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Monday, October 7, 2013

Chicago and La Llorona Art Gallery's opening Exhibition

We have been home in Chicago for two weeks now and I've enjoyed almost every minute of it.  Well, maybe not all of the unpacking, rearranging furniture, etc. but for the most part it's been great.  I find myself missing some of my life back in Mexico City but I know we will go back there for several months next year. I love being able to see my daughters and while I haven't seen Diana yet it is much easier for us to talk on the phone than it was to skype.  The dogs seem comfortable here although Citlali is still crazy and follows me around - not nearly as much as she does in Mexico though.

We are busy getting the house back into its former dual purposed gallery/home state.  Arturo has been working hard and we are excited to have the first show scheduled to open on Friday, October 25!  It will feature the exhibition "Endless Death" (Muerte sin fin), a selection of pen and ink drawings, some quirky or whimsical, some serious, even dramatic, that the artist Felipe Ehrenberg created over a thirty six year time span. Ehrenberg lived many years in Brazil as the cultural ambassador of Mexico.  Besides being an artist, he is a writer, activist, editor, diplomat, actor, politician and the list goes on.   Here is the link to the press release and these are a few examples of his work:

 If you are in the Chicago area on October 25th we would love to see you!  The opening starts at 6 p.m. and goes until midnight.  Updates will be posted on the Gallery's Facebook page.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mexican Independence Day, Patzcuaro and Farewell for now from Mexico

This will be my last blog entry from Mexico for the time being anyway.  I'm not sure yet if I will continue the blog once we return to Chicago on Saturday, nor am I sure when we are returning to Mexico.  The last six months have been wonderful but it's time to go on to some other projects now.  We will reopen the art gallery in late October and we have a lot of work to do to get that going again.   I'm going to open two more Etsy stores and stock the apron shop for Christmas.  I want to reorganize the house in Chicago and set up my own writing/crafts room as well as get rid of tons of junk.  So until I decide what to do with the blog, I'll leave you with our trip to Patzcuaro last weekend with Arturo's Uncle Arturo and Aunt Maria Elena.  Despite the relentless rain we had a great time!
A church had dozens of these hand-embroidered banners.

Uncle Arturo and Aunt Maria Elena on a boat ride through the rain.

The rain stopped long enough for the Independence Day Parade

Citlali enjoying the parade.

The horses were my favorites!

This horse was dancing but the photo doesn't capture it well.  
And one last one - at least for now - from our bedroom window.  Talk to you later!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What I'll miss about Mexico

Tomorrow we leave for Patzcuaro for a few days and when we return on Monday, we will only have four more days here before we go back to Chicago.  I'm not sure when I'll spend another six months at a stretch in Mexico as we have a lot of things to do in Chicago.  Like work for one.  So now I'm becoming more aware of Mexico and what I'll miss while we're gone.  We will be back early next year but it will be different. So here is some of what I'll miss and it is in no particular order:

1.  The view outside our bedroom window.  I've bored you with enough pictures of it, but I never tire of looking out that window.
2.  All the mountains that surround Mexico City.  Chicago is great but it just doesn't have the same landscape as Mexico.
3.  Family and friends that we have here.
4.  Vegetarians beware - I'll miss the terrific meat at the neighborhood butcher's little shop.  I am trying to eat less meat but this butcher shop is the best.
5.  Going to La Lagunilla on Sundays with Arturo and the dogs.  Besides looking at all the vintage goods and antiques, they have the best quesadillas there.  Can you tell that food is a big part of my life?
6.  Walking downtown amongst modern buildings that are side by side with colonial architecture from the 1500s.  I prefer the colonial buildings.  It's a part of history that we don't have in the Midwest and I love all of it.  The churches built hundreds of years ago are spectacular.
7.  Patzcuaro.  Going to the plaza there and sitting with a cup of coffee in one of the little outside restaurants watching the kids and dogs play in the huge plaza.  We walk around the plaza chatting and watching while getting some exercise as it is about a quarter of a mile around.  I never tire of that plaza.
8.  Walking the dogs up and down the hills around our house.  Poukie knows where all the dogs live and he stops to bark at some of them.  I have no idea what his criteria is as to which dogs he chooses to bark at but his routine doesn't vary.
9.  Sitting up in my little "office" working on my book or sewing with Citlali curled up sleeping on top of Diana's and Laura's old crib that we filled with who knows what stuff.
10.  Our house and backyard that Arturo has worked so much on.   If finally feels like a home to me.  And I'll miss the vibrant, beautiful bouganvillea that is everywhere.
11.  Polanco.  I love everything about it.  The park, the restaurants, the architecture, the total "aliveness" of that neighborhood.

