Saturday, July 25, 2009

Telenovela por Kara - 2

Episode 412

When we last left Maria and Pablo, Pablo had just walked in to Los Cha Chas to find Maria…

Maria began to cry and ran to Pablo. She collapsed in his arms and Pablo held her close. Pablo soothed Maria and told her he was there to bring her home. She cried and cried as he walked her out of the club into the blinding light of the midday sun.

Pablo drove Maria to her apartment so she could change her clothes and collect her things. They barely spoke as Maria packed a bag, but they each felt the love and intense attraction they knew years ago - it was like no time had passed. Maria hugged Pablo and thanked him for coming for her. Pablo was overwhelmed by his feelings for Maria - so much so that he broke his vows to God and slept with her. They spent the rest of the day and night making love, though Pablo knew he had to return to the church in Santa Lucia.

When Maria ran away so many years ago, Pablo couldn't imagine loving another woman so he became a priest and devoted himself to the church. He could not return to Santa Lucia with Maria as his bride and cause another terrible scandal and ruin his father's name. Everyone in Santa Lucia knew about Maria and what she had become - they could never be together as lovers, but they could be together...

Maria had sinned in so many ways, this she knew, and Pablo convinced her that the only way she could return to Santa Lucia and be accepted by the community - as well as her father - was to return as a woman of God. Maria would become a nun, just as her father had demanded so many years ago, and no one could ever know that Pablo and Maria had been together. Knowing she could be close to Pablo and would forever have the memory of their beautiful time together in El Paso, Maria agreed.

Pablo and Maria returned to Santa Lucia and Maria moved into the Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande. The sisters of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande welcomed the beautiful Maria with open arms, believing that even though she’d committed many sins, she had goodness and light in her heart and would commit to God and live the rest of her life in service to Christ.

Maria found solace and forgiveness in the Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande. She began to rediscover her old self, full of love, hope and optimism. Even though she could not be with Pablo, she saw him often in the church and her love for him deepened into something far more meaningful than she could ever imagine. He had saved her, brought her home to her family and gave her a whole new life she could be proud of. Just being close to him in the church was enough to make her happy.

After a few weeks at the Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande, Maria began to feel ill. Incredibly tired and nauseated, she retired to her room and told Sister Lolita she was coming down with the flu. Sister Lolita brought Maria soup and cold compresses for her head. Maria rested and tried to recuperate but even after several days, felt no better and began to worry. Sister Lolita insisted she see El Doctor.

El Doctor examined Maria and right away made his diagnosis. Maria was pregnant. Shocked, Maria returned to her room and began to panic. How could she remain a faithful woman of God and have a bastard child? The church and the community would surely cast her out and banish her from the town. Distraught, she went to find Pablo…


Tune in next time for Episode 413!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Telenovela por Kara - 1

A going away gift of sorts...

Kara, here's the story we started at La Cumbré yesterday when we couldn't hear the telenova on the TV above our table.

See, Maria the nun wasn't always a nun and that child she's holding... that's no orphan...

Episode 411

Maria was a teenage runaway. She left the small town where she grew up when her father forbid her from seeing her true love, Pablo, a boy who lived in the neighboring town.

Pablo's father, Eduardo, worked for Maria's father on his ranch. One day, Pablo came to work with his father and saw Maria washing clothes in the courtyard. Maria's long, lustrous dark hair was getting wet and soapy as she scrubbed skirts in the laundry tub. Pablo was stunned by her beauty and immediately fell in love with her.

Pablo began coming to the ranch every day to see Maria. She would make him lunch and meet him in the hay loft where they could be alone. Maria fell deeply in love with the kind, gentle Pablo and agreed to marry him later that summer.

Maria's father, Don Julio, was a powerful man. He ran a prosperous cattle ranch and owned most of the town's land. When he saw Pablo and Maria together in the stables one day, he fired Eduardo and threatened to kill Pablo (a servant in his eyes). He told Maria he would send her away to Convent of La Purisima Concepcion of San Miguel el Grande.

Heartbroken, Maria made a plan to run away to El Paso and pleaded with Pablo to come with her. Pablo was torn - going with Maria would mean his father would be alone. El Paso was too far for Eduardo to move and he would not give his blessing to a marriage borne from scandal. Pablo stayed with his father and vowed to help support him. Maria left Santa Lucia and vowed never to return.

