Tag Archives: Mexico

Beach Butterfly Parade

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Monday, October 9, 2017

I am in Mexico.

This morning, I awoke to the most amazing sight:  Thousands of Monarch butterflies floating over our patio!  Hubby and I sipped our coffee and laughed out loud at the amazing amount of them flying by, admiring their beauty and feeling so fortunate to be here during the migration.  I tried to video the butterflies, but alas, my camera phone is no good.  Picture this:  One small orange butterfly would flitter by on the breeze just above my head, then a few seconds later two or three would come by.  We watched them float upwards and over the buildings, only to see when we later took a walk that they were flying over the roof top to have a snack on the neighbor’s bougainvillea.  Walking down the beach road with butterflies flying all about us was so beautiful and so strange,  it actually occurred to me I might be dreaming. A good pinch dispelled me of that notion. It’s late afternoon now, and there are still a few lone butterflies floating about, all of them flying west towards town.

We saw so many beautiful things at the beach this weekend.  I love teasing the hand-sized crabs who think they are hiding so well in the sand, but when gently prodded with a toe, quickly scuttle away sideways. (The crab is my astrological sign which I do not think fits in any way; the Cancers who I know are not crabby at all, but are very happy, thoughtful people.)  I spent time sitting in a warm tide pool and was happy to see small Sergeant Major fish floating in the same pool as I was.  The majestic Osprey stood stoically on his man-made perch just east of our place. The nest is overly huge, so I’m thinking he must have eggs or babies he is protecting. Twice a day we see the man with his horses for rent walking down the beach.   All of them are tethered except for one young dark-brown foal who hangs back, testing the caballero who leads them, then when they get too far ahead, the young horse begins to feel worried and gallops to join the rest of the group.  It makes me laugh every time. We’ve tried to identify the many birds we see on the beach, but our bird guide is for California and is of no use.

As we swam in the warm water yesterday afternoon, we were enveloped by huge clouds of tiny silver fish.  Two-inches long and completely metallic silver, we “think” they are sardines, but neither of the two zoology books in the condo have info on them. We’ve certainly seen them before.  The birds loved the great fishing; we loved the feeling of being in a huge school of tiny sparkly fish (I’m talking thousands of fish swimming densely together) tickling our legs and toes.

Today the pelicans returned to their mostly odd-numbered flocks, allowing me to stand by my completely unscientific analysis of coastal bird behaviors.  In that same vein, Hubby shared with me that he’s noticed when the tide is all the way in, it is flat at the shore, and when it’s coming in, the tide is angled toward the west . . . and when the tide is going out, it’s angled to the east.  I narrowed my eyes and said, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”  He shrugged and said this scientific finding was in direct correlation to how many beers he’d consumed at that time.

There is magic in this place. I can feel it as soon as my bare toes hit the warm sand and I inhale all the rich ocean smells. Maybe all beaches are like this: full of surprises, unexpected beauty, and interactions with nature that leave one full of questions. I fell in love with this place when I was here for the first time at age 13; at 53 I’m still in love with this gentle Sea of Cortez, our little neighborhood called Las Conchas, and this small town of Puerto Penasco, Mexico.

It’s finally happy hour, and there’s a cold bottle of Pacifico waiting for me in the fridge. Tonight Hubby and I will watch the bright stars twinkle in the dark sky over the ocean, and we’ll wait for the waning full moon to slowly climb up the eastern horizon.  We’ll feel grateful for this beautiful day, along with a hint of regret at having to return home tomorrow.

Cheers,

Mary

 

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An Even Pelican Kind of Day

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

I am in Mexico.

I’m grateful to have two days off for our school’s Fall Break, which gives Hubby and me FOUR WHOLE DAYS at the beach. I have grown so attached to my young students and just when I was starting to miss them, I ran into one of them in a restaurant in town!  How fun to compare stories of our day at the beach! (Over the years I have come to believe that many times the Universe gives you what you need.)

