Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Reading

It seems a strange title for a blog post since I read all the time, but I have read some exceedingly wonderful
books in the last month or so that I thought would be good to share.

I would love to hear what you are reading as well.

It appears that I'm reading more and more while turning the television off more and more.  Now I only turn it on for about an hour a day to watch the 5:30 news and Jeopardy!  The rest of the stuff is just beyond nausea.

Here's the list of books:

                          Fall of Giants and Winter of the World - Both by Ken Follett.  A trilogy.  I have not read
the third book as yet, but do want to order it to my Kindle.  Follett's novels are a mixture of fiction and hard
and well researched facts.  I can hardly ever put down his writings as they are captivating.  The first book is about Europe leading into WWI and the second book is about WWII including the US participation.  It sounds boring but I can assure you that with his writing you are glued to the pages.

                           My Southern Journey by Rick Bragg -  I admit I'm a sucker for books that talk about traditions and everyday living in different parts of the country.  Some of the writers that I have read every one
of their books are Rick Bragg, Leon Hale, Mary Carr, Garrison Keillor and the audio stories of telecasts
by Paul Harvey and Charles Kuralt.  I should have been a social anthropologist.  Maybe in my next life!

Rick's books make me laugh out loud.  He writes for many publications as well, such as Southern Living.
I don't even know how I found him, perhaps an article in Smithsonian or something, but I've been an avid follower ever since.  The same with the others listed above. 

Mary Carr will be in San Miguel for the Annual Writers Conference in February 2017 and I have already purchased a ticket to hear her speak.

                             The Prisoner of Heaven - by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  Often when I have read an author's first book that is beyond beautiful, I hesitate to read the second as, often, they are not as good.  Zafon's first book, The Shadow of the Wind, is without a doubt, one of my all time favorite books.  It was given to me
by a dear friend.  Stunning would be an understatement.  Lyrical with words would be another understatement.  Zafon is from Spain where his stories are placed.  Exquisite is all I can say.

                             To Dance with the White Dog - by Terry Kay  Never had I heard of this book or this author, but since many of us share the same Kindle account, it was on the list of books.  The title was intriguing and the story was thought provoking and so enjoyable.  Little did I know that this book was made
into either a movie or TV special with Jessica Tandy and her husband, whose name escapes me.  Somehow
I missed it many years ago when that was shown.  I'm glad I just chose this book by the title and spent a lovely day reading it.

There you go, books to enjoy.  At the present there are over 2000 books on my Kindle that have been downloaded or purchased by others in our group.  I think I'm not going to be turning the TV on for a very
long time............or until the election stuff is over at least!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Charming and Unique Casita for Lease - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

One of the most unique things about San Miguel is that one never knows what is behind the gates that face the streets.  It is always a surprise.  In this case, a WOW surprise.

Such is the case with the small casita that I'm going to tell you about.  It definitely has the WOW factor
as you enter the long, flower and tree filled courtyard that leads to the double wooden doors.

The transition from the hurly burly traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, quickly disappears once one is inside the gates.  Located down the street from Bellas Artes and very close to Angela Peralta theater as well as
many exquisite and delicious restaurants, just about everything anyone could want to experience in San Miguel is within a five block radius.

Available as a short term or long term rental, here are a few photos just to give you an idea of the charm of this quaint casita.
 The living area looks out on a lush grassy yard and patio.  A desk and coffee cabinet are available in this area as well as a large closet.  There is also a way to close off the living area from the bedroom area for privacy purposes. 
                    The turquoise cabinet houses a coffee pot and prep area.  There is a complete outdoor kitchen steps from the door of the casita for further food preparation.
In this area are two matrimonial beds and the round table for dining.  A TV is mounted on the wall so one can use the day bed for a great place to watch TV.
 The bathroom is funky and fun with all kinds of tiles both on the walls in the area above and covering the
walls of the shower area.
Outside of the casita is another courtyard area and complete kitchen area.  It's a perfect area to rest out of the sun but enjoy all the plants and flowers and wildlife - birds and butterflies.

 Here are photos of both the seating area along with the table for dining.  Note the beautiful back garden.  There are many orange trees and other fruit trees to enjoy.

As you can see, the kitchen is behind that long wall and the door to the casita is just to the right.

If you are interested in this casita, please contact Linda at lindawalcowich2000@yahoo.com for availability,
pricing, additional photos and any other information that you would want to know.

Every time I'm at this property, I have such a sense of peace.  It's a one of a kind place in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico that allows you to enjoy not only the casita but all that San Miguel has to offer.

IF you do lease it, I'd love to hear from you via this blog.  Thanks so much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Surgery at H+ Hospital - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Life has been so busy that it is difficult to find time to write blog posts!  "What?", you say.  Well it's true, even though I AM retired.

