Mr Sandman, Send Me a …

2013 December 13

A picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture says it all!

In years past  right about now, we would be packing, and preparing for our annual visit to the frozen north, well Dallas or Thousand Oaks to spend Christmas with one or both of our kids. For us the temperatures in Texas and California are chilly to downright frigid.

We soldier through the torture of multiple airports, and plane changes, and arrive dragged out and hungry. But the ride from the airport is always a nice re-entry. Christmas lights are everywhere, and we love turning into Miss Meliss’ neighborhood and circling the park that is ablaze with lights.

Once we get past the exuberant welcome from the million, well three dogs, and sometimes a foster dog, the delicious aroma of slow cooking food enters our consciousness. The house is beautifully decorated and the tree is lit waiting for its ornaments. Decorating the tree is something Miss Meliss and I do together.

We take our coffee and dessert to the living room and sit by the fire and plan our days.

We always have a shopping list, things like underwear and shoes top the list. For me visiting fabric stores is an absolute.

We talk about who will be dropping in, and who will be staying for dinner.

Then it is up to bed where we bury ourselves in the quilts Melissa has laid out for us.

“It’s not cold!” she says. And we grumble back that we are freezing!

One year we had snow on Christmas Eve, it was romantic and the house looked gorgeous with the lights shining on the snow and the decorated tree in the window. Earlier in the day we drove around in the snow to finish up some shopping, I was nervous. Not that my Beloved could not handle snow, he grew up in Chicago, snow he knows. And we were driving a Subaru with its famous all-wheel drive. It is all the other drivers that have no clue how to handle the snow that made me nervous.

This year? Events conspired against us. We are not going north and no one is coming south for the holiday.

We are all disappointed of course. BUT! As we watched Dallas become a frozen snow globe, and saw travelers stranded in airports across the nation, we felt relief that we are not going to be part of THAT.

Just last week I was swimming in my pool, and drying off in the sun. I sat in the sun to do some hand sewing, and had coffee outside. We have had some stiff breezes, well, okay, wind, so I have not been in the pool or done much outside. But, the winds will lie down, and the sun will shine and I will count my blessings…and have several Facetime moments with Miss Meliss.

And Along Came Julie!

2013 May 16

How I met Julie

“…One door opens and another closes…” How many times have we heard that cliché?

In October 2008, I lost my job as the Director of Closings for a cross-border mortgage company. For days, I was stunned, sad, and worried.

By the end of that same week I was on a new high. The editor of the premier magazine aimed at ex-pats, International Living contacted me and asked me to write the cover story for their December issue .

Take THAT, mortgage industry and economic crisis, I was now following my dream to be a writer. And on the cover of a major magazine!

Shortly after the article ran, I received an email from someone at International Living, in it was a message from a Julia Sheehan.

She was asking if she could contact the author (me) directly to talk about life in La Paz. There was no email address for Ms. Sheehan in the message. But she had mentioned that she had studied Spanish at the Spanish immersion school. So I sent a message to Julie Goff , the director of Se Habla La Paz the Spanish immersion school, asking if she knew Julie Sheehan, and if she did, then would she connect us.

It isn’t often one receives fan mail. I wanted to be sure to meet this new Julie.

Once we connected in email, we decided to meet. My Beloved and I invited Julie to our house. She pulled up in a fiery red PT Cruiser with painted red flames licking the sides. Not exactly the Little Old Lady from Pasadena! In fact, Julie had the flames painted on after she bought the car! What an amazing woman! In her late sixties at the time, she drove the red roadster from North Carolina across the US and down the Baja Peninsula all the way to La Paz by herself.

We had a lovely chat and learned about Julie’s life and what led her to La Paz. Knowing she had come from that island of liberalism in a red state, Chapel Hill, we figured she would have our political proclivities, and she did. Lucky for us, or this may have been our one and only meeting.

We liked Julie at once, and asked her to join us as we made our Christmas visits to friends in Todos
Santos. She volunteered to drive the red rage, and off we went.

It was a lot of fun to introduce her like this: “This is my friend Julie, she is my fan.”

As time passed we learned more about Julie, and grew closer. She has been a guest at our table numerous times. She is a true and loyal friend.

