Saturday, July 04, 2015

A Scout in the House

There are so many ideas for a blog post today.........the Fourth of July celebrations here in San Miguel; the
incessant rain that has been going on and on and on for almost five weeks; or just the state of things in life, but, instead I thought I would share a few sweet photos of this.
 Scout, my son's dog, has come to visit for a week.  He is the sweetest dog, a rescue animal.  Not only is he sweet and loving, he is the best behaved dog I've ever been around.  UNTIL someone wants to come in the gate or in the house.  He even kept Josefina, the maid, at bay yesterday until I could get up the stairs to the front door.

Otherwise he is gentle, sweet and quiet.  Following me wherever I go.
 He DOES have a very loud bark and would definitely keep someone from coming into the house.
I was concerned about how he and Velcro, the cat,  would get along.  They just ignore each other.  Velcro is not a cat that lays on the floor anyway.  She is always on a piece of furniture.  So at night she sleeps on the bed at my feet and Scout has decided that the sofa upstairs is where he wants to be.

They have not even bothered each others' food!  Amazing.

It has been fourteen years since I've had a dog around the house.  I always thought that Flash was the best dog ever. After all, I had her sixteen years.  She never barked.  So when Scout barks, I jump.  Not used to that loud sound.  He is good about stopping though if you just say No.  And, when the gate to the street is opened, Scout does not try to run away.  Thankfully.  That was Flash's biggest flaw.  She was a gypsy dog and always trying to go off somewhere.   It eventually led to her demise.

Stayed home yesterday just to make sure there weren't going to be any problems and to give Scout a little attention until he adjusted to the new surroundings.  He seems very content.

Off today to celebrate the Fourth of July!  Hopefully no fireworks to scare the dog...........we'll see.

Happy Fourth Everyone!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Icon of Kitsch

 The past week was one that will go down in the history books of all times!  That's an understatement, if I've
ever written one.  Amazing experiences and solutions that I never thought I would live long enough to see in my lifetime.  People that are much better writers then I have written such beautiful things about the upholding of the Affordable Care Act law and the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, the upholding of people everywhere in America to have the right to marry whoever they choose.  Whew, it has been an amazing week.
But, in the midst of all the historical events, the loss of Don Featherstone must be mentioned.  In my heart, I believe that this man brought so much joy to people who loved flamingos and tacky things that he, to me is
an icon.

Of course I'm sure that when Don started making flamingos in 1957 as yard art, he couldn't possibly have imagined how much laughter, joy, silliness and consternation he would cause in the USA.  The consternation part being Home Owners Associations and uptight neighbors.  However, for the most part, those who loved the flamingo were brethern in kitsch.

Both of the above photos were taken from the internet on CBS News.  Somewhere in my photo archives in the zillion boxes of photos I have, are similar photos.  Let me share the story or stories.  Then you'll understand why I use the terms laughter, joy and silliness.

It began in the late 80's.  A lovely man who I dated for many years decided to send me on a Treasure Hunt for my birthday.  It was a doozy.  From going to a pet store to get a gold fish in a bowl, to then going to a tattoo parlor for the next clue and ending the day at Neiman Marcus for a few hours of pampering, with fish bowl in hand, everyone loved the story. 

The next year it was not as grand a birthday for me, but we really outdid ourselves for him with a stretch limo with a huge blowup of Godzilla hanging out of the open roof window.  A trip to a dinner club where many of his friends showed up to surprise him and then a trip, which he thought was going to be out of town, but wasn't.  It was closer,  to a nearby hotel.

But, for my birthday that year, it was quieter.  It didn't matter as people were coming up to me in restaurants and places in the Bay Area of Houston where I lived and asking WHAT kind of birthday I had had.  So finally I made up a story that I had been given a pet flamingo at a beach party in Galveston, but it was a rented flamingo that had to be returned the following day.  Except, the flamingo flew away from the beach and was never seen again.  People gasped when I told this story..........and then eventually I would confess that I had made the whole thing up.

