Saturday, December 16, 2006


Tonight was the latest last hurrah, a Christmas party at the boss's house. This was a Posada, a literal lead-in party to the Christmas season. It's a catholic thing: beginning shortly after the Virgin of Guadalupe Day festivities (December 12), there begins the sporadic reenactment of certain key parts of Joseph and Mary's search for bed and board that long ago Christmas season. The Posada is a tribute to their conversation with the innkeepers who relegated them to their fated barnyard neonatal ward. At the beginning of these parties (before, traditionally, the children beat the shit out of a piñata effigy of the north star), the gathered celebrants sing a dialog of request and refusal back and forth between two sides of a room (or traditionally, between the inside and the outside of the party house), in a sort-of pre-Christmas carol. Tonight, before we could dig into the catered buffet, the room was divided, Spanish lyric sheets were passed around, and many of the guests sang the strange and stuttering refrains spoke by the Virgin and Joseph (on our side) and the bastard innkeepers (on the other). It was really far more amusing than I am making it sound. The Mexicans celebrate Christmas far more than I'm used to: traditions stretch from the Virgin's day to the day of the Three Kings, Epiphany. Between the twelfth of December and the sixth of January, there's a little Christmas-related holiday most every day, and certainly every weekend. Saying goodnight after the Posada tonight proved tough enough that I mostly skipped it and just snuck out. I am going to miss Monterrey, and I am going to miss it soon. We spend tomorrow packing, enduring one last house inspection, and calling people to say goodbye. Unless that's too tough, of course. [Cavin]

Friday, December 15, 2006


House cleaning is now afoot. I broke down about forty cardboard boxes earlier, which yet again reminded me of the job I used to hold. Our ex-housekeeper, Rosy, has agreed to come back in for a couple of nights after her regular job to assist in the final dust-off, something that I suspect reminds her of her old job as well. Lemon juice does an excellent job of taking rust stains out of the carpet, by the way. Over the last several days, I finished loading all of the wedding photos in my possession to the album collecting similar photos from everyone else. There are still many more photos to go up here, some of which have to be scanned first. I also permanently linked that album below this column with the other photo albums, so check back every day! Also also, I loaded some new pictures here if anyone really wants to see what moving looks like. Last night we went out to eat at the excellent Señor Tanaka in San Pedro and it was, well, excellent. The baby scallops in flying fish roe were a standout. Oaxaca has fallen from the latest Mexican headlines in favor of stories from Calderón's first major anti-narco offensive in Michoacán (where we were in November). On Monday, he sent sixty-five hundred military and federal police troopers to lock down areas known as narco smuggling routes or for drug production, going so far as to implement a naval blockade of the state's Pacific coastal access.* By today there had already been one large gun battle between government forces and hill-ensconced cartel enforcers, with several deaths ensuing.* There are also rumors of arrests and drug lab burnings that might just be wishful thinking, since I cannot seem to corroborate any of them. [Cavin]

