Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lest You Worry - Musings from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

My post yesterday was a bit curmudgeonly. Wow, that IS a word.  No line from the spelling guru that it is not!

So, I thought that you might wonder and be concerned about the surroundings that I am destined to stay in til this gas shortage has been resolved!

I sit among these flowers and gardens in either the chair at the little round table where I frequently eat my lunch in the warm sunshine...........  

Or I sit in these comfortable chairs with cushions and arm rests, again in the sunshine to read.  In addition, there are two comfortable chaises at the opposite end of this long covered porch.

While reading I watch the groups of white, yellow and monarch colored butterflies flitting among the various flowers.  I've noticed that butterflies do not fly in a straight line.  In fact they sometimes look like they have no idea where they are going!

The hummingbirds come, literally within two feet of me sometimes.  The sound that they make can be heard long before they arrive.  Usually there are six or seven zipping around as well.
Then there are the doves, who coo and carry on along with some brilliantly bright yellow birds that I have not been able to identify.  Exquisitely colorful.  One of the doves, anytime I play classical music in the living room with the door open, goes over, plops down and sits as if at a concert.  It has sat there for almost a half hour from time to time.  Do you suppose in a previous life, he or she was a musician or conductor or what?
The sound of the breeze through the bamboo leaves coupled with the wind chime hanging there, caps off the serene and soulful ambiance of this lovely place that I have to immerse myself on these days of staying home.  Not bad............not bad at all!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Ruminations on 2019

Many years ago I found some gift wrapping paper that said "Same sh--, different year".  At the time I
thought it was hilarious and bought it.  Others found it humorous as well.

Well, 2019 is fitting that bill.  It had no sooner started then the "Fuel crisis" began.  Although at the time, we all thought it would be a short lived few days.  Au contrare!  It is worse then ever now.

It wouldn't have mattered to me in past years, as I could walk down the hill to buy or do anything I needed to do.  However, now, living on the edges of San Miguel, it is a big deal - especially when I
have not had gas in ten days!  At least not enough to go somewhere and get back as well........

I know, I know, never let it get below half a tank.  That has been my mantra for all my life, but somehow with the holidays and all I goofed!  Big time.  You can rest assured, once I do get gas
it will never happen again.

Either the many stations are not open at all or the lines, I'm not exaggerating, are miles long.  Miles.

Yesterday I had made plans to go to lunch with a friend who has just returned to San Miguel.  The restaurant is on the other side of town from where I now live, but right near where I used to live.  But, since I would need transportation, I called a private driver that I had used previously.  In fact, I called him the day before to confirm he had fuel, that he would be able to pick me and my friend up at her house and all would be well.

Well, he not only never showed up, but he had turned his phone off.  Rather then get upset, I realize that he somehow had no gas and did not want to disappoint me.  I waited twenty minutes, then called a taxi service, who, thankfully, was answering their phone and they had a driver here in less then ten minutes.

In no way could I have imagined the lines of cars attempting to get gas as I saw as we went to pick up my friend.  Mobil, Shell and Total now have stations in San Miguel.  The only problem with that is they get their fuel from Pemex, with the exception of Mobil who has their "own source".  So, the line was from the Mobil station all the way to the ring road around town called the libramento.  In fact the line went all the way up the hill of the libramento.  It was unbelievable.

Needless to say, the "crisis" is growing!  Some people are trying to go out in the middle of the night in hopes of avoiding the lines.  I considered it and then decided, with my luck, it was not a good idea to be out on the road at 4AM!  Call it wisdom or caution, whatever, I'll wait. My plan is to continue to hunker down and be patient.

If you want to read an in depth article by Rolling Stone magazine, here is the site address.  www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/drug-war-mexico-gas-cartel-717563/.   The problem is that there is not an alternate plan since the new President of Mexico has shut off the fuel lines with his original intention of using tanker trucks and then discovering that there were not enough tanker trucks or police to escort the trucks!

Yes, I am getting "cabin fever" as since the 4th of January I have been out a total of four hours not counting yesterday and then only for necessities at the grocery store.  Yikes!

The answer for me is to just read a new good book, which I intend to start today.  Nothing makes the time pass faster.

The good news is there are VERY few cars on the streets of San Miguel, with the exception of those in line for gas.  

Life and life in Mexico is ALWAYS an adventure!  VIVA MEXICO!

Monday, December 31, 2018

A PERFECT Way to End 2018

This morning an orchid blossom fell on the floor.  My camera was nearby....hence the bloom photo.

I left it there all day.  So delicate and gentle and tender.

Then this evening, as I walked through the living room the vividness of the sky pulled me outside.  I quickly reentered the room where the orchid blossom was still on the floor to get my camera.

And, here is an intensely colorful sunset through the branches of the majestic Norfolk pine in my front garden.