One of the favorite books in our class of three year olds is about Pete the Cat. When he has problems (like stepping in mud in his new white shoes) the book asks us, “Does Pete mind? Goodness no!” and then a picture shows Pete saying “Groovy!” or “Rock and Roll!” or “It’s all good!” This weekend I’ve been channeling our friend Pete the Cat.  The wifi in our condo is down and at first I was anxious about not having 24/7 access to the world, but it’s turned out to be a really good thing.  I’ve read half a novel, four magazines, and taken two really great naps. Rock and Roll! Groovy!

We made great time on the road and arrived at our beach condo Saturday at 2pm. We’d anticipated huge crowds of folks on Fall Break at the border, but for whatever reason, there was no line at all and very little traffic. We arrived to see a very pleasant group on the beach—nobody blasting stereos and everyone cleaning up after themselves.  We’re always disappointed to see a large group set up on the beach RIGHT IN FRONT of our place, and sure enough:  There was a large group of guys with umbrellas and a big pop-up shade.  I took a deep breath and channeled Pete the Cat and shrugged to Hubby, “It’s groovy.”  And it was–it turned out the the group of 14 guys were very quiet. In fact, they seemed downright bored!  I know if it were a group of women, Hubby would dub them a “Hen Party” so I searched my brain for a male equivalent. I settled on “Buddy Fest.” Bachelor party?  Church group?  Gay choir vacation?  Fraternity reunion? They politely sipped their canned beers, standing and chatting in the tide. One man flew a kite.  They packed up at sunset, and we never saw them again. (I love to make up stories about strangers, don’t you?)

If you’ve read this blog before, you know one of my favorite things to do at the beach is count pelicans. Over the many years of vacationing at this beach, I’ve come to believe that the Puerto Penasco pelicans travel in groups of odd numbers most of the time.  Well.  Yesterday ALL the groups of pelicans flying overhead were in groups of EVEN numbers.  I tried to skew the data by counting 18 pelicans, then adding the one guy flying solo about 30 seconds behind. This happened over and over again, until Hubby stated (in a wise voice), “I guess it’s just an Even-Pelican Kind of Day!”  All I know is I think I saw more pelicans Saturday than I have during the whole rest of the year!  We literally saw thousands that afternoon. Where are they going?  What will they do there?  Why are they in such a hurry?

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is not at the beach with us.  Her hips have grown too painful for her to easily come up and down the stairs to our tiny beach condo.  She loves the beach so much that I’m thinking we will bring her next time, perhaps dragging her down on a blanket and at the end of the day, Hubby could carry her back up the stairs. I am missing Ruby and our cats, but how lovely for the two of us to have a short respite in this beautiful place where the sound of the ocean lulls us to sleep, and there is nothing much to do but enjoy each other’s company, read a good book, and appreciate the fantastic beauty of this Sea of Cortez.

Cheers,
Mary

Buick

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I am in Mexico.

Yesterday I told you about what a perfect weekend we’re having here in Puerto Penasco, and I also shared that we are co-habitating with a roach the size of a Buick.  Last night, our paths crossed again (cue horror movie music).

Let me begin this story by telling you that we almost didn’t make it out for dinner because I was so enraptured by the sunset. Clouds in the sky over the ocean = fantastic sunset.  (No clouds?  Eh, the sun goes into the ocean, blah blah, it’s fine.)  But last night’s sky looked as if it were on FIRE with pinks and oranges and reds all striped over each other, and every minute it changed, and then it got darker and then there were hues of purple and even the shape of it changed.  I tore myself away from the first part to smooth my hair and apply some mascara, and on the drive up Whale Hill to the restaurant, I just kept ooohing and aaaahing because it was seriously A Moment of Extreme Beauty which I will always remember.  The restaurant was full; we drove down to the malecon and I snapped a beautiful photo of the brilliant sky over the parking lot next to Flavio’s.  I know that doesn’t sound exactly “delightful” but I was really happy with the juxtaposition of this amazing effect of nature over a dusty parking lot full of old cars—the light and shadows were so cool.

We had a terrible dinner at Mary’s Seafood.  Almost inedible.  I gave them a brutal yelp review, which was well deserved. Thumbs up for a fantastic margarita and good service though!

