Thursday, December 30, 2010

Venting ... With a Question at the End.


Sometimes I feel like I have so much to say it wants to leak out the crevices and orifices of my body, overflowing. And sometimes it feels like I have nothing to say. Dry. Tired. Too much work to open my mouth and call forth the images within for translation. And sometimes these two opposing states occur at the same time.

Like now.

Maybe bullet points would work.
I could get some stuff out, but not really have to elaborate on them.


  • Paul was supposed to be in surgery today, but the doctor cancelled again. He wants to do more research and get more materials. Paul is second-guessing his trust in this doctor and wants to get a second opinion from OSHU. We will miss our end of year deadline for remaining medical procedures and doctor's appointments and come January 1st will have to start paying on the deductible all over again. $5000. Out of pocket. Shit.
  • I'm starting to think garden already. I've got tons of seeds left over from last year and I'm going to check in with some neighbors and see if they want to do a co-operative gardening project this year. I think it would be good if I came up with some ideas of how I would want that to look like before I approached them tho. But probably it won't be a big deal.
  • I am going to mail off an entry for a publishing contest today. The first 5000 words of my manuscript.
  • I'm going to line edit a friend's YA manuscript within the next couple of weeks. I suspect this will entice me to start working on collecting my own bushel of clients. (Did I tell you about my friend Nawaz's idea about editing college entrance essays as a business?)
  • I need to get serious about building platform so that I can get an agent for my memoir. I had a scheduled day once a week to devote to reading blogs and commenting on them and researching magazines to query and updating social media, etc., but it isn't working. As in, I'm not doing it. So. That either means I'm trying to do it on the wrong day, or I just have sucky discipline. Hmm. Maybe both.
  • The kitchen is starting to crust over.
  • I need to follow up with a couple of resumes I dropped off.
  • I need to vacuum, but the cleaner's broken.
  • I need to clean off the dining room table in the next ten minutes because Aubrey's Japanese teacher is coming over for a lesson.
  • I want to finish the baby sweater I'm knitting for a friend.
  • I want to connect with my two best friends.
  • I want to get the building plans finalized for the Costa Rican house.
  • We're still waiting to get the sales agreement for the lot signed by the landowner so we can wire the money to escrow and close on the deal.
  • And there's more. There's always more.
  • Like, my bedroom is turned upside down and looks worse than my kids' put together. !!! And that's saying something.

January 2nd starts a new diet, a new writing schedule, a new commitment to querying agents and magazines at least twice a month .... and a blessed routine. I am suffering from lack of routine right now. The kids being home from school is nice for the sleeping in and relaxing, but not for the I-haven't-been-to-yoga-regularly-for-three-weeks. Or I-haven't-written-anything-new-on-my-manuscript-since-the-kids-have-been-home. Those parts suck.

Robert goes back to school on January 4th and Aubrey back on January 6th. Whew.

Life back to normal soon.

Uh. And then I'll need to start thinking about our anniversary and Valentine's Day. And the building on our house will start. !!!!! Our realtor, Ricardo, said that he would send us pictures of our house being built, so I can share them with you, as well.

Our plan for an ice cream shop might need to wait a bit. We definitely don't have the capital for start-up. The loan we got was a little less than we thought (because we hadn't factored in the paying of the property taxes) and now Paul's medical bills will be more than we counted on. So. That's a disappointment. A little one. More that I'm worried about disappointing Jim (the landowner), because he really liked the idea. And I also want to start making money over there as soon as possible. I hope the rents coming in from the house will be substantial enough to cushion us. Our budget will be super tight for the next three years. Or more. 

Lots to think of.

In the coming days, I will most likely be posting my New Years Resolutions. Despite the controversy of them. :) I can call them something different if you want. I just like to write down my goals. It makes them more real and ordered for me. If they just float around in my head, I don't focus on them and they don't get addressed.

