Friday, March 30, 2012

Audience Participation Friday (8)

It's back folks!
Trips to Cancun and Power outages be damned, today I'm gonna draw some unicorns.

That's right.  Unicorns.  My reasoning is 2 fold:
I once read an article that said horses and hands were the two most difficult things to draw and master.  I want to take that on.
Our household has only one answer to any form of the question: How do I...[insert really anything here]?  And that answer is thusly: Magic, Rainbows, Unicorns... You know.

I'm pretty sure Fiance is sick of hearing my constant Unicorn references.  Nevertheless.  Would you like a custom unicorn drawing of your very own?  Here are the rules-

  1. Go here.
  2. Discover your unicorn's name (or your kid's unicorn's name, or your pet's unicorn's name.  I don't care, have fun with it).  Try not to weep in joy at how perfectly this simple exercise embodies your personality and existence into one beautifully described magical beast.  
  3. Post your unicorn's full name and poetic description in the comments. 
  4. I'll read the comment, and create masterful pieces of art*
  5. You return to this post later and I will have added a portrait of the mystical equine which represents the very essence of your soul.
  6. You have until Saturday at midnight central time to make the above 6 steps happen.
*Example of aforementioned Masterful pieces of art created by moi:
Heather Delightful Coat
Heather is a little monkey who is always getting into trouble.
She is a delight to be around,
and she climbs the mountains of the world.

 I should not be as amused as I am that my unicorn's name is Heather.

Yeah that's right, I'll even mess with the saturation and hue settings to make it look like it's in a rainbow.  Two for one!  What're you waiting for?  Get to clickin!

[EDIT] Here we go folks:

Helleborine Celestial Moon
(you're right Ajka, it does sound s bit like Hella Boring.  Ha.)

 Bluebelle Sweet Reigns
(her description made me think of a certain other unicorn...)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The F.S.S.

Getting ready for Cancun had one Midwestern gal-minded obstacle in the way:  It is March, and I am going to have to wear a swimsuit.

This doesn't have anything to do with thinking I don't look good in a swimsuit.  The fun part about Cancun is that I don't much care what all these strangers think about me, and hell, I just lost 10 pounds - I'm feelin' more or less okay about that to be honest.  No.  The issue is that going to Cancun required the First Summer Shave to happen months ahead of schedule.

Convention dictates that the ladies shave their legs.  Or if they really dig the pain, they might wax 'em.  Or they might experiment with chemicals that claim to burn the hair right off (I tried so many different types of Nair-like products in high school it's a miracle I didn't permanently burn my lungs from the fumes.  None worked.)  Or they might buck convention altogether and just let 'em grow wild.  I'm contestant number one on that list, and I suspect most of my lady readers are too.  Don't get me wrong, I like the way my gams look when silkay smooth.  I'll fully admit I'm just lazy.  But really, does anyone actually enjoy shaving their legs?
in a word... no.

I certainly don't.  If you're like me (don't lie, I know you do it too), when the season gets cold enough to put you in solid pants-everyday-territory, shaving your legs is the first thing to go straight to the back-burner on your priorities.  Which gives you more time to lather shampoo on your head just enough to make a sud-mohawk, sing along to the radio into the shower-head, bask a little longer in the new cranberry bubble bath you picked up, or just, you know, use up all the hot water while defiantly not shaving your legs.  But even while you kind of sickly enjoy the home-made leg-warmers you're rocking, you know that one day, that will all come to an end.  If you grew up in the midwest, you judge this phenomenon to roughly encompass months September through the following May, annually.

As you might suspect, in Mexico this timeline is skewed just a bit.  I never got to altogether stop shaving this year (is this TMI?  oh well, life of a blogger), but I didn't even see a chance to slow down until late November.  And now we're in March and... well I just haven't had enough of a vacation from it.  I find myself wondering just how much it could possibly hurt to pay someone to rip my leg hair out by the root.

...probably a lot.  I mean, even just when I do my eyebrows... ouchies.

So here I sat, the eve of our trip to Cancun, and I knew I had to have my First Summer Shave of '12.  The first summer shave is always the most epic shave of the year, because you have to re-tame your leg hair to behave in a lady-like manner.  It's time-consuming and painstaking.  And I'm going to make you re-live it right now.