We arrived back home, turned on the kitchen lights and EEEEEEKK!!!!! Buick the Roach was sniffing at a small spot of bacon grease on the stove top.  My mind did this amazing analysis of the situation, sort of like what Sherlock Holmes does in the recent Guy Ritchie movies.  Everything slowed down.  I considered attempting to pull a spatula from the jar of utensils which was situated BEHIND the roach and that scenario played out with the roach running away.  I surveyed the kitchen island to my right and saw nothing useful in killing/stunning a roach.  So I picked up the heavy ceramic spoon rest and SMASH!  With the agility one would expect from a person who has just consumed a plate of heavy fried seafood and a margarita as big as her head, I hit Buick with that spoon rest, screaming out a warrior’s cry, “HIYA!!!”  And much to Hubby’s and my chagrin, the spoon rest broke in two and Buick ran back into the hole behind the cupboards, laughing and calling me nasty names in Spanish (words that cannot, dear Reader, be repeated here).

The spoon rest was placed in the trashcan after a brief discussion about trying to glue it back together and rapidly coming to the conclusion that spoon rests are completely unnecessary objects and whoever invented them should be ashamed of themselves.   We hope the condo co-owner who buys these silly decorative items will not miss the Very Important Spoon Rest.

During all of this excitement, we noticed the windows whistling.  We slid open the glass door to the beach, and HOLY MOSES, the wind was INTENSE.  Amazing might be the better word.  All outside condo lights were off, but the moon was shining so brightly that the entire beach was illuminated.  I stepped off the patio onto the sand and instinctively spread my arms out to feel the strong, warm wind.  It buffeted my entire body—that’s how powerful it was.  Hubby came out and put his arms out, too.  From nine til midnight I sat outside in the wind, listening to music on my headphones and occasionally following the path made by the moon down to the high tide, rolling up my pant legs to wade into the warm ocean.  It was simply glorious. If anyone was watching from their patio, they probably were concerned for this middle-aged, clearly-deranged woman who kept walking down the beach to visit the night ocean.

The only bad news from the weekend (apart from Buick escaping) is that all attempts at protecting my face from sunburn failed.  I’m as pink as a pig, which is bad enough on its own but also typically results in a big nose pimple.  That should be popping up on Thursday morning as I head to work (I am subbing at my year-round school later this week).  I swear to you I applied sunscreen and wore a hat and stayed mostly in the shade.  It honestly feels quite lovely to be in my fifties and not really care what people think anymore.

I will end by telling you about the book I’m reading and cannot put down.  Through Painted Deserts:  Light, God, and  Beauty on the Open Road is written by a modern-day philosopher and all-around-super-smart guy named Donald Miller.  His writing is beautiful and honest and thought provoking–I am smitten. I watched a recent interview where he caught a lot of grief by saying he doesn’t really feel God when he’s at church.  Though he is Christian (and my beliefs are a bit of this and a bit of that) I found him simply charming and relevant to my world view.  Here is a passage from the book which resonated with me today:

“It’s interesting how you sometimes have to leave home before you can ask difficult questions, how the questions never come up in the room you grew up in, in the town in which you were born.  It’s funny how you can’t ask difficult questions in a familiar place, how you have to stand back a few feet and see things in a new way before you realize nothing that is happening to you is normal.”

I find this to be 100% true, which is why I love to travel.  Getting away gives my mind space to question, space to forgive myself for not leading the perfect life, and space to imagine.  As much as I love getting away, I love returning home with the hopes of trying to be just a little bit better/different/happier.

Cheers,

Mary

Esther Williams

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MI am in Mexico.  All day I’ve sat under a turquoise umbrella next to the ocean, catching up on back issues of Esquire Magazine and watching the birds.  The osprey seems intimidated by the crowds on the beach, but must be really hungry since he swoops over us, clucking in an irritated manner, then dips his beak quickly into the sea for a fresh fish, flying away to his perch in the desert.

Much like the osprey, I get annoyed when the beach is too crowded.  We’re so often lucky to have this slice of paradise all to ourselves, and when we have to share, it isn’t easy. Today I stand on our condo patio and look to the left.  Then I look to the right. There are umbrellas and pop ups for as far as the eye can see!  Yet each group is quiet and peaceful and as happy as I am to be here.  Thank you, Universe!!!