What is your process for setting goals? Or. As my husband says, Commitments. He doesn't set goals. He makes commitments. I like both. You?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Contract Woes





These are completed photos of one of the villas over at the Village. The details are beautiful. I can't wait to get our own construction going. We are still finalizing the contract, even today. I'm getting stressed.

Finally. We get the construction loan after having to jump through massive hoops. Finally. We get the contracts from the landowner in hand to sign and send back. Finally. We get word to our Costa Rican lawyer that we can start on the corporation process. (In Costa Rica it is customary to have a separate corporation to own all your assets. Safer that way. Plus, if we have a corporation owning our land, we are a Costa Rican entity owning the land. Much better.)

BUT NOW. Now I'm worried. There seems to be some .... mis-remembering on the part of the landowner regarding the agreed upon price. The original price of the lot was USD$110,000.00. While Paul and I were in Costa Rica, we negotiated down to USD$103,500.00. We put a USD$5000.00 deposit down already. So that leaves us with a balance of USD$98,500.00. NOW, the revised contract emailed to us is saying that we still owe $103,500.00, even after our deposit. *Sigh.*

We've forwarded him our email negotiations from back in October to remind him. But he's in meetings all day with clients, so we won't hear back from him until tonight. What if he doesn't like our changes? What if he says he won't accept anything less than $110K? What if the deal falls through and we won't get to go to Costa Rica after all?

My dream job. Jobs. My tropical paradise. My ex-pat life. :(

So, I'll worry all day now. Drat.

I woke up this morning thinking of the next chapter in my book and how I would start it. But now. I can't get this contract business out of my mind. So I didn't write this morning.

And now I have to go to the bank and deposit the loan check. Then open up a line of credit on our rental property in Albany so that we can pay the landowner his money for the lot. Theoretically, we will close on January 31st and have title to the land free and clear.

I also have yoga class today. Maybe I'll stop thinking and worrying then. Thank goddess for yoga. :)

Then my writing critique group. BUT. I didn't get any new writing done.
But. I DID print out my first two chapters of my memoir and edit them. I could bring that. The group's heard it so many times already, but I'm going to be entering it into a contest so I want it in tip top shape.

That will have to do for today.

Also, in job related news: I dropped off a resume at The Supreme Bean on Willamette and 29th. Maybe I'll get lucky. :) I've always thought being a barista would be fun.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Traditions in Costa Rica


I have blatantly stolen this post from the folks at Osa Mountain Village for the sole purpose of entertaining you.

Christmas Traditions in Costa Rica

frogchristmas1

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica are full of the Latin American flavor, 
but they are uniquely done the Tico way.
Snow...Snow...Snow...  We Northerners hate snow, especially after a long winter.  But Costa Ricans (Ticos) are fascinated by snow. They rarely, if ever, see the real thing because they are so close to the equator. The floats in the Festival de la Luz, which are decorated in fluffy white, draw much attention because of the oddity of snow.

December is a very special month in Costa Rica. The children begin their long "summer" vacation from school. The four month long rainy season has ended. The hot, muggy weather is replaced with dry, cooler temperatures of about 70 degrees. All working adults receive their aquinaldo from their employer. This is a bonus required by law and is equal to one month's pay.  And of course, it is Christmas (Navidad) complete with so many festivals, parades and Costa Rican Christmas traditions. 

Mucha Fiesta!

Costa Ricans love to celebrate special occasions and many take vacations at this time of year. They have three main parades after the 
beginning of the Christmas season, beginning on December 16th .
El Carnival - Dancers and musical groups from all over the country compete for the 
best of show in costumes, dancing talent and music.

El Tope - A Parade of showy horses, beautiful horse-drawn carriages and famous 
hand- painted ox carts. Originally, these carts were pulled by people until 1840, when the exporting of coffee exploded. The Las Carretas carts were then pulled by oxen, transporting coffee to the ports and bringing other goods back on the return trip. Decorating the carts began in the early 1900's. The San Jose Tope is the most famous parade.  It is a grand parade that also includes floats, clowns and marching bands.

