Monthly Archives: November 2011

The International Women’s Club: Still (crazy?) after all these years…

IWC Fund raising trip to Chiapas and Campeche

Well yes it is! NOT in the negative sense of the word… but yes, as in crazy-good and crazy-fun.

For me it felt like déjà vu, as I stood in front of 50 ladies at the November meeting of Merida’s IWC.  In 1984, I was the first president and 6 months pregnant with my daughter. Now, 27 years later, the club is a vital part of our international community and Maggie is just 3 weeks away from her wedding day. Crazy how quickly time passes!

For many women like me, the club has been an incredible resource…

This month, the speakers at the meeting: Brent and Stan from Remixto Catering spoke about how they use local ingredients, as well as traditional ones in their recipes. In fact Brent made a naranja agria (sour orange) pie right on the spot… a delicious alternative to lemon! A break followed with lots more animated conversation… and then a very full agenda was covered during the business part of the meeting.

One of the aims of the IWC is community service and we heard about the group’s most recent achievements.

The scholarship committee reported that:

  •  One of our club’s recipients received her MD license last week.
  • Another of the young women will complete her law degree in the next months
  • And we met a new beneficiary for the first time; she told us that she wants to honor her deceased mother by becoming a nurse and helping others.

Funding was made available to other groups of clubwomen sponsoring:                                                                                                 

  •  a neonatal vitamin program
  • the purchase of activity books for child cancer patients
  • providing a Christmas party and gifts for primary-age girls at a local shelter

We also heard success stories about:

The group also talked about upcoming social events and opportunities for cultural enrichment…  If you’d like to learn more about the IWC, visit the website… membership is open to all English-speaking women. It’s an excellent place for newcomers to meet friends and for longtime residents to keep up with all the happenings in Merida’s international community

Photos: (Left)IWC members all dressed up for the Red Cross Carnaval dance , (Right) IWC monthly meeting

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And I am thankful for…

This morning, I have Internet. For some mysterious reason, it went out three days ago and just as mysteriously, it has returned. It would be nice to understand how the whole thing works but alas, that is not in the cards. I’m one of those people whose cyber knowledge is limited to “what I absolutely need to know.”  I am just thankful it’s back…

And on this day after Thanksgiving, I ask myself, what else am I thankful for? What makes me happy?  I think it’s good to take stock sometimes…

I’m thankful that I opened my mind to think about this in the first place

I’m thankful for all the decisive moments I’ve had over the years

I’m thankful that I’ve made some right decisions, and enjoyed the results

I’m thankful too for the wrong decisions I’ve made, and that I’ve learned from them

I’m thankful that I’ve learned to tell the difference

I’m thankful for all the good people in this world, and that I’ve met so many of them

I’m thankful, especially thankful… that I married the best of them

I’m thankful that we have two great kids, and that they in turn have found their best persons

I’m thankful for all the help I’ve received – even when I haven’t asked for it

I’m thankful that most people forgive my shortcomings

I’m thankful for the people I meet who humble me

I’m thankful that I can read and write. My mother read to me, and I believe much of my success started right there…

I’m thankful for my parents – I know they rest in peace

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to read so many books over the years

I’m thankful that I’m constantly learning

I’m thankful for my work

I’m thankful for my unlimited access to clean water and air.

I’m thankful for my comfortable home filled with things I treasure

I’m thankful that I’m physically and mentally healthy.

I’m thankful that there are artists who show me so much beauty

I’m thankful for all the free time that I have (when I have it)

I’m thankful that I have made a conscious decision to be happy

I’m thankful that I am who I am.

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28… 27… 26…

Maggie & Ricardo

Saturday night, the official countdown began: one lunar cycle… 4 weeks… 28 days until our only daughter’s wedding…

We began preparing a year and a half ago when Ricardo gave Maggie the ring.…  “Have the two of you decided what sort of wedding you want?” I asked Ricardo. “Whatever you and Maggie want,” he answered. Smart, smart boy that Ricardo…

Choosing the venue, booking the band, beginning negotiations with the archdiocese… To make a long story short, let’s just say we found out that getting married in the Church is a many-step procedure.

“What wedding colors do you think would be nice?” Maggie asked her beloved. “What do you mean? Weddings have a special color?”  Sapphire blue, white and silver were clearly the favorite combination. “¡Bello!” said Ricardo. As I’ve said, he’s a quick study indeed…

The ten bridesmaids chose their gowns, Maggie said “YES” to her gorgeous dress. Ada, “the other mother” and I also made our selections. Food, drink, cake, flowers, favors… tents, out-door heaters, table cloths, chairs, cutlery… invitations, music for the Mass…  the decisions have been endless.  Maggie, her maid-of-honor Ana Rosa, Ada and myself have become quite the authorities on all things related to weddings.

