Monthly Archives: August 2014

I Feel Really Dumb?

This will probably be the final edition from MX, at least until we return? And, I can tell you right now, by then I will have downsized my “stuff” by a huge amount, having 25 boxes marked “kitchen” when I hardly cook?

I’ve moved a bunch of times, sometimes halfway across the country etc. In fact, I used to move so often people wrote me in the address books in pencil so they could change it (remember actual “books” before all the electronic hooha we use now?).

So, you would assume I know how this works, I’ve rented trucks, towed trailers and cars, but wow, did I ever totally underestimate this move both physically and emotionally. A while back I walked through the house making notes on how many boxes I would need. I like to use standard size boxes to make things fit better. When I came down from TX I unloaded the trailer and flattened the boxes and put them back in the trailer for storage. Last year when I was in Austin I bought another 25 just to be sure I had plenty (one of the few things I got right). So, I have a lot of boxes, let the fun begin.

I estimated probably 35 boxes should do it with some odd stuff that doesn’t fit – I’m at 71 boxes with 4 more to final pack and that’s only because the trailer is loaded to the ceiling, end to end. And, I’ve donated, given away and sold a bunch of stuff – where did it all come from? Now, if I were moving 1,000 miles across the US I’d be very tempted to do it in two trips – well, make that 3, I took a car stuffed full up in July when I closed. But coming out of MX? – no way I make two trips, 700 miles of MXN highways is more than this old man can handle.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m not bringing hardly any of my MXN decor stuff, it’s in storage here at a local facility. And, I probably have this much and more in TX storage that will be my first priority to clear out when I get there. As I’ve packed stuff and looked at the lists (I label each box and put the contents on a spreadsheet for survival) I got to thinking about the guys on the American Pickers show. Some of the places they find must be advanced cases of guys like me.

But wow, how could I be so far off on my estimate? – I feel really dumb, like the Gov, when they estimate they’re always off by at least 50% to 100% plus or minus depending on what lie they want you to believe. And yes, like my last post, when you get this close to the end everything you need for daily existence is in a box somewhere. This morning I needed to call my insurance agent in Laredo – right the Vonage phone adapter and main office phone were in a box, fortunately still here under my desk, but it’s just amazing how complex our lives have become. My youngest Gson is at school and said he has two boxes? – two? – I told him to hold out as long as he can but sooner or later things will change.

I called a TX Wireless Internet provider a few days ago and said I’d be in there 4th, hook it up! – she said sorry, not until Monday the 8th? I’ll be offline, for several days, but what if the world needs me? And, I’ve not yet talked to Dish TV, suppose I should call them.

Later – ok, called them, major mistake, I finally hung up on the person, all I want is some TV – just SHOW ME THE TV!

Later still – called a different number and go hold of a guy I could deal with and pulled the trigger, install on the 4th. I will miss my ShawDirect Canuck TV however, I got 10 channels of hockey plus curling (it’s mandatroy on Canuck TV) plus Canadian football and many other goodies, but they did have a great Country music channel out of Halifax Nova Scotia, I did enjoyed that a bunch, oh well.

So, the sad saga drags on, being a short timer is awful, it’s like being a condemned man, I count each day to the end. But, Max and I have had a great run of 7 years in this little slice of paradise, we came for 6 months and stayed 7 years and short of robbing a bank or killing someone I’d do about anything to remain.

So, off to the next chapter of our Great Adventure and our new weather shack at

It’s Somewhere In A Box?

Have I mentioned how much I hate this move? – yeah, I though so. Well, for some reason I think this one is actually worse than leaving the house in Lakeway.

But, just moving itself is such a pain, as I mentioned “bare walls to bare walls” and when I leave a house the walls look new, you can’t find a nail hole and this time I had to repair some that were here when I moved in and were conveniently covered by my hangings – no mas, they’re gone. I should be so lucky in the new weather shack in Bdam.

But, it takes years to truly settle into a house, if it’s two story, the tool you need is always on the floor you aren’t. So, you buy two of everything and train yourself NOT to carry one into foreign territory. Then you also need two rolls of masking tape (I use it for everything) wire here, wire there, wire everywhere and on and on.

