“I’LL HAVE THE LOVE TACOS, PLEASE!”

The old restaurant refrigerator hummed and rumbled sporadically, a sign that for at least this moment, all of its’ contents weren’t “going south.” This would be the last time I’d heave up the rolling steel garage doors of our tiny Mexican restaurant, that opened up to the bustling street in front. I surveyed the dining room, shaking my head as I looked down at the bulky Guanacaste wood tables and chairs that took up way too much room. They’d been made by a local artist, so we’d tolerated the inconvenience and bruised shins for years. The bright-colored Mexican blankets and papel picado, hanging on the walls, were covered with a thin layer of street dust, a relentless foe, I constantly battled. I’d painstakingly rag painted…

THE AZURE WALL

“Go sit in the waiting room.” My husband waved his hand toward the far wall of the dusty automotive repair yard in Costa Rica, where we’d stopped to have the oil changed in our 1990 Nissan Sunny. It was almost 10am, and the heat and humidity wrapped around us like overcoats. Sweat droplets made their way down our backs, as my kids and I picked our way around broken down vehicles sprawled out around the yard, in various states of disrepair. They looked like they’d desperately crawled toward this isolated mechanic’s oasis, but sadly, chugged their final gasp and collapsed, just short of the single work bay. This was not an air-conditioned waiting room with magazines strewn about. We were in Costa Rica, where the only place you…

HOW I AVOIDED KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY

  17, 18 19…I counted each step as I vigorously marched up the suspended steel and concrete stairs. At the top of the first flight there was a breathtaking view of the ocean and majestic peninsula that curved out creating a tranquil bay on either side. I briefly took in the view, that served as a reward for my efforts, and moved on to the hardest part of the journey, the additional 40 steps down to our vacation condo.   We’d stayed at this same condo a year ago while on vacation in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, and this same harrowing expedition up and down 60 steps, eight times a day, was a completely different experience than this year. I had two knees diagnosed as…

PAINTED ACRYLIC BACKSPLASH – 6 EASY STEPS TO INSTALL AND ENJOY!

My husband and I recently remodeled our mid-century home’s kitchen, and as the decisions about cabinet and countertop type, were easily being made, I went round and round trying to select the perfect backsplash. Scrolling through Pinterest, I found examples of painted glass backsplashes, but given the prohibitive cost and difficulty of properly installing and securing the large sheets of glass, I had to eliminate it from the list of possible options. It just looked so good though, I kept coming back to the examples and wishing I could somehow make it work! I then came across some examples of painted acrylic backsplashes and the decision was made. My particular design style is minimalist/modern, but  painted acrylic backsplash compliments all design styles! The surface can…

BEHIND ENEMY LINES? MY EXPERIENCE AS A DEMOCRATIC POLL WATCHER IN THE SOUTH

Put your pantsuit on Penny! I confidently put on my newly acquired pantsuit that warm November morning. Today America would be voting into office the first female President of the United States and I would be there to witness it! Frustration and disbelief consumed me, once Donald Trump was named as the Republican Party’s candidate The outright racism, misogyny, etc. combined with his complete disregard for the truth, shook me to my core, and living in Tennessee, I was surrounded by his supporters (including friends and family members!) With the unending right-wing propaganda being spewed about voter fraud,  I decided to volunteer as a poll watcher for the Democratic Party, and see what was really going on at the polls. A spy in our midst I…

STEM CELL TREATMENT CHANGED MY LIFE

Nine months ago, I received adipose stem cell injections in both of my knees, and at the base of both thumbs. I had experienced incredible knee pain for seven years and ultimately it restricted my lifestyle to the point that I could barely walk a quarter-mile without having to rest, could not navigate stairs, experienced painful sleepless nights, and was told the only treatment available to me was a double knee replacement. I spent my early adulthood, skiing and running in the mountain communities of Vail and North Lake Tahoe. I also have an artistic bent and love nothing better than using my hands to create but my ability to enjoy those pursuits had been greatly diminished by the same type of osteoarthritis that was…

HOW TO START “TINY HOUSE” THINKING

“I give them six months!” my spouse chortled, after watching an episode of a tiny house show.  I wanted the couple on the show to drive off happily into the sunset, but it did seem that the field was littered with red flags. They had St. Bernard, a bathroom space one spouse seriously compromised on, no private space for either of them (one of them planned to work out of their tiny home) and a refrigerator only big enough to hold pint-sized milk containers. They seemed adventurous and optimistic though, and had well-functioning knees, so maybe they could make it work. What is driving the tiny house movement? What is it about this lifestyle that’s so appealing to us? “Tiny house” living abroad Our family spent the last seven years in Costa Rica,…

5 WAYS TO “TINY HOUSE” YOUR FULL-SIZED LIFE

“Tiny house” living sounds incredibly appealing, but if you can’t just up and leave your current full-sized life, you can still enjoy “tiny house” living. 1.   Downsize – as a child of the 70’s, my rule of thumb was, “when everything you own can no longer fit in your VW bug, you’ve got too much stuff,” but then the 80’s, relationships, home buying, and children came into play, and that thought never again entered my mind. Our family moved to Costa Rica nine years ago, and with the exception of a few boxes of mementos, I got rid of everything we owned. We moved into a furnished (to Costa Rican standards) house, so we had everything we needed, I just didn’t know it at the time! There are…

I’m Turning Tica, Si! Oh Yes, I Think So…

It’s official, I’m turning into a Tica, and here is why: #1 When we first arrived in Costa Rica, I thought many women dressed somewhat provocatively. Late teens through great grandmothers, they all flaunt what they’ve got! As a fifty year old, ex-hippy, I ambled around in my sensible flats (often Birkenstocks,) loose fitting shirts, and comfortable khakis, camouflaging what I felt was my less than perfect body. In the US, the obsession with being thin is ingrained in every woman from a young age, I was dieting in middle school! Latin women embrace their figures and exude confidence. Most women exercise daily and naturally tend to eat healthier with such an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are comfortable in their skin and…

A Quick Trip to Tortuguero

We left on Friday morning to go check out the island of Tortuguero, on the northeastern coast of Costa Rica. We would be catching the tail end of the green turtle watching season, but we remained optimistic as ever! I belong to a Yahoo group called Costa Rica Living, and many generous folks there, recommended a stay at Casa Marbella, in the little town of Tortuguero. The innkeeper, Daryl Loth was quick to reply to our inquiry, and we headed out, instructions, and maps in hand. Many visitors sign up with the larger lodges, which provide transport to and from the Central Valley (San Jose,) to the riverboat that takes you to the lodges. These are “all-inclusive” packages and sounded like something we would absolutely…