Saturday, April 14, 2018

From the "sublime" to the Concrete Jungle.

Here is the final photo in our road trip to Austin and back last weekend...........ALL of us, before the four of us headed back to the Concrete Jungle known as Houston.

This return trip was just that a stops except for gas and bathrooms and then on to my daughter's home.  I then headed back on the freeways to my friend's house.  Sunday evenings, I discovered, are a time to travel the freeways.  Thankfully, there was very little traffic.  Whew.

After spending two weeks at The Hallmark with my dear friend Martha, it was time to move on.
On Tuesday, I relocated to my brother and sister-in-law's house for a couple of weeks, at least.

They were prepared for me as this was going to be where I stayed after surgery.  Now that there is no surgery, it is just a nice, relaxed visit.

EVERY ex-pat, I presume, when making a trip to the USA, has some shopping to do.  I had basically not even paid attention to my list since arriving.  My list is not big, but there were many places I needed to go to get things like new pillow shams, fabric to recover the chaises on the downstairs patio, some new Merrill sandals and various other things.

Yesterday, my sweet sister-in-law and I took off at about 11AM with a list of five stores to go to.
She was driving and we headed to Sugarland.  Yes, that is actually the real name of a suburb of Houston because there used to be a big sugar mill in that area.  I was SO happy she was driving as
she knew exactly where to go and had a plan, as she knew what store was near to another, etc.

I figured we might make it through two, maybe three places.  Me, of little faith.  We got to all the stores and got everything on the list!  It was unbelieveable. We were gone about five hours.

Two things surprised me.  How many stores there are - mile after mile after mile.  Also amazing is the number of restaurants, everywhere!  Another interesting thing to see was the number of people
out shopping.  We did not enter any store that was not full of people.  People of every race and creed.
I had forgotten the diversity of Houston. 

To top it off, everyone is very courteous and helpful.  At least, that was the case yesterday.

Our last stop was at JoAnne's fabric to get outdoor fabric for the chaises.  While waiting in line
we had a conversation with a woman who teaches quilting at that store.  Then the woman who waited on us was a delight after we had waited and waited to be "waited" on!

Her name was Sandy.  She had had a rather difficult task before waiting on us, but she shrugged it off as "just in a day's work".  THEN I needed more fabric then she had in that store, but she kindly offered to check other stores and made arrangements for the rest of the fabric to be sent to the store we were shopping at so we did not have to "journey" to Fry Rd, wherever the heck that is - it was
at least thirty minutes away.

When she wanted my name and information, I gave her my card, which she promptly attached to her apron so she would not lose it.  The rest of the fabric was ordered, and I have no doubt when we return to that store next week, she will be there and so will the fabric.  Another six yards!

We DID stop midway through this shopping marathon to have barbecue for lunch.  You cannot come to Texas and not have barbecue.  So far I had had none.  But, how we got to the restaurant was interesting.  Annette, my sister-in-law, asked me what kind of food I wanted and I said "BBQ?"

She then put that word in her phone to find out where the nearest BBQ place was located!  Then there was a map to get us there.............a GOOD reason to have a "fancy" phone!  The BBQ was delicious as were the sides of potato salad and fried okra. Dessert was banana pudding.  Yup, no doubt, I'm in the Heart of Texas!

The weather here has been all over the place.  From hot and humid to high 30's, windy, cold and raining.  Today is the latter.  When the highs in Houston in April are the high 50's, low 60's, that is considered cold.  It makes me realize how predictable the weather is in San Miguel - usually sunny.

All kinds of fun and interesting things coming up in the next week.  Who knows what I'll have to tell you this time next week?


Monday, April 09, 2018

A LOVE Fest!

It would probably be better to call this past weekend, my birthday weekend, a LOVE and LAUGHTER Fest.  There was plenty of both.

I had made no plans for my birthday on Saturday.  On Thursday a message from my daughter, Julie, asking if I wanted to celebrate with she, my granddaughters, Jessica, Hannah and Emma was
answered with a resounding "YES".