Then the brutal day comes when you must pack that stuff and even though you try to think ahead you always miss something because you packed it last week, today you need it and “it’s in a box somewhere”? I lived that way for at least 2-3 years after arriving here, I always needed something that was back in TX in a box in storage so I bought it here and now am hauling it back to TX where I’ll have two of whatever.

And, I’ll say it up front, I want to continue living the life of comfort and convenience I have for 7 years – and then one day just get in the car with Max and have everything happen automatically – funny how that doesn’t seem to be happening? So, today I ripped out the XM radio, antenna wiring, FM Modulator wiring etc. I listen to XM from morning when I wake until well into the evening, I hate a quiet house. So, I rigged a temporary installation that will take us though the day before we leave, or the day, and I can just coil up the wire and chuck it in a(nother) box.

Ah, then the little challenges of moving. The tires on my trailer only have 3,000 miles on them, but they’re 7 years old and I’m going to be asking them to do a fair amount of work in hot MXN/TXN August. Now, when I was in TX last Sept I considered buying new ones, but blew it off and figured I’d get them down here about now. Oops, getting trailer tires in MX is much like finding an honest politician (or lawyer) – they don’t exist. So, I went into a panic and finally someone suggested a guy closeby who builds trailers. I talked to  him this morning and he can get “trailer” tires, NOT “car” tires which don’t have the load ratings I need.

I paid him and he’ll get them in Guad manana, mount them for me and even come over and check and pack my wheel bearings, so a huge load off my mind. I was probably overreacting, but I guess I’m getting cautious in my old age?

Max was spooked at first, he’s not used to seeing me actually “working” for any length of time and then there was the clutter of boxes etc. all over the house, again, uncommon for Casa Abuelo. But, he’s getting used to it and I’ve got some “Rescue Formula” given to me by the folks who are hosting the weather station in our absence. You rub it on the inside of their ears and it mellows them right out – I’m going to do my ears also, I’ll need it, did I mention how much I hate this move?

The Chaos Continues Unabated?

Well, it does, I’m upset, which upsets Max and the poor guy just retreats to his chimney in hopes of finding some peace. I’d go with him but it’s too small for two. I told someone the other day that I was hoping to achieve a 3 step “recovery” process starting with “chaos” which is me wandering aimlessly around the house shaking my head trying to find the lose end of this knotted ball of string I call my life so I can start unraveling it and getting it in order. You never realize how good the Lord has been to you until you have to box it up and put it ALL in a small trailer – and I’ve been more than fortunate it would seem. I’m reminded of that scene in Fiddler On The Roof when they’re leaving their homes carrying only a few suitcases etc. and that was all they owned – now it takes at least a trailer and unlike moving across town or to another town nearby where you can make several trips, moving internationally means you mostly have one shot and that’s it, although I did bring a car load in July which is stored in George’s warehouse.

My owners came back from 8 years in Taiwan last month and a shipment of their furniture arrived last Saturday via a cargo container like you see on huge ships? Well, this one was half full and pretty much totally filled the casita. I asked Paul “where are you going to put all this, the house is already full and well furnished?” He said they’d move things from this house to their other house etc. and then they headed off to Seattle to received a container for their condo up there? – but, he’s smart, he can afford to just point and have someone else haul etc. – me? – well, I do it all, point, pack, haul and in 3 weeks will be the driver of choice and boy, am I looking forward to that, yesterday it was 74 here, 104 at the new Bdam house and the AC on the Jeep has been making ugly noises and trying to fail for 5 years now.

So after chaos comes “semi-organized chaos” which means I’m actually accomplishing something, boxes are being packed and shelves are being unloaded, the walls were stripped over the last two weeks and patched and matched as previously noted. Yesterday for the first time I actually felt like it might all happen – but that was a fleeting thought in a weak moment of optimism, this morning?

I had some standard size boxes from the original move and bought 25 more last Sept when in Austin. Using those makes it easier to maximize trailer space. But then you have to consider weight, not too much to the front and definitely not too much to the back of the trailer. This is definitely part of the “great adventure” as I wander around the house looking at what is still to be packed and loaded, what is heavy and in the middle of the trailer on the bottom level and what is lighter and can go on the second or third level. That still leaves space above to throw lose stuff, sombreros, pinatas, you know, all the stuff you really need in TX.

