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The new house feels like a mansion with its cathedral ceilings, HUGE beams and its large echoing walls. It's just a converted barn, but it was a BIG effing barn in the first place. So I feel rather lordly. This house feels like a magical mountaintop aerie to me. I am sure that it will eventually feel humdrum and normal, but I can't quite imagine that happening yet. And since I can still see my old house, down in it's snug little sunless valley, from my mountaintop.
Or at least I can see some of its corrogated iron roof, white and sparkly from up here. From up here, there is no rust, there is no sign that that house has any problems. From up here, the woods has no splinters, nowhere to snag your foot on a root, nothing but beauty and form.
I sat on my piano bench in front of my beat up old piano and thought about returning here. I looked at the piano as I did so. I do most of my best thinking while playing the piano. My piano especially, as it has so many tricks. It was in a high school before I owned it, and I received a terribly ugly thing. I've stripped the institutional green and white paint from it, which were probably full of asbestos and lead. I found an old family heirloom bench to use with it. The bench is for an organ, so it's an inch or two off; incorrect for the piano. But it doesn't matter to me. I simply need a place to put my butt while I play. I disappear into the music so far, I could be sitting on a bed of nails and I'd never know it.
Many of the tops to the keys, when I got the piano, had simply been lost with age. They lifted off when the school left the piano out in the weather. Anyhow, by some miracle, every single key still plays, and the notes are more or less correct.
I used to get splinters from the raw, unpolished, angry wood of the plain key, I needed new tops for them. Adam came through, found me ivory bits from off an old piano no longer around.
So, I've replaced the keys that lifted with old worn-out ivory pieces from that other long gone piano. Some of the keys are the white plastic mock-ivory, and some are yellow, real ivory, marbled and smoother.
The replaced keys are colder to the touch, and I rubbed them absently and randomly, finding them by touch alone, occassionally making a "tink" sound. I like to note the slight, miniscule difference in length between my new and old keys.
Despite its flaws, I have a rare fondness for this rather odd piano. Especially now that I'm back. I was never able to find a single keyboard of any kind while in Costa Rica. I was going APE from lack of piano.
So I am absently rubbing piano keys, enjoying the affinity I have for my beat up, ancient piano, but not quite ready to play yet, when I look up over the back of my piano, and I find that the sun is rising. There are low clouds, not quite touching the ground, not quite rising out of the trees.
I'd swear that this fog was sentient, as it had curled itself around hills and trees with a complexity and beauty unheard of in nature. Or at least it seemed so. The bits I could see through it were so pretty, and the green popped. One thing about the sun here. It's 66% weaker here than it is in Costa Rica, but it sure can pop the color green out at you.
I wondered at the fog, at the early morning edgeless ethereal white, as the sun continued to draw streaks of halo-soft light through the swirling mists.
You cannot wonder at how music came to exist, at how humanity came to assume that there are greater forces at work than are known to us, when you watch the sun rise on a valley from a hilltop.
It was time to play Bach's Preludeums. It seemed fitting that the music which began Classical music, the earliest pieces for piano, would begin my day along with the dawn.
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While I was gone, my parents moved me into a different house on the ranch, and went to the trouble to care for my dog, my plants and to decorate my new house for Christmas.
They went to the trouble to make my house a home, to make up my bed, to put my thigns in places in the new house, and to work on making it a home, so I had something to come home to.
THere was a dying fire in the woodstove when I arrivde, and there was wood stacked and ready.
My things were in shelves and my living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom were at least halfway put together.
There were two miniature Christmas trees put together in various places in my new house.
I cried a little.
I am LOVED.
After the traveling, I am dirt poor. Or actually, I'm DIRT rich and CASH poor. I brought my little sister back to the ranch with me, and she's currently sleeping down at the lower house. Everyone who arrives on the ranch sleeps for several days. It's so darn quiet, that your body uses the absolute silence to re-charge. It's inevitable that I will aso run into a sleep cocoon at some point, and you'll wonder what happened for a few days, because I won't be blogging.
