Monday, October 24, 2011

My Great-Granddaughter Brianna


Went I planned my trip to Calgary in the spring, it was with the hope that my timing would coincide with the birth of my great-granddaughter. No go. My granddaughter Rebecca kept being late and I had to come back to Mexico and await the news. Brianna was born 10 days after my return. Poor timing on my part…

Then, after Brianna was born, my iffy Telcel ISP kept interfering with my receiving or downloading any file of importance. Understandably, as we all do with a first child, there were photos galore. Rebecca, my only grandchild, was not content unless she’d send me upwards of 75 pics. No go in getting any of it. I had to find a way.

Well, a few are better than none. My son just sent me by email the latest pics of Brianna. She’s almost ready to crawl at 6 months of age. Isn’t she a cutie?











Pretty hard to conceptualize. My son is a grand-daddy! Brianna seems to enjoy the thought. . .

Clear and Present Information

Yesterday, I got an email from someone who said that readers would feel more of a connection if I showed a recent photo together with my name. My published photo dated from 50 years ago. I thought that perhaps I was short-changing my readers and published my recent passport photo. But just overnight. A comment by Tesaje made it obvious how that move made me feel vulnerable, almost coerced into doing something that went against the grain. I removed it, as well as my old one. Another factor that to me is more important than the way I look or did, is that I'm doing something that requires courage, determination, and more youth than one should possess at my age. So instead of being frozen in an image that is 50 years dated, or a present one that does NOT represent my true nature and character, I thought I'd do away with a picture frozen in any time at all. As to my name, which is an ancient French name, I've gone all my life by a nickname that would be associated with one very young and elfin like Audrey Hepburn. I am neither one nor the other. So please accept my decision to be portrayed by what I do, not by what I look like. I reveal myself with raw honesty in my words and my deeds. I hope it will suffice. Besides, I do gaze at the stars and here, where no street or city lights interfere with the darkness of the night , they sparkle as millions of diamonds in the night sky. I never tire of it.

I have changed the way of viewing the archives. They now begin with the oldest down to the latest. I moved on my lot in February 2010. I’m still in the RV; it will probably be my “home” for months to come. I realize that I haven’t toured much around and reported on it. But it will come when I have a car or van.
Back in January 2010, when I’d decided to move from Tequis to Oaxaca, it was with the idea of contacting a family of artisans living in Teotitlan del Valle, some 17 km from the city of Oaxaca. They had been introduced to me by the family son who lived next to Yuma, AZ, on the Mexican side. He had insisted that I would get help from his dad in finding a lot on which I could live in my RV while paying for the lot. On the very day just prior to my leaving for Oaxaca, some compatriots showed up at my casita on Juarez and invited me to dinner at their home in Santillan.

I went, detailed my plan to go to Oaxaca and was asked “… why go all the way to Oaxaca? There’s one lot right here for sale!”  The transaction was agreeable to both seller and buyer and that’s how I ended up boondocking on my lot for one year during which I paid for it. At the time of the purchase, I knew nothing about ejido lands. Didn’t know that they were unserviced lots and that much effort and money would have to be spent first in getting water, second that electricity was not a given. However, the 3 families belonging to a religious group had secured all this at considerable expense and one of them had a 15KVA transformer on his lot to which I’d hoped to get connected eventually…

Many attempts were made by one after the other of the members of that group to convince me to join their church. In vain. What I hadn’t known when I bought the lot was that their goal had been to develop a compound grouping members of the same religious persuasion. But I remained adamant in my resistance to join them and slowly became persona non grata. Particularly since I was told that I was in cahoots with Satan, being an astrologer. This meant that I would be isolated, a definite problem given that I have no vehicle. Fine… I thought. No sense crying over spilt milk. I’ll use public transportation and I’ll make other friends. I did.

Let me explain a bit about ejido lands. After the Mexican Revolution, land that had been kept in the hands of a few while most of the native population was forever indebted to the rich owners of haciendas and ranches was redistributed. The seized lands were meant to help the native workers farm FOR THEMSELVES and were thus divided up with the very specific goal of agriculture. Each area was and still is governed by a group of people called ejidatario. The sale of any lot was and is subject to the approval of this governing body, and requires every member’s approbation to convert the land into residential lots. This is the story in a very condensed nutshell.