Once in El Paso, Maria worked odd jobs in restaurants and motels and tried to forget about Pablo and the beautiful life she imagined they'd have together. She grew sadder by the day and soon became bitter. What her father did was horrible but Pablo abandoning her was much worse. She would never trust a man ever again. She wanted some sort of revenge, to torture men, to make them want her but never be able to have her.

Maria quit her menial jobs and became a stripper at Los Cha Chas, El Paso's premier gentlemen's club. Within a week she became Los Cha Chas #1 performer, earning hundreds of dollars in tips every night. It didn't take long for Maria to have dozens of regular customers requesting a Champagne Cha Cha in the VIP room. She could earn thousands of dollars a week working the VIP room, emptying the wallets of the hollow, heartless men who abandoned their wives and girlfriends to watch her take it all off and show them what they could never have.

Over the years, as Maria's fame grew, men from far & wide began coming to Los Cha Chas to watch her dance. One night, a devilishly handsome stranger came to watch her show. After Maria's performance on stage, the stranger requested a Champagne Cha Cha. He said his name was Pedro. Maria felt instantly drawn to him and realized she may not be able to provide a strictly professional Cha Cha.

Once alone with Maria, Pedro offered her $1000 for much more than a private dance. She readily agreed and took his money. She sold herself to him completely and later spent the night with him in his motel room. When she awoke the next morning, Pedro was gone. He'd left another $1000 on the night table with "gracias" written on one of the bills.

Maria felt empty and ashamed. Once again she was alone and abandoned. The inner sadness she'd carried for so long was even greater. What had she become? Who was this person who would sleep with men for money? She wasn't torturing men - she was only torturing herself.

She returned to Los Cha Chas the next day and told the manager she had to quit, that she wanted to return to Santa Lucia and try to make amends with her father and reunite with Pablo. The manager refused to let her go and threatened to call immigration and have her incarcerated.

Despondent and defeated, Maria danced on stage and gave Champagne Cha Chas in the VIP room, but she felt forever changed. She no longer danced with a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eye. She had to find a way home, back to the person she once was.

A week after her sad tryst with Pedro, another handsome stranger came to the club, but he wasn't just a stranger - he was a priest. The priest walked directly to the bar and asked to see a dancer named Maria. The bartender went backstage and brought Maria out to the bar. As soon as she saw him, she knew - it was Pablo!


Tune in next time for Episode 412... (no kidding - it keeps going - it's getting ridiculously long - so, remember, you asked for it!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Phobias

I've developed an exciting new phobia. One thing to enjoy about getting older, every day brings a whole new adventure - a new fear, a new ache, a new thing I can't eat.

While visiting the parents in Bend (Oree-gone), we had thunder storms roll through one afternoon. I was driving back from the store watching ginormous bolts of lightning shoot down from the sky and my first thought was, That's going to come right through my car, into my face, and they'll find me crashed into a tree with most of my face charred off.

I drove the rest of the way hunched down in my seat as if that would prevent the murderous bolts from finding their way to my face.

When I got to the house, I slowly opened the car door to get out, then ran toward the garage thinking that at any moment that bolt would shoot down into my face - always into my face - and my parents would find me in the driveway with most of my face charred off.

Where this came from I can't begin to tell you, but I think it's probably a good thing. One should have a healthy respect for lightning. One shouldn't feel emboldened and confident about standing out in a thunderstorm holding a nine iron into the sky.

Climate change is a real issue, and maybe lightning is much more aggressive and dangerous than it once was. Tough to know for sure, until it shoots down into your face to confirm it, but why not just expect that along with heavier snow storms, more ferocious hurricanes and increasingly torrential rain storms, lightning is more sinister than it was in years past?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Radio Silence

Where to start?

Reader's Digest version - I got the bird home. Came close to having to give him up in Canada or stay there indefinitely waiting for the U.S. government to pull its ginormous head out of its even larger ass.

The morning we were ready to drive south I called Slow Suzy in Virginia. After her last brain cell finally woke up and churned the data, she told me my permits would likely be denied. The best reason she could muster? Because I never had the proper Export Permit.

So, even though I was trying to obtain the proper permits, because I never had one last year, they were going to deny them. Just thinking about that tells you everything that's wrong in D.C.

I explained that we could not stay behind for too long to wait for the permits - new tenants were moving in the following week. She was nonplussed about why I could not leave without my bird. She helpfully informed me that there are many bird rescue organizations in BC that would take him off my hands.

In hysterics, I pleaded with her to talk to whoever she could talk to to find a way to solve this problem. The best she could offer was to have me call her back the next day, but she didn't think the answer would be any different.

