Friday, November 13, 2009

Nov. 13 art class and friends

Here are the latest pictures that we have created. Richard's is a street scene with the man collecting gold and my owl is for Erwin - the wise one. You will see our art teacher Lilliani, Bob and Jamie and Zeke the cat.

Nov. 13 Winding down with Circles

Our last afternoon for 2009 in San Miguel. I have been taking circle pictures for the last few days so will send along a few for you to see. Soon we will be home again and back to a new (old) life again. Haste luega ahora.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nov. 5 A typical day for Ricardo y Susita

Here we are winding down to our last week in San Miguel. We have made several new friends here and of course, our friends from years past are important. We are happy that Bob and Jamie are returning home on Saturday.

Today we started with yoga with Margaretta at 8:30, followed by breakfast at our favorite cafe - Cafe Monet. Then art class with Lilianna followed by meeting Kathy at her house and heading to Eunice's to pick her up and go for lunch at Sapphos. Then I went off to shop a bit and Richard went to his conversation class at the Biblioteque. Dinner at home tonight together and both reading and studying spanish. My class has finished and I am excited to have learned alot of spanish in the 2 1/2 weeks and look forward to coming back and going to the same school - Warren Hardy, when I return next year.

Of course, just as it is at home, emails to keep up with at night. We are working on a celebration weekend for my dad in April in the Adirondacks (upstate NY). This is a place we have been many times before for family reunions and a good place to remember my dad.

I have included some pictures that show some of my "color" days in the beginning of the trip when I took only one color for a day. The hard copies are just spread out on the counter but it gives a good idea of what I saw for the day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nov. 2 - More Dia de las Muertos and communication with Erwin

Yesterday my focus was on my alter and thinking about Erwin. This afternoon Ricardo and I sat for a while by our alter and reminisced and talked about Erwin. I felt his presence and the cat was very involved with us but no direct communication. Knowing Erwin as well as we do, I suspect that his communication will be in a very interesting way.
I thought I did receive a message the Sunday I returned from the burial in Maryland. I was reading a book (Born to Run about the Taramuhara Indians in the Copper Canyon of Mexico). Now this book has NOTHING to do with anything that Erwin would have cared about but within a few minutes of reading it the discussion was about the human race and whether it was born to run - the author then mentioned that humans are the only running biped that are tailless. Those who know Erwin and our family might remember way back when Richard Vogel was about 3 or 4 years old that he would come every morning to Erwin, pulling down his pants and asking if he had grown a tail yet. Erwin always told him that he would soon and to come back the next day and he (Erwin) would take a look again. I do not remember how long this went on - do you Richard??
The next page in the book was talking about how people's faces were at one time larger than they are today and that Benjamin Franklin's face was chunkier than yours. You all now know that Erwin dressed as Ben Franklin many times over the years. I remember him dressed in Washington DC at the bicentennial (1976). These two items, when I was reading that day in the airplane, felt like communications to me from my dad that he was there with me. You may all take this for what you will but I shall also take it for what it meant to me.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead here in Mexico is a wonderful experience and mixture of fun and memories. I have included pictures from yesterday - many alters, events at the Jardin (center of town), beautiful art on the ground made of seeds, sand, etc.; Katrina parade where folks dress as skeletons. This is just a small amount of many pictures that I am happy to share with anyone who wants to see them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nov 1 - Dia de las Muertos

Today and tomorrow are the celebrations of Day of the Dead or here it is called Dia de las Muertos. There are so many things that are different here and this is a big one - celebrating death with memory and fiesta. Alters are built everywhere and there are families who have big parties in the cemetaries. We have seen it all today and will share some pictures with you in a few days.

My celebrations revolved around setting up an alter for Erwin with different things that he will enjoy as his spirit comes to visit. There is a little beer bottle, a ham and cheese sandwich, two owls, a pussycat, a little frying pan with fried eggs, a cake, a coffin and skull (traditional on these alters), a feather, his watch, a little owl ashtry of his,a lollipop,a pretzel, a picture and marigold flowers which are also traditional. Most of these little items are handmade of candy and sold in little booths all over town. Behind is the quilt I made for his 80th birthday which is escher like with owls and cats. Candles are lit to light the spirit on the way and I shall light them again tomorrow. There is also a little heart which says "Te quiero Papa" (I love you papa).