Hubby and I almost didn’t come to the beach yesterday.  The last time we were here (just three weeks ago), the people on the beach were obnoxious.   I love when the ocean is as smooth as glass, yet that causes sound to travel too well.  Everybody was so loud! The three condos to the right of us housed a huge group of friends with sooooo many little boys running around unattended.  They ran through our yard and even stood on the beams of our stairs.  The parents (mid thirties to mid forties) played loud music all day and night.  To the right of us on the beach, a group of young people appeared each day. They were crass.  While swimming in the ocean, one very large girl (who needed a much larger suit) yelled, “I’m peeing!” to which her friend gladly yelled, “I’m peeing, too!” Every other word (always yelled) was a curse word.  They had loud music which competed with the loud music to the left of us. Let’s just say these folks were harshing my buzz.  Add to that a swarm of mosquitoes that tortured us while we were sleeping and a roach the size of a Buick who waved to me from the kitchen sink taunting, “Neener neener, neener!” as he ran into a crack between the cupboard and the dishwasher.  Oh, and I almost forgot the group of nude teenage girls we walked past on our morning walk. They were standing up (nude) taking selfies and didn’t even seem to notice us.  It wasn’t sexual, but there were families nearby and it just felt wrong.  Let’s just say I wasn’t in the mood to come back to the beach after all that crap.

BUT I’M SO GLAD WE DID!  The weather in Phoenix today:  100 degrees.  The weather at the beach today:  80 degrees.  The ocean is sooooo warm, and we are water logged from swimming so long.  The waves are medium-ish—not so big that it’s hard to get in, but big enough that they bounce you up and down in such a relaxing manner that you never want to get out.  The stronger tide brought in a bunch of seaweed, but we don’t mind and even had a little bit of a seaweed fight.  Which was fun for about one minute, and then I splashed and floated and swam, my body held up by the salty sea so light and buoyant and graceful that I felt like freakin’ Esther Williams.

And last night the full moon was AMAZING.  It looked red as it came up over the desert (it is the Strawberry Moon, you know) and then shone so brightly onto the beach that we took a walk, no flashlight required.  Tonight we will drive up Whale Hill to Casa Capitain where I will order my favorite shrimp tacos and a margarita as big as my head, and Hubby and I will admire the views of the sparkling Sea of Cortez and the twinkling lights on the malecon of this sweet little town.

La vida es buena.  Life is good.

Cheers,

Mary

Chivalry is Not Dead

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I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I are having a very relaxing, quiet weekend at the beach reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and taking long walks on the beach with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel. Hubby is always so pleasant to spend time with and is such a gentleman. He doesn’t mind if I fill his pockets with seashells on our walks, insists I share bites of his mango bought from the beach mango man, and today during our walk asked me, “May I hold your bag of hot dog shit?”  I tell ya, chivalry is not dead.

Today I did something I haven’t done since college!  (Nope–nothing illegal.)  I lay out in the sun in my swimsuit.  GASP!  (So politically incorrect! Forty lashes with a wet noodle!) The wind was cool, my skin was pale, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  The chaise lounge was so comfy, and I immediately felt my bones go to jelly.  I felt so warm (but not too warm) and felt so in the moment.  I was almost dozing off when I began to notice the weird noises being made by all the patio umbrellas:  tap-tap, tippety-tap, tap-tap, tippety-tap.  I focused again on being in the moment, but that’s when Ruby came over to lay beside me.  Her wet dog smell wafted over me in what must have been a visible cloud . . .  and then she began to lick my legs.  ARRRGGGGG!  When I heard the nice vendor man asking me if I’d like to buy some “yewelry,” I knew it was time to give up.

Thinking back through the years (and looking down at my wrinkly hands), I’m pretty sure I kept up that sun worshipping hobby through my twenties.  Please remember it WAS THE STYLE then (think Miami Vice and Baywatch)!!!  My goal in college was to be the tannest girl at ASU—and I think I pretty much was.  So that’s why now my skin is leathery and spotted and well, would I have listened if anyone had tried to tell me what lay ahead? Probably not. Being tan made my teeth look whiter, my eyes look brighter, and my hair look blonder.  In 1984, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips.

