Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last post of the year....Feliz Ano Nuevo

Guanajuato - capital of the state - about 1 1/4 hr from San Miguel
 The last few weeks of December brought us a few more family to visit in our large house at Vergel #1. We did similar activities with many of the guests and visiting Guanajuato was one of them. This is a beautiful city where most of the roads are underground. At one time it was the richest city in the world - because of the gold and silver mines. With Alan and Marilyn we had a tour of the mines which was new for us.
We managed to have time for most of our usual activities and our guests joined us for many - yoga, spanish classes and of course our weekly breakfast with NC friends - usually at Mama Mia's. This is always a chance for guests of the various families to meet each other and we always catch up on what we have been doing all week. It is amazing how retired folks can have so much to do!

One of the weekly breakfasts at Mama Mia's

The gang in Guanajuato
Richard, Nancy, Bryna, Greg, Sadie, Ben

Sitting at the Jardin

Christmas Pinata

One of the activities for every day is sitting at the Jardin - the central square in town in front of the church where it is great to people watch, read or relax. We were all lucky to see the fantastic light show on the Parrochia (the large church in town) which was designed for this year's bicentennial activities. We celebrated Christmas here for the first time - pinata's everywhere, usually in this star shape. There are posadas for the nine days before Christmas where folks go from house to house replicating the time of Joseph and Mary. They are turned away several times before being invited in. We were passing by one in our neighborhood and were invited to join with sparklers and candles as we walked and then invited inside for a prayer service with many children after which they received a bag or gift of candy which was to replicate a gift from god. We were a large jewish contingent yet it was very beautiful to see their rituals and religious celebrations. During the whole Christmas season there was no commercial activities and there are no gifts on Christmas - just a family dinner. We understand that there is simple gift giving on the "Three Kings Day" which is January 6th.

The larger celebration was the birthday of The Virgin of Guadalupe who is the patron saint of Mexico. On that day there were parades and many fireworks. Here is Alan walking behind the parade.
Alan joins the parade!

One of our side trips was to this very large Sabino Tree with an incredible root system. This is in a nearby town called Huerta, a very small pueblo.
The Sabino Tree

Now the year is coming to an end. We have our nephew Noah and his wife Laura with us this week and once again visiting our favorite places.

I would like to take this time to reflect on the gratitude we have for this wonderful life and for each other. I am writing this on Wed, Dec. 29th just before our 20th wedding anniversary which is tomorrow and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than being together in this wonderful land.

We would like to wish you all a very happy New Year and may 2011 bring you everything you wish for.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December visitors, holidays and good wishes for all

December has been a busy time for us. We rented a fantastic and large home at Vergel #1 which is in Col. San Antonio so we would have room for our many family members visiting. First came Alan and Marilyn who stayed for over 2 weeks and we had a great time showing them all our favorite sights. Alan took no time finding new friends to "help" both with their home projects and with Casita Linda which is a program similar to Habitat for Humanity which helps build homes for less priviledged folks in the "campo" (countryside outside SMA). They both joined me out in San Miguel Viejo, the afterschool program called Ojala. Alan helped with the woodworking and we helped with the weaving class.
During most of December I took an off loom weaving course with Patricia Robeles (see picture at right) and learned many stitches using different fibers. Hopefully I will continue with this on my own as I enjoyed it very much and found it very meditative.
We spent many morning hiking up the canyon to the Botanical Garden and then down through the streets of the city. It was hard keeping up the pace with Alan but we all enjoyed the challenge. We have continued this tradition with all the guests who have followed.  During the time Al and Marilyn were with us we also had Nancy Reiss and Gary Hinz who were visiting from New Hampshire. They stayed at a small apt that we found for them. Shortly before A & M left, Nancy (sister) arrived and she just left today. During her week with us we had our cousins Greg and Bryna Rapp and their great teenagers Sadie and Bryna. We had fun again showing everyone our favorite places which included La Gruta (hot springs), Botanical Gardin, Artisan Market, Fabrica Aurora, jardin with special light show on weekends, Christmas Posadas and other holiday events and a progressive meal day yesterday to celebrate the holiday with our friends from NC and their families.
We kept up some yoga and our spanish classes during our visitor days and are winding down the year.

