!

The next day was nice, we had a light breakfast at Nancy and Brad's for father’s day and just hung out for most of the day. Jeanie had us over for dinner that night and it was wonderful.

Monday was interesting. My dad and Brad picked me up at my grandma's house where I was now staying all by myself. It was strange sitting in the kitchen where I had so many times with my grandma and drink coffee all by myself. But it was fun to look around at all the cool memories and photos and trinkets. I even took a little bottle of my grandma's perfume. You can find it at any right aid or Walgreens. "It's not georgio, its Primo" Or maybe the other way around. But it is my grandma in a bottle.

I went with dad and Brad to visit my great grandparent’s gravesites. Nearby is also a number of other family members so we ended up visiting many family members and it made my Dad and Brad remember a lot of old stories and that was really fun.

I spent the afternoon getting all of the little thing that I needed to bring from the states. Some underwear as always, shoes and some spices. I also went to this little store and got a bunch of little toys for the kids. We were most excited for the water balloons, water guns and kites. I mean, I bought really cheap stuff so I am sure that it will break but oh well.

I have never felt so far away from home

My grandma was moved into a private room yesterday afternoon and I was so lucky that I got to talk to her for a moment. She was not able to speak but I could hear her breathing. I know she could hear me. After I spoke with her I just sat at my computer and listened to all of my grandma's favorite songs that she liked me to sing. Every time I saw her she always talked about how much she loved me voice and would start naming songs for me to sing. We had a different relationship because I was the only girl in my generation. My grandma was the only girl in her generation- she had 2 sons - and I was the only girl born. I always loved that special bond.

My grandma loved musicals. Not nearly as much as my grandpa- he was obsessed with them. But she always loved hearing me sing -especially show tunes. Some of my favorite memories of my grandma were from when she would ride up to San Francisco with the ladies from her Fig Garden group to see a show in the city. My apartment was only 2 blocks from the theater and she would always get me a ticket. I was a theater Arts major in college and my favorite shows in the world are musicals.

Together we saw Hairspray, The Producers, Grease, Rag Time and there was another one but I cannot remember. I wish I could have taken her to Wicked. She would have really loved that show. I remember she always kept asking me to move to Fresno to live with her. She kept telling me what a great theater they had. A women from Fresno had a large role in the Tony winning production of Ragtime!

Although moving from San Francisco to Fresno was not in the cards, I loved going to her theater in Fresno with her. We must have seen 3 or 4 shows there together. The last show we saw there together was actually the week that I found out I was pregnant. I had found out in June and went to visit my grandma. At this moment- no one except Ruben knew that we were pregnant. We went to see a show and she, like usually was smoking in the car. I held my head out the window trying not to be to obvious. It was not until she finally quit these past 2 years that she understood smoking around kids and non smokers.

I went to the Target in on Shaw and bought "What to expect when you are expecting" I remember her asking me if I was pregnant. Of course I said no- but she knew better. I got to have a wonderful visit with her and my kids right before I moved to Mexico. My kids were very good at her house and while we were there I told them how much grandma great LOVES little ladies and little gentlemen. Even months later, Akilean will say to me "momma, I am a little gentlemen, grandma great likes that."

This last visit in April will remain for me one of the best memories I ever had with my grandma. It was for 5 days that we got to just hang out the 2 of us. We woke up each morning and I made coffee for us. 2 scoops of decaf with hazelnut and 2 scoops regular. My grandma had one of those old percolator coffee pots. These are the ones that you make in the pot and then you can bring the whole carafe to the table and it keeps it warm. She had one when she was first married and after many years it finally broke. She got a new coffee pot- the typical one and she hated it. She got rid of it and found herself another percolator one. I loved waking up, sitting at her little table and chatting about the neighborhood. She had fully turned into that little old lady that looks at and wonders who that truck belongs to and what it is doing there. I loved it. We spent so many mornings bleeding into the afternoon just sitting and sipping coffee. Not just on this trip but on morning I spent there.

On the first full day there we had a wonderful dinner. I went over to Whole Food and got a bunch of cheese and bread. Her favorite one was a Petite Basque sheep's cheese. It was really good. Grandma did not eat too much these days but she loved that cheese plate. We ate on it for a good few days.

Another day we went out to one of her favorite Mexican restaurants. This is also next to one of her favorite antique stores where we have found so many treasures. On one of my tips here we went to the back warehouse area and found a box of frosted glass oriental bird paintings and frames that were coming detached. They were only a $1 each and you could tell that when cleaned up they were going to be really beautiful. She remember how much it matched the design of the desk we bought together and she thought we should get some. I have them in the USA ready to come down. I cannot wait to have them on my wall. This is also where I bought my Aztec calendar.

