Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Red Scarf

This is another scarf from the book, Scarf Style. It is called Zigzag Stripes, though there are no stripes in this version. The yarn doesn't do much to show off the zigzags; therefore, dingle balls were installed.

The lovely model is Dave's mom, Carolyn. The Spanish word for mother-in-law is la suegra, though my dad, the first Mexican I ever met, used to call every mother-in-law "the barracuda".

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fiber Arts

We were walking along the beachfront in town one warm evening and came upon a young man on a bridge, folding palm fronds. I think his name was Gavillon; he told me twice and that is what it sounded like. You hate to keep asking.

He was making hats and purses, mostly, but when he saw Ray he wanted to make grasshoppers. Then a cross and a fish and a rose for Mamá flew from his fingers. Ray made him an origami cube and a rocket ship out of paper. Cultural exchange.

Friday, January 27, 2006


We have had the small misfortune of plumbing problems in our rented apartment. A cracked toilet bowl, a cracked tank (the other toilet) and someone's reading glasses lodged in a place they didn't belong have resulted in several visits by the local plumbing professionals.

We call Irineo and he sends either Danny or Josfre. They get here by bus, usually right away, and arrive with a few tools in a backpack. Once they diagnose the problem, they ask for money to buy what is needed. There is a plumbing supply store two blocks from our building, so bolts and wax seals and silicone sealer can be purchased there. We just give them the money they need and they bring back the change and a receipt. Twice Dave has driven Josfre to a more distant store to buy bigger items, such as the new toilet.

The work is good, the response time is fabulous and they don't charge much. We have only been charged between $28 and $47 US for the labor on each of three visits, each of which involved at least removing and reinstalling a toilet. I can't say it has been particularly fun for anyone but I can hope that we don't need to call on these nice young men again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Midwest Moonlight

Yarn: Austermann Barkarole
Needles: US 4
Pattern: Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Third Graders

The names of the kids in Ray's third grade class:

Galit, Nicol, Marco, Alexis, Rocío, Carlos, Monica, Luis, Joaquín, José Antonio, Gaby, Humena, Fatima, Regina, Francisco, Luis Gerardo, Juan Pablo, Valeria, Luis Obregon and Ana Claudia

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

Selling Gum

Maria and her friends were selling gum, walking the beach in Bucerias. After we bought some gum and took some pictures, they immediately spent the money on sodas.

Monday, January 16, 2006


I am out of yarn. I made some hats out of the dregs of leftover yarn from other projects, but now I am really out. The only yarn that I have found to buy here in Puerto Vallarta is white cotton from WalMart and some fine gauge acrylic. I made a second scarf out of the Walmart cotton. It only costs $3 US for the materials but I don't want to make another one. Fortunately, we have some friends from Juneau coming to visit on Tuesday and they are bringing me some wool. I will be making some more scarves from Scarf Style.

The hats will go to an orphanage that is nearby. I hear there are ten babies there and, though we don't think it is cold here in the winter, all the babies wear hats. Let's keep those little ones warm.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Carolyn's Paintings

Silviano Carolyn, my mother-in-law, has painted with watercolors for many years. She has a friend here in Puerto Vallarta who has recently sold some of her finished works. Finding homes for those has inspired her to get out her paper and brushes and paint some more.

She does a very nice job.

Women Walking

Friday, January 13, 2006


On Sunday, we went to the local Catholic church to see the baptisms of Brian and Lilia. They are the children of our neighbors, Blanca and Tino.

Four or five other children were also baptised. The service was very low-key, almost casual. The godparents brought fancy candles and decorated shells (to dip and pour the water) for the service. Pictures were taken by parents and friends and there were two professional photographers who gathered names and phone numbers after the ceremony.

Blanca and Tino cooked up some carne asada tacos on the barbeque for the neighborhood when we got home. Just like any good party, there was plenty to drink and too much to eat. The children were great. Blessed they are, the little angels.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bus Names

Some of the buses get named. One is named Willy. But themes of love and religion predominate.

My favorites:

Ángel de la Noche - Angel of the Night

Una Lágrima - A Teardrop

Amor de los Dos - Two in Love

Tu Mal Amor - Your Bad Love

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Bus

This city has great buses. There are three or four companies that cover the local routes. Buses come along every few minutes on the busy streets and every half hour or so out in the sticks. I have never been on a bus that wasn't at least half full, and often there is standing room only.

The fare is four and a half pesos, which is about 40 cents. That gets you from where you get on to where you get off. There are no transfers. When you board, you are handed a ticket, which serves as a receipt. Inspectors of the transportation system board the buses periodically and make sure that all passengers are carrying tickets. Children ride free under a certain age, maybe 3 or 5 or 8, depending on the bus driver. We usually pay two and a half pesos for Ray, which is about 20 cents, the student and senior citizen rate.

The buses range from brand new to totally beat up. The seats are usually metal and there is rarely much of a suspension. The drivers range from cautious to maniacal. The interiors are always clean and the other passengers are courteous, giving up their seats for elders, pregnant women and women carrying children.