One early Sunday morning, around 7AM or 7:30AM, I headed to the front door of my house in Nassau Bay to get the Sunday paper which was my ritual.  The paper, coffee and CBS Sunday Morning.  But, what to my wondering eyes should appear but something like the second photo.  My yard covered with 100's of flamingos.  Immediately I thought I knew who had done it and I stormed into the house, picked up the phone and called them.  Of course, waking them from a Sunday slumber.  Denial was on their lips, but I wasn't buying it.  For at least five years I assumed they were the culprits.

It was hilarious.  That morning I learned you can't carry a whole lot of those things at one time as I wanted to get them out of my yard, pronto, before someone from the Homeowners Association drove by and I got a letter.  Finally I got all the flamingos in the garage which was a darn long walk down the driveway, especially in bedroom slippers and robe. 

Then I began to plot how to get back at my friends.  Enlisting several friends, a few months later, the flamingos were plopped in the back of a pickup truck late at night and replopped in the front yard of the suspect friends' front yard in all kinds of erotic positions. 

We all laughed and giggled as we drove off in anticipation of their reaction in the morning.  They never said a word!  Fast forward to a surprise birthday party for me several years later at the League City Country Club.
There were birthday banners, a dais, and a large group of friends at the head table.  The entertainment was a "This is your Life" show.  All my kids were there too.  Whoa, at that time, a couple who I NEVER would have suspected admitted that they in fact had planted the flamingos in my front yard.  We all laughed til we darn near cried.  It was a really funny moment.  Of course everyone said the funniest part was the shocked expression on my face.  So, I was laughing at being "punked" as the kids say, and everyone else was laughing at me.

You can't make stuff like this up.  Later on, probably ten years later, a friend having heard these stories gifted me with a flamingo painted like a cow in black and white.  It had on a cape and a witch's hat.  Great for Halloween.  However, I became quite attached to that flamingo and had many little outfits that I made for it for other seasonal events.  Unfortunately, when selling everything to move to Mexico, Flo the Flamingo was sold.  I still miss her.

In my mind, other then great and silly friends along with family, I can't think of anything that has brought as much laughter and silliness to my life then Don Featherstone's flamingos.  He was only 79.

Long Live the Flamingo!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Vizarron and Tequisquiapan, Mexico

I've learned in all my years of traveling, that adventures can be had within two hours of home.  Especially in Mexico.  This happened yesterday when I and three friends headed off to explore a couple of villages that I
had not been to in quite some time - like eight years and twelve years, respectively.

What fun!  The purpose for me, was to explore Vizarron for onyx furniture as it is near the mountains where they get white marble and onyx.  I've seen lighting sconces out of onyx around town and knew they were coming from that area.  Voila!  We did find all kinds of things.
 We started out, all four of us, at about 9AM from San Miguel with the expectation of about a two hour drive to Vizarron by way of Bernal.   What a magnificent drive!  With all the rain, the fields looked so beautiful as did the hillsides and mountains.
 These photos were taken as we left San Miguel on the road to Queretaro.  I wasn't driving so I could thoroughly enjoy snapping photos as we whizzed down the roads.  What a treat!
 On the cuota (toll road)  toward Mexico City at the toll booth were the guys driving the chassis of the school buses to Mexico City for the tops to be assembled.  I've photographed these guys with their helmets on and goggles every time I drive to Texas.  They always make me chuckle.  What a sight and that is a darn long drive on such a contraption.
As we headed East toward Vizarron, we bypassed Bernal, which is a tiny little village that is nestled up against the great Rock of Bernal.  It is the second largest rock in the world.  Only surpassed by the Rock of Gibraltar!  Bernal is a sweet little village to visit with all kinds of shops selling wool products such as rebozos, hats, muffs, and clothing attire.  In addition, there used to be a fabulous Italian restaurant there but its been about eight years since I was there last, so who knows what is there now!

