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I am not living the life I imagined. I think a lot of people can say that.  For some, that’s a good thing. Or, it can be not so good.

Specifically, I’m contemplating the price of “paradise”…and if I want to pay it.

Tropica is in the news as the perfect place to live, work and retire. Real estate porn – colonial houses, pools, hammocks, low cost of living are why baby boomers are pouring into town. While the press extolls the beauty and virtues Tropica I’m thinking of going in the other direction.

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In Tropica it’s always guest season. Living in a vacation destination means a lot of houseguests. I enjoy picking people up at the airport and having the stimulation and fun of visitors.

Being a good houseguest is an art, but it can also be a learned skill. If you have friends living in interesting places, and you are lucky enough to be invited to stay, it means you can travel all the more. So it behooves you to treat your hostess like the treasure she is.

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cancunfall

Q: How can you tell it’s fall in Tropica?

A: The beaches are empty.

Fall in Tropica.  The tourists are gone.  Kids are in school.  The hotels on the Riviera Maya are empty and prices are the lowest they’ll be all year.  The snowbirds haven’t arrived yet.  The air has finally cooled down to 80F/26C.  The Tropicans are in bliss.

I’m filled with nostalgia for crisp air, sweaters, and the flaming colors of leaves. How I miss the autumn of my childhood in the U.S. Palm trees are always green. Halloween, which isn’t a Mexican custom, has drifted in nonetheless and is fighting with Christmas for floor space in Costco. Not a pretty sight.

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Lone mountain

Montana is still “the last best place.”

Two days ago I returned from a vacation for a “big” birthday:  a long, dreamy road trip through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

I write this during a steaming hot Saturday afternoon in Tropica. The skies just opened up and I’m storm watching with my animals. But my mind is still dreaming of places richly named: the Gallatin Gateway. Cowboy Heaven, an upper valley on Ted Turner’s extraordinary Flying D ranch dedicated to land conservancy and free range buffalo roaming.  Skalkaho Pass.  Choteau.  Silver Bow. Medicine Lake. Bear Creek.

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Pool

Beware, this pool looks cool, but the water is hot as…

If it’s fall in Tropica, it’s bochorno.  Sultry, stuffy, sweltering, sweaty, steaming, suffering, suffocating, swampy. Oppressive. Impossible. Giving up.  Giving in.

It’s 7 a.m. and drops of sweat are sliding down my butt as I sit writing this.  I am sitting still.  It’s 7 a.m.  I just had to repeat that.

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This is luxury:  Swimming in the Gulf and not seeing another person as far as the eye can see.

If April is the cruelest month, then August is the lostest month. And it’s a good time to find yourself.

Staycating is the ultimate vacation destination in August. The world is on vacation: crowds, higher prices, delays.  True, there is a sense of joining in the fun, and many art and music festivals are held during this high season. But…

…the best secret of August is your own house.

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I’m usually never at a loss for words…but yes, my friends, I have succumbed to the inertia that is the essence of the word: summer.

What is summer like in a place where it feels like summer all year round?  Even in Tropica there are subtle seasons. School’s out just like everywhere and life slows down even more. The weather is, if you can believe it, hotter and stickier. Meriland empties out like Paris in August, with everyone going to their beach houses on the Gulf.

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black pants

Warning!  This post may bore you to tears.  Or you may laugh and recognize yourself.

Hey, it’s a beach read, slouchy, easy…and people love it when I air my dirty laundry (in this case, pants) in public.  Here goes.

I invited my DD to be the voice of reason as I tackled, Marie Kondo style, the pants section of my closet.  As I kept bringing out armfuls of pants, DD’s face went from amused to shocked.  The problem is: every single pair brings me joy.  That means they’re keepers, right?

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sunny_day_at_cloud_gate_-_main_cropped_2014_445x280

As many of you know, I live in Tropica where it’s slow, hot and green. This past spring, I undertook the task of having my house painted. I had been putting it off for years and it was time to face the music. As is local custom, I hired one painter who methodically worked his way through the house, inside and out. I was prisoner of my house for the six weeks it took, rising early in the morning to let him in, driving to buy more paint and supplies, letting him in and out,  waiting until he finished at six.  It was relentless and mind dulling.

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The-ExpendaBelles-Milla-Jovovich-300x168

Yes, that would be me.  I’ve become a general contractor.  My good friend Jean taught me to hire myself and pay me well. More on my pay, later.

In the last 24 hours I’ve had visits from a plumber (who couldn’t resolve the problem of a cistern that won’t stop running), the water purifier people, telling me I need a new pump under my sink to fortify the water purifier which needs maintenance all the time, a mason who didn’t fix leaky roof and it kept raining in my living room.

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