I started running the water, I put a new blade on my "fancy" shaver (it's a knock-off Venus.  Thanks for that Mexico), and I got out a new can of lady's shaving gel with aloe.

Why is there a difference between men's and lady's shave gels?  It's mostly just the smells, right?  Here's a tip shaving gel company: I don't like when my armpits and legs smell different from the rest of my body.  And if I really want to smell like "rain-washed raspberries," I would buy body wash, or lotion, or body spray that smells like that.  So I could put it on my whole self and not smell like some weird smell-by-numbers gone wrong (also for the record, if rain-washed raspberries really smell like that, then rain-washed raspberries smell HORRIBLE).

Don't try to tell me the lady gel is for more sensitive skin.  My calf isn't anywhere near as sensitive as the spot of skin right under a guy's lip.  I want his stuff.  I want the good stuff.  I would also like, however, not to smell like the Old Spice guy.  Look at your man, now look at your legs.  They're not the same thing, but they can smell the same... erm, no thank you (you KNOW you just read that in his voice).

Where to start?  I guess my first impulse would be to scrap the whole project and instead I go back in time to genetically alter myself so that I was one of those fair-haired swedish type of gals, instead of rocking the norse "Broomhilde" type coloring I currently have.  Really, does it even matter if blonde girls shave?  I suppose from a texture standpoint it does, but if they miss a spot, no one will ever, ever know.  I'm stalling, knock it off and get down to business.

We have just a shower stall in this house.  Which means I can't put my foot up on the side of the tub to get a better angle.  We "solved" this by buying a tiny plastic stool.  It is just about the right height for a two year old to sit on it comfortably.  Which is probably good, as I think that is it's intended purpose.  What it's not real great for, is actually getting my foot to a height where my leg is then consequently bent at a good angle to de-hair it.  It is not meant to support the weight of a grown woman.  And it is not meant to be used in a slippery shower, and all of these things combined make me HATE the tiny shower stool.  But it's the best we got.  So balancing as gently as I can, I lather up and start outright.  Lower leg is always first.  Let's be honest, it's because that's totally the easiest part.

I can see the whole of my lower leg simply by turning my head a little bit.  And since I can see what I'm doing, the results are immediate and impressive.  I congratulate myself on remembering to pay a little extra attention to that spot right next to my anklebone.  Usually I forget exactly two hairs there.  But I got those suckers this time.  Smooth calves urge me on to continue.  To my knee.

It is inevitable that every-time I shave my knees I cut myself.  This - I... Ugh.  My only silver lining is making sure the blade on my faux venus is new enough that I don't actually feel the cut.  Since I can't wear my glasses in the shower (I suppose I physically could, but that would be stupid since they'd just fog up), this almost always ends poorly.  I think I'm doing fine, not feeling anything concerning, and by the time the damage is actually visible to me, my knee looks like a small scale (albeit blurry) reenactment of Custer's Last Stand.

This is the point I usually mutter something like "gah-wurrr-ohh-no" and stumble, sliding off that damned tiny stool, either falling completely or catching myself by grabbing the shower curtain and ripping it.  Yay home vandalism in the name of beauty.  I make a mental note that I need to start a world-wide trend for women to have fuzzy cuffs around their knees.  It's all the rage.  You all should try it.

(or just get rid of knees altogether.  Cheers to Forever 21l!)

After picking myself off the shower floor and salvaging what I can of the shower curtain, usually most of the epic war wounds on my knees have stymied, so I move on up the chain.  God help me I hate shaving my thighs.  Is it just me, or does hair on thighs grow in every. conceivable. direction?  I feel like I have to shave three different times going different ways to actually get results.  And who knows if I really am?  I am not from Russian contortionist lineage, so the hell if I can actually twist my head like an owl to see the backs of my legs.  Pfft.  I do what I can, hope for the best, and finally, FINALLY, call the game over.  That's as good as it gets people.