One time I went to Bernal to buy wool products.  Nary a store was open.  It was graduation day at the primary school and all businesses had closed to be at the graduation.  I just smiled at the fact that their priorities were so right on.
 We were on great roads until I directed the driver, Bill to take a side road to get us over to another good road to Vizarron.  I go nowhere without my great road map book of Mexico.  I knew I was correct, but as we drove through a town that looked little, but wasn't, I did ask them to stop so I could roll down the window and ask someone if we were going the right way.  We were!  We did this a few more times that day, just to be sure.

We arrived at Vizarron just around 11AM and a Pemex stop was in order.  Here are two of the three friends discussing something..........probably, "How can we ditch the co-pilot?"  Just kidding.
 All the Pemex stations that we stopped at yesterday were really clean.  They now charge three pesos to use the facilities and have toilet paper.  I always carry Kleenex, just in case.  I have too long of a history with toilets in Mexico!
 Here the guys are as we get ready to walk the street, notice I said street, of Vizarron to go in all the marble and onyx shops.   The first shop we went in had the largest statue of David in marble that I have ever seen.
Darn, I hate that I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to take photos in Vizarron.  The next time.

We walked in about six or seven shops looking at everything.  Then I went back to the first shop and bought a small table to put next to a chair in the living room to put a coffee cup or magazine on.  I love it.  I didn't realize HOW much I loved it until I saw it in a shop in Tequisquiapan for four times as much!  It pays to shop at the source..........the thing I love to do the most anyway.

Then as we walked down the street, there was a little shoe shop with a giant stuffed llama inside.  It definitely caused us to stop and walk in.  The guys went crazy over the most unique and interesting, handmade shoes out of llama hide I've ever seen.  Two of the three got shoes.  I regret I didn't get slippers as they were lined with the most wonderful sheep skin.  Rats!  Anyway, the shoes were about $35USD and if I saw those at Whole Earth Provisions or some specialty store in the states, I can assure you they would be close to $200USD!  The man and his wife were so nice and helpful.  It was a super experience.

After all that fun and spending a couple of hours in Vizarron, we headed for Tequis because Trey, one of the men, wanted to see minerals as in geodes, amethyst, quartz, etc.  I knew exactly the place to take him.
It had been twelve years since I had been back to Tequis, but I never forgot the minerals or the bamboo furniture that I saw in the mercado there.  Things that are unique and hard to find, I never forget where I saw them.  Guess that is from all the years of going to the World Trade Center in Dallas or somewhere else and remembering where that special lamp or something was after going through hundreds of showrooms.

The photo above was three little old white haired women sitting in a spot of sunshine on one of the walkways of Tequis..........The photo was taken as we sat and had the most delicious lunch of sopa de elote (corn soup) along with crepes with huitlacoche.  Oh my, what a meal!  The guys didn't have the crepes because they didn't want to taste huitlacoche.  Their loss.
 The jardin in Tequis is magnificent.  The town is spotlessly clean and all of the walkways are paved with stone pavers rather then cobbles.  We all noticed how much easier it was to walk around.  Just delightful to eat a meal outdoors without any vehicles whizzing by.  We all commented on the sense of well being we felt while sitting there having lunch.  Also noticed that since the last time there how many cheese and wine shops are now all over town.  There are many wineries in the area.  In addition the town has a large Wine and Cheese Event every year. 
 After a leisurely lunch, we headed off to the mercado.  They have three in town.  All right next to each other.  We went to two of the three.  Of course now I wonder what was in the third one that I missed, ha.

But, we found the minerals.  Gorgeous hunks of rocks some polished - some not.  All of these minerals come from the mountains around Queretaro and Tequis.  A very rich area!  My friend found a magnificent piece of quartz that was about a foot high for his collection.  Darn, I forgot to photograph it.

It's such a treat to see all these different stones.  One one design project, rather then using art in the various rooms, I had slabs of minerals framed in plexi boxes and hung above the beds in the rooms.  With the right lighting it was quite a conversation piece.  I might have to go back one of these days and buy something.

My son would have been in heaven looking at all these things.  Hopefully some day he'll get to Tequis as well.

