Thursday, January 30, 2014

First there was a rainbow....

Now all us good little Sunday School attending kids know that first there was a flood and THEN there was a rainbow.
Remember how our trip to Puerto Vallarta began with a rainbow viewed from the plane?
So pretty!
We had such a great week in Mexico.
When it was all over and we had just landed in Salt Lake, Bernie called our son to say we were going to grab our luggage and he could pick us up at the airport curb.
He had some bad news for us:
We had had a flood.
Isn't that totally backwards?
First we get a rainbow and then we get a flood?
While we were gone, our basement flooded.
Jeff had come over to feed the cats that morning and when he went downstairs to check the litter box, he felt his foot go squish.

A pipe broke somewhere outside on the lawn.  When it broke we have no idea but the temperatures had warmed up quite a bit while we were gone and so the water began to flow.
It flowed down the wall in our cold storage room...

Along the base of the basement stairs...

Around the corner into the hall...

In through the storage area under the stairs...

Down the hallway and into our laundry room where the floor drain caught the flow.
(Oh thank heaven there is a working floor drain in our basement!)

Thankfully aside from a few cardboard boxes that touched the wall most of the storage items were OK.

You can just see a bit of the large area rug that was temporarily being stored on the floor of the room; both of us had fretted about having it on that floor.
Thankfully the flood remediation team was able to restore the rug to brand new condition.
Jeff had been able to turn off our water main. 
That was quite an adventure as the turn off was buried under about a foot of snow.
And he had dropped by to feed the cats with Luke in tow.
A flood situation with a 22 month old is not a good thing.
Rachel was out of town so Luke got parked in his car seat while Jeff raced around trying to staunch the flow with towels and locate the water turn off  under the snow and the tools to use.

A plumber was called the next day; he arrived and after looking about announced he would have to return the next day to do the fix.
We were without water for two days.
(So much for post vacation laundry, shower, flushing toilets...I was so glad I had a supply of emergency water stashed away so at least we had some water to use for personal needs.)
Then the flood remediation guys showed up.
They pulled up the carpet pad from under the carpet and then 22---count 'em---22 fans were set up to blow throughout the flood area.

The sound of 22 blowing fans is quite mind rattling.
An obstacle course of fan on the trail to the cat litter box was a deal breaker for the cats.
The litter boxes got moved upstairs for the duration.

They looked like some kind of Star Wars characters invading our house.

A de-humidifier was also running.

Everything under the stairs or in the cold storage room was piled where ever it could be piled.

I don't know about you, but I can not go on vacation without making my house neat as a pin before I leave.
Such a bummer to come home and have to rapidly pull the tidy spaces apart.

The flood didn't seem that bad to me until the technicians started measuring how high the water had leeched up into the walls.
Some walls were wet inside up to six feet high.
Oh my.
All the baseboards were torn off and holes drilled to allow air to flow inside the walls.

The team came by every day for a week to check the walls to be sure they were drying properly.
They said it would take about a week.
They were right.

The water had also flowed onto our driveway making it into a solid sheet of ice.

Digging down through the snow one could see where soil had been washed away.

The snow had turned to solid ice and it took some serious digging to reach the main out by the curb.
The guys eventually carted away the fans and installed heaters for a couple of days.
They taped a plastic zipper door to the top of the stairs to keep the heat downstairs.
Bernie's downstairs office was not hit by the flood so he continued to work there as the basement temperatures grew quite toasty.
At last all was well.
A claims guy came by and we showed him the very few personal items that had gotten destroyed.
He set about figuring out the claim amount.
Two days later I reached for a plastic container on a shelf in my crafts room and discovered it and the several others next to it were filled with water.
The adjuster came back...the remediation guys came back.
The water had also leaked through a window in the crafts room; we had not noticed it being wet.
Today they put fans on in the that area too.
I think it will be awhile before every thing gets put back together again.

I am very thankful that we had already checked out of the hotel when Jeff discovered the flooding.
He tried to call and text us but we were already in the air by then.
Not a minute of our vacation was compromised with worry.
I am also thankful that after my years of living in Houston and seeing houses flood I had learned to store thing off the floor and (mostly) in sealed plastic boxes.
(I now know to always keep items on shelves a few inches from the wall.)
I am thankful that it wasn't an overhead flood...a flood that starts in the ceiling or attic is so much more damaging!

