Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy New Year!

Poised to begin the New Year, I realize that I need to pack the many wonderful moments from 2011 into a sunny place in my memory. I wonder what 2012 has in store?

I wanted to make my New Years greeting a little different from most of my other posts… Following you’ll find an A – Z account of people, places, sights and sounds  that made me smile this year.  The slideshow at the foot of the piece illustrates it all… I hope your screen is big enough to read the text and view the images simultaneously…

A is for the many angels in my life

B is for bride… my daughter was a beautiful one

C is for candles… I love them

D is for dancers… my son Carlos and his wife Jeanette

E is for our entrance into 2012… I hope it will be a wonderful year for you

F is for flamingos… they make me smile

G is for all the cute little girls in Mexico

H is for the helping hands that always show up at my house

I is for irises… they aren’t often available in Merida but they are lovely

J is for Joanna and Jorge… taken during our stay in Florence last summer

K is for kisses… enjoy them and return them as often as you can

L is for love… in all its forms is the most important thing

M is for my daughter Maggie and me… she is a joy

N is for niche… tucked into every corner of Mexico

O is for oven… isn’t this a beauty?

P is for pelican… not graceful, but much fun to watch

Q is for this man from Queretaro… his message is mine

R is for ribbons blowing in the wind… so elegant

S is for sunset… watching the sun go down is a wonderful way to each day

T is for tequila… I’ll toast with that!

U is for Uxmal… and its unequaled rain god masks

V is for Volkswagen vans… we had one but not quite as colorful as this

W is for wedding couple… Jeanette and Carlos in August

X is for Xochimilco… if you haven’t been there, it should be on your list

Y is for Yucatan… we’re lucky to live in this peaceful corner of the world

Z is for Zijuatanejo… not many words start with Z… last January I was there

Happy New Year to you all! 

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A Memorable Musical Day

Yesterday, Jorge and I took several friends and family members for lunch at Mauro’s, a small restaurant near our home in García Ginerés. The minute we sat down, our waiter served a selection of free botanas along with ice-cold beer. The delicious ceviche, guacamole, refried beans and other delectable edibles made for a wonderful first course

The menu at Mauro’s features a variety of seafood entrees, and once we made our choice, we were approached by a strong shouldered man carrying at least 30 kilos of DVDs for sale at 25 pesos each. Next, a nimble young vendor with a tray of regional sweets… coquitos, pulpa de tamarindo, and marzipans came byand finally, we were effusively greeted by Enrique, the restaurant’s resident entertainer.

I don’t know Enrique’s life story but from his boxer’s nose, bum hip and crooked-toothed smile, I’d venture to guess that he’s had a colorful life… his taped and battered acoustic guitar looks as though it has participated in more than one barroom brawl. But when Enrique begins to sing and strum the strings… magic fills the room. His repertoire must include every Mexican song ever written, and he plays them perfectly… from memory.

When our food arrived, (chile poblano stuffed with gulf shrimp) Enrique slipped away from our table and greeted some of the other patrons – a former governor of Yucatan, a prominent businessman, a family from Campeche and other assorted Meridanos

Later, we were invited to the home of good friends and treated to more wonderful music. This time the artist was Maricarmen Perez, a beautiful Yucatecan woman. Her voice fluctuated from a sweet soprano to earthy contralto, depending on the piece she sang. I just loved her rendition of Guadalupe Trigo’s  “Mi Ciudad.” She continued singing and playing her guitar, and before we knew it, evening slipped into night… Reluctantly, we wound our way home.

This is one of the things I love about living in Yucatan… wherever you go, you’ll find eclectic… EVERYTHING!

The photos were taken with an i-phone… not too clear, but you get the idea.

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WOW!

WOW! It is December 23rd. Hard to believe that just a week ago, Jorge and I were immersed in the final countdown for Maggie and Ricardo’s marriage. And what a magical evening it was…

We worked towards the wedding for 18 months… Maggie and I kept giant binders to organize all the ideas, print-outs from many websites and cuttings from magazines… business cards, appointment reminders, quotes, fabric swatches, plans, receipts, etc… They’re filed away now, but maybe someone else will be able to use the information one day? ‘Need a great florist, caterer, music, a hacienda or wedding planner… whatever, just ask me!

The ceremony and reception exceeded all our expectations. Maggie looked gorgeous and Ricardo, so handsome. But best of all were the radiant smiles on their faces… Both were absolutely thrilled with one another and with everything around them.

