Friday, June 5, 2020

The 30 Day Challenge Ends...

I set out at the beginning of May with a 30 Day Challenge. To write on my blog every day. It went mostly well, though it became more difficult near the end of the challenge for a few reasons. One was material. I found that there were things I wanted to write about, like The Cocos, my little foster dogs, but the story is long, and did I want to sit at the computer for hours to write their story? There are also things I couldn't write about.

I found that once per week, usually Friday, I didn't feel like writing, so I didn't. And then I would get back to it, similar to this evening, knowing I somehow had to bring my challenge, but not necessarily my blogging, to an official close. So I am sitting, the fan on, Ralph on the piano (he just asked it what it was doing...) and writing. hat I learned is that it's OK in a 30 Day Challenge to miss a day, or even a few days. That it feels good to come back to that challenge, even knowing that the day before you lay on the sofa and thought, shit, my challenge...

Why a 30 day challenge? It was a focus. It was a direction. I need direction. This week was a tough week. The governor of Oaxaca has invited us to enjoy a solid ten days at home. Not by force, he said, but by solidarity. Out of respect, honor, and caring for our neighbours.

Ralph and I walk each morning and sometimes we are quiet with our own thoughts (well, I am with mine, he may be in the "nothing box" just breathing and walking...) and other times we talk about life. We worry, of course. Mostly we are practical. Maybe we will have business next March. What does that actually mean?

Last night I pondered life not in Oaxaca. I pondered having to move back to Canada. Even as I write it I get teary and short of breath. It was one of those logistics questions we play in our heads. Maybe those questions that we are always afraid to say out loud. Realistically, we are way better off here in Oaxaca, the cost of living is much less and the dogs don't need winter coats or boots. Wow. That took a lot of courage to type. Well, courage and I think I broke the backspace key.

It was also a tough week because at 45 years old I think I am what one gloriously calls perimenopausal. My emotions are raw and my heart not just on my sleeve but downright out there for all to see. Weepy, itchy boobs and a damn sore back, the events taking place in the United States have me more than a little fragile. We know too many people there to not fear for them. And yet there are stories of incredible bravery that make you believe what you know if your heart to be true. There are good people. Most people are good people.

So, good people, it may be the end of a 30 day challenge but I look forward to a renewed blogging routine. And now, time for wine.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Footloose, baby...

On Friday nights for maybe 2 months now, there are a group of 5 of us that do a video call. Usually for an hour or two, once a marathon 3 hours. We cover off our weekly COVID-19 updates in our respective cities and countries, of course, but we cover off a variety of life on our calls. Everyone has been to Oaxaca except Shirley, and this gap we expect to be fully remedied once The Stupid has passed.

Tonight we decided that today would be a 1984 theme, and Claire, Len and Erin all did hair and make-up for the call. The side pony, crimped hair, finger-less gloves, bangles, you get the idea.

I was my job to do 1984 Trivia, which was fun. Here is the link if you wanted to play.

I look forward to and enjoy catching up with friends who I don't usually have the joy of catching up with often. We all live full lives, so catching each other for a chat is a bit of a Bond-esque skill. Now, we are home. Not traveling, or working, or out at the Local having wine and listening to music.

The Local almost 6 years ago.
Was it the reason we rented our apartment?
I know that COVID has brought about a lot of negative. I also believe it has brought about a lot of positive, and being virtually close to friends has been one.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Wall Art - Pick a Topic, any topic

Today as I was walking home from the vet's office, I passed by this great mural I had been meaning to take a picture of for months. Every time I had passed by before, there was a car parked of the lighting as bad, or something.

The mural is about the national legalization of abortion. In Oaxaca they passed the law last year to legalize abortion. Before that, the only place that you could safely and legally get an abortion was Mexico City.

Also on the way home was this stencil. During the woman's march, which now seems literally decades in the past, there were quite a few very impressive stencils. I had seen this one at the time and I walk by it every morning but again, timing is everything.

Other than Benito Juarez, our glorious son of Oaxaca, first indigenous president of Mexico, sporting a blue face covering at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, I've not seen any novel corona virus specific wall art.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

At Least I did one useful thing today...

The subject of my blog today was an email reply to an email from a friend of mine who I needed a little help from. It was a quick thing. At least it was a quick thing that ended up actually being quick.

I resist sitting down at my computer, I am note sure why. I have lots of fun stuff I could be doing, but I resist. Fun stuff like sorting through pictures and at the same time taking trips down memory lane. I have my 1984 Trivia Zoom Game to set up. But the computer seems to be like work , like being serious. Like a job no one is going to pay me for.

I showered today, shaved AND put on different earings. Pretty much at that point, I had also walked the dogs and had breakfast. I should have just gone to bed, right??

I called my Granny. I adore my Granny and she is my last living grand parent and sometimes I have little panic breaths thinking that one day I will be on this planet without grandparents. Not ever really without them, they all shaped me to be the woman I am today, but still, not able to call. I loved hearing her voice, and she was so happy it was as if I had not called in 3 years. It has been 6 weeks. Too long. We were both grateful that she is not in a facility for the aged but at home with our family.

I then did sit down and work on the dog refuge website. Still more work to do to get ready for my adoption event, but I am glad I sat and worked on it. You can check it out here in Spanish, I decided to so a whole separate site in English. Doing both concurrently was too crowded.

I have a mini-rant. I cannot understand why accessing my pictures from my phone to my laptop is not stupid easy. Tried with the cable. Nope. Tried with Bluetooth. Nope. I was trying to avoid having to take my pictures from my phone, load them onto some third party site, and then access them for the website. Time for me to get serious about cloud computing. Ew. So gross.