I have been looking at the pictures of my grandma's house and her yard. She had such a beautiful yard. her gardener, Alfredo, has been working with grandma for 10 years and has done such a great job. And he really cares about my grandma. While I was there he came to say hello to her and he brought her some chocolate. She LOVED them. The dark chocolate were her favorite ones. He also gave me a beautiful cookbook. I was going to mail a thank you card to my grandma to give to him. Hopefully she was able to tell him how much I have been enjoying it.

My grandma has these beautiful pictures all over her house. My favorite is the one of my grandfather in his army uniform when he was very young. And the one that she has on her bed side table. It is a picture of her from when she was young. She has always been so beautiful. This is the last moment that I had with my grandma. As I left that morning I told her that I could not wait for her to come and visit me. That we were going to salsa in paradise. She is laughing about that in this photo.

We did talk in a dream scenario of her coming to Tulum to visit. We both knew that it was not going to happen but it was fun to talk about. Ruben wanted her to live with us so bad. He got such a kick out of her. He loved to debate and listen to her on political views. He thought that she was really wise. I even walked into them discussing illegal immigration and I left that conversation pretty quick. They had a good time.

I got to spend Easter with my grandma and my Uncle Brad. We went to this great little place my grandma had seen and we ate eggs Benedict. It was great. The next day she took me over to her favorite consignment shop where they only sell high quality brands and we got some great cloths for Mexico. She was so excited. We made some major scores. There was this one skirt that she simple would not let me not take and then there were some she was like, "no you do not look good in that." You gotta love her bluntness. I did love it anyway.
When my grandfather died my cousin and I sang Grandpa, tell me about the good old days. That is so much what my grandma reminded me of. I really started to appreciate it more as I was getting older. My grandpa's favorite musical was Les Miserables. My grandma asked me to sing a song from it for my grandpa's service. It was On My Own. It was very hard to get all the world out.

I have been sitting here listening to a few songs that make me think of grandma.

My grandmother is dying

It has finally come to begin that my grandma will be leaving this lifetime and beginning her next cycle of life. it is strange that no matter how much we have prepared for something like this, how much it hits us. My grandmother just celebrated her 80th birthday.

I remember back in Feb. 1998 when I got the call from my oldest brother Craig. I could tell from his voice that something was not right. I mean, my brother - at that time in our lives - calling me at all alerted me to disaster. I prepared myself in that one breath to hear that my grandma had died. My grandmother had failing health for years and she smoked like a fiend since she was like 12. You can imagine the cartoon image of my jaw slamming to the floor when I heard that it was my grandfather that had died.

I had not prepared for that possibility at all. For some childish immature reason it just never dawned on me. I never saw him very sick.

Over the next many years my grandma went back and forth in health. I got to spend a lot of time with her because I was no only living a few hours away in San Francisco. For the next 10 years my grandma championed on. I am so proud of how much and how hard she fights and is still fighting today. For now.

She always finds such joy in the little things. Antiques and rummage sales were a favorite. She does have a crazy knowledge of glass and ceramics. When and by whom things were done or reflective of. She could tell what was in fact a real treasure under years of tarnish and she just loves finding it. I love calling her and asking her what to use on certain stains or silver and such. Just today I needed to polish Ruben's sommelier tasting cup he wears around his neck and I wanted to call her and talk to her. I thought hard and then remembered, if she were able to speak she would tell me to use toothpaste. I remember that now. It looks beautiful.

I remember 1 time I went to an antique store with her in one of her favorite little areas of treasure and I found this beautiful hutch desk with an intricate carving of Japanese figures and cherry blossom trees. It had a fold down top and 3 drawers. It was so beautiful. It was the first piece of real furniture I had ever bought. I paid $300 for it and I love it. When we opened it up to get a better look we found a receipt for June 1967 for some florist in Michigan I think - it was for 6 corsages and 4 boutonnieres. I thought probably for a wedding. I still have that receipt in the desk.

There are stories behind everything in Grandma's house. Whether how she got it or where it came from. And there is a ton of beauty and some quirky stuff. I got to have such a wonderful visit with her when I was in the USA in April. I went over for 5 days and it was just her and me. It was great.

My grandma has the most beautiful garden. My grandpa had always loved gardening and my grandma really did a beautiful job after my grandpa died. I already miss seeing it and I was just there.

Grandma, I miss you and love you and hope that you are peaceful and comfortable. I will see you soon.

swimming in a rainstorm- and saving the laundry

Anyone who lives in the Yucatan peninsula knows that the rain here comes in fast and it comes in hard. There have been countless times that m cloths have been have been hanging on the line and suddenly a downpour. One thing that I do love about this is how great it makes the cloths smell. But after having the same set of cloths on the line for several days, not able to get dry I was determined to beat the rain cloud and get my cloths off the line. The kids and I ran to the back and frantically started unpining. We could tell by the cloud that this was going to be a really big drenching. And it was.