She holds true to her quirky belief about extra terrestrials and UFOs. She is open minded, a seeker of knowledge and loves dogs. Guitar music fills her soul, and if you ever want a capsule review of almost any move of any era, just ask Julie.

It’s hard to believe that Julie is 72, or even much past 60.

At a time when I was flagging in hope, along came Julie…

Bye, Bye Fideicomiso! Could it Really Be True?

2013 April 26

PLEASE READ THIS AND SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

If we were communicating today by drums, the air around La Paz would be vibrating with the coconut telegraph sounding the word, about the impending doom of the fideicomiso. Gringos are all abuzz thinking that they will be able to shed the annoying fideicomiso that is the instrument that allowed them to buy their little piece of paradise. And perhaps they will, but not this week or this month.

The Mexican government changed their constitution in 1997 to make it possible for foreigners to own property in the restricted zones of Mexico. Those zones are 50 km from the coast and 100 km from a foreign border. The fideicomiso ( a trust-like contract) was amended and adapted so that foreigners could safely and legally own property on the beach.

The original logic behind creating restricted zones was to keep foreigners from aiding invading navies or armies. It is highly unlikely today, that Belize or Guatemala or even Uncle Sam will invade by land or sea, or invade at all.

Foreigners owning homes in Mexico complain about the recurring administration fees for their fideicomisos. The fiduciary banks do nothing really, and yet they get their $450-600 dollars every year.

For years we have been hearing that any minute now the federal government was going to do away with the fideicomiso. Well the time seems to have come. A bill was presented to the federal congress to eliminate the fideicomiso.

It passed.

It is now awaiting discussion in the Senate. Once the Senate approves the bill it goes to the president for signature.

But wait! Even after the presidential signature It is not law yet! The signed document must be published in the Diario Nacional (like the Congressional Record in the US).

So, don’t go running to the bank and demand that they close your fideicomiso.

It isn’t going to be all that easy.

First the Senate and others need to decide how the Calvo clause will work if foreigners will now have escrituras ( Mexican fee simple titles). The Calvo Clause is used the world over , in Mexico it is part of the fideicomiso and when you sign your new fideicomiso, you agree to act as a Mexican national and will not try to invoke the laws of your native country when it comes to issue surrounding your property.

Then there is the Investment clause. And this clause states that if you have land larger than 2,000 square meters you must develop it within 24 months and spend at least $250,000 on the improvements. And that investment figure goes up as the size of the property goes up.

Oh and then there is the Secretary of Foreign Relations known as the SRE here in Mexico. When I closed transactions for buyers in Guadalajara and San Miguel de Allende, even though there was no fideicomisos, there was still a permit issued by the SRE. These take time and cost money.

Escrituras are titles that Mexican citizens get when they buy land. There is no SRE permit, no Calvo or Investment Clause in the existing escritura. So how will this work for foreigners? Someone has to figure this out.

My sources say the Senate may very well pass this law, and the president will sign it IF:

  • · If the US doesn’t do something objectionable that affects Mexicans
  • · If the banks don’t somehow throw a monkey wrench into the works
  • · If the bill does not have too many additions or deletions that the president cannot abide

This is wonderful news for new buyers, for  foreign owners, and for real estate attorneys and notarios.

Closing costs may be significantly lower for new buyers.

Existing property owners can drop the fideicomiso and save $400-600 a year, that’s a lot of tequila.

Real estate attorneys and notarios will make more money. And houses can sell and transactions can close more quickly

BUT! Already one buyer has wondered why they should buy now and pay for a fideicomiso that may be no longer necessary in 6 months or a year. The excitement  and the spreading  of misinformation may affect the decisions of buyers.

Could we have a moment of silence while everyone reads this blog post and shares it?

I am as happy as everyone else to wish the fideicomiso farewell, but I can see the issues that have to be ironed out.

We have at least six months, and more likely a year before anything changes.

Watch this space for new developments.

Emergency Medical Treatment in La Paz: Cheap. Easy and Humane!

2013 April 26

Chances are that once in your life you have been to the emergency room . And that experience in most cases was slow, irritating and expensive. At least that has been my experience back in California, and  most people I know say the same, well except my OLDER sister Delia in Shreveport where she says the care she gets every time she falls off her horse and  breaks another crucial part of her body, like her neck, and back, is excellent with no waiting.

