Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’
How time flies!
Last Monday, Jean and I had been living here in Merlin, Oregon for three years.
Why I am explaining this is because my day yesterday ended up being so busy that I ran out of time to focus on writing a fresh new post for you good people.
Thus, I decided to repost something that I published that first week we moved in to our Merlin home. Namely, a post published on the 16th October, 2012 under the heading of The death of the USA?.
So my apologies for you dear readers that recall this from three years ago, and welcome to the many new followers of this place that have signed up since then.
“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!” Mark Twain.
The Mark Twain quotation after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.
Mistaken publications of obituaries aren’t as rare as you might expect. A recent example is of Dave Swarbrick, the British folk/rock violinist, who was killed off mistakenly by the Daily Telegraph in April 1999 when they reported that his visit to hospital in Coventry had resulted in his death. He did at least get the opportunity to read a rather favourable account of his life, not something we all get to do, and to deliver the gag “It’s not the first time I have died in Coventry”.
So why have I opened with this quote from Mark Twain? Read on and I hope all will be clear.
A little under a week ago, I published a couple of posts that proposed that the United States of America is an empire in decline. The first was What goes up? and the second Might just come down! As a Brit, I well know that aspect of British history!
However a recent conversation with a friend of many years back in England, who has also been a shrewd and wise entrepreneur for longer than I care to remember, argued that the evidence for the ‘end of the USA’ could be challenged.
He cited five reasons why he thought the USA would remain, more or less, in its dominant position. They were:
- Spirit of innovation
- Relaxed labour laws
- The importance of Mexico
- The uncertainty of China in terms of the next ’empire’
- The likely energy self-sufficiency for the USA in the near-term.
So let me expand on each of those points.
Spirit of innovation
Let me quote from an article in TIME Magazine of the 5th June, 2011,
Innovation is as American as apple pie. It seems to accord with so many elements of our national character — ingenuity, freedom, flexibility, the willingness to question conventional wisdom and defy authority. But politicians are pinning their hopes on innovation for more urgent reasons. America’s future growth will have to come from new industries that create new products and processes. Older industries are under tremendous pressure. Technological change is making factories and offices far more efficient. The rise of low-wage manufacturing in China and low-wage services in India is moving jobs overseas. The only durable strength we have — the only one that can withstand these gale winds — is innovation.
Now there are plenty who would argue both ways in terms of the future innovation potential for the USA, as a recent article in The Atlantic does, see American Innovation: It’s the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. But the spirit of innovation will, nonetheless, be a powerful economic potential for the USA for many years to come.
Relaxed labour laws.
Definitely an area that I have little knowledge of except for the subjective notion that compared to many other nations, the laws in the USA are much less of a restraint on economic productivity than elsewhere.
The importance of Mexico.
The importance in the context of providing the USA with a source of cheaper manufacturing facilities. My English friend thought that this was a significant competitive advantage for the USA. Now, as it happens, we had a couple staying with us over the week-end of the 6th/7th October. The husband is a senior manager of Horst Engineering, an American firm based in Guaymas, Sonora County, Mexico. Here’s a picture from their website,
We are a contract manufacturer of precision machined components and assemblies for aerospace, medical, and other high technology industries. Our core processes include Swiss screw machining, turning, milling, thread rolling, centerless grinding, and assembly. Our extensive supply chain offers our customers a full service logistics solution for managing their precision product requirements. We are ISO9001:2008 and AS9100 registered and proud of our 66 year, three-generation legacy of quality and performance.
I was told that many American and British firms were using Mexico rather than China for a number of reasons. Not least because Chinese suppliers require full payment before shipment. Plus that taking into account that financial aspect together with shipping costs and other logistical issues, China wasn’t as ‘cheap’ over all. Here’s a recent announcement from Rolls Royce,
Rolls-Royce plans new Sonora hub
The burgeoning aerospace industry in Guaymas had its efforts validated recently when the venerable Rolls-Royce chose it as the site for its newest global purchasing office.
Surrounded by several of its aerospace manufacturing suppliers, London-based Rolls-Royce will move into a Guaymas industrial park owned by Tucson-based The Offshore Group to develop a supply hub for commercial jets and military aircraft around the globe.
“Rolls-Royce has very robust booking orders for the next 10 years,” said Joel Reuter, director of communications for Rolls-Royce in North America. “We need to double our production.”
Because a number of Rolls-Royce suppliers already operate in Guaymas, the city was a logical choice, Reuter said.
The uncertainty of China in terms of the next ’empire’
The point made in terms of China taking over ’empire’ status from the USA, as Simon Johnson argues over at Baseline Scenario, is countered by the fact that politically China is an unknown quantity. Until China endorses some form of democratic process, that unknowingness is not going to disappear.
The likely energy self-sufficiency for the USA in the near-term.
I can’t do better than to ask you to watch this video! Just 27-minutes long, it is a very interesting review of the energy future of the USA.