I think the nuptial Mass held outside on the stone steps of the hacienda’s chapel was made even more meaningful by the exquisite string quartet and the voice of Christian Koestal. As long as I live, I’ll remember Ave Maria swirling through the night air.

The party that followed was the best!  Under six huge white tents… the band’s enthusiasm, the  caterer’s excellent food and ever-flowing beverages, the waiters’ attentions, the soft lighting and the balmy temperatures combined to create an ambiance that was all we could have hoped for. Our friends and family who attended seemed ecstatic. Seventy of those loved ones had traveled a very long way to be with us. Their presence made the occasion even more wonderful.

After dancing, drinking, eating and laughing the night away, we rolled home at 6:30 am, slept a couple of hours… and then roused the newlyweds who headed off on their honeymoon to San Francisco. Since then, we proud parents have been in “recuperation mode.” We had not realized how tired we’d be…

And now Christmas is right around the corner – although we’ve just been through the excitement of the wedding, I am looking forward to my favorite holiday. Tomorrow my sister Barb and cousin Donna will be at the house and we’ll cook up a storm … Mass at 9pm will be followed by a midnight supper at my brother & sister-in-law’s home. After opening the gifts that are waiting under the tree, we’ll have a BIG crowd for dinner on the night of the 25th.

Reflecting on this past year, I have to admit that our world is not at its best right now, but amongst the turmoil we read about in the headlines, and the depressing statistics, I know there are many people helping out where and when they can. I choose to maintain an optimistic attitude and act in constructive ways. I take joy in the many large and small blessings I have.

I hope that this Holiday season is the culmination of a mostly-positive year for you all, and that 2012 will bring you much to be grateful for.

*** I hope you’ll enjoy the photos, starting with us all getting ready… arriving at the hacienda… the wedding and a few of the party. They were taken by my son Carlos and friend, Eduardo

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The Afterglow…

For the past few days, I have not been near my computer. Our daughter’s wedding has been an all-consuming joy. Three days later, Jorge and I are still enveloped in the afterglow. But we do appreciate the emails and calls we’ve had…

I will write a full report… but it won’t be today.  See you soon!

Maggie leaving home…

Jorge and Maggie just before the ceremony

The wedding party

Maggie & Ricardo

A wonderful time was had by all!

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Fa, la,la,la,la… la,la,la,la!

The scene of the altercation

Veering off Calle 60… headed towards the Mega Balcones parking lot (signal light flashing…) I saw RED… and just in time! A carmine-colored Peugeot sedan came barreling up on my right, determined to get in front of me… no matter what!

I laid on the horn, which must have delighted the driver who turned into the parking lot. He seemed to be dead set on getting a close-to-the-entrance spot. I managed to secure one right beside him…

Slamming his door, still in a rush, he attempted to beeline for the big sliding glass panels. Out of the sedate grey Eco-sport stepped I… with my posse: Auntie Alice (7 decades strong), Auntie Dot (83 years young) and my sister Barb (50 but fit) We ladies were ready to rumble…

Mr. Personality had a Dixie accent, but he was no southern gentleman. His sensitive side (if he has one) was not on display. Our aggressor informed us that he had been in the inside “lane,” and I should “learn how to drive.” I told him that he drove like a maniac, and continued… “When the road merges into a tight right turn, the car in the rear (him) should get behind the front car (me)” I felt he had no businesses speeding up and passing me on the right. He told me we had been on a “4-lane road,” and that I needed to “learn how to drive”…

He explained that he had lived in Merida for ten years (I guess he wanted to show me he knew the rules of the road better than I did)… I told him that I’d been here for 36 years. He seemed unimpressed, and told me I needed to “get a life.”

At this point, Auntie Alice (who is of sound English stock) scolded him. “You are a most rude person,” she said. I told him that I already had a life but obviously he didn’t… He did not want to engage in any more verbal volleyball and stomped off.

As we strolled past the bakery section, I saw him headed out of the store – empty handed. I guess that Mega should “learn how to stock.”

‘Tis the season to be jolly… fa, la, la,la,la – la la la la …

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La Virgen de Guadalupe

Copy of the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe that the Insurgents carried during Mexico’s Independence campaign

I must confess that I am not a consistent Catholic. I do not make it to Holy Mass every week and I do struggle with many issues that concern my faith. But one thing is crystal clear in my mind and in my heart: La Virgen de Guadalupe is a constant source of peace in my life.

You can read her story and be impressed by it, but when you see the way she affects the lives of most Mexicans, you’ll realize that she is more than a Catholic icon, she is “the heart of Mexico.”

