Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 8 years. Okay, okay, now it's been 9 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Photo Session and Teeth and Belly Buttons

I want to show you a few photos. The photo above was taken from our deck. You would never know it but what you are looking at is shown in the photos below.
This is the Salish Lodge. It overlooks Snoqualmie Falls, which is the highest falls on the North American continent. It isn't as wide as Niagra, but it is higher. With our old telescope we could look into the windows of the Salish Restaurant. The old power plant is across the river on the right. This is a huge tourist destination and was recently sold to one of the Indian tribes.

The photo below shows the falls. There are 2 long walks that take you to the base of the falls. The first is straight down a winding curving asphalt trail to an observation deck. The other, which follows the heavily travelled road, leads down to the rocks and the river directly below the falls, where you can follow more trails and get even closer to the falls.




The picture below is one you are probably familiar with by now....the mountains across the valley, but I wanted to show you that even though we are nearing the end of March, there is still a lot of snow on the Cascades. In fact, this morning it is snowing heavily up at the ski pass.

Another mountain photo taken through the fir and cedar trees.


This is Friday night's full moon and the photos below are Saturday morning's sunrise.
Now, today, on Easter Sunday, there will be a lot of wet egg hunts. It is not only wet, but very windy, so hang onto your easter bonnets....

We have signed up for Earth Class Mail. It is an online mail service that scans, shreds, recycles or forwards your mail (you tell it what to do and yes, there are real people in their mail room that do these things to your mail). You get a mailing address from them and choose who to give the address to, so you can then receive mail from those people. You can also fill out a post office form and have all of your mail sent to the address, but we don't want all the advertisements and junk mail that comes through the post office, so we will be giving our new address to only select people (i.e. family, college, health, bank, IRS). If you are expecting something that you don't want scanned, you would just have it forwarded to you.

Once we get to Alamos, we will be getting a po box. We hear all kinds of stories about mail to and from Mexico, but we hear that the Alamos post office does an ok job.

I have moved up a floor in the painting arena. I am now painting the den and then moving on into the hallway this afternoon. We spent yesterday in spanish class, in lunch and in the tile store. So, today, Bill will be tiling the bathroom downstairs. I wish I had taken a before photo of this because it is really going to be gorgeous.

I have finished going through all the memorabilia. If you think you have to save everyone of your child's teeth, forget it. Find them now and dispose of them. You will not want to believe that those saved things came out of your child's cute little mouth. But save the tooth fairy notes for sure.

And if you are crazy like we were when our son was born 19 years ago, and decide to put his belly button into a small container and think that it will be cute to look at it someday when you have nothing else to do. DISPOSE OF IT NOW! And DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT take the lid off the container......

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Air Soft Pellets and Darkly Painted Rooms

The Snoqualmie Valley this morning.
Just above the row of poplar trees in the lower portion of this photo is the Tall Chief golf course. Above the course are rows and rows of rolling hills and then, Mt Si.









The photo below shows a beautiful afternoon today!


This is my 'words of wisdom' day. I don't have these types of days too often, mostly because I don't consider myself to be a true expert in most things...and while I do have my own opinions about things, when certain children related issues arise, I tend to look at them with a 'pick your battles' attitude .




So, this wisdom all comes about because I have spent the last 4 days cleaning and painting both KD and Ian's bedrooms.


In middle school, both kids wanted to paint their bedrooms.


I had no problems with this, it isn't a battle to pick, it's a sign of independence and creativity.


KD picked my suggestions, a nice soft yellow and blue, and did nothing more dangerous to her walls than try out different lipsticks on them and then write the phone numbers and emails of all her friends everywhere.


So, now, with everything out of her room, whoosh, one coat of paint! I'm done.....




Now, my words of wisdom come as a result of letting Ian pretty much control the choices in his room. I even recall that he paid for his own paint.




Words of Wisdom #One:


Try very hard to not let your child paint his or her bedroom a very dark color.


Try not to let them know that there is a projector and lots of acrylic paint in the garage loft.




Now I have already mentioned the guns n' roses incident. Ian did a very artistic paint job, and he went on to do a huge BLACK panda and an Enjoi skating emblem. Then, he painted the Ali saying, float like a butterfly, sting....you know the rest... on the ceiling and added a skateboard emblem. It really was great!


Then he painted a skateboard emblem in red on his door (this is when the Starbucks Christmas party upstairs fell apart). He painted all of this over a very dark blue background...




Now I have just spent 4 days trying to paint over it!!


Back then I never thought about it, but maybe I never thought much about moving.

Now, I said, why not just sell the house with the bedroom as it is.....some teenager would fall in love with it...but, Bill never truly appreciates my moments of problem solving, he went and bought more paint for me.




This will be day 5 and I almost have it all covered up....