And then I'll come out of it, and Dad will be here, and my step-mom Marie will be here, and not very many other people.
And this is why cities are not for me: There are VERY few people here, but every single one of them matters to me.
Only THESE people could have dragged my ass back from Costa Rica. I was THIS CLOSE to never, ever coming back.
Maybe I'm crazy, but the rain and wind feels wonderful. HOME feels wonderful.
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Standing in the security line:
SECURITY LADY: "Identification and boarding passes, please."
Me: "Here you go."
SL: "This picture looks older than you."
Me: "I got a tan. That picture was three years ago. But I have a tan right now."
SL: "Hey, (Random Other Security Guy comes over.) Does this look like her?"
ROSG: "Yeah, but she looks younger now."
Me: "I guess I've been taking care of myself. I was just in Costa Rica. Sun and fish."
SL: "Lucky You. Have a nice flight."
My tan and my taking care of myself has resulted in looking YOUNGER than my three year old license picture.
I'm GIDDY. Positively GIDDY.
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I will be returning to Costa Rica again shortly, I know. But meanwhile, I will be arranging my life around being more mobile, around the transitive existence that I always gravitate toward in the end. I am mercury, and none of my friends quite know what to make of it. I hate being in the same place. But for the time being, Costa Rica really does feel more like home than anywhere else short of the ranch.
I will be organizing and producing and planning.
There is nothing else to do. I don't feel very attached to my life right now, and I think it's possible that this disattached state is a bad one to remain in, but highly useful for the time being. I can throw myself into any existence and make it what I will of it while I am less serious and less attached and less fixedly certain that things are a particular way.
There is something about Costa Rica, about the Gold Coast. About Guanacaste. It feels like HOME in a powerful, undeniable way. I learned the language, I made friends, I felt happier than I have EVER felt in my life.
I will return there, I am certain.
For every second since I've left, my thoughts remain at least partially there, walking the pitted streets, and I notice the lack of sea breeze. I can hear the surf pushing and pulling me still when I sleep, I smell the beach in my mind. I feel the sun on me even though I'm nowhere near it. I can look up and see that brilliant full moon above the cocodrillo-shaped mountain and the Catalinas. I am still THERE to a very large degree.
I have been teaching Libby useless Spanish words she doesn't need or care about too much.
But I must pull myself together into the here and now.
Tomorrow I fly home to the biggest snow storm in 40 years, and I start a hard winter. It is time to turn myself North, and focus on where I am RIGHT NOW. And where I will be for the next several months. What will I be doing next week, next month? I will be planning. I will use this harsh winter as refueling time, as time to gather. I will try not to get upset about the change to being very cold from being very warm. It's just another difference between here and there.
In about two months, the first daffodils will poke themselves up from harsh, hard ground, and will make the gorgeous bouquets that I love to place on my dining room table.
In a few weeks, I will be all moved into the new house.
In a few days, I will be smelling the amazing smell of pitch and cedar burning in my stove. It is one of life's best simple pleasures.
In March, I will take many many walks in the woods and I will smell Spring's first buds long before they actually form, while they still reek of promise from beneath black silty soil.
I will gather my thoughts, my plans, my goals, just as nature does each Winter, and emerge stronger and better, as I have for the last several winters in the woods.
Do you know what I would really love? To be able to be both places. To live in Costa Rica half the time and home on the ranch the other half. I know it's odd, but winter is when I want to be on the ranch. And Spring.
If you don't know winter well, and cannot emerge with the feel of a brand new existence after a cold harsh winter, there is a part of you that never resets, on some deeply primal human level.
Perhaps that could be worked out... Summers down South and Winters up North. I would be the opposite of a snowbird.
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I'm with my kids.
I missed them more than words.
So here is a picture of us, sitting on the couch about an hour ago.
Time to go sit with them some more.
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I have been serenaded by a four part Mariachi band while standing on the hotel balcony at sundown.
Asked to be the new lover of a fishing boat captain named Alex.
