Elektra Delivers!

I don’t believe it! Elektra’s delivery person brought my washer this afternoon around 4:30! I was in shock! Thank goodness I’d already given the laundry room the scrub I’d promised it it would get once a washing machine would be incoming!

The man was on his own and brought it on one of those little motorcycle things with a flat deck. I was able to let him into the yard through the third garage door, which took him most of the way to the laundry room, and he had no trouble shuffling it the rest of the way, where he unpacked it for me as there is cardboard on the bottom that would have been difficult to remove on my own. He flat out refused a tip for doing that, saying it was included in the service. Can’t say I didn’t try!

It fit perfectly in the space for it. I can’t believe the landlady fit a dryer directly in front of it. No idea how she manoeuvred in such a tight space!

Setting up the washer was easy — just hook up the hose to the water supply (remembering to add washers!), pull out the drain hose and put it down the drain pipe, plug it in, and then scan the instructions.

Of course, I immediately put a load on! It won’t dry overnight, but it will at least give me a head start tomorrow since each cycle is quite long — not as much as with a front loader, but still more than with a traditional top loader. This seems to be a bit of a hybrid model between the two that I think I will like. It doesn’t have much of an agitator and it weighs your clothes to determine how much water to put in the machine.  It is a bit loud (may be helped if I better level it — the built-in level (!) says I’m close, but not quite there), but once I have my headphones on, I don’t hear it.

The capacity is much more generous than I expected. I brought down what I expected to be two loads of clothes and it wasn’t even a half load!

Here’s what the instructions say equals about 16KG:

A regular load of 5 pairs of dress trousers (ie. not jeans), 7 shirts, 8 tee shirts, 2 sweatshirts, and 12 pieces of undies. Sounds about like a typical load for me, with my dresses being equal to a pair of trousers plus a blouse.

Or a load of linens that has 3 sheets, 5 pillow cases, and 3 towels. Again, sounds like a typical load for me. I never have three towels at one time, but I have a bunch of washcloths and my bath mat.

A friend of mine in Canada has a washer that’s similar and I thought, “My goodness, that sounds nice, but way too fancy for my budget!” Funny how things work out!

Custom Kitchen Cart

I’m starting to get unpleasantly cynical and suspicious in my advancing age as the effects of society in general are starting to rub off on me. There are so many people in my life, some of whom I love very much, who are very much in the frame of mind that anything that sounds too good to be true is too good to be true or who have the mindset that everyone is out to scam them. I try to have faith in people and the odd time that I am scammed, I remind myself that it was more of a failing on their part to have not been trustworthy than on my part to have trusted.

So…

As I’m spending more and more time in my kitchen, I’m figuring out what I need for storage based on how I cook. For one thing, there is a problem with outlets being in very awkward spaces. Just to do something as simple as make coffee has me having to reach around the microwave to plug in the kettle. I determined that what I needed was a cart on wheels on which to put all the things that I might want to plug in, with the top being my breakfast and snack centre, complete with toast, kettle, phin, coffee and tea canisters, etc.

I would want the cart parked for use by this outlet, but I wouldn’t want it nearly as deep or long as the plastic table because I will eventually have a stove. Also, I’d want it counter height (90cm/35in) as a table is way too low to work at.

I was worried that by the time I get a stove and an island, the cart would be in the way, so I wanted to be able to park it in this nook:

Needless to say, I couldn’t find anything available commercially at any price. I did come close with a cart I found that was the right height, but it was very shallow and narrow, with only one shelf and wire metal baskets underneath.

While browsing Facebook Marketplace on Tuesday, I saw a cart marketed for the storage of cosmetics and thought that something like that, but bigger, would work for me. I clicked on the link and got to a page for a woodworking shop that seemed to have nice things. So I contacted them with a picture of the cosmetics cart and explained that I wanted something similar, but 90cm tall by 35cm deep by 75 to 100cm wide and with shelves instead of boxes .

They almost immediately replied with a quote of only $700 and they could deliver on Friday. So I asked how I could order it. Of course, all I had to go on was that page, so I had no idea if this company was legit or not. For ordering, I was told I could come to their workshop and pay $400 in cash or I could deposit that $400 to their debit card at an Oxxo. The debit card was in a name that matched the Facebook page and I thought why would a scammer give me their banking information and address? So I went ahead and made the deposit through Oxxo and the company reverified my order. I thought all was good.

