Executive Summary

We are back on track, looking forward to the future

The long version

All of the images below are "thumbnails."
To see the full size pictures, just click on them

Dear Friends,

We had a pretty nice year in 2011, the best in several. We've made some new friends, maybe sold our house in Mazatlan, and our overall health is getting better. I've discovered some secrets to getting older while being happier, which I'll be sure to share with you all, and Nadine (the moon of my life) has made our house a thing of beauty, which we enjoy every day.
Nadine and Henry at Number Four on New Years Eve Naughty or Nice? You decide. This is one of those rare occasions were we were actually awake after midnight. We spent New Year's eve with Bruno and Jezebel at the wonderful Number Four restaurant in Ajijic. We are planning a repeat performance this year too. It's hard for me to pass up an opportunity to wear a tuxedo, so this was a good excuse.
Bruno, Jezebel, Nadine, and Henry having breakfast at the Nuevo Posada Part of recovering from staying up after midnight is going out for breakfast the next day. Here we are at the Nuevo Posada, about to indulge in our favorite high carb treats, ie waffles for Nadine and chiliquiles for Henry. I think Bruno and Jezebel had something disgustingly healthy, like a fruit plate.
relaxing in our room at the Phoenix Hilton, surrounded by our treasures Each year around Nadine's birthday, we make a shopping run to the USA. Our new favorite hotel is the Phoenix Hilton, conveniently located just across the street from a big mall, and only a couple of miles from Costco. Of course we usually do our shopping online and have it waiting for us us when we arrive. This years haul included a new network camera and weather station for Henry, lots of snugly clothes for Nadine, and in the foreground you can see some yummy treats for our doggie children.
Lori, Ed, Henry, and Nadine having dinner at Tangos for Nadines Birthday Once again it was time for Nadine to become mi abuela. Each January 17th, she becomes the older woman, since she turns n+1 while I am still n. This year we asked our friends and neighbors, Ed and Lori to join us for this celebration of my continuing youth, and her quickly arriving dotage, by having dinner at Tangos in Ajijic. You can tell from Nadine's expression how pleased she is to mark the passage of another year.
John and Mary Bragg in their beautiful kitchen At the end of January, we had a pre tennis tournament party and John and Mary Bragg's house. This is where I have the good fortune to play tennis once or twice a week on their very gentle (on the old knees) carpeted tennis court. Of course just because I get to play on a nice court doesn't mean I play nice; ask any opponent. Carpeted courts have a great way of absorbing not only the shock to your bones, but also the shock of impact of the ball, which leads to the most nasty of drop shots, always one of my favorites. Thank you, John and Mary, for opening your house and your court to us.
Nadine at the Guadalajara Tennis Tournament Welcome Dinner This kickoff event for the Guadalajara Tennis Tournament is a formal dinner at the Guadalajara country club. Wow, this is quite a place. Immaculate tennis courts, manicured golf course, equestrian area, and old world charm. Anyone who thinks Mexico is nothing but burros and bandits needs to come here.

The tennis tournament followed over the next several days. My partner John was expecting great things from me, but I'm afraid I disappointed him. I got really nervous and either missed or didn't go for my serves and shots. We lost every match except for the one where our opponents didn't show up, which we almost lost. One of the highlights of the trip was the wonderful hotel we stayed at, the NH hotel in Guadalajara. The rooms were great, the food was great, the service was great. If you ever need to Guadalajara, I doubt you can do better than to stay there. We are looking forward to going back next year.

