Monthly Archives: January 2012

Joanna and her sisters

Joanna and her sisters

One of the luckiest things about my life is that I have three sisters. A – B – C: Anne, Barbara, and Cathy. They are all close in age, but I am five, seven and nine years older than them. During childhood, that made quite a difference.

We have four brothers too, but they pretty much did their own thing. What I remember most about them is that they were very physically active and ate like horses.

I helped Mom look after the “little girls” and I know that while we were            growing up, they were somewhat intimidated by me, but now we don’t feel any gulf of years. We will all be in our fifties this summer… (one entering, two wading through, and one hanging on by the toenails! ) We are all married… we each have children of our own.

Sisterhood is a unique bond. One of us is having an operation today, and another has one pending… I wish I lived closer so that I could make chicken soup…

When they graduated from high school, each of my sisters spent time with Jorge and I in Merida. They all enjoy the weather, the food, and other wonderful attractions of Mexico.

Mom always urged us to dance, carry on and have fun! Our childhood vacations were spent by the water: swimming, boating, beachcombing. To please our mother, we all took dancing lessons, joined Brownies, took a whack a field hockey, sewing and playing Bridge… with varying degrees of aptitude.

We four don’t always agree with one another’s choices, but each of us knows the others are “on call”… if needed we’ll be there in a heartbeat.

Later this week we will mark our mother’s passing… I still miss her every day and I know my sisters do too. We all have   her round eyes and pointed chin… and the same penchant for sweets. Mom could swim like an otter, and she taught us to do so too.

On the fourth of February, I’ll put fresh flowers in Mom’s dark red crystal vase and place it on my dining room table. I’ll bake an apple pie, brew a pot of Earl Grey and drink from one of her Chelsea Bird tea cups… with lots of milk and a spoon full of sugar – the way Mom served it when we were young.

If there’s a Heaven, Mom is there and she’ll surely join me and toast: To Joanna and her sisters!



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The Changing of the Guard

The 2012 – 2013 Board of the International Womens Club of Merida

The International Women’s Club of Merida held their annual election this past Saturday. With very mixed feelings I watched Marianne Kehoe chair her last meeting as the president.  Under her leadership  2011 – 2012 has been a good year for our group with many fun activities as well as satisfying accomplishments.

I thought it very fitting that this board chose Lenny Hau as their last monthly speaker. Lenny is one of the young women that the IWC awards a monthly stipend to help with university expenses. When I met her three years ago, I saw a painfully shy girl; on Saturday I listened to an accomplished Law student speak about her investigation in the field of Indigenous Law. WOW! Lenny impressed us all with her excellent English and her sensitivity to the Mayan communities very special needs. Mark my words, she is going places.

Marianne graciously acknowledged her Board: Anny Schrader, Marie Barchus, Rainie Bailie-Bowie and Faye Jorgenson.  Just before the end of the meeting, another former president Dulce Firth presented Marianne with a floral arrangement in recognition of her excellent leadership.

Now, at the beginning of this short recap, I said I have “mixed feelings…” This is because, as sorry as I am to see Marianne step down, I’m very excited about the new Board. I know that Marie Barkus will do an excellent job as President; how can she not with Nancy Walters, Beth Knepp, Theresa Gray and Rainie Baillie-Bowie to help her?

Theresa even has a party planned: a real winner for costume lovers; she proposes we have a 100th anniversary commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. Rainie got a laugh when she piped up with, “We could all wear life savers!”

I hope you enjoy the photos of the lovely ladies of the club…

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Filed under Family and Friends, Vida Latina


Sleeping: that’s what I don’t always do so well. I fall asleep just fine, but after 3 hours or so, its touch and go. I often wake up and then, I have trouble going back to sleep.

I have tried most of the usual healthy aids: a glass of warm milk, light exercise, meditation, a relaxing bath, wearing socks to bed … I have also tried every sleep medication on the market. All have the same not-so-effective result: I wake up before I’ve had enough shut-eye.

A nice strong drink or “dot-dot-dot” will ease me into Dreamland, but as I’ve said, getting to sleep isn’t the issue – staying asleep is.

