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Where Have I Been? U.S.A. Bound!

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Over the last few months, I have been implementing a huge change in my life. For the last six years, my husband and I have been living in México most of each year. We initially moved to Ajijic, Jalisco, where the climate is close to ideal. Unfortunately, it was like living in Little America, rather than México, with so many expatriates from Canada and the United States. After two years, we took the plunge and moved to the mountains of Pátzcuaro, Michoacán.  We spent four years there in a quiet, rural, gated community, learned a little Spanish, and enjoyed the culture and the kind people we encountered.

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Ajijic, Jalisco, México–our “yard” was a tropical garden

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Our house in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México

We are now in a different season of our lives. A four day trip with two dogs in tow, twice a year, has become increasingly difficult physically and more stressful. If you are following the news, you know that the trek is also fraught with dangers from cartel activity and random acts of violence. Mexican drivers are generally untrained and adhere to their own set of rules. My husband and I are both licensed to drive ALL vehicles in Mexico including semi-tractor trailers, merely because we paid a fee. A bribe was not involved. On our last trip  north, we witnessed the aftermath of several different accidents involving multiple trucks. It was sadly clear that some drivers would not be retuning to their families—ever. Road hazards include often unmarked and unexpected speed bumps called topes on the highway, drivers converting a two-way, two-lane road into a three and a half lane road according to custom, and small herds grazing unfettered. Due to these dangers, as well as the increased potential for criminal activities, the general recommendation is to not drive at night.

So now, we anticipate winters in Farmington, New Mexico, and summers in Chama, New Mexico. To travel between houses we have a two and one-half hour drive rather than four days. We can enjoy either house whenever we choose, dependent only on snow conditions. We are already getting involved in local activities that in México we would not have participated in due to language limitations. Great shopping is available seven minutes away rather than one hour. We feel free to drive to restaurants and civic events at night.

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Farmington, NM

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Chama, New Mexico

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Chama in the summer

We enjoyed our time in México and the everyday challenges of living in a different culture and communicating in a different language. We will miss friends we made in Ajijic and Pátzcuaro. It was not easy to arrange the movement of some possessions and decide what to leave behind. We also wanted to return with some mementos of México to decorate our new home.

I don’t know what the future holds for us. Perhaps more community and church involvement, excursions in the Four Corners area to explore ancient Native American cultures, motorcycle trips from our two home bases, time to explore our hobbies and, after life settles down a little for us and for some of the countries we would like to visit, maybe some trips abroad. Argentina has terrific Italian food!

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The border

I did a happy dance and a cheer as I crossed the international border and felt the immediate relief of having survived the journey and the elation of being home again. It was an oddly different feeling from returning to the U.S. for a few months as in the past. “Welcome home,” the border seemed to say: home, sweet home. 

To my fellow bloggers:

I was more or less (más o menos) without Internet for a month during this transition. Internet was installed for us about a week ago. I have over 600 emails to deal with, and I have only rarely been able to post on my blog. Even my reading has slowed way down. Please forgive my absence, and be patient as I try to establish a new normal at the same time that I review books I have already committed to. I am looking forward to reading your posts and reviews again. I will still occasionally write posts about my experiences in México and my views on education. 

As a bellwether for my productivity in the immediate future, I should note that I started writing this post a week ago. Much to my frustration, life has not settled down yet as we still have purchases to make, installations to schedule, and so many decisions to make. I must declare, however, that all of this is easier in my home language, and I am enjoying that change. 

A Festival of Leaves and Some #FREE #Photos

Educators, students, bloggers, I am reblogging this because it not only addresses copyright issues which we all need to be respectful of, but also offers free use the blogger’s pictures. And they are beautiful!

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you probably know I LOVE photography and combine that with my love for Autumn!

Growing up in San Diego, there wasn’t much to see in the way of Autumn leaves as the palm and eucalyptus trees didn’t yield to Fall’s changes. Once in a while, in December, when some of the east areas felt a few cold nights, did you see the few Liquid Amber trees show their Fall colors.

One I moved to Sacramento as an adult, and lived among “the City of Trees,” my obsession for Autumn grew each Fall as the entire region became a burst of color. It also does this in the spring, but that’s for another season!

You also may know that I love my photo challenges and am including this photo (from a two-year old post) into a fun challenge I discovered…

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FREE this Weekend! Better Blogging with Photography by Terri Webster Schrandt | The Beauty of Words

Free download of this book July 8-10. I snatched it to get some good ideas, but I also want to publicize it because, as a former technology teacher, I wanted to remind everyone that just because you can say “it is on the Internet” or “I found it on Google” about a photo doesn’t make it free. Although copyright laws have gotten way out of hand from the original intent, thanks in large part to the movie industry giants, they are still laws. In the case of photography the photographer does own the picture. I’d rather use my own work or find a public domain site than risk stealing someone else’s work. And there is always an option to purchase stock images. Happy Blogging!

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

In honor of my one year anniversary of the launch of my eBook Better Blogging with Photography, you can pick it up FREE, from July 8-10, in the Amazon Kindle store!