It began early Saturday morning with me driving to Kingwood, about forty minutes from where I
am staying, and the FUN began............

First, of course, we stopped for sustenance for the LONG drive, ha, (three hours) to Austin!  COFFEE was at the top of my list and the others got their goodies as well.  The waitstaff took our
first photo of many..........and then, we were off.

One of the GREAT things was, I did not have to drive.  Beautiful drive and beautiful wildflowers.....
except it was raining, the wind was blowing and the temperature was dropping like a rock.
Next thing I know we are stopping at Buckee's - a glorified gas stop with a building filled with food, tschotkes, goodies and clothes.  My kids could not believe that I had never been to Buckee's!  I was astounded at all they had to sell that no one actually needs.  Yes, we walked out with two bags full of stuff..........Note the jackets and sweaters.

The manager saw us having so much fun and took this photo!

Onward we went.  The wind was blowing so hard there were whitecaps on the ranch ponds and steam was rising off the water!  I tried and tried to get a photo as we whizzed by - no such luck.

Next stop, Freebirds in Austin, where my granddaughter, Jessica, who is manager there, greeted us
with hugs and love.  Then someone took this photo of us all together!

It is hard to believe that my whole family (except for Matilda and Sebastian) are taller then I!  I'm not that short...........
We managed to get out that night for dinner at Kerby Lane.  By that time it was 38F April Texas,  The wind was still blowing hard.  Gosh it was cold.  The great meal - lots of laughter and all kinds of storytelling capped off the night.

Somehow five of us managed to sleep on air mattresses, a futon and a bed in a small one
bedroom apartment.  More laughter, on Sunday.  Ultimately, we had to leave Austin.  Sadly we all
hugged, with me declaring it "my BEST birthday ever" and off we drove.  Back to Houston.  Whew,
what fun - what memories and what laughter. 

I cannot imagine another birthday ever being better!  Thanks to my family, my friends and all the ancillary people (waiters and stander-bys) who made it all possible.


Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Saga Continues............

The saga continues.  The above photo was taken on a street in San Miguel of the jacaranda trees which were blooming profusely as I prepared to leave for the USA.  They are such grand, exquisite trees.

I arrived in Houston and dealt with all the things that come up when you arrive somewhere, like getting a rental car, getting my US cell phone turned on and one unexpected inconvenience, my computer would not link with any "open" wifi and I could not get the password initially for my friend Martha's internet site.  It took five days of patience and persistence to rectify that situation.  Thank goodness for a service called Geek Squad. And, the patience and persistence of a young man named Robin at Best Buy who spent two afternoons plus a phone call to get the computer and me connected to wifi.  Whew.

I did get out one evening with my old friend Bob to see Chris Smither, musician and song writer extraordinaire who happened to be in town last Friday night at the Mucky Duck.  It was a last minute thing that worked out for me to go.  So welcome and enjoyable.  I love live music!

My friend Martha, who I am staying with at present received this lovely bouquet of flowers from a granddaughter who lives in Maine.  The two of us have oohed and aahed over the fragrance and beauty since their unexpected arrival last Saturday afternoon.

By the way, I have no idea why these photos are floating all
over the place and not in their usual place. Whatever!

As I arrived at my brother and sister-in-law's house on Monday to head to the doctor appointment, finally, this is the view that greeted me of their front gardens!  It just made me smile with joy.  My sister-in-law, Annette, is an avid gardener.  It certainly shows when you see their home.