 I'll write a bit more before the year ends but will take this moment to wish you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year.

We are grateful for all our good fortunes and our wonderful friends and family and the chance to spend this incredible year here in Mexico and experience a wonderful culture.

Love and good wishes to all.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Arte en CASA - an art show

We have both been taking art classes weekly with maestra Liliana Zuppini. This is different for both of us as neither of us were doing painting in our past art experiences. Richard normally did b/w drawings of the nude or sculpture and I did collage and fabric art.
Here you can see Richard's three pieces - Llorona (crying woman); Amigos - which one is pulling which??; and a man with a flute and spirit coming from the fire.

This was an art show of all Liliana's students and here we all are at the opening of the show. It was a fundraiser for another worthwhile organization - CASA and I sold a piece and made a donation to the organization. (Thanks Marion!)
My pieces are - Inside the Instituto Allende with butterflies - my attempt at perspective and detailed architecture; Los colores - photographs and words with mexican designs painted in the orange and green piece. Lower left is cut paper and paint - Guanajuato which is a town near us; and lower right is Circulos (circles) of buttons, paint and other found objects.

November 2010 - "Dia de los Muertos" and visitors from NC

This month began with one of the most important holidays of the year - Dia de las Muertos or "Day of the Dead". We knew from last year about most of the activities and it never ceases to amaze us at how the Mexicans celebrate death. It makes so much sense to me to honor and embrace this part of life rather than to fear it and here they certainly do celebrate. There are parades and beautiful alters everywhere. This second picture is an example of the displays that are made on the ground of sand, beans, sticks, etc - sort of like a mandela as they are made for just the few days - Nov 1 and 2nd. There are gatherings in all the graveyards where people spend time with their loved ones who have passed on. The marigolds are placed on all alters and their scent is a reminder of death and helps to guide the spirits of those who have passed on back to this life.

We had special visitors during this week - Marion, Bob and Carolyn from Chapel Hill and it was great to share this special experience with them. We enjoyed a party at "our house" (Kathie's at that time) to have our local friends meet some of our NC friends. Here is a picture of the alter that I made for our house which was specifically for Erwin and Kurt - our two family members that have passed on during this year. I found a little pizza box, and a peace dove for Kurt to enjoy and a kitty cat, sandwich, pretzel and beer for Erwin. The four candles light the way and the glass of water is there to quench their thirst after their long travel from the other world. May we all remember our loved ones forever. Here is something humorous to me that would not "fly" in the US. There was an add in our local english speaking newspaper for a special "Day of the Dead" Hospice celebration! I know it is hard to explain or experience the different cultures when you are all sitting home in the US and may find this all weird but you would have to be here to understand that it is all a beautiful time for everyone.
Our friends are all Unitarian Universalists from our church back home in NC so we were happy to take them to the only UU church in Mexico - right here in SMA. Our usual Sunday morning activities include breakfast with all our friends and then to church sometimes, or as in this past weekend - a hike in the canyon.

Here is a picture at my spanish school. I was taking a course called "Telenovela of Carolina" or "Soap Opera of Carolina" and here I am as Carolina with my new boyfriend! We took turn playing the various parts and of course it was all in spanish so a fun way to practice speaking out loud and learning about the culture with a little grammar thrown in.

Here is the gang from Chapel Hill. It was great having visitors and we are looking forward to our December with many visitors of the family thoroughout the whole month. We have rented a big house and will fill it up most of the weeks. This will be our first Christmas/New Year in Mexico and so this time will be special for all as we celebrate their holiday in surely a different manner then in the US. More on that next month!

Here Marion and I are at the afterschool program that I go to every week - Ojala-kids and Marion was kind enough to teach these kids origami. She brought paper for them all and they seemed to love this new project that they had never seen before. We take so much for granted in the US that everyone sees and knows the same things but these kids are very isolated out in the country with very little and had never seen origami before. - Thanks Marion!