Until I get out of the shower, dry off, and start to apply lotion so I don't look like a crocodile.  Because that's when I'm going to discover the 1 inch patch of hair that I completely missed, and now I'll get to do the mental dace of whether to:
  1. get BACK in the shower, turn on the water, lather up and fix it properly, wasting whatever lotion I just put on
  2. dry shave it and inevitably end up replacing that patch of hairs with a patch of razor burn
  3. try to pretend it's not big enough to make a deal out of, and then spend the entire time I'm in a swimsuit freaking out that everyone else can see it and they're judging me for my inability to carry out such a simple task as shaving my legs
It's a horrible choose your own adventure I'm never quite able to elude.  But regardless of the choice (Ugh, number1 in this case), I'm still actually DONE within five minutes.  Mark one more First Summer Shave off the to do list.  And good riddance.

The important thing to remember about the F.S.S., is that after all that work and care you just put in, you're going to have to keep it up.  Which is really saying something if you manage to take you and your FSS legs to Cancun and burn the ever living crap out of them.  Ever try to shave your legs while they're sunburnt?

If by nothing you mean for a trip to CANCUN.  I'll live I think.

You might as well take a belt sander to those stems, and squirt some lemon on 'em after.  It's going to feel about the same either way.  So I... haven't.  Shaved that is.  Or taken a belt-sander to my legs I guess, if you were concerned.  Which unfortunately means inevitably I'll be repeating the F.S.S. again shortly.  Wish me luck.

I gotta believe I'm not the only lady out there that hates shaving.  
How do you cope?  Any horrific shaving debacles you can share?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anatomy of a Sunburn

Officially back from vacation and settled into the usual groove of life here folks.  We had a great time.

This photo should serve as proof that I survived, that we indeed did visit Margaritaville, and that I am ever so slightly embarrassed by the wicked sunburn lines I got by frying my face whilst also wearing giant sunglasses.

I think, sometimes, it is easy to push off the idea of a vacation in your head because you've got so much else on your plate.  It isn't until you're actually there and recouping from your everyday life that you realize just how much you really needed it.

We.  Really.  Needed. It.
And truly, when you live no more than a two hour plane ride from every spring-breaker's paradise, what in the world is stopping you from GOING, at least once?  We've already got plans brewing to go back at the end of the year if we can swing it.

Of course, I brought my sketch book, and I thought you all might like to get a glimpse into the exotic lands of Cancun.  Or at least the parts of it we saw anyhow.  Which is mostly just the other patrons of the clearly-not-for-Americans resort we stayed at.*

The first day we were there, Fiance made friends with the activities directors of the resort.  Because that's what he does.  Which is good, since they kept Fiance entertained while I did nothing but drink, float, and lay out.  Of course, the first activity they roped him into was a HORSE contest, and on his first shot he threw the ball on top of the roof of the building the hoop was mounted to.  Game over.  I was so proud.

This kid amused the snot out of both of us.  He was a little Mexican kiddo, maybe 5?  And he was just chubby enough that the shorts his parents put him in to go swimming gave him perma-plumber's crack.  Also he was just a super ham.  Kept us laughing all weekend.

I almost got caught by this couple.  I noticed the gal on day one pretty early on because she's the Perfect 10 that every other lady on the beach is bound to loathe.  Blonde, skinny, curves like woah.  Fiance tried to calm my under-my-breath digs by telling me her face wasn't so pretty.  Nice try.  I'm pretty sure if I had a body like that no one would ever notice my face because I'd totally wear the same itty-bitty crap she strutted all over the beach.

But then.  Then there was her boyfriend.  I think Fiance started getting the same type of envy I was having about his body type.  Folks, I have to go on record here:  He may have been muscular, but whatever he did to work out his pecks was NOT working for me.  He looked like he was smuggling oranges under his skin.  I couldn't stand it.  And thus, I referred to him as the orange smuggler for the duration of our stay.

The second day we were there, we noticed they weren't hanging off of each other in the lovey-dovey way they had the day before.  Our activities director informed us that this lack of affection may have had something to do with the Perfect 10 sleeping with someone else at the resort. 

I instantly felt cool to be included in the resort gossip.  And then I had to sketch them.  Toward the end of this sketch the Perfect 10 shot me a REALLY evil glare.  So either she figured out I was drawing them, or she thought I was making eyes at her orange-smuggling man.  I found the latter option funny considering her alleged lack of loyalty a mere 12 hours earlier.

What do you think about the Perfect 10 when you're at the beach?  

This man's name is Pinocchio.  Or at least that's what he told us.  He was a fairly grizzled old dude with a fantastic mustache and skin so tan it was truly leather.  He tended to join most of the same activities Fiance did, and so through their short interactions we gathered that he vacations in Cancun every year for a few weeks, and that he does such under a pseudonym every time.  This year's name was Pinocchio.  We don't know why.  We weren't sure we wanted to know.

This is a really good diagram demonstrating why Fiance will never, ever be allowed to spray paint anything in our home.  Let me 'splain.  We arrived in Cancun with a bottle of the spray-on sunscreen in a can.  I sprayed him down, he sprayed me.  Above is about what I looked like after day one in the sun.  You will note the patch on my forehead, completely missed my nose, stopped short of where my swimsuit hit on my front (I would have thought he'd pay much more attention to that area), a small spot on one side of my hip, and somehow managed to miss a two inch strip going down the front of both of my arms.  I don't even... he is perfectly tanned, thank you.
 I have come to the sad conclusion that I just don't tan.  
I am doomed to be a pasty white girl.  
Have you ever had a really ridiculous sunburn?  
Leave a comment, I need some commiseration here.

I saw this little girl on the last day of our trip.  She was playing in the sand on the beach with her grandpa.  The beaches of Cancun swarm each day with men wearing backpacks full to the brim with merchandise.  They approach the beach patrons and show off their wares; anything from necklaces to cigars to dresses, candies, and I'm pretty sure that one guy was selling fake IDs.  Anyway.  One of these men, selling beachy necklaces, approached the little girl and her gramps, and asked if she'd like a really cool  necklace made of shark teeth

Without missing a beat, this little one bared he teeth at him and explained that she didn't need one because she already had shark teeth, grr!  So the salesman turned to her grandpa, and before he could speak, gramps pulled out a set of dentures and said thanks, but so do I.  It was a great way to shut the salesman up, and I was amused.

Here are a few of the seagulls.  There was some interesting bird watching at the beach.  For me at least, I think maybe Fiance didn't care one bit, but at least he indulged me when I was pointing at them all.  There were of course, seagulls, who were more than happy to do reenactments of scenes from The Birds if you dropped a chip on the beach, but there were also some grackles that sang really lovely little tunes, pelicans, and my favorites were the Greater Frigatebirds.   The Frigatebirds (which, if you say it fast enough sounds like "friggin' birds!"  and thus amused me), can soar on wind gusts tirelessly for hours upon hours.  They feed by stealing from other birds.  But not must swooping in and taking something.  No.  They wait until the poor unsuspecting seagulls actually eat the food, and then somehow pin the bird and make it puke, stealing food straight from their victim's stomachs!  This made them not just friggin birds, but friggin Pirate birds, and I was amazed all weekend at the sight of them.

Actual pictures?  Yes please.  On the left, you'll note Fiance and I having a "discussion" about why he insists on holding my hand in every photo we take together in a manner that suggests we're about to go to prom.  On the right, you'll see that I won.  You'll also see the smug smile that denotes the five minutes prior to the picture being taken where Fiance noted "You know I can tell you really have lost weight.  You look good."  Hurrah.

  And this is a very drunk quick sequel to the basketball sketch, made while out that same night at Senor Frogs.  Fiance tried to make a toast.  He succeeded in breaking the beer stein he was holding.  And from that point on the waiters served us in plastic cups.  True story.

 Here we are outside of Carlos 'n Charlie's.  You... if you ever go to Cancun, you should go there for dinner one night.  It was a blast, and more reasonably priced than either Margaritaville or Senor Frogs.  My favorite part?
The tables are all covered in brown wrapping paper, which the wait staff use to write their names upon and introduce themselves. Of course I loved it because I could draw right on the table.

Our waiter's name was Angel.  So I wrote out a "thank you for the awesome service" note to him that gave us wings and halos.  (The words are hard to read, but in Spanish, it said:  Thank you Angel!  The food was delicious and the people were fun!  ...and you dance very smoothly.)
  I added the second bit about dancing right before we left because once Angel saw what I was drawing, he immediately grabbed me, and we danced.

This really unflattering photo is brought to you by my immense surprise at being pulled out to join the dancing, and the fact that about .3 nanoseconds later Angel sat me in a chair, blindfolded me, and gave me a lap-dance for all the patrons of the restaurant to see.  Except Fiance.  Fiance somehow managed to completely miss that moment with the camera.  I'm torn between being thankful and disappointed.

If you ever end up in Carlos 'n Charlie's, take a second to take a peek at their wall of customer compliments next to the bathrooms.  Because that sketch is definitely hanging up there now.

And that was Cancun in a nutshell (except the part where we went para-sailing.  Pictures aren't back from that camera yet... or that part where Fiance drove a really fancy car, but I didn't want to talk about it here because I know basically nothing about cars and he was too geeked about it for me to muck up the explanation here).  Can't wait for where ever our next adventure takes us!

Where was your last adventure?  Where's your next one?

*Our resort was a nice one (the Aquamarina Beach) but it is clearly set up for non-American use.  The resorts for Americans are all set up to play into the classic spring break paradigm that we all see on MTV, super fancy and everyone speaks perfect English and it's just a whole bunch of drunken debauchery.  There wasn't anything within walking distance like restaurants or shopping or attractions.  And besides one other group of four guys, we were the only Americans there.  But that worked for us, we had a good time, and we got to relax, and the resort staff seemed to really enjoy that we would speak Spanish with them.  All in all a super win.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Egg-Static About Egg-sotic Cancun

I'm sorry.  Puns, I know.

Tomorrow morning bright and early, Fiance and I will be on a plane bound for Cancun and a lovely all-expenses-included resort.  By this time tomorrow I fully expect to be in the sun, in a swimsuit, far away from anyone who I care about judging me for how I look in a swimsuit.  My main (read: only) goal is to affix myself to the swim up bar for the entirety of 4 days, only leaving once I have become so drunk and prune-like I might as well be a big flesh-bag of plum wine.  (Bad visual? Meh.)

Does this goal fall within S.M.A.R.T. goal guidelines?  Oh even yesser.

Fiance warned me last night that he's heard the airport is notorious for time-share sellers bombarding travelers with offers of fantastic adventure in exchange for a short presentation.  He warned me that I might have to be -le gasp- rude, to some of the more pushy salespersons.  While it is true I try very hard to be polite to all, I think his warning was really kind of precious for a few reasons:

  1. I have never once entertained the idea that I would be remotely interested in owning a piece of a time share.  And I mean ever.  
  2. Nothing about this vacation screams "adventure" to me.  It in fact, very quietly and peacefully has been whispering "relaxing escape" for the better part of a few months.  
  3. I want so badly to capitalize on every second of this trip where I will not be obligated to do anything but relax and spend some actual quality time with Fiance, that anyone who tries to take even a second of that from me by trying to convince us to impulse purchase/join a time share... that person will get to witness the full range of my ability to cuss in Spanish.
  4. I'm fairly certain just thinking about that possibility of stolen time makes me want to go HAH, and a HIYAH, and then a WOOOAH, and I'd Kick them.  

Rude.  Ha.  I will go she-hulk if that's what it takes.  Or just completely avoid any and all eye contact.  That'll probably work just fine.  But she-hulk as a back-up card.  For sheezy.

We had some preparations to make for this trip, and I'm just finishing them up today-

  • This morning, Mac and I drove out to the kennel where he'll be staying for a few days.  I like this place; the lady is willing to work slowly with my poor Spanish, she's not scared of Mac at all (in fact, when I dropped him off, she called him her "precious"), and instead of spending a bunch of time in a cage solo, she has an open space where all the dogs just hang out all day together.  Now, the quality of this is definitely impacted by the other clients she has at ay given point, but today when we pulled up there were a few labs and a boxer in the communal play area, so Mac's got some ideally-sized playmates, and he didn't think twice about wagging a happy tail g'bye before bounding into the fray.  It was a happy heart moment, since he's usually got a pretty pathetic "Sarah McLaughlin Look" to shoot at you when he's being left behind (YES I LINKED THAT HORRIBLE COMMERCIAL - DON'T CLICK THAT LINK IF YOU DON'T WANT TO CRY).

  • At the moment, I'm working on getting Bubs all set in the house and getting us packed up.  Bubs is no stranger to what it means when the dog suddenly disappears and the suitcases come out.  He's been lecturing me in his cranky kitty screams all day long about how rude it is to leave him all by himself in the house.  But it's that or leaving him with a vet office where he refuses to eat, like a jerk.  So he'll deal.
  • Along with all that, there was the most recent craft challenge that Mexico put forth:  dying Easter eggs.

I don't think I would have bothered to dye eggs if regular commercial egg dye was actually available.  I wouldn't have felt the need.  But do you know what?  Mexicans don't dye easter eggs.  In fact, the whole bunny and egg off-shoot of the season is really foreign to them as far as celebrating the holiday.  Easter is a much more religiously observed occasion here, and as such, perusing the easter decor aisle at Wal-Mart (a WHOLE lot of crucifixes), not one box of Paas dye was to be seen.  I took this as a personal assault, and vowed to dye eggs the super old fashioned way - with FOOD.

There are plenty of websites you could start this project from - if you decide to venture into the world of natural dyes, I suggest this one.  As I worked through my own process, I figured I would photo-chronicle some of what I stumbled into.  For amusement sake.   (Also, if you need tips about hard boiling eggs... this lady's got it DOWN.)

The eggs!  In a "mostly" before state.

The set up:  tuppies for dye, and two cookie sheets with home-made egg holders to dry

The dyes:  What you can find in the grocery store is limited a bit, so I went with what was available on that list linked above: Orange peels for yellow, spinach for green, carrots for orange, blackberries for purple, coffee for brown and chili powder for a rust color
Ready to boil!

Had to go in stages due to the number of pots available to me.

Cleaning off the eggs with a little soapy water before going into the prepped dyes is definitely recommended.

Pictured (L-R because I'm too lazy to rotate): Blackberry dye, Chili Dye, Coffee Dye

The carrot dye.  Which worked exactly 0%.  
A bummer considering how pretty the carrot juice stains are on my juicer.   
Those carrot eggs got split up and dunked back into the coffee or the berry dyes.

The lighter eggs are either the orange peel or the spinach dyes, but I couldn't tell you which is which.

One of the chili eggs.  The chili powder gave the eggs a really rough texture when they came out.  
All the other eggs were smooth, these were almost cat-tongue texture.  
The particular egg pictured, I discovered, has a crack in it.  So Fiance will be eating it, not me.  Just in case.

One of the articles I read suggested buffing the eggs with a little veggie oil to really finish 'em off. 
I can't reccomend this enough (except for the chili eggs, which couldn't be buffed due to texture). 
Lookit how pretty!

This is a comparison of the Orange peel yellow and the Spinach Leaf Green.  
I think the Spinach is on the right.  I'm not really sure.  Kind of disappointing.

The berry eggs turned out a very pretty purple.  

The coffee eggs.  Are by far.  My favorite.  I love the color, and the way the vinegar interacted with the coffee left these little speckles on each egg.  I think this is particularly funny because when we were at the store getting dye ingredients, Fiance was all "why don't you just buy a pack of the organic brown eggs and call it good?  Less work you know."  Less work INDEED.

Chili powder eggs are on the bottom, Coffee on the top.  
Similar in color, but you can see the texture difference in the picture.

And that's more or less the amount of which we will be celebrating Easter I think.  I had fun anyway.  A couple of parting thoughts regarding dying eggs this way:

  1. I didn't think to take a picture of the aftermath, but it took me 2 hours to wash all the dishes involved in making these eggs different colors, and I consider myself a pretty speedy dish-washer.  That may or may not make this project worth it for you.
  2. All eggs were in their dye baths for at least 2 hours.  I left the yellow and green eggs in for around 4 hoping they'd get a little brighter.  No luck.  
  3. No, none of the eggs taste like what they were dyed in.  Except maybe that chili egg with the crack in it.  But like I mentioned, I'm not eating that one, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Fiance will actually like that taste combo.
  4. I did all this on Monday.  About 24 hours later the dye on the berry eggs oxidized, and those eggs turned a muted royal blue color.  Very pretty. I would take a picture of that, but I kind of already ate them.  I am slightly like a Goanna around hard-boiled eggs.
  5. Coffee was not only the best outcome, but by far the easiest.  I am very tempted to dye all hardboiled eggs with coffee from here on out, if for no other reason than it will make it easy to distinguish between which eggs in the fridge are hard boiled and which are not.  
  6. With the multiple colors, this activity took for-flipping-ever.  Which is a bummer, because I feel like if there was any way to speed it up, it would make a cool kid-friendly project.  But I doubt they would have the patience for it.  Maybe a good date idea?  Get the eggs going and then share some wine and a movie?  
  7. For my first time with natural dyes I decided to skip it, but I've done a lot with wax-resist dying that I'd like to apply here.  It's easy enough- write on an egg with a white crayon or a chunk of candle wax before putting it in the dye.  The dyes won't stick to the wax.  It's a cool way to make designs or [hidden] messages.  

Are you dying eggs this year?  
What kind of process do you use?  
Any cool techniques you want to share?
Tell us about it in the comments!

And with that, I'm off!  I'll be back next week to [hopefully] make you all jealous over our trip to Cancun and that one time I punched a sales-person in the airport.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Ides of March

We lost power at the house last week. How did that happen, you ask?

  • Did the over-burdened power grid of Monterrey finally fail?
  • Did you blow a fuse and not know how to fix a Mexican fuse box?
  • Did the power company need to do some work on the lines?

None of the above.  We didn't pay our electricity bill.  

Before I get into my very grand list of excuses regarding why this didn't happen, let me assure you that after years of having a job description which included "holding students accountable for their own actions on a daily basis," I understand that actions have consequences.  I was just not aware they would be so swift, severe, and (in my opinion) disproportionate to the "crime."

We get an electric bill, to the best of our knowledge, once avery two months here.  To be honest, we're not really sure.  And when we started living here, we never really thought to keep track.  Some things are paid monthly, some bi-monthly, and others more or less frequent than that.  We very quickly adopted a system of "get a bill, pay a bill."  It seemed to be working well.

Unless the bill never crosses your path.  Then you might not pay the bill.  Let's just stop there.  I hate excuses, really truly.  We didn't see the bill, we didn't pay it.  That's the best I can give you.

So last Thursday the doorbell rang.  I went to answer it and was met by a man with a clipboard.  He asked for our landlord (because all the bills are in our landlord's name) and I explained that we live here but that's our "dueƱo's" name, and was there some message I could pass along to him.

The man with the clipboard said... some things.  I didn't catch all of them, but the end one was that I, for some reason, owed him a couple thousand pesos.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen; I have been having a hard time with Spanish lately.  Namely that I am at this spot where I constantly betray myself within conversations.  I understand enough to get basic gists, but never enough to get the important details within.  I can say enough with proper inflection and accent to sound like I am fluent, but I am quite simply, not.  And when people think you're fluent and you've understood them, it's really hard to go back and try to convince them they need to slow down or think harder about their word choices.

So I heard the pesos comment, and I resorted to Tactic B.  Tactic B is something my landlord and I have established where, if I have no idea what's going on and I think it might be really important regarding the house, I am to give the other party his cell phone number, they can call him, and then if anything needs to get back to me he'll dumb it down for me.  Otherwise he'll just take care of it for us.  As much as the landlord and I have some differences, this is a really helpful thing he does for us, and I am really thankful for his understanding when communicating with us.

Hence, I sheepishly smiled, and handed the man with a clip board our landlord's cell phone number and said "This is our landlord's number.  If he owes you money you should call him please."

I was promptly informed that he wasn't going to call anyone.  I was getting a vibe from him that he was really annoyed with me, and I was suddenly glad that there was an iron gate between us.  He rambled off a lot more very fast Spanish, again including that I owed him so much money, and this time I caught that he was talking about lights.  So I tried to focus on that.  Lights?  What about the lights?

"I'm going to cut them."  He was getting louder now and waving his arms at what I later found out was the power supply to the house.  I was really flustered, so I tried Tactic B one more time:

Having had some time to analyze this situation, it is the opinion of myself, Fiance, our landlord and our Mexican friends here that instead of taking my words at face value, the man with the clipboard - aka electric company employee - interpreted my statement thusly:

And thus he shouted something over his shoulder at the other man who was with him, and told me good bye.  

I shrugged and turned to go back upstairs to the house and shoot our landlord an e-mail asking him to help us figure out who owed who money.  I was pretty sure it had to do with electricity.   

I was more sure when, three feet inside the house, I was suddenly standing in the darkness, and I heard the man with the clipboard and his lackie drive away.

Here's a fun moment of panic:  How do you solve this problem if you are by yourself in a house that has no power?  You're not going to be e-mailing anyone, that's for sure.  And you're not calling anyone either, because the house phone is a cordless landline - the base has to be plugged in.  You could try your cell phone, but there are no pre-pay credits on it (Mexico doesn't do contracts - you get a phone and then you stop at a 7-11 each month and put a few pesos worth of texts and calls on it).  And you can't leave to PUT credits on your phone because the electric garage door is trapping in Dora.  After about a half hour running through my available options I finally busted out Fiance's emergency only phone: the cell phone from the states that will cost metric butt-tons of money to place a call on, but the only functional phone left in the house that I was now literally trapped in.  (And yes I've learned my lesson - that stupid pre-pay Mexican cell will never run out of credits again.)

Fiance calmed me down and his company was lovely in helping sort everything out.  They went to the electric company directly and got our bill paid no more than an hour after the power was cut, they hounded the company for updates about when our power would be back on, and they even helped me figure out how to manually open the garage (though you could only do it from the inside, so if I left I'd have to leave the garage wide open.  I only left to put credits on the cell at the 7-11 less than a block away).  Through said Mexican friends, a few interesting factoids came out:
  1. Our bill was two days overdue.  TWO.  Not only did they just about double what we owed through late fee penalties, but they cut our power after a measley two day grace period?  Where in the states does this happen?  (see above regarding our theory that the man with the clipboard thought I was punking him) ((see also: I'M PRETTY SURE NOWHERE IN THE STATES DOES THAT HAPPEN.))
  2. All of the Mexican people who helped us with this had one initial question: Why didn't I give him a couple of pesos and tell him to go away?  Because I didn't have the couple thousand pesos on me that he said I owed, was my response (also I didn't really know what was going on).  Apparently if you owe a bill here and someone comes to collect, you can pay them off to go away with just a few pesos and buy yourself time to figure out a plan.  Good to know, though I'm not planning on skipping any more bills.
  3. Someone at that electric company holds a grudge over this situation.  We were without power at the house from Thursday morning until Saturday afternoon.  So much for the cheese in the fridge and pretty much everything in the freezer.
  4. The security system for the house runs on a backup battery (thank GOD).  But when that battery starts to get low, the system will let you know by beeping.  Constantly, loudly, and shrill-ly.  An unfortunate thing to happen when it's raining outside so you can't escape the sound.  Mac had a rough couple of hours before that sorted itself out.  I had a rough couple of hours listening to both the alarm and Mac.

Ugh.  Long story short - YOU WIN electric company.  

I spent two days bored out of my wits.  But more than that I spent two days wildly swinging between being really upset with/ down on myself for missing the bill, and rabidly seething at the man with the clipboard for being such a gigantic bag of dog crap.  There may be sketches in my sketchbook depicting a series of horrible demises for him.  They may involve him actually being an anthropomorphized bag of dog crap and being lit on fire on the electric company's porch.  

But if those sketches did exist I'm not about to share them here and prod the wrath of the electric company any further, because if I learned anything from this, it's how unbelievably necessary electricity is for me to sanely live my life here.  

There are bigger problems in the grand scheme of things, I know.  But that was last week's small personal tradgedy, so there you go.

Have you ever had a "you don't know what you got 'til it's gone?" moment?  What was it and how did it happen?  What was the first thing you did when you got said thing back?

...I may have danced with the dog while shouting "We have POWER!"

1.    We're going to Cancun this week!  Thursday to be specific, so  there will be no Friday blog and Monday's will probably not happen until Tuesday.  Sorry about that, but I am really excited to install myself at the swim-up bar at the resort for four days straight.

2.  Dreaded 29 Update:  Holy hell I've made it to -10, only 19 more to go!  Woo-sah!