Counting sheep, visualization, biofeedback… none of that has worked… I even tried hypnosis. ¡Nada!

So, OK… what do I do once I’ve woken up, and I’ve realized that returning to sleep mode isn’t happening?

Sometimes I get up. Sometimes I stay in bed and listen to an audio book or music; I don’t usually check my email, I don’t work on my book or other writing projects. I try not to strain my eyes.

But once the ear buds start to feel irritating, I sometimes draw or I blog – like I’m doing now.

It’s 03:21 and I’m going to go brew some of that “Sleepy Time” herbal tea… whatever!


Filed under Writing

The Little Gypsy

I cleaned out my bookcase today, and found a book that I thought to be lost; actually it had simply slipped down behind some of the bigger tomes up front.

The missing volume that I happily repatriated to the “México” section was “Peregrina,” Alma Reed’s account of her years in México and her love affair with the governor of Yucatán in the 1920s. I discovered “Peregrina” hiding underneath a big coffee table book, “Italian Painting.” If I didn’t know that books cannot teleport, I would suspect that Alma had decided to take a little holiday and placed herself there. Or maybe she had an argument with her shelf-mate Frida Kahlo?

In Yucatán, Ms. Reed is considered to be one of the classic femmes fatales. Governor Felipe Carillo Puerto, by most accounts, had been on his way to an assignation with her when he was ambushed and killed by political rivals. The story of Alma and Felipe can hold its own next to the country’s other mythical romances like: Frida and Diego, La Malinche and Cortez, and Carlota and Maximiliano.

Mexico’s history is peppered with women like Alma. Whether they were born in the country, or arrived as young women looking for adventure, they created a genre all their own. Passion was the warp thread, and bravery, the weft that wove their life tapestries. What made them this way?

I believe the culprit to have been the little gypsy – that quiet but insistent voice we all have inside… the one that challenges us to be more than we are. The little gypsy tells us we should paint, act on stage, or write books or learn to Tango. She doesn’t insist, but if we don’t pay her heed, she makes us feel dissatisfied with ourselves.

When we listen to her, she opens up our hearts and souls, and gives us the unique experiences that we forever after repeat, relive and relish.  For the rest of our lives, we are changed.

And the little gypsy loves México. Here, where its warm, where music swirls all around, where bold color is the only kind of color and sensuous textures surround us… she whispers and waits for us to listen and let her out.

Photos: My thanks to Google Images…


Filed under Vida Latina



Although Jorge and I are supposed to have been retired for two years now, it wasn’t really happening until this week. We still went to school a lot and always seemed too busy to kick back.

But the New Year has brought in a new order to things.

I guess that retiring from a company or a government job is more cut and dried: You leave on a certain date, get a last paycheck, maybe a gold watch? And then that’s it.

When you own a business it is quite different – it is staged. You say you’re retired, you still feel attached though, and unless you buy the gold watch, you won’t get one.

And yet the day dawned when we realized that if we didn’t take a real step out the door, no one would be able to do it for us.

And so, the question is:  How did we spend out first real day of retirement? Answer: By doing two of our favorite things: We went to the beach and in the evening to a concert.

Our friends Edie and Ron joined us on a drive up the coast to Uaymitun. We wanted to see the flamingos, but alas, there weren’t any. Then we drove to Telchac Puerto, but seeing as the restaurant where we wanted to have lunch was closed, we drove back to Progreso and enjoyed a lovely seafood meal with our feet wiggling in the sand, the surf pounding, the wind blowing through our hair, and the gulls calling overhead.

Once home, we took a late siesta in our soft cotton hammocks, then set off for a concert at the “Centro Cultural del Niño Yucateco.”  The violinist we heard is no longer a “niño” but he began his musical studies at the Center.

Alfredo Rojas Vértiz Nuñez is the eldest son of man who has been our friend for more than 20 years. Alfredo is a waiter at “Luigi’s,” a favorite restaurant of ours. He has welcomed us and hosted many a wonderful evening. He has also seen to it that his sons (the other is a violinist) received the best education possible.

