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


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!


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
         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.
Maybe not craziness.
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."


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.