It has been on the Post It note next to the computer to write about the books that I have read this summer.  Also on a Post It note has been to write about musings about the political scene and yet, today, I decided to
write about yesterday.  Yesterday was spent at H+ Hospital which used to be called DeLaFe.  A place that
I was ensconced in a couple of times.

I wanted to see what improvements have occurred since they added an elevator to get to the patient room floor and other things. 

Ah yes, when I stayed there about thirteen or fourteen years ago for the first time, they had to wheel me up a ramp to get to the room.  I was convinced that I might die ..........not from the blood pressure issues but from being in the hospital in Mexico.

Much has changed..........all for the better. 

I was not the person having surgery yesterday.  Rather it was a friend who needed someone to take him, wait while he had surgery and then take him home to his wife who is basically home bound due to age.

Everything went like clockwork.  I was impressed.  I was impressed with the fact that the doctor said he would meet us at a specific place at a certain time to begin the process and he was there.  The surgery was
at the time the doctor had let my friend know in advance it would be and then the doctor came out to the reception room to tell me when it was over and that in two hours my friend would be able to go home!

We arrived at 1PM and left at 6:30PM.  Prep procedures and follow up procedures to remove IVs etc was done in the emergency room.  It is a very stream lined process in Mexico.  My friend paid, with a credit card, in advance, for the hospital costs for the procedure and received his documents at the end before leaving the hospital.  We then went to the pharmacy and got his prescriptions filled.  Then home to recuperate.  Bada bing, bada boom!

I was astonished at how alert he was after surgery.  Usually, well at least I am fairly groggy after something like that.  Not him, which was a relief.

It was encouraging to see the cleanliness, and organization of my friend's day of surgery at H+. The doctor was probably in his mid 30's and very sharp. I'm not sure what his specialty is, but he was very professional and friendly.

While sitting in the reception area for five hours, many old friends came in for one thing or the other.  It was like "Old Home Week".    In addition, I watched how the receptionist answered the phones, took payments for hospital care, gave documents and papers to patients, and made appointments for people.

I must say in the USA that would have required five to ten people to do all of those responsibilities.
It made me smile.

The whole experience was reassuring.  


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kids Say the Darnest Things..........sometimes in Spanish!

I've been lucky enough to have Matilda and Sebastian here twice this week since they are on Summer
Vacation from school.

There are a few things they like to do when they are here. Play with the rackets and ball cocks, the bat and the ball with holes in it, the blocks, Chutes and Ladders a board game, EAT and watch cartoons.  We did all of that and more on Tuesday.

On Tuesday while eating spaghetti and meatballs, ice cream and Rice Krispy Treats, they informed me that I
was the best cook ever!  I replied that I bet they said that to everyone.  They agreed that, "Yes they did."  Made me chuckle!

On Tuesday they learned how to play the card game "Go Fish".  Seb had a hard time, if he did not win or was not first.  Today, Thursday, he was better about that and we had a much better time with playing three
games to see who won the most.  His excitement, was a joy to behold, when he won a game!  

Then, of course, they played their favorite "scam" on Grammy.  The scam goes something like, "Oh we're so hungry!  We haven't eaten since yesterday!  What do you have Grammy that we can eat?"  Then I reply with
the things I know they like.........and the feast begins.  

On Tuesday it was apples, plums, and the lunch mentioned above.  I'm amazed at how much food they can eat.  I know, for sure, that their dad feeds them before they get here.  But, it still is absolutely shocking that these little bitty people can eat so much~!  

Today, they tricked me by saying they had not had breakfast.  So I hastily made french toast and sausage links with big glasses of milk for them to drink.  Again, they ate way more then I did.  When their dad arrived, I began to question whether they had had breakfast.  "Of course" was his response - "cereal and pancakes."  Amazing!  Ha.

Their conversations make me giggle inside.  How true some of the things are that they say.  I was correcting them about sitting at the table and table manners, etc.  I commented that I might not want to take them to a restaurant until their manners were a bit better.  Sebastian, age 6, piped up with, "Oh Grammy, our manners are perfect at a restaurant because we like to go there.  At home we don't have to behave as much."
Out of the mouth of babes, for sure.  I'll file that away for future reference.........

Today when they came I was better prepared for play time.  First we played "Go Fish", then I had gotten out lots of art supplies with lots of paper for them to draw on.  They were thrilled.  It was fun for me to sit and watch how each decided what they would draw and then how they went about their drawings.

Matilda is all about mermaids with makeup, mascara, lipstick etc.  Very colorful.  Sebastian was so detailed and specific as he drew his "Wonderful World" as he called it.  It had a fence, blueberry grass, birds, fountains, butterflies, Scout the dog, a horse and grapevines painted purple, just to name a few of the many things in his drawing.  I was entranced as he came up with each item on his drawing.  Then Matilda surprised me by adding Japanese words to her drawing and tell me what it said! 