I had to make the best of it and honestly, I was quite happy with my living conditions, hard as they were sometimes. I was consumed with learning Spanish and did so in order to get information first hand. There has been a mini-boom in construction around me, all by Mexican nationals, and we are soon to number 7 families wanting electric power. Electricity in Mexico is governed by a federal agency with a certain latitude given to individual states. In Querétaro, I hear that a minimum of 10 families is required to apply for power, the costs of which will be shared by each one. The 3 families who had their private network have been subject to very high consumer fees, some 10 times the normal cost. It appears that they might want to join our group to make up for the minimum of 10 families. All this is an ongoing saga. I will post any new development as it occurs.

I received all kinds of information and counsel from expats and from Mexicans. Often they were contradictory and I still have to separate genuine information from personal opinions. This is why, after listening to many, I opted for drawing my own house plan along Mexican standards. It made sense to me since I live in Mexico. I also want to be a part of the local population as a full-fledged participant. I have nothing against ivory towers, only as an ornament. I have no wish to live in one.

The bottom line is that I’m happy. I have my three dogs, and even though they can be a pain at times, they are equally fun to be with. I love them and love having them. I have genuine friends whom I would trust with my life. Since I have never yearned after riches, I’m satisfied with my pension and will accomplish my goal to one day live in my own personally designed house. Without any mortgage! I admit to having a certain pride in this.
I hope that in posting this, it will be a warning to those who would like to move to Tequisquiapan, to take old information with a grain of salt. If you have any question, I will be happy to give up to date information and get it if I don’t already have it. I have seen in equal measure people coming here with the intent to remain, leave disgruntled, as I have those who came, saw, and now live here content.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Change of Plans


While construction has been going well, even if slowly, I find myself obliged to put things on hold for a while. The walls will be up by November 4th. At the end of November the cadena over the walls will be built and that’s as far as I can go this year.

With my limited income, I’m proud of what I have achieved so far. But it meant cutting it too close to the bone at times. Now I definitely need transportation and much more urgently, a generator. The days are getting shorter and there are not enough sunlight hours to allow my batteries the use of my computer, or even the lights, in the evenings. So it’s been reading by candlelight and a miner’s forehead light. At some point last month, I would have been in trouble had I not received help from an anonymous donor. That’s a generous gesture for which I will forever be so grateful.

I will be looking for a gently used van already licensed in Mexico. I could probably find a better deal in the U.S. but I don’t think that I would be allowed to buy and license a vehicle without a proper state address. My driver’s license is from Alberta. Plus there would probably be an importation fee. I’m aware that many drive a U.S. vehicle bought here. But I don’t want to be without insurance and I know that many locals drive without any. I’ll have to check on the law. I’ll have time while I’m putting $$ away.

This doesn’t mean that I will drop my blogs. Trust me, I do have a lot to relate and I will. So next Friday, I’m off to Querétaro to buy a brand new 3000 watts generator at Costco. It should be powerful enough to allow me the use of my washing machine instead of roughing it by hand. We do have Costco, Home Depot, Office Depot, Sam’s, and Walmart here. Some in San Juan, some only in Querétaro, and some in both cities. 

I was in Querétaro with Yvonne and Margaret last Tuesday and was thrilled first to find the generator, and second to find Cabot’s aged cheddar cheese from Vermont. Delicious! And available at Costco only. Sorry to admit it, but to a northerner the locally made cheeses are way too bland. Probably to offset the spicy dishes? It would make sense. Same with the cream. I haven’t yet developed a tough enough palate to partake of the Mexican spicier dishes. I’m trying though.

Hasta luego.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Celebrating our Imperfections


Yesterday I received an email from my friend Yvonne and it really touched a sensitive spot. I decided to elaborate on these feelings, knowing that so many others had probably felt the same way at some point in their life. I posted it on my other blog then realized this morning that this topic was NOT of a metaphysical nature. So here it is. I guess I’m once again on my soap box. . .