Wednesday evening (the following day) is when things got weird. They messaged to ask if I still wanted the cart. I replied that I’d made the deposit and provided a picture of the receipt. I then got asked a few things that made me think that I wasn’t speaking with the same person, but he insisted he was. Then, I got told the last thing you want to be told when you suspect you might be in the process of being scammed, “Don’t worry. We’re honest people.” Hmm…

So I was surprised this morning, Friday, at nine, when I was messaged again to ask when I could pick up the cart! I was provided an address in a residential neighbourhood in south Mérida near the airport. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. I haven’t had that happen a lot in my life, but I knew that I wasn’t comfortable going out there as things stood. I was going to ask my neighbour to go with me when I had a DUH moment.

I messaged the shop to send me a picture of the cart. If they could provide one, then, obviously, I wasn’t being lured into some sort of trap. The picture came immediately and there was no doubt it was my order. I let out a sigh of relief (and a giggle of happiness because I liked what I saw in the picture!) and immediately headed out.

It was a very long drive through centro, but I knew that I could come home via the periférico, which would be twice the distance, but half the time.

I found the address without any problems. By the time I got out of my truck, there was a guy standing outside the curb with my cart! I examined it and couldn’t stop smiling as I took in all the details. It was better than perfect. Exactly what I wanted, but with unexpected actual craftsmanship. My gamble had paid off. I was pleased that I’d listened to my gut and made sure I was safe, but also that I ignored the voices in my head telling me I’d just wasted $400.

So here it is! 🙂

If you click the picture, it will embiggen and you can see more details!

The way the legs were done, the whole thing is 40cm deep so it doesn’t fit perfectly into the nook, but the door still opens fully so I’m happy to have the extra depth.

Look at the corners of the shelves and the routing along the edges!

The wheels are very good quality and the shelves are thick, solid, and double reinforced. This cart is going to serve me very well! I asked for it unfinished because I have turquoise paint to use up. 🙂 With how long paint takes to dry here, I probably won’t get to use the cart for a full two weeks, but it will be worth the wait!

Eep, I’d better get back to work so that I can hopefully get a first coat of paint on the cart and maybe the shelving unit too tonight!

Cocooning

I seem to have lost a day…

I cannot for the life of me remember what I did on Friday besides do an inordinate amount of typing. Perhaps that was all. I do remember that as the time crept to 7PM, I discovered that one of my Saturday jobs was so easy I still had energy to do it, which would reduce my Saturday work load, which would reduce my Sunday work load, which would reduce my Monday work load…

So I decided to order a pizza from a place that left a flyer in my mail box. $100 plus a $10 tip got me a surprisingly good humongous pizza (and by that, I mean I got FOUR meals out of it!) with three toppings. In the hour that I would have stopped to make dinner, I was able to do the easy job, finishing literally as the doorbell rang.

So now, I’ve found a good cheap pizza place nearby. 🙂 Sometimes, I want more American-style pizza (think Domino’s, Costco’s or little Caesar’s), but sometimes the cheaper Mexican style is fine. This one’s crust was particularly good, even if the cheese wasn’t quite right, and they sliced the onions the way I like them.

Saturday, I was up stupidly early for some reason and got a mountain of work done before noon. I was just done after that. There were so many things I could have done with my day, but I wasn’t going anywhere or in the mood for chores. I broke out the LEGOs and a series on Netflix and wiled away a very rainy afternoon enjoying not having the pressures of maintaining someone else’s home for the first time in a long time.

Today was another heavy work day, but there were things to do. I managed to get the truck out mid-morning (my automatic garage door opener is giving me grief) to go around the block to the Extra (Circle K in the US) to get two 5 gallons of water since I still haven’t figured out home delivery yet. One block closer and I would have walked them home. If delivery doesn’t get figured out soon, I need to find myself a dolly or something because getting the truck in and out of the parking bay and the doors open and shut took about twice as long as the actual purchase of the water!

Around 1PM, I headed out to the sushi restaurant I recently discovered to try their Sunday buffet. It was decent and good value, but I’ll stick to à la carte from now on. I really must be starting to develop Mexican sushi tastebuds because I found their smoked salmon and cream cheese roll quite good!

Then, I went to Superama to see what treasures I could find. It’s really not a place to buy your basics available at any Mexican supermarket, but it is a great place to find good quality butter and imported veggies and cheeses. I had to laugh as I was looking at the cheese when a lady asked if I wanted to try a sample. I ended up buying a nice hunk of Port Salut for a fraction of what I would have paid in Canada. What a treat that will be!