But, up until now, we have stressed very little. Actually, we’ve had a lot of fun. There have been two showers so far and two more to come, including the one I’ll throw… with A LOT OF HELP from my friends.

As we get closer to the date, I’ll be increasingly busy entertaining the many out-of-town family and friends, including our son Carlos and his wife Jeanette who are coming from Norway. Her family is also arriving in just a few days time. So if my posting gets sporadic… or even stops altogether… just keep checking in, I’ll be back soon enough.

Photos: The top one is of course, the happy couple. Maggie and Ana Rosa at an F & B tasting, our dressmaker Lidia hard at work, and a couple of photos from the shower last Saturday night…                                                                                                   

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Pain, Perspective and Pardon

Yesterday, following my post about the lamentable situation at the Merida English Language Library, I received many positive comments and emails. I also received a few from those who worry this will fracture our community,

The members of the library placed their trust in the Board, and we expected them to act in our Library’s best interests. Now that the trust has been broken by ONE of them, it is understandable that we as a collective unit will look for a place to lay blame.

But, we need to remember that MELL’s Board are all VOLUNTEERS. In good faith, they stepped up to the plate and offered their time to serve as officers.

Think too of the Library’s volunteers who are not on the Board… those selfless people who show up every time they are supposed to, and work hard at keeping the Library running smoothly.

All these people work free of charge for us. They are between a rock and a hard place and I believe they deserve all our support.

Anyone who has served in a voluntary position of any organization knows how frustrating and thankless that job can be. You put in your best efforts and often your reward is criticism. But you feel a sense of camaraderie with your fellow Board members and you accept the slights because you feel you are doing a good thing…

When your trust in one of your comrades is broken, and you discover you have been duped, you feel terrible and you accept the blame. You are ready to take the rap. But there is no need for that.

We need to remember that the fraud was committed by ONE person. That person was on MELL’s Board. He has accepted responsibility and is looking for a way to repair the damage he caused. He did a stupid thing – indeed he did. But by carrying a grudge, we will only succeed in making our own lives harder. Actually many of MELL’s volunteers and members feel compassion for our betrayer’s weakness… I do too, and can’t help but think, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

For about a year and a half, there has been disaccord in the international community. Many of us have felt confused and hurt by the actions and accusations of a person with an axe to grind. And now… we have the MELL situation to contend with… Already I have heard some ask, “What is happening to our little place in paradise?”

But stop and think… paradise doesn’t come without a price. I believe the international community, as a whole, has an opportunity here. We have an opportunity to be better than we think we are. We have the opportunity to show that we do not have to resort to gossip and name calling. We can lick our wounds and move on…

Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving and we do all have so much to be thankful for… let’s reflect on that and remember:

“This too shall pass.”

*** Read Mitch Keenan’s letter in the Comments section of yesterday’s post

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Merida English Language Library

‘Want a good beach book? Do you have a question that has you stymied or has your computer fizzled out and you need to check your email… There’s a one-stop place in Merida where all this can be taken care of…

The Merida English Language Library (MELL) is the international community’s “Command Central.” Modeled after the traditional neighborhood libraries, it’s where many newcomers to Merida meet their first friends, and those who have been here for a while are able to keep up with what’s going on in our community. It has an informal and relaxed atmosphere, very much in keeping with the tempo of the city we live in.

MELL has a collection of 17,000 volumes, ranging from bestselling novels to research tomes on Maya History. The      reading room and the internet are two well-used services at the library.  Newspapers and magazines, DVDs and audio books are some of the other story formats MELL provides.

Once a month, the volunteers host “MELLO Nights,” a cash bar cocktail party where many of us have begun excellent friendships. Several English-language AA meetings are held at the library each week. Other groups such as very popular Book Group and the newly formed Writers’ Circle also use the library as their meeting place.

Talks by special speakers are featured on Saturday mornings, and the MELL sponsored weekly home tours are popular with tourists and locals alike.

The Library is staffed by dedicated volunteers and supported by low annual membership dues. Fund raising events like the Chili Cook Off are held to raise funds. It takes a lot of selfless effort to keep the library afloat… and sometimes even that is not enough.