She shared with me that one of her best friends at the International School is from Japan.  How cool is that?







From time to time, when they forget I'm around, Matilda and Sebastian speak Spanish.  Or, it is when they don't want me to know what they are talking about..........they talk so fast.  But, what they don't know is that
I do know what they are saying most of the time.  I just love, though, hearing these sweet grandchildren speak Spanish!

The day ended way too quickly.  Here are a few photos from today as they were drawing and then showing their art to their dad when he arrived.

The joy of it all is listening and watching and talking with these precious grandchildren.  What a gift!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Time flies............in Mexico.........when you're living it!

Where the heck does the time go?  I received a couple of emails the other day inquiring as to whether I'm
okay or not as I have not posted in a couple of weeks.........Really?  That long?  Amazing.

All that has been going on is LIFE.  I have had a list of "To do's" and believe it or not, I'm getting caught up
on all those little piddly things that you hate to stop and do.  But, I have persevered.  I tell you about one
episode farther on down this post.  It's funny now, but not so much at the time.

Have had visitors in town.  One couple stayed in the guest house in 2004 and came back to visit.  In the intervening years they moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Quite a difference.  Lovely
people and it was really delightful to see them again.

Another couple from Texas who came down is an interesting story.  I met the woman in a Chico's in Kingwood, Texas where my daughter lives.  As our conversation continued in the store, somehow San Miguel came up.  That was about three years ago.  Now the couple has sold their home and is here looking
for a place to live to see if this is where they want to settle!  Amazing, isn't it?  Also another fascinating couple who have lived all over the world.

In the meantime, since I last wrote, school is on vacation.  Graduation for the sixth graders was last Friday.
Graduation from kinder or primary and secondary is a BIG deal in Mexico, just like the USA.  Believe it
or not, education is important not only to the kids, but to the parents as well.   I watch them daily coming up
the hill or at recess or after school.  A beautiful sight to see.
Photographs of each of the graduates were hanging on the gate of the primary school.  Parents came for the ceremony.  What a joyful day.

Back to my household projects..........and a mini fiasco.

I decided it was time to put up house numbers for the guest house and my house besides the large plaque on the outside wall that says Casa Tranquila.  Last Sunday morning was the day.  Out I went with the two tile
plaques and the gorilla glue. 
I spread the gorilla glue, liberally, on the back of the top one and with my fingers held it as hard against the wall as I could until it would adhere to it.  About two minutes, minimum.  As I was doing this I realized I might have used a bit too much glue as it was coming over the top of the tile and oozing down the wall from
the bottom.  However, I did not want to move my fingers.  It was imperative, I thought to keep on pressing
the tile against the wall...........even if glue was on my fingers.......

It stuck all right, the first tile.  Then since I already had glue on my fingers anyway and as yet they were not stuck together, I went ahead and did the bottom tile.  Again, the two minute press.  By now, my four fingers on the right and the four fingers on the left were stuck to each other!  It was a shocking sight.   BUT the tiles
were still on the wall.  Whew.

A three hour episode ensued of HOT soapy water, and peeling glue off the skin.  More hot soapy water, acetone, which is a nail polish remover and finally an emery board.  All of the dried glue was not off of my hands and wrists by bedtime, but at least my fingers were no longer stuck together.  The following morning with one more soapy soak, I was glue free.

There is still one more tile to adhere to the wall.  Each time I look at it, I wonder if I want to go through that again.  Someone suggested I wear rubber gloves.  Now wouldn't that have looked cute on the outside wall?
Two house numbers and two rubber gloves dangling and stuck to the house numbers?  No, I think the suffering was best.

I have checked daily - the house numbers are STILL on the wall!  I'm so thrilled, ha.

Yesterday I was off to go by the mechanic's shop to see if he was there and to schedule repair time for the 1997 Nissan Pathfinder which is my mode of transportation.  It is up to THREE major things that need to
be repaired.  The "rocking" that happens at 50 mph which has been happening for about a year.  Now, also
the tailpipe and muffler are hanging lower and need to be reattached to whatever it is usually attached to.  Those high topes (speed bumps) play havoc on the underside of cars here.  Luckily my Pathfinder is higher then most cars.  So that needs to be fixed.  Then, last but not least, a cover for my front headlight needs to be purchased and attached.  If you read the blog regularly, you know that last February the light fell out and was secured with electrical tape for the journey back from the beach.  Then duct tape in silver replaced the black electrical tape.  Can you tell I've become a procrastinator in the last few years?