It is so amazing the medical care here, even after 12 years I continue to be amazed. So after the clamor died down over the weird, smelly, bearded man on my terrace (see yesterday’s post) we headed to Fide Paz hospital. It actually has a long name including the words Especialidades Medicos, but it’s nickname is Fide Paz, named for the fraccionimiento (neighborhood) where it is located.

My beloved had checked the Spanish/English dictionary to make sure he  knew the word for wheelchair  (silla de ruedas) so that when he went to ask for one, he could get the point across in one try.

When I arrived inside they asked if I had an appointment, I said no, but I needed to see Dr. Gaxiola,(Ramon) so  they  rolled me into his office. I waited no more than ten minutes while the doctor finished up with another patient. Ramon  examined my foot, and wheeled me into x-ray. He also told me he had asked the orthopedic surgeon Francisco Camarena to wait a few minutes while I had an x ray. I was not parked in a hospital corridor to wait for hours for the tech to get to me. The x-ray tech was right there, the films were put up on the light board and Francisco and Ramon looked at them, pronounced my bone broken, discussed the best thing to do, gave me my options.I went with their first option of a cast, not a walking cast, because the break was such that if I walked too much I could damage ligaments.
So back to Ramon’s office, a nurse came in with a bowl of warm water.

“OH how wonderfu1” I thought, “They are going to soak my foot in warm water.”
Not so lucky for me,  it was for soaking the bandages. Francisco knelt down, and made the cast using some new material that looks like a white ace bandage. It is actually fiberglass.
It hardens quickly once it is wrapped on the leg and foot. Both docs worked together, one holding my foot in position and one wrapping.

Well at least I had a fresh pedicure!

DR Diaz (our internist) popped in to wish me a Happy New Year and prescribed Tequila.
You can imagine the scenario in the US: the wait in ER, the wait for an x-ray, the wait to have it read, the wait for the cast and the multi-thousand dollar bill.
Including the driving time, and the time it took to go to Chedraui (local super market with a good pharmacy) to get the prescription, I was back home 2 hours after leaving. And the bill was $3996.00 PESOS ($300.00 US) That was for two docs, the x-ray and the medical supplies! And it will be reimbursed by my medical insurance.

The ER was the easy part.  Getting out of the car and into the house, changing to pajamas, and using the toilet all became hurdles.
I was in terrible pain that evening. And trying to get in the gate with the too-big crutches was awful. I fell backwards, and hurt my broken foot, and could not get up. I lay on the ground feeling miserable and thinking that in a split second my life had changed and not for the better.

I summoned all of my energy and strong will and using the car door, heaved myself up. I leaned against the car door while Ira went and got a rolling office chair  to use as a wheelchair.

At bed time, I managed to get into our low, platform bed and lay on my back with the dog’s head on my shoulder all night. He was protecting me. Or comforting me. His tiny breaths were comforting, if not as sweet as a baby’s!

Next post: The Coat Hanger, the Crutches and a One-Legged Bath.

Dear readers, I though that this had been posted ages ago. So I am posting it now.

My cast came off the second week of February, and I have slowly regained my balance, and ability to walk. I still have pain and some slight swelling, but I  am well on my way to  a complete recovery.

Notes From Big Pink: How I Broke My Ankle

2013 January 11

This is the first in a series of missives about trying to function for the next EIGHT weeks in a cast. This one is long, it sets the scen.

Here is where I will be sitting with my laptop at my side:

Aaaah, La Paz! There are good days and there are bad days.
On the good days, the sun is shining, the air is cool and tastes of salt, the sea sparkles and the espresso comes to the table hot, with the foamed milk just right, and maybe there is even a flower drawn in the milk.
After 12 years in La Paz, my blood has thinned, I have acclimated. What was once “sweater weather “ in California, and may feel downright balmy to those of you from northern climes, it is bone chilling for me.
But last Saturday, the sun was shining and the sea was sparkling, we had just finished breakfast at Maria California , where they always draw a flower in the foamed milk of my double decaf, extra hot macchiato.

We decided to take our precious Chihuahua Coco-Nut Ibrahim Garcia for a walk on the Malecon ( ocean front promenade)
And then it happened.

After our usual Saturday breakfast with friends we braved the cold to take Coco-Nut for a walk on the Malecon. I tripped on a step fell and broke my ankle. That was six days ago. I will be in a cast for 6-8 weeks.