I am thankful it was not a sewer leak...
I am thankful for insurance.
Thankful for repair technology.
Thankful to have a husband who knew who to call and what to expect.
(I shuddered to think what it would have been like if I had had to figure all this out on my own; I had even forgot we had changed our insurance company this year and also that we had a file for our insurance policies.  Guess flying back after a weeks vacation had allowed some information to just leak out of my head.)

I am also very, very thankful that it was a pipe that broke and not a city/county/state wide water delivery issue.  I knew I could go to the store to buy more water and use a neighbor's toilet or shower or sink if needed.
Our neighborhood has yearly drills where we are *supposed* to practice knowing how to turn off water and to locate the proper tools and the right valves.
I *thought* I knew.
Turns out I didn't.
Again...that info must just leaked out of my head.
So here's a modest proposal for anyone reading this post:
The next time you are at home and you happen to see a rainbow, mentally rehearse where your water turn off is so you know you will remember how to deal with a broken pipe flood.
Review where the tools are kept that you would need to use to turn off the water.
Review where your house insurance phone number is.
Think about if you have some water stored that could get you through a couple of days if your water gets turned off.
A rainbow is a promise that God will never wipe out the earth with a flood ever again.
But it isn't a promise that a smaller flood won't sometimes happen when you least expect it.
(Bonus tips:  Turn off the water to your washing machine before you go on vacation.  I've heard about those hoses bursting way too many times.  Also if you agree to look after a neighbor's property or pets, ask them to show you where the water turn off valve is and what tools you should use.
And for crying out loud, DO NOT flush the toilet the first time you go pee after water is turned off.
Yeah...I knew better but did it anyway.  Force of habit! 
Any other tips anyone wants to share?)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Travel Journal: Puerto Vallarta Jan 10-18: Downtown PV

If there was a need to decide what the most famous landmark was in Puerto Vallarta, I think it would be the beautiful crown atop the Cathedral.
HERE is an even better shot of the stonework in the beautiful!
Seeing the crown this trip caused memories to flash back of two other trips I had made here: once in 1973 during a three week trip through Mexico with my parents in a VW van and once during a cruise ship stop back in the late 1990s.
My mom purchased a silver charm of the crown; it is now on her charm bracelet that she has since handed down to me.
The crown was my clearest memories of PV.
I was looking forward to exploring the old town area again this visit.

Our resort was about a fifteen minute drive from north of downtown.
The drive downtown was quite easy on a divided roadway.
We drove by Walmart and Home Depot; like in American, modern big box stores are not found in the heart of the old cities.
American hotel chains are found in PV too.
I thought the giant flat fan shaped palm form was beautiful.

We were in PV in mid January.
American Christmas trims have long since been removed from public space.
In, what's the big rush?
The angle can be blowing that trumpet for a few more weeks just fine.

The other "famous" PV scene is the sea wall wharf arches.
I remember taking photos there on other trips.
Funny how I had forgotten all about them until I saw them again this trip.

The streets are cobblestone and parking is tight in town.
This was a sleepy "never heard of it" port until the late 1960s when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were filming "The Night of the Iguana" here.
They fell in love and began their scandalous affair that made the news world wide.
Suddenly little Puerto Vallarta was on the map as a tourist destination.
At the same time some ticklish property ownership issues were resolved and for the first time non-Mexican citizens could safely invest in property to build resorts.
Miles of luscious beach front, a sweet little coastal village, and name brand hotels:
Bingo. Instant resort location!

There is something for everyone in PV.
The rich and the not-so-rich can both find things to buy.

This dress was tempting...
And this dress even more so.
Held granddaughter or great niece to outfit yet.
We did buy Luke a linen guayabera or wedding shirt and pants set.
Should be cute on him come this summer.

Frankly, if this dress had been in my size I think I would have been buying it for myself.

Shouldn't all little girls dresses come with a matching hat?

