Sunday, May 28, 2017

Now Blooming in the Garden

I am finally done with my flower beds.  There is still work to be done... manicuring tasks such as edging, trimming and sweeping... but my garden is now looking like a garden.

The latest blossom to appear, one that I have not previously pictured on the blog, is the Mexican primrose. 

This perennial plant is native to the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, but it also grows well in 28 of the states of the U.S.  The plants grow to about ten inches in height, and have pretty pink flowers with yellow throats.   It will supposedly continue blossoming throughout the summer if you keep removing the spent flowers so that it does not go to seed.  However, I have found that to be a difficult task.  Probably when I return from my next trip to Mexico, they will be done blooming.

The only downside with the Mexican primrose is that they can be invasive.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Making Progress

I have not written on the blog for several days because I have been very busy in the garden.  I have spent twelve days working between four and seven hours.  I have been painstakingly pulling out the weeds from between the perennials  There is still much to do, but I now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The shade garden beneath the walnut tree is finished.  The hostas and some of the other plants have been sprayed with deer repellent.  (No, deer, this is not going to be an all-you-can-eat salad bar!)

Today I completed the largest of the flower beds.

The Siberian iris have just begun to bloom.

And the earliest of the day lilies are now blooming.

The two tree azaleas in front of the house are especially beautiful this year.

I finally feel confident that I will finish all the flower beds before my departure for Mexico in June! 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Emerging from the Weeds

In my last post I wrote that I am frantically trying to get my gardening done before I leave for Mexico again in June.  Fortunately the weather has been more cooperative this past week, and seven out of the past eight days I have been spending between four and seven hours working in the garden.  Slowly, the flower beds are emerging from the weeds that engulfed them.  I have made a lot of progress, but there is still so much to do.  The question is, "Will I finished before my departure?" 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Gardening Race

The one down-side to spending every other month in Mexico, is that when I am home in Ohio, I am going to have to play a frantic game of "catch-up" with everything that needs to be done up here... especially gardening and yard work.

Those of you who have regularly read my blog, know that I have large flower gardens.  Usually, it takes me from late April until the end of June to get my flower beds the way I want them.  I returned from Mexico in early May, and I will go back in early June.  That means that I now have less than one month to try to accomplish everything. When I got home, the weather was not cooperating.  The first three days it was constantly raining.  The  rain was great for my plants, but also for the weeds.  On Sunday the sun finally came out.  I have spent the last two days weeding, cleaning out and edging, but I have still not finished the flower beds in front of the house.  I do not intend to plant any annuals this year; I will just let the perennials do their thing.  Even so it is going to be a race to finish my gardening in time.

Here are a couple pictures what is already in bloom.

The columbines are especially pretty this year.  They reseed themselves, so each year there are more and more.

  The azaleas are also now blooming.

Well, it is time to get back to work!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cinco de Mayo

Today is the fifth of May... "Cinco de Mayo".  I have written about this before, but since so many people in the United States are misinformed about today's celebration, it bears repeating.  "Cinco de Mayo" is NOT Mexico's Independence Day.  (That is September 16th.)

"Cinco de Mayo" commemorates Mexico's victory against the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.  Although the French invaders went on to capture Mexico City and occupy the nation until 1867, the victory was a great morale-booster for the Mexican struggle against the foreign intervention. 

"Cinco de Mayo" is not a legal holiday in Mexico (except for the states of Puebla and Veracruz).  Schools, however, are closed today.  (It has been a very short school week for school children since May 1st... Labor Day... is a legal holiday.) 

In the United States, Mexican-Americans began observing the day as a time to celebrate their heritage.  Mexican restaurants and beer companies began promoting "Cinco de Mayo" up here as an occasion to boost sales.  For many "gringos", it is a day to go out and drink margaritas or Mexican beer, just as St. Patrick's Day is an excuse to drink green beer.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Journey Home

Yesterday I flew home from Mexico City.  Once again, flying on Interjet Airlines to Chicago proved to be a very pleasant experience... a flashback to the old days when flying was enjoyable.  The plane was not crowded (the seat next to me was empty), and I had plenty of legroom.  A light meal was served... a ham and cheese sandwich, a package of cookies and a beverage... nothing fancy, but more than I have had flying to and from Mexico on the U.S. carriers.  My friend Alejandro told me that it is Interjet's policy to never overbook a flight.  That is nice to know, given the recent events that have occurred with overbooking.  My flight was twenty minutes late arriving in Chicago, but that was not a problem since I had scheduled a long layover.