Words of Wisdom #TWO


If your teenage son has an air soft gun, do NOT let him use it in the house.


Especially, do not let him take a huge piece of styrofoam into his bedroom where he will use it as a target....


One day while working at Starbucks, a kid I knew came in and mentioned what a fun time he had over at our house last week. I know this kid, but I couldn't remember that he was at the house last week. Then, when I recalled that Bill and I were not at the house last week (we had gone to Denver), I began my investigation. What I discovered was there had been an airsoft war at our house, in the dark, on all 3 floors of the house.




Then I began to find the pellets. I saw a few blue ones lying around, but once I put on my glasses, I found hundreds and hundreds of little pellets. Over a period of time, Ian picked up most of them.




But I did not think about his room, where I had spent very little time after he left for school.


So far, I have filled an empty gallon paint container with brown, green, blue and white air soft pellets. They are embedded in the carpet after being walked on by many big boys.




And if you have ever tried to vacuum up air soft pellets, you know that it can't be done. The vacuum sucks them in and spits them back out on the other side of the room. However, I suggest doing this because then they are all at least in the same area, on the same side of the room and easier to pick up.

So, while Bill continues to install the new bathroom downstairs, I will keep painting until the last color of old bedroom paint is nothing but a memory.......and I like to think that 50 years from now, if this house is still around, somewhere, a child will find the last little tiny air soft pellet and ask his mom, what's this?........

Saturday, March 15, 2008

FM3 VISA RESULTS

This photo is from Thursday morning....and backtracking to Tuesday and Wednesday, and it is also yesterday's (Friday's) photo and guess what, this is what it looks like today, too. This whole week has been a dreary, foggy blur. It has also been pouring down rain all week. I don't usually mind that, but knowing that I am going to Mexico makes 5 dreary, blurry, rainy days hard to take.



So, I know you want to know where our passports are, and if we got our visas, and I'm going to tell you.

BUT, first, we had our spanish class this morning and I KNOW Bill does not study, but all of a sudden he started up a lengthy conversation, and I didn't even know what he was saying, but Violeta did and so, I have to step it up... I think they were talking about food...



Well, the big bank downtown never got back to me about the letter we needed for the Mexican Consulate. Not one time did they return my phone calls. So on Wednesday, after becoming very exasperated with the bank, I called the Customer Solutions Center.



She said, write a letter? Of course, I can do that right now and I will fax it to your branch.

I didn't expect her to say that and of course, she had to speak with Bill and get his account information and he was in the shower. So, I handed him the phone in there and he gave her all the details and I drove 10 minutes later to the bank and got the letter.



At home, we looked at the letter. It had nothing we had requested on it.......

At this point, we decided to take the letter and return to the Consulate and get our passports back, and get into Mexico on an FMT visa.



So we drove to Seattle in the pouring rain and walked to the Consulate, where we were told that the letter (as we suspected) was not sufficient.

He asked if we had gone to the large, local bank around the corner.

I said we had and threw out the NAMES of the people who helped us and SAID they would get back to us with the appropriate letter.

He said he knew those people and they had written letters for the consulate and FM3 visas many times.

I was really getting tired of all this and was close to asking for our passports when he said the visas are $130.00 each. We still weren't sure if he was giving us the visas. Bill pulled out his credit card.

No, no senor, cash only.

I sat down and read the Latino newspaper while Bill ran down the street to get some cash.

He paid the consulate. Your visas will be ready at 1:30, the man said..

1:30? Come back at 1:30? We still weren't really sure we would get the visas.

So we left the consulate and on the way out the door we realized we had paid him $260.00 cash and we had no receipt, no visas or passports and we looked at each other. The consulate closes at 1 pm.

We walked to Pike's Market to kill an hour and a half and felt that maybe we had done something stupid. No receipt, why didn't we ask for a receipt? Surely the Mexican Consulate would not rip us off, but on the other hand, they didn't really seem to be welcoming us into their country with open arms....

Sure enough, at 1:30pm, the consulate was closed, but another couple pushed a button and were let in, so we scooted in right behind them. Our consulate helper smiled at us, but began helping the other american couple who were evidently getting their FM3 visas as well.

After a lengthy wait, he called our names and said, here are your visas.

We were photographed and fingerprinted and asked to sign away on a few pieces of paper. My heart was pounding so loudly, I think the room was shaking.

We left the consulate, drove home and took a very long nap...







BUT, LOOK!!!!! FM3VISAS!!!!!! WE HAVE THEM!!!!!!!!





So, now that that is all done, we have 90 days in which to register our visas in Mexico, which hopefully will be easier to do than it was to get them, but I will keep you posted on that.