What lovely omens to end a year, 2018, that has been chaotic and trying to live through with upheavals and a bit of calmness.

For all of you, I hope and wish that the orchid and sunset are what we will all have in the coming year - Peace, Joy, Kindness and Happiness along with Contentment in the little things of life.

                                                          HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

NO "Real" Trees for Christmas

There was a scramble around San Miguel this year while people looked for cut Christmas trees to put up for Christmas.  In the last few years, La Comer, a huge grocery store owned by Soriana had had trees, but, alas not REAL ones this year.

It brought back the memory of my first year here when I could not only not find a tree, but not even a bough of pine to use for decorating.  Christmas trees in homes was not traditional, only the Nativity was decorated and displayed. 

The ex-pats who have moved in want a tree as I did my first year.  I now use a little faux tree purchased at Walgreen's twenty years ago.  It is just big enough to carry easily and to display the precious ornaments sent by family or made by the children over the years.  No lights or tinsel.  I have not seen tinsel since I left the USA.

My son, John and the children, were among those who spent the better part of a day not only going to the grocery stores but also to the nurseries to see if they could find a tree.  Nada.  Bodega Aurrerea had faux ones and that is what they got and they put up. 

 If Santa and the reindeers had this much food left for them at every house, that would explain why Santa is a "jolly" old self.  All was gone on Christmas morning.
 Here is the "faux" tree with presents underneath.  And, the stockings to the right!  John just had the house repainted, hence no art work on the walls as yet.  It really makes the Christmas things stand out!
 Goodies in the stockings.  Chocolate marshmallow Santas!  Pez, Hershey kisses and more stuff.  A veritable feast of sweets.  One of "Santa's helpers" brought all the candy from the USA as we don't have most of those candies in Mexico with Christmas wrapping on it. 
 Here is Seb trying to decide what he is going to eat first.......and believe me, he did eat a lot of it, even before Christmas dinner.  Oh, the marshmallow Santa, he gave to Grammy.  YUM.
 There were even presents for "pink baby". Matilda's doll she has had for years and years.  Mati got a hair dryer, a makeup mirror, clothes for Pink Baby and a Barbie.  A happy girl.
 Seb got a bazillion Legos, literally, a new Hot Wheels track with a volcano and a toy to put together that was a boat with a trailer and a police car.  That kid is a whiz at assembling things, truly.
 He moved on to the Legos and created a jail while Matilda created a palace with all kinds of rooms.
 Here are John and Seb assembling the Hot Wheels track.  Of course, they got it together.
 Meanwhile, Matilda created this amazing Lego palace.  Life is good and the kids had fun.
Christmas 2018 is a memory and now on to see what 2019 brings............Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - Here are Many

It is not even Christmas yet but it sure has been busy around here! 

First it was the 55th Birthday on the 19th of December for my son John.  It was a lively celebration of family only - even though the kids and I wanted to invite EVERYONE.  Not John.  Here are the photos........

                  Notes, cards and gifts. The kids wrote him "private" notes. For his eyes only!
                     What was in this bag, that was firmly stapled, is at the end of the photos
         Surprise, not just one candle but a whole bunch and a candle that played Happy Birthday!
                                     John, Sebastian and Matilda are waiting for the candle to stop!
           And, the gift from the kids to end all gifts, THIS Christmas Sweater. Isn't it grand?  It caused lots of laughs.  John put it on but "didn't want to get it dirty" so went back to his regular shirt, ha.

And, then on to the Grammy tradition that has been going on for 53 years!  Cookie Baking.  Who knew when I started this with my firstborn that I would be on the ninth and tenth person to bake cookies with?  Three of my children - Jennifer, John and Julie.  Then the seven grandchildren - Jessica, Hannah, Andrew, Emma, Christopher and last but not least, Matilda and Sebastian!  Amazing.

I remember when I was baking with three little children, mine, I would just cover the entire kitchen floor with a sheet to catch the dough, the flour, the sprinkles or whatever else fell.  It was so much fun.  Obviously the kids loved it because the tradition has continued.

Yesterday the "tradition" lasted for about 3 1/2 hours.  This Grammy had to take a siesta when all the fun and frivolity was over!    Here are the pictures.
 The red apron I have had longer then I can remember.  Fifty years?  The reindeer one was made by my daughter Julie, and it is the hand print of the five grandchildren who were in Texas at the time. They are all grown now! Treasure it........
                       Hard at work decorating the cookies that they rolled out and baked.
 We had very little powdered sugar to make frosting, therefore we only had two colors to decorate the cookies.  But, oh my, once they used sprinkles and things on top, the cookies looked good enough to eat.
 The first photo is Sebastian's cookies - he even made eyes with sprinkles! Very detailed.
Matilda's idea was to make great use of as many sprinkles as possible.  Both of them made me chuckle.