Off my brother and I went to meet with the orthopedic surgeon to find out the process prior to surgery that was scheduled for April 18th.  You are not going to believe what I am going to write.  There is NOT going to be any surgery..............Yes, both knees are "bone on bone" but the doctor wants to take  a "conservative" approach with other methods and surgery as a "last" resort.  Of course, you can imagine, after thinking about this, making arrangements and planning this for the last eight months, I was speechless.  Totally.  All of his comments and suggestions made sense, but I just "wanted to get on with it and get it over with".  No way.  Instead I received cortisone shots in both knees.  I have been pain free since yesterday morning.  The doctor wants to see how long this lasts and try this for a while............his reasoning is that it is major surgery.  Not all is successful and if I can return to my way of life comfortably without the surgery, I would be better off.  We'll see.

I truly have not been able to wrap my head around all of this.  I'm still in a quandary as to what to do.
Get a second and third opinion; take it as it is; or what.

I now have almost two months in the USA to do whatever............At this point, "one day at a time."

Plans had been made prior to my arrival to go to see the Texas wildflowers yesterday.  Rather then sit around and try to figure things out, I went.  Never even thought about my knees all day.  A LONG day, but so worth it.  Here are some of the scenes we saw as we drove to Chappell Hill for lunch, then went to see the wildflowers and ended up at a magnificent ranch in the Hill Country before heading back to Houston which was only a 45 minute drive, but truly another world away.

Enjoy the shots of the bluebonnets. Indian paintbrush, the farms and ranches and the pond at the ranch that we stopped at prior to returning.  Beautiful day.  Beautiful country.  (You can click on the photos to enlarge, if you wish)

                 The ranch and this magnificent oak tree.  We even saw some larger then this! 

Scene after scene of bluebonnets with sprinkles of Indian paintbrush along with a dab of buttercups.  Oh my, a panoply of color.
To be away from the city, in nature, was just what the doctor ordered, even though he did not know it!

                          Texas back roads always include farms and barns with great Texas skies.

This ranch had the largest herd of longhorns that I've ever seen.  Quite amazing and beautiful.

Back at the one hundred acre ranch of Mr. Smith, he told us the story of he and his wife buying this property in the 1960's, having an architect from Brenham designing the house, the pond, the tennis court and moving a couple of houses already on the property around.  It was fascinating to imagine.

As you can see, we are near the edge of the stocked fishing pond.  The back story is, there were seven of us in this van, on this little dike driving around this pond.  Of the seven occupants, one is wheel chair bound, one uses a walker and the other three of us use canes.  Mr. Smith wanted to drive around.  The ground was a bit soggy.  The driver was so terrified that we were going to bog down (me too).  But, we finally made it around it and drove up the incline back to the ranch house for drinks and appetizers.  Can you imagine, if it had gotten stuck, the seven of us either trying to walk through a field to the house or pushing the van or whatever?  It made me chuckle inside myself to think of it and be grateful that it did NOT happen.  Life is definitely an adventure!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

SPRING is here!

BUT. not daylight savings does not happen in Mexico until April 1.  What that means is that IF we want to watch the US national news, we have to remember to turn the TV on at 4:30PM.

Needless to say, I remember once in a while.

The photo above was taken last year while I was in Houston.  I have never seen this flower before or since.  IF anyone knows what it is called and what kind of climate it needs to grow, please let me know. 

It looks to me like those little flowers that bloom in bogs in the South, but I was not in or near a swamp or bog when I saw these. 

EVERYTHING in the last week has started to bloom all over San Miguel.  A plethora of colors from fuscia to lavender to yellow and every shade in between. 

The hummingbirds are zooming around.  The monarchs are flying through heading north, but, first, stopping to refresh on both the nectar from the jacaranda trees and everything else that has nectar.
They will have a long journey over much desolate land as they head North.  Water will not be plentiful either so I always have birdbaths full as well as other water sources for them.

From the TV it appears that the North and especially the Northeast are getting hammered with snow.
What a mess.  Then it appears the West Coast is getting hammered with rain.  Another mess.