There are many other things I'll miss and even more that I want to do next time we come here.  Including having more people visit us!  We loved having Tom and Goya here and we enjoy showing off the city so start making your plans!

Next week I'll post my favorite pictures and places.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The kitchen is done - pretty much anyway!

Before I get to the kitchen, I just want to say that I hope the teachers who are protesting daily here in Mexico City finish and go home before September 21st.  I don't think this has made the news much in the U.S. but the teachers here in Mexico are upset over reforms the federal government is imposing on them.  They will have to take exams every few years to keep their jobs and a few other things that have them very upset.  For the last several weeks a large contingent of them have camped out in the Zocalo and each day they block traffic by marching down the main streets of the City, causing chaos and headaches for those who live and work in the City.  Twice now they have blocked access to the International Airport - yesterday being the second time.  All I'm saying is that they had better not be there at the airport on the 21st!  And of course, I want them to go back to the now empty classrooms where their students are waiting for them.

So, the kitchen.  It started out like this about 30 years ago.  It needed a remake.
Then it looked like this for most of the summer after we tore down the old kitchen:

And now it looks like this!
I'm happy!  We are going for a retro look and there is more to the kitchen but I like this picture the best.  I have to make new curtains - the ones hanging are from 1985 - and one wall that you can't see here is a bright red/pink.  We worked about 10 hours yesterday to finish.  Actually, I suppose that Arturo did most of the work and we used my weight to cut boards - meaning that I would stand on a board while he used a jigsaw and I have to say that thing passed by really too close to my toes.  Happily I still have all ten of them.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 30, 2013


A couple of days ago, when I was thoroughly fed up with them, I thought I would do a post on the necessity and the danger of making to do lists.  I didn't get around to it but then on two successive days, two of the bloggers that I follow both complained about the anxiety that lists can cause, but also that they can't live without them.  And so it is.

I have a master yearly list, a monthly list, a weekly list and a daily list.  I read somewhere that you should always be striving to do more than what you think you can accomplish in a day, otherwise it is cheating to just put on the list the things you know you can cross off at the end of the day.  So I follow that advice and most of the time it works.  I do push to go that extra mile, and even if I don't scratch off all the items at the end of the day, at least I did something on each one that pushes me forward.  My problem is that by following that advice, I put too many things on each list and as I refer to the lists during the day, week, month, year to see how I'm doing, well, I'm always way behind schedule.  And that makes me a bit crazy.

Like now.  I made a list when we arrived in Mexico that covered everything I wanted to do during the six months we are here.  We are down to the last three weeks and I don't even have half of the list completed.  The crazy part of me says that if I don't sleep for the next three weeks I can cross off a lot of those unfinished projects.  But that's insane and I know it.  (One item was pushed off to Arturo who is now painting our bathroom.  I'm going to take credit for it though because I had to work a bit to get him to do it. Or better stated, to do it using the color that I picked out. That counts).

My solution?  I've started a list of projects I want to do while we are in Chicago. I feel better now.

Here is a project that Arturo has pretty much finished.  This is the before picture - I should have taken it with the tree still there.  (I'll show you my half-finished projects before we leave on Sept. 21st.  Gives me a bit more time).

 And this is the now picture.  He still has some grass to plant but it looks much better!
Of course he doesn't have to make dinner everyday.  (Those of us who can't finish our to-do lists have to make excuses for ourselves!)