El Destile de Luces - A nighttime parade made beautiful with thousands of 
Christmas lights. This parade is a favorite of the people.

There is so much more to the Holiday Season in Costa Rica. . .
We hope you can join us during this festive time next year in 2011!

feliznavidad1

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free Healthy Food!


Paul and I have a new food budget. 

We have four people in our family, but we often feed our friends or our children's friends when they come to visit. And our house is often full.

Nevertheless, we are trying to stick to $600/month.

My mother-in-law, perhaps rightly, scoffs at trying to do this during the holidays.

"People always buy more food in November and December," she says.

Well. I'm still trying. And, for the record, when we do inevitably (because we've only recently started this new food budget) go over, I know it immediately. I agonize over it. I'm looking for different places to shop; I talk myself out of buying organic produce this one time. 

I give myself huge kudos for this because BEFORE, we didn't have a budget. I didn't know when I'd spent too much ... it would take months (or longer) to realize that I was spending enormous amounts of money for food. (One month I recorded it at $1200.) So, I'm glad of where I've gotten to so far.

But I certainly want to keep improving. 
I know we can stick to our food budget. 
And the sooner I can make that a reality ('cuz I do the majority of the grocery shopping), the more comfortable our wait for our Costa Rican dream will be.


I was aching for the peace and warmth of Osa Mountain Village this morning.
I didn't get enough sleep last night.
Yesterday was an emotional day for me. I'm feeling stressed and restless and out of sorts.
The holidays are coming up and I'm only partly prepared. (I need to make some more lists! Then I'll feel better. Why didn't I think of this before?)
Paul's surgery is coming up.
And this morning? I just wanted to be on Osa Mountain in a little casita rental, watching my house being built.

I thought about emailing Jim, the land owner over there, and just saying 'hi' and that I was missing Costa Rica. But then I worried that my contacting him would remind him that he's still waiting for his money for the land. So I didn't do it.

Instead I looked over a current newsletter. And funny enough, it was talking about food.
Free food. 
Wouldn't that be nice right now? ;)

(This is a Starfruit tree.)
Here's an excerpt from the newsletter:

           90% of food cost is in packaging and transport. So true!

          Our goal is to create 100% "Food Security" using our 750+ acres and by trading 
          with local farmers. So easy to be a 'locavore' here!

          We've already planted over 2,300 fruit trees.  Close to 40 varieties!  
          Guava, Mango, Mamone, 5 types of oranges, many other kinds of citrus, 4 types of 
          avocado, bananas and plantains ... [etc.] 


          [And] we are using a vertical system for growing 38 varieties of veggies, herbs and
          spices. The system allows us to grow vast quantities of veggies organically in a small
          area.  
          
         The first two greenhouses are already built...     I so can't wait to get going on this.

Oh yeah.
One more thing to worry about.
We still haven't heard about the financing.
The lender says it "looks good" but we still haven't gotten the call from the title company to come in and close. 

Cross your fingers, Everybody!

And here's to hoping you have a wonderful holiday season and that you have plenty of food to eat wherever you are.




Blessings and Namaste.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December is my "Mad World."

It's all craziness over here.
Well.
Maybe not craziness.
But
a certain feeling of ....
needing to recuperate is settling in
And it's not even Christmas yet!

Paul has been having doctor's appointments galore and just two days ago, on Monday, he had an angiogram to take still more pictures of his Arterial-Venal Malformation. The radiologist thought he might be able to do an intervention during the angiogram (funny name for it -- it means to put some sort of coil, "cement", or particle into the vein to stop up the blood flow from going to a place it's not supposed to be going.) However, the situation looked too big and scary to rush into. Dr. Z wanted to make sure he was doing the exact right surgery for Paul (there are a few options) and to make sure he had enough of the equipment he needed to finish the procedure properly.