All individuals and organizations are targets for foul play, and apparently, MELL has been victimized by an opportunist.  Library Operations Committee member Lorna Gail Dalin has offered to be on hand every Friday morning to speak with concerned members about this.

Yes, our library is in a jam. It seems there is no longer the cash reserve that was thought to exist. All concerned are working hard to resolve the predicament. It is in our best interest to not lend ourselves to rumor or hearsay.

MELL needs an influx of money to carry on and to do the upgrading and improvements it has planned. It seems to me that bemoaning our fate is not the solution – pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps (or sandal straps) is the more effective move. The season of giving is right around the corner.  At this time of year, many organizations appeal to their friends for donations.  Lorna Gail tells me that if every member could find it in their hearts to give 500 pesos, the problem would be resolved…  Jorge and I will be taking our contribution over to MELL, and I hope there will be many others who do likewise.

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Poor form…

Let me tell you a little story… it may not be one that will make friends and influence people but it’s heartfelt. I hope you’ll read read through to the end…

Governor Ivonne Ortega wrote a comment on my blog. She said she liked it and she hoped others would appreciate it. She made me feel good about myself… After all, she IS the governor, the maximum authority in our state. I decided to write a comment on her blog (that’s what bloggers do…  write on mine… I write on yours.) When I went online and typed “Ivonne Ortega” into the search box, I felt ashamed…

To see the vilification, disregard, insults, and slander made me ill. I am NOT a Pri-ista. My politics support the         candidate, not the party. Ms. Ortega needed to belong to a party to get elected… she had an agenda… she did what she had to do. And she’s not the first.

Ana Rosa Payan, another loyal-to-her-principals female politician has more in common with Ivonne Ortega than either suspect. They are both TOO smart and you know what… no one can handle a smart, gutsy woman.

Just do a Google search for women who have won prestigious awards, who have excelled in their professions, who have proven their worth in any field. You’ll find twenty men listed for every woman. It is the way of the world…

Ms. Payan and Governor Ortega (they have opposite political loyalties) have touched people not just bankers, clergy and pseudo-intellectuals. Look at the pictures… I don’t know about you, but I see appreciation and respect in the eyes of those everyday people being embraced by Ms. Ortega and Ms. Payan. I know the detractors will say those pictures were specially selected – of course they were! Is the picture you have on your piano top your least flattering?

The things that have been written about both these women are vulgar. If there’s one thing that demeans a person, it is bad taste and poor form. Could it be that much of the disregard for these women has it’s origin in… ahem… social background? Who are these usurping women… they who come from humble roots and presume to lead?

We complain there is no leadership. We say we have no role models… could that be because our brains are mired in “the good old days” and our heads are stuck in the sand?

I am not saying one cannot make their political or personal views known, but making comments about a public figure’s     family background, physical attributes and so on are not necessary. I know this too is the way of the world, but that doesn’t make it right.

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Fall in Yucatan

Last night I wore my flannelette PJs and slept all rolled up in my sheet and blanket – no AC, no fan.  The temperature dropped to 18 degrees C. (65F) At this time of year, I know those temps sound balmy to a lot of you, but in Mérida we’re used to night time readings in the high 20s or 30s Centigrade (80s, even 90s F)  The 10 degree drop and high humidity has us feeling chilly.

My frangipani tree has lost most of its leaves, as has the endemic scrub in the vacant lot nearby. No there are no spectacular fall colors, the leaves simply curl and fall off. The pool is a bit cold for plunging into, but I can still swim if I get wet bit-by-bit. Once I’m fully in, the water feels great.

A trip to the nursery is planned for this weekend or next; we’ll buy petunias, geraniums, Gerber daisies, poinsettias and other flowering plants. From November through March, the sun will be less intense and they’ll do well. Of course, the hibiscus, bougainvillea and other tropical blooms will also be more abundant and I look forward to a few months of even brighter color in our garden.

We have switched back from Daylight Saving Time;  it’s dark by 6:30 and an evening walk is very enjoyable.    I brought my long sleeved tops and full length pants out of the back closet the other day and I have put an extra layer of padding in my kitty’s little bed. Hobbsie is an outdoor cat, but at 12 years of age, I figure he must feel the drop in the temperature.

The stores are decorated for Christmas already, and soon I imagine that the first colored lights will be tacked up to welcome the Holiday season. Because of  our daughter’s wedding next month, a number of out-of-town friends and family will be coming to Mérida and several of them will stay long enough to break a star-shaped Mexican piñata and enjoy a Canadian-style turkey dinner al fresco on December 25th.

I love this time of year in Yucatán…

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