Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jennifer's Garden - Then and Now

Gardening has always been a cathartic exercise for me.  It brings peace and tranquility for hours at a time.  The world just fades away.

Even though I can no longer get down on my knees to dig and move in the garden, I can still move plants and plan the space.  Javier, the gardener is my helper in these endeavors now.  I move the plants to exactly where I want them and he digs the holes and plants them for me.

But, back in 2004, shortly after my daughter passed on, one of the main gardens on the property became an obsession and filling it with the flowers that my daughter had loved became the aim of the project.  There was no Javier back then.  Just me, the dirt and the plants for hours on end.

Planted at that time were butterfly lilies, azaleas and various annuals to add a bit of color.  The butterfly lilies
bloomed a lot.  Not so much though, did the rest of the plants.  The rather small at the time aloevera bloom
in October with huge spikes that the butterflies love.  They have grown and bloomed without any help from me or anyone else.

Everything had doubled and tripled in size.  It was time to prune, move and redesign.  It helps for me to do this during the rainy season.  The dirt is easier to dislodge and the new plants have a better chance of settling in with plenty of rain before the dry season is upon us.

Here's a "before" photo of the garden two weeks ago.  Okay, but no symmetry or organization.  Still it was a place that I liked to sit to drink coffee and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds swooping and darting, especially in the early morning.
Everything was removed except for the monster aloeveras in the back!  But they form a nice backdrop and
a divider for another private garden behind them!

All the butterfly lilies were grouped together in front of the aloes.  The azaleas that were kind of lost in all the foliage are now grouped together at each end of the lilies. Plants that bloom only once a year with light purple blooms now surround the little boy statue.  Everything in the garden now is in shades of white, lavender and purple.  A nod to Jennifer's favorite colors.  Previously it was all in whites.

Here is the redesigned garden.



Interestingly, in the past the shape of the stone retaining wall was not much of a feature.  Now it really stands out as do all the different flowers.  (You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see more detail, if you wish)

Now, this has just been planted and it will fill in in a couple of months so the dirt is not so noticeable.  But I love the mixture of the hydrangeas, daisies, lavender and pansies.  I don't know what the more intense purple plant is in the back near the hydrangeas, but I do like the texture and color of it.

Of course, not only is the little boy statuary in the flower bed.  He's been part of my life for about twenty-five years, but also a few cantera angels are peeking out from here and there.

Since completion last week, I cannot begin to tell you how much joy and happiness this little change of plants and flowers has brought to me and others.  Just to give you an idea of how inexpensive plants are in Mexico, all the purchases did not even add up to $50USD. Close to fifty new plants were planted.

It truly is the little things in life that bring much joy!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Zandunga...............on the Road to Jalpa

A week ago, on Sunday, an invitation was extended to me to join a dear friend and guests from Savanna,
Georgia to go to Zandunga to hear Gil Guiterrez and the Media Luna group. 

Eagerly, the invitation was accepted and off we went.  The setup is food, drinks, great seating and superb music.  Gil used to play and tour with Doc Severinsen.  So, its top notch.  His career has been long standing
in and around San Miguel in addition to his touring in the USA.

Everyone who had been there had said it was lovely, enjoyable and the food was delicious.  They were right on every count.

Gil's wife, Rebecca is in charge of the logistics.  Such as having all the seating comfortably placed. Having the bar and food lines set up so there is no back up or lines.  The restrooms were spotlessly clean and as I watched Rebecca, nothing escaped her eagle eye.

We arrived just as the gates opened.  We found some comfortable butterfly chairs where we could people watch and have a direct sight line to the band.  It was astounding to watch the number of people who came.
Equally interesting was that with all those people, it never felt crowded.

 I usually go to events with no expectations.  This venue exceeded any expectations that I could have had for the afternoon.
The road to Jalpa has a slight incline.  We were at about 7200 ft elevation as we sat under the rooftop and looked out at the lush green mountains and the stormy sky.

 The place, since opening in the last year, has been expanded to double its original size.  Plenty of room to move around and visit all the friends that one sees there.
 Our view from the comfort of our butterfly chairs!  Perfect.
 Looking through the shade cloth as one listened to the music, all one could see was lush green country side and the outline of mountains.  What a setting!
 The music was great for dancing with many people jumping up spontaneously and dancing - whether they had a partner or not.

Sorry I did not get a photo of the food.  It was tacos pastor, quesadillas, barbecued chicken wings, chips, salsa and all kinds of additions for the food.  YUM - E.

If you're in the San Miguel area, go.  Google Zandunga, Gil's place and all the information to make arrangements for tickets etc. is on the internet.

Happy Sunday Afternoon.   By the way, thank you AGAIN to my dear friend Nora, for including me in that
delightful afternoon of friendship, music, food and nature.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sweet, Sweet Sue - My "Soulmate" Sister.........

It started the night we met, back in 1998 or 1999 here in San Miguel.  It was a fluke that I was at a dinner for "Newcomers" as I did not even live in San Miguel yet.  I was later to discover that neither did Sue and
Vandy Anderson!  It was the Universe putting us together.

The first conversation was my asking Sue if we had met previously.  I kept wracking my brain as to where it could have been...........we never did, over the next seventeen or eighteen years, figure out if we had ever met. We knew that night, we later discovered, that we were going to be friends forever.

