Saturday, October 03, 2020

Rounding the Corner of Covid

Acceptance has finally arrived!  Lethargy has finally gone!  Thankful for both.  It seems I have accomplished more in the last two weeks then I have in the last six months.  It is astonishing.

Tackling projects like going through business files and discarding 80% of things that I moved down here twenty years ago.  I have a two drawer lateral file that was crammed full.  As I discarded items like the sale of my businesses and my home twenty years ago, I wondered why I had not discarded them earlier.  Obviously I did not have as much time on my hands and so now was a perfect time to do so.

I also discovered my little pocket calendars for all the past twenty years.  It was shocking to see each day had something to do or a place to go or someone to join for lunch.  No wonder the last six months have been a shock to the system.  Life may not be as exciting but it sure is relaxing.

An entire trash bag went out the door!  It was a sense of accomplishment.  As well, as I was accomplishing this task, I realized that it will not be me who will be going through these folders again but obviously a family member after I'm gone, whenever that is.  So, for the fun of it, I have started putting funny post it note messages in various files just to let whoever it is, have a fun moment.

In addition to the above task, something that is distasteful to me is paperwork.  But, I did update and reprint lists that I use if and when I travel.  A US phone list, a Mexico phone list and an Account information list.  The last time I was in the USA and my computer would not "open" for me to check these lists on the computer, it was a wake up call.  Now I have hard copies as well as updated lists on the computer.

Yes, it has been two and a half years since the above happened, but "better late then never".

Along with the dastardly tasks, some fun things have been done as well.  Reading Ken Follett's new book which is part of the group "Pillars of the Earth" and working in the gardens. Yes, this book was as long as all the others but it was as delightful as always.  His research and writing, to me, is extraordinary.

Cold weather zapped in at the beginning of last week.  Surprise!  39F one morning.  Yikes!  Luckily winter clothes had been retrieved and the closets are ready to keep me warm.  It does get in the low 70's during the day but the house inside doesn't warm up until later in the day.  YUK!

As a means of self-preservation, besides still staying home, wearing a mask and self distancing, I am watching less and less of news and instead watching lovely shows on Netflix that are not stressful.

I have also voted by sending my ballot via DHL to the correct agency in Houston and receiving acknowledgement that it was received.  Whew!  A big accomplishment.

It seems from what I have read in the last few weeks that patience is what is required to survive this experience with covid.  Luckily we did not know last March of the expected longevity of the virus or when a vaccine would be ready.  Learning gradually has helped me to acceptance.  What about you?

The hardest thing to accept is not being able to travel to see family in Texas and Colorado.  Yes, we facetime and talk on the phone often but it is not the same as all being together. The photos that I see of friends and family members without masks at events concern me greatly in the USA.  Not to mention the large gatherings of people at various political events.  

It seems it is best to stay here in San Miguel where, to date, we have had 32 deaths and around five hundred cases in over six months.  Now everyone is wearing masks and carefully social distancing.  The municipality continues to do an extremely good job of overseeing the checkpoints coming into town and deciding when to open activities.  On the first of October the parks were finally reopened. In addition, the bibliotecha (library) has reopened which has many, many activities in addition to providing reading materials.  

While checking the webcam of the jardin by the Parroquia church this week, there are more people, but while looking at the people it is obvious that there are hardly any ex-pats wandering around.  A quick count looked like there were about forty people milling around on Friday night.  No mariachis, no mojigangas and  no small children to purchase from the balloon seller because there is no balloon seller either!

The other amazing thing is that NONE of the gazillion of festivities that we enjoy here from Easter to the Alborada to the parades in honor of St. Michael the Archangel were only held "virtually" this year! It appears that Dia de Muertos will not be allowed as well.  All of these activities have had thousands of people in the past and the deciders have decided to be very, very careful.  Even Air B&B's have not been allowed to reopen.

Thankfully with "acceptance" it seems I'm just hunkering down and enjoying those things that are not a health risk.  

Hopefully you are at the same place and taking care.  It has been wonderful to receive emails and messages from so many of you telling me how you are coping and what you are doing.

Hang in there!






