Sunday, February 23, 2020

American Dirt - A must read!

There are all kinds of controversy about this novel of fiction.  Then, when Oprah named it her choice to read with her Book Club, all heck broke loose.  After reading many of the comments, it seemed to
me that the only way I would know if the comments were valid was to read it.

American Dirt was ordered at the same time that I ordered "Stable Genius".  No two books could
be farther apart in subject matter.  The first was about a narcissistic person who has put our country in jeopardy.

The second book, American Dirt is about the American dream and people's hope and desire along with their courage and bravery to get to the USA. To get away from violence and certain death.

I must admit at the beginning it was difficult to read due to the violence but determination made me continue.  So glad that I did.  The research done to write this book was evident to those of us who have lived and traveled in Mexico for a long period of time.  For those of us who have seen the people riding the trains.  For those of us who care and work to help the immigrants attempting to get to the USA for a better life.

It was difficult to read it as a book of fiction because so much of it was factual.  The development of the people in this book was touching and scary and, at some times, hard to believe.  But, many of us have known these people!

If everyone in the USA read this book, hopefully there would be less resentment and anger and way more understanding of the asylum seekers.

Reading it, it is apparent to me that I would never, could never be brave enough to do what the mother of Luca did to save him.

Back to the criticism of the fact that this author is not bi-racial and therefore should not have written this book.  To me, that is an absurd criticism.  So, then, why don't those critics write this story?
Where was the criticsm when Theroux wrote "Plain of Snakes" which, to me, was so critical of Mexico and not helpful in any way to the understanding of the people.

There are so many books out there written by others who definitely did not do the research that was done for this book.  I read them, scoff, and do finish them in hopes that there is some redemption somewhere in the book.  Sadly, usually, there is not.

Read this book, please.  Now I understand why Oprah put it on her reading list.  Lots of people will get an education of the harrowing story of bravery, empathy, and courage of the people from South of the Border.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

AND a Twelfth Birthday! Happy Birthday Mati............

Indeed, that little Gypsy kid you used to read about when she was a baby is now becoming a young lady.  A very accomplished one at that! 

                                                    Mati in Fort Collins, Colorado

Matilda is accomplished as a highwire trapeze person and also using the ribbons for all kinds of
aerial activities.  In addition to that, back on the ground, she is taking dressage lessons while loving
each and every animal that she comes into contact with these days. 

From horses to cats to anything or anyone who needs a helping hand, she has a BIG heart!  As you
can tell I'm so proud of the person she has become and will continue to be.

Ahh the photos preserve the memories.  This is one of our many Easter egg hunts, early on.

                                                Loving to dress up in Grammy's stuff! 

                                          Always having fun with her Daddy and brother Seb!

                                           So, so glad they have each other to grow up with!

Such a precious gift to have the ability now that I'm no longer working to witness their growing up.

                                           ALWAYS something to do with their Dad!

                                A fun time on Mati's birthday five years ago at Pollo Feliz!


                                    Growing up and getting her hair trimmed at Jose Marin's

      And, then it seemed they started to change and to be, not little ones, but little people.  Oh my!        This was Christmas cookie baking time.

                                                 Riding at the ranch in Estado de Mexico.

                                                         And at the dressage center!

                                                  Mati and Seb dressed up for Halloween.

                                                   The joy of this sweet granddaughter is
                                                   immeasureable.  Happy Birthday Mati!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Surprising Thirteenth Anniversary

I humbly write this post today.  It is one of more then 1700 posts that have been written in the last thirteen years.  No way would it ever have occurred to me that what started out as a way to let my
family know about my life in Mexico, would turn into something that expanded my life in a very
exciting and enriching way.

Many of you know that my dear friend Billie Mercer, a fellow blogger for many years, encouraged me to start this actually back in 2006.  I wrote one post on 9/11/06 but was intimidated by what I thought was a lack of technical knowledge on how to post photos etc.  But Billie said to keep it up and how wonderful that she did.

From that encouragement, not only have there been over 1700 posts, but there have now been one million readers!  I realize that to many important bloggers that is not that much but to me it is astounding. 

It started out slow with me expecting maybe twenty family members to read.  To this day I don't know if they do or not.  But, what happened, was people from all over the world started reading.  I presume it initially was because they were interested in San Miguel de Allende, although that is not in the name of the blog, so who knows?  I only guess.