Better Blogging with Photography cover

As a blogger, are you weary of constantly hunting for images to illustrate the subject of your blog posts? Perhaps you are a new blogger struggling to get more readers. Or a seasoned blogger continually seeking inspiration for quality blog posts. This guidebook is designed to help you utilize your own images on your blog or website.

While free image sites abound, there are limitations to using so-called “free” images. Gone are the days when bloggers can innocently copy and paste an image from the web and paste it into their blog post. After reading this short guidebook, you will want to grab your smart phone or inexpensive digital camera and start taking photos!


Recently, I was pleased…

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The Mysterious Reappearance of the Blogger

As you know if you have read many of my reviews, I LOVE a good mystery. I did not, however, set out in May to create one of my own by my sudden disappearance from digital media–email, blogging, even What’s App. I didn’t even plan on taking a “social media break” as some do from time to time for various reasons. For weeks now, I have been literally and digitally out of touch because of lack of connectivity through traveling, failing digital infrastructure in northern New Mexico, and exhaustion!

I’ll post a few pictures to show what I have been up to. I will not post any to depict the hours spent trying to deal with various issues with MVD, Verizon, and other business concerns in the U.S. When you have been out of country for a while these issues pile up, are interrelated and clamor to be handled all at once.

First a trip to the U.S./Mexico border with our two dogs. A few hours after we hit the road, we were sideswiped by a semi. Really nice man, same insurance company as ours, but we lost almost two hours of precious daylight. If there is one rule of thumb about driving in Mexico, it is DON’T DRIVE AT NIGHT.  We had to drive from the middle of Mexico to the northern part of New Mexico with no sideview mirror because our insurance stipulates that it must be repaired in Mexico.IMG_4858IMG_4879The border! Now to find our hotel and get the dogs arranged for the night.

Next day–Eagle Pass to Roswell with no alien encounters

Then on to Albuquerque where we got to see these lovely ladies compete in volleyball (silver medal winners), visited with family, and picked up a new bike for my husband. Four more (cold for my husband on the bike) hours later we finally make it HOME!

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Follow this up with trips back to Albuquerque for servicing and paperwork on the bike and up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, for Plan B on establishing a better Internet connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May the 16th we should be on the road for a motorcycle trip, but Chama is unseasonably cold, and motorcycling in cold weather is just not fun. By cold, I mean FREEZING:IMG_4899

On May 20th, with temperatures above 50º we left on a three day ride to Tyler, TX. These were long days in the saddle. At the end  of the day I just wanted dinner and a bed!

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After a great visit with John’s family and a tour of the famous Tyler Rose Gardens and Museum,

we headed to Arkansas to ride the Ozarks for 3 days

followed by 3 more days of riding to get back to northern New Mexico. We unfortunately caught a respiratory infection requiring some recuperation time after we got home.

Mystery solved–from disappearance to reappearance. Adventure is fun, but it’s always good to be home again–even if where you hang your hat is in several countries.

Happy New Year! Changes Ahead in 2017!

announcement-001I am very excited to announce an expansion of the scope of this blog. It began as a way to express my concerns about education. Next I added book reviews, certainly a feature connected to education. Now I am excited to add posts about Mexico. This will not be a travel guide or a tutorial about how to move to Mexico. Each post will contain a picture or two taken in Mexico with a few notes. Although I expect to post “A Touch of Mexico” about once a week, I do not run my life or my blog on a schedule–one of the best parts of retirement! I hope you will join me in experiencing “un poco de México.”

Farewell, Hastings!

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On my way back to Mexico, I spent the night in Roswell, NM near a Hastings bookstore.  Out of country for most of 3 years, I was unaware of the Hastings bankruptcy and closing.  It was sad to see the store being liquidated.  I bought a hardback Daniel Silva book for $4.00. I would have bought more books, but my truck was already bursting at the seams with things I had missed or needed south of the border. I could do a whole blog post on bookstores versus online sales and ebooks, but we’ll save that for another time.

I snapped a picture of the Hard Back Cafe sign–such a clever play on words. The cafe was closed that evening but not liquidated. What a feeling of nostalgia as yet another bookstore closes.

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The Daniel Silva book will be the subject of another post down the reading road. I have a number of ebooks that should be read and reviewed first. I read a review of one of his books (maybe in an airline rag?) over a year ago and thought I would enjoy his books. It was a good opportunity to pick one up; and in spite of my appreciation of ebooks, I do so love to hold a book in my hands as I read!

Diane Ravitch’s Feet of Clay

Why I No Longer Follow Diane Ravitch’s Blogclay-foot-of-statue-3072x2048_75664

When I retired from teaching and began reading blogs, I was excited to find Diane Ravitch’s very active blog.  She posted things I had been thinking and saying for years about CCSS, overtesting, and VAM. Diane Ravitch is an education policy analyst, an author, a research professor at NYU and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. I admired that she had originally supported No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but later publicly reversed her position.  She was David against Goliath, fighting big business and politicians in their grab for education dollars.

