Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Oscar, Escobedo and Merida

All of a sudden the pace of life in San Miguel is picking back up.  For the next three weeks, the
calendar is full of all kinds of interesting and fun things that I will be doing.

Friends are in town who I have not seen in quite a while along with new friends, who are blog
readers and are visiting SMA who I look forward to meeting.

A few weeks ago, at lunch on a Friday, it was with three people who are blog readers.  Two have
been reading it since I started in 2006!  It is a surreal feeling to be with people who know way more
about me then I know about them.  But, it is such great fun to meet and get to know them.  The couple who have been reading the blog since 2006 have moved to SMA with ONE suitcase and are
planning on being here permanently.  Right now they are looking for a house.  A delightful couple! The third person has been a friend here in SMA for many years but she had initially been a blog reader too.  As a part time resident, she spends time here and in Austin.

I tried last weekend to watch the Oscar nominated movies.  My "once a year" time to watch movies that I have gotten from Juan's.  Left to watch are Favorites and At Eternity's Gate with William Defoe.

Of the movies I have watched and there were a few I chose not to watch - BlackKKlansman, Vice or Black Panther, I have to say I enjoyed The Green Book the most.  I even watched a movie that was not nominated but which I thought I wanted to see with Robert Redford. A true story of a bank robber.  Sissy Spacek was in the movie as well. It was okay but sure glad I did not pay a lot to see it at the movies. 

Then a trip to Comonfort, a town about 20 miles from here and then on to Escobedo, a village where the French cashmere factory is located was on the agenda.  There is a great restaurant on a hillside with a cantera shop next to it.  I had not been there in at least fifteen or sixteen years, but the food and the views are still lovely.  Here's a couple of photos while sitting on the terrace for lunch.

It was fun to get out with friends into the countryside.  Plus, while in Comonfort, I purchased two big baskets to use for some plants in the house.  Comonfort is THE place to go for some of the same things that you can find in SMA but for a lot less pesos.  A four hour excursion reset my mind to want to do more excursions out of town...........soon.

Then at the beginning of this week, a friend who I met through blogging, brought forty people from Merida to San Miguel on a tour.  My friend and her husband own a tourism school in Merida.  Very interesting people.  Her idea to have a "cultural" exchange was fun.  It was set up to have a couple of speakers, with my son included to discuss real estate, and a couple of speakers from Merida.  Casual and interesting.  Joanna had refreshments set up for everyone at the Aldea Hotel and the room was full. 

Two people who read the blog came up to introduced themselves to me.  One had even tried in the past to rent the guest house, but, at the time it was occupied.  It was fun to meet all the people and to have some very interesting conversations.

Maia Williams, from SMA and very involved in the Literary Conference and the group in San Miguel who is involved in writing and poetry spoke. John spoke and the two people from the Merida area.

My favorite photos to share with ya'll, however, are the two below.  On the way to the Aldea Hotel, with my son driving, in front of us was a truckload of boys.  I noticed them because all of their shirts said "Fly Emirates"!  My first thought was, "Do they know what that means?" And, since I have never seen an Emirates plane in Mexico, it was a curious sight.  So, I decided to take a photo since I was a passenger and not driving.

The boy in the middle immediately noticed I was taking the photo.  I waved to him and he gave me the peace sign.  He was smiling and then his friends looked up and some of them smiled as well.  They got to their destination before we did.  As they got out of the back of the truck, all turned and waved to us! 

I LOVE living in Mexico!  You just never know what kind of sights or adventures are going to happen............

Another trip out of town is planned for tomorrow.  Woohoo, life is ALWAYS an adventure!

Friday, February 01, 2019

The "Flowering" Season Begins in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

We all wait with baited breath for the first part of February to arrive.  We have survived what we consider to be "winter weather" - temps in the 30's at night but 60's and 70's during the day.