Again...if this was in my size I'd happily wear it on hot summer days.

Back in the late 60s-early 70's every Southern California girl had loads of hand embroidered Mexican tops and dresses in their closets.
I still have a couple of those items...the handwork is just too wonderful to give them up.
And who knows when I might wake up and weigh what I weighed in high school again.
(I can dream can't I?)

The likelihood of that sudden weight loss is constantly decreasing.
Oh cream bars!!

The ice cream bars filled up an area about 12 feet long.
How on earth can anyone decide which flavor to try?

I went with coconut, Bernie went with raisin.
I wanted to try a few more but found the coconut bar quite filling.

Every Mexican town has a small to large plaza in the center of the town, usually right in front of the Catholic church.
Shoe shine booths are set up there and sometimes newsstands and other one-man business.
During our 1973 travels we got to see the traditional Saturday night plaza walk where the girls walk around the plaza in one direction, chatting and giggling with their girlfriends while the boys walked in the opposite direction with their guy friends.
The smiles, eye catches, flirts and comments made very clear who was interested in whom.
Such a very sweet and safe way to court!

Out in front of one of the plaza buildings a traditional dance class in in progress.
The girls ranged in age from around five to nearly adult.
They practiced swaying as they danced and at one point the teacher demonstrated how to pull the full shirt out to each side then how to fold the hem into the middle of the body.
Another dance step went with that skirt styling.
I imagine the girls are in training for resort "fiesta" shows; this class was being held on a Saturday morning so it wasn't in conflict with a usual school day.

Again...Christmas is still going strong in downtown, or at least wishes for a Happy New Years.
Have to smile at the big silver snowflake at the top of the festive design.

Here's how the Cathedral looks from the plaza.
Note the twin flanking towers and the bell below the crown under the clock.

One could easily walk from the seawall to the Plaza and then to the steps of the Cathedral in a straight shot.

A bit of information about the Crown.

Inside the church was so light and airy!
Bernie stepped inside about two minutes ahead of me and got to see the baby being baptized.

(Love those chubby baby thighs!)

I imagine this princess is about to make her first communion.

Remember the bell I said to note?
Outside the bell ringer manually pulled the rope and rang the bell.
(All the American churches that I know of have recorded bell ringing.)
There seemed to be a particular pattern he was after; one of my big questions about Catholic church bell ringing is what the various patterns mean.
I used to work across the street from a Cathedral and I could figure out time related patterns but occasionally bell ringing would just start happening and would ring non-stop for like 15 minutes.
No idea what had happened.

A closer look at the crown.

As you can see, the was a gentle breeze blowing through the town.
The weather was absolutely perfect for me.

During my 1973 Mexican travels we found a shoe shop that sold the BEST leather sandals in every color and design imaginable, for about $4 a pair or so back then.
I bought about five pairs, one was turquoise I remember.
 I wore those sandals for years and years.
For some reason I didn't try on any of these sandals.
Kind of wish I had bought that red pair with the orange flower in the top row.
(I don't do thong sandals anymore after learning how thongs can cause repairable nerve damage to feet...a few friends have experienced that shocking development and I don't want to risk having that happen to me.)

So we were just gawking around, looking in windows and checking out the various shops when a taxi pulled up to the curb and four young women, dressed to kill, piled out and headed in different directions.
I thought maybe they were going to a wedding until they split up.
They all looked so nice for a Saturday afternoon.

I had noticed a few items being hawked at the beach seemed to be from India.
Turned out there was Indian fabric and some metal work...I suppose that says something about Mexico's economy that Indian goods are cheaper than locally made items.
I didn't see anything made in China though.

One shop offered masks, wall art and sculptures created with tiny seed beads.
Those are still locally made I imagine.
Don't you love that blast of color?
I wish I had taken a photo of the silver jewelry shops.
I restrained myself and only bought a small silver ring with opal insets, a silver bracelet and stud earrings.
The upside of a short trip: One can't spend too much money.
The downside: After  you get home, you wish you had bought more.
Some passed by items are remembered with wistful regrets.
(And some items will be remembered as being passed up with laughter.
Banana smuggling wear anyone?
Oh my!)