Richard and I hope to keep this tradition alive every year and celebrate with alters for all our loved ones who have passed on.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30 - another wonderful week in San Miguel

It has been quite an interesting week for us. We've had many moments to think about my dad and of course the outpouring of emails to us is very warming to our hearts. Most of you have read the wonderful obituary in the Washington Post this week which really captured the heart of who Erwin was. I am very proud to be his daughter and proud that he was my father. I hope I got all his best genes. He shall live on in our memory. As we are here in Mexico we are coming up on the big celebration of Dia de las Muertos (Day of the Dead) and I am doing everything that the Mexicans do to celebrate and make our home ready for a visit from my dad. You will see a picture of the many booths of little hand made candy sculptures to represent foods, icons, skeletons, caskets, etc. More on this in the next blog.

This week we both finished our second paintings - this taking the last 4 weeks to finish with our excellent teacher Lilianna Zuppini. We'll start a new one next week. I will let you guess which of us did which one!

I also treated myself to a private yoga class with the workshop teacher from CA who was here last weekend when I went to Maryland. She has helped me to create a practice for myself at home and demonstrated and photographed each posture so that I can remember the details when I get home.

Lastly, I am winding down from my 2 1/2 weeks of spanish classes and I must say, I have come a long way (with even longer to go!) I have several hours of homework for each class and have been keeping up with it. I have met a few wonderful people in the class and this past Wednesday we had a fun party at the home of the teacher and his wife - Warren and Tula Hardy.

Tonight we are off to a lecture about Dia de las Muertos and the integration of the indigenous culture with the catholic culture of Mexico. I included the picture of the delicious cappucini that I often get in one of our favorite breakfast spots \ Cafe Juan where Ricardo has his spanish conversation class on Tuesday and Thursdays.
Haste luega y amor,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25 - Sad family news

Erwin Vogel (June 23, 1921 - October 21, 2009)

Picture of Susan, Nancy and Erwin at Mommy's grave (Jan. 2008); Susan and Nancy with Erwin at Kingsway (Sept 2009), Cori and Andy family with Erwin - May 2009, Erwin in his clown costume 2008.

Most of you who are following our lives already know that my dad Erwin Vogel died on Wednesday, Oct. 21st at the nursing home near my sister Nancy in Schenectady, NY. My siblings - Nancy, Alan, Richard and I met in Maryland and buried him yesterday. It was a somber time for all of us but also a nice chance for us to reminisce and talk about our dad. We have been dealing with his illness for over a year and all are grateful for his quick passage to the next world. He was buried, at his wish, with a silver 1921 dollar (the year he was born) to cross the river Stykes.

These are words from Wikipedia (I guess we did not know the tongue part!):

In ancient times some believed that putting a gold coin under the tongue upon death, would help pay the toll for the ferry to help cross the Styx river which would lead you to the entrance to the underworld. If some could not pay the fee they were said to haunt those who did not put the coin under their departed bodies tongue.

Here are the haikus that I wrote for yesterday.

Mi Padre, my dad -
adios from Mexico,
I’ll surely miss you

Remembering you,
the family patriarch;
funny, odd and kind

Reading day and night,
shared your knowledge with others
then always learning more.

Pipe and tobacco,
daily glasses of whiskey;
Kat food, favorite snack (Kit Kats!)

Us, scavenger hunts;
lollipop tree for grandkids
they paint your toenails

Had your quirky ways
Schlaraffia, brotherhood
fun for you and them

Your identities:
The clown club at Asbury;
Benjamin Franklin

Adaptability -
Get used to new things -
We can count on you

You – Independent
till the last months of your life,
we’re glad we helped you

A cute little boy
the last year at Asbury -
how I think of you

We say goodbye now
your children are together -
send you on your way.