Paul has three big veins (the size of an adult male's pinky finger in diameter) on one side of his pelvis, and one big vein on the other side of it. This means lots of fast moving blood is feeding an area that isn't supposed to see that much, resulting in an "aneurysm" the size of one of his kidneys. It's huge. Every time a medical professional sees this balloon of blood on an ultrasound or CT scan, they very unprofessionally say, "Wow! That's huge!" and go and get another medical professional to come and look at it -- who then says the same thing.

There are a few options open to him regarding the surgery(ies) that he can have. Right now an expert on Arterial-Venal Malformations (AVM's) from Minnesota is looking at a CD of photos from Paul's angiogram to give his advice to our radiologist and vascular surgeon. Well. Paul's radiologist and vascular surgeon. (I was just guilty of turning this into a we situation -- like when men say "We're pregnant" -- when it is so clearly happening to Paul.)

Another doctor's appointment on Monday will let us see the photos from the angiogram and hear what the expert in Minnesota advises. And then on Thursday, Paul will have surgery (or a "procedure" depending on Monday's outcome). They've also blocked out time on the 30th of this month for another surgery if it is needed.

Procedural options:

1) the radiologist can go up his femoral artery again (like in the angiogram) and push a platinum wire up the catheder. The wire will coil up into a large vein, blocking the blood from rushing into the anuerysm from that side. Then he'll do it again and again in the other veins. (By the way, Paul has more than four, but those are the big ones and Dr. Z doesn't want to cut off all the blood supply to his other pelvic organs.)('Cuz, you know, that could be problematic.)

The theory is, without the blood flow to the balloon, this bubble of blood will clot and then dissolve over time and/or shrink down. This will take the pressure off Paul's internal organs and will not cause him pain and discomfort anymore.

At the same time as the "coil" procedure is happening, Dr. Z will also put in a filter (it acts as an umbrella in the vein) higher up by his lungs. This will be insurance against the hopefully small possibility of part of the "clot" from breaking off and turning into a real blood clot. Pulmunary Embolisms are fatal, dontcha know.

Paul said, "What's the difference from a blood clot getting caught in the filter or the lungs? Both of them block off the artery/vein." Dr. Z said, "If it gets caught in the filter, I can fix that. I can melt it away and remove it. If it goes to your lungs, you die. Instantly."

Nice.

So we're a little creepified right now.

Option #2) They do the above procedure, but instead of waiting for the aneurysm to dissolve and shrink, once it gets hard like a scab, a vascular surgeon (Dr. S) will go in and surgically remove the grapefruit-sized chuck of pain and repair and reconnect the veins.

They might also do this if we try option 1 and during the "hard" stage (before it gets to dissolving), it just gets way too painful for Paul. His discomfort and pain will get worse after the procedure. We're just hoping that time period is small and manageable. If not ... that's when option 2 would be necessary.

Option #3 isn't really an option right now. Both Dr. Z and Dr. S think it is risky and are hoping to not go there. At least that's my impression. Option 3 would be to forego the coil procedure altogether and go straight for surgery. Just cut the bastard out of there and sew up the holes. This would be scary scary though. Way too much blood. Especially because of the arterial connection. And the aneurysm is very deep in the pelvis. Hard to get to. The combination is fairly dangerous.

Again. Those are my words, but that's the vibe I got from the doctors.

So, we find out Monday which of the options we are going with. Thursday he'll have the procedure, and stay overnight for safety and observation. Hopefully, if all goes way, he'll get to come home on Christmas Eve.

If he needs another follow up procedure -- because the first one is taking too long or something -- he'll go in on December 30th (two days after his birthday and the day before New Year's Eve.)

It doesn't feel like Winter Solstice.
It doesn't feel like Christmas.
I don't feel like celebrating much.
I feel like wishing and hoping and being grateful.
And not taking things for granted.
And not taking people for granted.