I arrived home all hyped up.  It had been such a great day of exploring and seeing the countryside of Mexico with friends.  Often I hesitate to take off like that with people for fear my excitement over a place will not translate for them.  Or whatever.  Yesterday was not like that and so the hope is there to head another direction soon to places that these friends have not seen.

In a lifetime, it seems to me, it would be nearly impossible to see all that is so wonderful in this country.
Viva Mexico!

Monday, June 22, 2015

You Just NEVER Know What...........

 You just never know WHAT is going to trigger ecstasy and joy in a child.  When a friend gave a bag of toys to me for Matilda and Sebastian that he had picked up at the Dollar Store, I didn't know if the bubble makers or the water guns or the glow sticks or what would be their favorite item.  I was pretty certain that the bug collector, however, would be one of the ultimate fun things!  I remember my kids using a plastic container with plastic wrap over the top with holes punched in it.   HOURS were spent with that homemade toy.
 Wow!  The excitement when Sebastian realized that he could capture any small thing moving in the garden was a joy to observe.  Matilda felt it an important enough event to interview him with TWO microphones filled with bubbles.  He said that he was going to grow up to be a bug collector!  Then he asked me what the cardboard wrapper said.  When I told him it said "Backyard Traveler", he then added traveler to his resume so that he is growing up to be a bug collector and traveler - hmmmm, kinda like his Dad was for many years as a wildlife biologist with Wildlife and Fisheries and National Park Service! 

 In a serious mood, Sebastian went off on his quest for any moving creature. Matilda was trailing and helping.   He got a roly poly, a WASP, (oops) we made him let it go, an assassin bug, and various other creatures.  On the top of the plastic case there is a little magnifying glass to watch what is inside the case.  There were whoops and squeals at any movement.
Oh yes, he and Mati caught a mosquito too.  Truly no moving bug was immune from being plucked either between the lid and bug case or with the new green tweezers that came with the case.  This went on for hours, literally. (There are lots of creatures in Grammy's gardens)
 Sweetest of all was when Sebastian looked at me very seriously and told me he had let all of them go so they could be free!  Good kid.....
Here my main thought that morning had been to get the big pot of spaghetti made along with a cheesecake for John for Father's Day.  But, of course the BEST gift he could possibly have received was spending the day with his precious children.  
Matilda with her microphone and Sebastian with his bug catcher.  The simple things can bring as much joy as some expensive toy or gizmo.  Thanks to the generous person who had the forethought to bring a bag of goodies to Mati and Seb.  They have and will continue to bring many, many hours of pleasure.

I haven't given them the water guns yet........I'm debating whether to do that at my house or theirs.........chuckle, chuckle.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Velcro is a "con" cat!

The longer Velcro "the cat" and I coexist, the more she surprises me!  There are several new tricks she has up her paws (no sleeves).  One of them occurred last week with the new people living in the guest house.

I had the bedroom door open and could hear her LOUD meow when she is trying to get someone's attention.  She wanted food from the new, unsuspecting couple.  The meow and meow went on and on.

I finally went upstairs, opened the door and she came in to her food bowl, which was full and her bowl with her low fat milk.  Gently, the lady of the guest house mentioned that it appeared she was hungry.  I laughed and told her that is how she searches out treats that unsuspecting people just might give to her.  I'm not sure if they believed me.  Velcro can be convincing.  She had left the house through the open bedroom door not 15 minutes earlier after chowing down up stairs from her bowl.  Sneaky little devil!

In the photo, those gold lame angel wings are a joke.  That collar used to be my dog Flash's.  Now Flash deserved angel wings as she did not pull tricks like Velcro.

Other tricks Velcro is pulling lately is to jump in my lap when I sit down in the chair in the living room to drink my coffee.  Now, this would not be a big deal, but after living in this house for nine years and not having anything to do with me, for her to jump in my lap is amazing.  It's not occasionally either, it's every time I sit in that chair!  I'm still startled.  For years, she had so little to do with me other then to get food that I find it funny that she has finally figured out that she can also get her back rubbed, IF she sits still.

