Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The "Alebrijes" Are Returning!

If you have been reading this blog for a while you already know what "alebrijes" are, and you probably remember that one of the events of the Day of the Dead season in Mexico City is the "Desfile de Alebrijes Monumentales" (The Parade of Monumental "Alebrijes").

For any newcomers, an "alebrije" is a figure of a colorful, fantastical creature.  In Mexico City, where they originated, they are made of cardboard or papier-mache.  Later, artisans in the state of Oaxaca started carving them from wood.  They have become one of Mexico's best-known forms of popular art.

Mexico City's "alebrije" parade had been sponsored by the Museum of Popular Arts since 2007... long before the city started holding other parades and events designed to make Day of the Dead in Mexico City a tourist draw comparable to Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnaval in Rio.  The "alebrije" parade was usually held in October, two weekends before Day of the Dead (November 2nd).  It grew in size until more than two hundred entries, created by individual artists, workshops, or local organizations, were in the parade.  These "alebrijes" were large creatures, some as tall as thirteen feet high.  They were wheeled down the streets of downtown Mexico City.  After the parade, they were all displayed along the Paseo de la Reforma.  Cash prizes were given to the best entries.

Alejandro and I went to several of the parades.  Unlike the big Day of the Dead Parade, which was started in 2016 and which attracts more than a million spectators, the "alebrije parade" was relatively low-key.  We could go to the parade route less than an hour beforehand, find a good spot, and not be crushed by crowds.  

Then the pandemic hit... and the season's events were all cancelled.  In 2021, even though the city resumed the big parade, there was no "alebrije parade".  

A couple of "alebrijes" from the last pre-pandemic parade, on display in the courtyard of the Museum of Popular Arts.

Then a few days ago, Alejandro told me that he had heard that the parade would be held again this year.   I went on the internet and found a couple of new articles confirming what he had heard.  And now the museum's website has the announcement.

(from the museum's website)

The parade will be held on Saturday, October 22nd.  It will leave the Zócalo at noon, head through the Historic Center of the city and make its way down the Paseo de la Reforma to the Independence Monument.  The "alebrijes" will be on display along the boulevard until November 6th.  

I am very pleased that this delightful event is returning, and I intend to be along the parade route on October 22nd!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A Life-Changing Decision

For years I have considered moving to Mexico.  For a while I wanted to live in Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán.  It is a delightful city, but it is TOO darn hot, muggy and buggy in the summer.  When Herr Pendejo was elected, I said that I did not want to live in the U.S. anymore.  As it turned out I chickened out, but I did start spending almost half the year in Mexico City.  

Now I am very fearful for the future of the U.S.  I fear that Herr Pendejo will be elected again, or the Florida Pendejo, who could prove to be even more dangerous to our constitutional republic.  Even if the Democrats win in the next Presidential election (they REALLY need to come up with a younger candidate), we will still be under an ultra-right-wing Supreme Court whose influence will probably be felt for several more decades.

I came to a decision that it was time for me to get the heck out of here and finally make the move to Mexico. Besides, I am reaching the age where it is time to downsize, and I am beginning to feel like a slave to my garden.  Life is so hectic during the months that I am in Ohio.   My calendar is full, and I find myself constantly looking forward to being able to slow down and relax on my next trip south of the border. 

The prospect of moving is very daunting to me.  I have lived in the same house since my parents bought this place when I was three years old.  I have NEVER in my adult life experienced moving.  It is, quite frankly, frightening.  But I figure, most people in the U.S. move several times during their lifetime, and they survive the ordeal.  Moving to another country is even more challenging.  However, there are around one million U.S. ex-pats living in Mexico, and, again, they have survived those challenges.  Many of them are not as familiar with the country, its culture, idiosyncrasies, and language as I am.  So, even though I am afraid, I keep telling myself that this is a move that I can and must make. 

A few weeks ago, when I had basically decided to make the move, I ordered several books about retirement in Mexico.

