Saturday, May 25, 2013




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It is interesting to me how often we find inspiration in the most unlikely places. Yesterday I was in need of some inspiration and lo and behold it was offered to me on a silver platter. Well, not literally but it  felt very much that way.

I was having lunch with a couple of lady friends in a new restaurant, handily located two doors down from my where I have my Spanish class, at Juan’s Café. We had just ordered and were chatting while we waited for our lunch, when an elderly lady walked in to the restaurant. She didn’t stay, I guess she realized that it was new and just wanted to look around.

As I watched her walk in I experienced the strangest sensation. She didn’t exactly walk with ease, but neither did she use a cane or walker which is quite common here with all the uneven cobblestone streets and sidewalks. She was just relaxed and looking around. I really don’t think either of my companions even noticed her.

Suddenly I was overcome with emotion. I was very, VERY close to tears. I guess it was just the way that this person took for granted her ability to walk unassisted.

For those of you who may not know, I had a very serious accident three years ago. A ladder slid out from under me and I fell 7 meters to a tile covered concrete floor, on top of the ladder. I cracked my skull open and sort of exploded my left leg. Now since that time I have been somewhat in awe of the fact that if I had fallen on my head first instead of my leg, I would very likely be dead or at  least paralyzed.

The fact that I was so incredibly lucky has managed to sustain my positive outlook. After three years and seven operations people often say that they are amazed at how I manage to remain so upbeat, and usually I really do. Three months ago we bought a little ultrasound machine that my doctor recommended to stimulate bone growth, and I had some pretty high hopes that this would be the thing that finally made the difference in my recovery.

Two weeks ago I went to Queretaro to see my doctor and get new ex-rays. We all sat down to look at them with great anticipation. Only to discover that there was not a significant amount of new bone growth and also that there were 3 broken screws in my leg. I have to go back in four weeks for another ex-ray and if there are any more screws broken the doctor will have to go in again and replace them all……

At the time all I really thought was “Oh crap”, here we go again, and dollar signs were rolling around in my head at the thought of yet another surgery. I guess emotionally it took it’s toll though.

I imagine the sudden wave of emotion I experience yesterday was simply a moment of grief over the loss of my mobility and independence. Although I am usually a pretty positive person, I don’t think this was really abnormal, but what surprised me was that it stuck with me. All yesterday afternoon and evening that feeling kept returning to me. I even woke up with it this morning.

Then I decided that I would do some painting and while I was getting all my equipment together I came across some old photos that I had stuck in with my painting stuff. Not just sure why, but there they were.

The pictures were of Harold. Harold lived about a half block from where I worked in North Vancouver. It was a medium care facility for old folks, and actually my dad had lived there for a while too. One day he walked into my cosmetic department and said “Can you make me look like a Samurai?” He was 94 years old, hunched over with a skin condition, like dermatitis or something.

I laughed, and said that I wasn’t sure but I would be happy to try. The picture at the top of the post is the result. After that I saw Harold quite frequently. As it turned out he had always wanted to be an actor but first parents, and then wives and kids had gotten in the way of that dream. Then at 94 he decided that he could still have some fun. He loved to dress up and for every holiday he would go to a costume shop and chose something to wear at the old folks home. Then he came to me and told me what kind of makeup we would be doing that day. The folks at the home loved it, and loved Harold.

I also loved Harold. He was a great inspiration, not only to me, but to everyone he met. He was so happy and alive. He told me wonderful stories of his life and although he didn’t get to do what he really wanted, he made the absolute most out of what he had. It has been over eight years since I have seen Harold, and I suspect that he has gone on to amuse folks in whatever plane of existence comes after life.

Finding those pictures this morning put me back on the right path. It seems that Harold can still inspire me. I am leaving you with some photos of Harold’s great exploits.


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Mae West


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Irish milk maid


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Dance Hall girl?

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Thank you Harold

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring Is In The Air


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In his recent post about Spring, housman takes a drive, fellow blogger Steve Cotton left us with a poem by A.E. Housman. Not wanting to be outdone, I offer the following prose.

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is?

Yes, alright, I was outdone. And the birdies is in an enormous tree growing directly behind the wall encompassing our back yard. From their constant vocalizations I would venture a guess that there are about a hundred of them there at any given time. This is likely why Scooter, in the picture above, is positioned on that very wall.

Spring has come to the Bajio Mountains of Central Mexico and with Spring comes the rainy season. And with the rainy season come the mosquitos. It is still very early on in the rainy season, we have experienced only two rains and una gran tormenta, a fierce and wonderful thunder storm. The mosquitos, however are already firmly entrenched.

The doors and windows of our rented house here in San Miguel open outward, which makes having mosquito screens a little difficult. Up until now we have had to rely on “bug plugs”, the little gadgets that plug into a wall socket, heating up a small cardboard plaque inserted inside, and emitting noxious fumes, killing an insufficient number of mosquitos and leaving me wishing I had a gas mask.