While we were in "the big city," we also took a trip to the Andares mall, a shopping mall for the rich and famous. Next door to the mall is a high rise condo complex, where each unit starts at around 2M USD. We had lunch at PF Changs, and not wanting to go home empty handed, we bought a can of tuna for 20 bucks. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. Nadine really loves her tuna.
Breakfast at delicious with Juan, Henry, and Nadine Our year wouldn't be complete without at least one visit from our friend Juan Antonio Barragan. Here we are enjoying a delicious breakfast at delicious (the name of the restaurant.) Kinda like who's on first. It is thanks to Juan this year that we watch the tv series, The Game of Thrones, where I stole my new favorite new endearment for my sweet baboo, namely moon of my life. We always use Juan's visit as an excuse to relax, go to the movies, drink Lemon Drops, and just take a break from our day to day rushing around.
Nadine, Henry, Mike, and Barbara at the Camino Real Hotel Nadine, Henry, Mike, and Barbara at Manix restaurantThis year we had an extra special treat, namely a visit from our friends Mike and Barbara Heffner, who were our next door neighbors and game night nemesis when we lived in Reno. They visited us in April, and we made sure they got the grand tour. In addition we had game and margarita nights while they were here. While we don't really miss the USA, we do miss our time together with Mike and Barbara, and we wish they would give up skiing and spend their winters here. Maybe when the next republican administration starts rounding up "enemy combatants" and placing them in all those new shiny Haliburton detention camps Mike and Barbara will seek a safe haven here with us in Mexico.
A black widow, they aren't just found in bars Speaking of dangerous places, I'm sure you have all heard what a lawless, drug infested, nightmarish place we live in here south of the border. Well, I'm here to tell you that I think our biggest threat comes from the little guys. I found this beauty hanging around upside down on the wall of our house. We also take about one scorpion per month to the afterlife. In Mazatlan, we were always in danger from the timeshare salesman, but here it seems the racket is windshield wipers. As soon as you park your car, the intrepid windshield wiper salesman is ready to pounce on you and offer you a new set, even though you may have bought one from him the day before.
Mary, Henry, and Nadine, enjoying lunch on the waterfront in Chapala The moon of my life, and her sun and stars The day is May 21st, 2011, and here helping us celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary is Nadine's mom, Mary. We enjoyed a meal together at a nice waterfront restaurant in Chapala. As you can see, we have barely changed from our wedding day twenty years ago in Jamaica. I know it sounds platitudinous, maybe even platypusinous, but these have been the best twenty years of my life. Knowing I have Nadine with me no matter what happens brings me comfort, peace, and joy every day of my life. She is a wonderful lover, partner, and friend. I can't imagine life without her. Above I mentioned that I have discovered some secrets to getting older while being happier. Well let me share them with you here. When we first got married, shortly after I retired from Paradise systems at the ripe old age of thirty three, I was always worried about money. I never wanted to be forced to go back to work, and since we were in our thirties, my "worry horizon" was pretty far out, namely thirty to forty years. If you try to cover all of your financial bases with a forty year horizon, you can come up with enough unlikely scenarios to keep you awake many nights. Well, pretty much all of the things I feared never came to pass, so all that angst was for nothing. We even survived the grand Nancy Chaffin ripoff. So these days, I've decided to lower my worry horizon, from thirty years to thirty days. Maybe two months at the outside. I've even allowed myself to buy new toys, like an iPhone 4S and a new 8GB laptop. I've especially enjoyed being able to help people financially, including our son Bruno, Nadine's sister Cindy, and a bunch of people I don't know. As we get more, we plan to give more too. We are still hoping our house in Mazatlan will sell this year, and we would also like to cash out of our Reno home, but even if we don't we'll still be okay. I like our new thirty day horizon, I wish I had thought of it years ago.
Alex and Sammy Lushtak, on our gazebo overlooking the lake At the end of June, we finally received a visit from my best friend and partner Alex Lushtak and his son Sammy. If it weren't for Alex, I'd still be a wage slave, so I think of him and thank him every day of my life. He hasn't visited us since we left Mazatlan, and I really wanted him to see what a wonderful place we've discovered, and how happy we were here. It was also great to get to know Sammy better. He reminds me of myself a lot, only he is cuter and smarter. He is almost ready to use the gift I bought him on the day he was born, namely the commemorative edition of the Feynman Lectures on Physics. I hope he comes back soon, and I will be sure to visit him whenever we return to the bay area.
At the Hotel Playa with Enrique, Anna, and the kids Bruno and his cutie daughter Arlet In August I made a trip to Mazatlan to take care of some business, and while I was there had breakfast with our good friends Enrique and Ana, and their two beautiful daughters, Ana Carolina and Monica Nadine (named after the moon of my life). I also treated Bruno and his daughter Arlet to a delicious Sam's club pizza. On that trip I made the mistake of renting a car to get around. It took longer to deal with the rental agency than the flight from Guadalajara to Mazatlan. What a mistake. I could have taken taxis all day long for less than the price of the rental car. So remember that if you ever decide to visit Mexico. Leave the driving to them.
a chihuahua puppy for sale at the Guadalajara pet tiangi Bruno looking handsome in my penguin tie Bruno came down for several visits this year. On one of them we went to the Guadalajara pet tiangi. There were lots of (mostly unhappy) little pups for sale, along with baby chickens, fish, lizards, snakes, and pretty much anything else. We were looking for some doberman breeding bitches, to help Bruno get in the breeding business, but didn't find any there. A month or so later, we noticed that Bruno was being very cagey about his activities. Nadine's spider sense started to tingle, and she discovered that he was training to become a boxer. This upset both of us very much, and after a come to Jesus talk with Bruno we convinced him (we think) that he should be a lover and not a fighter. We signed him up for a photo shoot, and are going to try to get him into modeling. So, if any of you need a handsome and well built male model, please contact us or him. I have to tell you, the camera just loves him.
Nadine in her hospital bed, recovering from shoulder surgery What would a year be without a trip to the hospital. This year Nadine's shoulder started bothering her, and it became so painful she could hardly use it. After an x-ray and MRI, we discovered she had a bone spur in her shoulder that was starting to impinge on her tendons, as well as an extremely inflamed bursa. Our insurance approved the procedure in less than a week, and she was off to the operating room at the Hospital Angeles del Carmen a few days later. This is a first class hospital, with state of the art equipment, great doctors, and wonderful private rooms for patients. Everything went well, and she is now home recovering nicely. With any kind of luck, I'll have my sweet baboo back in tip top shape next year.
The Laxen Family, past and present Well, I guess that about wraps it up for another year. All of the Laxen kids, past and present, wish you a very happy solstice. I like the end these letters by giving you something to think about, but I've been thinking about that for a few days now and haven't really come up with anything. Maybe it is a sign of aging. Well, there is one thing. I've been trying to understand why we feel happy. I think it comes down to two factors. One, the most important one, is that we are comfortable. Thanks to Alex Lushtak and Paradise Systems, we've had all of our financial issues covered. We haven't had to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from. It is hard to imagine being happy and being worried at the same time. Thank you Alex, for making this possible. The second ingredient is psychological, namely a lack of greed. We are both very happy with what we have, and don't covet more. I think this is where a lot of people go wrong. Many people I've met have an attitude of never enough. I think if we want to be happy, and perhaps even survive as a species, we will need to overcome this feeling. There can never be enough for all if some feel that they can never have enough. I dream of a society of abundance, not scarcity, so we can all have enough. Wouldn't that be a nice place to live?

Quote of the day:
If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.

Go up to Collection of Christmas Letters Go up to All about our Family Go up to Home Page of Nadine Loves Henry
Go back to Christmas Letter 2010 Continue with Christmas Letter 2012