Going through the small home goods section, I found a lightbulb I thought might fit my bedroom lamp (kept forgetting to look for one!) and I also found, to my immense surprise, something I expected to have to hunt for, a two-prong to three-prong adapter:

Even more surprising, it was only $21 for a pack of three!

These will let me plug my three-prong power bars into the house’s myriad of two-prong outlets.

I contacted APC/Schneider Electric, the manufacturer of my UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to ask them about using their equipment in my high voltage power situation. They really came through with their reply. Based on the info I gave them about the new outlet and how it is grounded, they say that the UPS and its surge protection will still work despite my getting the “building wiring fault” warning light. So I should absolutely keep using it and should favour it for plugging in any of my electronics. I can use the other outlets in the house, for example to plug in an iPad charger overnight or a TV, but the high voltage may damage things over time. So I’m best off to only plug in when I need to. I don’t have an expensive TV or stereo, so now I know I don’t have to worry about the high voltage.

I was pleased when the kid at the cash asked me if I wanted to make a withdrawal with my purchase. I forgot to go to HSBC before going to the sushi restaurant and figured that if I needed cash this week, I could just walk to the bank then, not remembering that cash withdrawals are available at some stores. So the kid saved me some time.

My shopping done, I called my second Uber. It’s pretty funny how it’s almost twice as far to get home from Superama by car as it is to walk, but I wasn’t going to walk since I had heavy things like wine in my bag. The trip only cost me $30, so it was well worth it. I think calling Uber will eventually start to feel part of my routine instead of something still a bit dark and mysterious. I don’t know how much fuel I would have spent driving Moya to the restaurant and then Superama and back, but I do know for sure it would have been more than 2CAD! Plus, I didn’t have to worry about getting her in and out of the garage or parking, I got some exercise walking over there, and I got to enjoy the AC in the Uber car!

When I got in, I tested my lightbulb and, yay, it worked! It’s also similar to the bulbs in the ceiling so now I know what I need to buy to replace the ones that don’t work. Poco a poco… 🙂

Then, extra work came in and I had to get cracking or having a 15-hour day tomorrow. I really need to do at least another now and it’s 8:30. Zzz…. I’m so tired but, thankfully, I’m slowly starting to sleep longer stretches here and might be able to get back on track to solid nights. Hopefully!

I’m approaching the two-week mark of being here and still can’t believe how easily I took to the house. It does help that I had access to it for two months, but still, there has been almost no adaptation period and even with all that I still want to do with it, it’s already home.

Just About Home

It’s been another huge day, but I made so many breakthroughs!

It was yet another not so great night of sleep, but I managed to not open my eyes until just shy of seven, an hour later than all week. I read a bit and then I took it super easy. By eight, I was already in my Poang chair with my feet up sipping on my second cup of coffee while reading the magazine about beer that I got the other day. The guy for the water heater was coming at 10 and I wasn’t doing anything until then!

He showed up on schedule and determined that my gas tank was empty. That would explain my problem lighting the water heater… His visit wasn’t for nothing since he looked at my buzzing bedroom fan control and was able to determine that it was not an electrical issue. He tightened a nut, which greatly improved the noise and I think I’ll be able to tolerate it now…

Once he left, I looked up the gas companies he told me about, took a deep breath, and called the first one on the list. I got off the phone absolutely vibrating, it went so well. I asked to order gas, gave my address, and determined that my landlord is in their system. We changed the account name and phone number to mine, established that I have a fixed roof tank, that I want delivery on Monday (did not want to have to sit around waiting for them today), and that I will be paying cash. I only had to ask the lady to repeat herself once and she understood everything I said. I really am starting to believe that I’m trilingual. It’s such an incredible feeling to be able to do this stuff on my own and not be overwhelmed by it because of a language barrier!

That done, I took some measurements and headed to Parisina! I took more time to look around on this visit and was awed and almost overwhelmed by how much crafting material they have, even ModgePodge, which I doubted I could get here. The store was busy, but running smoothly and I didn’t have too long of a wait. I was also able to find suitable glue. My purchases came in at just under $400 — about 25CAD, very reasonable.

As I was about a block from my house, my phone rang, but my hands were too full to answer. When I saw a yellow car come around the corner, I knew the caller was my landlady! She pulled over to say she had dropped off my rent receipt for November (she’s been out of town) and to ask if I wanted her to order gas. She was suitably impressed that I’d taken care of that. She asked how I’m settling in and I said that I’d be in heaven if it wasn’t for the rooster.