Each year in Merida at the Church of San Cristobal (the corner of Calle 50 and Calle 69) thousands of pilgrims from all over the state arrive to offer their thanks to the Virgin of Guadalupe. They bring their children and their grandmothers… Many young people run in relay groups from towns and villages to see her on her special day. This group of devotees is called antorchistas .

You can see them, carrying their lit torches from towns hundreds of miles away. When  they arrive, they are exhausted but euphoric to be at the church dedicated to the Virgin de Guadalupe. It is very moving to witness the affirmation of their devotion and the basic faith that sustains them through many hardships.

In Mexico City more than 3,000,000 people visit the Basilica de Guadalupe on December 1ith and 12th. Next to the Vatican in Rome, this place receives the most annual visitors of any Catholic shrine in the world. I have seen, what must be, the population of  entire towns running with their torches,  walking, bicycling, and riding on anything with wheels towards the Basilica.

Our family has two marriages to give thanks for…. This year I will go at 7 pm with my daughter, my daughter-in-law, my sister, cousins, aunts and other friends from Canada, Mexico and abroad. We’ll join the many already there, and give special thanks for the joyous occasion and all our blessings.

There are detractors who are not in favor of the religious fervor that December 11th and 12th bring out all over Mexico. But I am NOT among them. I think that any belief that comforts and consoles to this degree is a very positive and good thing.

Our country has so many challenges; the “mother of all Mexicans” offers relief from the day to day worries. She offers a warm embrace and a sense of peace.

¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

***Note: I have many images of Guadalupe… I cannot remember which are mine and which belong to someone else. If I have included yours here… I hope you are pleased to see it in this post…

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Kyle and the Christmas Cactus

Surprised to see a new post today? I said I wouldn’t be writing again until after the wedding, didn’t I? But I woke up early… way too early to do anything wedding-related, and decided to re-post an entry from last year’s December archive.

Actually I didn’t write this; Deanna , a treasured friend sent it to me. Her caring spirit touched me in 2010, and it did so again this year…

Dear Kyle,

The “Christmas School Holidays” will soon be upon us, and as happens every year at this time, my thoughts return to you.

In 1991, I left the local school community, that I had loved and been a part of for eleven years, and drove an hour away to join a fledgling staff in a smaller lakeside community. The construction of the new school building had not yet been completed, so we worked out of portable classrooms. Our Principal was a bright, warm-hearted, dedicated woman who had chosen a staff made up of vibrant, adventurous young teachers and a few experienced, near-retirement souls like myself. Her enthusiasm was tempered daily with the message that the students were always our priority and that their learning environment should be a balance of educational and life skills.

You came into my life in September of 1992, a wee boy going on five. You were in the middle of a blended family with older siblings and younger ones who, as might be said, nudged you “out of the nest”, too soon.

There were the days you climbed the stairs into the Senior Kindergarten portable, needing a knee to sit on and a welcome hug before venturing into the day’s activities. But many mornings, you stomped into class – a surly little fellow unwilling to join the class circle. You seemed to need some moments alone under the teacher’s desk or by the book shelf before you felt ready to tackle the new sound or song.

Fall over, the Christmas break fast approached. Together, we learned Holiday carols and poems, we did crafts and made cards for parents. The Nativity play and concert were completed. On that last day of school before the holidays, you walked in with a plant that so represented you. It was a tiny Christmas Cactus, needing only love, time and attention to help it to grow and to bloom. I wrapped it carefully against the cold, took it home and told my four children that it was my ‘bestest present”.

Later on in the next year, you and your family moved out of the area and I, not knowing where you went, prayed that your new Teacher would see the real you and your potential.

I willed that Christmas Cactus to survive!  Year after year I watched it, watered it… moved it from place to place. I waited for a bloom that would somehow assure me that you too, were coming along as well as I constantly wished.

Last year, Kyle, there was ONE beautiful flower on that wee plant that keeps doing its best, and I was thrilled. Did that mean that you also, were not only surviving… but thriving?

Kyle, you are twenty-three now. I hold you in my heart and wish you well. Eighteen years later, this is definitely the “bestest” year yet. There are THIRTEEN blooms on “our” Christmas Cactus!!

Wherever you are Kyle… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

By: Deanna in Oakville, Ontario, Canada

*** Please pass Deanna’s letter around to those you know… Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone reads it and puts her and Kyle in touch with each other?

*** Image credit for Christmas cactus :  www.pearlsflowers.com


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