My idol, unfortunately, has clay feet.  Too many of her posts are now only about politics.  She says that none of the candidates support her position on education, but she has chosen a candidate to support anyway in post after post after post. She supports one candidate with vehement enthusiasm and works against the other with vehement invectives.  What happened to education?  She says her blog is “A site to discuss better education for all.”  What happened to that discussion?

I do not want to invite one-sided trash into my heart and mind.  I want to work towards the best educational system possible for our children.  I’m leaving Diane Ravitch behind.

How Do You Prefer to Write?

editingWhen you write a blog entry, do you go straight to the keyboard or do you put it down on paper first? If the latter, where do you do your editing?

I’m curious if recording your thoughts is affected by age.  I would think that digital natives (those who grew up with computers in the home) might be more likely to compose directly on the computer.  Research shows that people who take notes, in a meeting or in class, directly on the computer retain less than those who use longhand. I have not seen research on how computer versus manuscript affects original writing. If you do other writing (i.e. professional documents, short stories, books), do you approach that writing differently?

If you would like to weigh in on this topic, to avoid revealing your age, just say whether you are a digital native or not and how you prefer to write.  If you want to give more details, go for it!

I am not a digital native. I did get in on personal computers with the Apple IIe and have always had some kind of computer ever since.  I was an elementary school tech teacher for 14 years out of my 34 years of teaching.  I write my blog entries in a notebook and do first editing there as well. This preliminary editing can vary from changing a few words to a major rewrite. My final editing is done on the computer and does not usually involve major changes (i.e. the thinking has already mainly occurred and what’s left is grammar, flow, and typographical errors.  When I wrote professional documents for work, I composed most of them on the computer and I am not sure why. Currently my only writing in retirement is blogging and informal digital communication which is, of course, written directly into whatever app I am using.

Dual Purpose Blog?

children-in-class_booksIf you have been following my blog, you may have noticed a gradual transition from a focus on educational issues to a focus on book reviews.  Actually I have not dropped my interest in developmentally appropriate education, and you will continue to see posts on that topic in the future.

I began “Education Pathways” when I retired from teaching and still had a lot to say about education.  As I read the blogging efforts of others, I discovered many (mostly retired) educators saying a lot of the same things that I was saying.  Suddenly I was not the lone voice speaking up for children. What happened? Part of the reason for this phenomena was certainly that I had more time to read when I was not wasting time trying to please administrators who had really strange ideas, provided for the most part by highly profitable businesses, about what is good for children. The other big factor is that a large number of frustrated teachers with lots of years of experience all said “No!” at about the same time: “No, we will not go down this insane path that is damaging to children any more.” With retirement, we found our voice because we no longer were threatened and intimidated by our employers.  The result was a huge increase in the anti-CCSS (Common Core State Standards), anti-overtesting, anti-VAM (Value Added Model of teacher evaluation) blogging world.

At about the same time, I moved to Mexico (mostly) and discovered netgalley.com* which lets me preview books written in English, in an electronic format, for publishers in exchange for reviews.  After a few rusty efforts, I began flexing my critiquing joints and discovered that I really like recording my thoughts about books.  So, I set out on a different education pathway that involves reading and which I think intertwines quite nicely with my original focus of developmentally appropriate education.

a-pen-on-book_journalIn the future you will see posts about education and reviews of books for children with discussions of how they might be used with children.  You can also expect reviews of books for adults which are soon to be released as well as a few from my own collection or e-books from the Gutenberg Project.  My reviews contain little in the way of summaries.  Those are readily available from the publisher, online bookstores, and Goodreads.  I prefer instead to present my personal reflections on and reactions to a book. Since I can choose my reading material, I will only choose books I think I will like.  For example, I won’t be reading and reviewing a horror novel, but suspense and mystery will certainly have a place.  Please join me in the world of books as I continue the education that never ends.

*Many thanks to my daughter Tara for introducing me to netgalley.com. She immediately recognized the problem I would have in Mexico of feeding my reading addiction and provided such a wonderful solution which has blossomed into reviewing as well.

Three Day Quote Challenge–Day 1

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My new blogger friend, Wendy from Ramblings and Musings, invited me to participate in this three day quote challenge.

The rules for the challenge are:

  1. Thank the person nominating you for the challenge.
  2. Post a quote on your blog for 3 consecutive days.
  3. Invite 3 of your favorite bloggers to join the challenge.

My nominees for the challenge are:

  1. David  from David Snape and Friends, whom I originally started following because of an interesting post he wrote on autism.  It is also through his blog that I discovered the fantastic Kindness Blog.
  2. Shellie  from Shellie Woods who writes about marketing and life, from a Christian perspective.
  3. Kim from  Learn to Love Food. Through her blog Kim has taught me about the need some children have for food therapy and her fun approach to helping those with food issues.

No obligation–just fun, inspiration and exposure to bloggers you may not have encountered before.

My first quote has been my favorite for years.  It was my signature quote on my work email.  I wanted it always there as a reminder to the “Standardistas” that accumulating facts is not what education is all about.  Many education policy makers and enforcers (in my former school district and around the country) have forgotten that education is inspiring children to be lifelong learners.

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