2022…and so it begins!

Happy New Year!

The holidays were very good for us here in Mexico. We enjoyed a visit from our daughter, Stephanie, and we had a great Holiday Open House to show off the home renovations and let Stephanie meet some of our friends and neighbors. Ziggy and Marley liked the attention Steph heaped upon them!

Having the Open House also forced us to get the artwork on our walls. Now we can show you the finished product — part of it, at least.

Here’s a short video showing the living room (no sound this time). We are particularly pleased with how the fireplace turned out:

You may remember there was a lot of purple in the living room, especially on the fireplace. We decided to make the fireplace the same color as the walls and add a row of tiles from our local vendor of Talavera style pottery and art. We hope to put more Talavera artwork in the front courtyard and on the patio. Love the colors!

Here’s what our office/TV room looks like now:

And here’s the guest room and guest bath:

There’s more artwork to install. Deciding how to decorate the master bedroom comes next. But with most of our art on the walls, Leslie and I feel much more “at home” now.

What’s next? Landscaping and an improved front courtyard. We know the fountain in front needs to be moved because it’s right in front of the door and a few people have come close to falling because of its location. We’ll be working soon with a landscaper to develop a plan, ensuring that we have blooming plants all year round and a nice herb garden as well.

A few photos below to show our Christmas decorations. And we hope 2022 will be a better year for everybody!

Hasta luego!

The stockings were hung and the tree was trimmed!
A great place for our olive wood Nativity set from Bethlehem.

Kitten update, painting update, and Halloween fun

The front of the house looks great in blue, but we have more work to do before it’s finished. At least there’s no more purple!

Lots of pictures and videos this time, not much text.

Leslie and I have a freshly painted house — inside and out! The painting crew, led by Enrique and Fabian, did a fantastic job. We were most impressed with the cleanup, both during the project and at the end. They even painted the propane tank blue to match the house!

So the outside is finished but the inside is a different story. Now we have to figure out where all the artwork goes. We may need to supplement our collection with a few works by excellent local artists. I’ll post interior photos when we get some of that work done. Hopefully it won’t be too long, but these are tough decisions!

We’re taking a short break from renovation now. Phase 3 should begin in the spring. That’s going to be upgrading the landscaping, much of which is overgrown, and renovating the front courtyard. Any large-scale planting will probably be done in May or June, closer to the beginning of rainy season.

Here’s the back of the house.
A reminder of how the house looked when we bought it a little over a year ago.

Ziggy and Marley continue to grow and cause more problems every day. Ziggy loves to chew on our newspapers and on paper towels his fishes out of bathroom trash receptacles. And they both insist on playing with the laces on my hiking boots, which are on the floor in my closet. Do they have real kitty toys? Yes, we bought several! Oh, well.

Marley is definitely a lap cat, and Ziggy is learning as he gets older. They are still just three and four months old.

More next time! Hasta luego!

They just keep getting cuter every day.
Ziggy and Marley love to play-fight with each other. Of course, they’re kittens so they are easily distracted.
Some neighbors up the hill threw a party Oct. 31 for Halloween. Several people got their faces painted in the “catrina” style popular here on the Day of the Dead. Here’s Leslie — who got a “glamorous” catrina — with our dear friend Esther.
Our neighbors Stephanie (left) and Kate enjoy the Halloween party.
And finally, a whole-sky sunset from a few nights ago, panning from east to west from our “mirador,” a sitting area on the roof designed for exactly this.

Rainy season ending, and we have kittens!

We’ve missed sunsets like this one from a few nights ago. They are rare during rainy season, so this may indicate rainy season is over for 2021. Soon, the mountainsides will be turning brown.

The painting on our house is almost done, and soon we’ll have great things to show you. But the big news from here is the two kittens — los gatitos — Leslie and I have adopted! Both males, Ziggy is only about two months old, while Marley is three months.

They came to us as Ziggy and Azafrán — not litter-mates but “best buddies” according to their foster caregivers, Kimrey and Juan. We really liked the name Ziggy, and it fits him! Azafrán is Spanish for “saffron.” It’s a pretty name, but it’s a mouthful so we needed to make a change for him. Many thanks to those who offered lots of great options. Our dear friend Jo-Jo suggested Marley so we would have Ziggy Marley! Thanks, Jo-Jo!

Ziggy (right) and Marley pose in a rare quiet moment.

They are rescues and seem to love their new home. Of course, they’re kittens so everything is a toy! They come from the Lake Chapala Society, which has lush, beautiful grounds and a number of feral cats. These two are from litters born to those cats. Several other kittens were placed, and at least one of the feral cats has now been spayed.

Leslie saw photos of these two on Facebook and just couldn’t wait any longer to have cats in the house again. Marley reminds us both of our dear Max and Sam, our companions in Illinois. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching these two grow up, as we did with Max and Sam.

These little guys are constantly playing and wrestling with each other. Of course, that’s what kittens do! They take turns being the aggressor. I shot some video of them play-fighting, but it wouldn’t load properly on the Word Press image gallery.

I hope we can share photos soon of the house transformation. Then Leslie and I will live for several months (we hope) without any renovation going on. There’s still work to do done, but we need a break! We think landscaping will be next, but probably not until spring.

More good news. I have taken on a new volunteer role that’s interesting and doesn’t take a lot of time. I am translating Spanish news articles into English for local weekly newspaper Seminario Laguna. Okay, not really “translating,” more like “editing,” which is what I do best.

The Spanish-language paper has two pages in English. Along with several other volunteers, I take assigned articles in Spanish, translate them into English using DeepL (which is an outstanding online translation tool), then edit the result so it’s more understandable to ex-pats and other English-speakers. I may get a chance to do some writing also.

Finally, a shout-out to the Chicago Sky, who just won their first Women’s NBA championship! It’s a great day for Chicago sports!

More photos next time! Hasta luego!

Napping in the office chair.
Sleeping on the couch.

Phase 2 is underway

New front entrance. The doors are made of perota wood, which is beautiful and resistant to termites.

The second phase of our home renovation has begun. All doors and windows have been replaced and the front entrance has been transformed from black metal sliding glass doors to a standard double door with side panels that open to let the breezes through. The fixed panels are now etched glass with a pattern that matches the windows in the new master bathroom.

Here’s the old front entrance. Sliding glass doors. A friend came to see us once and said, “You don’t have a proper front door.” Now we do.

Now we can start painting the house inside and outside, which is the second half of Phase 2.

Interior painting should begin by early September. We have chosen a nice neutral color that looks great with our artwork and rugs. The guest suite will be a nice light teal color with darker teal trim. We’re still debating about a color for the master bedroom.

Exterior painting, a nice light blue with white trim, will have to wait until rainy season is over. That’s probably early November. So we hope Phase 2 will be over by Christmas.

We had several of these around the house, trying to decide which color to use. We went with the big square on the right for the living/dining area and the office. The exterior will be very similar to the small blue square, upper right.

What’s next? Probably landscaping. We have a lot to do in the front because all the large plants were removed for the addition of the new bathroom. We also need to redesign the front patio and move the fountain, which right now is in an awkward place directly in front of the main door. Plants in the back are badly overgrown, so we need to look at that too. At some point, I’m hoping to renovate the office area, which doubles as the family room, or TV room. Phase 3 certainly won’t happen until 2022.

More photos below. Hasta luego!

The guys had trouble getting the old doors removed, so they ended up working pretty late to get everything installed for us.
New front entrance from the inside. More privacy, classier look.