I garnered some useful information from the books, but, in general, they were disappointing.  Half of the pages were devoted to where in Mexico one should retire, and I already know where I want to be... Mexico City.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I was extremely fortunate in finding the apartment that I have been renting down there.  Someone that I know, was friends with a couple that lives in Chicago, but has a condo in Mexico City.  The husband is Mexican and used to be a pilot with Mexicana Airlines.  After Mexicana Airlines went bankrupt in 2010, the condo sat empty most of the time for years.  They were reluctant to rent out the condo, but I was highly recommended.  They were, I think, a bit hesitant, but they agreed to let me rent their Mexico City place.  They were also willing to charge me only for the months that I am there.  It was an ideal situation for us both.  They know now that they have a very responsible tenant who takes good care of the apartment.  I make life easier for them by paying the condo fees and real estate taxes which they then deduct from my rent.  The apartment is very comfortable and attractive, fully furnished, and located in a great part of the city.  I have truly grown to think of it as my other home.

Of course, I knew that sooner or later they would decide to sell the condo.  Before the pandemic they mentioned that they would sell it when the husband retired.  They asked me if I would be interested in buying it.  At that point I said "no".  The pandemic put their plans on hold for a while, but the husband will retire at the end of this year.  I talked to the wife on the phone the other day and told her that I would be interested in buying the condo.  She said that they would be delighted to sell it to me at a good price.  I don't know yet what they will ask for it.  I hope that it will be a price that I can afford.  I also asked her if they plan on leaving the furniture there.  She said everything, right down to the bed linens and dinnerware would be left in place.  Wonderful!  That means I don't have to worry about moving all my furniture down there.  I can simply ship the items I really want to keep and liquidate the rest of the contents of my house up here. 

This is not going to happen overnight.  I figure that it will be a year or two before I have everything squared away, and I am ready to make the move.  Until then, I will continue to split my time between Mexico City and Ohio, as I have done for the last several years.

I really can't believe that I am doing this.  It's probably the most daring thing that I have done in my safe, predictable life.  I am nervous, but I am also excited!


Monday, June 27, 2022

Boston... Not the One in Massachusetts

After a detour into the current political climate, we will now return to the day last week that I spent in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  I ended my day at one of the park's visitor centers in what was once the village of Boston.

When the Ohio & Erie Canal was opened in 1827, the village of Boston flourished with boatyards and businesses serving the canal traffic.  Even after the end of the canal era, Boston continued to prosper with the construction of the Valley Railroad in 1880 and the establishment of the now defunct Cleveland-Akron Bag Company.   The company factory stood next to the railway and company houses for the workers were built.  Today, the factory is gone, and Boston consists of a handful of buildings, many of them owned by the park service.

What was once the Boston Mill General Store is now the Boston Mill Visitor Center.  

Inside there are displays pertaining to the park.  Rangers answer questions on hiking trails and things to see.  There are also park souvenirs for sale, and I bought a few items to take to Mexico.

The building to the left used to be the Boston Land and Manufacturing Company Store.  It too now sells local souvenirs.  Profits go to benefit the park.  (I do not know if the old gas station is still a functioning business.  It appeared to be closed while I was there.)

A short drive beyond the center of the village took me to the Stanford House.

James Stanford claimed this land in 1806.  He was a surveyor with the Connecticut Land Company.  (After the Revolutionary War, the state of Connecticut claimed the northeast corner of Ohio... an area known as the Western Reserve.)  His son George built this house in 1843 and operated a prosperous farm and lumber yard.  Today the park offers accommodations to individuals and groups in this restored house.

A view of the Cuyahoga River at Boston as it flows northward toward Cleveland where it empties into Lake Erie.

 At this point I was considering taking a hike to Blue Hen Falls.  However, it was mid-afternoon, and the temperature was up to 90 F.  I thought it best that I save that hike for a cooler day, and I headed back home.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Political Cartoons

These political cartoons mirror my opinion on the current investigation of the January 6th insurrection.


"Stop the Steal"???  "The Steal" fortunately WAS stopped, and the would-be thieves were Herr Pendejo and his minions.  It is time for the traitors to be punished for their treason!

Saturday, June 25, 2022


 It has been a long time since I have written anything political on this blog, but right now I am seething with anger.  Rather than rant, I will simply post these pictures which Alejandro sent me.  You can supply the expletives which I have deleted.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Indigo Lake and Beyond

While I was in the Cuyahoga National Park on Tuesday, I made another stop just a short distance from the covered bridge which was the subject of yesterday's entry.  A sign along the road directed to me to the parking lot for Indigo Lake.

Just beyond the parking lot is a train stop for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.  

This train traverses the length of the national park, leaving from the suburbs of Cleveland and going more than fifty miles to Akron to the south.  I traveled on the train the summer before the pandemic, and you can read about it HERE.

