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This summer I took a road trip from New Mexico to the South to visit friends and family. My route took me through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Missouri (going East), Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas (going West). I was driving my appropriately designated “Desert Sky Blue” Ford Thunderbird, but going through my head was “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.” I hope the people who came up with that ad campaign, tune, and lyrics were well compensated–now that was branding!
Most of my time was well spent reminiscing and catching up. I was treated to some sightseeing along the way.
Paducah, Kentucky, is restoring its downtown area. So much interesting history there! We had a delicious lunch at a bakery that survived a major flood and currently includes a café, walked the brick paved streets admiring period storefronts, viewed fantastic murals along the riverbank, and lingered in a local museum with fascinating memorabilia.
In Asheville, North Carolina, I enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, I went to the National Cemetery. It may seem like a strange place to visit, but I have memories of going there as a little girl with my father like you would go to a park. I had a fuzzy recollection of a “train statue” and was eager to make a better connection. There is a memorial there to Andrews’ Raiders and the Great Locomotive Chase, a military raid in 1862 during the American Civil War. The locomotive pictured below is a model of The General. The memorial is surrounded by tombstones of some of those involved and indicates which ones were executed, escaped, or exchanged.
A bit of history has been brought to life in the James County Courthouse which has been remodeled with a wedding chapel upstairs and a tearoom, which I highly recommend, beneath–wonderfully decorated, delicious food, and a friendly staff.
Always good to travel and always good to return to a place you call home. The New Mexico desert is a welcome sight as I head towards my mountain retreat.
We have two beautiful, large pine trees behind our house in New Mexico, and one slight problem. One of them leans. It leans towards the house. Eventually it will fall on the house. As much as I hate to see a tree cut down, this one has to go. We are blessed with the services and equipment of a local expert and his intrepid nephew.
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.The 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!
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:
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!
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.
It only took TWO WEEKS (24/7) to synchronize all of my pictures with iCloud, but it did work as far as I can tell. While that was happening, I was afraid to touch my pictures. Now I am ready to share some more of Mexico, starting with this past weekend. A few of these pictures were taken previously, but I did take all of them in Mexico.
Saturday Night Empanadas–perfect with a game of Scrabble!
Perfect Blooms Just in Time for Easter
We live in an area called Corazón de Durazno because the houses are built where there used to be a peach orchard. It is January with highs around 68 degrees F and lows averaging around 40 degrees–although last night we did have a light frost. The trees are in full bloom and have various stages of fruit simultaneously. Some fruits remain from last year and the poor trees are generally confused, but beautiful.
The media in the U.S. often describes Mexicans with stereotypical terms–gangs, drugs, lazy. Let me shine a little light on the people who have shared their country with me for three years. I don’t know anyone in Mexico who fits into this stereotype, and why do we think we should throw people into a descriptive “basket” anyway? Are there people in Mexico who are unpleasant or criminal? Certainly, as there are the world over.
So, what kind of people have I encountered in Pátzcuaro, Mexico? Kind, generous, and family oriented. If you need a stereotype, try that one. In our town, people are so patient when we try to communicate in our broken Spanish. We had a lady take us across town to find a repair shop when she was clearly headed in a different direction. She even stopped several times to ask directions for us. A young man spent the day climbing up and down a ladder to clean the exterior windows of our two story house and then would not charge us anything. He only took some money when we insisted it was for “Navidad.”
The flowers were given to me by our hairdresser. She has a clean, but worn, little one room, one chair beauty shop with no apparent source of water. Parking is one slot on the side of a busy, curvy hill. Hours are indeterminate. But she is pleasant and does a great job of cutting our hair. When I asked her for the name of the plant explaining that I had one in my yard at home but would like to buy more, she insisted I take the vase of flowers home–“un regalo” (a gift).
We look different, talk different, and dress differently, but we experience kindness and generosity. This is my stereotype for Mexicanos.
I 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.”
Pumpkins in Paradise
by Kathi Daley
I love mysteries–the kind you read. Not the kind where you wonder where you hid something so no one else could find it! I love the type of mystery that focuses on the puzzle, not on the actual blood, gore and violence. I’m not interested in the extremities of psychological madness or depravity. When I retired, and before I began reviewing, I sated my appetite by reading all of Agatha Christie’s novels. Although I didn’t care for her mysteries that dabbled in the occult, most of the rest of the works of this prolific writer are excellent.
Having conquered the Christie mountain of 78 mystery novels, I read from a variety of genres and stumbled across a sub-genre developed at the end of the twentieth century, the cozy mystery. While I don’t limit myself to cozies, I do intersperse them with my other readings. Cozies downplay sex, violence, and inappropriate language while providing the reader with a puzzle. The story is usually set in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. The amateur detective is usually a woman with some contacts in the law enforcement community. A cozy series may be thematic and there is often an element of humor and a touch of romance. Christie’s Miss Marple books fit into this category as does the television series Murder, She Wrote.
Pumpkins in Paradise is the first novel in the Tj Jensen Mystery Series written by Kathi Daley. There are currently seven books in the series, all set in the little town of Paradise and most with a seasonal theme. Our heroine in this cozy series is Tj Jensen, a single, high school PE teacher and coach who has moved in with her father and grandfather. They run a local woodsy resort and are helping her care for her two newly orphaned half-sisters. Pumpkins in Paradise meets all the criteria for a good cozy and excels in the puzzle category. In order to solve a murder mystery, Tj has to solve a final puzzle created for her by the victim. The story is populated by interesting, colorful townsfolk and visitors. The setting has small town appeal: Paradise is decorated for fall and bustling with pumpkin activities.
I recommend Pumpkins in Paradise as an excellent cozy that you will not want to put down. I plan on reading other books in the series–comfortable excitement in a feel good setting. But don’t be fooled–Pumpkins in Paradise has a healthy dose of suspense as well!
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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.
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!
We went on a long vacation in northern New Mexico and discovered our cabin now has very slow Internet connections. So, forgive my sporadic appearances as I could only occasionally make contact with bloggers, Facebook friends and email correspondents. It will take time, but I hope to catch up a little day by day. On the up side, what a blessing to visit with family and friends, enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and work and relax every day in what seemed like my own bed and breakfast. I am now back in our little town in Mexico where we usually have good connectivity–except now, the rainy season. At times, I have no connectivity; but when it works, it is fast!