Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

For all of you following this blog, Linda and I wish you a Happy New Year 2009. May it be happier, healthier and more prosperous than 2008 (in our case, that won't be difficult.

For those of you on the road, check out the following representation of global air traffic today. Be glad you are home with your loved ones and friends.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cribbage and beer!

My new friend and neighbor Marcos (Mark) from California has reintroduced me to a card game I used to play as a boy - cribbage - . It is fast and furious, especially when lubricated with a fair amount of cerveza (beer).

Mark is a homebrewer of beer, and teaches brewing. He also maintains a brewing blog at

He has been making small batches of beer here in San Miguel and yesterday we sampled the first batch - a fairly light, fizzy beer flavored with tamarind. It still needs some time to mature, but already was pretty darn good. Since we wanted to let the beer age, we were forced to drink the local bottled swill.

I think that Mark may be what we used to call a "Card Shark". He taught me to play the game, but now he definitely wants to beat me! Look at those eyes - no mercy on me!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Carlos turns 60!

As usual, Linda outdid herself. My 60th birthday was December 6, but since we were on the road, Linda decided to give me a party in San Miguel on the Sunday after our arrival. She invited 18 of our friends and, believe me, we could have invited more, but ran out of room in the house. Even had to borrow folding chairs!

The dining room looked lovely, courtesy of Linda's decorating skills. The table was set with our nicest dishes and flatware.

Everyone brought a dish to share and Carlos made 6 kg. (almost 14 lbs.) of his famous turkey breasts, barbequed with an achiote and chile marinade. It was a big hit. The theme of the party was Superman (surprise!). As most of you know, Carlos is called "Superman" because the Mexicans have trouble saying Soberman, and it comes out like "Superman".

And Linda looked lovely. In fact, other than being blonde,
she certainly could be Maria Felix's twin (the woman on
the plate, a famous Mexican movie star -

Also note that Bella is in the lower right hand
corner of the photo, posing with Linda.

Although the party wasn't a surprise, part of it was.
At 6:30 pm, the doorbell rang and our building
contractor, Norbe
rto Godinez, was standing there
in his Mariachi costume and with his group.
They entered and began singing. Norberto
is talented and has a lovely voice.
More and more musicians kept arriving, and
we ended up with about 7 or 8! What a great surprise!

Friends, friends, friends...

Linda, Nancy and Karen

Stan and Max

Dr. Dan and Henrique

Phil, Leslie & Scott

Note Stan Richman's famous boardinghouse
reach (all the New Jersey boys can do this).
By the way, the food was delicious.

Henrique & Dan (again) and Debe
filling their plates

Irma (believe it or not, she's a
great grandmother)
and Bob

Linda wanted to make sure that everybody
was in the photos and the blog. That's Lou
on the left and Irene at the right. Henry
and Dan snuck in yet another photo!

Leslie, Max, Alice, Linda, Scott & Alice #2

Nancy, Phil, Debe, Jay, Jeanne and Leslie.
Whew! I think I got everyone in at least
one photo.

Phil brought in the cake with the requisite number of candles....6. This was all the fire department would permit.

That's a smile on my face as I prepare
to blow out the candles.

And you can certainly see my silly grin of happiness in this photo!

For all of you that were present, and all that missed this lavish
event, let me go
on record thanking Linda for giving me this
wonderful birthday gift!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the road again....

Sorry it has taken us a while to write. For reasons familiar to many of you, we left Detroit much later this year - December 5. Bella was squeezed in a small space atop a pile of luggage.

The drive down was uneventful - we stopped at all our favorite restaurants: sushi in Terre Haute, Indiana, fried chicken and "throwed rolls" ( – where they literally throw the rolls from carts - some get caught and others, well, hit the dust!) at Lamberts in Sikeston, Missouri.

We ate stuffed pastries (kolaches) at the Czech Stop in Texas. Kolaches are a kind of Czech jelly doughnut, which may also be filled with meat, cheese or vegetables. In Texas, not surprisingly, it may even contain hot chilis! There were delicious! Go to for more information on kolaches and the Czech Stop.

Night and day, seven days a week, this place is crowded! It's near a University of Texas campus, so students comprise much of the crowd.

Check out some of the menu items! Most were delicious. Some just weird.

Many of the signs in the shop were in Czech.

This is what happens if you eat too many kolaches.

Linda is happy and full!

We listened to tapes and just pointed the car in the right direction. We arrived after 4 1/2 long days, and 2300 miles. Luckily gas prices were only $1.50+ most of the drive, compared to over $4.00 last year at the same time.