As we are coming up to Thanksgiving I would like to wish you all a happy day and I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to live here in Mexico this year and to experience so much new and different in my life. I am grateful for my wonderful Ricardo to share this with and to all of you reading this who are part of my big family. My heart is filled with love.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October activities - fiestas, parties, children's art show

Here we are sitting on a bench in the jardin waiting for a parade with our friend Agnes (left) and a new friend. The jardin is always a place to rest and surely find someone passing by to hang out with. We both stop there to sit and study our spanish when time allows.

Richard at painting class with our teacher Liliana Zuppini. At the end of this month we are having an art show - all the students of Liliana and we will each have several of our pieces to show. I shall write about this in the next post.
We had an incredible art show of all the kids in the Ojala program that we both volunteer with. We sold hundreds of pieces of art of all these kids and they all received the proceeds of the sales. Here I am with some of the students who had just returned from the parade, dressed in their indigenous costumes - the people of San Miguel Viejo where this program is come from the Otomi Indians.
Here we are at another party - was a 50's dance party as a fundraiser for the Biblioteca our bilingual library. We sat this dance out, but otherwise had fun dancing. We need to take Salsa lessons sometime during our stay here in Mexico!
Below is a piece of art that is large and was created by many of the kids together in the Ojala program. It is a mural and is three dimensional. These kids are so talented. Here is a link to my newest movie. It is a compilation of some movies that I took and some photos - all of the "Fiesta de San Miguel" which is the birthday celebration of our patron saint. This is one of the biggest holidays in San Miguel.

Now we are looking forward to the arrival of our friends Carolyn, Bob and Marion who are coming next week and will celebrate "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) with us.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fiestas de Bicentennario and other September fun

This erie picture was taken at the Full Moon ceremony in the botanical garden. It was a combination of full moon and the autumn solstice on the same day - of course a good reason to celebrate. Hello from our bird "Tika" who has kept us entertained this month as we have house sat for him and a cat named "Misha". Tika was funny as he has quite a repetoire of words..."Good morning" (every day, first thing), "Give me a taco", "I'm a pretty bird", and many other sentences that are hard to understand. He went crazy saying everything when I turned on the hairdryer in the morning. We will miss them as we move on this coming Friday to another house - new home redone by our friend Kathie.

Here's the Sunday morning gang that meets every week for breakfast. Carolyn (standing next to Richard) has just left us for Portland, OR. It is a great tradition and we enjoy catching up every week.
The Parrochia (main church in town) is lit up for the Bicentennial - a special light show every night and this was special with the full moon. It is lights set to music. Those who are coming to visit will get to see it as it will stay until early 2011.

Here I am boogieing with Jose Roque - our friend and Richard's spanish teacher and english student. This was at a party for Barbara's birthday.

The Bicentennial celebration went for several days including many parades, fireworks, native dancers and religious events. Many of you have already seen my short you tube movie of some of the events and if you have not seen it -
here is the link:

There were such colorful photos to be taken and I had a hard time deciding what to include here. Since the independence began in this state, and much of the story started here in San Miguel so the celebrations have even more meaning here.

I went to Ojala - the afterschool program that I work with on Independence day and this is a picture of the kids with the masks that they made that day - these are the younger kids and I am working with the older group - making minature grocery stores "Abarrotes" with tiny objects to fill the shelves of the stores.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August was another wonderful month in San Miguel

This was another wonderful month and the best was that we were in the beautiful home of our friends Joan and Bill and enjoyed the beautiful surrondings in this extra special place. We had
our cousin Michele Rapp visiting for a week which was great for many reasons - getting a chance to know her better, showing our beautiful town to her and experiencing her joy and excitement for her first time in Mexico which is fun for us - seeing it again through a newcomer's eyes. Here is Richard at the Charco (the Botanical Garden) playing his flute for us on a Saturday morning and Michele with us at the Charco on another beautiful day. On the first picture you can see the water flowing over the bridge - amazing site as usually there is no waterflow over the bridge.

Here we are in our yoga class - "the trio purple" getting ready to begin. Here's Michele peaking into a store - one of the many colorful photos. Michele took several hundred photos - one better than the next. The picture of the arches is my painting of a view from inside the Instutito Allende with the addition of butterflies. I enjoyed working on the details and perspective.