Perhaps I'm being melodramatic.
Perhaps this is fairly routine. (His condition is rare, but the procedures and surgeries he'd have are not.) But it's hard to keep my past out of this. My baggage is weighing heavy this week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Take a Walk on the Wild Side




Right now, at Osa Mountain Village -- our hopeful new home, many paths are being cut out of the jungle by hand (or shovel). These paths will make the jungle available to both the tourists (on the jungle tours and night jungle tours) and to us residents who fancy a lovely walk in Nature.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Bio of Sorts

I am supposed to be writing a bio of Paul and me to send to the folks at Osa Mountain Village. Since we are all coming from around the world to live together in this community, the web designer wants to include info on us on the webpage so we can get to know who our neighbors will be.

I've been avoiding it. Writer's block, I could say. But mostly it is not knowing how to summarize ourselves in a paragraph enough to get our new neighbors to like us. It's a bit like internet dating.

So, I thought I'd share my writing process with you. I started just free-writing and eventually the bio appeared. At the end. Of course. :)

I did, however, know exactly what picture I wanted to use for our bios:


Bio for Osa Mountain Village:

Hi future neighbors! We’re so excited about joining you and living in Costa Rica with our family. Our hope is to make the full-time move in the summer of 2013. I know. It sounds forever away. (Sigh) But that’s the way it will have to work for us. Maybe that will give us the time to learn some Spanish – ‘cuz we know about six words. And. It seems important that we would learn some before moving to a Spanish-speaking country. You know? 

I’m supposed to be writing a bio for my husband and myself, so that you will know a little about us. Wouldn’t it be cool if we were able to make friends before we actually all moved in next door to one another?

Why I want to move to OMV: for the adventure of moving to a new country, for the increased time that I’ll be able to spend with my family (especially my husband who works long hours with unpredictability in his schedule), and so we can have the sheer joy and excitement of starting our own businesses and working for ourselves. We could perhaps have done this in the States, but it would’ve taken us far longer to accomplish because of the cost of living being higher here – and the market for our businesses being saturated.

What we hope to get from OMV: an increased feeling of community. I want to know my neighbors and have our children play with yours. I want to work towards common goals (sustainability, permaculture, living off grid, sharing responsibilities, community-building, etc). I want to make new friends and live through new experiences. I want to write about all of it.

A little about us:

Paul is a thinker. He sits back and listens. He smiles and likes to joke around with our kids. He’s silly. He’s great one-on-one or in small (5 people?) groups. Not so much with anything bigger. He’s a leader. He’s a superb salesman. He looks at the big picture. He likes to write, act, and talk politics. Lefty progressive politics. He’s agnostic and an existentialist, but will talk about Jesus and the Bible with you as long as you don’t pray for his conversion to Christianity. He likes live music … all of it. Especially anything with a bluesy hint to it. He loves watching movies and reading but also wants to get out more in the world and experience and be more active. And to connect with those around him on a deeper level.

Valerie is an experiencer. That’s how she relates to the world. Dips in and swims around in it and THEN thinks about what just happened. She’s passionate about whatever she’s doing or learning about. In the last year that’s been: writing, knitting, unschooling her kids, urban homesteading, eating healthier, advocating for her son’s needs at his new school, Bikram yoga, No Shame Theatre, communicating on a deeper level with her husband, living an alternative sexual lifestyle, traveling, making new friends and loving everyone. She’s a lousy housekeeper and doesn’t like cooking, mostly because she forgets about dinner until 5:45pm and then has to think of something quick – which often turns out to not be very healthy. She loves reading and has bookshelves of books she hasn’t yet read but still compulsively buys. She’s writing a memoir right now and has a blog or two in her pocket. When she moves to Costa Rica, she will miss Bikram yoga, decaf lattes (why is there no decaf coffee in Costa Rica??), and her Smart phone. And Netflix! And wearing a scarf on chilly days. But mostly her best friends Tamara and Julian.

Oh. And she’s not religious. Organized religion scares the crap out of her … but she identifies as pagan. 



