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Friday, September 25, 2009

Tug O' War

Well, it has been less than 24 hours and Barney and Shila have learned a new trick- tug o' war. This is going to be the best ever! Right now Barney has the height advantage, but at the rate Shila eats, and her current girth, she will outweigh him in no time. While Barney goes bounding across the yard- Shila follows at an accelerated waddle.

And Nathan has warmed up to Shila, almost on first sight. She is still feisty and can put both of them in their place (more a brave show of teeth and growls, rather than a true threat), but she is much more submissive than Barney, so Nate has even slept this close, something he's never done with Barney.

Today, Nate , is going to the vet- not to get tutored , but you know what.... We hope this will mellow out the mix. After having the cat for about 6 months, Barney for 2 weeks, and Shila for a day, I don't know how anyone who works does anything. Being retired, with nothing more to do than care for the pets (and trying to train them), cook, sleep and eat- I can just barely get through the day. How do people with pets, jobs, children, social and religious obligations do it!? Seriously! My hat goes off to the valiant working men and women of the world who manage to care for their families, jobs and personal life and remain sane.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Puppy on Board

Yes I am writing about a 2nd puppy. After berating Denise for getting a puppy, last week at the feria, without any input from me and being railroaded into taking the puppy over mild objections. I thought it best to accompany her, there, myself, to keep these things from happening. Anyway- could you really turn this down? This guy came through the feria with 2 puppys, one male and one female. They were sooooooo cute. Anyway, I melted. So much for toeing the line.

We took the one with the pink ribbon (either she supports breast cancer or she is a female- either one OK) and are planning on calling her Shila (pronounced Sheila). Let's see, now- 2 weeks ago Denise got Barney, today we got Shila. At this rate we will end up with 26 dogs by next year. So we also got 2 more roses for Denise's rose garden and several pet rugs with varying designs. We will have tile floors probably carpeted with these wooly throws.
We've got to stop going to the ferias.

On the car front, we had almost everything we could think of done to the Bug. The list includes rebuilding the carburetor all new ignition parts, front brakes and some rubber sleeves on the axles and many other things. Along with the 2 new tires, the bill came to $600 (US). We did discover one other minor problem that needs to be fixed (a bearing that requires the motor to be pulled), so another couple of hundred and we will be on the road.

Nathan and Barney are getting along well. A little too well. Nate has begun to look at Barney as his little "boy toy", and we are going to have to get the cat fixed tomorrow, to keep him from completely brutalizing Barney (Barney- don't bend over to pick up the soap!). The new puppy, however, should provide quite an interesting bit of entertainment. Who needs TV?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Krispy Kreme on the Road

Well, we finally finalized our purchase of that VW fusca (Beetle) and thought we would say goodbye to some memorable times on the Uruguayan bus system.

For almost a year, we have enjoyed the buses in UY. For the most part they are clean, and if you don't travel during rush hour, they are spacious. During rush hour, the buses operate on standing room only, and Uruguayans do not have a "space" requirement. They are happy to stand packed (and I mean packed) back to back, side to side and every which way for up to an hour. And more space can always be found for the new arrivals.

During a bus ride, you may be treated to: guitar music, offers to buy candy, gum, band aids, socks (among other things). On one trip, 2 local actors played out a scene from a local melodramatic production (very badly, I might add- way over acted). We won't have that type of entertainment in the VW.

The bus drivers decorate their own buses in their own style. Here you can see fuzzy dice. Hmmmmm- apparently there are no revue boards for decorations.

However, now, we will probably be doing more traveling in our little Fusca. We found the car on MercadoLibre (UY's version of Ebay). We saw the vehicle and agreed to a price of $3600 for the '87 bug (we did get $100 off the price). That was over a month ago. At that time- we turned the deal over to our escribano. Escribanos handle all kinds of title transfers, including houses and apparently, cars. You would be hard pressed to do the paperwork yourself. They get certificates from police departments, tax offices and other offices to certify that the car has no liens against it. In fact, the process is almost exactly like transferring a house (and almost as complicated).

