Thursday, June 18, 2015

Long time, no see - sorry!

My mind often seems to be elsewhere, and although I mentally compose a new blog, I haven't sat down to write. Sorry, Constant Reader...mea culpa.

I kinda think rainy season is here, but cannot be sure. The weather and the wind seem to change almost daily. A week back, we had terrific thunderstorms over a few nights. One seemed to hang overhead for hours, and kept us awake a lot of that night. The grass is loving this! Coming in fresh and bright green, and plants are growing, not withering. We are trying to get the dripping shower for the pool fixed, and it is (as usual) taking a lot of time. Our builder has agreed to fix the septic field after a few calls from our lawyer! Apparently they never installed a leach field...what d'ya know. So this should all get done before we get that offer...

Otherwise, life trickles on, me never knowing what day it is, and Chris busily maintaining all. He likes being busy - retirement suits him fine, but he loves his "busyness" every morning. Those afternoon dips in the pool are smashing...the only way to fully cool down. In a few weeks, I will be off to Canada for the summer visit plus various medical appointments. No return ticket yet as I have no idea when I can come back.

Panama living never really is as beautiful, calm, yet frustrating as ever! We heard  our favourite shopping mecca, El Rey in Chitre, was to close, but then discovered it is actually moving over to where the Novey is. Two visits to favoured shops in one go! The US/Canada exchange rate continues to alarm us with no indications of any changes. Makes life a whole lot tougher for us Canadians with pensions! Still, we manage to feed those precious cats - all ten now! Our own two, Fredi and her growing brood of four gorgeous babies, plus three from earlier litters. Time to get the act together and neuter the lot! Animal Advocates here has said they will help us.

Chris' hat makes a comfy bed...

Is that a camera again?

Belly up to the bar, boys

No fighting...although the space is a little tight

So, onward ho - there's nowhere to go but up! Ciao...

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rain? What rain?

A week of pleasant weather with only a couple of brief showers . Temperatures hover around mid-eighties with humidity at 64% or so. Rainy season is yet to arrive!

Last Wednesday we spent a pleasant visit with Tim and Cathy - floated around their pool with a drink, enjoyed a delicious lasagna with salad and buns, then laughed ourselves silly again playing Wizard. Tim won both games (as usual) and although I held my own in the first game, I sank miserably for the second one. I will buy that game on my next trip home! Then to  find some crazies like us to play...

On Friday, our TV decided to play silly buggers, and kinda packed in.  The day before the FA Cup final at Wembley... AAAAGH! Chris whipped off to Smiley's Restaurant on Saturday morning to find the game not on. He asked John (owner) about it and John even went home to get a USB thingy so he could watch. Chris was the only spectator there, and managed two beers to accompany Arsenal's great 4-0 win over Aston Villa. Two years in a row - next year, the Cup and the League title boys!

That same evening, we were off to Ted and Tina's to help celebrate Cathy's upcoming birthday on Tuesday. Nice wine, Ted cooked thick juicy hamburgers, and Texas beans (yummies) and there were salads, chicken wings, twice baked potatoes, buns, breads, and finally cupcakes. A tasty dinner and good conversation. Just 10 of us, but a pleasant time for all...

Up at 4:30 am on Sunday, we drove Tom and Theresa to the bus in Chitre. They are back to Toronto after a whirlwind visit of barely two weeks. I will miss  them - Theresa and I have lively and deep talks. So, a new week starts, and the word is that the folks who looked over the house may be truly interested. The price is bargain basement, and anyone buying stands to make a whack of money within the next two years! If all went well, Chris and the cats could be winging home along with me in July! I am looking forward to this coming trip. It may be a long one, depending very much on what the Cardiologist tells me.

The garden here is slowly recovering from its beating. Needs that rain steady over several days to truly look good again though. The way everything grows once it rains regularly is almost miraculous. I swore last year I could hear the plants straining as they stretched!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Today, light showers with thunder; lots of lightning at night, but have we reached rainy season? The wind is changing for sure, but everything remains so dry! The humidity is driving us all nuts...

All cats are present and correct - the little ones are getting so much bigger, soon they will match their mother for size. They are so skittish, and so beautiful. I long to pick them up and stroke their little selves. Mitzi goes crazy twice a day, especially if one of the older kittens gets in the house (usually Tobi). She's quite a laugh, but absolutely wacko! We do relish her mad moments, and I just sing "Wild Thing" and laugh along.

We have had three enquiries this past week about our house. One nice couple from Georgia took a look and declared the house lovely, but no offer? The others are out-of-towners dealing with agent Jon from afar. Fingers crossed, even though we will lose a whack of moolah.