But, here is my philosophy.  Why take a car to be repaired when there is only one thing that needs fixing.  Why not wait til there is enough stuff to make it worthwhile?  Luis, the mechanic, just shakes his head at me
and as he turns away, I do see a little smile.  I'm sure he is thinking "loco gringa".  He's too nice though to ever say that and is always happy to see me.  I asked him the cost of labor to fix all this and he said "Not much" which usually means about 400 to 700 pesos at most.  In US dollars that is about $20 to $35 USD!
Luis has kept this car running so well for all these years.  In fact, after I get all this fixed, I might take off for
the border in the fall.  Haven't made that road trip in a few years........We'll see.

Here is a mural painted on a shop's door across from the mechanic's work space.  In person it is amazing.  About twenty feet high.  Quite extraordinary.  My camera does not do it justice.

Speaking of extraordinary,  I was gifted with this sight this morning as I came upstairs to get my coffee.
I immediately headed back downstairs to get the camera to take a photo to share with you.  FIVE night
blooming cereus blooming all at once!  Never have had that many blooms on one plant all open at the same time.  The fragrance was exquisite as well as the sight.

Life is good.........here in Mexico!





Thursday, July 07, 2016

The "Lady in the Garden" Needs a Trim

While working in the garden early this morning, I noticed that the "Lady in the Garden" needed a trim!
The amount of rain that we have had since the first part of June has caused everything to grow at a rapid rate.  The ferns and mandevilla vines are taking over.  It's a jungle out there - here, in the semi-arid desert.

I grabbed my clippers and now "The Lady" can see again and I can see her.

Given to me about twenty years ago for my birthday, this lady and I have traveled many miles together.  She has always been somewhere in the various gardens that I have created.  Somewhere where I can see her daily.  She presently resides out the wall of windows of my bedroom.  Not only do I see her daily, but every time I walk into that room, she is straight ahead.  Obviously she is a treasure.

She was created for me by a dear friend and extremely talented concrete artist, Hayes Parker.

Unfortunately, since moving to Mexico, I have lost touch with him.  We were friends starting in the 70's when I used to sell in craft shows in the USA.  I remember, particularly, a show at Westbury Square in Houston where the temps soared to the 100's.  It was my decision to never to do a show outside again.  I never did.

Hayes did not either, I don't think.  Once I helped him in a show at the Astrodome for the preview party for the Nutcracker Market benefiting the Houston Ballet.  I have never, before or since, seen such a frenzy of women buying as fast as they could write a check or get their money out.  Exhausted that night after the show, all I could do was limp on sore feet to my car and dread the fact that I had a few more days to help in the booth.  It was absolutely a mind blowing experience - another thing I never did again.  Ha.

Hayes' work was always distinctive, beautifully made and a treasure.  In my house are many other pieces that he gave me over the years.  I sure wish I knew where he is and how he is.

Thankfully he gave me "The Lady" so many years ago.  I wonder if he has any idea how much joy and beauty she has brought to my life for all of these years.  Life is good.


Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy Fourth of July from San Miguel de Allende

There is a group of us who meet every Monday morning at Don Tomas, adjacent to the jardin, for coffee, conversation and silliness.

We are a group of eleven.  However, the size expands and contracts depending on the weather, the time of year, and visitors from the USA who have joined us in the past.

When a holiday comes up it is common for the number to expand, which was what happened today.

I had purchased eleven Fourth of July headbands for our eleven "members" - a term I use very loosely, because there is no membership.  Rather, these are the "regulars" who are here mostly each week.

At Christmas I buy headbands with Santa Claus, snowflakes and whatever else will make us all look silly, have fun and giggle.

Today was the first time that we have had Fourth of July headbands with stars and glitter.  The reaction from
people walking by was priceless.  Truly.

Many citizens of Mexico came up and wished us "Happy Birthday"!  Some came up and said "Happy Fourth of July".  So many asked if they could take photos of us, that we kiddingly repeated, "Yes for pesos" and we all laughed.

Tourists came up with their cell phones and wanted to photograph us to send photos back to the USA to
friends and family.  MANY great conversations ensued.  I met a girl who recently graduated from the University of North Carolina.  In addition, a couple from Orange County California stopped by and we
talked for quite a while.  She is an art historian and teaches at a university.  Her husband is an attorney
in California.  I would say they were in their mid 30's and trying to figure out how they could come to San Miguel with their two children, live and make a living.  Delightful.

None of this would have happened if we had not had the silly headbands on.   Here are a few photos to bring a smile to your face.




Needless to say, since there were 16 of us, it is obvious that I could never get the group to all look one way and smile to get a group photo today.

Happy Fourth of July to all of you from all of us in San Miguel.  And, "No""to the question from someone on the street which was, "Are there fireworks tonight?"