As the TED website suggests in terms of why you should listen to Amory Lovins,
Amory Lovins was worried (and writing) about energy long before global warming was making the front — or even back — page of newspapers. Since studying at Harvard and Oxford in the 1960s, he’s written dozens of books, and initiated ambitious projects — cofounding the influential, environment-focused Rocky Mountain Institute; prototyping the ultra-efficient Hypercar — to focus the world’s attention on alternative approaches to energy and transportation.
His critical thinking has driven people around the globe — from world leaders to the average Joe — to think differently about energy and its role in some of our biggest problems: climate change, oil dependency, national security, economic health, and depletion of natural resources.
More on Reinventing Fire may be found here.
So, don’t know about you, but I found those five points deeply convincing. How about you? Are the reports of the death of the USA greatly exaggerated? Do leave a comment.
Now some three years later on, these five factors still seem to be valid.
Jaw, jaw is so much better than war, war!
Day Seven: Give and Take
Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
Remember those “compare and contrast” essays in composition class, in which you’re forced to create a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Just because that particular form was a bore doesn’t mean that opposition has no place in your writing.
Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or …… you get the idea.
Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!
Emulating people’s speech in written form takes practice, and creating two distinct voices could help you see (and hear) the different factors that play into the way we speak, from our diction and accent to our vocabulary and (creative?) use of grammar. (We’ll discuss the topic of voice more formally later in the course; for now, take a stab at writing dialogue on your own.)
Today’s task makes writing about dogs look like a piece of cake!
I spent quite some time wondering how to approach this, what to draw upon in terms of my own experiences, what the scene might be. In the end, I chose to write a fictional exchange between me and the landlord, David, of my local pub back in the days of when I lived in Harberton, near Totnes in South Devon. (David and his wife are no longer in residence.)
To help set the scene for you, dear reader, here are two photographs. The first is a view of the pub in the centre of the village of Harberton; population 300 persons.
The second image is of the main bar area inside where this fictional conversation is about to take place. The pub was less than a five-minute walk from my home.
“Evening David! Golly, looks like I’m first one in this evening. Must stop looking so keen to have a beer at the end of the day!”
Paul swung his backside onto the corner bar stool and lent his right arm on the bar.
“Good evening to you, Paul. Same as usual?”
“As ever, David.”
David reached out his right arm towards the pump handle at the same time as the fingers of his left hand closed around a pint glass. The sound of the mild ale being poured into the glass was a tonic in itself.
“So how’s your week been, Paul?”
“David, don’t even ask. I seem to have spent most of my waking hours wondering what the hell I’m going to do if the election goes the way it appears to be heading.”
“Well I’m sure Ralph will have clear ideas on that one when he comes in”, David remarked as he handed me the brimming glass of ale.
The pub door squeaked open in the same way it had for time immemorial.
David looked up. “Speak of the devil, here’s the man himself!”
“Somebody call my name?”, boomed out Ralph’s voice.
“David was just saying that you would have clear ideas on the election. But first let me get you a pint, Ralph.”
“Thank you, Paul, that’s mighty gentlemanly of you.”
Ralph removed his light raincoat and sat down next to Paul.
David passed across Ralph’s pint of bitter and took the ten-pound note that Paul held in an outstretched hand.
Ralph took a long swig of his beer and set the glass down on the counter. “So how do you think the election is going to turn out?”
Paul, too, took a good mouthful of his beer and looked across to Ralph. “Well if the media are reporting it correctly, it looks like there’s a better than even chance of UKIP holding the balance of power. And if that happens then I can kiss goodbye to my business!”
David held out Paul’s change in his hand.
“Oh come on, Paul, you can’t mean that! UKIP holding the balance of power will mean an end to the antics of the money-grabbing bastards who have got us into the present mess. Surely, that would be good for you!”
“Ralph, I really wish you are right. But seventy-five percent of my revenue comes from the EU countries and UKIP have pledged to hold a referendum on whether Great Britain stays or leaves the European Union.”
“Well I don’t know! Me, I just want the quiet life with me and Betty enjoying the rest of our years free from all the damned interference from bloody bureaucratic arses both sides of the Channel!”
“Ralph, I can understand that, truly I can. But I’m a long way from retirement and if my business fails I’m screwed, screwed big time!”
“Paul, you worry too much – let me get you another pint!”
Paul chuckled, “Ralph, you know how to win me over don’t you!”
“Anyway, Paul”, Ralph continued, “rumour has it that you aren’t even spending Christmas with us in the village.”
David, putting the second two pints of beer on the counter in front of Ralph and Paul, looked up, “What’s this I hear? You deserting us this Christmas?”
“Sorry gents, but it’s looking that way. I’ve been invited to spend Christmas with a couple of Americans I’ve known for years.”
“Well it’s alright for some lucky sods,” boomed Ralph, “I’m lucky if I can afford a trip into Totnes.”
He sipped his second pint. “America! Bloody Yanks!”
“I said I have been invited to spend Christmas with some Americans. Doesn’t necessarily mean it will be in the USA.”
“Come on then, tell us it’s somewhere even fancier!”
“Ralph, I’ve been invited to go to Mexico!”
And so it came to pass!
Well it was fun to write but I’m not certain that I got anywhere close to what today’s Writing 101 theme was looking for.