Her ongoing trick of sleeping in the dressing room sink outside of the bathroom no longer makes me jump when in the middle of the night I walk by on my way to the bathroom.  She used to raise herself up just about the time I was passing by her and it was so startling.   No more.

Last week, she used her "I've got a gift for you" meow outside.  I know the sound.  It is a strange, high pitched meow.  Not her usual little meow.  I've now learned to turn on the outside light to see what the gift is rather then just open the door........This time it was a fluffy, grey little bunny rabbit.  Awww, what can I say?

There was no trace of the bunny rabbit in the morning.  In my heart I would like to believe she returned the baby bunny, unharmed, to wherever she found it.  Highly unlikely, however.  I'm beginning to understand why there are no more squirrels, coatamundis, skunks, lizards or snakes in the garden.

Velcro is not only a con artist, but, at times, is still a feral cat. Possibly it would be appropriate to have a sign on the gate that says, "Beware of Attack Cat".

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Locos Parade in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - FUN!

Among everything else that happened last week, on Sunday the Locos Parade was held with approximately 20,000 participants!   No, I wasn't there.  This is a photo from a few years ago.  Note that there are paraders for as far as the eye can see.

It's a fun filled day.  Families and neighborhoods parading together.  Nothing out of hand or dangerous.  Just everyone out photographing the paraders and having fun.

It originally started to honor a couple of saints, the harvesting of the citrus groves which grew in the area and to pray for rain.  It always happens around June 14th, the Feast of St. Anthony.  This year it was on the 14th though there were spontaneous parades in various colonias as they prepared for the big kahuna parade on Sunday.  By the way, the rains came on the 15th - one and a half inch of it!

I heard them in my neighborhood with the dance music they play, making floats, costumes and getting ready for the BIG day.  They left here about 10AM on Sunday morning.  I had heard them down the hill at about 7 getting all their stuff together.  But, at about 10AM they smartly high stepped it up the hill and then headed toward Col. San Antonio to meet all the other colonias who were also heading that way.  They say approximately 20,000 participants and spectators.  Just imagine.  There they were parading through town, throwing candy, dancing, playing music and just having fun.

The exuberance of life in Mexico is contagious.  With all that a Mexican family, or any family, could have to be concerned with, they set aside their concerns and worries to enjoy the day of festivities.

Another lesson for me and all of us about "living in the moment" enjoying family, friends and fun.

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On To Lighter Fare

After the heavy duty and thought provoking post of yesterday, it seemed appropriate to write something light and enjoyable today.  The comments on yesterday's blog, were in themselves, very thought provoking.

But, on to other things.  Monday, while driving down Mesones, (the street to the parking lot), I saw an elderly, old man who had an old wooden cane and who walked doubled over.  Truly he appeared to be 100 years old, at least.  He had huaraches on that were just about that old as well.

In my rear view mirror, I saw a cop on a motorcycle passing on my left side and then pulling in front of me.
I knew what was going to happen.

The policeman pulled over to the curb next to the old man, got off the bike, set it up and walked over to the old man.  He extended his arm and he and the old man walked across the busy street where three lanes merge.

I've seen this before, here in San Miguel, and it ALWAYS chokes me up.  Always.  It was my gift for the day to see such a beautiful, genuine, thoughtful gesture in respect for the old man.  I so wish I had thought to get a photo of that beautiful scene.
It's always something once I leave the house - and sometimes even if I am home and look out the windows.
But, this photo of the sheep was not outside my house.  Rather it was on the road as I left the Tuesday Tianguis yesterday.  I couldn't believe my eyes as I pulled out of the parking lot heading home.  But, as I drew closer, I slowed down and photographed the sheep who was having a field day with all the green stuff to munch on.

I think the sheep is from a small Mexican farm not too far from my house.  As I headed home, I tried to figure out how in the world, in my broken Spanish, I could explain to the farmers that I thought I saw their sheep.  I gave up and went on home hoping that one of the people in that neighborhood would figure out what I had figured out and let them know of the "sheep that got away".

Life is never dull in Mexico!  I like it that way............