Recently when I realized the above stats, a bit of research took place about how did the numbers increase?  When were they at their highest?  And what kind of posts garnered the most readers.

Initially the monthly readings were double digits of people daily.  But, within a couple of years the daily readings were over 500 a day.  For instance when I wrote about Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro, that one post garnered over 1000 readers. 
By 2013, when I did a series on Cost of Living in San Miguel and other issues for living in Mexico, it was not unusual to have 5000 reads per post.  For the next few years the numbers were staggering.  It was about 50,000 a month for many months.  Again, I realize to some that is not that high, but to me, it was unbelievable.

More then the numbers though, was the ability to meet many of these people who traveled to San Miguel to either just visit or came to look at a possible move.  Many took the time to contact me to meet and nothing was more fun then to meet them and over the years, to really develop a friendship.

Several rented the guest house or my house when I was traveling a lot, and what fun that was.  To get to know so many of them and their families!  It has enriched my life significantly.

Another unexpected gift of this blog was my being more aware of events, places, travels and taking photographs to share with all of you.  That awareness has led to a treasure trove of photos which are
fun to see again and reminisce with myself about the event.

This photo continues to make me giggle every time I see it!  It is a dog who used to come to the jardin and would plop down between the two rows of benches in the major walkway.  No one ever shooed the dog away or fussed at him.  They walked around him or stopped to rub his ears or touch his paws.  And, the dog let them.  Many a day I sat on the bench and marveled at this sight. 

I don't get to the jardin anymore but that memory of that old dog lying there is a treat in my mind's eye.

No, I haven't been as good at writing daily as I used to do.  I'm like that old dog, I have slowed down
and am enjoying the fact that I have no more "shoulds".  It is a wonderful way to live in this golden season of life.

My camera fell on the concrete on December 19th and I haven't taken a photo since then.  But, another dear friend has given me another camera that if I master it, ha, I will be able to take more
photos and it has an amazing zoom on it.  We'll see.  The manual is 166 pages.  Needless to say,
I'm intimidated, to put it mildly.  I'm determined though and will begin, one page at a time.  Surely
I will learn!  Right?

See you on down the road with a camera in my hand.  Thanks to all of you who have been with me since the beginning and to all of you who are still here from whenever you started reading.  There are no words to tell you how appreciative I am for your being here...........

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Whiplash Politics

These innocent faces on the wall pots from a village in Michoacan are preferable to the hostile faces of the politicians these days.

It seems I get up each day with a bit of dread waiting to see if we are going to war somewhere or to hearing more information about illegal acts of this administration.

It is with dread that I remember my feelings during the Nixon fiasco and wondered what the ultimate end would be back then.  Those same feelings manifest now!

Yearning for days of quietude again such as we had for eight years recently is my hope.  Days when good things were done for people and there was hope for movement forward, not movement to punish and ignore or hurt people, our country, our climate and our national parks.

This too will end, hopefully, but what will be the repercussions?

Whiplash is an understatement.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Happy Birthday Sebastian Woodrow...........A Tornado of Joy!

Ten years ago tonight, I was on the beach of Calachosa, a little known spot in the road, on the Bay of Cuestacomate overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Sunsets are my thing and very few are ever missed.

Little did I know that in less then twenty-four hours, a new person, a precious baby, was coming into the world who would be my seventh grandchild along with being a very unique and special human being.

Born in Ft. Collins, Colorado, the picture below was taken there.  It is among hundreds that I have, but has always been a favorite.  Sebastian and Matilda........

It is hard to believe that time has passed so fast.  The joy of the family moving back to San Miguel and having time to watch both Seb and Mati grow up has been quite an unexpected gift. All the other
grand kids in the USA are in their 20's.  Never did I expect to have a chance to have little ones around again.

Seb surprises me all the time with his wicked sense of humor, his kindness, and especially his knowledge of things that I have never heard of.  Get him to talk about astrophysics or anything technical and he blows my mind at the broad knowledge he has at this young age. The galaxies
are another favorite topic!

In addition to all that, he, Mati and I love our sessions of either baking Christmas cookies or our "infamous" Easter bunny cakes among other creations.  Great fun.

His silliness and wicked sense of humor makes me laugh a lot.........and he knows it!
That smile lights up the world.  It causes conversations and fun a lot.

He loves little children and the above photo was when he and Mati were at a friend's birthday party.  There was a little boy that he was reaching out to touch.   The look of softness and kindness on his
face tells a beautiful story.