Oh well, another day tomorrow!
Ruby – the fourth dog for you to meet.
My house in Mexico was on the beach. There was a door in the wall of the rear courtyard that lead almost directly on to the sand. Most mornings I would rise before dawn to run two or three dogs together along the shore. It was a good arrangement for all of us!
Next door to my house was a duplex that had been rented out to a family that lived in Hermosillo; the capital of the State of Sonora. Every month or so this family would visit for a long weekend. This family, unfortunately, had an autistic daughter who, when not supervised, would open my front gate that led on to the dusty road so she could come in to play with my cats that lived in the front area of my house. That was fine by me when the daughter was in a calm mood but frequently she had screaming fits that would send both my cats and dogs into a state of frenzy. In addition, the family owned a Chihuahua dog that the daughter often carried as if it were a doll.
One month, the family arrived ‘sans Chihuahua‘ with the news that it had died; adding that their daughter was bereft at the loss.
The following day the mother knocked on my door. She explained that they had acquired a new puppy but that it was not eating. What could they do? Would I help?
Of course I went with them to have a look. Sure enough, they had a small puppy, probably no more that three weeks old. “It’s a Chihuahua”, they said. I replied, “Firstly, it’s not a Chihuahua and secondly, it’s far too young to be without it’s mother – you must take the puppy back to the mother”.
Despite much pleading, I could not convince the family to do this. So I did the next best thing and went back home to get replacement milk formula and a tiny feeding bottle. I showed the family how to feed the little puppy and also how to massage its tummy to help it go to the toilet. I was more than a little concerned, to say the least. I just couldn’t see the family going to the effort of feeding the puppy every couple of hours or so; essential to ensuring the tiny dog survived.
I planned to check up how things were going the following day. But didn’t need to. For when opening my front door I found the puppy left on my doorstep. Not even left in a box. The family had returned to Hermosillo.
That little three-week-old puppy is now Ruby; an eight-year-old 80 lbs Shar-Pei mix. After a few weeks of investigation I tracked down Ruby’s mother. She had had 13 pups and was unable to feed them all.
Ruby suffers from skin problems as do many Shar-Peis. Ruby clearly missed out on the mother-puppy relationship; so important for the development of social skills. Accordingly, she is a bit scatty when playing with the other dogs, frequently bowling them over in her enthusiasm. Luckily the other dogs seem to realise that she is missed out as a young puppy and are very forgiving.
After such a shaky start I didn’t even try to find her a home. With countless puppy feeds in the middle of too many nights, I had bonded too deeply.
The family returned to the duplex a couple of months later with a new Chihuahua in tow. I confronted them about Ruby. Their answer was that they had given the puppy to a couple on the beach and it was they who had left the puppy on my front door-step.
Yeah! And the moon is made of green cheese!
Another week next week – another dog to meet!
Lilly, the second of our nine dogs.
Last week was the start of a series of posts giving you, dear reader, background on each of our nine dogs. Thus last week, Jean wrote about Paloma. Here is Jean’s account of how Lilly came into her life.
Lilly came into my life fourteen years ago. I had taken my car into the mechanics workshop in San Carlos, Mexico for an oil change and was beckoned over to an old junk car in their lot. It had no glass in the windows and in the hatch-back area lay a smallish dog with five young, suckling puppies. She had apparently walked in off the street and chosen the old airy car as a suitable ‘house’ in which to have her babies. The workers had supplied her with an old greasy towel for a mattress.
My girlfriend, Suze, and I immediately set about making her comfortable with a small quilt and plenty of water and good dog food. She had been dining on tacos and tamales scraps up until then.
Suze and I visited frequently and took plenty of food and at the same time went about looking for homes for the pups. However, one day we arrived and found all the beautiful babies gone. The mechanics had given them away. We were shattered and could only hope that they had gone to loving homes.
‘Rabbit’, as she was then called, continued hanging around the workshop and the men seemed to like her. Rabbit had this trick of leaping on her hind legs, twirling and landing on her four legs; hence her name Rabbit, I guess.
Suze and I would see her once a week on average and had also arranged for Rabbit to be spayed. All seemed well until Easter came (I think we are talking of the year 2000). As is common in Mexico, during Easter week in San Carlos everything shuts down. It’s carnival time. The streets are busy with tourists and there is much traffic. I was worried about Rabbit as the mechanic’s shop was locked up tight and Rabbit was outside in the lot by the street. I planned to take her home for the rest of the holiday but fate intervened. On my way to collect her, I was aghast to see her motionless by the side of the road, obviously having been hit by a car. I gently picked her up and took her home. On inspection, it was clear that she had two broken legs on her right-hand side. Her injuries were so bad that I knew the local vet did not have the skills or instruments to heal her. My late husband, Ben, and I ended up driving her two hours South to Obregon where there was an orthopaedic vet. He put pins in both legs and she stoically set about mending herself. Rabbit became Lilly. Irrespective of name, she was an assertive but sweet young dog and settled in nicely with my burgeoning pack; I had twelve rescue dogs in those days. Her legs healed nicely and she resumed her twirling.
