Thursday, January 27, 2011

Maine to Muncie

This hawk photo was taken by our daughter, Wendy, last Saturday during a snowstorm in Portland where she and her fiancé, Troy, braved the weather to get us to the bus station.  We had some fun times with them in Lewiston, where we lived for 22 years before emigrating south.

Here are some of Wendy’s other photos, one of her and Troy and one of Pixie standing next to a huge snowbank.

So our northern sojourn continues, now in Muncie, Indiana.  The weather has improved a bit: still cold but not much new snow or ice.  We’ve been able to use Eric’s Jeep during the day for shopping for all those items we need to bring back because we cannot find them, or find them as cheap, in Mexico (British Blend Tea, vitamin supplements, pajama bottoms, good chili powder, books in English, jeans, sneakers…).  We have been taking Isabelle out for fun excursions with Grandpa and Grandma to Chuck E. Cheese (my first experience with this entrepreneurial phenomenon), McDonalds, The Muncie Children’s Museum, Library, and just hanging around watching videos of Snow White and Winnie the Pooh.  We are marveling at how fast she has grown up and what a talker she is.  Here are the latest Isabelle pictures, from the top: Acting silly at the Children's Museum, Sitting with Grandma, Sitting with Grandpa, and Holding her new princess dolls.

Eric celebrated his 40th birthday this week.  Below are Crystal and Isabelle preparing his cake and Eric enjoying his cake. 

My Aunt Alice, now 93, lives in Indianapolis, and she is now in the hospital after a nasty fall.  We are hoping to have a short visit with her and a couple of her children, on our way to the airport hotel on Saturday.  We will be flying out Sunday morning on our way back to Guadalajara.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sad News From Maine

We arrived in Maine last Friday to some terribly sad news.  Our daughter Cassie has worked with autistic children for the past twelve years.  Her first student, and the one closest to her heart, has been Tim Stickney, who she started to work with when he was four years old.  Over the years, many of which she was his one-on-one aide, Cassie and Tim developed a very special relationship.  Although she stopped being his aide several years ago, she still maintained a very close relationship with Tim and his family.  Last week, Tim, now 16, tragically, died when he suffered a seizure in a hot tub and drowned.  As you might imagine, Cassie was devastated.  We were glad to have been able to be with Cassie for the wake and funeral over the weekend.  Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral, a testimony to the many lives Tim touched in his life.  As the priest pointed out at his funeral service, Tim may have had special needs, but he brought all of us special gifts.  Here are two photos of Cassie and Tim:

We spent much of the weekend in Cassie and Alana’s apartment with their dog, Yote.  Here’s Cassie, with her partner, Alana, getting some love from Yote. 

Since Monday, we’ve been in Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, where we lived for 22 years.  Wendy and Troy, newly engaged, live here and we’ve been enjoying cooking and visiting with them.  No photos yet; we took some with Wendy’s camera, but I don’t have access to them at the moment.  I’ll include some next week when I post from Indiana. 

The weather here in Maine has been, shall we say, wintery!  With temperatures near zero and several storms of snow and ice, we are reminded why we have decided to spend our winters in Mexico.  Scraping the ice and snow off Wendy’s car, driving on icy roads, wearing four layers as we venture outside…ah the joys of winter in Maine.  Here’s one sample shot:

On Saturday, we’re off to Muncie, Indiana to spend a week with Eric, Crystal, and Isabelle.  I’ll post some photos and news from there.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back to the Cold!

We are getting ready to head north to Maine and Indiana at the end of the week, but we have a busy week before we go. 

I am attending my last meeting as a member of the Board of Directors for the Lake Chapala Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Tuesday morning.  We always meet on the patio of a local restaurant, have breakfast, then have our meeting.  I am not really a guy who enjoys meetings, so I am looking forward to not having to attend these long meetings once a month.  I am not running for reelection; they will elect a replacement for me next week at our annual meeting. 

Pixie and her friend Kathy are teaching a 14-week course called “Rise Up and Call Her Name,” a UU program about various goddesses.  It meets every Monday from 2-5.  They will be meeting tomorrow at the synagogue where we hold our services.  While she’s there, I will be at the dentist getting a filling fixed before we leave.

Every Tuesday at noon, Fred Harland and I run a learning seminar at the Lake Chapala Society.  We show a podcast from the TED conference, then we lead a discussion of the lecture.  Last week I showed a lecture by the autistic activist and animal specialist Temple Grandin.  The TED Conference brings speakers together from all over the world to address important and interesting issues every year.  You can watch the lectures at the website and download them to your computer.  This week, Fred is showing a lecture by Thomas Barnett discussing new plans for the defense Department readiness.  We always have a good crowd since this time of year we have many “snowbirds” here looking for interesting things to do. 