Asked for my heart to stay free of attachment until April, when I return, by the amazingly handsome man I went surfing with last week.
Told that I am the sexiest woman on earth and to please give him (unknown gorgeous man) a kiss.
And given a beautiful shell by a blushing 18 year old boy who says I am mui linda, clapped his hands over his heart and ran away. All the people here know I am obsessed with spiral shaped shells. This one is a beauty.
I swear I must be reeking pheremones or something. They were all so handsome. No crunk ugly people tonight.
Every day I walk to conchal, and pick up seashells I love and more trash.
I walk up to the security guard at the beach, tell him I have trash today ("Mucho basuro oi"). He says "every day" ("todo las dias") and I say "Claro" (understood).
Then I ask him if there is good water today. He says, yes, and I say thanks.
I took pictures today of many things I've discussed. I can't get them off my camera just yet, but when I do, I'll upload them.
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Oh but there's more.
It's a long story involving hormigas, allergies, a systemic strep infection I didn't know I had, tequila, another allergic reaction, my kidney and a very handsome doctor telling me "We need to put a few shots in your butt." and "No more alcohol for you due to the strain on your kidney."
The good news is, today, after juggling pill bottles for some rather powerful medications for a full 24 hours, I am starting to feel well again.
Feels good to feel human again.
Except that the double shot that the doctor put into the left butt cheek muscle is seriously killing me today.
If ants are intelligent, can't I just sue the collective anthill that I stood on for the pain inflicted, plus damages, through and including the aching left butt cheek? Or could I expect a countersuit for leaving my chair leg situated over their primary egress point?
I went to some naturopathic allergist doctor once for allergy testing and the only foods I was NOT somewhat agressively allergic to at the time were
And that was it.
Guess how much I hate Amaranth?
So I have basically ignored any formal list and just started a trial and error methodology.
I may need to rethink that standard operating basis in light of the whole "I want to travel the world and try new stuff" think.
I wonder where I can find Amaranth and blueberries in Costa Rica?
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I AM, however, a fall-off-the-fucking-board-backwarder or perhaps it's a dive backward-into-raging-angry-surfer. I KNOW I can conquer this. If Fernando can do it, I sure can.
I'm finally starting to heal, ant-bite-wise.
Shelley's folks showed up again, and tell me I'm half the size I was before.
I'm still on the "sweet cold coca-cola out of the bottle and fresh cevice (local raw fish with lemon and veggies meal - LOVE IT)" diet which has been working for me so well. Plus RIDICULOUS amounts of exercise. Plus lots of sun, wind, sand, rain, weather.
The world is stimulating and beautiful here. I feel more alive and I think that's part of why I'm so much healthier.
That and the constant compliments. Maybe we should start a compliment trading diet program in the states. Basically, you get your own beautiful male chef who cooks you juts the most clean, simple, wonderful raw foods, while telling you how gorgeous you are three times a day every day until you drop the weight.
We don't tell the women that the compliments are part of the diet.
But it mostly does come down to a sense of self-worth, self-image. It really is a big part of why we hold onto weight. And I think it was that for ME.
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So naturally I did what any girl would do, and went out for a wild night on the town wth my best party friend EVER, Brian.
My hormiga bites were better enough (I thought), and it was Friday night, and there was a beautiful full moon.
I went to Tamarindo, which is famous for being a party place, and is a surf town. It has hot and cold running hunks-o-man in every variety, except they are all fashion model thin. So are the women. Think twiggy with muscles. And I'm a pretty hefty piece of meat in comparison. My ass was certainly the biggest one in the place, even at my size 8-10.
It seriously didn't help my self worth any. But rather than sit in the corner by myself, especially when the music was not Salsa or Cumbia or Reggaeton, but good old fashioned CLUB music like back home, I said FUCKITALLTOHELLANDGONE and I started dancing, intending to dance up a storm anyway. All the pretty girls who wouldn't mind being photographed under a microscope in a bikini, well they can go do their thing, 'cause I'm SHORE doing mine.