Friday, September 11, 2020

Kidney Stones, Lily the Mouse and Doo-Wop Music to Soothe the Beast

As I start this post this morning, you might get photos and you might not.  Google is running rampant today and no matter how hard I have tried to upload photos, it is not willing to participate.
Just one of life's little aggravations.

Speaking of aggravations, last week at about 1AM on Monday night, I had a BIG aggravation with excruciating pain each time I took a breath.  What the heck was my first thought? Covid was my next thought and pain reliever was the last thought. 

I made it through the night with no sleep and had little pain during the day Tuesday.  Then Tuesday night and Wednesday night were a repeat of Monday night.  But, by Wednesday the pain had localized where my kidneys are and due to the intensity of the pain, I went online to Mayo Clinic and read about kidney stones.

My son John had had them about eighteen years ago or so and a few times more since then.  Always extremely painful. His doctor had said to drink lots and lots of water.

According to Mayo they will usually pass, the kidney stones with drinking lots and lots and lots of
water. I was doing that like I have never before and finally the culmination and passing happened on
Thursday.  By then I was a basket case but grateful for the "outcome". Then no pain since!

In the meantime, one block over at the house of my son and grandchildren, it seems that Corazon the Cat had brought into the house a newly born baby mouse.  Matilda managed to extricate it from the jaws of Corazon and save it from certain death.  She and her Dad fed it, and lo and behold, Corazon wanted the baby mouse, who was by now named Lily to sleep on her stomach.  The pictures are absolutely adorable.  I give up.  Can't get photos on blog, argh.

The "outside" world continues to intrude, whether it is wanted or not.  Even though I limit my exposure to news to thirty minutes at 5:30PM, it seems like the whole world is teetering on the brink of all those things we never imagined could happen!

To counter all that, last Saturday or Sunday night while looking for something to watch on PBS,
there was a Red White and Blue concert from several years ago that was playing two or three hours of doo-wop music and blues.  Those "of a certain age" were enthusiastically dancing in the aisles and clapping along to all those WE listened to in our teenage highschool years.  It was on PBS Seattle.
How wonderful to see all the groups who had many hits and a few that only had a couple of big hits. Heck the Everly Brothers and Connie Francis both sang!  I must admit my toes were tapping and I know I was smiling as almost every single song brought back memories.  Later I wrote to the group of friends that played a part in those memories.  Some of them also had seen it and had the same feelings.  What a nice surprise and a wonderful way to escape the mayhem of the world for a few hours.

We've had much, much, much rain this past week.  Lots of it has been electrical storms with big booms of thunder and lightning strikes to light up the skies all night long.  Whew.  Here in the semi-arid part of Mexico we never complain about rain because we know in another month or so, the rain will stop and then no more til next year!

The flower gardens are glorious at this time.  Yes, I have many photographs to share, but you'll have to take my word for it.

If you have read any great books lately, with no violence, please forward your suggestions.  I'm ready to order a few books.

And, to end on a funny note that only people living outside the USA will understand I think.  I found cornmeal this week in Mexico!  I know that is insignificant to most but it has been the bain of my existence to have to bring it from the USA for the past twenty years!  NOW, HEB, forty-five minutes away has it.  Yee ha.  Many other things too that might make you laugh. Fritos, Leseiur peas, Bisquick just to name a few.  No more Miracle Gro plant food in Mexico, so now I either have to find another plant food by Vigoro or have someone bring Miracle Gro from the USA for me.  Right now I'm using coffee grounds, banana peels and egg shells. 

Life is always an adventure!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Traveling around San Miguel - back streets, hillsides and more!

 Believe it or not, the above photo is within the boundaries of San Miguel.  It is a hillside across from the Hotel Atascadero.  On the other side of the hill is the Luciergana Mall and, as you can see the mountains in the background, one is an extinct volcano!

This precious little woman walks the streets of San Miguel selling whatever she happens to have in her rebozo.  No, I did not buy anything from her that day. If memory serves me correctly, she was selling shawls.

Walking UP Cuesta de San Jose one day, this was the sight as the man who sells dirt must have been in the tienda getting a snack. The burro with his bags of dirt on his back must have hoped that he too would get a snack!

