Friday, April 20, 2007

I got some Black Cock today

I know what you were thinking -- get your minds out of the gutter, people! (Apologies to people who searched on, um, well, you know, and got this page.) Actually, I love the name of this scotch:

You know you want some...

At playgroup yesterday (yes, these are the some of the many enlightening subjects of conversation at a toddler-age playgroup!), one of the dads was mentioning a brand of scotch one could buy here in Costa Rica called "Black Cock." We all had a good laugh, and I thought, I gotta get me some of that!

It reminds me of an incident when esposo and I were about to get hitched, and some of our friends had come down from California for the wedding. On a van ride up to Arenal, we all had a good laugh when we stopped by the side of the road to look at some really beautiful hand-carved statues and things a guy had made. Esposo and I collect chickens (living and non-living representations), and I found a large blue rooster that I couldn't resist. When I got back on the van, I made everyone laugh when I said I'd always wanted a big, blue cock. Which kind of makes me wonder about the etymology of the word cock in reference to a man's netherregion? I'll have to look that one up and get back to you.*

Yes, I know, I'm incredibly immature.

*The Online Etymology Dictionary has this to say:

O.E. cocc, O.Fr. coq, O.N. kokkr, all of echoic origin. O.E. cocc was a nickname for "one who strutted like a cock," thus a common term in the Middle Ages for a pert boy, used of scullions, apprentices, servants, etc. A common personal name till c.1500, it was affixed to Christian names as a pet diminutive, cf. Wilcox, Hitchcock, etc. Slang sense of "penis" is attested since 1618 (but cf. pillicock "penis," from c.1300). Cock-teaser is from 1891. Cock-sucker is used curiously for aggressively obnoxious men; the ancients would have understood the difference between passive and active roles; [my emphasis added] Catullus, writing of his boss, employs the useful L. insult irrumator, which means "someone who forces others to give him oral sex," hence "one who treats people with contempt." Cocky "arrogantly pert" (1768) originally meant "lecherous" (16c.); modern sense of "vain" is 18c. A cocker spaniel (1823) was trained to start woodcocks. Cock-and-bull is first recorded 1621, perhaps an allusion to Aesop's fables, with their incredible talking animals, or to a particular story, now forgotten. Fr. has parallel expression coq-à-l'âne.

Hm. Well there you go! I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

That's Just B.S., Man...

I went to our silly little "supermarket" (Super Mora, downtown Ciudad Colón) today to pick up some vinegar for making pickles, and noticed, much to my great, great surprise, someone in the next line buying the current issue of Quiltmaker, my favorite quilting magazine. Of course, I immediately went to the magazine rack, picked up last month's issue (no May/Junes left), and went to check out (again). Again, much to my great, great surprise, it rang up as 4600 colones, not the 3900 colones as stated on the price tag on the cover. (That's about $9, as opposed to about $7.50.) When I inquired about the price difference, the checker said that the price tag didn't matter; what mattered was what came up when the bar code was scanned. Then why have a price tag on it? I asked. She called the manager. He told me that they get the magazines that way, pre-price tagged, and they don't have any control over it, so I guess they think it's okay to mark up the already-priced item a good dollar or more. I said, No thanks. What I should have said, and what went through my head on the way home is, That's bullcrap! Then put a new price tag on the magazine. Then mark through the incorrect price. I guess they expect people just to guess what the price is? The funny thing is, if I had known the magazine was 4600 to begin with, I probably still would have bought it. But I don't like being scammed and refuse to support that lazy Costa Rican attitude of "Oh well, it's that way, nothing I can do about it." Blah.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's DONE!

After a year and so, I have finally finished the quilt! I thought last night was the last night to turn them in for the show, but I guess they extended the deadline to May 15 (either that, or I was just clueless about the actual deadline in the first place, which is also likely). Making this quilt was a challenge, but fun, and I learned many new techniques, such as how to paint on fabric and how to do a blind hem stitch (though mine is more like a visually impaired stitch). I also learned that, no matter how hard I try not to do so, I am likely to stick myself with a hand needle many, many times while quilting by hand (and I only did the embellishments, back binding and quilt sleeves by hand -- I'd be a bloody mess if I did the whole thing by hand!). It's not exactly like the poster, but I am very happy with it, and hope that it's not the wildest thing at the quilt show (though I sort of have a feeling it will be -- I had to bring a raffle prize and a quilt block to the group last night, and realized that my preference for bright colors on black are pretty typical of my work and are not necessarily the choice of everyone in the group!).

Since the votes were evenly split on what to do with it, I have decided to keep it and pass it on to my son someday. It will hang on my wall for a while after the show, though. No one helped me name the quilt, so I ended up calling it "Laurel's Rainbow Cats." And even though esposo says it looks like a magic picture (if you stare at it long enough, you'll see a hidden picture! -- not really), I like the way it turned out. It's great when something you envisioned ends up being not what you thought it would be in the first place, but something very different yet still something you like.