February is when things begin to warm up.  The fields around town are planted and most of all,
but not limited to, Candelaria starts on February 2nd.
 Candelaria  or Candlemas is the day of the blessing of the candles and the seeds.  It also celebrates the forty days after the birth of Jesus, when Mary took him to the temple for purification and presentation.  It dates back to the fourth century.  It is also linked to the lunar-based Aztec New Year.
 Juarez Park is covered in flowers and plants of all sizes and descriptions.  Vendors from all over Mexico come for the ten day event.
The blessing of the seeds is to affirm the coming spring, the new life and the first crop planting of the year.
The school children come one day during the celebration.  This little boy bought a very small cactus and was so proud of it that he showed it to me.  I could not resist this photo.
For as far as the eye can see, the paths on both sides are full of all kinds of plants, just waiting to be taken home.

This year my intention is to buy roses, butterfly lilies, lavender and sage to fill the empty flower beds on the property.  That is my "intention", we'll see how much of that is fulfilled.  Oh, and possibly an orchid or two........

More then anything, I just want to go, walk among the flowers and just absorb the additional beauty brought to San Miguel. 

There will be different music events on the plaza in Parque Juarez each evening around 7PM. 

If you are here in San Miguel, don't miss it.  It is a free, fun and beautiful event to lift your spirit and warm your heart........

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Book List for 2019

Gravitating to a new Book List is a joy to experience.  It is about this time of the year when writers publish the list of the coming "good books" or they talk about the ones from the previous year.

Subscribing to the BBC Book List along with the Washington Post has shown me many interesting
tomes, but, seldom are those books ordered.


                                                One of my favorite places to sit and read!

Luckily I have a Kindle with over 2400 books on it.  The majority purchased by others who are on the same subscription as I.  There is a treasure trove among all those books.  Yesterday it was gone through by me to upload about twenty books from the 334 pages of books that had eight books to a page!  Looking forward to reading each and every one of them. On my limited income, having all these books at my disposal for free is a true gift!

In the meantime, however, here is the list of my favorite books from this past year.  I read many more then this, but, these were the highlights.

The first was Pachinko - I did not buy this book, but rather, it was left for me by a house guest who had lived in Japan.  It is a fascinating book about South Korea and some of North Korea.  Fascinating.

About ten years ago a dear friend introduced me to Shadow of the Wind and the author Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a Spaniard.  Never had I read a book where the phraseology was like "flowing gold".  Often the words stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to read and reread them and marvel at their beauty.
At the time it was not apparent that it would become a trilogy but it was the first of three books including the next book, The Prisoner of Heaven and finally The Labyrinth of the Spirits.  The last book was finished, all 800+ pages last week.   It takes place in Barcelona and the cast of characters are quite memorable, to put it mildly.

My third most favorite book was Lost in Shangri La: A True Story by Mitchell Zuckoff.  It is set in World War II.  Fascinating and true.

The trilogy by Ken Follett with the finale being Winter of the World was, as always, brilliantly written with the most amazing research in the writing.  Never have I read anything by Follett that was not incredible.

When I find an author that I like, it seems to happen that I read everything they write.  That is the case with Erik Larson who I first discovered when he wrote about the Great Storm in Galveston and then about the Worlds Fair in Chicago.  This year I read In the Garden of Beasts.  Two other authors who write beautifully are Ann Patchett and Tan Twan Eng.  Two of Tan's books, The Gifts of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists truly transported me to the country where he was writing these books.  Incredibly beautiful.

It is hard to pick favorites or to supply a short list - all were joys to read. 

Here is a further list of favorites:     IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES, Julia Alvarez;
A COLUMN OF FIRE, Ken Follett; THE JOURNEYER, Gary Jennings: BITTERSWEET, Colleen McCullough (her final book); A RIVER IN DARKNESS Nasaji Shikawa (about his escape from North Korea);  THE SECRET LIFE OF OBJECTS, Dawn Raffel; ELEVEN MINUTES, Paulo Coelho; ROADWALKERS (VOICES OF THE SOUTH),  Shirley Ann Grau; and last, but not least, two books by Ann Patchett, THE MAGICIAN'S ASSISTANT AND THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS.

In the above books, I learned about life in North and South Korea. I learned about the indigenous people of Papau New Guinea in the 1940's before "white men" had ever been seen.  In addition two of the books I read were about the times of Marco Polo and his journeys.  Wow. Another about times in the Dominican Republic in precarious times. 

The joy of reading, for me,  is expanding horizons and learning things about people or places or events that one has never known before.  Such a wonderful escape, often from reality.