So there it was. In the last bit. I often have to "clear my throat" on the page before I can get to the meat of what I want. Of course, I'll still have to edit it a bit and polish it, but the meat is there. And for those of you that actually know us in person, have I hit the mark? Is that a good representation of us?

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Vacations Lead Me To A Job Hunt ...

We want to visit Costa Rica twice a year. We want to witness the growing of the Osa Mountain Village community, and to meet our neighbors and grow our connections with them even before we move there. And we just want to vacation there 'cuz it's cool! :)

It's funny. I've spent a couple of years feeling nostalgic for something that I've never had ... and now I almost do.
Lots of times I've found myself envious (in the most polite way, of course) of those families that vacationed at the same place every year. You know the ones. That cabin at that lake that you remember going to since you were ten? Now you've started bringing *your* kids to it?

It wasn't *real* envy. I didn't pine for that imaginary cabin. I just sort of wistfully thought it would've been nice to have had that experience when I had been a kid. But it didn't happen, so, oh well. But. Should I want that for my kids? Should I figure out a way to get that for them?

That's what went through my head for a couple of years. But I didn't really do much about it. It kind of already happens by default with the Massachusetts trip every summer. My kids do have that every-summer-trip-since-they-can-remember trip. But the crappy part for me and Paul, is that it doesn't happen with us.

So. Costa Rica. The house in Costa Rica can be that for us while we are prepping for our move there.

Once we live there, we'll have to come up with a new one. :)

The challenge we now face is that if we want to visit Costa Rica once or twice a year .... we need the money to do it. *snort*

Ok. So, trying to cinch our budget to fit my income -- leaving Paul's for Aubrey's private tuition and rental expenses for Aniela in Portland -- doesn't leave any room for a vacation fund.

"We'll just have to put it on a credit card then," I said to Paul two nights ago.

"No."

Well, there was more to it than that. Something about the cost of a trip divided by twelve monthly installments, the total being paid off before putting another trip on the cards meant affording a trip every two years. Hmmm.

So how were we going to afford the trips?

"You just need to get a job," Paul said.

Now, let me explain something about myself.

I am not a slacker.

By any stretch on the imagination.

Even though this weekend I spent almost 40 hours of it either in the hot tub or laying in bed.

My first paying job (other than babysitting) I obtained at thirteen years old. And I've worked every year since then ... with a few months off a year. UNTIL .... my husband died in the year 2000. Then I didn't have to work. And I've been sooooooo grateful for that opportunity. I've been helping my family live and eat on Social Security Survivor Benefits and Veterans Affairs DIC income. I feel blessed and so lucky that this was the case when Rob died. I know that other widows are not that fortunate.

So, a job.

"It can even be from your writing! Sell your book! Write articles for magazines! We just need the extra money if we want to do any traveling," Paul said.

I earned my massage therapist licensure a couple years back. I could re-activate that and work as someone's employee instead of for myself. Maybe my chiropractor friend would hire me to work in his office.      But.       I would have to go back to school to earn my extra CEU's to get current on my license requirements and pay the license and insurance fees .... and I definitely don't have the money for that.

I looked on craigslist this morning. For jobs. (I keep typing "jogs" ... I wonder if that means anything.)
I think a good job for me would be working as a barista in a local coffee shop, or in a bookstore. A health food store like Sundance would be awesome, too. Something part-time and that wouldn't require me to use child care. 'Cuz my income would get all eaten up from paying that.

So that limits me a lot.

That must mean that I need to concentrate on my writing. :)

See how I turned that around?

I'm brilliant.

But I'm not afraid of hard work. Really.

Just practical.

I'll keep looking and at the same time, beef up my querying and writing of shorter pieces as well as FINISHING MY MEMOIR so I can start marketing it.


... and, oh yeah, AUTHOR PLATFORM. *sigh*
I really must start working on that !!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pleasures -- from 2/15/06


These are the pleasures I have known:

The sound of running water.
The sound of water splashing in a fountain.
The sound of water rushing rippling over rocks in a river bed.
The chaise lounge in a beautiful garden on a beautiful patio.