“What rooster?!” she asked. “You need to talk to the owners!” Then, “No! My husband needs to do it. It will mean more coming from the owner. He’ll tell them that he just rented for two years to someone who was promised a quiet neighbourhood and regardless, this is unacceptable in the city!” Hope he follows through and that it brings results because I am about to lose my mind! 🙁

I had lunch and then got to work. Several hours later, my desk had a new covering and was in place. WHEW.

This is cloth backed vinyl, similar to what I have in Miranda, except I went with a lower quality because I know I’m not going to have this desk for many more years (it really is falling apart!). The only material that works in this climate is cloth so if I find myself sticking to parts of the desk, I’ll add cloth placemats. But this is so much more resistant to scratches and water and adds a nicer surface to write on. This is the exact colour I originally wanted to paint the desk! I like the contrast of the fake wood (chipped as it is) with the rich purple and with so many of my accessories being bright, the darker tone looks good.

No, I’m not done, but I was unable to locate a big stapler. The top is well glued and soon as I get a stapler, I’ll finish the job by pulling the material taut around the edges and securing it. In the meantime, it might not look great, but it functions as needed.

Once the vinyl was in place and secure-ish (ie. the glue had just about dried), it was time to decide where the desk was going to go. With my feeling nervous about how secure the top part is, the obvious answer was against a wall and for that, there was only one option. I very carefully, an inch at a time, moved each piece over against the far wall, but not quite against the wall where the window is since I had to get in there with a screwdriver. Then, I wrestled all the pieces together and even more slowly, a hair at a time, coaxed the whole thing into the corner.

Setting it up was similar to what I did in Chelem, so that went quickly, and then I quickly sorted through the rest of my boxes!

I rather just shoved things into drawers and cupboards, so I’m nowhere near done-done, but at least the room is usable now! I am now keeping my eye out for rugs, something that I’m surprised by, but the echo in the house is terrible. Thick rugs would help a lot and also dampen some of the outside noise.

Now, I’d like to take you through a bit of a nostalgic tour of the house and show off some of the treasures I’ve accumulated over the years. I’ll never be someone who goes to IKEA or Pier One and buys something that hundreds of other people have. I like for just about everything in my home to be beautiful, unique, and have meaning.

First off are my brass candle holders. I picked up the larger ones while antiquing my way across Wisconsin in the fall of 2005 on my trip around the Great Lakes (plan B after Hurricane Katrina hit and I couldn’t go to New Orleans!). The smaller ones come a shop in Ogunquit, Maine, where I went for a long weekend getaway with a friend of mine (only time I’ve ever done such a thing — it was a blast!).

Below is an Egyptian papyrus that I bought at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas in 2007. This was the trip I took right after my dad died. I flew in and out of San Francisco, staying with my ex-boyfriend, and road tripped to Las Vegas, LA, and even crossed over into Mexico for the first time, visiting Tijuana!

My former best friend (FBF) and our social group used to do a wishlist thing at the holiday season. I forget exactly how it worked, but you could ask for 10 anythings, however unrealistic or impossible, and someone might come along and get you something from the list. I asked for a picture of a raven (my spirit animal) and my FBF bought me this gorgeous print, that I later had framed.

Here’s the only painting of mine that has survived. I think you can see some of Van Gogh’s influence!

This is my dad, circa 1959 when he would have been about 10:

Here’s a little bottle (missing a cork) that I won while on my walking tour of Belgrade, Serbia.

This little soapstone mule comes from my friend Donna. I can’t remember if she gave it after or before CBSA decided that I must be running drugs between Mexico and Canada, but it delights me to think it might have been after.

Next to it is a paperweight, which I’m holding here to show you all the detail:

Can you see how it is meant to be coral under water? This was a gift from a colleague at my first government job that I never particularly liked, so I was suitably shocked by such a thoughtful and beautiful gift. Looking at it reminds me that people can always surprise you and to be kinder to folks with even worse social skills that I have.

On my desk is this simple wooden box. I bought it at a craft fair when I lived in Lindsay, Ontario, between 2000 and 2002. This was probably my only discretionary purchase in all that time because my budget was so tight. But I recognised an heirloom-quality purchase!

The guest bathroom had two screws above the toilet, which were the perfect place to hang my print of a pastel landscape of Alcatraz. This was purchased on my first day in San Francisco. It reflects the island as I was to discover it — foreboding, but also very beautiful.