Read on...........

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Shadows on the Wall

When I first moved into this house four months ago, the white walls outside on the property were
very disconcerting.  They stuck out like a sore thumb.

Then I realized that I have never lived anywhere where the walls outside, or inside for that matter,
were white.  Being a colorful person, things were soft sage green or blue or ecru or whatever.
Not white.

Since I sit in the morning to meditate facing out toward the front of the property, it was difficult
to ignore.  Then, one morning, I noticed shadows on the wall.  As the sun comes up from the East
and I am sitting facing West, the shadows are always altering as they filter through the majestic Norfolk pine and the flamboyant tree.  Aha, I said to is not just white!

It has been so interesting turning something that was an aggravation into something to look forward to on a daily basis.  No two days are alike if I look closely. 

This Norfolk pine not only provides shadows, it provides some kind of food to a myriad of hummingbirds.  I've noticed them skimming up and down the branches.  They almost stop at each branch but do not alight. I cannot find anything blooming on the tree so it must be tiny bugs that they
are eating.  Anyone who thinks that hummingbirds only go to red flowers have not seen all these hummingbirds because they go to all kinds of colored flowers and seed pods as well!

These are some of the many branches of the pine that provides housing for all kinds of birds - mostly sparrow and small, unknown and indistinguishable birds.

This morning as I was sitting in my arm chair in the bedroom watching CBS Sunday Morning, my friend, the dove who likes music and TV, came and sat on this branch for quite a while.  He moved around, puffed up and put on quite a show.
This is the glorious view from the window in the bedroom as I sit in that armchair.  The pine, a humongous eucalyptus tree that is across the street and the flamboyant.  Right near the window is a
tree with has circular leaves.  It is leafless right now, but so beautiful when it does have leaves.

In addition to the aforementioned meal items of the hummingbirds, they and other birds have been swooping down to get the fuzzy stuff out of these seed pods, presumably to use in their nests.  They do not take teeny tiny tufts but bunches that are as big as they are.  As they fly, I wonder how they can balance all of that.

ALL this fun and enjoyment, without leaving home!  It is truly amazing.  Nature is a wonder, always.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Japanese Treasure Residing Here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!

During the move, as I sorted out fabrics and textiles to sell or to bring with me,  one item that had
resided in a garment bag all my life was rediscovered.

It was given to me around 1945 by my Uncle Bud when he returned from Japan after World War II.
I know none of the details of how it was acquired or where or anything, but it is something that I was
always told to take care of as it was/is a treasure. The tiny label says Made in Japan and the size 45.

Since it has not been hung or anything in daylight, it appears the colors are as vibrant and colorful as though it is brand new.

To me, the mystery of whether it was a kimono or an undergarment, worn under a big beautiful kimono or just what was its purpose, has always been a puzzle.  Then one night last week I had an "aha" moment.  I remembered that a woman who had grown up in Japan had rented my house last Spring.  Although she arrived after I had left for Texas, we have been Facebook friends ever since.

Immediately an email was sent to her asking if it was a kimono and any other information she could give me about it.  She confirmed that it is a child's kimono!  That the symbolism of the cranes and flowers indicated that it is a spring kimono.  Well, the thrill of this bit of information was amazing! after SEVENTY years of not knowing.

Another email was sent to ask if it could be cleaned and did she think it was handpainted as the surface of the colors seem to stand out.  Handwashing was suggested and that it was probably hand loomed.  Afraid  to handwash it for fear of damaging it, it is just going to be enjoyed just as it is.

BUT it is going to be out somewhere, where for the rest of my life, it can be enjoyed rather then being hidden away to not give joy in its beauty. My photographs do not do it justice.

Ironically, in the last six months I became aware from a facilitator that works with Immigration, that many Japanese are moving to our area.  There is a young girl who attends school with Mati and Mati has been learning Japanese and also how to write it.  Who knows what path this kimono could lead me down, if I am able to share this with some of these new arrivals?

 Something this old might open a whole new world for me.  Isn't life just a GRAND adventure that from one day to the next one never knows where it will lead us?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lest You Worry - Musings from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

My post yesterday was a bit curmudgeonly. Wow, that IS a word.  No line from the spelling guru that it is not!