From the train station a short trail leads to Indigo Lake.

Indigo Lake was originally a sand and gravel quarry that operated from 1955 until 1970.  After the land was acquired by the National Park, ground water was allowed to fill the quarry.  The newly formed lake was stocked with fish, and today it is a popular fishing spot.

From Indigo Lake, I continued along the paved path, a pleasant walk through the forest.

Wild flowers along the trail...

This flower looks a bit like Queen Anne's Lace, but since it was growing on a tall bush, it has to be something else.

Wild raspberries?

The trail continues for three quarters of a mile and ends at Hale Farm and Village.  The homestead of Jonathan Hale was purchased in 1810, and the brick farmhouse dates back to 1825.

In 1958 the Western Reserve Historical Society was given the property by a descendent of Jonathan Hale.  The Society has moved historic buildings from throughout northeastern Ohio to the site to create a living museum of life in the state in the first half of the 19th century.

The museum is closed on Tuesdays, the day that I took this hike, but I visited Hale Farm and Village several years ago.  You can read a blog post about it HERE.  I hiked back along the trail to my car.  However my exploration in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was not over.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

A New Old Bridge

 Every time that I go to a summer concert of the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center, I go through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and I always pass the turnoff for the Everett Road Covered Bridge.  On Tuesday, when I went to the farm market, I decided that I was finally going to make a stop to see the bridge.  

I turned off the road and into a parking lot.  From there I hiked a short trail to the bridge.

Covered bridges were very common in the nineteenth century.  The roof and sides protected the wooden floor of the bridge from the elements.  Ohio led the nation at one time with more than 2000 covered bridges.  By the 1880s more durable iron bridges began to replace the covered bridges.

The Everett Road Covered Bridge, which crosses Furnace Run Creek, is the only one remaining in Summit County, Ohio.  Everett Road was rerouted around the site, and now the only traffic using the bridge are visitors to the park, hikers and horseback riders traversing the trails.


The exact date of the bridge's construction is uncertain, but it was probably built sometime in the 1870s.  The bridge was damaged in a flood in 1913.  However, it was repaired and continued to be used by horse-drawn carriages and wagons, and even automobiles.  Then in 1975, a storm destroyed the bridge.  Schoolchildren, local citizens, private organizations and government agencies raised money to rebuild an historically accurate replica of the original bridge.  The new bridge was completed in 1986.  Today it is a popular site for visitors to the national park.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

To Market, To Market

Yesterday I decided to drive to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  My destination was Szaylay's Farm Market, located within the park.

The business began in 1931 as a vegetable farm, long before the national park was created.  They later specialized in sweet corn and opened a farm market with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  

Even though it is still too early in the season for most home-grown crops, the market was filled with produce, most likely shipped in from elsewhere.  They even had sweet corn, probably grown in the South, since August is the time for Ohio corn.

However, the strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, as well as the rhubarb are in season, and are probably locally grown.

I didn't drive thirty miles from home to buy vegetables.  I came to buy some jars of Ohio specialty products to take to Alejandro's family in Mexico City... things that are not available in Mexican supermarkets.

So, what did I buy to take to Mexico?

I bought a jar of wild blueberry spread, made on the Szaylay's farm, a jar of apple butter from Ohio Amish Country, and a container of pure Ohio maple syrup.  Ohio may not be as well-known for its maple syrup as Canada or Vermont, but we produce 65,000 gallons of syrup each year.  I also wanted to buy a jar of horseradish, but the market didn't have any.  I know I can buy it in any supermarket up here, but I thought they might have some that was made in Ohio. 

I also bought a few items for myself...

I got a jar of Vidalia Onion Relish, made in Bucyrus, Ohio, and some avocado tomatillo salsa made at Szalay's Farm (although obviously they didn't grow their own avocados).  I also bought a package of dried apricots.  

Now I will have to buy some bubble wrap for the jars that will go in my suitcase when I go to Mexico. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

More Flowers

Here are some more flowers that have bloomed since my last post about the garden...

Spirea bush



The roses are now blooming.  Some are doing well, but others not so well.

Hostas are grown primarily for their folliage but some varieties have rather attractive flowers.

More day lilies are now blooming, and other are forming buds.

Some of the Asiatic lilies are now blooming.

The iris have come and gone, but just yesterday I noticed that this Japanese iris is in bloom.