Because the car was registered in another county, the escribana had to pay an agent to do the paperwork up there, and it took shy of 4 weeks before that paperwork was sent back. Then, since it had been so long, our conscientious escribana ran the documents a second time, in case the situation had changed in the last month. Satisfied they set up a meeting last night, and the title document was read and signed and the keys were turned over. The deal was not completed, however, since the papers need to be sent back on last time to finish it up.

The cost of the transfer was higher than anticipated. I had thought $200-$300 would be expected, but it cost over $575 for the fees. A good portion was the notary fees. We might have saved some money using another escribana, but this is the one who did our house sale and we were comfortable using them, so we have no complaint, merely a mild surprise.

The seller drove us back to his house, which was close to the Rambla and we took that home, since driving in Montevideo, at night, in a new car (or any car during the day for that matter) is a hazardous affair. I am happy to say we arrived home safely, and after freeing the dog and cat from their enforced confinement (and cleaning the floors)- we turned in for a good night's rest.

This morning, after making a thorough inspection of the Krispy Kreme, I am pleased that it is basically in good shape. I took it to a local Gomeria (tire store) for 2 new tires (Pirelli's for $70/each) as well as a basic tune up and oil change. It was kind of strange driving around. This is only the 2 time I have driven in this country and we plan to be doing much more, now that Denise and I can travel together with ease. I am putting the motorcycles up for sale (I think the mechanic who is working on the car my put them in front of his shop) and we will be happy to be able to drive without helmets, gloves or other safety gear. Hey- with traffic in Montevideo being what it is- maybe I should keep the helmets to wear while driving in town.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night......

This is just a brief update for Friday's activity. Nothing to report on the remodel scene. Barney and Nate are getting along famously (the new dog and our cat). It is quite entertaining to watch them play.

I have noticed over the last few days quite a difference between cats and dogs (duh!). I have always been a dog person. In fact, it has been over 35 years since we had a cat in the house (prior to Nate, I have been mildly allergic to cats), while we have had dogs several times we never have had a dog and cat at the same time. While I am still a dog person, I may be shifting slightly to the cat side because of these differences. For instance the cat's idea of cleanliness is a thorough tongue bath over his entire body (including head), using his paw as a wet comb. Very impressive. The dog, on the other hand, is satisfied if only his genital and anal areas are thoroughly, and I do mean thoroughly, licked down. The cat carefully buries it feces, then checks carefully to make sure it is completely buried without smell, while the dog merrily takes a dump wherever it wants and does not even bother to think what might happen to those coming behind him. The cat can manipulate just about anything with it's very agile paws. The dog can bite things. Now, this might not be great revelation to animal enthusiasts, but it is the first time I have been able to observe cats and dogs head to head (in a manner of speaking).

The last few days has been rainy, progressing to cloudy and rainy and tonight we are experiencing a typical Uruguayan storm. That is to say it is windy. And windy here is very windy, it doesn't come and go- it just stays blowing for hours and hours. Now surprisingly a few blocks from the beach, the wind abates significantly. But it rages here, tonight at the coast. We've battened down the hatches. Got the fire going, the shutters pulled over the windows and we are settled in for the night. Barney just woke up and took his nightly constitutional, seemingly undisturbed by the howling winds (he's Uruguayan). But we are warm and snuggled up on this dark and stormy night....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Barney & Nathan

Well, after almost a week, Nathan has just about gotten adjusted to the fact that we have a new member of the family. The first meetings of Nathan and Barney were tentative, to say the least. However, after the first akward encounters, Nathan is finally accepting Barney and even "stalking" him in the yard and in the house. In fact, Barney had better beware of "Ninja Cat" as he blithely goes his way. Kind of like Kato in the Pink Panther series. Nathan has not been using his claws- a noble effort at self control.

On the "Bug Hunt" scene- we finally have a date set for the final papers to be signed and ownership transfered to us. Next Monday we should be the proud owners of a 1987 VW Fusca. It has taken over a month, until all of the papers could be assembled and verified and registered. When all is said and done, I will post a blow by blow description of the purchase and process of registration.

On the home front- nothing new to report. The iron worker, cabinet maker will all be coming "tomorrow". That has been weeks ago. No worry. However, we do have an appointment at 5:00 tomorrow with a very reliable worker to finish the tile work on the rest of the interior floors. We bought that tile over a year ago and it has been sitting and waiting for this day. It is excited.