What fun to hear them talking and singing and discussing their ideas and other things. 

It IS these kinds of things that make life worth living. 

And, last but not least, Matilda had to rearrange the Nativity on the table.  If you notice, NOW the angel, all the animals and the little children along with Mary and Joseph are surrounding the baby to "keep it safe". Her words.  Previously the animals and the angel were in the netting.  Ahh, the things that can touch one's heart!

Merry Christmas..............

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Live Long, Wander Far and Wonder Always

This phrase has always captured my imagination and also reminded me of what an amazing time I've had over "mumblesomething" years.

I've certainly maintained the first two words.  Unbelievable.

Wandering far, as an intrepid traveler, was my modus operandi for about forty years.

Lately, since I am settled in the new casa without a huge "to do" list, there has been
time to reflect on the trips to the Netherlands.  The time I rented a car and attempted
to drive to Bruge, without success.  And, of course Paris, twice, because I loved and still
love it so much.

Most of my travel, however, has been in the BIG country of Mexico, Guatemala and of course
the USA.  Road trips mostly.  Something I've always loved to do - like the drive from Vancouver
to San Miguel - six days, whew.  Or the time I decided to drive to Colorado on the back roads only.
Who knew Texas grew that much cotton?  Who knew that most of the farmers who ate in the little
diners on the roads wore honest to goodness overalls?  And who knew what "All vehicles downshift?" meant when I was somewhere east of Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Those are the fun parts,
for me, of travel. Seeing unexpected things and experiencing them.

Of course in Mexico, for me anyway, when I'm on the road, it seems I am always seeing unexpected things.  Sheep who have gotten loose; kids selling twig reindeer on the side of the road; all the new wineries being developed in the San Miguel area; and, of course, the beautiful mountains and valleys of this area.  Driving to the border, I enjoy seeing the men with scythe like tools getting crickets and grasshoppers to ship to Oaxaca for all their "bug" dishes.  Once in a while you will see an old fashioned wooden wagon with a farmer and his wife coming down a dirt road or the farmer out in the field with an oxen to plow.  Awesome sights.

"Wondering Always" has become, recently, my method of life.  Now that I am sticking closer to home because of my challenge of walking, it has given me time to go back to some of the things I have always loved to do "when I had time".  Reading of course, sewing, working on gifts and projects like organizing photo files.  Oh, and cooking or having friends over!

I've discovered that I do not have to slave over the stove in order to have those friends over, but in fact, can contact the many people who make delicious food that is perfect for small groups or whatever.  That was the case recently when I had three delightful, long time friends over for lunch.

One doe not have to wander far in San Miguel to meet interesting and unique people.  Take these three women.  I've known Angie the longest.  She is the woman to the far left.  We met on the bench when I first came here. I came from Houston, but Angie came from Haiti where she lived for about twenty years until it got too dangerous and she came to SMA!  Angie is very low-key and it was years before I knew that she was an accomplished and published artist who had a book of her work of the architecture of Haiti!  That, among other things I've learned over the last eighteen years about this dear friend makes her one of the most unique people that I have ever met.

Then there is Jennifer.  I'm not sure where she came from when she moved to SMA, because I met her when she owned The Bagel Cafe.  Then I found out she had lived in Mongolia!  She was Country Director for Mercy Corp for several years.  A friendship began and has grown.  Since our meeting, she sold the restaurant to her employees, formed a consulting firm and is off to many countries that I have, in some instances, need to learn more about.  She also worked in South Korea for a while.  What an intrepid traveler this woman is......

Last, but surely not least, is Shannon, an internationally acclaimed photographer who is very low key as well.  Shannon and I did a road trip to Texas when she was having an exhibit at a museum in San Antonio.  That trip in itself is something I could write several posts about.  Maybe later!  The friendship was sealed on that trip, for sure.  Now, not only does Shannon continue with her unique photography but she also has an Estate Sale company here in SMA.

All this shows that I can stay "close to home" and still have a delightful, fascinating life with people here in San Miguel.

Life does seem to change all the time, but that is a good thing, most of the time!  Onward........

Monday, November 19, 2018

The "Promised" Photos

It has been absolutely astonishing to me how many people have come up and commented about the fact that I have moved recently to a new home.  It leaves me speechless for a moment or two, until I
think to exclaim about how happy I am.  I truly am!

Finally, after patiently waiting for a new cable to arrive that connects my camera to the computer, it
is now possible to share the reason of my happiness.

Several of you have asked to see photos and when are photos coming, so here we go.

 The house and rooms feel larger then they are because of the twelve foot ceilings and the amount of windows and doors.  IF I did not have furniture in front of the windows/doors, the whole front of the house could be opened to the front porch.  Way cool.  Instead there are screened windows that can be
opened for air and breezes........and to let the warm air in on cold days.  Yes, we have already had a few of those last week.  Lows of 30F! first thing in the morning.  Brrr.