At first the pain was so excruciating, I was writhing on the ground screaming in pain.
It slowly subsided. I could wiggle my toes, and my foot was numb.
“ I think I broke something.” I wailed to my Beloved.
“Well maybe not”, he said, “since you can wiggle your toes.”
I sat and considered my options for a moment. The car was parked nearby, like a bright yellow beacon it sparkled in the January sun. It was little more than the length of a crosswalk away.
My Beloved held me and we hobbled to the car. By the time we got home I could not put any weight on my foot.
Luckily Salvador, our gardener was there and he helped my Beloved, Ira walk me inside. I took some Tylenol, Ira wrapped my ankle and iced it with some frozen peas. ( still in the bag)

Salvador finished his work, I took a nap in my pink chair. Ira napped in the bedroom.
Then Salvador came flying in our front door yelling for Ira.
The same weird man that tried to get in my house last week was sitting on the chairs in front of the casita taking off his clothes! Salvador was driving past when he saw him. And he knew it was not our present guests because he makes a point of meeting all of our guests ( they all are charmed by him).
The guy walked off and down the street. And there ensued one of our famous neighborhood mobilizations. But he always disappears into the wind. We have called the police, but they did not get it, that this guy is a nuisance and needs to go to a mental hospital. When I called the police they thought I said that Ira needed to go to the mental hospital!
So when the clamor died down we decided I should go to ER. .
Ira looked up the word for wheelchair so that when we got to the ER he could tell them what he needed.

Tomorrow, I will amaze you with the  prompt, personal and inexpensive medical care, at a private hospital.

Blowin’ in the Wind: My Patio Furniture!

2012 September 3

It was still dark, but the sky was starting to lighten.And the remnants of last night’s storm gave us this gorgeous sky.

Just after sunrise taken from our terrace in El Comitan


Something woke me. A bump or the sound of something being dragged. I saw a flash of lightning, so I turned over and tried to sleep a little longer.
There it was again, like someone was in the house or on the roof.

“ Did you hear that?” I shook my Beloved awake. “Someone is in the house!” “ Get up!”

He took a moment to pull on some shorts and slip his feet into slippers. I got up to get dressed and find a weapon to help my Beloved. The dog jumped off the bed, but did not bark. He was following me into the dressing room. I pulled on a robe and a pair or mismatched flip-flops. I grabbed what was at hand for clothing and shoes in-the-dark. No time to be a Diva when someone could be robbing the family silver.
My Beloved was already in the front of the house, I could still hear bumping but not a word from him.

I grabbed the heavy flashlight from my bedside and went out to the main part of the house. He was there looking out the patio doors.
“It was probably that bucket right there.”
The little blue bucket was sitting upright, exactly where he had put it the night before.

“ No way that little bucket made enough noise to wake us. And it is right where we put it last night.”
“Well it is windy.”
This is male logic: A tiny bucket that has not moved from its place near the pool made noise loud enough to startle us awake, twice. In other words he had no idea what made the noise and illogical as it sounded, he blamed the bucket. Once when we still lived in San Jose, CA our backyard sensor lights came on in the middle of the night.
I called to him:
“ Sweetness, there must be someone in the backyard, the lights came on, go check!”
“ No dear, don’t be silly, it must have been a cow walking by.”

I am not making this up! My scientist husband, said a cow walked in our back yard. We lived 2 miles from downtown San Jose. Ours was an urban neighborhood with nary a cow, nor a plot of land big enough for a cow to turn around in.
“ A cow? A Cow?” I asked him twice.
He just looked at me as if I were speaking an unknown language and walked away.

So why am I surprised that he would say that a little plastic bucket we bought to keep near the pool so we could empty the strainer into it instead of piling dead bougainvillea leaves on the side of the pool that would only blow back in when they dried, that little bucket woke us? No Way!

Seeing that in fact we were not the victims of home intruders, I went outside to take pictures of the gorgeous morning sky. The breeze was heavenly. Well actually the wind was heavenly.
I opened up all the doors and windows to let the fresh air in.
When I opened the door to our “Spa Terrace” I saw this:

This is what went bump in the wee hours.
This terrace is my refuge, I like to meditate here, I like to sit and enjoy a coffee, the city lights, the moon, the silence. It is always beautifully arranged in a cozy grouping. The chairs have lime green cushions with striped piping(they blew away, but I found them). Because of the storms, the umbrella was closed and sitting where it belongs in it’s GRANITE base. It is a very big and heavy umbrella. Did I mention that it was closed? The potted palms were in new places as well. It is almost impossible for me to move those potted palms.