And he has been successful. Alfredo Jr. is not only an accomplished musician, but a linguist and a very personable young man. He is studying for his Bachelor in Musical Studies…

One of his teachers, Irina Decheva accompanied him on the piano while he played selected pieces by Vivaldi, Mozart, Händel, Chopin and Donizetti. What a wonderful program!

In Yucatán, besides the Symphony, we have five junior symphonies. I think it speaks very well of a state where so much emphasis is placed on music.

In the coming months, we’ll be taking full advantage of both the natural and cultural attractions available to us. As Jorge says, “From now on, every day is Saturday!”


Filed under Family and Friends, Vida Latina

Today’s Quick Lunch

Jorge and I have just finished the weekly “MEGA Run.” Those of you who do not live in Mérida may think I’m talking about a BIG run… but those of you who do live here will conclude that I refer to the grocery store… Full name: “Comercial Mexicana Mega Balcones.” Whenever we go there on a Saturday, we pick up something quick-to-fix for lunch. We’ve been looking at those frozen mussels for a while now, and today we took the plunge…

Once home,  the clock read 12:00 noon. I took out what I’d need for my menu:

Nice photo, eh?

On went the water to boil. I poured a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and figured that by the time I’d finished my wine, the pot would be ready to welcome my cute little nests of Tagliatelle. I chopped the green onions and parsley then got out the mussels.

Most of the main course

12:15 pm: wine half-gone… water starting to steam… I cut open the vacuum-packed bag, and into my trusty skillet the mussels slid. Hm-m-m-m… for good measure, I added a bit of that Pinot Grigio, some cracked pepper and a few grains of rock salt. The aroma held promise…

12:18 pm: Oh my! The salad! I tore up the pre-washed spinach leaves, sliced the already-hard boiled egg, added the chopped green onion and whipped up a Dijon vinaigrette. Ecco!

As I downed the last drop of the wine… the water was at a hard boil. 12:23 pm. I lowered the basket of pasta … 6 minutes should do it.

I set the table (nothing fancy…), tossed the salad, cut the bread, poured two glasses of wine. 12:29 pm. Drain the pasta… plate it… cover with mussels… sprinkle with parsley. Lovely!

12:32 pm: “Jorge… time for lunch!”


Filed under Family and Friends

Santa Lucia

Last night my friend Jo invited me to hear her brother-in-law Lorenzo (Mosu) Nuñez Zapata sing at the weekly Santa Lucia concert.

By the time we arrived, the plaza had filled to capacity with locals and tourists. But we saw Jo’s sister-in-law way up front and made our way towards her. There! Two lovely second row seats just waiting for us…

Accompanied by three Trova musicians, Mosu sung many familiar Yucatecan ballads with such passion… I felt myself transported back in time: 36 years and 1 day ago…

Jorge and I met on January 18, 1976, just down the street from Santa Lucia Plaza…in the lobby of the Hotel Merida. I was the tour conductor of a group of tourism and media types who had come to visit Merida and Jorge was our guide. It’s common knowledge that by the end of the day we had fallen in love…

Last night, sitting amongst the mellow crowd, I wondered, was this sublime Yucatecan ambiance working its magic on another lucky couple?

And when the beautiful Lenny Sanchez joined Mosu on stage, their voices added a perfectly harmonized aural element to the spell cast by the not hot, not cold… not too humid evening air.

Next the dancers from the BaletFolklorico came prancing onto the stage and the tempo picked up… Such color and exuberance!

And right then, I had one of those Ah-ha revelations… This moment in time illustrated “why” Yucatecans are such a special people: they live in the present.

Yes, they have problems of many kinds… yes they wish the situation would improve. But right now, they wouldn’t concern themselves with anything negative. Mañana they would resume the day-to-day juggling of budget worries, kids, work, school… whatever. Tonight all that had been suspended… they had come to hear Mosu sing… to see their friends… to feel good.

I have a favorite song called, “Santa Lucia.” It is not a Yucatecan ballad – it was composed and is sung by a Spaniard named Miguel Rios… But it’s wonderful. I hope you enjoy listening to it and looking at the (fuzzy) pictures from last evening’s Serenta Yucateca…

And hey… have a wonderful day.

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