Above is the dining area which is immediately to the right of the front door.
 This little table with decorative items is to the immediate left of the door.  It is a convenient place to put keys, gate opener and my sunglasses.  The table itself can serve double duty if needed for serving or whatever.  I purchased this sooooooooooo long ago at Wreck Hill near Round Top, Texas.  Still love it and it has always served a useful purpose. 
 More big windows in the kitchen area.  The counter surface has a unique shape.  Sebastian, my grandson says it is a great place for playing cards!  Notice I have REAL cabinets and drawers.  An experience I have not had since moving to Mexico.  I had open shelving in the other house. 
 For those of you who have read the blog for a long time and commiserated with me over the fact that I had no stove with an oven - just a six burner cooktop and a counter top toaster oven, NOW I have two ovens - the one in the stove and I kept the toaster oven for small casseroles or whatever.  One of the great things, it seems to me, is the fact that there is a giant sky light above the cabinetry which adds sunshine and warmth daily.  Yes, the kitchen is a delight.
 Another piece of furniture that serves many functions.  Storage, a desk and of course, a sweet piece.  It was purchased here in San Miguel from the people who lived in this house previously, long before I even knew I was moving here!  The karma of this move is a story in and of itself.
This is a photo of the seating area in the large open living/dining and kitchen area.  If some of you "sharp eyed" people notice the grey sideboard, it, in the previous house was pine.  I had it stripped and painted grey.  The same color as the grey fabric pillows.  It gives it a new twist.

 The bedroom, off to itself and entered through double doors with frosted glass windows is sizeable.
Because of that, I was able to create three different areas.  The shelving behind my bed was at the other house and my "handy dandy" painter took it in his pickup truck and painted it the same color as the walls.  Using the vertical space, with the twelve foot high ceilings makes it feel cozy.

And, all designers know that tables with cloths can hide a multitude of things.  The table to the right of the bed has the grandchildren's toy box underneath it!  All they have to do, is pull it out when they are here!  Plenty of play room.
 This is a view of the closets and the view into the living area.  Lots of good seating in the bedroom with many views out the big palladium windows.

It was fun to take some furniture that was in the guest house and the furniture in my house to combine and use in different ways.  The old antique bamboo desk is now a table to use for makeup or writing letters or whatever.  I have had that piece of furniture since the late 1960's.  Still love it.

 Then the last area is where my computer is located along with a dresser with clothes.  Behind the curtained area, which goes the entire length of the room, and is four feet deep is storage for all kinds of things.  Crafts, art projects, sewing, decorations and the stereo as well as a mounted TV screen in that corner. 
 As if the inside is not wonderful enough, here is the porch right outside the front door.  It is a joy to spend time out here reading, eating, listening to music or working on the plants.  I've done quite a bit
of that and do have some plans for the flower beds that are here with no flowers in them.  One will be a rose garden with the bird bath in it.  Another will just be all kinds of flowers.........Yes, a dear friend said I would love working in the gardens but at the time I doubted it.  Now I know that she knew me better then I know myself!
 This view is looking from where you step up to go to the front door down at the end.  I've positioned a little round table there with three chairs.  Several times I have eaten out there.  The window in the far right of this photo is the window that looks into and out of the bedroom area.
 Looking out are glorious trees.  The Norfolk pine has to be at least 80 ft high, a huge flame tree and a giant palm.  Add to that a lemon tree and a peach tree along with a bourganvilla that reaches to the top of the wall with fuscia blooms.
The previous owners had these planter boxes made.  I'm so glad that there was an opportunity to buy them and leave them right where they had intended for them to be and where I enjoy them all the time.

 This little building houses an outdoor bano for when one is entertaining or the kids are out playing or whatever.  Very clever, I think.   Then there is another building that houses the laundry facilities. A washer and dryer.  That is the building in this next photo. 
You can see a bit of the Norfolk pine and the flame tree.  Right past that is a paved area to park
the car.  I also have many plants out there.  

Another factor that adds to the enjoyment of this house is the fact that only to the right of this house is there another dwelling.  I get views of the sunset and the sky from several windows.  Something that I enjoy immensely.

It's a new season.  No stairs is huge.  I'm happy to report that I absolutely have no more pain in my back or knees.  All this has happened in less two months.  A true gift.

Yes, I'm still walking with a cane because I am still having balance issues, but I am working on that!

There are other things that I want to share, but I'll save that for other posts.  Now, you, my family and my friends can see where I live.  It was the RIGHT move in more ways then one.

By the way, if you are reading this and live in Los Frailes, please let me know.  I would love to get together with you now that I'm on this side of town.  If you cannot figure out how to comment, my email address is babsofsanmiguel@yahoo.com.