Alma, or the Story of How Six Years Ago, I Saw My Future

(Post 205 of 263)

My beautiful girl Alma is home and I look forward to the life we will build together. She is only three, so unlike adopting a senior, I’m thinking long-term with her, past ten years.

I agonised for years about having another cat. When I was a tenant, it really did not make sense to get a cat because I did not own most of the furniture. And then I got Bonita, who was happy as long as the doors to outside were kept open, so I would’ve had to compromise with a cat that I had to allow outdoors. Now that I own the home and the contents and Bonita is gone, having a cat began to make more sense. So I began to hyper focus on all of the negative things about a cat, imagining myself with the worst case scenario even though those have been the exception. I imagined myself with a cat who doesn’t use the litter box and scratches everything and is very destructive and misbehaved, just trying to talk myself out of getting one of the sweetest and cuddliest and most magical creatures on this earth. The fact is that I have had way better luck with cats than not.

Then, there was also the thought of the freedom I gained after Tabitha and Neelix passed in 2013, and now again with Bonita gone four weeks ago yesterday. I wanted to start travelling again. It made no sense to bring in another pet, right?

But it’s not like I’m going to be taking long trips again any time soon. A cat can be left for a few nights and is easier to find a sitter for. Why deny myself a companion when I’m home for the couple of weeks total I might end up travelling in the near to mid-term?

What about the long-term? I adopted Tabitha at about the same age and she lived thirteen years with me. So the odds are better than not that I’m going to be ready again for extended travel while Alma still has many years left. I’m not fretting about that. Not because I don’t want to think about it or I’m trying to live for the moment, but rather because I saw our future, and it’s all going to work out just fine.

I really believe that things happen for a reason, that certain people cross our paths for a purpose, that sometimes things might not make sense at the moment but then there’s a moment of clarity in the future. That’s how I feel about Alma.

Remember how in 2016 I have sat in Spain for 2 1/2 months? Little did I know that I was staring at my future. The homeowner was like me, somebody who had been very nomadic in her youth and who entered her 40s realizing that she needed a home, a sense of roots, somewhere to land. Spain made sense to her the way Mexico makes sense to me. And so she bought a house and made a home, but she continued on her adventures knowing there was finally somewhere to return to. But home was fairly lonely,  so she got a cat, and eventually built the garden of her dreams. And she got very good at finding house and plant sitters that would also be good caregivers to her cat. She also found a reliable housekeeper that would make sure her house and everything was exactly in order when she would come back from her trips. And so she found a way to reconcile her nomad and her sedentary selves, to keep nourishing her need to travel while have a place to recharge.

And that’s what I’m going to do, continue to build my life by design step by logical step. And when I’m ready to travel again, I’ll have an example to follow in how to feel safe leaving my home and my girl behind.

So after working through all that, I decided that I was going to do this. My requirements were:

-not feral


-short hair


I spent some time on various Merida cat adoption groups and saw that finding an adult was going to be difficult. And then Alma showed up. And she showed up again. And again.

Alma was rescued pregnant from the street about six months ago. The lady who took her in is one of so many people in Merida who take animals off the street, sterilize them, get them medical treatment, and then adopt them out to the right home. She had no trouble finding a home for the kittens, but no one wanted a cat who was approximately three.

I could not get her big blues eyes out of my mind. I finally reached out on Friday to see if she was available. I had a chat with the lady where I learned that Alma (then Cali/Gorda) was loving but not playful and knew how to use a litter box. Her rescuer hoped to put her in a home where she would be the centre of attention and be kept as a pampered house cat. Really, it was a match meant to be! We agreed that I would pick her up yesterday, Sunday, so I had a lot to prepare on Saturday!

Friday night, I started to think about names. I wanted something that could be said in French, English, and Spanish. I looked at a list of universal names and had a visceral reaction to Alma (soul in Spanish, nourishing in Latin). I can’t explain it; I just knew that was her name.