We visited the "Tuesday Market - Tiangus" and I bought a few of these interesting metal pieces that hopefully I can use in a piece of art one of these days. This gigantic market is a feast for the eyes. Lastly - a beautiful night scene while walking the streets.
Other highlights of this month were the continuation of learning spanish and I can even say full sentences but am better at reading and writing. I have completed Level 3 at my school which supposedly defines me as an intermediate student however I feel quite confused by all the tenses. More study to come for sure.
Richard and I are both working on new art pieces - Richard's is almost complete and mine is a new collage and painted piece with some fabric collaged as well. Now as we move into September it is time for the bicentennal celebrations. There is an incredible light show with music on Parrochia (church in the center - jardin of our town). All the buildings are being decorated and plans are underway for all of the independence day celebrations. We know from last year that there are many exciting events to look forward to - especially fireworks!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July in San Miguel with Melva

July was a wonderful month for us...including a visit from one of our favorite "peeps" - Melva from Carrboro, NC. This month we housesat at Esperanza 23 in the Col. San Antonio, one of our favorite neighborhoods. It was great being able to share this home with Melva.
The month included usual activities like yoga, spanish classes, art, walking everywhere in everyday and travels with Melva in and around SMA.
For some reason, I cannot seem to work this blog in a way that I like which would be putting pictures in some order and being able to write somewhere near them about what they are about. So, I will do my best but don't be surprised if you find something that does not make exact sense coordinating with a picture. Here are dolls in the Mercado and a view from the "Pipila" high above the city of Guanajuato. This is the capitol of the state with the same name - the state that also includes San Miguel de Allende. The city was an old silver mining town and many of the roads are built underground of old silver mine tunnels. Guanajuato along with SMA and Delores Hidalgo are the main cities of the beginning of the fight for Mexico's independence.
Here, the "Parrochia" which is our church in the middle of town. Because we are entering into the beginning of the Independence celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence there are many "happenings". This picture is part of an amazing light show that will go on from now until October on weekend nights. The church is lit in a moving light show of different colors. Very hard to explain this in words and hope that some of you who visit will get to see this. I am glad that Melva saw it and that I got a few pictures - will attempt a few more on other weekends.

Here we are in our backyard with the beautiful fountain. Please look closely and see if you notice any difference in Ricardo's face....a new look for him.
Our backyard included a fig tree which provided us a few figs every day throughout the month. My favorite fig recipe was figs, arugula, pecans and balsamic vinegar.

Melva on a beautiful street corner - could she have matched her colors any better? The color is the most noticeable thing about SMA - everywhere one looks it is a feast for the eyes.

Richard's newest piece of art was created from his mind and just finished during July. This incredible green cactus is in the Botanical Garden "Charco". We spent a wonderful afternoon with Melva in the garden - one of the few moments of sunshine during her trip.

Zumba, a favorite activity for all. Here you see Stan and his daughter Julia who was also visiting from NC and Melva too. Usually 200+ folks gather on Saturday mornings in one of the parks for an hour of fun and exercise.

Somehow I liked these two photos - collage of daily activities - from the roof onto someones laundry and our dinner table for guests.

Below is a picture of a funny event taking place in the street. The man on the hourse was really on stilts and managed to dance around and have his horse dancing at the same time. This was again part of the beginning festivities for the bicentennial. Los quatros mujeres - our new friend Carolyn, Barbara, Melva and yours truly.

We saw several plays and one of the big highlights was the movie about Daniel Ellsberg - "The Most Dangerous Man in America" which include a Q&A with Daniel and his wife. This was part of the short film festival that took place here in SMA for several days this week.
I also spent many hours this month editing a cookbook of recipes of one year of fundraising lunches for an organization that I am volunteering with - Mujeres en Cambio. We raise money for women outside the city to go to HS and college. Let me know if you would like to contribute to this organization and I will tell you how!!! We are also both still involved with an organization called Ojala which is an afterschool program for young children in the "campo" - countryside. Richard teaches them English and I assist in the art classes.
I think that is enough for one month. We are now getting ready to move to another beautiful home on Sunday Aug 1 and the next blog will come from there.
Amor y abrazos a todo!