I was at the monkey bar, which is up steps to the top of a big hill (ridiculously not handicapped friendly - it's like you're visiting the yogi at the top of the mountain to get there) and the view of Tamarindo was fantastic, a huge crescent shaped white sand beach in front of me. I was dancing while watching the waves break from over the balcony, way way below, and I looked up, and I saw a beautiful STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS corona around the full moon. It was perfect and strong and luminous.
I was totally in my own world. I disappear into a place of zen when I dance. All that exists in the world for me is the music, me and the inevitable motion. I don't think about anything else. Except that beautiful moon.
Still dancing, and totally getting into it. Kept looking up at that perfect moon.
This is why I don't need drugs, don't do them, don't want to. I can totally get to THAT PLACE without any help. Plus it's not fucking me up and it's real, intense, and way way higher quality to simply find your own happy
I looked around and realized I was getting a LOT of attention. I guess some of those surfer boys don't mind a girl with a big butt. Besides, none of those surfer girls seemed able to dance as well as I'd'a thunk, since they are all so very, very, very, very fit. Maybe more yoga is in order. Or they need to loosen up. I dunno.
Anyway, I got hit on plenty, every time I took a break, by some really hot guys, which was seriously surprising considering they are mostly fashion model hunky and about ten years younger than me. No more feeling awkward about the fact that I weigh the same as them. And I've got 40 pounds and 10 years on most of the girls. Whatever.
The entire party of EVERYONE moved to the other club down the street with even better music.
I lost Brian somewhere along the way. God knows.
After a bit, a disarmingly sweet looking and acceptably handsome - but normal nonsurfer - guy with UNBELIEVABLY white teeth and dark skin was acceptable to dance with. He was the only one who didn't look stoned or high or simply stupid. So, we started dancing. I had a LOT of fun.
He's obviously a sweetie pie - although still a dog like most of y'all - and I felt bad that I planned to disappoint his expectations. My dancing may be uber sexy, but it's just dancing. I don't think running off with EVERY guy I find cute here would be very good for my long term health.
Eventually, I found Brian again, and shocked the boy I was dancing with by doing a total makeover into responsible grown up. He looked truly terrified to discover that the sure-thing-sexy-mamacita who he was dancing with turned around and PRESTO CHANGO, magically turned back into the normal, all business, responsible, designated driver version of me.
I went home alone of course. Except Brian, who got dropped off happy, boracho, and all danced out) and that was my night.
And this morning, I took a double dose of everything for my hormiga bites. They were back to being bad off.
Stupid girl. (But I had fun.)
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Today was the last day to pay for my bid. I won it, so I needed to pay.
Well, it took me two hours today to find an ATM in this province that had any money in it and could talk to my bank.
I pulled out enough for the week, finally, in Tamarindo. First I went to Conchal, then to Flamingo, then to Villareal (I think) and then to Tamarindo.
Thank God I know my way around.
By the time I made it back to the school, they were closed.
But, the upside is, at least I haven't been bitten by anything today.
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The bites I'm dealing with right now (with ooddles of prescription strength brightly colored crud) are seriously not from ants.
The local word for ants is hormigas.
Shelley told me that her daughter refuses to believe ants and hormigas are the same thing.
Now I see why.
I am down for the count right now, typing while lying with my legs elevated; all from hormigas.
These ants seem harmless. They look like the little tiny sugar ants in your kitchen. I wasn't the least bit scared of them. But now I've got 15 bites and a massive case of OMG-I-hurt.
The good news is the fever broke.
Talk to you tomorrow as I continue to tackle the universe of the unknown one allergic reaction at a time.
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OK. So on Saturday I get a surf lesson. It's at Playa Grande, a great surf beach, but it was a calm day with easy waves. And I was on a styrofoam learners board big enough to float ANYONE.
I did great. I stood up three times. I totally LOVED the experience.
