Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8

Well, the other day I had an experience I bet you all in the US have not had in many, many years.  Want to guess?  I went to a shoemaker:  remember those?  Shoes here need to be not only comfortable but have thick enough soles to be able to walk on cobblestones without feeling them, and very important, not be slippery.  Some of the sidewalk stones here get extremely slippery when they are wet, and this is the rainy season.  I absolutely do not want to fall on these hard stones -- it's not for nothing that San Miguel is nicknamed "The City of Fallen Women."  So I bought a pair of shoes that didn't meet all the requirements, brought them to the shoemaker, and that takes care of that!

We had a marvelous visit a couple of weeks ago from our friends Larry and Carolyn from Washington State.

The photo of the four of us was taken at a café at the Jardin (reminder:  central plaza, center of town, means Garden), where we shared a table with a couple of Mexicans from Guadalajara in town for a romantic weekend.  He was 50, she in her 40s, and they seemed very much in love.  Fun to see.  Larry and Carolyn surely must think this place is made for romance:  that day we also saw not one but two brides.

 The second one, just down the street from the café, was pretty apprehensive about that horse.  I'm not up on wedding dress styles lately, but the ones I see here seem to have about a thousand yards of fluffy white fabric!  And showing Carolyn and Larry the spectacular courtyards at the Instituto Allende, we came across preparations for, of course, a wedding.

I think the new tourist tag should be "San Miguel:  Romance Capital of Mexico."

Speaking of flowers, my sister Sara is now more expert than ever, having just published her absolutely gorgeous book on the flowers of Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle.   A great book for people who love flowers, a great gift.  I saw a beautiful flower I can't identify.  Sara, can you?

And in close-up:

My life lately consists of trips to buy things for the casa.  The other day I went to a town about an hour from here, Apaseo El Alto, where there are dozens of carpenters who make wood furniture.  It's fascinating how different towns sometimes become known for a specific product.  I went because the furniture there is considerably less expensive than in San Miguel.  And in fact, I ordered 23 pieces of furniture, many carved, all drawers with metal side guides (not the typical kind here that falls out when you open it!), all handmade.  Look at what I get for 23,000 pesos, or about $1,900:

  • 2 queen bedsteads, one with 4 drawers
  • 2 queen headboards
  • 1 single bedstead and headboard
  • 4 night tables
  • 1 wardrobe with drawers
  • 1 linen cabinet
  • 1 triple dresser with 9 drawers
  • 1 coffee table
  • 2 end tables
  • 8 chairs
For example, this is what the furniture in the guest room will look like.  Isn't it happy-making?!

Rick has bought more furniture for his casita, in addition to this.  In fact, the casa and the casita are now pretty much done, after only eight weeks of work.  The carpenter who's making all the cabinets hasn't finished those so we can't move in completely, but we will by the end of this month.  Very exciting!  Here are some pictures of the casa.  First, my outdoor shower upstairs.  The open iron door to the left is in the bathroom; the outdoor shower is in the sleeping porch.

Below, the outdoor shower seen from the sleeping porch.  There are beautiful small glass turquoise tiles which you can just about see in both pictures.

And the sleeping porch, entirely enclosed in screens that go from floor to ceiling outside the privacy bricks.  No more mosquitoes!  The tree you see is a huge old jacaranda (pronounced in Spanish ha-ca-RAN-da), one of two on the property, which makes beautiful lavender clusters of flowers in the spring.

My bathroom, with its painted Mexican sink and glass accent tiles:

 My bedroom, with the sleeping porch out to the left and newly refinished tiles.  The walls are a pale blue.

My kitchen.  The walls are soft turquoise and the tiles are marbled teal.  The light you see to the right of the sink is from one of the 20 square skylights we've put everywhere.  Through the arch on the right you can see the arch of the built-in shelves in the study:  isn't that beautiful?

My study, again with the marvelous light from skylights.  The thing on the back wall is a gas heater, which I need to learn how to operate.

The powder room off the study, with its painted Mexican sink and handmade tiles.

And in the casita, Rick's sleeping porch just got put in.  It's at the northern end of a 30' patio that goes along his living room and kitchen.  I love the clean lines of the frames, which of course are screened.

His living room is serving as the temporary depository of stuff we're moving in.

 His kitchen, with all tiles in and stove connected but no cabinets yet.  And the lovely light from the skylight.

His bathroom, like mine and in the powder room, has a Mexican painted sink.

 The pool is still a hole in the ground, but the fourth wall is now in.

 We're creating a laundry room upstairs, above the guest room.  The roof is only a slab of plywood now, but the walls are so interesting.  They're prefab styrofoam encased in wire mesh.  Over this is laid a layer of concrete, which is smoothed and finally painted.

How could I have forgotten to take pictures of the guest room?  I'll take some and post them soon.  I think it's the most extreme pre/post change of all the rooms.  What used to be a dark, ugly cramped room is now full of light and seems twice the size.  I've had it painted in a soft orchid color -- I hope you like it when you come to visit!

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