And this is what a little wind did.
Well I guess, not such a little wind. The wind was strong enough to lift this chair, move the chair flip the rug and drop the chair on the folded edge and rearrange all of the furniture, and scoot the potted palms around.
Look:

Why did all of this stuff move and not the famous bucket? The Spa Terrace is funnel shaped so any wind becomes a vortex. The bucket sits on the main terrace in front of the pool. It is surprising that the lounge chairs near the bucket moved in the wind. The cushions on the other patio furniture were tossed about, and one throw pillow is missing, but the bucket did not move.
Those must be some heavy bougainvillea leaves!
Here is what the grouping should look like. Well the cushions are now safely inside until the wind stops:

Hurricane John is well south and west of us, but we have had rain and thunder storms for days. This morning’s wind is a wonderful refresher after all of that humid air.
So now I know that if there is a hurricane looming even my potted palms need to be secured. And Mr. Stubborn “you don’t have to move everything”, may not even argue with me when I insist on battening down.

Do You Know Where This Is in La Paz?

2012 August 22

Do you know where this is in La Paz


Just as a goldie-oldie on the radio can bring your teen age summers at the beach rushing back with the smell of suntan oil, French fries and the salty sea, so can other sights, sounds, smells or objects.
After a couple of wonderful, but long rainy days in El Comitan, my Beloved and I were hankering for some time in town.
We went to town in the early evening and decided on a cold drink, and a light snack.
As we were waiting for our food I snapped the picture you see above.
It feels like an old port on a windy coast after a storm.
It brought back memories of Half Moon Bay or Princeton, California before they became chi-chi.
We would walk on the beach , the wind so strong we could lean back against it and be pushed along. When our faces ached from the cold, our glasses fogged over with salt sea spray, and our hair was full of sand, we would head back to Nancy’s Fish Trap in Princeton, or one of the cafes in Half Moon Bay.
Once we sat in the first location of Main Street Sushi, the weather was wild, windy, slashing rain, it was cold, it was summer. The windows rattled and the wind wailed. We enjoyed a wonderful sushi platter. The streetlights came on, the streets glistened in the rain, the lush flowers and trees were whipped by the wind and their blossoms stuck to the window.
We felt truly alone and isolated like castaways washed up on a foreign shore.

It was romantic.

Same picutre a few minutes later!


This picture took me back to that wonderful day in Half Moon Bay.
It was a balmy night, there had not yet been any reain in La Paz, but the clouds over El Mogote created a magnificent sunset.
This is a light on a post on the Tailhunter at street level.
Did you guess it?
Please leave a comment here on the blog ( upper left there is the word COMMENT) telling me whether you knew where the picture was taken, or if you had to read to the bottom.
Thanks,
Susan

A Letter to My Daughter on the Occasion of the 42nd Anniversary of Her Birth

2012 August 17
by Susan

August 17

Miss Meliss and Me, Well Our Feet at La Concha


It was the New Math that threw me, I just never could get the hang of it, and it has traumatized me since 8th grade. And because of that I wonder how you, my darling can be 42 when I am just 35 myself?
Using the nutty thinking of the New Math era let’s look at this: (Me= i) (You = u)
i was born in 1950 u were born in 1970. (u =1970) – (i = 1950) = 20. So shouldn’t you be 20 years old today? You always wanted to be older, but this 42 thing…it irks me.

So my darling today is your birthday. You are an amazing woman, talented and funny, snarky and sweet.

You are the kind of friend everyone should have, and as a daughter, well you are the best.

Since you were very young, you felt the need to take care of me, and called me “Little Mommy.” One day you came home from school and sheepishly asked if you could have some five pocket jeans that were not handmade. You painstakingly outlined your need, and made sure my feelings were not hurt, by saying how much you loved all of the clothes I made for you. You are like that; you think through the problem, see the end result, outline the need and offer the solution. And of course as a kid the solution suited your immediate needs perfectly.

Sometimes the solution was to dye your hair fuchsia.