Upstairs in my bathroom, I have two carved wooden boxes with ivory inlay. These were purchased either in Wisconsin or Maine. I’m going to store my jewelry in them.

In my bedroom is a painting my sister made for me, decided she didn’t like, and which I rescued from the trash!


My bedroom has several places to hang a hammock, which I’m using for now to hang decorative objects. Here’s the pretty bag I bought in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (looking a lot worse for wear, but how many miles did we cover?!):

On the opposite wall is the fouta (Turkish bath towel) I received from my parents for my birthday this year. It is almost too pretty to use and I’m saving it to use as a wrap for those chilly nights that I know are coming!

The kitchen is where I have the most treasures. I won’t share everything, but here are some highlights.

This is the food processor and tortilla press my friend and neighbour from Haven, Carolina, gifted me with. I use the food processor almost daily and have made hundreds of tortillas with the press!

These canisters came from a girl friend of my dad’s. He had even more girl friends than he had girlfriends, if you can catch the difference. I’ve had these forever and they hold different things depending on what my containerising needs are.

Here’s the very expensive mug I really wanted in Las Vegas and won at Circus, Circus!

The blue and white Pyrex bowl comes for my dad and probably from my grandma before that. I’ve been using that bowl for 30-plus years now and best remember it holding mashed potatoes or turnips.

These little Pyrex dishes were in my hope chest when I moved out and are one of the most useful and versatile items in my kitchen. Can you see that they have a handle? They are great for baking a piece of fish or meat and browning cheesy pasta, plus they are microwavable so I can reheat leftovers in them.

The mortar and pestle have too long of a story to share here. What’s of interest is the glass citrus juicer, one of the very first things I bought for my own home. I left with a very complete hope chest, but was missing little things like that.

Ah, my pots and pans — the three in the front row and the big one at the back right, received as my Christmas present in ’97 before I moved out the following August. I started cooking tofu in these and finally graduated to meat! They are Meyer brand and evidence that if you take good care of your cookware, it will last a lifetime. Meyer doesn’t have a lifetime warranty, but when the handle on the medium-size pot (front centre) got really loose a few years ago and tightening the screw wasn’t doing anything anymore, I contacted Meyer since, to my surprise, I was only a couple of years out of warranty. They sent me a new handle, free of charge.

Back left is what I call my stepmother’s soup pot. She has no recollection of how many Sunday lunches she served out of that thing. It’s funny the things that are insignificant to one person and so memorable to another. I rescued it from a garage sale box and currently have pasta sauce simmering away in it! There isn’t much story yet to my cast iron Dutch oven, purchased as a holiday present to myself my last winter in Maz. It’s gotten quite a bit of use considering how long I was away!

The same Christmas I got my pots and pans, my dad bought me a toaster and this metal mixing bowl (which I picked out myself). He was rather distraught that these were the sorts of gifts his baby now wanted. It’s a great bowl — I use it for everything from mixing dough to creating giant salads.

Even my utensil crock (from my dad, of course — it used to have a cork top and hold cookies!) contents have a story. I’ve been serving meals for 30 years with this spoon and am so glad I rescued it. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

The china cabinet holds my Japanese teapot, which I bought at the same time as the juicer. Next to it are two Lipton collectible teacups that were always a feature of my kitchen at my dad’s (it was always my kitchen!).

Here’s dad’s serving platter. The last time I remember seeing it come out was for one of my dad’s famous pork roasts.

Moving to the living room, where I now have an IKEA Lack table next to my Poang chair (no idea how such a thing ended up in a house in Mexico!), is a hot pad thing my sister made for me eons ago. Now that I have countertops where I can just rest a pot, I move it around as needed as a place to put a cup or glass to keep the surface from getting wet or damaged. I really love the colours and it’s held up beautifully over the years. My sister is very creative.

Finally, here’s my literal coffee mug that I bought at the Dawson City thrift store in either 2009 or 2010. I always end up going back to it!

I’ve moved a lot over the last twenty years and having some constants has made it possible to make myself at home where I was. I have other special pieces — clothing, jewelry, books — but those are the more private things. I love that people can walk through my home and get a sense of where I’ve come from.

Well, it’s been another very full day and the kitchen is a spaghetti sauce preparation disaster zone, so I better go clean that up!

Tomorrow, I have a bit of work to do in the morning and then I might go have some fun in Centro. Or collapse — I haven’t been this footsore and exhausted since I spent four jetlagged days walking all over London. 🙂