Lilly became a particular favourite of Ben, my late husband. When in 2005 Ben lay dying at home, Lilly slept non-stop by his side on the bed, only leaving to eat or go outside. I knew for sure that Ben had died in the night when one morning I awoke to feel Lilly beside me on my bed. Lilly sensed that now I needed her more.
Lilly is still with us. Now a dowager old lady of at least fifteen years of age, she still enjoys going out with her buddies whom she tends to boss somewhat. (Paul thinks that Lilly is an ‘alpha’ dog, in other words has pack leadership in her genes.) But one thing that Lilly doesn’t now do; she doesn’t twirl anymore, but then neither do I.
It will be a very sad day when Paul and I have to say goodbye to this treasure of a dog. In the meantime we endeavour to make each day that she has left as rich as possible.
Next week another story about another member of our family.
Suddenly, it all makes sense!
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” –Paulo Freire
Dear neighbours, Dordie and Bill, lent us a documentary video to watch on Sunday night. It was called “HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream?”
As the film’s website explains:
HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? is stunning audiences across the globe as it traces the worldwide economic collapse to a 1971 secret memo entitled Attack on American Free Enterprise System. Written over 40 years ago by the future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, at the behest of the US Chamber of Commerce, the 6-page memo, a free-market utopian treatise, called for a money fueled big business makeover of government through corporate control of the media, academia, the pulpit, arts and sciences and destruction of organized labor and consumer protection groups.
But Powell’s real “end game” was business control of law and politics. HEIST’s step by step detail exposes the systemic implementation of Powell’s memo by BOTH U.S. political parties culminating in the deregulation of industry, outsourcing of jobs and regressive taxation. All of which led us to the global financial crisis of 2008 and the continued dismantling of the American middle class. Today, politics is the playground of the rich and powerful, with no thought given to the hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans. No other film goes as deeply as HEIST in explaining the greatest wealth transfer of our time. Moving beyond the white noise of today’s polarizing media, HEIST provides viewers with a clear, concise and fact- based explanation of how we got into this mess, and what we need to do to restore our representative democracy.
It’s an incredibly interesting film, but more of that later. For me, what was stunningly enlightening was at last understanding the powerful forces at work since Lewis Powell published ‘the memo’ back on August 23, 1971. Because for me over in Britain, the era of the ’70s’ and ’80s’ were incredibly fulfilling. First, as a salesman for IBM UK – Office Products Division, from 1970 through to 1978, and then forming and managing my own company through to 1986 when I succumbed to an attractive purchase offer. Then, when my company was sold, taking a few years off cruising a sailboat in the Mediterranean; based out of Larnaca, Cyprus.
Thus I was immune to the global money and power plays, albeit enjoying rising house prices! Only Lady Luck protected me from the collapse of 2008 in that I had sold my Devon home in early 2007 and was renting. Then Lady Luck arranging for me to meet Jean in Mexico, Christmas 2007 (we were born 23 miles apart in London) and subsequently moving out to Mexico with Pharaoh in September, 2008, to be with Jean and all her dogs. Lady Luck’s magic continued in that we came to Merlin, Oregon because we were able to take advantage of a bank-owned property; moving there in October, 2012.
Of course, the scale of the downturn was obvious and there were many instances of people that I knew losing jobs or homes, or both, and generally having a very rough time.
So back to the film. Here’s the official trailer.
Uploaded on Feb 17, 2012
Please watch the newly updated trailer for “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?,” the new, explosive documentary from Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher exposing the roots of the American economic crisis and the destruction of the American dream. Visit www.Heist-TheMovie.com for more information on how to see the feature film and how to Take Action in restoring democracy and economic justice in the United States.
But here’s another thing that now makes sense: The legitimate anger of so many people, especially those who have some insight into what had been taking place. No, amend that! What is still taking place!
My strong recommendation is that you take an evening off and watch the film. Here’s another preview:
Frances Causey, Co-producer & co-director-Heist & Donald Goldmacher, Co-producer & co-director-Heist join Thom Hartmann. Corporate America is the biggest Welfare reciepient in the country – but that wasn’t always the case. The makers of Heist will tell you how organized money has been able to pull off the biggest “Heist” of the American Dream!
The film also concludes by offering many ways in which individuals can take back control of their lives, reinvigorate local communities, actively show that people-power is unstoppable. As it always has been and always will be.
This post started with a quote and I’m going to close with another.
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Learning from Dogs
Philip drove himself, as quietly as he could manage it, back up to Lisa and Don’s house. It was a little after 4am. The night air was cold and as he slipped into his bed the inside of the bodega felt just as cold as outside. The hours of love-making with Molly had been a new experience for him. Of extraordinarily different dimensions from any previous experience. Like every other aspect of their relationship, because now it was most definitely a relationship, the ways that he and Molly were relating to each other, how each was getting to know the other, was a new journey for him. As with all new journeys in life, both the real, external ones and the inner, subjective ones, new journeys came with new experiences, new vistas and new horizons every step of the way.
