Saturday, August 29, 2015

Memories of Japan

I ran into an article about excess housing in Japan due to a shrinking population. The article focused on Yokosuka where they are almost giving away houses that have been abandoned. Yokosuka was our Home and R&R port in Japan with a large Naval base. Yokosuka back in the early 1960's reminded me of Patzcuaro with curving, narrow streets of cobblestone and that very Japanese wood construction style with tiles roofs. We would go into town late in the day, drink too many beers and on the way back stop off at a Kobe Beef steak house or a smaller place for a huge plate of fried rice with two fried eggs over the top.

R&R means Rest and Recreation which means we can take leave and get off the ship for up to a week so here is the mystery. I have no idea how we found this ski resort in the mountains or how we figured out how to get there. Possibly there was a travel agent on the base that helped us with everything. I wanted to ski but nobody else knew how but a good friend wanted to get away. We hopped a train to Tokyo to stay one night before catching another train into the mountains the next morning. We were in civilian clothes but were obvious military and were not exactly welcome at the first big hotel. Time to stop at a bar and he had a couple rooms upstairs. Even Tokyo didn't seem huge back then.

Off to the train station in the morning and we're on our way. We would stop at every little town along the way and you could open your window and buy tangerines or a TV type dinner in a bamboo box from the vendors on the platform. At the base of the mountains they attached another engine and they both bellowed black smoke to the top where we got off.

Only one engine here but similar

The Akakura Kanko Hotel is is the most famous of all Myoko Kogen hotels and is regarded as a Japan ski industry icon. The hotel was built in 1937 and still retains its sense of history. This classic European style hotel, the first of it’s kind in Japan, is perched 1000 metres high on the slopes of Shin-Akakura (Akakan) ski area where one can ski in and ski out. Next door to Akakura Kanko Ski Resort, Akakura Kanko Hotel boasts a golf course, a tennis court and a spa centre. It features a top-floor terrace with panoramic views, 3 restaurants and hot spring baths. 

Did we have reservations, I have no idea? They sent a small bus down to the train station and before long we were checked in. It really was a European style hotel with high ceilings, lots of woodwork, huge lobby and dining room and a nice billiard room we found the first night. Don't remember if meals were included but they sat us at a long table with much English China and about 10 English speaking Europeans. We weren't that interesting to them as we were military and only about 19 years old. Maybe a choice of food but probably ate what we were served.

It was like everyone went to bed not long after dinner and when that happens they stop selling liquor. We continued playing billiards until one of the guys that worked in the kitchen came out, offered us some more beer and some billiard lessons. The 3 of us were the only sign of life until around 11 PM.

The next morning it was off to the equipment rental shop and size was an issue. I ended up with tight fitting boots and short ski's were not in fashion back then. I was used to longer ski's. Combine with snowing all day and over a foot of powder ..... I cut the day short

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thank you Donald Trump

Thank you Donald Trump, you've forced moderates to see what conservatives really are.

Couldn't resist with this train wreck circus of an asshole

I’m as liberal as they come, and I’m glad Donald Trump is running for President. It’s not because his campaign is perversely entertaining, or because his train wreck of campaign helps the odds of the democrats winning, though both those things may be true. I’m glad Trump is running because he’s taken all the code-word racism and sexism, and all the hush-hush bigotry and divisiveness that republican party politics have been tacitly based on for the past fifteen plus years, and he’s blown the lid off the entire undercover operation in a way that America will now have to own up to and deal with.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Nahima after first day in Kinder

Only mom could take the picture

Last year she lasted a day and a half and made such a fuss the local Kinder said not to bring her back. One of our neighbors is a teacher at the Kinder in Jaluco and she assured us they put up with the ones that don't want to be there. Lorena's bike has a new child seat on the back and they took the back road to Jaluco this morning. No crying or complaining at all this time. She wants to go and all the kids get new backpacks (mochilas) tomorrow. Finally growing up a little.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trying to get city water

The picture is a little more than half of the 60 meters we need to run a water pipe. Friends have two lots to the left under that large tree and I'm trying to get water there before construction starts in November. It seems that if you don't have a 2" mainline in front of your property you have to install that as well. A water contract with San Patricio is 1800 pesos but only includes 6 meters of 1/2" pipe. The 60 meter run is going to cost about 2500 pesos for material, 1200 for a backhoe and whatever a plumber charges to lay the 2" pipe.

The biggest problem is communication with the lot owners. The Canadians are very slow on email responses and Ron left San Miguel for Seattle about a week ago and I haven't heard from him. I assume Ron drove but maybe they flew and will rent a car. The two hangups so far are money and full sized (legal) copies of all the lot papers. So I wait to see what they can do for copies if they have them all and for some money deposited to my account.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to school again

Preparatoria Regional de Cihuatlán

The school bus driving starts up again tomorrow with a different route. Euriel starts Prepa which is about half way between us and Melaque. This week it will be only Euri but next week Yari starts Secondaria in Melaque. The schedule is more complicated since Yari stats at 1 PM and Euri at 2. Will probably drop him off early and let him wait. Then to really complicate things Nahima starts Kindergarten in Jaluco in the morning. Lorena thinks she can take Nahima on the back of her bike using the back roads but she lacks a seat. Vamos a ver. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Property clearing

Let property go around here and it will revert to jungle so I and my neighbor have been working on cleaning three lots in West Melaque for the last three days. Two lots are owned by Ron and Dora in San Miguel and the other owned by Audrey and her husband who are either Canadian or Alaskan. I just know they live way up there in the cold. They will all be down this winter to start working on projects.