On the second night we witnessed this lovely sunset outside of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Check Spelling

We stopped at the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois - another memorable experience (ha), and stocked up on Superman paraphanalia for a birthday party for Carlos! This is a place we have been meaning to visit for a few years, every since we learned about it. Talk about kitsch!

All of us (including Bella) enjoy showing our alter egos.

This is the actual telephone booth in which Clark Kent changed clothes!

You can't believe the amount of Superman stuff in this small museum. The building was essentially unheated, so we didn't stay as long as we would have liked.

One of the many authentic Superman costumes.

Some of the thousands of exhibit items. The museum was full of "Do not touch" signs, but the absence of guards allowed us to try on hats, enter the phone booth and generally be a part of the exhibits.

Clark Kent and Carlos have many similarities. They both look good in fedoras.

Did you know that Superman wore a wig...or many wigs?

Or that Jimmy Olson's camera was fake?

or that the real Lois Lane is still around?

I'm your puppet!

After a couple of hours in Metropolis, we bid a fond holiday goodbye to Superman!

South of Dallas, we like to stop in Waxahatchie, Texas, where there is a lovely courthouse, nice restaurant and terrific folk art gallery.

This year a costumed choral group was singing
Christmas carols in front of the courthouse.

The Chisholm Grill, across the street
from the courthouse, where we had a pleasant lunch.

With impeccable timing, there was even
a print show opening at the
gallery that day!

In San Antonio, we stopped at the Hungry Farmer Steak House. Our friendly waitress warned us that we were definitely not in the nicest part of San Antonio - I think she called it the "Hood". Carlos' chicken fried steak filled him up and Linda enjoyed her tilapia, on the recommendation of the waitress. Bella also enjoyed the leftover steak.

The green goddess dressing was of a color green not seen in nature!

Chicken fried steak with all the fixins.

Our waitress, Myra, was incredibly friendly. Y'all come back soon, y'hear?

Outside of the restaurant was an interesting mural. Not sure of its significance, but here it is!

Casa Bella looked great on arrival. Our housekeeper, Mari, stayed late to greet us. Opening the front gate made us smile; it was a visual treat of colorfully painted walls, art, furniture, and beautiful flowers. The best part was Linda's new studio, which we built on the roof last year. She did a trial run of the press with two printmaker friends and all worked perfectly! It has taken all this time to unpack and get re-settled in our lovely Casa Bella, but all is fine, and Linda is ready to get going in her new studio.

We were greeted by friends within an hour of arrival. They came with food and wine, and it was such a nice welcome back. The partying has been non-stop since, what with pre-holiday celebrations, a Chanukah party, etc.

The weather has been beautiful, 70s and sunny - cool in the evenings and mornings. Since the houses do not have central heating, we use our fireplaces daily to take the chill off. We are not complaining since we know what all of you are going through. All the more reason to come visit!

It is hard to believe that it is Christmas week. Our local market is filled with Christmas kitsch - tiny baby Jesus with handmade clothing and everything needed to make your own creche: spanish moss, handpainted backgrounds, little plastic animals, Christmas decorations, etc.

We love the visual effect of the whole market. Mounds of oranges, symbolically linked with the holiday, are ubiquitous.

Avocados, strawberries, papaya, and tomatoes are ripe, in season and of course, delicious. Linda went out to an organic farm with a friend and bought for 22 pesos (about $1.75) a bunch of lettuce, a head of beautiful chard, 3 avocados, basil, broccoli, and a bag of spinach. The vegetables had just been brought in from the field, and the women were washing them in large concrete vats filled with water. So fresh and inexpensive! As you can imagine, we are cooking up a storm. It's hard to resist with all this fabulous fresh food.

Our family is holding on - Lisa and Tracey are due at the end of February so we will return to help them. David and Jen are busy planning their wedding. Our life the last six months has been very stressful, as you know. Your friendship and kindness have been such a great support that it was difficult to leave. Even coming here has been an adjustment. It will be a while until things settle down. We have many good things to look forward to, but the stress still hangs over like a dark cloud. And of course the news of the economy is quite frightening. We try to think positive, and Linda made a promise to make a New Year's resolution of a "room of one's own" (to quote Virginia Woolf), to take time to just be, to make art, to write and to laugh and enjoy the blessings we all have. Carlos vows to be more like Superman!

A happy healthy holiday season to all of you. We miss you and think of you often. Please write and let us know what is new in your life!

Keep in touch

Much love and abrazos (hugs),

Linda y Carlos