The exchange rate is around 80% right now; still not good for us, but better than 70% or less, for sure! We budget on a monthly basis now. In Canada, we expect  to be more settled and financially stable. No debts would be nice!

With our pals Tom and Theresa here for a couple of weeks, we are lapping up ice cream from time to time. A delicious treat. Tom loves his ice cream - we should coat him with time moves on slowly enough, and yet the weeks roll by quickly, and we are getting impatient for the next phase of our lives together...I'm supposedly off to Canada in mid-June, but would delay three weeks if an offer arrived on our Monday morning doorstep. Hint!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rainy season almost upon us

The past week has remained humid and uncomfortable for many of us. The wind periodically changes direction; sometimes a few drops of rain fall; we all need the rain!I think many gringos prefer rainy season for many reasons. It is a little cooler and often less humid; everything stays so green and lush; the air feels less heavy; it is a good reason to stay in and goof off!

The pool temp reached 35C and has now dropped to 30 degrees. I test with my elbow every day - it has been so like the baby's tub. Not at all refreshing. No crabs or frogs right now, but they will come - they always do. We were warned on our first year here to beware the rains - all the little creatures would be seeking higher ground. And they did!

My plans to whip home for medical appointments etc. are completed. Sorry that Chris is not coming again! However, he will be maintaining the house while I am away, in case it sells. We visited Berta the other day, and got our usual boost. She is so positive and delightful - another pal I will miss very much. We got in one card evening the past week. We are now Master Wizards in our own right, and I will buy this game as soon as I find it in Canada.

All cats are present and correct this past week. Scruff is turning into quite a beauty, and Tobi remains sweet and pretty. Lucky still loves us to death and is all over us when we are outside. The kittens are growing like crazy - really adorable and how we would love to cuddle them. Fredi moves through life on her own terms - aloof, but close by. Our own two remain active and healthy - little do they know they will be travelling a huge distance sometime soon.

A couple viewed our office furniture today and are considering purchasing it. Interest in the house should show soon with the price drop. The dollar exchange has eased a tad, but not enought yet. I predict no big gains and expect the status quo to remain for the rest of this year at least. The couple who came by today are planning to start a property management business along with high cost house sales. Some new competition! I wished them luck.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Much activity, changes, confusion!

Sorry to my Constant Readers, but I have been so up to the ears in Internet activity, and with frequent failures of the get the picture!

I had arranged for our house here to be rented for a full year, and we were busily packing into storage office items etc, when Chris announced a few mornings ago that he wanted to cancel the whole shebang. I briefly considered strangling him, but thought a nanosecond longer and changed my mind along with all the carefully planned bookings and arrangements! It took me days to complete the plans and a couple of hours to undo the lot!

I'm not a happy camper, as they say, but his rationale was sound. So, we have now placed our property here for sale with a local agent who charges 6% across the board (highway robbery), and as per my usual summer move, I am off to Canada for an extended visit in June. I will be expecting a pacemaker replacement sometime in the next several months, and will await that. Staying with my daughter number 2 may proved hazardous to her health, so I may seek a rental suite. Lots to arrange once more. We are totally serious about returning to Canada now. Getting older and missing family is a huge part of this decision, but also paradise is not always all it is cracked up to be either!

Meanwhile here, the weather is trying to become rainy season with little success. We had two terrific thundering storm days at the end of April and the entire Azuero peninsula added to the ozone depletion with its collective sigh of relief! Short-lived...we are now back to dry, humid days with temperatures over 90 degrees F, and our pool measures a baby bath temperature of 35 degrees C. So, still watering a few times a week, taking a daily bath in the pool to rinse off the sweat, and waiting.

All 10 cats have been around the last several days. Fredi and brood await their morning meal with cries of 'hurry up', Lucky and Scruff have returned from their holiday elsewhere, and Tobi has fully adopted us as her saviours. She loves to sleep in the guest bedroom, but leaves with no protest when we turf her out. The kittens are over two months now, and really lovely little creatures. Very active, and having a whole whack of fun on the cat tree.

Mitzi loves watching them and has no hostility if one comes into the house...Cagney simply ignores it all. I will miss this lot when away! The entertainment value alone is worth the price of admission.

A few days ago, our septic tank/field backed up and all three toilets flooded. What a stench! It took Chris a long time to clear all this, then we waited a few days to get someone to pump out the tank. Nasty bastard charged us $330 to pump it out, then left it half full and said he need another $280 to return to complete the job! I'm waiting to get a Spanish speaking pal to confront the s.o.b. My Spanish is limited when it comes to threats and anger!