With the sunny weather of the past few days, we have all been out in the yard. Denise planting, I am weeding and Barney- well, "It's a dog's life".....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barney Has Arrived

Today was feria day and besides toilet paper, paper towels, flour and assorted pastas, Denise brought home a little puppy. We had been talking about getting a dog for some time, now and I guess she just figured it was time. Looks kind of labrador"ish", don't you think?

Denise has this thing about the "universe" giving her things and she just has to take them. In this case the "universe" turned out to be a very sharp lady at the feria, giving pups away, and despite Denise's objections, she handed her the dog and made away; Denise standing with the puppy in a box and muttering something like, "I'll think about it...." Who was the smartest one in that transaction?

"Universe": 1 - Denise: 0

We will call him Barney, and even though I have had no say in the matter, I'm sure he will work out well for us. He got his first bath, today and also got in his first fight with Nathan (the cat). It was a short lived battle, with Nathan taking some kind of a swipe at him and Barney raising a howl that I heard from the opposite side of the house in the front courtyard. Welcome to your new home, Barney- it can only get better from here on out.

Speaking of things getting better- the weather has been getting better and better. I guess you would say we have entered into Spring and if today is any indication- I'm going to love this Spring. Sunny, warm (60's) and with a slight breeze- does it get any better? Probably, yes- in the summer. Anyway for now, we are full up on the pet scene. One dog, one cat- and a highly domesticated husband.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Made in Uruguay

This past week was an annual arts & crafts fair that they call "Hecho Aca" (Made Here), held in the exposition halls near one of the large shopping malls in Montevideo (Portones Shopping). We saved our visit until Sunday, the last day. It was actually fortunate, because on the last day, deep discounts might be enjoyed (though we didn't know it at the time). Next year we will be sure and wait until the last day.....

After a year in Uruguay and seeing what many shops had to offer in the way of clothing, arts and crafts- we weren't sure what we would find there. I half-expected to find a rather dismal offering. However, we were pleasantly surprised with the variety and quality of the products. Coming from Seattle, we used to attend a yearly art show (Bellevue Arts & Crafts), where quality and workmanship is the finest. The cost of entry to Hecho Aca was 70 pesos each ($3 US) and well worth it.

We first entered the judged area, where the prize winners were on display, then onto the booths were art, crafts, clothes and food items could be purchased. The cute little flock of sheep above was one of the first place winners in the unique category. There were categories for one-of-a-kind pieces and then also for items which were reproduced for sale. One of the differences between the Bellevue Arts & Crafts show and Hecho Aca, were the prices. We saw art that we, even on a budget, could afford to buy. The selection was as varied as any selection we have ever seen. Among the offerings were: glass art, carvings, oil & charcoal paintings, leather goods and lots of jewelry (of particular interest to my wife). While walking around the floor area, we were delighted to see a small troupe of young ballerinas, wending their way through the crowd and dancing to the classical music we were enjoying.

We almost purchased a complete, tanned and beautifully presented cowhide for our living room floor for $177 (US). At the last minute they didn't take MasterCard (Visa is the preferred card in Uruguay), and we had too many things to carry to stop at a cash machine.

Denise found the picture that we will put over the fireplace. It is an all-wood product, and the individual pieces (much like a jig-saw puzzle) are in high relief and hand painted. This 24' x 30' piece of art cost about $188 (US). These are obviously not individually made, but still a very substantial and unique piece for our living room and with a theme that reminds us we are living in South America. Yes, that is me below in pajamas. What can I say? It is Monday morning, a little drizzle coming down and I'm not getting out of my pajamas.

Taking a break from the show, we walked across the street to the Portones Shopping Mall and tried the Chinese shop in the food court. As Uruguay is not really noted for many foreign food restaurants, it is nice to occasionally enjoy something different (or familiar as the case may be). It was not the greatest Chinese food I have ever eaten, but the portions were generous and for a little over $9, we got all we could eat. We will visit again when the craving strikes.

Then back to the show to pick up some natural peanut butter, some marmalade (orange and whiskey), our purchase (which had been boxed for us) and home again. Hecho Aca will be a regular part of our year, here and knowing what we know about it, now, we will go back prepared to enjoy more of the local art.