Wednesday evening, our monthly New Hampshire/Maine group is meeting at Brian and Evelyn’s house.  We meet at someone’s house for drinks, then we go to eat at a restaurant.  It’s fun to get together with other New Englanders to share stories and opine about the Patriots, Red Sox, etc.  We have about 25 members at the moment. 

Thursday, I have to meet with my doctor to make sure my Coumadin level is adjusted to avoid getting any more blood clots on my flight to Boston on Friday.   And Pixie and I have a meeting to plan services for our Fellowship for the coming year.  We have selected the theme of “aging” for 2011.  How appropriate.  We have to think of topics for monthly presentations on this topic for the coming year.  So, that means another breakfast meeting. 

Friday morning, we’re off to Dallas, Chicago, and Boston, then a two-hour bus ride to Portland and to Cassie and Alana’s house for the weekend.  We’re then off to Lewiston-Auburn, Maine to visit Wendy for a few days, before heading to Indianapolis  and  then Muncie  to visit Isabelle and her parents for a week.  Weather permitting, we’ll be returning to Guadalajara on January 30.  Chuy will be bunking with Jeanne and Paul and his buddy, Curly, while we are gone. 

We had a sad event here this week.  An American who was the partner of one of my fellow writers in the Writers’ Group was murdered in his home in Riberas.  The crime seems to have been a home invasion-robbery and not related to the drug violence in Mexico.  But it was the first violent death of a gringo that I know of since we’ve been here, and it has shaken our community. 

I will share some photos of our trip when we return.  We are bracing for significantly colder weather in Maine and Indiana, of course.  But I am sure we’ll survive. J.  So I’ll sign off until we return. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Feliz Año Nuevo

Well Feliz Año Nuevo, everyone, or as the Mexicans say, “Feliz Año!”  Make sure if you write this to use ñ instead of n, as it will drastically change the meaning of the word año.  (You undoubtedly don’t want to wish somebody a Happy New Anus!).

Anyway, we survived our noisy Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve celebrations here in the village.  Our Mexican neighbors are very friendly, courteous, and noisy!  Christmas Eve is very full of music, fireworks, bonfires in the streets, and general merrymaking!  And New Year’s Eve is pretty much the same.  And the parties tend to last all night.  But we stayed up late and wore earplugs to bed, and we were no worse for the wear.  Chuy did NOT like the fireworks, though, and stayed close to us.  On Christmas Eve, when the fireworks were loud, we even tried to sleep on top of Pixie’s head for comfort!  But we all survived and are now setting out to see what 2011 will bring. 

Christmas was a lot of fun, and very Mexican.  We attended the Christmas Posada in San Antonio as we have done in the past.  It seems as though the entire town comes out for the processions which occur on the nine days leading up to Christmas.  The posada consists of singing and reenacting the various elements of the nativity story, with various homes serving as stations for the reenactments.  Here are some photos which capture the posada we attended:

Christmas was a bit sad this year as it was the first we had not spent with at least two of our children.  We had been planning to have been in Maine and Indiana early in December to celebrate an early Christmas with everyone, but, as has been previously reported in Maine to Mexico, events made that impossible.  We did go to Cathy Roberts’ home (Cathy is a friend from Maine who owns a lovely B&B here in Ajijic ) for dinner.  Our two friends from Kennebunk, Ron and Jean were also there.  We met an interesting couple from Ireland there too, Andy and Siobhan (pronounced Shi-vón) who came here 3 ½ years ago to adopt a Mexican baby.  They return every Christmas so their daughter, Jessica, can appreciate her roots.  Here are photos of the gang at dinner and Andy, Siobhan, and Jessica:

Our friends, Fred and Mardele Harland, had a house full of children and grandchildren.  Matt and Renatta were visiting from Erie, PA with their two boys.  Readers of this blog may remember that Matt is the physician who helped me a couple of years ago when I suffered a head injury when Pixie was up north tending to her ill mom.  We also visited them in Erie on our way to Maine the summer before last. 

Their other son, Chris, and his wife, Becca and their two boys were also visiting.  They both live and work in Delhi, India, now, but make regular trips back to the US to visit family.  Fred and Mardele also visit them in India. 
 Ron and Jean hosted their friends, Tom and Penny, visiting this week from Kennebunk.  We had planned        a hike up the mountain in Ajijic to the small chapel.  Unfortunately, Ron and Jean both came down with bad colds, so I took Tom and Penny up the mountain.  Here are photos of us and a view from the chapel:

I am including a few photos of some interesting details of our temporary rental here in the village.  Below you can the big tree growing in our central garden with an orchid growing in it.  I’ve included a few architectural details and our not-so-scenic views from the roof!



We are looking forward to our long-delayed trip north in mid January.  Pixie’s face has healed nicely and both front teeth are in good working order.  We are being ever-so-careful on the cobblestones these days.