Tomorrow Sebastian will turn 10 years old.  He is growing up faster then a blink of an eye.  It
is exciting for all of us to watch him grow, learn, expand and continue to provide us with eventful
and interesting occurrences on a regular basis.  What a wonder he is.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEB!   Happy Trails..............

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates..........

"You never know what you're gonna get."  Forrest Gump

Prior to Christmas, Sebastian asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I said "You"!  He laughed and said, "No really Grammy".  So I answered that anything chocolate, like Hershey kisses or something, would be just fine.  I saw his eyes light up and I knew he was thinking of something.

Christmas morning, before the kids had even opened all their gifts, they wanted their Dad and I
to open one present each.  Mine was, of course, from Sebastian.  It is a box of Ferrero chocolates.
The headquarter factory for these candies is about 1 1/2 hours from here but I had never eaten them before, much to Seb's shocked expression.

So, I said to him, "You know life is like a box of chocolates."  To which he asked what does that mean? And I answered.  He contemplated that for quite a while.

Package opening resumed and the kids began to play with their gifts.  Legos, jewelry making kits, new boots, etc.  A fun time!

The night before we had "Face Timed" with my daughter and her family in Colorado. Such a huge
gift for me and all of us.  I did not know I could do that on my phone.  But now I do!

We didn't have Christmas dinner til the following evening.  The kids wanted to play with their things and also planned to go to their mother's house at 4PM for "another" Christmas.

Sadly, that never happened.  We found out later that day that their mother had passed away Christmas Eve night or Christmas morning from a brain anyuerism.  She went to sleep and did not wake up.
It has been a huge shock.

We are holding the children close to us and taking life one day at a time.

I know that many of you have read this blog from the beginning of 2008 when I first started writing and that you have gone through the joy of the births of Matilda that year and Sebastian in 2010.  Many of you write and ask me about the children or even stop me on the street and ask about the chldren.  We are all Family.

Therefore I felt that I should write this sad news to all of you so that you can keep my son John and the children in your thoughts and prayers.

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get" is so true.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Reminiscing in December

Yesterday was the day to start getting the decorations out to put up around my little house.  In the past, it was a weeklong escapade.  Now it will take this afternoon for a couple of hours.  Life changes.

We always started putting our decorations up at this time of December in the past.  Right around the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Having been raised Catholic, now a former Catholic, I never
forget this date.

You see, not only was it a Holy Day in the Catholic church and a day off from school, but it was my
Mother's birthday.  She was a "converted" Catholic.  This happened after she married my Dad.  "Converted" Catholics are very strict about following the teachings of the church.  Hence, we said the Rosary every night, on our knees,  to pray for people we knew but mostly for those we didn't.  I often thought as a child that surely some day this would not be needed anymore.  Oh, the innocence of youth.

Growing up in Chicago until I was 10, we would always, on this school holiday, go on the L train into downtown Chicago to see the Christmas decorations at Marshall Fields.  When I say "we", I mean me, my cousins Carol, Jack, Jimmy, Sandy and Bonnie, who wasn't a cousin.  We would go to Marshall Fields and ride the escalator up all the floors to see all the beautiful things.  Can you imagine six kids around like that?  Often it was my grandmother, who, of course, I thought was ancient, but was probably in her fifties!  A lot younger then I am now.......

Then we would have lunch in the restaurant in Marshall Field's.  It was a BIG deal because back in those days people did not go to restaurants very often.  Especially kids.

One time my grandmother even made arrangements to take us to the Don McNeil Breakfast Hour show.  What a surprise!  I don't know what we expected, probably a big table with people eating pancakes and drinking coffee.  But, in fact, it was a small studio with three people and then an audience of about 25 or so.  We did march around at one point when Don McNeil said it was time to "march around the breakfast table".  Even though it was non-existent.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  And, yet, it was well over sixty years ago.  Amazing.

My Mom was with us that day and Don McNeil made a big deal about the fact that it was my Mother's birthday!  Today she would be 107 if she were still alive.

This morning at 6AM the fireworks began in San Miguel in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  I lay in bed with a grin on my face thinking how my Mom would have loved the way
saints and feast days are honored here in Mexico.  Our buses are now decorated for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe later this week and of course, there will be festivals, fireworks and heaven only knows what else.  Hardly a day goes by that someone or something isn't being honored.

Happy Birthday MOM!