As I say, paradise often leaves something to be desired! Despite saying that, there are many times we have loved being here and wouldn't trade this experience for anything. We had our fling, our last kick of the can, and now can become the perfect grandparents we should long as the family wants us back. LOL? The friends we have made here are the biggest loss, and we hope we don't lose contact with them. Not that anyone should worry, we aren't leaving imminently.

Fredi and one kitten

A typical napping day

Lucky and Scruff

All four at once? Maybe three...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Muggy, windless, clear sky and heat

It is 93F on our shady patio this afternoon, and our pool records a balmy 90F. Not as refreshing as one would prefer, but just getting wet seems to help. The wind is much less these days and the last week has been very warm. I'm surprised to note the humidity measures only 65% as it feels so much more muggy without the wind.

There is a Conference of the Americas in the City this weekend, so traffic was diverted all over Panama, and no doubt a police and militia presence was conspicuous. I was invited to a reception with Stephen Harper put on by the Canadian Embassy, but couldn't get there. Just as well, because I would've organized all those Canadians into a protest against the exchange rate! It is killing us all here. 30% ! Who is this jerk kidding anyway? Canadian voters, let your dissatisfaction be known!

Our latest kitten family has ventured along the patio to the food and water source, and they have discovered the climbing tree while here. Such fun watching their antics!

Fredi and the four latest...

I have had to shoot all these through glass, so forgive any reflective issues! The little guys are so skittish, it is like a stampede whenever they see us as they head for the safety of their drain. Meanwhile, Toby and Scruff have been made unwelcome at the back, so they now turn up at the front door to eat. Toby often wants to come inside and softie Chris allows her in, then we find her later:

Tobi in the guest bedroom; at least she picks the right room

Our pals, Bil and MaryEllen have been occupied the last 10 days with visiting family,, so their quick visit today was welcomed. Today is a decade birthday for Bill, who looks (and acts) about 35, maybe 40.  He is a great friend and I bet all his pals in Ohio miss him a lot!  We wish them both a great year:

MaryEllen and Bill

So, I have booked planes and rental car for my next visit to Canada in mid-June. I will experience my youngest grand-daughter's graduation from high school and spend 3 weeks carousing with family, friends and whomever I can. Three weeks is a perfect visiting time, and this year I can once again attend the July 1st celebrations in Mission. Must be sure my tan is really dark so they can all groan...

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A lively week!

Last Sunday we spent a happy hour in our revised pool. So glad to have it back, and I still know how to swim after all!  It looks really beautiful, and very designer-like as Steve promised. Been in there every day since and started our pool exercises once more:


A great start to an interesting week as it turned out.  Tuesday was a busy day with collating our tax materials and sending these to Canada to our accountant. We reduced the asking price on this house at the Agent's, and came home to find Fredi had somehow transported four adorable and evidently identical tawny coloured kittens to our cat B&B!  They were frolicking under the first palm by the pool, as happy as kittens can be.  Fredi sat amidst them contented and relaxed. Oh, boy - four more to try to neuter! How will we ever catch this lot? As she did with her previous three litters, they are esconced in the drainage pipe that runs around the pool to drain patio overrun, and dart back in there at the slightest hint of nerves. These are absolutely lovely little guys and gals, three being so identical we can barely tell them apart and one having slightly more noticeable ginger stripes. They are very lively and have been a source of much laughter from our bedroom window which is how I film them.

Fredi is keeping all the other cats at bay, and hardly leaves the area. Over time, she will relax and no doubt the whole lot will be playing with each other soon.  I would dearly love to find homes for all of them and be sure they are all spayed/neutered. Lucky is one of the most loving cats I've known and would make a great pet.

Fredi in the background; the stripy one is mostly hidden

As any regualr reader of this blog will understand, I have spent much of  the week monitoring all these little guys and refilling food and water dishes! I am slowly but surely becoming the cat lady I predicted, and this is truly Casa de Gatos!

We are well into Santa Semana (Holy Week) so the development is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. We all avoid town on these holidays and stock up on groceries ahead.  Easter is more of a festive  time in Canada, with most of us holding special dinners. Not so here - it is a religious festival. At one time in my life, I dressed myself and the three kids in new outfits to attend the church services at Easter and we always went for a pancake breakfast afterwards. Memories! None of my children or their families attend church regularly despite all those years of Sunday School and the junior choir, and to my chagrin, none of my grand-children are baptized. This being a mostly Roman Catholic country, the church is central to village life and our little church on the square is filled each Sunday.

Our local church before the Royal Palms were cut and new ones planted