After a brief respite in the fetal position on the floor, I pulled myself together and called the U.S. Fish & Wildlife officer at the border - Border Guy. I'd been talking to him since the start of all this bullshit and I told him what I'd learned from D.C. I hoped he could call Slow Suzy and find a way to let me get my bird home.

Border Guy is all by-the-book, explaining that he takes his orders from D.C., but he said I could call his supervisor and see if there might be anything he could do. I was still a blubbering mess so I took five minutes to grab a shower and calm down.

Just as I was drying off I heard my phone's voicemail tone. I'd just missed Border Guy's call. His message said that he'd talked to his supervisor and I should call him back so he could explain the situation. Good news or bad news? What's the situation! Gah!

I called him and heard the best news of my life. Because my permits had not yet been officially denied, they could write me a citation for illegally exporting my bird. Had those permits already been denied, there wouldn't be anything they could do. I laughed and told him I would *love* a citation!

We packed our cars in a crazed panic and sped down to the border with our hair on fire. After clearing the CITES Export Permit on the Canadian side, Border Guy and the vet on the U.S. side filled out their forms, charged me $35 for the vet and wrote me a $275 citation. I was on my way in about an hour with my feathery & furry family totally intact.

I drove the entire way to my parents' house in Bend without the radio. No tunes, no nothing. Just silence. Eight hours of uninterrupted silence. I don't remember what all I thought about, but I thought about a lot. I think I traveled to another dimension.

The next day I turned off the Canadian cell phone. If D.C. has tried to reach me, they're not. I have my stamped, official documents clearing Henry through customs, so Slow Suzy and the entire Department of the Interior can blow me.

Friday, July 03, 2009

U.S. Dept. of Redonkulous

The full name is Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Middle Management Authority, Feet Dragging and Hemhawing.

What a ridiculous exercise this has been. This goes into the If Its Not One Goddamm Thing Its Another file. This is one of the things that sent my stress level through the roof last month and had me hyperventilating daily between bouts of spontaneous crying and hand-wringing.

Here's the thing... we're moving... again. We're moving the household back to Alameda so I can be close to family and go back to work. It's a long story.

I thought it would be somewhat complicated but not redonkulous. We hired an actual moving company this time that will magically load the giant trailer for us and clear our stuff back through customs - all good and a huge relief to have professional help.

On a hunch, I asked our moving coordinator if I had all the proper paperwork to move Henry - the blue-fronted Amazon parrot - back home. My little voice kept nagging at me to make sure. She didn't know but offered to ask around. Thank gawd she did.

See, when we moved here, I took all the kids to their vets and had them checked out, vaccines updated and received State of California Department of Food and Agriculture certifications for international movement of household pets. That's all the vets said we needed. Great!

I don't know why I thought that might not be enough to get Henry home, but I'm glad I asked...

Turns out, we NEVER had the required permits to travel with/move a pet bird. Our vet didn't know about such permits nor did the Canadians who helped us move here. When no one knows about such permits it's tough to obtain them.

I scoured the web trying to make sure we'd have all the required paperwork/certifications when we came into Canada. No website - US Customs, Canadian Customs or any other - had any information about these permits. If they had, well, I wouldn't be writing this post.

If you own a pet bird and are planning to go ANYWHERE outside the U.S. with that bird at ANY TIME - moving, road trip or whatever - you MUST have the following permits:
  • a CITES permit for the transportation of live animals or animal products (pet parrots usually fall into the Appendix II category).
  • a U.S. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Export Permit for a pet bird (PDF form). You may also need an Import Permit as well, to get the bird back into the States.
    -- no ifs ands or buts --
So, I found out about these required permits at the beginning of June. The CITES Export Permit from Environment Canada takes 4-6 weeks to process. The U.S. Import Permit takes at least 4 weeks and up to 90 days to process. The moving truck arrives next week.

Amazingly, Environment Canada was fine with a faxed application and required no fees. The U.S., of course, would not accept faxes or email. Everything had to be FedEx'ed (or snail mailed) and they require a $50 processing fee.

Environment Canada was great. I got the direct number for a lovely woman, Lynn, who helped process my application and couldn't have been nicer. She took the initiative to communicate through email, keeping me updated and letting me know when the permit was issued and on its way. Canada took about a week to process the CITES Export Permit.

As I sit here writing this sorry tale, I'm still waiting on the U.S. permits. They've had everything they needed to process the paperwork for four weeks and I've not heard a word about status.