Liliana, our Alamos realtor,has moved the Calle Durango closing date to April 7th, which is terrific! We have been scrambling around here, trying to get our house ready to sell. Now that we do not have to be in Alamos for a March 30th closing date, we have a little more time. Liliana says that workers are busy removing garbage from the casa and all of the sticker brush from the huge yard.



And now that I don't have to blog about visas (at least for awhile), I can tell you about a few other things. The big painting so many of you know is up for grabs. It's in the photo below. It is 4x8' and has hung in our stairwell since I painted it 21 years ago. If you have room, come and get it....


On to the kitchen....... It has been very interesting. The boys, (Bill being the boss of them), mis-calculated the first time and the space to the left of the fridge (which is where the range will slide into) was 3/8's of an inch off. So, they had to remove all of the cupboards and push them over to the right 3/8's of an inch. The pieces are all connected so they could not just move the bottom section. It all had to come down.

The granite top was installed yesterday. The workers' trucks took up most of the driveway, so I had to back down the driveway and on the way down I took out one of the driveway lights. But, it's okay, I don't think Bill knows about it yet. I will tell him sometime...later.... Beautiful new cherry cupboards.....

The fishing/ hunting boat is still for sale.
We have sold all of our antique bedroom furniture set and they are picking it up on Monday. I guess we will have to get a foam mattress or something to sleep on. Maybe we will change rooms! I hadn't thought of that. Maybe we will make our sleeping room in the living room. Well, that would be different.



I probably forgot to tell you that we sold our HD 47" screen tv. We are back to our little plug in thing that attaches to the antenna and I am not even going to show you a picture of that because it is kind of sad. We tried to rehook the cable up to it, but couldn't figure it out. We are so bad. We have a dvd and vcr player but we can't figure out how to even work those. We are getting abc, nbc, cbs and once in awhile channel 13, fox. I miss cable.



I am on box #49 and we are still planning to take only 3 chairs, 4 chests and a small desk. I have not begun to plan how I will box up the studio. I have so much glass, I think I will need to leave some behind.

I am painting over the guns n' roses emblems Ian painted on his bedroom walls the night I hosted the Christmas Starbucks party and everyone had to leave early because the paint smell was so bad.

Almost everything is down off all of the walls now, and either boxed or still waiting to be boxed. When Bill isn't working on the kitchen, he is installing a new bath downstairs, or getting new gutter quotes or driving to Home Depot.

The cats are spending more time in their little transport cages, lounging around on little thin lambskin wankies and licking catnip pouches. They have no idea what is about to happen in the next month.

Out in the valley, it actually looks like it is clearing up a little. Maybe a beautiful sunrise is in the making for tomorrow...stay tuned.....

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Trip to the Mexican Consulate

I caught the sun yesterday just as she popped up over what I think is Silver Star Mountain. I will have to find my topographical map and determine the names of some of those peaks I have been looking at for 22 years.

Then I drove down into the valley, along the west river road to check out the osprey nest. Lately a big fat Canadian goose has been sitting in the nest and each time I stop on the road and watch, she jumps up, flaps her wings and starts honking at me to get lost. But, she wasn't there yesterday.


This morning I went down to Starbucks and got a mocha, my first day back in the store since my last day of work last Sunday. I saw so many people I know on my last day. I hugged as many people as I could. I kissed every baby I could. Then that night I got sick with the flu.


How do politicians pull that off? They must be on a regular dose of antibiotics..or go through alot of hand sanitizer...now I am truly joking because I would again hug 100 people in a day and kiss 20 babies and get the flu AGAIN to get another Sunday like that...honestly, I will miss the people of this little town so much and will miss seeing them in our small town Starbucks store.


Our small town Starbucks is the oldest store on the eastside (meaning across the lake from Seattle). A lot of folks don't know this but it has been in its location for 15 years. The town of Carnation itself is roughly a square mile and the population, I believe, is around 1,500. Everyone goes to Starbucks and if not, they go to Sandy's espresso, which is a great espresso place down the road. She has been there as long as Starbucks has been in town. My guess is most people support both businesses.


I think people come to our store because we are truly people friendly and we make good coffee. Fishermen and hunters come early because they know they'll get a good cup of coffee. Commuters drop in because the drive to Seattle is taking longer and longer. Teachers come and chat before school. Students come in the afternoon, waiting to be picked up by a parent after a late band practice, because they know it's a safe place. Cyclists come in droves on the weekends. Motorcyclists are always stopping by while on fundraising events. Tourists come because they are ..tourists. And in the summer, counselors from 6 surrounding camps keep all their receipts in order to obtain bragging rights for the most amount spent at the store.


If you are ever in Carnation, stop by the Starbucks and tell them Linda Lou sent you.


Enough, did you think I was going to write about the trip to the Mexican Consulate????