As he slept on that next morning, Lisa had telephoned Molly and had asked her what the hell was going on. She seemed very upset in a way that Molly couldn’t fully understand. After Lisa had calmed down a little, Molly told her that she and Philip were now lovers.
Five days later, 2007 bid farewell forever and in came the New Year of 2008. Philip and Molly endeavoured to be together as much as possible for his remaining ten days. He was now effectively living at her house. In those ten days any lingering cautions in their minds about either of them being hurt just vaporised. For the very simple, yet gigantic, reason that he wanted to be with her and she with him. There was no doubt whatsoever that he would leave Devon and come to San Carlos with Pharaoh just as soon as it could be arranged. In the interim, Molly would come to Devon in the Spring to meet his family and friends. Then the plan was that in the early Autumn, he and Pharaoh would make the one-way trip to Mexico, routing via California.
Thus it came to pass that early one morning in September, Philip arrived at London Airport with two suitcases and one beloved dog: Pharaoh. They were flying one-way with British Airways, London to Los Angeles. He had been informed that Pharaoh would need to be checked-in at the World Cargo centre. Philip parked outside said cargo centre and walked Pharaoh on his leash to the animal check-in desk. Fifteen minutes later, with his face staring out at Philip through the grill of his travel cage, Pharaoh disappeared from sight without even a bark; without even a whimper. It was as if he sensed the new life that was ahead of him. Philip had asked as to where in the aircraft’s hold Pharaoh’s cage would be situated and had reserved a cabin seat more or less above that spot. He was of no doubt that Pharaoh would know that he was sitting as close to him as possible.
As is the way of long international, non-stop flights, it was over in some sort of time-warped way, before he could really grasp it.
Molly had driven up from San Carlos to meet him and Pharaoh when they flew in to Los Angeles. First she welcomed Philip with the world’s sweetest and dearest hug then they repositioned to another part of the terminal building to await Pharaoh’s arrival. In what seemed like no time at all they were all heading out from the airport complex, Pharaoh sitting on his haunches on the rear seat of Molly’s car unable to take his eyes off the strange world outside yet at the same time eagerly eating a bowl of dog biscuits being held under his chin by Philip.
So, it’s time for this story to take a pause. Well, maybe not a pause, more a drawing back from the intricacy and detail of the previous pages. For in so many ways the story has now been told.
Philip and Molly’s lives together were all, and more, of what they could have ever imagined.
He had been living in Mexico with Molly for about eighteen months when they were clear that they wanted to marry and find a new home in America. Because Molly had US citizenship through her marriage to Ben, it seemed sensible for Philip to apply for a US Fiancée Visa. So it was decided that they would find a home in Arizona and sell the beach-side house in San Carlos. They quickly found a comfortable home in Payson, a city of fifteen-thousand persons located at five-thousand feet, eighty miles North-East of Phoenix, Arizona. The subsequent move from Mexico to Payson went off remarkably well. Especially if one reflects that the move included fourteen dogs, seven cats and all their belongings. Their latest dog being a beautiful, black, half-Rottweiler female dog that was dumped in the street just outside the house barely ten days before they departed Mexico. She was still in milk, frantically tearing back and forth along the dusty street, presumably looking for her puppies, crying out the pain of her loss. Molly enticed her into the house, gave her water, for she was very thirsty, and within minutes the dog was showing her love and gratitude to Molly. They named her Hazel.
Then it was time for Philip to apply for that fiancée visa. There was no delaying that because his entrance to the USA, when they moved up from San Carlos, was on the basis of a ninety-day tourist visa.
Applying for that fiancée visa could only be done at the US Embassy back in his home country; England. In the end, it involved several trips back to the UK and strange, interminable processes convincing the US Embassy in London that he was a fit and proper person to be admitted as a resident to the United States of America.
Nevertheless, on November 4th, 2010, he boarded Virgin Atlantic’s flight VS007 from London Heathrow to Phoenix, the possessor of a United States visa permitting him to marry a US Citizen; in this case a very special one. Sixteen days later, on Saturday, November 20th, he and Molly were married.
This is where the story should have ended. Molly and Philip and their animals living very happily in a comfortable home in Payson, Arizona. But the story has a twist.
It had been a night in the middle of June in 2012; the night of the 20th June as he recalled. There was nothing about the previous day that could have had any bearing on his mind, as in any trigger for the dream, not that, as dreams go, it was a dream of any meaning; well not outwardly. He dreamt he had gone to the bathroom in the middle of the night and turned on the cold-water tap and found no water flowing from it. That was the dream; no more or no less. Bizarre!
Yet when he awoke in the morning, the dream was vividly present in his mind. He said to Molly that he had had the most strangest of dreams and recounted the experience. As it happened, they had a neighbour call by later that morning and the conversation lead Philip to mention his dream. To which the neighbour had simply remarked that if he was worried about water then they should go to Oregon.
While their property was sufficiently far out from Payson to require their own well and, as wells go, it was a deep one of nearly three-hundred feet, the water level had stayed pretty constant around sixty-feet down. On the other hand, this part of Arizona had been receiving below-average rains for the last twenty years.