Not gloating, but we have the most consistent weather of any place that I have ever lived.  From now, until mid-May, it will be in the low to mid 80's during the day with sunshine and then in the high 50's to 60's at night.  Absolutely perfect.  Then there will be about four weeks of temps in the 90's, but still low, low humidity.  That will end when the rains come in mid-June.   The temps then drop back into the high 70's or low 80's during the day.  It remains that way through the rainy season or til October.  Blissful weather, spoken like a Texas girl who remembers humidity and heat very well.

The snowbirds will leave the first of April and the sweatbirds won't come to town til July and the first part of August.  The town will be muy tranquila.  

And, so it goes.............

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The "Best" of the Bench

When I'm "out of sorts" and feeling slightly grumpy, for one reason or the other, a trip to "the bench" seems to make everything right in the World.

I managed to get there yesterday!  It is not that easy anymore as they have closed the streets around the jardin so it is about a three block walk, with cane in hand, always looking down to avoid holes and tilted cobblestones.   But, I got there!

It was a National Holiday and so it was apparent there would be lotsa people there to celebrate the birthday of Benito Juarez.  I was not disappointed.

Along with visitors, however, there were the regular "benchinistas" such as, Bella the dog, who was stretching out and laying sprawled so all that saw her had to walk around her.  It is such a treat just to observe all the comments, photos, petting and other things people do when they see Bella.

Many, many Asian tourists in town yesterday.  One was a young woman who with her beautiful camera was taking many photos of Bella.  We started talking.  She is from China but a student in the USA at John Hopkins University.  She is here for Spring Break.  Her English was so perfect that if she had not told me that she is from China, I would have assumed that she was from the USA.  What a lovely person.

After she left a couple sat down next to me.  The man went over to rub Bella's ears and her stomach.
I've never, in all these years. seen Bella that excited.  After all she is a Bassett Hound and not prone to displays of excitement.  Usually rather droll.  Well, the belly rub really, really thrilled her.

I figured if that man was that gentle and kind to Bella that it might be nice to talk to he and his wife.
Indeed it was.  They are from Ottawa and come each year for close to two months.  They do indeed
love Mexico and San Miguel.  We covered a huge range of subjects.  Some of which made the three of us laugh out loud.  It is always very interesting to me to talk with Canadians.  They have a wider world view, IMHO.  Their perception and sadness of what is going on in the USA is eye opening.

These people along with many Canadians that I have talked with in the last year or so tell me that they arrange their flights here and home so that they fly OVER the USA and do not have to deal with US Customs in the USA due, often, to their rudeness.  Wow, what a sad commentary.............Often the rudeness is not directed at them, but Mexican people on the same flight that have to go through Customs.  A viewpoint through another person's eyes.

After about an hour of conversation this couple moved on to things they needed to do and then my great and old time friend Angie sat down.  Angie and I have known each other since I moved here.
She came here from Haiti over twenty years ago.  A fantastic artist and lover of life along with all things that have to do with cats.  She even painted a cat on the front of her house!  We caught up with each other's news and then parted ways.

Reluctantly, I had things that I needed to do or I could have sat and watched the panorama of people for hours.  It is NEVER a dull moment in the jardin.  It is one of the beautiful things about Mexico.  Parks are used.  Benches are used and one need never be lonely.  Walk to the jardin and it is like you are in a National Geographic Special. 

I certainly needed that yesterday..............Viva Mexico!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mexico First Choice for Second Home Buyers in USA

There was an interesting article in Mexico News Daily online newspaper this week, which quotes interesting information on real estate in Mexico.

The article is about a survey on a website "Point 2 Homes" which tracked the number of searches by US citizens interested in purchasing housing in Mexico.

With approximately 64,000 searches per month, Puerto Vallarta was first, followed by San Miguel de Allende with close to 7,000 searches per month.  It appears that the fact that there is "an alluring cultural scene" here added to the interest.  Mexico City only had a little over 2,000 searches, surprisingly.

After San Miguel were three more beach towns, Playa de Carmen, Cabo San Lucas and #5 was Cancun.  Beach towns are a whole different vibe from San Miguel.