Well, we did go yesterday when I returned from the river road drive.


If you read the blog of the trip to Olympia, you know what the requirements of obtaining the FM3 are. We had them all except the bank letter, but felt we had our bases covered given what the Secretary of State said.


Before going to the Consulate, we stopped and got the required 2x2 photos and then, headed to Seattle. I thought the Consulate would be near the courthouse, but it was way across town in an area I was unfamiliar with. Once parked and inside, we worked our way around a hundred Mexican families waiting at window One to window TWO where on his previous trip to get our applications, Bill had been told to go when we returned. Window TWO told us to go upstairs where we waited for our turn with the man at this window.


He looked at all of our paperwork and said the bank statements were not acceptable. We would need to return to our bank for the letter. We told him that our bank would not give us the letter. He suggested we go the large branch a few blocks away and see if they would give us the letter. They do it all the time, he said.


Then he took all of our stuff and put in below under a counter where we could not see it.


Come back Monday morning, he said.


Can we have our passports and other things back, we asked.


Oh, no, no, no, he said.


Bill and I just looked at him, looked at each and turned around and left.


We went to the bank. It usually takes 9 to 10 days to get that letter, she said. She made a phone call to the special solutions center. We can do it in 2 business days, they said.


So, there we were on a Friday afternoon...we can't go back to the consulate on Monday unless we have the letter and we probably won't have it until Tuesday or Wednesday.


In the meantime, everything else we need to get the FM3 is somewhere under the counter at the Mexican Consulate..


What if they misplace it, especially if we don't return on Monday???? What if the housecleaner accidentally cleans it all away into the waste basket? What if the man who helped us could really care less if we want to live in Mexico????


I am a nervous wreck over this. And I don't nervous or wreck very easily, I am pretty steady going...


So, to end this session, last night was the last soccer game of our co-rec soccer winter season. A party was being thrown for us at Azteca. I was feeling well enough to go, but planned on passing up a beer for a 7-up. On the way to the game Bill got really sick and we had to turn around and go back home. We'll miss our fellow soccer players. Hope you had fun at our party........



Friday, March 7, 2008

Yesterday's Trip to Olympia


Yesterday's sunrise was truly one to remember.
The sky was a brilliant yellow and pink and the valley was filled with pink fog.

Even the little green bunny out in the yard looked happy.....can't believe he is still there. During the moving sale folks snatched up the rest of the bunnies hidden through out the yard....


It was a great day! We still can't believe what we accomplished, but today is a different story and we can't believe how far in reverse we have gone.

Naturally I'm going to start with yesterday and maybe just the repeat of it will put me back in a good mood.

Just to give you some background:
There are 3 types of Mexican visas: FMT, FM3 and FM2.
The FMT is the typical traveler's visa. It is the one you get on the airplane when you fly into Mexico. Or when you cross the border in your car for a trip to Mexico. It can be valid for 180 days, but is generally meant for 90 days (after which it can be renewed for another 90).
Regardless, you must return it to customs upon returning to the United States. The requirement for receiving the FMT is your passport. Simple as that.
If you want to stay in Mexico for a longer period of time, an FM3 is a one year permit and grants a no-immigrante (non-immigrant staus just like the FMT), but after one year, it can be renewed again for up to five years, after which you can apply for an upgrade to an FM2 or just request a new FM3.
The upgrade to an FM2 will make you an immigrant. Each year you will need to reapply, but after the 5th year you will become a permanent resident of Mexico.
Under none of these FM's will you ever lose your US citizenship.
So, yesterday, we went to Olympia in search of what the Mexican Consulate requires to get an FM3.
The following are the requirements of the Seattle Consulate: (each consulate is different!)
1.A letter of good conduct from the state patrol (which is a criminal background check).
2.A notarized letter from your bank stating proof of income. The head of household must prove an income of at least $1,000.00 and that the money will be deposited into a Mexican bank.
3. Your US passport.
4. 2 front view 2x2 passport photos
5.Fill out the application.
6.Pay the fee
We were able to apply for the criminal background check, online, from home. We already knew our bank wasn't going to give us a letter. So we took the past 6 months of our bank statements and personal documents with us.
The State Patrol was a breeze, they said come back in an hour and they would have letters for us.
The lady at the Secretary of State thought that our bank statements should be sufficient, but that we should have an affidavit and then, get them apostilled. So Bill and I walked 2 blocks down the street to a library where he wrote an affidavit, basically stating that we know these documents to be truthful. We returned that to the Secretary of State who apostilled (a form of authentication issued to documents to be sent to foreign countries) and notarized the bank statements.
We returned to the State Patrol, got our letters, high fived and, after 5 hours, including travel time, plus lunch, we hit the road again.
Find out tomorrow how and where we hit the roadblock..............