Then, almost as though it had been pre-ordained, a short while thereafter Molly met a woman who said that she would be delighted to house sit and look after all the pets if Molly and Philip ever wanted to go on a vacation. Molly had mentioned that they were thinking of visiting Oregon. All of which came together and saw Molly and Philip setting off on July 11th on the start of a three-day, twelve-hundred mile drive to Southern Oregon.
On their arrival in Grants Pass, Oregon, yet another set of coincidences found them being introduced to an independent real-estate agent, Donna. Donna said she was happy to show them some properties for sale in this part of Southern Oregon. The second property that Donna showed them was a few miles North of the small community of Merlin, itself some nine miles North-West of Grants Pass.
Donna stopped at the entrance to the driveway, turned round and looked back at them.
“I have to be honest and tell you that I know very little about this property. There are not even listing particulars. It was for sale a few years back, rumours had it at well over a million dollars; possibly even million and a third. Then it was lost to the bank and, for whatever reason, nobody has gone for it. It’s been empty for at least two years.”
Donna drove in. The driveway was surrounded either side by tall forest trees; oaks, pines and firs. It initially sloped down from the roadway and then went across a bridge over a sparkling creek of crystal-clear water flowing from right-to-left. Donna paused the car as Philip asked a question.
“Any details about the creek, Donna?”
“It’s called Bummer Creek and it flows all-year. Not sure, will need to check on it, but I thought I had heard there were formal water extraction rights for the owners of the property.”
The driveway then made a gently climb along the right-hand edge of a large, multi-acre, grass paddock. In what must have been nearly a quarter-of-a-mile later, they drove up to a large, wooden-clad, single-story home surrounded by more wonderful tall pines and firs. It was stupendous. A four-bedroomed property in thirteen acres of fenced land with stables, a garage and other outbuildings, and what did turn out to be water extraction rights from Bummer Creek.
It took Molly and Philip less than an hour to make up their minds that at the right price this could be their home of a lifetime for them and all their animals.
Donna came up to them as they stood outside the front of the property.
“What do you think, guys?”
Philip answered, “It’s an incredible property and I don’t doubt that at some point it would have been an expensive property to purchase. Do you know the asking price?’
Donna answered, “I’ve just been calling to find out more details. The bank that originally foreclosed on the property then sold it a while back to a company called Gorilla Capital. Gorilla are just trying to flip the place for cash but, as with the bank, have had trouble finding a buyer. The company have told me they are looking for three-hundred-and-eighty-thousand dollars. I have to say that’s quite a low price for all that’s here even in these depressed times. My guess is that many people would find it a bit too much to take on in terms of the acres. Otherwise, I can’t see why it hasn’t sold a long time ago. Especially for the money being asked.”
Philip and Molly took another walk around the house. They ended up standing together on the wooden deck overlooking some eight or nine acres of grassland, dense forest sweeping up the flanks of the slopes in the near distance, and the mighty Mount Sexton visible four or five miles off to the North-East.
“What do you think, Molly?” he asked, putting his arm around her waist.
“It’s gorgeous, I just can’t believe what an incredible home it is. How about you? What do you think, sweetheart?”
His reply was unequivocal. “I think we should put in a silly offer.”
“Such as?” Molly wondered aloud.
“Come with me.”
He took her hand and lead her around to the front of the house, to where Donna was waiting.
“Donna, we want to make an offer. Tell Gorilla that we can’t go anywhere near their asking price just now. But if they want a deal today, we will offer two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand dollars. Cash on the nail as we say in my old country.”
Donna walked away to be out of earshot and rang Gorilla. She was back in a couple of minutes.
“They say that’s too low. Say there really looking for something a bit higher.”
Fifteen minutes later, Gorilla and Philip and Molly had settled on the figure of two-hundred-and-seventy-one-thousand dollars.
As they walked towards Donna’s car she said to them, “You do know, don’t you, that even in today’s depressed housing market, that’s one hell of a deal.”
So it came to pass that on the following day, Sunday, 15th July, over at Donna’s office, Philip and Molly signed the purchase contract.
They left to return to Payson the following day.
Upon their return to Payson, without exception, all the people they shared their news with were astounded at what they had purchased for such a modest sum of money. Now came the challenge of getting their Payson house ready for sale, packing up their things and transporting what was by now eleven dogs and five cats, the twelve-hundred miles to Oregon.
Nevertheless, as is the way of things, piece by piece, little by little, it all came together resulting in the day of the ‘big move’ arriving: Tuesday, October 23rd to be exact. Philip’s Jeep was towing a large covered U-Haul trailer and Molly was driving a U-Haul rental van towing another trailer carrying her Dodge van packed to the roof. They were off to Oregon.
Within less than forty-eight hours of arriving at their new home in Merlin, as Molly and Philip saw how the dogs reacted to their acres of land, the trees, the hollows and the borders, they knew that all of them, in the fullest sense of the phrase, had come home.
2,387 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover
Apologies for the single post today.
But on Saturday night the temperature dropped to 10 deg F (-12 deg C) and the pipework above our well froze. Despite all day Sunday with the help of neighbour Bill to thaw out some of the pipes the job wasn’t completed by nightfall last night. Thaw coming on Thursday!