And, of course the rest of life goes on with a broken tooth and a more than complicated crown process? – and two trips to the bank to get some investments transferred to where I can get to them if needed. With the new Infernal Revenue “Service” FATCA law etc, international banking is in chaos and that I can’t fix, only try to circumnavigate. And on and on, but with the Lord’s help I guess it will all happen, but then again, He’s the one who basically got me into this fix.

The owner up in TX said this has been a hard move for them, they’re going to Maine? – well, at least it will be cooler there. I’m writing this today only to force myself into a bit slower day to give my back a rest. If you’ve ever lived in a two story house you know the drill, pile stuff at the top of the stairs and every time you go down you carry something, anything, but it all has to go, one box, one thing at a time.

Well, so much for now except to say the weather station transfer to the new folks casa is going well and we may do most of the step over next week so I can take mine down from the roof here, pack it and warn it that the temp sensors are going to get a serious workout soon. So it goes from Tortillaville.

Bare Walls to Bare Walls

I hate the time in the whole moving process when you have to take down the carefully choreographed wall decorations that have been your statement in the house for years. And now one day you have to come in and start stripping the walls of their character to reveal the bare, bleak world you moved into only years before. Often things tell some of our history, they define our taste (or lack of it?) and they make cozy places for resident spiders to build their homes. We have some sizable flat spiders we call “picture spiders” because they like to live behind pictures, always a nice surprise when you take one off the wall?

Then comes the patching and matching, and in my case I have a wide variety of textures to match and a very wide variety of colors to attempt to match. Some are easy, some approach impossible and everything in between. I mean, I have all the original paint, I was the one who mixed and applied it – but now, every patched nail/screw hole stands out like a huge sign saying “STEVE HUNG SOMETHING HERE” – or “GIANT WALL PATCH HERE”?

And so even though there are almost 4 weeks, the house becomes denuded of it’s character. I once told the owners “you gave it good bones and good structure – I gave it character”. I had expected them to come in with 40 gallons of yellow and cover over all my “character” but then that’s ok, the Lord let Max and I share it for a time and we loved the heck out of it, almost beyond measure – but when the owners were here the other day they said they liked what I’ve done and will keep it and actually expand it out into the pool and terraza areas, so it’s nice to know a bit of us remains in Mexico. But, as I walk through my little world I see things that I wanted to do, but never got done, so we leave unfullfilled in some respects.

I think that is the curse my Mother gave to me, she was an artist and quite accomplished, but while she didn’t give me the talent, the capability to sit and paint a picture, she gave me the temperament of an artist in ways. My Father was more an engineer, a builder and from him I derive the need and the ability to build, to fix, to make things better. From Mom I find the creative need to do whatever I can, but the big difference is that engineers and builders work in groups to complete their projects, then walk away happy. The artist is a loner, groups don’t paint pictures, only a singular person. They are never completely happy with their creation and no one is worthy of judging their work, only they can. There is always one more little thing that needs to be done – yet never gets done, so that resides in me, I’m never completely happy with my work, my creations.

I didn’t bring much “decor” from Texas, it’s still in storage up there, so I picked pre-Columbian as the theme for the house for several reasons, it seemed appropriate being in MX, it gave a different look to the place that you don’t see all that often, nothing like plaques with snakes and guys with tongues sticking out to say “home sweet home”? – and basically it was readily available in Tonala – and #1, it was cheap!

Now, do I take it back NOB? – no, I still have more “decor” in storage than the new place can support, although, I will take a few pieces from here just for conversation. So, do I sell the stuff, give it away or store it? Well, while most if mundane, there are a few pieces of metal art and sculpture that I would like to retain, so yes, I’m considering yet another storage area here, the very reason I’m going back to TX to eliminate – who says older is wiser?

And, of course I’m leaving bare walls (although nicely repaired if I do say so myself – and I do) and moving to bare walls – what a way to live? Tomorrow is August 4th, in a month, Sept 1st, Max and I will drive out the front gate for the last time and head for the next chapter in our adventure in Texas. I thought leaving the house in Lakeway would kill me, but it didn’t, sometimes I think leaving this place will kill me, but it won’t. I originally came here for 6 months and stayed 7 years, fully 10% of my entire life, so who knows what the next chapter will bring for Max and me?