The photo that I have posted on my blog is as I was in my early to mid-twenties. Is it vanity that made me publish that photo? Perhaps… but I’m not so sure. A lifetime of feeling less for being more is hard to let go of. This photo was taken for my passport when I was going to France to join my fiancé in Marseille. I also had a visa for the Congo to go visit my sister. I did go to Marseille for a few months. Never made it to Brazzaville.

To make a long story a bit shorter, after a few years of living together, I realized that my fiancé was never going to get married, at least to me. He kept saying how beautiful the girls on the Riviera were with their incredible bodies being flaunted on the beach in Nice and Cannes. How did it make me feel? Ugly, unworthy, and unlovable. I wasn’t slim enough. . . even though I had starved myself for weeks living on grapefruit and boiled eggs. I got slim ok… but still, it wasn’t enough. Finally I got sick to my soul of feeling rejected for who I was. So after 5 years, I left him despite his assurance of his deep love for me.

On the rebound, with my family condemning me for my leaving him, I met with a man who wanted me as I was. . . or so I thought. By then, my health was not at a peak… but I was slim! After four painful miscarriages, I was able to conceive and gave him a daughter and a son. My body felt these assaults and, as if in an attempt to cushion me from pain, I got  f a t. Oh the F..  word, it isn’t the four letter word that is an insult to our spirit. It is a much shorter one but how much deeper it goes, slicing through your heart and your essential being and the last vestiges of any measure of self-worth.

Are we children of God? I think so. I do believe in a Supreme Creator who must love all of us in our imperfections, for why would he/she/it keep on making that many of us falling any distance from perfection?  Far too many beautiful young girls go through anorexia, bulimia, self-flagellation in this search for a goal that may never be achieved. Why are we so engaged in a short body life when eternity will eventually greet us as beautiful, powerful, incredibly loved spiritual beings, a reflection of our Creator? And here, I DO mean a genderless parent, all loving, all accepting. When we make these harsh judgements on ourselves, we are doing violence to our essential spirit. I did.

I can’t speak for men. But at some level, I think that, if they fall under the supreme judgement of the media, they must feel of lesser worth for having a slight paunch, for hair missing above their forehead, yet having so much more unwanted coming out of their ears and nostrils. Does it affect their sense of self-worth? I can’t say. We are ALL so judgemental. And judging is so far away from loving genuinely, isn’t it? 

When Yvonne sent me this quote from Einstein, it plunged me in old unresolved pain and deep hurts. If we are NOT the body, how did we get so far away from acknowledging our true essence, which is spirit?

Anyway, here it is:


There are many models of us, two-legged creatures. When we limit our vision to that of a perfect body, an engaging smile, or clear blue eyes, we are SHORT-CHANGING who we really are. If an acknowledged genius says this, perhaps we can take note.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Latest Construction News

What a pleasure to see the second phase of the walls going up. We began with the living room on the west side, then moved on to the south side with its arch window. Thus far, all my plans and measurements had worked well. However, when it came to the arch window, I had not taken into account the cadena over all the walls that would measure 23 cm high. So I lowered the size of the arch window by 20 cm and it looks ok.
Here is the wall on the west side of the living room with two side by side windows above the floor to come by only 60cm (a tad over 23in.) and 1.2cm tall (almost 4ft tall). Their width is also 60cm. Please refer to my previous post for the south and east plans for the living room.
Second Construction Phase 002
Over each window and door a cadena is built as a support for the weight above the each. Here the castillo between the two windows anchors the wall into the bottom cadena. Once all walls are erected, another armed cadena will go up to support the roof of each room.
The window across the room is the living room window on the east side.
Now, here’s my pride and joy. My arch window on the south side of the living room. This photo shows how Demetrio first built a base in wood, levelled, over which he used blocks and small bricks to make the form for the arch. Over that he put a coat of smooth mezcla or cement with a high content of lime. He then built another form to cover both front and back sides of the arch and poured cement into it.