Learning from Dogs
It was difficult at first for Philip to embrace truly what had been opened within him. Yes, there was one change that was clear and obvious. Him now knowing that Maggie’s unfaithfulness was a blessing in disguise. For the simple reason that the marriage would end without Philip having a whole pile of guilt sitting on his shoulders. Apart from that clarity, the other changes within him were much more subtle. No better described than that there was a feeling of, how would he put it, a feeling of inner peace. Almost impossible to articulate any more clearly than that. He had no doubt that there would come a time, possible a couple of years hence, when he would look back and fully realise the importance and significance of his time with Jonathan. What an amazing stroke of luck to have met Jonathan and to have had his trust that they could manage their reversal in their relationship in the way that it turned out. Golly, and how!
The weeks flowed by in a manner that could be described as tranquil. It wasn’t until well into August that Philip started to kick around in his mind Lisa’s suggestion of spending his Christmas with her and Don out in Mexico. Despite so much travelling around the world back in the days of him running his business, he had never been to Mexico, didn’t even have a clue about the place apart from the fact that the national language was Spanish, a language he couldn’t speak. He rang and spoke with William and Elizabeth who, as he expected, were completely relaxed about the idea of their Dad being out of the country at Christmas time. Then he called Lisa and Don to get a better idea of what to expect. He had looked up the details of the San Carlos online but not found anything that really helped him. Lisa explained to him that San Carlos was a very popular second-home destination for Americans and that not speaking Spanish wouldn’t be an issue at all. She continued describing San Carlos as a great place to get away from the English Winter weather and, in answer to Philip’s obvious next question, said that it was mostly sunny with daytime temperatures around seventy-five degrees and not falling much below sixty degrees at night. As they were chatting, Philip idly converted in his head the Fahrenheit temperatures to Centigrade: mid-twenties in the day and not below twelve degrees at night. Gracious, he thought, that’s not a lot different to Summer temperatures in the Western Mediterranean. In particular, thinking of Nice in Southern France, a place that he had been to several times. This might be a lovely, relaxing way to prepare for 2008.
Finally, he asked Lisa about the best way of travelling out there and she told him to take a flight to Los Angeles and then take the short flight from there to Hermosillo in Mexico, going on to explain that Hermosillo was just an hour’s run from their house in San Carlos and that she and Don could pick him up from the airport.
“So, Philip, are you coming out?”
“Yes, I’m strongly minded to do it. But Lisa, if I was going to come out it would seem to make sense to come for three weeks or so. Are you sure that’s OK with you guys?”
“Philip, absolutely. It would be such fun.”
“OK Lisa, leave it with me and as soon as there’s a clear decision I’ll call you with the flight details.”
“Can’t wait, my friend.”
His next call was a quick one to Danny who immediately said that he would be pleased to collect him when he arrived at Los Angeles, have him stay with him and Georgie, and drop him back to the airport when he was ready to fly down to Mexico.
Danny went on to point out that for his return trip he could probably fly in to Los Angeles airport the same day of the evening flight out to London. Just a simple change of terminals. Philip made a note of that as it clearly made good sense to do it that way.
He then wandered out from the flat with Pharaoh to find Liz. She was over in the milking area, raking up the cow pats and shovelling them into a trailer just the other side of the fence.
“Hi Liz, you not shovelling shit again!”
Liz laughed, “Always, got any of yours you want me to shovel up?”
Philip belly-laughed and even Pharaoh joined in by furiously wagging his tail and scampering around the yard. Pharaoh had quickly settled in to the surroundings and even stopped trying to be boss dog around Liz’s pair of friendly sheep dogs. He wondered if Tracy and Jack, Liz’s dogs, were teaching Pharaoh how to round up sheep. For he had caught the three dogs out together in the large field where Liz kept fifteen or twenty sheep, the dogs appearing to be instructing Pharaoh in the art of rounding up the woolly creatures.
“Liz, I came over to explain about going to Mexico over the Christmas holidays.”
“Ah, yes, you had mentioned the possibility when you first moved in.”
He explained what he was thinking of doing. Liz responded by telling him to go for it; that it’s not every day that one gets the chance to swap Devon’s Winter weather for Mexico.
“You’ll put Pharaoh with Sandra?”
“Yes, Liz. I mentioned the possibility of going to Mexico to Sandra when I collected Pharaoh last time back in from California and she said not a problem in the slightest. Went on to say, in fact, that she was usually so quiet with dogs over Christmas that she could give Pharaoh extra special attention.”
“Oh that’s good, must reassure you hugely.”
“I wouldn’t leave Pharaoh for a minute if I wasn’t sure that he was being looked after fully.”
Later that afternoon and into the evening, Philip trawled online airline websites looking at flight prices, schedules and trying to put together an itinerary that felt sensible to him. There was one schedule that would have him flying into Hermosillo airport at a little before five in the afternoon. He called Lisa again,
“Lisa, I’m looking at a direct flight from LAX that comes in to Hermosillo a little before five in the afternoon. Would that be OK? Didn’t want it to be too late in the day for you.”