The water that fell first hit the roof top and rolled off making it down right HOT! It actually stung just a touch, probably more out of shock then anything but oh well. The kids wasted no time jumping naked into the pool while the rain came beating down on them. First of all they simly LOVE getting in the little. They are in it all day and all night. It is great. But they especially love playing in the rain here. So the pool and the rain... that is just paradise within paradise!

We got a little traped in our house becuase by the time we got the cloths off the line and the kids out of the pool the whole block was flooded. We hung out for a whle and then decided to trudge and get through somehow and head over to Juan and Georgia's house so the kids could play. But the time that I got back we found a little friend in our house. Anyone who knows me knows that I have has a thing for frogs and turtles my whole life. It was really cute.

The kids were dying to keep the frog but alas, the frog had to go home to his family. It was a really cute little frog but that was the first time I have ever had to get one out of my house. We found one living in the wheel of our cooler once and that one was really cute but smaller.

I wonder what we will find next time. :)

the kids new pool

Well, the kids finally have a new pool that, even better is finally full of water. This is the 3rd pool that the kids have had. The first one, a cheap blow up pool lasted maybe 2 weeks. It was also our first lesson in the difference between having a little blowup pool in the USA vs. in Mexico.

The first thing we found out is that the quality of things here is sooooooooo much lower then that in the USA. Certainly not on everything, but the things in our price range are all very poor quality. In the states you got better stuff for your money. The next thing we figured out was that there is almost no day that you do not go into your little pool. It was not even summer when we found this out.

After that pool had hit the trash can we bought the non blowup pool. This one has semi hard sides that are held up by the water on the inside of the pool. Well, that means that the pool itself needs to be on a steady level surface and that is hard to find. It did not take long for the sides of this pool to get a crack in it allowing for the water to slowly leak from the side. This would not have been too big of a deal except the water pressure in our back yard is so bad that it takes about 6 hours to fill up the pool so water goes in about the same speed as it comes out.

We finally got a new pool for the kids. We wanted to get the kids the better blowup pool and with the devastated economy here right now due to swine flu we really could not buy anything. At the same time we are not going anywhere because of money so being stuck at home. With no pool in the throws of summer it was getting pretty miserable. We swallowed the pride and emailed the family back in the states. Grandma and Grandpa Standring came through and sent the money for the new pool. The kids are thrilled. And just to be extra safe (lets face it - this one is going to break too - it is just a matter of time.) we put the new one into the old one. I hope it lats at least for a while.

Speaking of grandparents I am so excited that my step dad has finally finished his big case. He is a lawyer in San Diego and has been working his ass off for this case and it is finally in the hands of the jury. So I guess that is not really finished yet, but... at least there is nothing he can do now. I am really hoping that they get a chance to come down and visit soon. The kids just light up when they see or talk to Grandma and Grandpa Rockwood and my world changes for the better every time I talk to them and even more so when I get to see them.

My momma was going to send me a care package from the states. Just some coffee, some of my all time favorite spice in the world Pappy's and some Thai chili sauce. the package all of a few pounds was going to cost $125 to send here. I told her to wait and just get a ticket for those kind of prices. They were really nice and sent us some money and I was able to buy my bike which made me so happy. I just cannot wait for them to get here. I hope that it will be soon.

Just a quick one

I am so excited that that things seem to be going really well. Ruben loves being a sommelier at Dreams Tulum and it is something that he is really good at. Anyone who has met him knows that he is definitely that hot Latin lover looking kind of guy, and when he comes up in his great suit with his large wine medallion I just love it. I love that he is actually doing something he really has an interested in. We used to love to go to wine country when we lived in San Francisco and in fact had our honeymoon there.

Then there is the other exciting news that I am going to be writing for www.todotulum.com. This is the one of the largest and most popular website in Tulum and they are wonderful partners with so many great businesses. And I get to do something very similar to what I am doing for my own project www.TulumLiving.com. Ad even better, they are really happy about what I am doing with my website and see it as a valuable service for Tulum so there is no conflict of interest.

And I am getting more responses to my babysitting in Tulum and that is great. I love to do it and it is a great way to make some money. And I love the idea of a couple having a magical dinner in paradise- on the beach- in the moonlight- WITHOUT the kids.

We got to stay at a very beautiful lace on Tulum Beach called Millamores, formally Casa Magna. This is Pablo Escobar's old place and it was amazing.

With the growth of some great new friends and some really positive out looks- and just feeling at home here. We are so happy right now. I know that I will not be happy every day all the time, but I am so thankful that it has been so much more often.

Tulum is good. I am bummed I have been so busy to post stuff but trust me... we have been having so many good days that when I do... it will be worth the wait.

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