The woman I've been calling in Virginia - I'll call her Slow Suzy - is no longer returning my calls. Early on, she sounded somewhat sympathetic and like she might make this happen within a month - imagine that - issuing TWO WHOLE ONE-PAGE DOCUMENTS in a month's time. CRAZY!

At first I was told I would only need an Import Permit to get Henry home, but after talking to Suzy and explaining our situation in detail, she said I would need a "retrospective." I believe she meant "retroactive" - a retroactive Export Permit.

Because we never had the proper permits, I moved Henry out of the country illegally. Had Canadian Customs seen him in my car at the border, they would have confiscated him. Without the right permits going back, the U.S. can confiscate him.

To be clear, the bird was never hidden, nor were the cats. When we crossed the border they were all right there in the car. No one asked me for any paperwork or any sort of documentation about ANYTHING we had with us. No one even glanced into the goddamm car to see what was in there. I was ready for them to inspect the car and to hand them all the documents I had - no one asked for anything.

To make matters worse, when Suzy learned we've not been out of the States for at least 12 months, she told me "Oh no, you have a real problem." Why? No one can explain why. Why a U.S. resident cannot return home trouble-free in one month, five, or 15 no one can explain. Free country? I guess not.

So now I'm waiting on Slow Suzy to figure out a way to issue a retroactive ("retrospective") Export Permit and an Import Permit, all by next week. She's had a month to get it done.

Maybe she's required to make the paper on which the permits are printed, then make the ink with which the letters are printed, then weave a decorative border out of flaxen linen and spun gold. Whatever she's doing, she's doing it as slowly as one can move without being declared legally dead.

Bottom line, I cannot leave here with my bird without those goddamm permits in my hand. This is when we should pack Henry a little satchel of food and Gatorade and tell him to fly his ass home.

Even more annoying, I'm playing by the rules and I'm getting screwed up the ass for it. I'm not trying to pull a fast one or cheat the government out of $50 critical dollars. They didn't catch me - I contacted them to get this squared away, and what are they doing? Nothing.

Slow Suzy is sitting on her lazy, government-job-time-wasting ass filing her gaudy acrylic nails and telling her girlfriends about her corns. If I ever meet Slow Suzy one day, I will punch her in her lazy goddamm neck.

p.s. If you ever apply for such permits and your bird does not have a microchip or a leg band, you'll need a letter from your vet explaining why this should not be done - both are very dangerous for birds. But in that letter you can have your vet provide a description of whatever identifying characteristics your bird might have that should help identify your bird as YOUR bird.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Sort of... Yesterday I went to my type of Disneyland... a cute neighborhood (Queen Anne) in the States where I could get Peet's Coffee, Top Pot Doughnuts and hang out with good friends. I was so excited the night before I had trouble getting to sleep.

(I cannot stand Walt Disney's Disneyland - it should be razed and turned into a giant doughnut factory.)

I zipped down to Seattle to see friends and enjoy a beautiful summer day. And when I say zipped, I mean I zipped down to the border where traffic slammed to a stop for an hour as four thousand other day-trippers and I waited to cross into America.

Being Canada Day - imaginative title, eh? - lots of people went south to play. Canada Day is much like the U.S.'s 4th of July - a holiday spent grilling meats, lighting fireworks and getting shitty drunk in your front yard.

The weird thing is, they take the day off right there in the middle of the week. No 3-day weekend where you have a whole other day to stay drunk then another day on top of that to recover before you have to go back to work. No, you get that one day to live it up and make the most of your holiday before you call in sick to drag your ass into work the next day.

The guy behind me at the border made the most of his holiday by hosting his very own Nostril Drilling Festival. I wish I hadn't seen this but unfortunately I did, and it was a fantastic disaster.

He had no shame. He went to town on both nostrils oftentimes using both the index finger and the thumb. When I first caught sight of him in my rear view mirror I thought he was going for a quick grab and it would be over in a flash. It was amazing to see him keep going at it like a booger-loving badger. Ah-mazing.

A strange way to start the holiday, but my excitement for Peet's could not be dampened. On top of getting a delicious cup of java, I also got to see an Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the SAM, enjoyed a lovely mojito at Shmick's and later, a satisfying maple glazed old fashioned at Top Pot. Yup - Disneyland. Thank you Linda, Alan & Miriam - wonderful day!

t-bird headed south

"Likeaflex Superzoom" late 1970s
Ceramic w/ glaze, metal and leather strap
Fred Bauer, American, born 1937

bootleg phone photo of the exhibit (shhhhh)