So, I thought that you might wonder and be concerned about the surroundings that I am destined to stay in til this gas shortage has been resolved!

I sit among these flowers and gardens in either the chair at the little round table where I frequently eat my lunch in the warm sunshine...........  

Or I sit in these comfortable chairs with cushions and arm rests, again in the sunshine to read.  In addition, there are two comfortable chaises at the opposite end of this long covered porch.

While reading I watch the groups of white, yellow and monarch colored butterflies flitting among the various flowers.  I've noticed that butterflies do not fly in a straight line.  In fact they sometimes look like they have no idea where they are going!

The hummingbirds come, literally within two feet of me sometimes.  The sound that they make can be heard long before they arrive.  Usually there are six or seven zipping around as well.
Then there are the doves, who coo and carry on along with some brilliantly bright yellow birds that I have not been able to identify.  Exquisitely colorful.  One of the doves, anytime I play classical music in the living room with the door open, goes over, plops down and sits as if at a concert.  It has sat there for almost a half hour from time to time.  Do you suppose in a previous life, he or she was a musician or conductor or what?
The sound of the breeze through the bamboo leaves coupled with the wind chime hanging there, caps off the serene and soulful ambiance of this lovely place that I have to immerse myself on these days of staying home.  Not bad............not bad at all!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Ruminations on 2019

Many years ago I found some gift wrapping paper that said "Same sh--, different year".  At the time I
thought it was hilarious and bought it.  Others found it humorous as well.

Well, 2019 is fitting that bill.  It had no sooner started then the "Fuel crisis" began.  Although at the time, we all thought it would be a short lived few days.  Au contrare!  It is worse then ever now.

It wouldn't have mattered to me in past years, as I could walk down the hill to buy or do anything I needed to do.  However, now, living on the edges of San Miguel, it is a big deal - especially when I
have not had gas in ten days!  At least not enough to go somewhere and get back as well........

I know, I know, never let it get below half a tank.  That has been my mantra for all my life, but somehow with the holidays and all I goofed!  Big time.  You can rest assured, once I do get gas
it will never happen again.

Either the many stations are not open at all or the lines, I'm not exaggerating, are miles long.  Miles.

Yesterday I had made plans to go to lunch with a friend who has just returned to San Miguel.  The restaurant is on the other side of town from where I now live, but right near where I used to live.  But, since I would need transportation, I called a private driver that I had used previously.  In fact, I called him the day before to confirm he had fuel, that he would be able to pick me and my friend up at her house and all would be well.

Well, he not only never showed up, but he had turned his phone off.  Rather then get upset, I realize that he somehow had no gas and did not want to disappoint me.  I waited twenty minutes, then called a taxi service, who, thankfully, was answering their phone and they had a driver here in less then ten minutes.

In no way could I have imagined the lines of cars attempting to get gas as I saw as we went to pick up my friend.  Mobil, Shell and Total now have stations in San Miguel.  The only problem with that is they get their fuel from Pemex, with the exception of Mobil who has their "own source".  So, the line was from the Mobil station all the way to the ring road around town called the libramento.  In fact the line went all the way up the hill of the libramento.  It was unbelievable.

Needless to say, the "crisis" is growing!  Some people are trying to go out in the middle of the night in hopes of avoiding the lines.  I considered it and then decided, with my luck, it was not a good idea to be out on the road at 4AM!  Call it wisdom or caution, whatever, I'll wait. My plan is to continue to hunker down and be patient.

If you want to read an in depth article by Rolling Stone magazine, here is the site address.   The problem is that there is not an alternate plan since the new President of Mexico has shut off the fuel lines with his original intention of using tanker trucks and then discovering that there were not enough tanker trucks or police to escort the trucks!

Yes, I am getting "cabin fever" as since the 4th of January I have been out a total of four hours not counting yesterday and then only for necessities at the grocery store.  Yikes!

The answer for me is to just read a new good book, which I intend to start today.  Nothing makes the time pass faster.

The good news is there are VERY few cars on the streets of San Miguel, with the exception of those in line for gas.  

Life and life in Mexico is ALWAYS an adventure!  VIVA MEXICO!