It might help to explain some of the reasons why SMA is being inundated with people looking at and buying properties rather rapidly these days.

That and all the accolades from various publications over the last three or four years.  It certainly is astounding to us "oldtimers".

I'm meeting people from Hawaii, San Francisco, Boston, South America!  You name it - they are coming.............People with the ability to buy anywhere in the World who are choosing San Miguel.  Interesting, accomplished people who I look forward to getting to know.

My son, who is in real estate with CDR/Christie's, confirms what this article says.  Yes, they are coming and they are buying, whether it is a second home or a primary residence.  Many are doing as I did many years ago and choosing a less stressful and simpler life, South of the Border. 

Having heard from many of you blog readers in the last few weeks who are in town, it occurred to me after reading this article, that perhaps I should give out my son John's contact information.

John has been in the business world for many years.  According to his clients, in words they have shared with me, they say, "He is the most professional, organized, and knowledgeable" person they have ever worked with...........(makes a Mom's heart happy).  Not only that, but John has said to me from time to time that he told this person or that, that the house they thought they wanted was not right for them in one way or the other...........Yes, former clients tell me he was a huge help in directing them to the right house and the right property.

Here is his contact information:  John Eckrote 044 415 124-4755.  His email address is  Contact him if you are interested in seeing real estate in San Miguel.  He's laid back and low key.
Welcome to San Miguel!  I always look forward to meeting readers of the blog when ya'll are in town. Thanks for taking time to comment so often and for staying in touch.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Ambience of Gentility

Hopefully with words, I will be able to express something that happened last week which was exceptional to me.

Recently I contacted the plastic surgeon who had operated on my right arm when it went through the plate glass window.  Impressed with his professionalism and his aura, I wanted to see if he could
refer me to an orthopedic surgeon in the area to read some x-rays and confirm that I did indeed
need knee replacement.

The assistant in the USA to the orthopedic surgeon that is supposed to perform this surgery suggested that I do this now rather then wait until I got to Houston and then be told that "No the knee was not that bad".  Although I knew otherwise.

My expectation was that Dr. Bosco would, by telephone, give me a name and number.  But instead
he invited me to his office to discuss my needs.  My appreciation for his time was expressed with gratitude to him.

In the USA we are used to ten minute appointments.  Twenty if we are lucky.  Not here in Mexico.

Dr. Bosco greeted me and invited me to be seated.  We talked about my knee and impending surgery but then we also talked about a great honor that had been bestowed on him recently.

He was very humble when he told me that he had been inducted into the International Association of Plastic Surgeons.  There are 8000 plastic surgeons in the World in this group.  Quite an honor for Dr. Bosco.  In the ensuing conversation, at my questioning, I found out that he had performed operations all over Europe.  I, of course congratulated him profusely on this honor. 

Jokingly, I told him that it would have been nice the day of my accident to have known of his celebrity as the fear was deep in my bones at the idea of that surgery.  We laughed about that.

Then he changed the subject to my blog.  To say that I was surprised would be an understatement.  I'm always surprised when someone tells me they read the blog but especially this man who is so busy.   He complimented me and said it was apparent that I loved Mexico.  And then he said something that was, to me, the ultimate compliment.  He said, "It is not always the words that you write, but what is between the lines".  Staggering.  A beautiful thing to say.

It is hard, unless you live in this country, to understand the beautiful manners and gentility of the people of Mexico.  The criticism and unkindness toward the people from ignorant people who have never been to Mexico cuts deep.   

This recent experience with Dr. Bosco is one of many that have been my experience in the many years that I have been honored to be in this country.  I could list at least a hundred more but right now I want to savor the kindness and generosity of this man.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, the orthopedic surgeon drove an hour to meet with me to look at the x-rays and to see me walk.  Then he wrote a letter to give to the doctor in Houston.
Cost?  No charge.

Yes, the ambience of gentility is alive and well in Mexico.