In November, in years past the kindergarteners would parade through the streets of centro dressed as various revolutionaries such as Zapata and Porfirio Diaz and others in honor of November 20th. It is always intriguing to see the costumes that the parents provide for their little ones.  Creativity abounds.

Often, when there is a party at someone's home or there is a new business opening or whatever, mariachis are hired to serenade the attendees.  This event was at some friend's home.  Regal and loud and a great delight to hear mariachis.

This little lady strolls the streets selling flowers or whatever she has to sell.  If she looks familiar it is because she has starred in several movies made in San Miguel.  One was the movie with Antonio Banderas.  She usually has a joyful smile.  She is much loved.

It is not unusual to see someone on horseback or burro back.  This was a rainy day rider crossing the bridge near La Aurora, the center for art and all kinds of beautiful things to purchase.

 Here come the "beasts of burden" up the street that I lived on until two years ago.  They are carrying firewood on this trip.  Many Mexican families still cook with firewood especially if they don't have gas or electricity in their homes. 
A photo in centro looking down Zacateros street.  From this photo you can tell how dense the town is as one can walk from centro to the outskirts in about twenty to twenty five minutes.  I used to walk from my house on the hill to the outskirts in that length of time.  Back then I was a fast walker!  It is lovely to look out and see the mountains covered in green.  This photo probably was taken after the rainy season.

 Fresh flowers are available to purchase all over town.  I can tell from these it was close to Dia de los Muertos.  People take time to stop and visit and talk with each other.  What might start out as a ten minute walk somewhere, may take quite a bit of longer time, depending on how many friends one stops to talk with.
This is one of the fountains throughout town decorated in flowery finery again for Day of the Dead.
One of the joyful things to do is to walk from fountain to fountain at this time of the year to see all the decorations.  People are out strolling and greeting each other.  It is quite delightful and beautiful.

This photo always makes me grin.  It encapsulates the tranquility of San Miguel.  This dog was lying directly in the path of foot traffic in front of the benches so that people continuously were walking around him.  This is a common sight to see and one that always makes my heart happy!

These are just a few of my favorite photos.  Of course there are so many, but, recently while working on a project, I set these aside to share with you.

At the present time, life is of course centered at home, but, remembering these sights lends a sense of contentment that things like this will hopefully be available to see again in San Miguel some day.

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Lessons Learned from COVID in San Miguel de Allende

The past five months have been a learning experience.  To put it mildly.  It isn't a new lesson, but I have realized that hugs from family is an all important thing!  John, Matilda and Sebastian come over every now and then, but, still we are so careful.  However, since I haven't been leaving the house, we have our masks on, turn our faces away from each other now..........and HUG!!!!  I mean LONG hugs.
That lasts us for about ten days and then we get together and have a picnic outside or play with frisbees or something and then HUG!  It works, big time.  Can you believe they are growing up so much? 

Another lesson that I have learned is that just about anything you want or need can be delivered or accomplished at home!  Groceries, not only locally, but I have a delightful woman who goes to HEB and Costco every week.  No, I don't need food every week but it sure is nice to keep a list and about every two or three weeks have her pick up something special.  This past week it was smoked salmon, tangerines and artichoke dip for the kids and their Dad.  Who knew that they liked those things?  I didn't until I asked what they wanted from Costco.  Last time they wanted grapes.

In the above photo is Mati getting a manicure.  Lizette comes to the house about once a month and gives me a mani/pedi so I asked Matilda if she wanted to join me.  She did!  I love these one on one times with her.  Notice, we do everything outside and always wear masks.  Always.

Another lesson, is no I don't think I need two or three kittens to raise.  I started to get one, then the kids didn't want them separated.  I contemplated it for a while and decided not to push my luck and so, no I'm not getting any kittens.  Although that little black one named Indio has stolen my heart and
has such a darn cute personality. 

The best lesson is that as far as I know, all the restaurants will deliver food to you with most of it still piping hot when it arrives.  I have my favorites with one of them being here in Los Frailes who provides  absolutely delicious and unique food.
Above is a photo of a grilled salmon plate with all kinds of yummy vegetables.  Cost, a little over $10USD, delivered!