Last week I also did something I hadn’t done since college:  I met with four old friends whom I was close friends with in high school and college.  These guys were the sweetest, goofiest, smartest bunch . . . though not the coolest boys in school.  Somehow we lost touch, and life went on, but I always hoped their lives were going well.  Last week, I was invited to happy hour last minute by my friend Gail, because two of the guys were visiting from out of town.  I was really nervous, but I think it went well.  We’ve all changed tremendously in 35 years, but we laughed remembering our high school shenanigans and all those summer tubing trips down the Salt River.  I’d always avoided school reunions, and most of that was due to the fact that the only thing I’d accomplished since high school was creating and raising my three beautiful children. So many people from my class have done so well, being doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs (ha) and well, my CV is not very impressive.  Last Tuesday at happy hour, none of that seemed to matter, and it was great to see their faces again.  I enjoyed our time together and hope we can make it a regular thing.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment of Cheers Darling in which we’ve learned: Don’t worship the sun or your skin will get leathery when you are old, beauty is fleeting, good friends don’t care if you’re Important in the World . . . and if you’re on a walk and your husband offers to carry the plastic bag of hot dog poop . . . always say YES!

Cheers,

Mary

Waiting for the Mango Man

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I’m in Mexico.

All day I’ve been watching for the mango man.  He wears a huge straw hat and pulls a small cart through the sand. In his cart are ripe, juicy mangoes, which for only $3 he carves into a flower and hands it to you with a smile.  This treat is so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it . . . but you do, and soon your hands and chin are dripping with mango juice and sweet tamarind syrup.

Hubby and I had a smooth drive down to Puerto Penasco yesterday with only a short wait to enter Mexico.  We got the green light so got to drive on through without having our car searched or Ruby’s dog papers examined.  This was a HUGE relief, since I’d worked myself into a minor frenzy after reading tourists’ bad border experiences on FB pages devoted to tourism in Puerto Penasco.  I was believing every car was being searched from top to bottom.  I believed the line to get in was always two hours long, and that they were harassing people with dogs.  I heard the border guards were taking all meat, fruit, and vegetables.  I emptied a corn flakes box and stowed my tomatoes, oranges, and limes in it, then put the plastic sleeve with the cereal back on top.  I asked Hubby to pretend he was searching the car.  He picked up the now three-pound box and said, “Dios Mios, what heavy cornflakes!”  I’d frozen our deli meat and hidden it under the carpet in the trunk, along with Ruby’s prescription dog food.  The reason the Mexican people are not as welcoming to the American tourists as of late is quite obvious and will not be given any explanation here except to say these three words,  “Build a wall.”

So here we are, on a practically deserted stretch of beach, with the sun shining above us, a light breeze blowing over the blue ocean waves.  It is 75 degrees on our patio–just right not to be too cold or too hot in our swimsuits.  I’m reading the witty Lauren Graham’s book called Talking as Fast As I Can which, being a huge Gilmore Girls fan, is very enjoyable, but if you aren’t a Gilmore Girls fan, I can’t imagine finding it appealing.  I’ll be ready by tomorrow to finish Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole.  I’m reading it for my art book group, and I’m not yet seeing the connection to art.  Because the author is black, there may be a tie in with the Kehinde Wiley paintings we have at Phoenix Art Museum.  It’s a collection of 50 essays on politics, photography, travel, history, and while some of them are interesting, I’m glossing over some of the more ponderous essays.

But where is the mango man?  A few minutes ago I heard the tingaling of a bell and grabbed a of handful of pesos, but alas, it was only the helado guy.  I honestly don’t know how they pull that heavy cart through the sand.  I am not a popsicle person, though now I’m remembering the joy of hearing the ice cream truck when I was a young girl in Illinois.  A shiny dime could buy you almost anything on that little truck, and I always asked for a banana popsicle.

I packed for carefully for this three-day trip, which I usually don’t have time to do.  I brought cute hats and swim suit cover ups and actually held my swimsuits up to the light to make sure I didn’t pack any that had the derriere portion dissolved by pool chlorine–NOBODY wants to see that!  But there is nobody here except Hubby and me, so I’m still wearing leggings with a pair of Hubby’s socks and an old tshirt that used to be Patrick’s and is very soft for sleeping in which has these words on the front:

They lied to us.
This was supposed to be the future.
Where is my jetpack,
Where is my robotic companion
Where is my dinner in pill form, where is my hydrogen fueled automobile
Where is my nuclear powered house
Where is my cure for this disease?