Then Todd discovered the Raid Automatic Advanced Multi Insect Control System. Now that’s a mouthful! But it really works. Every seven minutes this little unobtrusive cylinder spritzes out an odorless spray that kills mosquitos and just about any other insect species within it’s range. Got cucarachas? It kills those too. So far I haven’t seen any scorpions here, although another blogger friend Barbara, Siege of Scorpions, has had issues in her house here in San Miguel. I’m not sure if it would be effective for scorpions or not, but it would be interesting to know if it is.


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Raid Automatic Advanced Multi Insect Control System


Another thing that comes with the rainy season is an abundance of flowers. Our little back yard is transformed by an infusion of colour and sound.


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The enormous tree is home to numerous Great Tailed Grackles with their loud, raucous calls. Also vying for position are the Inca Doves, Pigeons, Barn Swallows, House finches, Sparrows, and occasionally a Gold Fronted Woodpecker, voices all raised in a great cacophony.


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Vermillion Flycatchers swoop by, hopefully eating mosquitos, while bees creep among the bougainvillea and Violet Crowned and Broad Billed Hummingbirds hover about the canna lilies.


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It’s 4:26 PM and as I sit here I am noticing that the sky is clouding over. It’s that time. It is unlikely that it will actually rain again so soon, this early in the season, but it looks as though it could. I hear a little distant thunder. Not only does the precious little rain we get here in the desert revive our lawns and gardens, it reduces the dust in the air and leaves the incredible smell of damp earth that comes only in the Spring when the land has been so dry for so long.


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Between rains the scent of Jasmine permeates the yard. The air is still and heavy. It definitely could rain.


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Although the cacti don’t require as much rain as some of the other plants, they definitely respond to it with a riot of blooms.


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It’s hot now, 31 degrees C. and actually humid, a rarity in this climate. I think Spring is my favorite time of year, a kind of renewal after so many long dry months. If the colour and life in my back yard today are any indication, I think that this year is going to be a very good one.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Left My Heart In Michoacán



Mis amigas Patzcuarenses


Last Wednesday my good friend Alejandra was having lunch for some ladies at her beautiful home on Lake Zirahuén. I was invited, as this was the same group of women with whom I had had lunch every Tuesday in Patzcuaro for several years. Initially I thought, that’s kind of a long way to go for lunch, as Zirahuén is about three and a half to four hours from San Miguel, in the state of Michoacán.

Then Alejandra and her husband Enrique said that I could stay in their casita. Well that clinched it. I was off to Zirahuén for lunch. Alejandra and Enrique bought their little house about two years ago and since then have renovated the once sad little cabin-like abode into a thing of rare beauty.






The house overlooks the lake. The WHOLE lake. The property is just outside the little pueblo of Copandaro and sits high on a hill with a breathtaking view of the lake and surrounding area. The pristine lake is usually clear blue, although it can change colour with the weather and it’s mood, sometimes appearing gray or even emerald green.



Lake Zirahuén, Michoacán


The town of  Zirahuén is in the Municipality of Santa Clara del Cobre, about 20 to 30 minutes by car from Patzcuaro, and is largely overlooked by tourists. It is quaint, rustic and home to about 2,500 people, most of whom have lived there all of their lives, as did their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Unlike most of the other small towns in the lake Patzcuaro area, Zirahuén did not develop a craft unique unto itself. They do make wooden toys, spoons, trays and colourful tablecloths, but most people consider the music of 20 plus bands that exist in the area to be their special craft.

The property called “El Alto Lucero”, The High Bright Star, was large enough that when Alejandra and Enrique were renovating their house, they decided to add a casita as well. It is separated from the main house by a high hedge offering complete privacy and a spectacular view. The front of the casita, like the main house, is all glass opening onto a lovely terrace above a small yard with a built-in brightly tiled barbecue.





Night-time on the Casita patio


As you can imagine from seeing the pictures, one day wasn’t enough, and at Alejandra’s kind offer I decided to stay another night. Although once I was at El Alto Lucero I didn’t really want to leave, we did do a little driving around the lake to the home of another friend, Debbie, who also lives in Zirahuén. Debbie made us a wonderful brunch and we all spent a very pleasant afternoon together catching up.


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Ale, enjoying Debbie’s hospitality


I really am enjoying living in San Miguel, and I also still have a lot of travelling to do before I have seen all of Mexico, but I think a little piece of my heart will always be in Michoacán. The mountains and pine forests are very reminiscent of my youth in North Vancouver. Perhaps that has something to do with it, although I believe there are many reasons why Michoacán captured my heart.


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A new addition to Copandaro


All of the house, casita and lake photos are compliments of Enrique and Alejandra, as I was having too much fun to take many pictures. The photo above is the only one that is mine and it’s blurry. In my defense, it was taken from the car and the burros were a long way away.

I am adding a link to the website for “El Alto Lucero", and anyone who would like a truly wonderful vacation in the casita, or is looking for a home to rent in the Zirahuen area should contact Alejandra or Enrique there.