A Poas Adventure

When people think of a Poas adventure, they might imagine (if they know Poas at all) the volcano, country drives, shopping for crafts in Sarchi, maybe getting on an ATV and hitting the backroads. A lovely day out in the country.

Poas Volcano, one of the few volcanoes in the world with which you can get up close and personal.

They probably do not imagine their Haunted Hyundai breaking down on Easter Sunday, when the entire country of Costa Rica, it seems, is at the beach, including each and every mechanic in the small town of Poas.

It started off a surprisingly wonderful day, considering I am not Catholic and don't celebrate Easter (let's face it -- chocolate is an everyday occurrence at our house). We were taking esposo's mother home to Poas where she lives, and afterwards were to meet our friends at Hotel Orquideas Inn for lunch. The drive up was fine, but when we tried to start the car to go home, nada. Nil. Zip. Would not turn over.

We tried a push start (having owned an MG for many years, I could do that with my eyes closed, though closing one's eyes while driving is never recommended), but that did nothing. So as the car sat at the bottom of a hill, esposo tried calling everyone in town. He called the gas station, where he was referred to a mechanic who may or may not have been at the beach (he was). He called his friends, and pretty much everyone knew the same mechanic, who, strangely enough, happened to have his shop on esposo's mother's street (it's a very, very small town). Said mechanic's doors were closed and his house locked up -- perhaps he was taking the sun at the beach? My MIL thought she might know someone who knew someone else who knew a mechanic, and eventually we were put in touch with someone who would be back on Monday and could look at the car then. The problem being, we live a good hour's drive from Poas (or several hours by bus, I would soon find out).

In the meantime, several of esposo's friends showed up, ostensibly to lend a helping hand, though not a one of them knew what the hell they were doing or what the problem could possibly be. Imperials in hand, they looked under the hood, poked around, jiggled wires, and eventually came to the conclusion that we needed a mechanic. I could not resist a photo op such as this one, as men poking around under the hood trying to look knowledgable don't come along all that often. (Well, maybe they do, but not around me.)

The Boyz Under the Hood: From left, Carlos, esposo, Diego, and some guy I don't know. Diego arrived appreciably under the influence and crashed his own vehicle later that day. I can only shake my head.

We eventually managed to push the Haunted Hyundai into esposo's uncle's driveway, and took a bus down the hill to lunch.

The next day, the mechanic said he'd be able to fix the car that day, so we took off on a bus to Poas. (It turned out to be a burned out computer chip -- who knew this ancient beast of old even had a computer?) Taking a bus with a toddler requires a lot of planning. We took the Puriscal bus out of town to downtown San Jose, where we walked about four city blocks to the Alajuela bus station, and grabbed a second bus to downtown Alajuela. From there, we would take another bus to Poas, but by this time our son was hungry and so was I, and we'd heard about a Mexican place that was supposed to be good, so we set off looking for it. (It's called Jalapeno's and is located near the Alajuela post office, in case you're wondering. And it was good. You just can't find good Mexican food here in general.) During lunch, esposo decides to call his mother to find out about the car (why she has been coordinating with the mechanic, I still don't know, but anyway...). It turns out he took off because he was waiting to hear from us and we hadn't called to let him know we wanted the part, or something like that. The end result of which was he couldn't fix the car that day. This is now 2+ hours after we set out from home. So we get back on two more buses and go home.

The next day (Tuesday) arrives, and we finally are in touch with the mechanic, he needs us to buy the new computer part in Alajuela, and bring it up. Fine. So we get back on the buses, get the part in Alajuela, and take the Poas bus just as it starts to rain. When we get to esposo's mom's house, he calls the mechanic (whose phone hasn't been working all day), and finds out that, again, he was waiting for us but hadn't heard from us (could he pick up a phone and call, perhaps in doing so see that his own phone didn't work?), so he left to go do something else. I am fairly livid at this point. I tell esposo I am not leaving Poas without my car, even if it means sleeping at MIL's house. Esposo eventually gets in touch with mechanic, we eventually get the computer installed in the car, it eventually runs again and we eventually go home. With car.

Two things I learned though all of this are: 1) Patience is not only a virtue, in Costa Rica, it is a necessity. During Holy Week, especially, things just ain't gonna get done any time soon, so you might as well relax. 2) Window shopping is fun, and something you don't really get to do when driving a car. We went to Jalapeno's, bought son a pair of those ugly shoes all the kids are wearing for $5, and a bag of plastic dinosaurs for $2. I doubt I would have done this if just passing by these places in a car. Maybe have stopped for lunch, but that's about it.

And, to top it off, while the computer part was sort-of expensive ($50), the labor was $10. TEN DOLLARS! I ask you, where in the Gringo-world are you going to find a mechanic who will do anything for $10? Not likely.