Next was to get everything she needed. When I got Bonita, I did a Walmart run that wasn’t very fruitful. So for Alma, I instead looked on Marketplace for a pet store that might deliver and found one in Francisco de Montejo, very near me. They put together a package for me of everything I needed but her food, so I ordered that from Walmart, along with more litter. I doubt I’ll keep her on this food for long, but I will be transitioning her gently. I suspected that Alma’s rescuer would not accept any cash as compensation for everything she spent on Alma and her kittens, so I got her two bags of the food, which I figured would be easier to accept.

My friend Jan generously agreed to drive me down near the airport to pick up Alma yesterday afternoon. It sounds far, but there was almost no traffic on a Sunday afternoon, so it was a pretty quick roundtrip, less than an hour. As I expected, the food was accepted but the money was rebuffed. I’m glad I had that foresight. This woman does very good work. She even asked for a copy of my ID and was happy to learn that she could follow Alma’s progress on Instagram.

Alma was very quiet on the ride home. I had set up the “bonus” room for her, so when we got in, I opened her carrier, with the intention of letting her come out and explore at her own pace. She did lean into a quick scritch, so that was very promising!

She was out of her carrier and exploring her new room in under 30 minutes. After giving her a couple of hours to settle, I decided to see if she might want to watch some TV with me. She let herself be picked up and shocked me by snuggling next to me and purring for over two hours! My heart grew about ten sizes last night. Alma was just what I needed.

This morning, I found her under the treadmill. Soon as she saw me, she yelled at me and then she went to hide behind the blinds in the window. I gave her some time and then tried for a repeat of last night. She was again very happy to come and cuddle while I had my coffee.

I think Alma is going to be exactly the kind of cat I need her to be, like my Tabitha was when I brought her home nearly a quarter of a century ago, a loyal companion who loves to snuggle but is just fine with my abandoning her to the right people when I need to see something different.

And so, after four terrible weeks, I have a home again and getting up in the morning is going to get easier.

Kitchen Reno – Day 15

(Post 204 of 263)

Here we go again.

Most of the work that had been done has to be redone. First order of business was fixing the floor. That meant removing and redoing the “finish” coat.

The guys got started at about 9:45.

Progress by 10:45:

About 11:00:

And 11:45:

They worked to almost 6:30 PM, making sure to get the floor done all at once instead of section by section.

At this point, I thought they had goofed by leaving all their things on the counter. Nope. Time for a long break while this firmed up and then they would have to go back and apply the final skim coat.

Spoiler for an upcoming post for those who don’t watch the videos:

Registering for an RFC

(Post 203 of 263)

Back in May, I wrote about major tax reforms in Mexico requiring me to get an RFC (tax ID number).

After taking my turn in the virtual line, I checked in only once or twice to see if the line was moving and then just went about my life. I woke up last week to an email that I now had an appointment to register for the RFC. I went through the steps to get into the appointment management system and learned that my appointment was for today, August 16th, at 10:15 a.m., perfect as that was going to be a day off.

I was told to bring the following documents, but it was not clear that they wanted originals and that I did not need to bring copies since they scan everything now. Still, it is better to be over prepared!

-printout of the PDF confirming your appointment

-CURP certificate (like bringing your SIN or SSN card)

-official Mexican ID (my permanent resident card (they were not interested in my CDN passport))

-proof of address (they took a printout of my last CFE bill as I brought a copy of my last JAPAY bill and the printout looked more like an original)

-a USB flash drive if you want to get an electronic signature at the same time (I got a brand-new one especially for this purpose)

The tax ID registration process was super efficient. I left home around 9:50 for my 10:15 appointment, arriving at 10:10 because the instructions said not to show up early. There was a very long queue of people who showed up for their own 10:15 appointment up to an hour early and had to stand outside in the heat. I went right up to a guard to see what the procedure was. She said, oh, you might as well just go in, and she waved me in, and then she called all the other 10:15s to go in.