One of Ron's two lots are for-sale (he's not sure which) but both Real Estate signs were down or halfway down and I couldn't even get to the upper one. A different weed, almost a small tree, likes to grow on the upper lot and it was extremely difficult to cut. After Hugo cut it I sprayed around the sign and a bit more to see how this weed reacted. We may be able to control it better with spray next time ?? 

The lower two lots had different weeds and easier to cut but someone had dumped a cutup palm and various pieces of garbage and a large tarp on one. Hugo thinks we can just burn the palm when the pile of cut brush dries out ..... but would have to be sneaky because the Melaque laws about burning are stricter than out in the country where we live. Another reason to spray so you don't have to clean up the mess after.

So I finally bought a back-pack sprayer which I should have done years ago. I think the first one I priced was around 1500 pesos so I bought the 300 peso one and struggled with it ever since. I did some serious shopping this week and found a number of back-pack sprayers between 500 and 600 pesos. Couldn't pass it by. I sprayed most of my property this last month but ready for the future and maybe Hugo can make a little money with it.

Upper lot - There's a fallen sign there somewhere

Cleaned and sign refastened 

Lower two lots - before

Lower two lots - after

Fumigador de Mochila - The one I bought

Saturday, August 08, 2015

A tired Ambulance Day

I needed some cat and dog food, to charge my Cel and to check out prices on a back-pack sprayer. Lorena needed something which I don't remember and Vero needed some baby stuff from Farmacia Arias. Off we headed for a quick hour long trip.

At the last water crossing we came across Reina, a neighbor,  who told us that the old guy sitting on the side of the road slipped while crossing the water and fell. Lorena noticed he was crying from the pain. He was with his wife but very little she could do so we put our heads together and decided he needed a ride to Centro de Salud. Luckily people passing were helpful because he needed to be lifted into the car. Two moms, three kids and me were joined by this elderly couple into Melaque.

I got a wheel chair at Centro de Salud and again passer-bys helped move him from the car to the chair. Almost immediately the nurse determined he needed an X-Ray on his knee but Seguro Popular was not there so he had to go to Rayos-X's which is about 4 blocks away. More pain for him and more helpful people getting him into "the Ambulance".

We left he and his wife at the X-Ray shop while we did all our chores and came back about a half hour latter. He definitely had a broken knee and two X-Rays at 300 pesos a piece was 600 and she didn't have that much. Only option was to head back to Pinal Villa for the wife's money and Lorena and Vero had clothes in machines and hungry families.

I went back 20 minutes later to take her and her 600 pesos to the X-Ray shop and was relieved to find family there with a vehicle and ready to take over "the Ambulance" duties. All in the life of living in a small and relatively poor community.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Mystery garden

So I guess I need to start with the mystery. I've planted so many things on this end of the planter that haven't come up at all I just about gave up. Leaving it fallow wasn't an option so I grabbed some more seeds, planted them .... and now I forget what they are. It's easier to take care of plants if you know what they are but I know they are not leafy because I've had no luck with leafy. Probably not very large or I wouldn't have planted so many. Guess it will remain a mystery until they get bigger.

The Carambolas are amazing. Neighbors went away with 3 large bags and sold them right away. I like them but way too many for me ...... and another crop is ready for picking.

The Banana plants have a second crop and I think these are the small super sweet ones. There is a flower in there somewhere because I saw a Humming Bird checking it out the other day. This is actually the third crop but because the second was on the lot next door a neighbor beat me to the harvest.

The Palm at the bottom was growing about 3 inches from a neighbors house and they were worried about their foundation. It was 2 meters high then and I bought it for 200 pesos. Now it's 4 meters high and produces more and more of these seeds and flowers that attract tons of bees/wasps. For some reason my not very expensive camera goes out of focus on closeups so I tried my IPhone that I recently found would zoom. It did pretty well though not easy to use .... but that is a bee/wasp at the top. Those little green coco's eventually turn red and drop to the ground.

Mystery veggies

Carambolas - Star Fruit

Banana's - Platanos

Palm flowers

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Sisters on the computer

When the girls and mom are over using my "automatic" washing machines, Yari the 12 year old likes to kill time using my Internet. Facebook is popular and less expensive on a computer than her Cel Fone. This is the first time Nahima, aged 5, has been really interested. Yari does her homework (a lot of it) on that computer. She knows how to plug in the USB printer, load paper, use Google search and cut and paste text and graphics into MS Word to print.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Volunteer Ferns

At least I never knowingly bought them. The heavy duty broad leaf ones have been doing well in my planter for quite awhile and I even transplanted a few to pots. Suddenly a few weeks ago I saw two new branches pop up with the yet unborn leaves rolled into a ball ready to be unfurled. Much to my surprise it's a different type of fern with much more delicate leaves. The broad leaf ferns don't send out new branches like that, at least that I've noticed. I do remember large ferns on the Olympic Peninsula using that frond unfurling method.

Almost everything I bought at nursery's (vivero's) came with another plant or two, sometimes knowingly and others snuck in the back door. The orange/pink plant below I have no idea where it came from or what it is but it produces a lot of seeds and spreads. Another is Noche Buena or Poinsettia. This Noche Buena does not get totally red leaves, just a little red in he middle. It keeps popping up all over the yard well after I've pulled up all the old and tired ones

Young delicate frond popping up

With 12,000 species I don't expect know which is which

Broad leaves in planter with unknown 

Two unknowns but I'm assuming the lower is a weed
From Facebook the orange identified as Crossandra

The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

Sparks Mexico Web
Manzanillo Information
House building in Pinal Villa

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