“No, that’s perfect. There’s a Costco in Hermosillo and I can catch up on some shopping and then come across to collect you.”
He didn’t know what a Costco was but presumed it was some type of American discount store. “Great. Will get the flights booked and drop you an email with the flight details.”
An hour later it was all done. He would be flying out to Los Angeles on December, 12th and catching the AeroMexico flight to Hermosillo on Saturday, December 15th.
The weeks turned into months. November slid by and allowed in an unusually wet and warm December to blow over Devon. While Devon had more than its fair share of rain, Philip had long been fascinated by living down here in the South-West of England because, so often, the arrival of a low-pressure weather system in from the Atlantic perfectly conformed to the classic meteorologist’s textbook description of a Low. In fact, he watched such a classic cold-front chasing him up the A303 as he drove from Devon up to London on the Sunday before his flight out to LA on the following Tuesday morning. It was an opportunity to stay with his daughter, Elizabeth, for a couple of nights; these days he rarely came up to London without Pharaoh.
The long flight to LA was as uneventful as they always were. Philip chose to re-read the David Hawkins book Power vs Force rather than watching whatever films were on offer. When Jonathan had lent the book to him back in June he had longed to write notes over many pages. That had quickly persuaded him to buy his own copy and for a multitude of reasons he had never got around to that second reading. Today’s long flight was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
He walked out of the terminal to find Danny almost parked in the exact same spot as that day back on the 8th May when he last come over; gracious, he thought, now over seven months ago. They chit-chatted about what they had both been doing these last few months as Danny drove back to Costa Mesa, the multiple lanes of traffic just as disturbing to Philip as they always were.
Later that evening, as the three of them sat together at home after Georgie had served a delicious dinner, suitably gentle on Philip’s stomach as, once again, his body didn’t know if it was tea-time or breakfast-time, they wanted to know more about his sessions with Jonathan. Danny had studied psychology at University and easily understood Philip’s earlier family experiences and the resulting long-term implications. Georgie was just as interested, perhaps even more so. Later in bed, as Philip felt himself slipping into a much-welcomed sleep, he wondered if Georgie’s curiosity in his own emotional discovery was touching some deeper places within her.
The fifteenth, just three days later, came round so quickly. Danny dropped Philip outside Terminal Two back at Los Angeles’ airport. It was a little after 1 p.m. He couldn’t recall using Terminal Two before but quickly realised, looking up at the flights board, that many international airlines were coming into this terminal rather than Bradley International.
Ten minutes later he was sitting in the pre-boarding lounge presuming that the Embraer aircraft that was coming to rest alongside the walkway was his flight to Hermosillo. Yes, he looked at the tail fin and saw the AeroMexico symbol. Good, he loved flying in high-winged aircraft because it provided such a great view of the land below, especially as today it would be all new country for him to look.
The flight promptly push-backed from the gate at 2 p.m. and less than ten minutes later was heading out over the blue Pacific before turning to what he guessed was a South-Easterly direction. He was initially surprised that the aircraft, after gaining height, didn’t continue around to the left to cross the high, rolling mountains he could see in the distance; he presumed the southern end of the Sierra Nevada range. But, no. They continued following the coast, perhaps only twenty-five miles off to the left, for a good forty-five minutes. He thought he saw San Diego pass by and then the land started to look much more barren and desolate. He assumed that they were now flying seawards off the Mexican coast.
It all became clear when he was able to match the route map in the airline magazine to what he could see out of his window. For the land off to their left had obviously become the Baja California peninsula, to the extent that he could see the waters of the Gulf of California beyond the narrow peninsula. Not long after, the aircraft turned to the left crossing over the peninsula. Perhaps half-way over the waters of the Gulf, a slight reduction in engine speed signalled the start of the descent into Hermosillo.
Philip was now aware of two things. Outside, a vista that looked very deserted, seemingly a barren, hot, landscape. Inside, a rising feeling of excitement at his untypical, adventurous idea of coming to Mexico for Christmas.
Moments later, that delicious squeal of tyres on tarmac and the taxi up to the parking spot alongside a two-storey, glass-fronted terminal building. The few steps from the aircraft to the terminal doors felt more like a hot summer’s day than the late afternoon in mid-December that it was.
Hermosillo was one of those lovely small regional airports that was a joy to pass through. Even for Philip, suitcase in hand, immediately aware that this was a new country for him with an unfamiliar culture, found he was approaching the glass doors to the outside area in front of the airport terminal in less than twenty minutes from the moment the aircraft had come to a stop. He looked at his watch; it was a little after five in the afternoon. He was looking forward to seeing Lisa the moment he stepped through those doors.
The doors slid open and the heat struck him again.
He put his case down and looked around for Lisa. Strange, no sight of her. Even stranger when he considered that there weren’t that many people around. Her distinctive, waist-length plait of white hair would be easy to spot. Maybe she was running a little late. Perhaps caught up in the shops, but even as that thought came into his mind he instinctively rejected the idea. What could have gone wrong? Here he was outside a strange airport in a strange part of a strange country unable to speak a word of the local language.
2,212 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover