Thursday, January 29, 2015

Roof terrace furnishings in San Miguel....delivered

I've been doing a little design consulting with some friends on minor matters such as new dining room chairs to go with the new round glass dining table they recently purchased.  Also, some rearranging of furnishings and adding some accent tables here and there.

Yesterday was a fun day.  I took them to a chair manufacturer to look at the different styles that he makes.
It is a modest retail space.  Right behind the retail space is where he makes the chairs and tables among other things.

Mostly made out of mesquite, the wood is beautiful when finished.  The furniture is very sturdy as well.
The casual style chair that was what I wanted to show to them is not only used by eight restaurants in Houston but was featured in a design magazine about a year ago!  The owner had never seen the color photos from the magazine article until I was able to share them with him yesterday.  He grinned from ear to ear.

Then when I mentioned that I had known either his aunt or grandmother, Ninfa Laurenzo, a very famous woman in Texas who has passed on, he again was grinning.  Needless to say, we established a relationship.  He also remembered and mentioned that I had brought someone else about a year ago to look at furniture and placed a sizable order.  I was surprised that he remembered me.

After we finished looking at the chairs, talking about modifications to the seat size and finishes and pricing, we left to head back to San Miguel.

We passed a vendor with chairs sitting on the side of the road.  Webbed chairs that I have only seen in beach communities on the Pacific Ocean.  We did a turnaround and went back.  I grabbed my camera.

 I had spotted the orange, pink and black webbed chairs.  My friends Ron and Fred were testing the others.
 This amazing hanging chair was there.  It is made with a metal frame that is then covered with bamboo and reed.  Very sturdy chairs as long as you have a very sturdy tree limb.   Here on the side of the road, with the current exchange rate it was about $130USD.  In the USA these chairs are well over $1000USD.
 Then, Tio the owner, asked if I wanted to see how they are made.  I LOVE to see the process.  Down into the yard I went where a young man was wetting this heavy rope to make it pliable in order to weave it on this chair.  That blue container is nothing but water.
                                                     It is going to be beautiful when complete.
 I went back up the stairs to the road, turned around and my friend Fred was trying out the reed chair.  (He'll end up going back and buying one some day.)
 With no delay, I negotiated a price for TWO of the web chairs with the black iron frame.  Not only did I buy them, but Tio offered to deliver them to San Miguel to my house and put them on the roof for me!
                    These are such comfortable chairs because they are pliable.  Love the colors.
                             Cost per chair around $30USD each delivered.  Such a deal.........

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Neighborly Act in Colonia Azteca

Living in a small colonia has its advantages.  Most people have never heard of it and very little traffic comes through it.........usually.  Of course when SAPASMA, the water company or Telmex, the telephone company or whoever decides to trench......all heck breaks loose.

We only have one major access and egress street.  Cuesta de San Jose and Cuahtemoc.  The first coming up the hill and the other going down.

When the trenching about the sewer line started, whenever that was many months ago, everything went to heck in a handbasket.  First Cuahtemoc was trenched.  No nothing.  Dirt flying everywhere while the work was going on.  It was as though someone had knocked over a fire ants nest.

People coming by my house trying, desperately to find a way down the hill were forced to turn around and go back to wherever they came from.

Then when they trenched our street, taking up all the cobblestones and piling all the rubble, rocks, dirt and whatever else next to my house, the amount of dirt and dust in the air was equal to a West Texas sand storm.
I had my lips pressed together many a day trying not to complain.  Telling myself, "Patience".

Of course I wrote recently how when the patience ran out I contact the city, the landlord and told anyone who would listen about the dirt pile that had sat for four months.  Then it was hauled off in six dump trucks finally after I complained.  Probably others were doing the same thing. 

But, in taking the rubble and stuff, many little rocks and cobbles were left.  I got out there one Sunday, a quiet day, with the rake trying to smooth it all out.  After thirty minutes I decided it was absurd and I would never make a dent in the mess.

Then two evenings ago I heard rakes outside the dining room window!  I looked out to see several women and several men along with about four boys, all raking, cleaning, picking up the rocks and cobble stones.
They cleaned it all the way down to the next street!  It took many hours!

From the window I thanked them many times.  Then I took big pitchers of water and plastic cups out to them. I didn't know what else to do to show my appreciation.  There had been a colonia meeting the week
before.  About what I don't know.  Somehow I surmise that maybe no one was happy about the mess and they took action.

Every time I think I might move somewhere where everything is paved and not so "primitive", as one gringo described it, something like this happens to remind me of how blessed I am to live here.

Here are two photos of the cleaned up area..........maybe some day it will get paved with cobbles.  Maybe not.

The big flower market begins this weekend.  I think I'll replace the trees that disappeared from the side of the house and make it look a bit nicer.  Maybe use those cobbles piled up over there to encircle the trees to keep the cars from running over them.  Ahhh yes, Mexico!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Toller Cranston

A serendipitous happening on  Friday and Saturday has given me pause for reflection.  On Friday, while waiting for the group of coffee klatch people to arrive for lunch at Hecho en Mexico, I took photos of the
magnificent light fixture designed by Toller along with a couple of his art works that adorn the walls.

Now, I've eaten in that restaurant so many times and never had the urge to take photos.  I've always enjoyed the art work but still, I never photographed them

When the group arrived, one of the people asked me what "style" was that work.  In my opinion it has a Russian feel and that is what I answered.  Then a conversation ensued about the man, the myth and his home and gardens here in San Miguel.

I regaled the group with a memory that is firmly implanted in my mind's eye.  A birthday celebration for a friend in Toller's studio one night is one of my favorite memories of all my forty years in Mexico.

We met in the main house.  The gardens were lit with candles and lights, as was the house.  After drinks, we wandered down the path to the studio.  Up the stairs we all went.  What awaited us was a surreal and exquisite scene of tiny votive candles and other candles along with the floor being covered in blood red rose petals.  In the midst of this were skirted tables ready to serve an outstandingly delicious dinner with music.

Toller had cleared the space of his easels but pots of brushes and supplies were still to be seen.  After dinner there was dancing.  Rose petals flew!  It truly was a surreal scene that I will never forget.  I wish I had a photograph of that room to share with you.

Other times there were Sunday afternoon soirees of unique, eccentric individuals.  It was so delightful to meet these people and to sit for scintillating conversations.  While helping in the kitchen once, I asked where he had gotten so much roasted chicken.  I laughed when he said, "Why I called Pollo Feliz".   He said I want to be able to talk with the people and not have to be in the kitchen.  Wise man.

The gardens always reminded me of Xilitla and Las Pozas, Edward James' sculpture gardens about six hours from here.  James was a wealthy Englishman.  The English would call both James' gardens and many of Toller's, a folly.  Indeed, always a surprise around the bend.

Toller Cranston in his former life was an acclaimed figure skater.  There are many accolades about him on the internet today from the CBC and others.

Toller Cranston died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 65.  We will never see the likes of this man again on this earth.  He was one of a kind - witty, talented beyond words, and helpful behind the scenes to many.  He walked the streets of San Miguel in a big brimmed hat.  Eccentric, yes - talented, indeed.

Gone but never forgotten.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

If you don't get out of town, you forget!

Making the drive to Celaya yesterday, about 45 minutes and about 1500 ft lower then San Miguel, I was
reminded that I live in an agricultural   area.  A beautiful one.

If you don't get out of town, you forget.  You forget about the oxen being used, still, in the fields.  Or the man and his dog using their horse to pull a wooden cart.  People picking crops of jicama in the fields.

 The old aqueduct has now been refitted with piping that runs along the top of it for irrigating the crops.
This photo was taken heading back to San Miguel just after the exit to Comonfort.  All the different shades of green with different crops is so pleasing to the eye.  Isn't it?
Another view of another field with another crop.  Probably cauliflower or broccoli or cabbage.  I don't know which.

These photos are always taken as I'm driving.  Since I'm driving alone and seldom have someone else driving there are so many things, because of traffic, that I don't get to photograph.

There is a shrine to St. Jude Tadeo at an intersection that always has traffic.  So, I never get a chance, unless of course, I pulled over and parked.  There is always something going on at this shrine.  Yesterday, it was a
young teenager kneeling in front of the shrine praying.  Quite moving.

Except for the irrigated crops that are green, the mountains and countryside is dusty and brown.  Our rainy season ended in September.  I was thinking as I was driving about what a surprise it is after a couple of weeks of the rainy season to see how everything returns to life.  Things you would never imagine would return, do and bloom and grow.  Quite unbelievable.

There were stands along the roads in both directions selling jicama, watermelons, honeydew melons and assorted items.  This obviously is the season to harvest the jicama.  There were bushels and bushels and more bushels yesterday.  Jicama is served as a botana with chili pepper prior to a meal in many restaurants in San Miguel.  To me, without some kind of sauce or pepper or something, it is a tasteless root vegetable.
Obviously it is loved by many or there would not be so many fields of it being  used  both in Mexico and exported to the USA.

As I realized yesterday, there is ALWAYS something to see on the roads of Mexico.  Always.

As I reentered San Miguel and was at a stop sign, I was able to get a photo of a vertical garden that has been added on the front of the Pollo Feliz restaurant.  It is fascinating.  Next time I go by, I'm going to stop and see what is anchoring that on the wall.  Who knows I might end up with a vertical garden somewhere here.  Life is full of surprises and delights, isn't it?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Planning your 2015 Vacations?

Since it was not possible for me to go to the beach for January, I'm looking forward to a week in Chiapas in March.

March in San Miguel is dazzling.  The lavender  jacaranda trees all over town are in bloom.  The monarchs are migrating through San Miguel and stopping to feed on the jacarandas.  It is an exquisite sight. The weather is delightful - in the low to mid 80's with very low humidity. 

This is the jacaranda tree in front of my house.  As you can see, to the right is the roof terrace which is partly shaded by the tree.  It is also a great place to dine or drink coffee and watch the birds and butterflies.

I am offering my house for a week in March while I am traveling.  The dates would be Monday, March 9 through Monday March 16.  The cost for a week would be $600USD with a security deposit of $300USD.

Here are a few photos of the interior.  The bed is a comfortable king size.  In the bedroom is a TV, DVD and stereo.  There is also a TV in the living room. Both provide satellite service.  There is wifi as well.  Maid service is provided once a week.  In addition it is simple to send out laundry as it is picked up and redelivered.  There is a landline phone in the house for local calls as well as Vonage for those who have to stay connected to the USA.  The sectional sofa in the living room opens out into a queen bed as well.  There is one bathroom. The sink and dressing area are outside the bathroom.

                                                                          Dining room
                                                                          Living room
                                                        Living room - Great views
                                                              Roof terrace - More great views
                                                                   An oasis

                                                                     Comfortable bedroom
                                                                      Bath room with shower

If you are interested, please contact me at     This house is seldom offered
for rent.  Hopefully you will want to come and enjoy it and San Miguel.

By the way, looking at there are some great fares now from Houston to Leon (BJX)....some under $300USD round's time..........see you soon.

PS.  The house comes with Velcro, the Guard Cat, at no extra charge...........

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Twenty Four Hours in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

This is often the title of articles written by free-lance writers who have been attracted to San Miguel by public relations firms who are representing hotels, restaurants and resorts in town.

It is almost predictable which hotels and restaurants and shops will be featured in each and every article.

Now for those that do not see each article, it is interesting.  But for us here who do see each and every article because someone sends the newspaper clipping or magazine page, it is redundant.

It is apparent that the people are on a mission.  Often it seems that they ARE only here for twenty-four hours. By their comments it is somewhat apparent.

Let me share with you a typical twenty-four hours in San Miguel de Allende.

It starts in the morning with a horn honking next door.  That is the pickup truck that goes through the colonias selling unpasturized milk to families by the ladle full. The women come out of their house with a small container for the day's supply and then scurry back into their homes.

Next is the door bell with the water man who sells the very large bottles of water for use inside the home for drinking.  Mine lasts me about a week.  Always, a backup bottle is stored under the counter, just in case.

He leaves.  Next is the laundry lady coming to pick up the clothes and assorted items to launder.  Returning the next morning with all clean and folded for a minimal cost.

That's about it for doorbell ringers or horns honking until around 12:30 when the kids get out of school.

Carts of refreshments along with the ice cream truck are set up right outside of my house to supply the kids and parents with homemade ice cream.  The ice cream truck plays music that has the sound, with a horn, of the kind Clarabelle the Clown used to honk.  I'm always glad when the hour is over and the ice cream truck goes somewhere else to drive someone else crazy.

This past Monday a couple of other things happened to make that twenty-four hours somewhat unique.

Upon returning home that afternoon, I discovered that I had lost my cellphone.  Now the cellphone cost me nothing so it wasn't a big deal money wise, but I wanted it back, if possible, because I have had it for a long time.

It occurred to me that the last time I had used it was the previous Friday night to call for a taxi to pick me up at a specific address where I had enjoyed the enchanted evening of music and poetry.

I called the dispatcher of ServiTaxi, gave him the address and approximate time.  He said of course, he has a log and would call the driver, for me to hold on.  In a couple of minutes he came back on the line, said the man had the phone and would return it to me within three hours!  I was amazed even though this company has in the past had drivers return prescription eyeglasses and an expensive camera.

Lo and behold, at about 7PM there was a knock on the gate.  Opening it, there he was, the driver from that Friday night.  Of course I thanked him multiple times and he could tell from my expression how happy I was at the return.  When I attempted to give him a nice tip, he refused.  Aaaah.  He was the same driver who waited for me that Friday night, to make sure that I got inside the gate before he left.  What a thoughtful and polite man.

This has always been my history with this company.  I was referred to them by a local who has lived here since the 50's.  The drivers are always courteous, professional and caring.

Add to that event, earlier in the day the fuse in the breaker box flipped.  I wasn't turning anything on or off.  It was an unusual occurrence and surprising.  But, I flipped it back on and everything came on.........except one thing.  The computer did come back on but, for some reason, the internet did not.  I tried everything. Checked all the connections, turned the computer on and off.  Well, to be truthful, I really don't know much to do without venturing into territories that I know nothing about.  So I didn't.

Hence the need to call the computer man, Rodrigo.  He had not been here in many, many months but we set up for him to come the next day about 4PM.  He arrived at 3:30PM, fixed the modem and some other things as well.

What was so delightful about this interaction was that he remember all kinds of information about my grandchildren and my family that we had shared probably six months ago.  Then he showed me a photograph of his sixteen year old daughter and we talked about her and her education.  Afterwards, I smiled at the fact that always and forever, Mexico is all about relationships.  It is heartwarming for me.

That's a typical twenty-four hours in Mexico.  It is not about shopping, eating in expensive restaurants or drinking on rooftop terraces at sunset, although there is nothing wrong with that.

But when people ask me what I do in Mexico, I say, the same thing that you do in the USA.  But, in fact, in many ways, it is totally different...........more personal............more meaningful.........and certainly unique! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

An Evening of Poetry and Music.........Oh My!

A spontaneous decision by a dear friend to invite a group to her home to hear poetry and music was intriguing, to put it mildly.

In Houston, we, a long time ago, had Sunday soirees where various artists of a creative ilk, would come to share with us their creativity.  It was always the highlight of my week.  It was interesting to experience the flood of emotions on Friday evening, when those memories returned.

Having never heard of the poet or the musicians, I couldn't wait to see and hear the creative endeavors of both. Little did I know what an enchanting evening it would be.

With many people there I did not know, it was also interesting to meet new faces and hear about others lives as we munched on a light repast.

Then Moira Egan was introduced by our hostess.  Moira is a resident of Rome, Italy with her husband Damian Abeni who is an Italian translator among other things.  Moira read from three different published books of hers.  Bar Napkin Sonnets won the 2008 Ledge Chapbook Competition.  Many other awards and degrees from Bryn Mawr,  John Hopkins University and Columbia have given Moira's talent a good background for all the accolades she has and will receive.  Sorry to admit that I cannot remember the name of where she is going in Connecticut as part of a program or fellowship in the next month or so.  Hers is a name that will be heard from over and over in the future, I"m sure.  Her reading definitely set the mood for the evening.  Sadly, I did not get a photo of Moira and her husband.

Then, as a change of pace, Rosa Guadalupe and her son played guitars in the music of Mexico and Cuba, along with Rosa Guadalupe singing in the most beautiful voice.  Most songs were in Spanish with a couple of surprise songs in English as well.  Melodious and memorable.

Being lulled by the music and the readings, when all was over and it was time to leave, it was not easy to brave the cold outside after having felt so warm and comfortable inside.

The marvelous evening remained with me for many hours, even after returning home.  It was a delightful surprise.  Thanks so much to the host and hostess for including me.