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Los Remedios - National Park and the Virgen

Close to our home, nestled in the mountains, you will find Los Remedios National Park.  This is still a gorgeous setting despite all the houses sprouting all over the mountains.  It is the place where a colonial church was built on a spot where the Spanish supposedly fought the Aztecs in the 1500s, and perhaps more importantly, it is the residence of the Virgen of Los Remedios.  This Virgen is a small statute of the Virgen Mary that is believed to have been brought to Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadores in the 1500s.  It was kept in the Mexico City Cathedral until the outbreak of the War of Independence.  At that time the Spanish moved it to its current location and proclaimed her the "guardian of the Spanish Army."  This move was done to counter Miguel Hidalgo's use of the Virgen of Guadalupe as the symbol of the movement for independence.  We know how that turned out.

We went there yesterday with my mother-in-law and here are some of the photos:
The Archangel Michael at the entrance

Here is the Virgen of Los Remedios

Arturo and my mother-in-law in the patio

There are walls filled with these "retablos'

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Are you a worrier?

Do you have the problem that your mind is never still and is rarely at peace with itself and with you?  If you once felt that way but have since found a way to live life in tranquility even though you have problems and responsibilities, please let me know!  I think one way to achieve that elusive peace is to stop the incessant worrying.  It's not liking worrying will change any outcome, and instead all it does is destroy your enjoyment of the present.  The thing is that it is easy to diagnose worrying as being a useless, stupid use of your life, but the hard part is the cure.  I know it's out there though because I am fortunate to know people who are able to take life as it comes, deal with it, and not worry about what may or may not happen next.  So my quest will not end.  And I have to say that knitting helps!

I know I've posted pictures from our balcony before, but I love the way each one is different.  This would be more impressive if I took exactly the same shot every time but that just isn't the way my mind works.  I always think of things like that after I'm done taking all the pictures.

And here are a couple of pictures that just make me smile.

I have reserved our return tickets home for September 21st.  One month from today.  In the meantime I'll try to take some new pictures!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Starting to think of home

Now that we have about a month left of our current stay here in Mexico City, my thoughts are turning to going home to Chicago.  I have started the airline tickets search as well as making a partial list of what will go back to Chicago with us and what will stay here for when we return next year.  I'm planning where I want to eat with my family when we get back, and I can't wait to visit Barnes and Noble and Joann Fabrics.  I want to have a backyard bbq with friends and family and I want to take long walka with the dogs through our neighborhood.  My limit for a stay here in Mexico seems to be five months.  Longer than that and I get too lonely for Chicago and especially for my family.  By the time we leave in September we will have been here for almost six months.

And our time here in Mexico City has been good.  We've traveled with friends to Patzcuaro, visited so many beautiful and fun neighborhoods in Mexico City, and we have visited with our family here.  We have had backyard bbqs with family and friends and have thoroughly enjoyed the garden that Arturo has worked so hard on, as well as the glorious view of the mountains from our bedroom balcony.  We have created a daily routine here that I will miss when we are back in Chicago.  Mexico has been good to us during these months. If my family lived here with us it would be close to perfect.  But they don't, and that is why my heart can never be completely content when we are in Mexico.

The last two weeks we have been so lucky to have our good friends from Chicago, Tom and Goya, here in Mexico.  They have been staying in the Condesa neighborhood in a super lovely condo.  We have spent good days and evenings with them going through Mexico City's neighborhoods and eating at fun places.  They leave tomorrow and we will miss them very much but it is easier because we will see them again in a month.  Next week I'll post a blog about one of the visits we made with Tom and Goya to see the great Mexican artists Rina Lazo and Arturo Garcia Bustos.  That was a super day!

In the meantime, here are a few photos but I have to say that I have not taken many pictures at all during the last two weeks.  Instead, I've been too busy talking with Goya.  I'm hoping Tom can send me some of the ones he has taken when they get back to Chicago!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Simple Things

I can't remember for sure from which book I copied these words, "Simplicity, serenity and spirituality" but I try to think of each one everyday and practice them.  I know some people who actively live the concept behind each of those words and I have to say that they are happy, content people.  At least from what I can see.  So I will keep working on it.