I sped through immigration and customs.  As in Houston, O'Hare has installed the automated screens for U.S. citizens going through immigration, and there was no waiting in line.  The only drawback to flying with Interjet, is that I am unable to check my luggage through to Cleveland.  However, after passing through customs, there is a United desk.  I was able to quickly check my suitcase to Cleveland there, rather than having to go the Terminal One ticket desk (and probably waiting in line).  Kudos to United on that service.   

I took the train going from International Terminal Five to United's Terminal One.  Going through security did not take too long.  After all of that, I still had nearly four hours to wait for my flight to Cleveland.  With my credit card I receive a couple passes each year to use the United Club lounge.  So I passed the time there, and took advantage of the free food.

I can't really badmouth the flight on United Airlines.  We left on time and arrived in Cleveland slightly ahead of schedule.  But what a difference from the Interjet flight.  It was cramped and fully booked.  Fortunately, another perk with my credit card is that I am in boarding group two, so there was still plenty of space in the overhead bin for my carry-on.  It is a quick flight of less than one hour.  I can put up with being in a "cattle car" for that short amount of time.

So, sorry United.  I am now going to fly on Interjet on my flights to Mexico City.  It cost a bit more, but less than if upgraded to the "Economy Plus" seats with more legroom.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hasta la Vista

It is hard to believe that an entire month has passed, and that tomorrow I will return home to Ohio.  However I will only be gone for a month.  In June I will return here to the same apartment.  During my time in Ohio I will be very busy, attempting to accomplish two months of gardening and yard work in just one. 

Since I am allowed to keep my clothes here at the apartment, I do not have much packing to do.  Well, actually that is not true.  Knowing that I would have a nearly empty suitcase, I went wild buying gifts and souvenirs.  Yesterday Alejandro took me to Office Depot to buy some bubble wrap, and I just finished wrapping the more fragile items.  Fortunately nothing weighs that much, and I will not have to worry about going over the luggage weight limit.

Perhaps it is because of the yard work that is facing me, or perhaps I am truly becoming an ex-pat in my attitude, but, other than seeing my friends, I am not looking forward to returning home.

¡Hasta pronto, Ciudad de México!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Art Garden

If you have been reading my blog over the last month, you know that I have been to a number of art exhibits here in Mexico City.  However my most enjoyable "art" experience was a visit yesterday to the "Jardín del Arte" (Art Garden).  Alejandro and I were trying to decide what to do on a Sunday afternoon.  Then I remembered reading many years ago about the outdoor art market held every Sunday in Parque Sullivan not far from the Paseo de la Reforma.  I asked Alejandro if they still have that market, he said yes, so that is where we went.

Since the 1950s artists have been gathering here displaying their work.  There are painters, sculptors, and photographers whose styles run the gamut from traditional folk themes to abstract.  (I am no great fan of modern art, but I have to admit that there were some abstract paintings here that even I liked!)

There was so much here that I would have loved to purchase were it not for the eternal question "Where will I put it?"  I have virtually no wall space left in my house!  I fell in love with a small canvas depicting a Mexican marketplace.  It was small enough to fit in my suitcase.  I went so far as to ask the price.  It was around $1500 U.S.  That quickly took care of that temptation!

I loved the landscape paintings of the Mexican volcanoes which are reminiscent of the works of  the 19th century artist José María Velasco.

As an amateur painter who has participated in outdoor shows, I like to support the artists.  I did buy a few small, inexpensive pieces that I will donate to the annual auction of my favorite charity.

From this lady I bought a cute, little floral miniature.

And from this gentleman I purchased a charming painting of Mexican dolls.

Toward the end of our visit, I got into a very interesting conversation with this fellow, an artist who goes by the name of Carlos del River.  He speaks excellent English, and while we chatted we bounced back and forth between English and Spanish.

Carlos has a distinctive style in which he combines water colors with ink.  The effect is somewhat like stained-glass windows.  I liked his work very much, and there were a couple of pieces that I would have liked to have purchased.  They were small enough to fit in my suitcase, and his prices are very reasonable.  But once again it was the question of "Where am I going to put it?", not to mention that by this time I did not have many pesos left in my wallet.

Carlos told me that he did not have any formal training.  Some time ago he had lost his job, and he used that unfortunate situation as an opportunity to pursue his artistic dreams.  He told me that the organization that runs the art market has very high standards in allowing artists to participate.  He was very happy to become a member of this selective artists' community.

Although I did not buy any of his works, I told him that I would give him a plug on my blog.  The link to his Facebook page is HERE.

For any visitor to Mexico City who enjoys art, I would highly recommend a trip to the Sunday Art Garden.  I intend to return in the future... and who knows, maybe the next time, if I see Carlos, I will buy one of his paintings!