Holding hands with my lover.
Smiling with a friend.
Reading a good author.
Writing something that feels true.

The texture of honey in my mouth.
Hearing my lover moan because of something I did.
Seeing my children's eyes sparkle with joy and enthusiasm.
Watching my sleeping babies.
Seeing our dog's delight when running as fast as she can.

Snuggling with my children before they are too old and don't want to anymore.
Discovering a story in a painting.
Talking about art and the emotions it arouses in me.
Sculpting the essence of a face and waiting for the soul that comes through to introduce him or herself to me.

Freedom.
Sobbing and screaming while another held me and just witnessed my grief.
Creating.
Exploring foreign lands.
Feeling a part of the Divine.
Nature.

A sense of belonging.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Am I a Bitch, or Am I Real?

Am I a bitch,
opening my fingers
to let loyalty and devotion
slip through?

Do I shush the me
that lingers in trepidation
hovering over a panic attack
of instability?

And then welcome the
confidence of desire and ego

And strut in long skirts with mirrors
And spaghetti-straped push-up tank tops?

Walk with lengthy strides
And swishy hips in
Fuck-me boots
And painted lips
And wear eyeliner
Under Vogue librarian glasses?

Or am I real?

If I close my fingers tight
And let loyalty and love
And all my lover's organs
Pool up in my hands --
Held fast,

Will I preserve my peace?
Will I be accepted?
Will I be honored?
Will I last?

Would I be real?

Am I a bitch,
Selfish and singular,
Or am I real?

Or am I both?

Can I be both?
Do I have to be a bitch to be real?

Can I live with my fingers closed
And still be real?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Self-Description #1


I am a rosey blush with teal sparks,
a curvy goddess
that swirls and bops to 
a jazzy ballad in a smoky room.

I am the number 18, full of beginnings,
a roll-top desk with hidden compartments
living in a sunset
in a sultry, mountainous forest.

I am a deciduous tree
shedding fear each year with
passionate acceptance hidden 
behind my eyes.

A curious conundrum,
I let go of nothing
and everything.

I've forgotten how to forgive myself, 
and then I remember 
that my soul is old
and knows all the answers 
to my questions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Costa Rica -- Day Seven and Eight

(Paul at breakfast this morning)

We've been working the last couple of days, mostly. Though there always seems to be time to read our books or sit by the pool, too. :) Just the thing for tired out folks.

On Friday we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel (free) and then we drove into Dominical, which we hadn't yet explored, and finally made it to a beach!



We walked along it a ways, picked up a couple of rocks to bring back home and got our feet wet. The water was warm! Not the Pacific Ocean I know. :)

We've started noticing itchy bug bites on ourselves. Strangely, we notice the read mark with no symptoms, and then a day or two later it starts itching. Weird. And some of the bites visually present differently then mosquito bites, too. So we are thinking it's coming from some other biting bug. And my guess is they are biting (me, at least) at night, because I never see bugs around me during the day; I never feel bugs biting me. I haven't worn bug spray since I got here. And I had maybe three bites. I don't need bug spray for three bites. However, these delayed itchy bites have a cumulative effect, as Paul says, so that all of a sudden (it seems) on our last day here we have all this itchy bites. :)

After checking out the beach and walking through the town in Dominical, we had lunch there at a Thai restaurant called Coconut Spice. Yummy.

Then we went to a bank to see about a construction loan for the house. Big Fat Zero.
Due to the economic crisis, they aren't loaning money to non-residents. 

We let Ricardo and Jim know and they said over here it's really important if you know someone who knows someone. So, Ricardo called his friend Alex and the two of them met us at a bank and then a credit union on Saturday morning to have Alex introduce us at the banks. Strike Two. Strike Three.