I made Chicken Parmesan for dinner and sat and chatted with Ralph and talked about Lujo, my vegan restaurant. Could I cook for people 5 days per week? Do I want to? Can I? Important questions.

An acquaintance here in Oaxaca has COVID-19. I found out last night, she is a woman who I know through working at the dog refuge. She is funny and lovely and will be fine, but it hit home last night. Before then it was NYC friends who are fine and recovered, but Flor lives a 15 minute drive away. I've not seen her in months, but was a little broken to learn she was sick with The Stupid.

On the same day I sat dumbfounded in my home, on my sofa, watching posts on social media from friends in Canada and the USA about two things. One was large groups of people gathering in parks and on beaches. No masks. No concerns. Second was two different acts of violence against African American men in the United States. I am not sure which one affected me more. In this time when so many people are struggling, we have this. It fills me with a profound sadness. Thank goodness tomorrow is Dog Refuge day.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Food for the Soul

My friend Trina sent me an email on Friday and she talked about Food for the Soul. I have missed being in the kitchen, so today, I spent my day cooking.

I mostly learnt how to cook from my maternal grandfather. He was a chef in the military and then ran food service for an old age home. Sundays as a child meant church and then to their house for a visit and always, always food. In my mother's family, food and family and love are all mixed together in a big bowl and served up in hearty portions.

My father was a line cook and was more french trained. Smaller portions and never much leftover, you cooked for the pleasure of eating. He was a cook at the science station in Alert Bay for 6 months, and I bet that suited him well, as his cooking was scientific.

Cooking for me if like putting love on a plate. I love food, and I love flavours and I love to eat. Part of our tour business always includes a home made lunch for that reason. There is something nurturing about having someone make food for you. Nurturing for the soul, not just the body.

Ralph's Peanut Butter cookies.
Soul Nurturing.

Mostly I wanted to be back in the kitchen today because I wanted to make a care package for my friend Martha who lives here in Oaxaca. Martha and I's routine is to go for lunch or brunch and get caught up on life. Seeing as there is no place to go for lunch or brunch, I have dropped off a care package a few times. She is vegetarian and so I am practicing some menu ideas for the new vegan restaurant I will open.

On the menu in Martha's Care Package:

  • Nut-free Pesto
  • Quinoa Vegetable Salad 
  • White Bean and Orzo Soup
  • Whole Wheat Loaf (use this recipe generally but with warm water, and substitute flours, never more than half of the flour being non-white)
  • Half of a Rye loaf, because it would be impossible to choose 
  • Dark chocolate espresso cookies
Now I get to be excited to eat all week.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Photography Workshop

Over a year ago now, with the help of a good friend here in Oaxaca (Martha), I planned, organized and attended a 9 hour Smartphone photography workshop. taught by The Karen Otter.

If you have an opportunity to ever take such a course, DO IT. I am actually thinking of asking her if she would be willing to try to do one online as I would adore a week of a fun class. Interested? Let me know...

But I wanted to tell you why I loved this class.

First, it gave me confidence with some photography basics and my own "eye", what I see and how I see it.

Second, it gave me permission to play with my phone. I don't know about you but in the past when I got a new phone I basically set up email, made sure that worked, and I was good to go. To actually take the time to learn what features my phone had, what they did, and how to best take advantage of them, was a gift!!

Next, it really pushed me to see things differently. The class was with about 9 other people, and we would go to the same place or walk the same path for our photography time, so trying to see something differently was a great challenge

It led to lots of play. I love having these skills in my pocket, quite literally. The class has brought about fun adventure on vacation in Mexico City, and our guests for Go Well have reaped the benefits.

I have developed some of my photos and framed them for a friend at her request, which was such a compliment! They looked great and that taught me to crop things a little differently, because the frame takes space I had not previously considered.

Things I want to learn next: food photography and dog/pet photography. A while back I thought I had lost 6 years of pictures when my computer crashed, so I also want to order, sort and backup all those great memories, and develop some, too!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Eternal Optimist

Many of you know that I am an optimist. I am the glass half full girl. Even at times in my life when things were the most difficult, I trusted that eventually things would work themselves out the way they are supposed to. I try to not hang on too much to an ideal solution. Things will work out the way they are supposed to. I trust. Be that in God or in The Universe, but I trust.

This glass was very full. And then, very empty.

I suppose being this way has its disadvantages, but being an optimist, you see, I try not to focus on that.

Many of you also know that I strive to live my best life, and a part of that best life was running Go Well Tours over the past 5 and a half years. I love running my business. All aspects of it. I love the early mornings, I love the days when I think I sweat so much on a hike it will take me 5 days to re-hydrate. I love the guests and the friends, the questions and the research. I love Oaxaca.

During the pandemic, the time at home, the day when we finally put our tour picnic table and chairs away and into storage (this past Sunday, where they have been since March 12th) , during the walks with the dogs on quiet streets and the Zoom calls with friends, during breakfasts and cooking and dog refuge days, I have wondered what exactly I would do AFTER. Some of my friends have continued to work, maybe from home, maybe remotely, maybe they are going into an office or a shop. My business is tourism. Which means, zero work.

We've talked, Ralph and I, lightly, about what we would do, AFTER. I would like to consider feeding people, running a small vegan restaurant here in my area. So many people don't really know what vegan food is here, and we are spoiled in Oaxaca with the freshness and availability of our fruits and vegetables. It will have an international bend to it, to celebrate what I believe connects us globally, the traditions of our food.

Oh, sexy produce...

And today we went bird watching. And we talked about building a birding tour day at Yagul. It is the first time we have really talked about our business actually surviving, growing. And it filled my spirit with joy. As much as I understand the concerns, about travel, about enclosed spaces, about deaths and disease and so many unknowns, I really hope that someday I get to show people this beautiful land I immigrated to.