Here with Mommy too
thanks for all you gave to us
May you rest in Peace.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oct 18 - Birthday Party and Guanajuato

Here at the end of the first third of our six weeks and, as you are reading, we do and see mucho. We celebrated our good friend Eunice's birthday with a surprise party at our (at the moment) house (thanks Bob and Jamie)! We met Eunice last year - she is a very talented artist who paints, makes jewelry, makes metal framed pictures, draws on wood, has painted many murals on all the walls of her home and is one great person and only 82 years young. The other person in the picture is Kathy - she was the friend who traded houses with us last year. So many of you who visited us were at her home when she was not there.

Then, with Marni, we traveled by bus to the city of Guanajuato, which is the capital of the state of Guanajuato where San Miguel de Allende lies. As you can see it looks different than most other cities, partly because there are many roads which go underground which were made from the old silver mines. This two week time in October is the Cervantino Festival, honoring Cervantes and Don Quixote. There are many music and art venues drawing thousands of people and we were glad to be a part of it. We found many interesting art exhibits and had a delicious meal in our favorite restaurant on the jardin.

Tomorrow starts my focus on Spanish - taking a 2 1/2 week class on Power Verbs (3 x/week) so I hope this gives me the start I need to begin to learn to speak spanish.

Buenos tardes y buenos noches.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16 - a full week of "juicy life".

Well, where do the days go here. I was going to write every other day or so and here we are six days since the last post. Our good friend Marni from Durham, NC has been here since Monday and we've been showing her all our favorite spots. Highlights include Richard's enjoyment of both his spanish conversation group on Monday and Friday and his private class with a teacher who says he knows all the grammar and vocabulary and needs only to practice talking. I am very proud of him as he has worked so hard over the last few years, reading spanish every day - wherever he is. Obviously it has paid off.

We have walked miles with Marni every day - up and down the cobblestone streets. That along with our yoga classes is keeping us in good shape and also pooped when we return in the evenings. Again our art class is fun for us and a wonderful talk about creativity by two local artists. We've been to Atontonlico - part of the World Heritage Site along with San Miguel de Allende and to the hot springs - "La Gruta". We visited the big art gallery (former textile factory) and last night to the botanical garden with a beautiful walk home seeing the city at sunset. Many delicious meals out and one or two at home. Somehow our day is organized such that we are not home at the right time so we are enjoying the delicious foods of this town.

I should remember also to tell you that we are growing very fond of our cat - Zeke. We hope we are not teaching him bad behaviors so that when Bob and Jamie return they will still talk to us. (Zeke comes to my side of the bed at 6am and just ever so tenderly pats my face to let me know that it is time for breakfast. Then I, ever so gently, pat Richard's face to let him know it is time for Zeke to have breakfast!)
Tonight we are having a little party at our house for dinner and to celebrate the birthday of one of our local friends Eunice.
Haste Luega y amor

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10 - Zumba, Morado y Rosa

Today is Saturday and we started with Zumba. I think this is a dance/exercise craze that started here in Mexico but now can be found all over the world. It is one hour of dance to latin music and all the ladies love the handsome Cesar who leads the class. Here it is in the big park - Parque Juarez along with about 200 people, mostly ladies.

The rest of today was more relaxed as we have been so busy all during the week. It is "fin de semain" - weekend and even for us folks we need a rest from all the classes of the week.

Tonight we will watch a movie at home and enjoy a home cooked meal. We have shopped at the veggie market and soaked all our vegetables so that they are ready to go. I am enjoying cooking here and somehow come up with a few different things than my usual repetoire. My favorite salad in Mexico - mango, avocado, tomato, cilantro, cucumber and jicama - yummmmmm.

Colors today were purple and pink. Enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8 - Color everywhere

I have decided on a little photography project. Everyday I pick a color and take photos of everything I see in that color. It is amazing how the eye can focus on one thing when there is so much to see. I am continually stopping us on our travels about town to take another shot. Here are just a small sampling - one of each - rojo, naranja, amarillo, verde y azul. More to come another day.