There was the first Christmas we spent alone in California. You borrowed records (yes vinyl records) from the library and made tapes of my favorite songs. Then you decorated boxes with glitter and packaged them up beautifully. I will always hold that gift in my heart.

You have made my days special (and frustrated and maddened me as well). But I can never forget the “Ice Skating Barbie” doll holding close up tickets to Stars on Ice you gave me for Christmas.

And the times you faxed my picture to our clients and vendors and ordered them to send me birthday flowers. Sixteen flower arrangements arrived at our office! You sweet darling!

Then there was the Valentine’s Day in Fresno, when you had to take two buses in the rain, and came dressed in hot pants, black stockings and your tap shoes, bearing a rose, and sang “ What I did For Love” to me in my office you brought everyone to tears, I tear up thinking about it now.

Once when the internet was just starting, you made lots of online friends (still do). You invited two women that were visiting San Francisco to come and meet you at my house. They said something like “ You know we are Lesbians, will your mother mind?” You answered “ Well only if you smoke!”

Your creativity and generosity of spirit amaze me.

I bragged about how you opened your home in Dallas to some people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
And you have lovingly fostered dozens of rescued doggies.

Your sharp wit, delights and always leaves me searching for a retort.

So back in August 1970, the only day I did not go to the beach that summer, you were born. It was hot and humid, a Tuesday 2:25 p.m., at Patterson Army Hospital in Fort Monmouth, NJ. Soon to be EX-president Nixon had ordered an energy saving program and the air conditioning in the hospital was kept at 82. Even-the-maternity-ward. I sweated for you!
Your annual visit to La Paz is wonderful. We have fun, just the two of us having coffee, eating out, laying on the beach, just being.

Melissa at Maria California in La Paz


The beautiful home and life you have created in Dallas with such loving and interesting friends are a testament to you.

So my sweet Miss Meliss, today, have an extra hot, non fat, decaf, no whip mocha for me. After your pedicure, your swim and later your luxurious bath, turn your eyes and heart to the south and I will turn north and toast your 42nd year.
I love you!
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMOM

Flying Over California in a Tiny Plane With My Son as the Pilot!

2012 August 12

Approaching Morro Bay


Gorgeous scene, no? It would look good on a postcard don’t you think? As scenes go, it is one of thousands that can be seen in coastal California.
So what makes this scene and this picture so special?

Circling Morro Rock in a wondrous flying machine


I took it while sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of my son’s Beechcraft Bonanza! It is a beautiful little plane. And it symbolizes so much for him and our family.

A year ago in April, my son, Avram lost his precious youngest son, Thomas to cancer. It was a fierce battle, with hardly a victory for Thomas. And it was a battle we knew he could not win from the day he was diagnosed. We hoped the treatments-the horrific treatments- would buy Thomas time, and maybe new treatments would come along.
There just wasn’t enough time.

When Avram announced that he had decided to leave his flying club and buy his own plane, we were thrilled for him. He said that one thing he learned from Thomas is that life is short, and he was not going to put off his dreams any longer.

Pre-flight check. He keeps his iPad at hand for info.

Two years ago, we had flown with Avram in one of the small planes owned by his flying club. We were flying over the Santa Monica pier when we were ordered out to sea because President Obama was aboard Air Force One and it was entering our air space, we had to make way. We circled for a few minutes and were given the all-clear to return to our route During that same visit we joined the LAPD air support team on an actual shift in the police helicopter. We were warned if there were a big event like an O.J. chase, we would be in the helicopter until the event was over.
No crimes that day, just a false alarm at the local bank. But we did do a “beauty pass” of the HOLLYWOOD sign, which I blogged about two years ago.

HOLLYWOOD sign an American icon


So back to this past July. Avram took us from Camarillo airport to Morro Bay and we circled the famous Morro Bay rock.

He banked hard so I could get good photos. My Beloved in the back seat said he felt as if he was going to fall out. I kept the wing in the picture so you could see I really was flying through the air in a light plane.

Pre-flight fuel check,Avram and Ira, my Beloved


I loved every minute of it, even when on the way back the sun, and motion of the plane combined to put me to sleep. Good thing Avram was not also lulled!
After we secured the plane, we ate lunch outside at the Camarillo airport, a place where the rich, the famous and hardworking people with a love of flying hang out. We watched planes come and go, and felt very nostalgic. Small airports still have the romance of flying.