So here are some of yesterday's some simple pleasures:

We spent yesterday walking around the park at Polanco.
Fifteen years ago today my dad died.  He had lung cancer but it wasn't diagnosed until ten days before he died.  He had just turned 67 and I was totally unprepared to live the rest of my life without him.  I thought we still had a lot of time to spend together.  So, hug your loved ones and don't take them for granted!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dogs, Knitting and Quilts

Awhile back I said I was sent a copy of the free ebook "Love of Knitting" that shows easy lace knitting patterns.  The plan was for me to give a review and to provide the link for any of you who like to knit.  Well, I just started browsing through it and the patterns are truly lovely and the instructions are easy and clear to read.  You should have some experience knitting to attempt them but you by no means have to be an expert knitter.  I'm going to try knitting the "Cielo Shell" and I hope in a couple of weeks to have a photo of it in progress to show you.  It really is a lovely book and you can get it for free right here!

Here are a couple of photos of two other projects in the making.  I thought I would be much farther ahead on them but as usual, I'm falling behind my schedule.  These are some of the blocks I'm making from apron fabric scraps that are intended to become twin sized quilts for that girls' orphanage in Patzcuaro that I wrote about awhile back.  I need to make 45 quilts.  Hah!  Like that's going to happen during my lifetime!  I'm serious though about 45 - it isn't right to just hand out a to a couple of girls.  They all need one.  So.  Anyone volunteer to help??  I'm serious.


You can tell I haven't gotten very far.  I have tons more fabric back in Chicago so it looks like this will be an ongoing project.

These other photos are for a quilt I'm making for a Christmas present.  Looks like that will be Christmas of 2014 because not only is it not pieced yet, or even completely cut out, but I still have to hand quilt it once it is pieced.  Or Christmas 2015.

In my defense on this one:  there have been hundreds of pieces to cut out and sew together to form those blocks.  I'm more than half done with the blocks then I need to cut out more panels and start sewing the strips.  And then hand quilt it.

Finally, you know how much I love the non profit organization It's a Pittie Rescue.  I've posted about Mama Petunia and puppy Caine.  Well, their major fundraiser is on Saturday, August 3 and it looks like it will be a lot of fun.  You can buy your tickets here for $35 until tomorrow and $45 at the door.  It is a casino night theme with lots of prizes, food and drinks.  It's a great way to support this organization!  Thanks!

Monday, July 29, 2013

For those who have shelter, food, clothing and money

A couple of days ago a friend from Chicago shared on Facebook a story about "suspended" coffee and lunches.  I then shared it on my page so many of you have probably already seen it but here it is again with the story:

This story will warm you better more than a coffee on a cold winter day...Please "Share" to spread the news x

"We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we're approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter -

'Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended'

They pay for their order, take the two and leave.
I ask my friend: 'What are those 'suspended' coffees ?' 'Wait for it and you will see' she replies...

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made for three lawyers - three for them and four 'suspended'.

While I still wonder what's the deal with those 'suspended' coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café.

Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks 'Do you have a suspended coffee ?'

It's simple - people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage.

The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal."

Then I started looking at some of the organizations to which people donate for whatever cause or reason and I saw many donations marked "anonymous".  Then one of my cousins wrote in the comments section of Facebook,  "Truly anonymous gift, double blind actually.  Interesting."

I think that it is hard for most people to accept charity. They may feel anger, shame, sadness and many other emotions.  But if it is a donation that is made anonymously, perhaps that makes it easier for them to accept.   And we don't need the recognition of having donated.  If we have that need, then we are giving for our own egos and not because we really care.

So, try to start and spread the word of "suspended" coffees and meals in your neighborhood.  Or if you are eating lunch somewhere and you see someone there who is obviously in need, as you walk out of the restaurant, casually put a $5 or $10 bill by them without their seeing your face and just keep walking.  There are a thousand things you can do without showing your face or giving your name.  It is the small kindnesses that often make a huge difference to people.  A bigger difference perhaps than what you can even imagine.  And isn't that the whole point?