The latest discovery is a farm outside of town that has the most incredible vegetables that I have ever
seen in Mexico!  The couple are originally from Texas but have lived in Mexico forty-eight years. So far I have gotten beautiful okra, yellow crookneck squash, Kentucky Wonder green beans and leafy lettuce.  They have two huge tented buildings for hydroponic products and also outdoor fields of crops.  The farm is called Chinaberry Farm.  Initially, until covid, they were growing and selling to restaurants in SMA.  But, with many not reopened and others not having much business, the owners have turned to having vegetable markets a couple of times a week.  One for me is in Los Frailes where I live. It is at Flor Jamaica Restaurant on Saturdays from 9:30 til 11:30 and another on Mondays at Don Lupe Restaurant.  I'm not sure of the times.  For more information their email address is
Last lesson is that taking time to work in the garden has been such a calming influence for me.  Hope it is for you as well.  Too bad all I grow are flowers and not the beautiful vegetables that Chinaberry Farm provides.  Oh well, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks!".  

Onward into Month Number Six............Take care of yourselves and DO stay in touch!

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

A Time Without Touch

This is a photo of my sister, Marilyn and my brother-in-law Don Truckenbrod.  I don't know when this photo was taken but it is a good likeness of them.  My sister and brother-in-law passed on
in June and July.  Marilyn, who was eleven years older then I, died on June 20th and then Don
passed on July 21st.  Two shocking events for me as I did not realize that both were in such ill health.
No, it was not Covid.  But, because of Covid, they were not together when Marilyn passed. And then I guess after 68 years of an absolutely great marriage of love, family and fun, Don  passed as well.

My sister was like a second mother to me, much to her consternation!.  But, she WAS always there for me from the beginning, for sure.  In fact, often when she was going out on a date, I got to tag along.  She was Class Beauty and our house was always, always full of her friends.  My brother, Bob, who passed in 2003 was only one year younger then her and so you can imagine, our house was the "meet up" place during my childhood.

I remember vividly going to stay with them as a child when they were first married and both going to Northern Illinois State Teacher's College which is now Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.
Even after our immediate family moved South and I had a little brother, we still headed to Marilyn and Don's in the summer to spend time with them.  Then after my little brother Bill came along and we lived in Shreveport, our Dad would take us to Kilgore, Tx to catch the train to Chicago where someone would pick us up and take us to wherever they were living at the time. Rockford, Polo, McHenry, Illinois.  I think I'm missing a few other towns, but no matter.  By this time they had started having their family.  
Gayle, Gary and Carol were the first three.  A couple of times Bill and I spent the summer in Polo Illinois and had  those three to play with and take care of.  Wild and fun times!

Don taught me how to drive!  I want to say it was a 1942 Ford with a smitty muffler that could be heard from one side of town to the other.  But I might be wrong about the year.  IF Marilyn and Don were still here, they could tell me specifically some of these facts.  Marilyn was the keeper of all of our huge extended family's details.

Eventually they moved to McHenry, Illinois where Don taught school as did Marilyn and then Don would take the train into Chicago and go to Law School at night!  It was a long drawn out task for him.
By this time, they had two more children. Karen and Scott, and so not only were they both teaching but they also had a family with five children.  I loved going to visit them.  Something was ALWAYS going on.

If you walked through McHenry with Mar, she knew everyone because she taught kindergarten for twenty years.  Don became a Family Law attorney and helped many, many families in that area. Eventually he was also a Judge.They were known and much loved, to put it mildly.

GREAT People!

Don had a great sense of humor and loved to kid around.  One summer when they lived in Polo, there was a bicycle and wagon parade for the Fourth of July.  The kids all had big signs on Ms. this and Mr. that and then on one of the kids, Don put a sign Ms Take.  Then there was the time that we went to the hills around Woodstock.  The year was 1978 and I was recently widowed and had three children 

It was Christmas time and we arrived to snow with me in open toed sandals from Houston.  Once I acquired appropriate clothing from various family members off we went to a hillside for the "kids" to toboggan down the hill.  Wow, it was fun to watch.  But then Don had something that looked like a garbage can lid and he swore if I just sat down, it would go smoothly down the hill and I would not be in any danger.  Ha!  Just as I got ready to go down, he gave that thing a little twist and I looked , I'm sure, like a spinning top heading to doom.  That was my brother-in-law Don!