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I shaved off my goatee today. Why is this worth mentioning? I did it at five minutes till two, just before I also "shaved" my head like I do every couple of months. The head only got "shaved" while the goatee got shaved. I have had a goatee since shortly after Halloween 1999 when I shaved it off for a costume. I was planning to do all of this at ten after one today. I had to find a second mirror (I took a dresser mirror off the wall), and set it on a chair in front of the bathroom mirror so I could see the back of my head using both of them. I actually did this at ten after one. Then I took off all of my clothes because it is just counter-productive to "shave" a head while wearing any of those. I located my "shaver" and I selected the proper attachment to keep it from actually shaving. At fifteen after there was a loud knock at the door. There was a scheduled home inspection today: Sunshine's employers were coming by to confirm we didn't pack any of the rental furniture. They were supposed to arrive at two. I put my clothes back on, put the mirror back on the wall, set the chair where it belonged, and then answered the door, I think, before they knocked again. Later, when they were done flipping all the furniture over and reading each barcode, forty minutes later, I set everything up once more and finally did my "shaving" and my shaving. I was irritated, but I tried to be optimistic: that's the middle inspection out of the way. There will be one more, tomorrow or Friday, scheduled at two, and then we'll be done with all of that. [Cavin]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I spent the better part of today uploading pictures to Flickr. Again. I swore I'd done the last of that until after I was moved home properly. But that would have meant waiting a month before I shared the wedding pictures that our good friend Dan took for us in Vegas. During our ceremony almost everyone had a camera. I was standing in front and couldn't take pictures, so I leant my camera to Dan. That's why I have his pictures. It was then decided that we would set up a communal internet account. That way, we could just share the password around and all seven of us could upload to the same place. That place is here, and more photos are coming soon. I’m trying to get the whole thing organized chronologically among the handful of simultaneous photographers, but that might take a couple more days. Then I'll add a new link to the column with my other photo albums. Today there was an inspection to catalog any damages we've inflicted on the house. The inspectors said very little and were here for all of ten minutes. I can't imagine whether that's a good or bad sign. Later in the evening, we went out to eat with our friend Olga for what may very well be the last time in Monterrey. There are some lasts that are good and some firsts that are bad. Yesterday was the last early Monday morning, and that's good. Today was the first housing inspection, and that's bad. But this last dinner engagement with our friend is the very first of the lasts that are really painful. Dinner was good though. It was the first time we have ever been to this little kosher restaurant: Bistro 477. It was also the last. [Cavin]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Well that's it, then. Everything that remains in the house has to be hauled stateside or to the garbage pile. The last packed and padded shipment of air freight was out of the house a little after four this afternoon. When we were finally done gathering all of the stuff for this phase of the pack-out (at about six-thirty this morning), it looked like an awful lot more than the four hundred fifty pounds we're allotted. But when the mover showed up today (a little after eleven), he dutifully packed it all up and some cohorts helped him load it onto a truck. Now it's not the end of the world if we have more than the allowed amount of poundage, but it is expensive. I suspect someone will call us at some point and let us know what the weight was, and what we owe; but for now we have no idea. I do know that the house is at long last empty, that I'd been up for thirty-one hours by seven pm, and that I am crossing my fingers hoping that I can capture some internet signal from down the road to post this tonight. I haven't been able to check my email since about four o'clock this morning. Tomorrow should be a day of rest, but it is actually a day of inspection: the powers that be will be coming 'round to make sure none of the rental furniture was accidentally shipped with the stuff we own. Also, I guess I'd better get started on the requisite really thorough cleaning, since starting tomorrow, I only have five days to get this place the way it is supposed to be left when we head out on Sunday morning. That or maybe I will sleep until Wednesday. [Cavin]

Monday, December 11, 2006


I've made some changes around here, or I will have by Monday, that I thought I'd make note of. As promised, there are now permanent links to my Flickr account just below this recently shortened update column. Scroll down to see a fairly baroque display of my latest photos (as well as random ones: hit refresh and watch them change). Below these you will find a list of links to digital photo albums arranged by geographic location. I've also made an attempt to streamline the blog's main page, an effort to get more pertinent material above the fold. The results are probably less evident than I'd hoped, alas. The act of further tightening the random elements of this blog are either beyond me or impossible. The reason I have heaped this tedious chore atop the others I must complete before tomorrow is that we will finally be shutting down our internet (and in any event we'll be unhooking and shipping the modem away). While I have been generally successful stealing little bits of bandwidth here and there, this is by no means guaranteed; and at the best of times a little awkward for the level of continuous use these trial-and-error blogger template changes require. This also means that there might be days approaching when I am unable to post, but that is always a possibility here (and the stolen bandwidth tends to work even when our paid-for cable fails). Today's lasts: I cooked my last pot of beans, we used the last of the laundry detergent (and borrowed more), and I missed the last opportunity to watch a movie (in the best movie-watching house I've ever lived in). I unhooked the player and projector this afternoon, and they will, along with the movies themselves, fly to DC tomorrow. [Cavin]

Sunday, December 10, 2006


There was a point, a while ago, when I mentioned all of the parties and things that we were to be attending, one time or another tangentially dedicated to our going away. (At the time, I lumped a "girls night out" party for Sunshine in with all the others when that was really more of a "getting married" than a "going away" thing. Mea culpa.) Tonight's party, originally scheduled by one set of coworkers, was to be our last hurrah, sort of. Then another coworker decided to quit and move home early; and lo, somehow, the whole thing got fused together with a Christmas party already scheduled for tonight by the community liaison officer. Confusing, no? Apparently there were just too few weekends left for us to have a party to ourselves. Anyway, we've just returned. It was close enough to walk, so we were able to drink some--though frankly it's so slick on the streets here, after days of rain, that we were leery about coming home tipsy, even on foot. Tonight's theme was "the original Christmas" or something, so there was a lot of good-looking middle eastern food, though little in the way of meatless choices. There were none of the usual speeches or teary-eyed yearbook-signing type poignancy, possibly because we will still be here next week for yet another Christmas party on Friday. By then I will be far less concerned about our chances of moving home with all of our possessions, all the cleaning we have to do, and, you know, the mountain of requisite paperwork. Tonight, all I could really think about was our litany of chores and the Monday morning deadline for choosing our air freight. I am certain that I will be up all night tomorrow getting this stuff done. [Cavin]