And now is the finished arch. In my opinion, a work of art. The top part is also a cadena that forms a complete support UNDER the cadena for the roof to come. The cadena above the arch is poured together with the castillo to form a whole support and anchoring system.

Second Construction Phase 007
The black part at the bottom is waterproofing of the bottom cadena. The last stage of building will be the filling of the bottom part of all the rooms of the house with tepetate over which  wire mesh and concrete will be poured.
The green vine on the cement fence is llamarada, with bright orange blooms that will attract hummingbirds and bees. The photo below is the view from the outside.

Second Construction Phase 001
The photo on the right below is the east side of the kitchen. The window will be above the double sink. The PVC tube is already in place to dispose of the grey water in a below ground system. The septic tank will receive only the sewage from the toilet.
Second Construction Phase 004-1

Here were the expenses
Description Cost        

Cement 7 bags

100 cement blocks 500.
New hose and faucet 91.
400 red bricks 720.
100 cement blocks + 7 bags cement 1284.
150 cement blocks + 1 cement bag 862.
Labour for two weeks – mason and helper 5100.
5 kg metal wire 100.
PVC tubes for later use 355.
Lot clean up by Ruben and waterproofing cadena 250.

Total for two weeks

Made a mistake and showed $5100. twice. It should have been labour for two weeks.

Too many things on my mind...

Leaving Comments

After checking back and forth from one blog to another, I have discovered that when I choose to embed the comment box, there is a glitch in my Boondocking blog that happens and in the section Archiving, the Post Pages becomes disabled by some glitch, which prevents the comment box from appearing. Why this doesn’t happen in Metaphysical Musings, I’m at a loss to explain. Things that go bump or dumb in the dark…

So to avoid any difficulty for readers and myself, I have chosen to have a pop-up window to leave comments; this way, my Post Pages in Archiving does not change itself contrary to my setup.

I hope that this will solve the problem. Please let me know by posting a comment.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Posting Comments


I have been notified that readers cannot leave comments on my Boondocking Blogger and that if I  change the format to a pop-up window, the problem should be fixed. In the settings section I had opted for an embedded window at the bottom. It had worked up to recently. When I go to Archiving- then to Post Pages, even though it has always been enabled, which is required to embed a comment window at the bottom, I find that on my Metaphysical Musings, the Yes or No window is correctly highlighted to YES. In my Boondocking Blogger, the window for Post Pages, shows a pale Yes but I cannot click on it, and it is faded instead of bold.

If anyone has an answer to this, please help. Why are my settings kept on one blog and not on the other? I thought that settings are usually set up for all blogs published by the same person. Again, if anyone has an answer to this question, I’d welcome it.

Thanks to Levonne for the suggestion. But unfortunately, it failed to work for me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blogs AdSense–Google Help and More…


A heartfelt hello to all. You will notice that ads now appear on both my blogs. For the past 2 years I’d given up on posting ads, which even for a few bucks per year, would have helped me in my construction endeavours.

I began boondocking a number of years ago but kept notes in a journal. Then I was urged to start a blog, which I did in 2009. Owing to a stupid move on my innocent part, my blog got hijacked. (Yes, I was stupid!) Fortunately, Google finally saw through the operation that had started from South Africa and I got my blog back. Whew…

Still I could not fix my AdSense with Google. The problem had begun when I was boondocking at the LTVA at Imperial Dam. Arizona on one side of the Colorado River, California on the other side. While at the LTVA everything that mattered was available in Yuma, AZ but the site was geopolitically located on the California side. The site offered a mail service and I used it. However this was a seasonal address and I had not opened a bank account in Yuma because of that reason. Everything hinged on that and I had no idea how to fix it.

I posted my question on the Google Help and was informed that my bank account had to be in my country of residence. I had none, really. So for the past few years, in a total funk about how to fix that problem, I had given up. A word of warning to full-timers. If you start any activity while trekking all over God’s little green acre, keep it simple—I repeat KISS. (Forget the last S-it was for me). Just one address, just one telephone number, just one bank account.

Then I moved to Mexico. There was so much to learn—a new language, new customs, new rules and government regulations, official papers, the list could on. My last concern was AdSense, even though it irked me that I had been too dumb to figure it out. I kept checking the help section but going through thousands of answers wore me out and I kept giving up in total frustration. All the while until this day, my Account had been Suspended and I had no idea how to unsuspend it.

Now, don’t ask me how I got around this, but I did. I finally connected with a REAL FLESH AND BLOOD PERSON AT GOOGLE!!!!! Yippee!!! And she or he helped me to reinstate my account with a proper country of residence and an official address, even though it is only an Apartado Postal. I really live in the boonies and there is no mail service. A bit annoying this, but I don’t even have a street number. We’re only two houses on my dirt “street”. Still, I wouldn’t change anything. Have you ever felt totally helpless and dumb? Well I have for all those months.

My goodness, how could it be that I couldn’t figure this one out? Here I am learning a 4th language, designing a house and delving in construction and construction terms in a new language while I’m no architect (although my workers believe that I am…) and adapting to a new country, new customs at 72! What the heck was wrong with me? A truly humbling experience that one was… No matter, it’s fixed now and I hope that the ads will not annoy anyone.

So, please refrain from clicking on an ad just to generate pennies for me. Click only when you are genuinely interested or I’ll be in deep doodoo with Google.

I thank all of you for your interest and send my love to all. If you don’t care for any of the ads, just ignore them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mexico or Not – Drugs, Guns and Money - On my Soapbox Again


The news are pretty scary. Yet for us all living in Mexico, they are the stuff of scare tactics, sensationalism, whatever. Have horrible deaths occurred? Undoubtedly. Where? Mostly in areas where the drug cartels are active, which would be the areas close to the border, or connected in one way or another to the routes used to take the drugs to the U.S.A. Also in vacation spots highly prized by visiting North American neighbours where drugs are part of the picture, aren’t they? How to enjoy surf and turf without the mind-altering substances… It boggles the mind (mine and probably others’) how can there be simple enjoyment of all that nature, art, sports, etc. can offer without the need to obliterate oneself to the enjoyment of any or all. There is enough booze to do the job without resorting to controlled or illegal substances!

Mexico is a developing country. I can state without a shadow of a doubt that there appears to be no drug culture here in Mexico. Lack of $$ or higher spiritual values or something else? Just shoplifting mascara from a store can get you photographed and named on the local paper! Who would dare? Besides, where in the world is the country going to get the money to control and render the drug cartels inoperative when the hunger for the drugs NORTH OF THE BORDER is so great?

I lived in the Bahamas many years ago when the islands were used as a stopover and refuelling station to bring drugs from the South to satisfy the North’s phenomenal appetite for them. At the time, there was Prime Minister Pinder who asked the U.S. for help, the country having neither the means nor the resources to patrol such a wide area. The Bahamas are a small nation with some 700 islands dispersed from Florida to the Antilles. What kind of manpower and equipment can such a small nation get hold of? So the DEA was patrolling regularly. Yet even for them, it proved to be a hard task. 

It boils down to this: THE LAW OF DEMAND AND SUPPLY. It shouldn’t be so difficult to grasp for a capitalist country. As long as there will be so many people who DEMAND the drugs and are ready to pay plenty for the next fix, there will be enterprising others who will be ready to supply them. It isn’t that hard to understand, is it? Just as easy it should be to understand that Americans’ DEMAND for the right to own and use firearms can be a two edged sword. From that, it’s not such a wide stretch to think- that some enterprising “others” would see that for drug runners, firearms are a must have, and there’s big $$$ to gain from supplying them. SUPPLY AND DEMAND, period.

I recently read that Windsor, Ontario (in Canada) had been free from any homicide for TWO YEARS! Right across from Buffalo, NY!  This seemed to make a point that gun control does work at some level, without any citizen being endangered or rendered powerless by the LAW that controls gun ownership and proliferation.

I recall a post by Tioga George that mentioned that the Days of the Prohibition engendered more lawlessness than those where control by the Government made booze available, for a price and a tax. I shudder how much $$$$$$ could be raked in by the Government by legalizing drugs, such as in Holland and Portugal. Unless, of course, the lobbyists for legalized Alcohol feared a substantial loss of revenue… Think of a grass roots movement that would empower Government to enact such a law. What would happen to recession? $$ In and $$ Out, Supply and Demand… No need to raise taxes on the super-rich. Perhaps they should get in, if not for personal interest, perhaps just for self-preservation…

To sum it all up, I LOVE my Tequisquiapan, Mexico where I can go at any hour of the day or night without fearing for loss of life or limb. I received a comment on my blog from a reader whose good friend had recently died after being viciously stabbed ON THE STREET, after church. For what? Robbery! I cannot recall any similar instance occurring in Mexico for the couple of years that I have lived here.

Yep, I’m on my soapbox once more.  I think that the mea culpa ought to be ascribed where it belongs. I’m not a sociologist, or even a highly educated person. No PhD or Master’s degree. It strikes me that just PLAIN COMMON SENSE ought to prevail over degrees and tons of letters after one’s name. I DO value education and sought it even when it cost me plenty. However, no university degree will ever take the place of common sense. It didn’t when I was fostering needy and damaged children. One does not raise a child by the “book”.  Neither does it now. Come on people, just use Common Sense! It helped build these great nations. Let’s not take leave of it.

OK, I’ve had my time on the soapbox. To sum it all up, let the responsibility of fixing things fall where things got f…..d up in the first place. Mexico is definitely not at fault here.

Second Phase–Walls


I had plans of showing the erecting of the walls a bit more studiously. But last week I had to go to Tequis every day! Frustrating…  Anyway, the walls were first erected to about the half-way mark. This to allow for the castillos to be filled with concrete, after which the second phase would begin. Phase One was finished last Friday.

Yesterday, the east side of the living room was built up to where the dome ceiling will be. Here’s the plan I designed and drew in metric, the system in both Canada and Mexico:

Plan front & lvg East 002-1

Here’s how it looks at present:

view from the outside showing the castillo form in which concrete was poured-

Second phase walls 005-1Second phase walls 002-1

this one on the right is the view from the inside of what will be the living room.

The top part of each window and door is poured concrete as can be seen on the right. As one reader once remarked to me, they build to last here.


Demetrio and Ruben are now erecting the facade of the living room; here’s the plan:

Plan front & lvg East 001-1

I have had to make a lot of adjustments to this original plan, all done in pencil. Sorry for the erasures which blur somewhat the sharpness that I would have liked to present. In short, the height of the walls will be 2 1/2 metres. Each wall will end in a cadena made of armed concrete to support the weight of the brick dome wall. The latter will be 80 cm for the living room.

The photo below shows the southwest corner from inside.

Second phase walls 001-1Second phase walls 004

This next one looks toward the southeast from inside.

Demetrio watching me taking the photo.




At this time, Demetrio is preparing the base on which the arch for the window will be built. I’ll have to until tomorrow to take the photo.

A note on the wall building. When I had the fence built, I chose to have it made of cement blocks only. Not the best choice but I was ignorant of the implications. There is always the danger that cement blocks may crack, especially if there is considerable weight resting on the walls. That will be the case with the dome roof made of bricks and elevated from the edges to almost 1 metre high. By having 3 layers of bricks for each 3 layers of blocks all the way to the top, this would allow the bricks to halt any cracking and thus keep the walls intact.

Further note on building. Level is checked at every layer; level both horizontally and vertically. Once the horizontal level is established, a string is run from side to side to serve as a visual help to the mason. Click on the above photo to see the string. The vertical is checked regularly with a plumb line.

About 10 days ago, I met with Roberto Mora, an architect who has a shop selling decorative tiles for a score of purposes. I submitted my plans to him and was assured that everything looked well balanced, even in good taste (his comment). I suggested that since I live in Mexico, the design was totally Mexican and that given that it will be a woman’s house, it will show some curves. His response? As it should be!

I just loved it. On my report tomorrow, I’ll show the continuing work for the front of the house and will indicate what the expenses are.

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