Seeing each other since I moved to Mexico had been non-existent except when Marilyn came once.
I kept thinking I would get up there to see them, but, alas, we had not seen each other since 2002 when my brother, Bob, turned 70.
Of course we stayed in touch by phone, internet, etc.  Wish I had somehow gotten back up there again to McHenry to see them after they moved into a Retirement facility.
Yes, the memories keep flooding and I have boxes of photographs that I hope some day I can share with their children.  Lots of photos of them as little tykes that are so precious.

To me, one of the saddest things about this time of their passing is that no one could be with them because of COVID, even though neither had it.  And, there could be no funeral or church service.
I'm sure their kids will plan something when it is possible to have a Memorial and gathering .

I will do everything I can to be there to share all the memories with them. By then, hopefully, it will be a time when we can hug and touch and laugh and love them with all our hearts and stories!

They are gone but will NEVER be forgotten!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - 1955!

It is astounding to see this photo and to become aware of how much this village has grown in sixty-five years!  Truly a small village at the time.

I saved this photo to write a blog on the 18th of June.  Finally, today I feel like writing again. Somehow all the joy of writing has not been around much lately.

I've noticed a change in attitude and energy in the last few days with a desire to garden more, cook more and to move around more.........good news for me.  Hope you are experiencing this feeling  as well.  Being energetic has always been part of the joy of my life.  Maybe I have been trying to compensate for the fact that there is not so much to do so I have taken it really, really easy.  Who knows?  Least of all me.

The sounds of the egrets clacking and squawking in the eucalyptus trees across the cobbled stone road from my house are a welcome sound.  The new fledglings are trying to get their bearings.  I presume that is what all the noise is about.........

It has been so quiet around here that I welcome nature's sounds!  Yesterday while sitting here reading there was a loud boom and the music that I listen to constantly stopped.  I was reading, so I continued.  The silence was absolutely like having a clear spring of water flowing around.  Quiet, solitude.  Lovely.  Three hours later, the music returned.  A blown transformer had been replaced.

Cooking has been sporadic.  I got a wild hair and made banana bread on Friday because the bananas were getting too ripe then yesterday I made a large pot of spaghetti sauce with meat balls.  Enough for many, many meals!  So today I will not have to cook but just heat up the spaghetti and meat balls along with a small salad and very small flan for dessert. 

Gardening has shown the most results.  The gardens are abloom not only from the rains that come almost every evening, but also more attention to the flowers now that everything is blooming.  It is a glorious sight.  I will photograph the various gardens this week and share the photos with you in the next post. 

I learned something astounding this week.  Maybe many of you already know but in all the years of gardening it is something new to me.  About two years ago while at a Garden Club meeting at the home of a member who had amazing orchid gardens, the gardener said he stuffed banana peels in the beds to cause the flowers to bloom.  At the time it seemed strange to me, but I always remembered
that.  Then the other day I read that if you take the peels, put them in water for a few days and then pour that water on your flowers, that you will have greater blooming.  So, the experiment has begun.
I put three peels in a pitcher of water and this morning I poured that water on the clivias by the front door.  We'll see what happens.  They are not blooming at present and have no buds. 

In the same article about the banana peels, it said coffee grounds are good as well as egg shells.  The bananas provide potassium, the coffee grounds provide another needed ingredient and the egg shells provide calcium.  Hence, if one were to use all three there would be no need for Miracle Gro anymore.  Who knew?  I knew about coffee but not the reason.  Stay tuned.

Reading has been somewhat sporadic.  I ordered Bolton's book and slogged through the first 18% of it before I gave up.  Most of it was self aggrandizement of himself with a nugget here or there.  I have moved onto Little Fires Everywhere.  We'll see if it captures my interest while I wait for Mary Trump's book to arrive later this week.  ALWAYS have something ready to read.