Across the board -- they won't loan money to foreigners. You need to be a resident for eight years before you could qualify for a loan. Or. Marry a Tico.

Ricardo says to not give up hope. Jim knows some private mortgage companies that lend money.

We go back to Dominical and talk to a guy from the States (but was actually born and raised in Panama with American parents) that worked in a real estate office and was affiliated with Alliance Mortgage Company. They have a pool of fifteen lenders that they can access so he was real hopeful we could get a construction loan. Especially when we told him we'd own the land.

We came back to the hotel fairly confident and then also received pone calls and emails from Ricardo and Jim about three other banks to try -- one a for sure deal (Scotia Bank) they say, because it's an international bank. 

So we have four or five leads in our pocket now to take home with us. We're feeling much better and we'll know -- most likely -- within the week if we qualify for a loan with any of these lenders. If so, we close on the land, we close on the construction loan, we start building in january and we have a house built by July or August.

The plan is to take a family vacation there then, to see the house all done and pretty and then to start renting it out to tourists. And then when Aniela's out of college and Paul's not helping to pay her rent while she's in Portland, and Aubrey's out of private middle school and Paul's not paying the tuition for that, and he's done paying off the 401K loan he borrowed against himself to buy the land, we can move to Costa Rica and our Spanish Colonial house with a courtyard. (We've been talking house plans with builder today.)

It'll be tight, but doable. When Paul quits his job in three-ish years after all that stuff I just listed happens, we'll have my social security and VA income for a couple more years and hopefully by then (when my survivor benefits stop) our businesses over in Costa Rica will be creating enough income for us to live comfortably. Our living expenses will be lower with most all our food being provided for.

Check back in the coming weeks to read more about our businesses for Costa Rica and how we get those started remotely. Jim would like the ice cream shop to be operational by December. !!!! Recipes, C.R. corporation, equipment and hiring someone to make it, hand out ice cream and collect the money. All in a month's time? I don't see how, but we'll get it going asap anyway.

Tomorrow we pack up here, settle our bill, drive to San Isidro in the mountains to visit Jim and meet his family and see his house, drive to San Jose by 4pm to return the rental car, and get checked into our hotel. The next morning (Monday) we fly out for the States. With all the changing of flights and layovers, we won't land in Eugene until just before midnight. We'll taxi home and sleep in our. own. bed. <3

(relaxed at lunch this afternoon)



(Ooh! Ooh! And we finally had banana flambee for dessert tonight!
They've been out of bananas every time we order it and get the pina one
instead -- which in some ways is better -- but finally Paul said he was walking 
through the bar today and Olmar "waved his banana" at Paul (we laughed at Paul's 
choice of words there) and so we finally got to experience Olmar's own recipe. Delish.)


Random observation: Apparently my Costa Rican name is Ballerie. Even when I correct them with an accentuated "V" they just smile and nod and say, "Ballerie." So, Ballerie it is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Costa Rica -- Day Six

After breakfast, our day began with the zip line/canopy tour.
11 different zip lines, 2 rappelling stations, and one Tarzan swing -- which I did not partake of.

 (Paul says this is my you-fucker-I'm-gonna-get-you-while-you-sleep look.
I didn't know I had that look.
Did you?)





 (he had so much fun!)



 After the almost-two-hour adrenaline rush, we went to check out our land again and found our first squatter. :)

 (more views from our lot)
Then we had lunch in town and came back to our hotel, which I haven't shown you yet, so here you are:
 (view coming downstairs from the recepcion)


(the building on the other side of the delicious pool is the restaurant/bar)

We hung around and rested from the excitement of the morning. I read on the patio off our room and Paul wrote a skit for No Shame. Then we had dinner and treated ourselves to Pina Flambee. OMG.

 (This is our favorite waiter, Olman.)


 (here he has set the liquor on fire, turned the lights out and pours the liquor back and forth to mix the two -- brandy and triple sec -- in two different pitchers.)


(it's super rich and to die for)

Yum.