Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I have had quite a change of pace in life for the past week. Kids are crawling all over grandma and grandpa's place here in Moose Lake. Casey (7), is featured above... perhaps reacting to the madness?

Owen and Alex are both 3, separated by a few months. Owen jumps at any opportunity to be a Power Ranger, and will only allow me to give him kisses when he is in this disguise. Later, Alex transformed into his Iron Man pajamas.

Natalie (10) has taken on the role of caregiver for these rascals.

Avery (who turns one on inauguration day) is a squirrel. She giddily gets into everything and as a beginner walker, takes about 100 falls a day?

My grandpa Warp, who is 94 years older than Avery. He was a Political Science professor for 30-some years at the University of Minnesota.

My 87-year-old grandpa Bruno. He is one hardworking Finn that can never sit still.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mmmm. Snow.

Though I am loving the sunny, 70 degree weather in México, it has made me very happy to return to Minnesota to find snow (and family, of course). I headed out to the local state park to go cross-country skiing with two former Moose Lakers and skied the seven miles of trails circling around Echo Lake and past snow-covered fields and ponds. The air was cold; around zero degrees, but it felt great to take it all in and catch up with my good friends.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just like new

Before transporting myself from Mexico to Minnesota (summer to winter), I thought my shoes might need a cleaning for the "journey." Around the central plaza dozens of shoe shiners can be found. I found a character of a shiner and listened to him talk about Obama, the shoe incident with Bush, and the war in Iraq. I was so impressed with his work that I gingerly walked around the city for the rest of the evening, careful of scuffing up his craftsmanship.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More on la Navidad

In a previous entry, I mentioned that Christmas seems a little meloncholy here, largely because of the lack of snow and cold. But after seeing streets full of decorations and stores full of color and glitter, I get the sense that Christmas is a full on party here. In a nearby colonia I passed by tienda after tienda selling piñatas. I could not resist and ended up purchasing a Santa for my sobrinos (nieces and nephews) to bat.

This poor angel piñata does not seem very happy about her fate...

The beautiful princess... her fate is also sealed.

Oh no, not Rudolph too...
This is something that Josh and I do not quite understand. The first day we saw a vendor with these, we thought they were some type of curious root we had not yet seen. Turns out they are cushy antlers, specially designed for your car. Because of course, your car likes to celebrate Christmas too.
To end, this has nothing to do with Christmas, but it is a common sight throughout the city. As long as you put SOMETHING in the street, people won't park in your spot. The water bottles in the photo below are enough of a deterent. I'd like to try this when I head back to Roanoke.

Lastly, this photo translates as follows: "Respect the entrance to my garage and I'll respect your tires." Ouch.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Huichol Inspiration

I am happy to declare this painting finished. It is based on a photo by Josh of Maria and Eugenia (remember them?). This is the mother who has the baby with hydrocephalus. They will be returning to Guadalajara any day now so that they can bring Paula, the baby, to the hospital to have an operation to insert a shunt into her head to drain fluid. There is a good possibility that they will return to Huamustita before Josh and I return to México after the holidays, but we plan on making the 9 hour bus trip to see them possibly in late January/ early February.

In other news, downtown Guadalajara is nuts right now with record numbers of vendors and shoppers. Christmas is in full swing in this city, but it has been hard for me to get into the spirit... I don't know what it is, but I somehow feel that because I am in México, Christmas is obviously on hold, and what they are preparing to celebrate here is something different. We are very excited for this Friday evening, however. A vecina (neighbor) down the street invited us to the posada (special word for Christmas party) on our block. We could hardly contain ourselves- Si! Si! What can we bring?
An opportunity to meet more friends and speak the language is bueno.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I often mention the "tianguis." In fact, you will find that my latest postings center on food. This has been a large part of our experience here, so Josh and I found it worthy to document today. All photos (minus the one below of course) courtesy of Josh.

One of our first stops each Sunday... these are mini pancakes filled with fresa (strawberry), chocolate or cajeta (caramel).

Fairly lackluster... just buyin' trash bags (bolsas para basura).

I have the hardest time passing up these little cacti. I am really into mini things. And the fact that these were actually grown here is a plus.

Okay, this photo is probably grossing you out. Relax. It's mole (rich sauce made from chocolate and peppers for cooking with chicken, etc). In this photo I guess that I am thinking really hard about the mole. We bought some of the fourth one from the right and hope to cook it up with chicken this week.

The mole lady also sells mantequilla de cacahuate (peanut butter). Yes!

Where we bought the chicken to go with the mole

2 x 8 translates to 2 kilos for 8 pesos, or the equivalent of about 70 cents

This was the only stop where the vender was not happy with us. This was because we did the touristy thing where we stopped and took a photo and did not buy anything. But would you buy cuerito (pig skin)? Angie and Pete need not reply.

So much Mexi music and mucho pirated DVD's always to be found

Josh was really artistic with this photo...

Mandarinas. Okay... 3 kilos for 10 pesos. Roughly 90 cents. Upon looking at this photo I wonder why we didn't buy any today?

Every Sunday we purchase gorditas. This is a tradition we happily inherited from our friends Angie and Pete. For more info on gorditas, scroll down to last Sunday's blog.

After hitting the gordita stand, we stop for fresh-squeezed juice.

Jitomates (tomatoes). We have eaten so many we're sick of 'em.

Our friend Leon, the plant guy. He is always so talkative and kind. And he likes to try out his English as he lived in Toronto for a spell.

Tortas Ahogadas

Josh and I put together a little series on the Guadalajaran specialty, tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches). Make sure you click to enlarge to fully enjoy this culinary event.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Qué Chido (How Cool)

Tonight Josh and I went on a walk through our neighborhood and we were remarking on how cold it was and bundled up in two fleece jackets each. I decided to then check the weather in the place I will be heading to soon (click to enlarge comparisons above). A rude awakening. No wonder people in Minnesota always talk about the weather.

While we were walking I was telling Josh about my near miss of a collision today with a teenage boy on a bike. This same type of accident happened to me a year ago in Roanoke when a girl ran out from behind a parked car and we collided. Fortunately this time I did not sail over my handlebars. The first words that came to mind were "Muy peligroso, sí?" (Very dangerous, yes?) and all of the kid's friends started giggling at me- and him- or him. I don't know. I decided it would be best to ignore them and begin riding on to my painting class. Josh made fun of me for this reaction too.

Though I have been teaching and creating art for some time, I still feel like I have a lot to learn. This is part of the fun, I believe. And so, tonight as I struggled with that gray area of when to call a painting complete, my teacher came over and picked up my paint brush and added small touches of paint here and there on the face of the main subject of my work. It was perfect. I was amazed. I will take a photo of the work when I fully emerge from that gray area.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My visitor

As I was hanging the clothes outside to dry today, I was visited by Gabrielle (Gaby), my neighbor. He great Aunt Rosa takes care of her each day and drives her to and from school (note her little school uniform). Today I heard her yelling out, "Me-lisa! Me-lisa!" and she came running through our gate, directly over to the laundry basket where she plopped inside. She wanted to stay a while, and it took a little nudging by Rosa to have her finally let me "get back to my work," and leave her basket fort.