Then I rented a board on Sunday, and it was different. It was huge, and heavy, and seemed like a boat to me. But it was the size recommended by my instructor. He said get one 9.5 and use that. So I did. The one I got was huge and unweildy. Plus it was missing the markings that guide me to know where my feet and body go.
I know you dont' go surfing alone, so I went out the very next day to the place at Playa Grande where my instructor had taken me, with a very good surfer. My friend from the restaurant, Fernando. Here's a picture of Fernando.
This is a bad picture, he's way cuter than this.
So anyway, cute young men aside, there I am at Playa Grande, watching surfable waves, maybe four or five feet tall, and I have paddled out onto the water when the rip tide sucks me out too far. I'm paddling back on my completely uncontrollable board (boat) when a HUGE 16 foot wave comes from NOWHERE, grabs me and the board conks me on the back, pushing all the air out of my lungs. I pearl (forced dive) and my board heads up and out of the surf. The wave rolls and rolls me and then sucks me under, and I'm pushed into the bottom and I am under water for probably 20 seconds - with ZERO air in my lungs. They are so empty they are trying to force me to breathe in against my judgement. I push up after the pressure stops and eventually break the surface and grab a single lungful of air when another wave immediately breaks directly onto me and I'm thrown to the bottom again. Aftetr five seconds, my lungs are on fire, and I repeat the process a few more times, as I start swimming to shore like a mad woman between waves after I break surface. I then find the calmest shallows I can, and do the Robinson Crusoe drag to get out of the water. I'm almost out of the water, and I don't care to move for a few minutes. I decide to simply practice lying on my board without tipping, but this monster board is totally impossible to manuever. I don't have the body strength for it.
So my board does what it wants, which is to get sucked out to sea from the very shallow water I was in, at TERRIFICLY high speed, by a terrifyingly strong rip tide. I can't stop myself even by planting my feet. The water's going like rapids here all of the sudden with no warning. Great. I'm already totally exhausted, and I'm trying to paddle out of the rip (to the side, never against it) when another wave grabs me and flips me off my board yet again, holds me against the bottom for another five seconds during which my board has successfully surfed to shore without me.
Great. The BOARD is better at surfing than I am.
I climb out, literally pass out on the sand, and revel in being alive while my body does absolutely nothing.
An indeterminate measure of time later, Fernando comes over all fresh, happy and fucking GORGEOUS, shining in the sun with his dreads dripping (damn his flirtaceous eyes) to tell me he caught two great waves and is ready to go. He easily picks up my whale of a board, and I get to carry his tiny little itsy bitsy board back.
We eat some food (Salchipapas - fried strips of mystery meat and french fries with mayonaisse and salsa tomato - It's GREAT), drink Aloe Vera juice. Then he flirts with me more by drenching us both with water from a tap (He's a total flirt but I'm getting used to that and he belongs to Mindy and I must
The upside is that I figured out that Playa Grande is a terribly dangerous beach - the waves are relatively huge and unpredictable and as a beginner I need a placid, rolling, easy wave. Plus I need an incoming tide. And a board I can handle.
So yesterday, I traded for a smaller board, one I could maneuver without needing a rudder. It's 7.something. I asked over and over for the most obviously stupidly easy beginner's board they had. "Please pretend I know NOTHING and rent me that."
Yes, I've had lessons, but pretend I know NOTHING, please.
And yesterday, there was a perfect surf for a beginner at Brasilito beach. Outgoing breeze, incoming waves, really small but big enough to coast to shore on, simple, easy, easy easy.
Even though. I couldn't set foot in the water with my board. I was planted like a tree on the beach, with my stomache all curled up. I found myself terrified, all wrapped up in what happened at Playa Grande.
I took a few deep breaths. I walked around outside the water, put my feet in the surf. I found my personal next step, which was playing with waves again.
I made myself put the board down and simply body surf for a few minutes. I made myself float in the water and wait for good waves and body surf into shore on them.
So, today, the next gradient was to make myself confront my fear of my board. I lay down on it and breathed for a minute.
