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What do I do all day?

By Karen Blue

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, "But what do you do all day?"

I'm going to tell you about my Wednesday. The sun wakes me up in the morning because I have no drapes on my bedroom windows. I don't need them for privacy or climate control and I love looking out onto my beautiful garden. My dogs demand their fifteen minutes of stroking, and then it's up to my home office for a couple of hours of email, writing or research on the Internet. (You don't care about the personal hygiene part, do you?)

By now, my stomach is growling and I drive to Ruben's restaurant at the spas in San Juan Cosala for his famous breakfast. For the 50-peso price, he includes an hour and a half of Spanish lessons and personal entertainment while we eat.

On the way back into town, I stop at the Ajijic tianguis (outdoor market) for fresh fruits and vegetables. At one of the stands, la señora chops up mixed veggies. She sells them for soup, and I use them in my homemade dog food. Yes, I know. My dogs eat better than I do.

I run into ten or fifteen people I know and one of my friends asks, "Dinner tonight?"

"Sure," I respond. "That sounds great." I don't have to check my Daytimer. In fact, I don't use one anymore. I also relegated my watches to a bottom bureau drawer. We decide on Bruno's Restaurant and I agree to meet her there at six. It's hard to think about food after a four-course breakfast.

Next stop is the post office. No mail is delivered to my house. Downtown I chat with several other acquaintances. I've never lived in a small town before, and it still warms the cockles o' me heart to run into people I know.

While I'm there, I duck into Lois' Opus store to see if any of my consignment clothes have sold. I'm nearly tempted to buy a dress from her new line of clothing, but I manage to abstain. Then, I need to order some dice from the stationery store. I ask if he has los dedos, misremembering the word for dice. He holds up his two hands and starts counting his fingers with a bit of a questioning grin. I'm confused and I try charades, blowing into my hands, shaking the imaginary dice and throwing them onto his countertop. He laughs and says, "Los dados." Later I find out that los dedos means fingers. Guess he couldn't order those for me.

I head back home where two telephone messages await me. I can't live without the answering machine, but I draw the line at call waiting and conference calls. I actually received a telemarketing call, in Spanish, from our telephone company trying to upgrade my account. What a hoot.

One of the calls is a friend desperate to replace a fourth in a bridge game in the afternoon. Why not? I think. She always serves scrumptious desserts half way through the game. Then I remember that I haven't paid the electric bill. It's easy to forget, because we don't receive a bill. We must remember every other month, between the 12th and the 20th, to go to the office and pay. I forgot once. No electricity and no water (because the water pump needs electricity) for 24 hours. I don't forget anymore. No problem, the office is on my way to bridge.

The other call is from my pottery teacher, saying I can pick up my works of art, which have now been fired. I took lessons from her a few weeks ago. Mary Beth Coulter is a world-class potter and it's such a privilege to be able to get my hands into the clay under her masterful tutelage.

Shortly before I leave for the afternoon, both my maid and gardener arrive. Both of them work three days a week, for three hours each day. I ask Rosa to clean the refrigerator and catch up on my ironing rather than clean the house today. I ask Martin to clean the fountain and pick the bunch of bananas from the tree. They will finish ripening in the dark of my bodega (a room which houses the water heater, pump and pressure system as well as the gardener's tools). My garden is such a special treat for me, because I've never had one before. Instead of a green thumb, I have a blue one. Even silk plants lose their leaves in my care.

I lose at bridge, but we laugh heartily and have a great time. I stop at the Mercado (grocery store) on the way home to pick up a few things I need. The man with no legs sits on his scooter board outside the store. I say, "Buenos tardes, Señor," and hand him twenty pesos. He always has a smile and gives me his blessing. One last stop at the drugstore to pick up my photos and I'm back home.

After a wonderful filet mignon dinner at Bruno's (the best I've ever had), my friend talks me into spending an hour at La Tasca right on the lake, listening to a flamenco guitarist. What a perfect ending to another great day in paradise.

There are more than eighty organized groups for Lakeside activities including gardening, gourmet cooking, poker, bridge, writing, theater, and opera. Hundreds of volunteer opportunities present themselves during the year and we have talented artists and crafts people who provide lessons to beginners and experts alike. There are English speaking AA groups, Daughters of the American Revolution and other service organizations nearby. Not to forget golfing, tennis, biking and gyms for the fitness fans.

What do we do all day? One thing's for sure. There's no time in my life anymore for a "real" job.


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