At that memorable dinner, we discovered our connection to be Galveston, where my Dad had had a house since the early 60's until he passed in 1976; Evergreen Helicopters or any kinds of aircraft; San Miguel; and the list went on and on.  We were intrigued with each others backgrounds and lives.

Subsequently, in 2000, I found a property in San Miguel and moved here.   But, also, I spent much time in Houston with my family and Galveston with Sue and Vandy.  I soon learned that the idea of me staying anywhere but with them was not a good idea, according to them. 

In fact, in reflecting back over the last week, I realized that once I stayed with them for over a month!  Every time I would say, "I think I better get going", they would say "No, stay another week!" and I would.......

Sue and I loved walking the beach, eating seafood, talking, laughing and just being "soul sisters".  She
would call me or I would call her  a couple of times a month, if not more.

The question from Sue always was, "When are you coming up?  Your room is ready" or my question was,
"When will you be here?"  Just like family.  Vandy would get on the phone and say, "I'll be waiting on the curb".  They gave me my own key, which I lost.  Then another and another....til they told me the next time they were going to collect a deposit!  I never lost the last key - I still have it.

When Ike hit Galveston, Sue and Vandy were here in San Miguel.  We were out listening to Doc Severinsen the night it hit and then beginning the next morning, my house and computer became "Command Central" for checking on, talking to and keeping track of all their friends, family, ports, etc etc etc.

Sue and I went to the Tuesday traveling market called the Tianguis to buy used clothes for her to take back in the car to wear while they did whatever it was they were going to have to do to restore their house.  Little did we know how bad it was going to be...........she said she wore and wore those clothes til they were rags.

That was when I spent the month with them up there trying to help in whatever way I could......which, it turned out wasn't much as it was just a disaster of epic proportions.  Having gone through Alicia in 1983 and a few other storms while living in Baton Rouge and in Nassau Bay, I thought I could be of help, but Ike was
bigger then anything I could imagine.

After the recovery was over and Sue and Vandy could again travel, they headed, of course, back to San Miguel.  They loved being here so much.  To sit on the bench in the jardin, see many old friends, have lunch with "the gang" or just "be" which is what San Miguel is all about.

Here are a couple of photos of them in the jardin or at lunch at Gayle's or wherever.
                                   Sue, Bill Taylor, Vandy and Bob Scott - two of the members of the "SMA Gang"

Then I would be driving up a couple of times a year.  Sue would call and want to know what day I was leaving.  I would tell her and then as I was driving, about four hours into the trip, my cell phone would ring and it would be Sue saying, "Have you gotten to Matehuala yet?"  That's the midway point between  San Miguel and the border.   We would talk and laugh and she would ALWAYS say, "Call me as soon as you cross the border".  Which I always did.

Then, in reverse, while I was in Galveston/Houston, the fun would begin.  Some of my most favorite memories are when the three of us would get in the car to go somewhere, but before the time was over, we had traveled in the "Mafiamobile" to all the nooks and crannies of Galveston with Sue and Vandy regaling me with all kinds of tidbits of humorous or horrendous stories.  Some I could never repeat again. 

It was fun whether we went to Sonny's for hot dogs or the Artillery Club for drinks and dinner.  Anywhere was fun with them and ALWAYS an adventure.  Sue always wanted to go to Shrimp and Stuff or to one of Tillman's restaurants where she could have a bacon wrapped thing that I don't remember what was inside.
We could spend hours talking about almost nothing but still have fun, always.

It was fun to go to the charity events as well, the Plank Owner's event, the Seaman's center event and the event I called the Eye Ball, which was actually when Vandy was named the Man of Vision or something like that at Moody Gardens.  I liked to walk several steps behind them and watch all the people come over to greet both of them with such affection and admiration.  Always, always, so many people.  It made my heart happy.
                                                  In Kemah at the Flying Dutchman for lunch.
One of the funniest things that ever happened, at least I think it is hilarious, is when we would get in the car.
For one thing, Sue and I are both Aries.  She would start telling Vandy where to turn and I would chime in with where to park or some silly comment and he would go bonkers.  We did it just to be funny.  Vandy always took the bait.

One of our last sorties was one evening, we three jumped in the car and went on a road that I had only been on a few times in the past.  We were heading West.  No other cars and no other people were seen.  We stopped at the end of the road and as we did, I said to Vandy and Sue, "Well I wonder who is going to show up who knows ya'll".  Of course I was joking and so help me, right about then, a man rode up on a bicycle, took off his helmet and said "Hi Sue and Vandy.  What are you doing out here?"  The three of us started laughing hysterically.  It was the man who owns the The Spot.  We had to fill him in on the joke.  What a great, fun memory that I'll always cherish of two of the absolutely greatest, kindest, zany people that I have ever known.
                                                              Vandy at the end of the road
                                                                The sunset we saw that night.

How do I end this post?  I don't know.  I've pondered writing this for a week.  It seems so inadequate to attempt to describe seventeen or eighteen years in so few words.  It's not possible.  It's also very surreal
to me that this is the end, period.  No more silly phone conversations or road trips or dinners.  How can that be?  There is a huge hole in my heart that will take years to heal, if ever. 

I KNOW that all their friends in Galveston and all over the world feel the same way.  If ever, any of you who are reading this and are coming to San Miguel and want to get together, please, please do get in touch with me here on this blog by commenting or at babsofsanmiguel@yahoo.com.  I'd love to meet each and every one of you.

                                                     Vaya con dios Sue and Vandy.





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!