Netflix continues to peak my interest.  Documentaries are always a delight for me.  Lately one on Sinatra, another on Robert Kennedy and Quincy Jones were fascinating. These documentaries come with film footage from the era.  It is astounding to see things that were occurring back then  Then lately I have been hooked on watching episodes of Feed Phil.  Not so much because of the food, but because of the places he travels to that are so interesting.  Marrakesh was spectacular as well as the segment on Copenhagen.  The segment on Chicago and Buenos Aires was delightful too.  He's a quirky guy and makes me laugh, which is a good thing. It sure is nice to watch things that don't have commercials.

Never did I think I would complain about CBS  Sunday Morning since I've been watching it since Charles Kuralt hosted it.  However, the amount of commercials far outnumber the interesting segments much to my dismay.  Yes, I will continue to watch just for those nuggets of inspiration that are on there from time to time.

That's about it from my casa to yours.  Hope this missive finds you discovering ways of inspiration, grace and joy to continue the journey to safety, sanity and life in this alternate Universe that we are now living in. 

Thanks to all of you who send me private emails and to this amazing couple in Canada who send me colorful greeting cards and messages on a regular basis.  I'm astounded and grateful for each of you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Walking down the Path of Life!

It is more like "stumbling" down the path of life!  The above photo was the path at the house on the hill.  The round stepping stones are the grandchildren's hand prints or foot prints made for me by the children and my daughter Julie many years ago.  Of course, I treasure them.

There has been some construction going on this property with the owners putting in a ground level cistern with a wall around it.  They removed a gorgeous stand of bamboo to accomplish their goal and now I'm trying to figure out how to camouflage another white wall!  The stepping stones used to be in front of the stand of bamboo but are now stacked up waiting for the coast to clear before I decide to relocate them someplace else.

As I mentioned in the last post, I offered three large oleanders to help hide the white wall.  One got planted two weeks ago but no one has returned to plant the other two or to put in grass where they dug holes.  I just try not to look that way, ha.

Invitations have started coming via email for birthdays and other activities.  The first arrival stopped me dead in my tracks.  I was touched that I would be thought of and invited but there are so many considerations now to going some place socially.  Things like, is everyone going to wear masks?  Is it going to be inside or out?  How many people are going to be there?  And, I'm probably not thinking of everything!  I did not want to offend the hostess but I needed an answer to the above before I would consider attending.  A quick email and a quick reply put my questions to rest.  This first event is not until July so hopefully by then, maybe, just maybe, the "peak" will have been reached in San Miguel. 

I have now left the house a couple of times, cautiously.  The first time was to have lunch with two friends at an outdoor restaurant in the country where we all knew there would not be any tables within twenty feet or so.

When we arrived they took our temperature, asked us to sign a register with name and phone number, use hand sanitizer and then seated us where we asked to sit.  Instead of the prior leather covered menus, now they are vinyl that can be easily cleaned before and after using.  The menu had been reduced significantly.  The owner said that after he sees how things are going he will add back to the menu some of our favorite items. 

It was a delightful two hours of dining and wearing our masks when not eating, along with sitting almost six feet apart at a large table.

Afterwards we drove through town and centro.  I had not seen or been anywhere.  All I had seen was photos and the webcam of empty streets.  Well, it was solemn and strange in the middle of the day to see very few people (most masked) and also few cars.  It was like the olden days.  Actually amazing and wonderful if it didn't mean the loss of income for so many. 

My second foray out was to get my hair cut!  It was so darn long that all I could do was wear it on top of my head.........Again, it was a unique and different experience.  Jose Marin met me at the parking lot where I park my car and walked me to the salon.  We were the only two people inside and we both had masks on the whole time.  Inside the door he had a box of water of some sort and wanted me to step in and out of it to enter.  I did, very carefully. Then we both used hand sanitizer. Even the woman who in the past has done the shampoos was not there!  So, Jose did everything.  I left, with less hair and felt comfortable that there had been no exposure to the virus.

Probably if you are out a lot, all of this becomes second nature.  I hope so. 

Baby steps in the next few weeks and then eventually getting out more are my goal.  We'll see if it happens. 

In the meantime, I am content to be home where somehow the days seem to zip by.  How can that be?

Today is Day 96!  WHAT is happening in your world?