I was then at the head of the queue for the initial processing inside and then at the head of the queue to be the first one of my cohort to get the paperwork done. I ended up starting the process at about 10:30. I was happy to have that short wait because the building is air-conditioned and I was able to cool down first.

I don’t even feel a little guilty about going ahead of everybody else because I followed the instructions. 😆🤷‍♀️

Getting the RFC was dead easy. I was expecting an interview about my fiscal situation to determine if I have any tax obligations to Mexico, but the clerk took it for granted that I do not. And I do not. I earn all my money out of the country and pay taxes to a country with which Mexico has a tax treaty, so I don’t even have to file a return here. This was confirmed in 2018 when I was dealing with SAT to get a refund from INM. So the hardest part of the whole thing was describing my house characteristics and exactly where it’s located and also getting my signatures to match. 😆

The clerk said I did not need an electronic signature, but since I was there, I opted to get one anyway as it is good for four years. I got sent to another area for that, with just a couple minutes’ wait. This was super high-tech as they electronically took my fingerprints, a photo, and even a retinal scan! Coming from a country that is still mismanaging its tax collection through an inadequate phone system and 40-year-old software, Mexico feels like it is managing its affairs in the 22nd century!

I was out of there by 11:30, so even with a stop for coffee, I was home exactly 2 hours after I left. Now, I’m ready for the inevitable request for an RFC by the bank and then by the attorneys when I do the house closing procedures next year. I’m also told I’ll need this number to purchase a car. I’m so happy I did it when I didn’t need it so that it doesn’t become a stress. I know some folks got blindsided by this requirement and had to go do the procedure in another state with shorter wait times!

Real Potatoes Have Landed in Mérida!

(Post 202 of 263)

In May 2021 came exciting news that the ban on American potatoes was being rescinded and that real potatoes would soon be coming to Mexico! Now, I’m not much of a fan of potatoes, but that probably has something to do with just how bad are the little white Mexican potatoes. I do love a baked Russet, especially the crispy skin, and Russets are the potato of choice to make real (ie. Québécois-style) French fries.

I had an impromptu day off yesterday and still being kitchenless, I decided to do a Costco run to get easy-to-prepare items that would offer me more variety than what I can get at the supermarkets, like better quality/healthier cold cuts and salad mixes.

Look at what I found in the vegetable aisle!

This 10lb bag was only 152 pesos, the reasonable price a hint that it was not a one-off special item. It seemed like a lot of potatoes for one person who is not a big fan of potatoes, but I got on the Mérida Food Hunt group while I was waiting in the very long check-out queue and found a Danish gentleman who was happy to split a bag with me. I sent him my address while I endured the long wait for an Uber, and he was at my place about 20 minutes after I got home. Someone was craving real potatoes!

I promptly made my favourite coleslaw vinaigrette to coat a bag of kale coleslaw, then put four potatoes on to bake. Once they showed promise of getting soft (which was MUCh faster in the Cuisinart oven than in the gas oven!), I added a prepared pork roast the chef has never let me buy before. Everything was so delicious! I served the potato with Lurpak (Danish) butter, salt, pepper, and crema. I’ve been away from real sour cream so long now that I don’t even miss it. I just wish I’d had a little green onion also.

Very good pork roast, need to convince the chef to get it again.

I learned today that at least one Soriana is now carrying Idaho potatoes, so I suspect this product is about to go mainstream and will no longer be a black market item. I just need to learn how make cheese curds and beef gravy, invest in a fryer, and then I can open up a poutine restaurant! (I don’t even know if I’m being facetious about this — I do want to learn how to make those items, and if I pull it off, I know plenty of Quebecers here who would likely pay me for a real poutine a week… And soon as I see that I can get Russets consistently, I am going to get a fryer just to make French fries!)

I Don’t Really Need a Kitchen, Do I?

(Post 201 of 263)

Things are not going well and many are back to square one.

One positive note is that where it was done correctly, the polished concrete is amazing and exactly what I was hoping for. I just wish it wasn’t a single square foot considering how much concrete was poured.