Pretty dark right? (I love it.)  I look a mess.  I’d better change into my cute beach attire. Because the mango man might be here any minute.

Cheers,

Mary

Interpretive Dance

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I am in Mexico.

Hubby, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel, and I drove down Saturday to our tiny condo on the beach in Puerto Penasco (or as I like to call it, Heaven).  All is the same as when we left it in October.  The majestic osprey perch on their post overlooking the ocean, venturing out to fish at sunrise and sunset.  Pelicans fly by in (mostly) groups of odd numbers, and the ocean waves roll in and roll out, just like always. Small pods of dolphins play just beyond the reef, and vendors walk slowly by pedaling their silver jewelry with tired smiles.  The sun shines brightly over the beach, making diamond patterns on the surface of the sea.

We’ve been doing this trip for many years.  I first visited this beach when I was 13 years old, and it was love at first sight.  Lucky for me, Hubby feels the same way, and every chance we get, we make the four-hour drive to our favorite place.  Each time it goes like this:  We unlock the front door, I jump up and down for joy a few times, we unpack the car, take off our shoes, open cold bottles of Mexican beer, and walk out into the warm sand.

One thing I love about visiting this beach in January is how deserted it is.  There are a few “regulars” who quietly read on their patios, waving shyly from afar.  Look east.  Look west.  Nobody on the beach.  Not one soul!  This weekend it seems there are fewer visitors than usual.  Ruby and I took a shell walk and to my chagrin, she took a HUGE poop.  She looked up at me happily, but I was mad. I hadn’t brought a bag with me because she’d already pooped twice today:  once in Gila Bend and once in Ajo!  There’s nothing a dog enjoys more than pooping in unfamiliar territory.

Anyway:  We were a good five-minute walk from the condo, so lucky me, I see Hubby appear on the patio ready to come down and join us.  I wave my hands and get his attention. I yell “BAG!!!” but the wind carries my message away.  Hmmm, this was a tough one.  I think hard and begin spelling out B-A-G with my hands and body.  “Good thing the condos are all empty,” I laugh to myself.  Hubby shakes his head, hands in the air. I decide to reverse the letters.  Again I spell B-A-G, this time with more emphasis. Still he shakes his head.  I point at Ruby, then pretend to scoop something from the sand.  THAT DID IT! Thank goodness, because my next move was squatting in the sand and pretending to do the deed myself!

And well, golly, that’s when I noticed several people out on their patios, hands shielding their eyes to get a better view of this chubby blonde woman doing what must have looked like some strange sort of interpretive beach dance.  Oh, well.  Hubby brought the bag, Ruby felt lighter, and I did not have to walk all the way back up to the condo.

Last night we had a yummy dinner at Flavio’s on the fish wharf.   How weird to be some of the only Americans out on the town on a Saturday night!  It occurred to me many people might be participating in the Women’s March in Phoenix that day, but also Google weather forecasts told us to expect rain (only sun with weather in the seventies).  Today Hubby flew his two-stringed kite, requiring me to wade into the chilly tide pools to help relaunch after many crashes.  (If that’s not true love, tell me what is.)  Ruby is all smiles, though her bad hips prevent her from chasing the birds as she’d like to.  I missed the cats so much in the night that I balled up my sweatshirt and placed it between our feet at the end of the bed and slept soundly pretending they were with us.

If there was a better weekend to escape from the world, I’m not sure when it would be. But after all that’s happened in our country in the past few months, isn’t it nice to visit a place that seemingly remains the same?  I’m trying hard to not feel abject terror about recent changes in our great country, and every day it feels like an awkward balance of getting along, being heard, deciphering news, and taking care of business.  It’s important to just get up each morning, put your shoes on, and place one foot firmly in front of the other. I’m realizing as I write this that lately at home I’ve been doing a strange sort of interpretive dance, and it’s not a happy one.

With Love and Hope,

Mary