Yesterday a man was selling peanuts on the bus. Calendars, incense, coloring books - many things are sold on the bus. Donations are solicited - a nun with a can for coins, a blind man with an accordian, another with a white cane. There was a clown. Songs are sung and guitars are strummed and then the hat is passed. The show lasts until the next stop.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bugs and Bats

The mosquitoes were bad in the summer. Now, with cooler weather, they seem to have disappeared.

Ants are around all year. In our first apartment, there were large ants at first. Dave sprayed one day and the large ants were replaced by small ants. I guess he used that special Mexican shrinking spray. The small ants were never persuaded to leave the kitchen. Very clean counters kept them in the walls but they always knew when to reappear. In this apartment, the ants just march along one wall in the living room and have not yet found the kitchen. It isn't because the counters are always clean.

Termites live in the wooden furniture and the doors. They don't make any noise and leave small piles of sawdust behind after their meals. Eventually, people learn to use tile for shelves and to buy glass tables and metal chairs.

Geckos come out onto the whitewashed walls every evening. Some are babies and all of them are cute. We see far fewer now in our winter apartment; whether it is the place or the season, I don't know. They do leave cute little droppings behind, like cute little mice. Geckos don't seem to dig in to the groceries, however.

Iguanas are around outside in the neighborhood. They have their favorite perches and sundecks and we know where to look for them. We were swimming last month at a local hotel that has a huge garden. Large iguanas inhabit the giant, spreading trees. A very relaxed woman was hit by both barrels from above. Iguanas have to go to the bathroom, too! Susan was in her room in the shower in one minute flat. She did not go quietly.

Big, leafy trees also shade the street outside our building. Falling avocados broke at least two windshields and dented a fender in parked cars. Children playing in the street were wary. Now that season is over and the bats are here. At night we see them darting about in large numbers and hear a quiet noise like rain. They are chewing on some tree fruit and spitting out the seeds. Everything is bat spit seed splatted in the morning - street, cars, windows. What a mess...

More Gloves

Yarn: Reynolds Odyssey

Needles: US 5

Friday, January 06, 2006

Toys for Tots

The Navy League of Puerto Vallarta has been organizing fundraising activities for seven years to buy toys for needy children in the city and surrounding areas. Every centavo that is raised from an annual golf tournament and gala dinner dance is spent on toys. The golf course and the Marriott Hotel donate their facilities for these events; many other local businesses and individuals contribute prizes, time and money.

The toys are distributed on Dia de los Reyes, the Three Kings Day, which is the principal day for gift giving in Mexico.

2,500 soccer balls, basketballs and volleyballs were inflated on Tuesday and 8,800 toys were handed over to smiling children today. They came running.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Daughter

We sure miss the girl.

Katherine has spent the last four months living in Istanbul with Turkish families, has learned to speak quite a bit of Turkish and has become friends with teenagers from Turkey and other countries. She has gained so much independence and has grown up so much. (Note mature self portrait.) She hangs out at a Nargile cafe, where the drug of choice is flavored tobacco smoked out of water pipes. She prefers chocolate, however, and just hangs out there because of the cute boys.

Rotary International is her sponsor for exchange. We are not planning to go to Turkey to visit while she is there. This is her experience. She will return to Juneau some time in June or July; the dates are vague. She leaves in two weeks for her first bus tour of the country, a tour arranged by Rotary for all of their exchange students. It will be a chance to see places outside of Istanbul that she has read about. She is very interested in the architecture and history, and is aware and appreciative of how lucky she is to be there. "How many people can say they studied ballet in Istanbul?" All this from a girl who used to have 27 Barbies.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Local Yarn Store

The mercado down the street, in our neighborhood, is great for fresh fruit and vegetables. There is a top notch meat market with friendly, helpful butchers. You can get keys copied, buy fresh squeezed orange juice or yummy carrot juice and get a free calendar with your purchase of honey and butter. It's a nice place.

And if it is yarn you are looking for, well, there is a yarn store. Only acrylic is available, but there are lots of colors. The only other place I have found yarn in this city is at WalMart, which has some white sport weight cotton.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

The fireworks started at midnight. On my morning walk, I had seen the preparations being made, the trucks unloaded, the canisters set in place. The Malecon is a paved promenade that fronts downtown Puerto Vallarta and it was to serve as both a launching and viewing platform. Huge crowds were expected. Booths of all kinds would be selling food, drink and much more.

An eight year old boy and his 50 something parents did not make it down to the party. We watched from our balcony, partly dressed, and heard the shouts and gunshots around us. Dave lifted the sleeping too-tall child from the couch where he was "waiting" and held him, talking, for a few minutes, while the explosions lit up the sky. In the morning, he remembered none of it.

Another walk this morning. There was garbage everywhere, already half swept up by the clean up crew. Stragglers from various parties were still heard, seated in white plastic chairs on patios, or in groups, swinging their beers and singing as they walked down the sidewalk, arms flung across shoulders. Happy New Year.