I like this board, it's way easier to control. I have a much harder time balancing, but a much easier time controling it. I'll learn the balance. I need the control first.
I successfully paddled out twice and caught tiny little nothings and rode them to shore as though I were body surfing, but with my board under me.
Even that was exhausting. Even with that little nothing, in perfectly calm seas, I was nervous. And I was tired. My body decided surfing was a godawfully bad idea and I had to tell it who was boss.
Refusing to tackle something you're afraid of, and deciding that you are not good enough or skilled enough for something, well I'm not willing to start doing that about ANYTHING.
I'm simply not going to skip any gradients again - even though it was an accident that I ended up way over my head.
I'm making sure I learn what I need to - like the tidal conditions and wind conditions that are right. Proper study and practice are needed.
I'm told after the fact that even very skilled surfers die at Playa Grande a few times a year.
I am VERY lucky.
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The staff here at the hotel have babies. They have been bringing their kiddos over to meet me and I get to talk to some very cute, adorable little children.
Makes me miss mine.
I have a thousand pictures of my whippersnappers. At least.
What I realized after I won the camera was that the people bring their children to meet you here because they don't have pictures to carry around because - among the many other things they don't have, they don't have cameras.
Or access to cameras.
Well, as you know, I now have a camera that was a total blue-lightning-bolt unexpected surprise.
So last night, I went to the house of the girlfriend of the desk clerk, William. And I took a picture of him, him with his baby, his girlfriend, her older boys, and I'm told there simply are nearly no other photos of these people around. I'm told there are no photographs of these three children anywhere.
Amazing, impossible. How does a child make it to 5 without a photo snapped?
Think how precious these pictures would be to you, if you had no others.
And here is the one of me, that William took while I met his little baby boy.
I know these weren't the pictures you were expecting. I'll try to get some of those too.
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I got angry about ATVs on the beach. You remember this from my two previous posts about it.
Katherine (6) asked me why I was mad about driving on the beach, and I told her about the turtle egg problem.
Katherine chewed on that for a week and decided to make a sign about it. She made three, two of which were incredibly great representations of the ATV/turtle egg problem. Better than any of my ideas.
One had a baby turtle lying on its back with Xes for eyes, and an ATV above it.
One had a mommy turtle out in the water, crying about her dead babies and an ATV on the beach.
Another was the baby turtle on its back again.
Katherine decided to bring her signs to school this morning and show them in front of the whole class and post them there. She told all the kids to tell their parents to stop driving on the beach.
Apparently, there were people visiting the school who are considering funding a better building for the school. Hopefully the next ripple is that those people do come through for the wonderful school here and build a better school building.
I am SOOOO happy about this. And I love Katherine even more.
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A gorgeous blond man with brilliant grey eyes is watching me as I sit at the bar, slowly working my way through a banana naturales, and I slink out of my chair, carefully being all yoga and pretty.
I flip my hair. I know I look awesome because I'm tan and shiny right now. And since it's completely a new experience for me to be the tan, shiny girl, I'm allowed to revel in it, and I have been doing so. Oh, have I. I LOVE looking this good. I've lost so much weight and I can't help wanting to slink around in my prettiest clothes.
He watches my ass as I sway out of the restaurant toward the stairs to the rooms. (Internal dialogue: I am a delicate flower. Stepping lightly. Swing those hips. Doing great. Is he still looking? Oh, yeah. He's hot! Keep walking pretty, girl.)
I start ascending my stairs. I hear him say "Mmmm" in that way guys do when they are appreciative of the visual favor you are doing for them.
Suddenly, my foot catches on a step. I stumble forward and crumple up and a leg goes backward, so a shoe goes flying off behind me and lands on a young waiter. He's named Jonathan and is always so poised and polished. I've thrown him off.
I fall down in hysterics on the stairs, in my big-guffaw last-hurrah totally-losing-control laugh. My legs are crumpled up under me in a totally unflattering manner and I can't stop laughing.
That's what I get, huh?
Beach baby sexpot I am not. I'm sticking to what I know.
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