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.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 5 - Art class

Life here is juicy - full of activities, color, sound and tastes. Our days here are busy from morning to night...starting with yoga in the morning and then one thing after another and we return home ready to rejuvinate for the next day.

Today after the first of our favorite yoga teacher Margaretta's class (great Iyengar teacher) we met Bob and Jamie and looked at their new piece of property. They are going to build their San Miguel dream house.

Then to art class with Liliana Zupini who speaks only spanish. It was great for a spanish lesson too. B&J have been going for a while and they finished up their paintings today so that they can bring them to their family as gifts. Richard and I started and finished one today so that we really worked quickly and will go back and start another when we will have a few sessions to learn more. It was VERY fun though and the time passed so quickly. I have attached all our pictures. Richard's is the angel boy with flower, mine is the cacti, Bob's is a portrait of Alex, his grandson and Jamie's is the fun fish with umbrella.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4 - Back "home" in San Miguel

We arrived Saturday afternoon by bus from Mexico City and came to our beautiful home of our good friends (formerly from Durham) Bob and Jamie. They are here till Wednesday when they take off for US and we shall take care of their home and Zeke, the cat (who is under our bed right now).
All is very familiar for us though we are in a completely different part of town so nice to learn a new neighborhood and have a different walking route to town each day.
This weekend is the "Fiesta de San Miguel" which means there was a big parade both yesterday and today, as well as fireworks. We were able to see the fireworks from the roof of the house. We saw many of our old friends from other visits today and lots of walking.
I have decided to focus a bit on learning some spanish during this trip so have a new book recommended by B&J and shall dedicate some time every day to this new endeavor. Learning a language is good for the brain (so they say) so I shall give it a go and see how I like it. After a few weeks, I shall take a course on "power verbs".
Pictures include the big puppets called Mohengongas (sp?) and other parade folks. I am also going to take pictures of different colors in town each was red. Shopping for an important item here - new hats for each of us. Sunny in the 80's yesterday and today.
Haste luega amigos

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 2 - Dia de las Museos

Here we are on the second day in this big city. I'll tell about our day, but just to let you know that right now, outside our hotel, at 7pm is an incredibly loud and large demonstration going on on the streets around the downtown. It is to mark the anniversary of the 1968 Oct. 2 demo when many (estimates of hundreds to thousands) were killed in Mexico City. As we were walking back to our hotel several hours ago, there were hundreds of police, many in riot gear, ready for anything to happen. We are safe, on the 6th floor, with a terrace so we can watch from above but we might not get to go out for dinner as we are not sure when this will end. We were warned not to go to the zocolo tonight.
Now to this day of museums. We started out for the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. This has some of the most impressive pre-Columbian art in the world. It is an immense museum and we spent most of the time on the Teotechuian and Mayan exhibits. You can see some pictures from this museum, including the turtles with papyrus - showing what Mexico City looked like hundreds of years ago - before civilizations.

Then, a walk through Parque Chapultepec and on to the Museo de Arte Moderno. Featured here are many contemporary Mexican artists and a few Frida Kahlo and Diego Riveras. We have been following their art and though we do not always like the subject matter, they were very passionate artists. The better exhibit was one made of all common objects and I have included photos of installations - one of thousand of buttons - looks like snow, and the other made of pantyhose.

Lastly, the Museo del Zapato (Shoe Museum) - also interesting with machines for making shoes and shoes from all over the world and all throughout history.

We have enjoyed our time here and have been following a guide book called "Mexico City - An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler" which was written by Jim Johnston who was my art teacher in San Miguel several years ago - when I took the course on monoprints. We really stick to his walking tours and suggestions for restaurants, hotel, transportation, etc. We shall bring it home for anyone who wishes to borrow it next. by bus to San Miguel and looking forward to seeing all of our friends again.
Hasta manana y con amor, Susita

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1 Arrive in Mexico City

Here we are in the largest city in the world. No problem traveling and we arrived to the same hotel we came to several years ago - Hotel Gillow, right in the Historico Centro. After a quick (30 min) rest and regathering we were off on a walking tour of the downtown to see things we missed last time we were here. A delicious meal at Cafe Tacuba. Wonderful to have some of our favorite foods again - no problem being a vegetarian here. More walking after dinner, including the 41st floor of the Torre Latino with an incredible view in all directions.

This is my first try at blogging and I am too tired right now to put on pictures so will sign off and do some more tomorrow.