Last pass and then home

Baja Bottles and Shells, Magical Things From the Beach in La Paz!

2012 August 5

Antique bottles nestled in one of Mary's Shell Wreaths

Beach, just seeing or hearing the word takes me away to a place of salt, sand, sun and peace.
I grew up in New Jersey, and Fort Hancock on the end of the sand spit called Sandy Hook was where I spent many a summer day.
The only day I did not go to the beach in August 1970 was the day my darling daughter Melissa was born. That was August 17th.
When we were kids growing up in Atlantic Highlands New Jersey, we lived a few blocks from the Sandy Hook Bay beach. My mother did not drive. So she gave us each an inner tube to carry, lined my brother, Merrell’s wagon with an army blanket, plopped La Princessa Patti ( my younger sister) in the middle and surrounded her with our lunch, our towels, change of clothes and beach toys.

Off we trekked to spend the day at the beach. And we loved it. Every second of it. And of course we collected shells and lots of other flotsam that washed ashore. My mother, as mothers do, had to limit what we could carry home, so we were told to only collect perfect shells. Otherwise we would have carried home every fragment, shard and sliver of shell.

Just an artsy shot of some candle ring shell wreaths on my patio

Now I live on the beach in La Paz, Baja California Sur. I collect shells of every size and color. For years I was addicted to collecting what we call jingle shells, gorgeous fragile, oddly shaped shells that range in color from pearly white to yellow, golden yellow and vibrant orange.
I love the gorgeous spiral curves of the inside of shells that I will dub “snails” anything that had a creature inside that spun their gorgeous homes.
These gorgeous yellow and white striped shells came from El Mogote, the sandbar that forms the La Paz harbor. We were wading and started to see these gorgeous shells lying on the bottom. We fulled bag after bag with them, and had to float the bags as we walked back to our chairs.

Some days, I have to do a shell intervention with Mary. When she starts hodling her back, I know it is time to stop. She always says " Just one more...please."

My friend Mary and I spend hours in the winter collecting shells, and we are always surprised what we find. And certain days big shells attract us and that is all we will pick up, others it is small to tiny shells. And always oddly-shaped shells. Mary makes the gorgeous shell wreaths pictured in this blog.
I take credit for inspiring her.
We would collect the shells and take them home to pile around the house, or stored them in jars and otherwise drop them and forget about them. There was no mother to tell us to only pick the perfect ones, or to only take home five.

Then I decided to see how many household objects would look better adorned with shells. Out came the glue gun, and nothing was safe! I glued shells on mirrors, picture frames, I wrapped a yogurt container with fabric then glued shells on it. It was to hold a roll of toilet paper in my outside bathroom.

Soon Mary and I were having shell contests.
But she has created the most amazing objects, including seashore Santas, modeled after the Victorian Santas that are so popular. But hers were standing on a base of sand, garbed in pieces of Mexican cloth, and some palm bark. Slung over his shoulder was a bag of shells.

Mary’s work has evolved into gorgeous wreaths. I am proud to say my small wreaths pictured here are the prototypes of Mary’s ongoing work. She gave them to me for my birthday a few years ago.

These wreaths are wonderful candle rings. They become part of my seasonal dlsplays and centerpieces for dinner parties, and are always where I can see them.

Now when I need a gift, I call Mary.
Her wreaths grace the homes of friends and family all over the US. They are in Denver and Dallas. One large wreath made just for her, was the centerpiece at my sister’s wedding in Amagansett. And there is the all black one. Mary dyed all the shells and turned her fingers black, they stayed that way for weeks. From Minnesota, to Idaho, South Dakota, California and New Jersey, someone I know and love has one of these wreaths. And a few years ago, one of Mary’s shell wreaths went to Paris with Madam Francine Cousteau.
Francine was here to dedicate the Jacques Cousteau memorial at Centro Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR).
And here is the wreath that is always on my dining room table it is really very big abut 12 inches in diameter. Take your time, look closely, and you can see hundreds of different shells, a sea star, and some broken shells with gorgeous shapes. If you would like to know more about Mary’s shells contact here here Mary’s Shells: bigfishes2@aoldotcom

Mary always makes sure there is an orange scallop, and often a piece of sea glass on every wreath.