Monday, July 31, 2023

Heading South Again

In a couple days I will once again be flying down to Mexico.  Hopefully, I will be able to accomplish everything that I wasn't able to do in June, and this will be my last trip before I make the permanent move.  Fingers crossed; I will be able to get everything done in the three weeks that I will be down there.  When I return, I plan to put my house in Ohio up for sale, and (again, fingers crossed) hope that it does not take long to sell.  Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but I would like to say farewell to the United States by October.

As always, my bags have been packed long ahead of time.  All I have to do is put the last-minute items in my backpack.  The luggage is filled with items to leave down there; I will return with empty suitcases again.  

My flight leaves at 6:00 on Wednesday morning.  Once again, since I would have to get up so early, I will probably just stay up all night.  I wouldn't be able to get to sleep anyway.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must continue checking off items on my list of things to do prior to departure.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Dinosaur - Part Two

I wrote in yesterday's post that I am a dinosaur.  It took me a long time to get away from slide photography.  I finally started using a digital camera, and I use a video program on my computer to create slides shows of my travel photos on DVDs.  I also have an old-fashioned Netflix account which sends me discs through the mail.  Their library of titles is so extensive that I much prefer it to Netflix's streaming service.

In spite of my attempts to enter the 21st century, I am still a dinosaur.  Now, people are using their smartphones to take pictures instead of cameras.  The use of DVD players is in steep decline as people have switched to streaming services.  Netflix announced that at the end of September they will discontinue their DVD-by-mail service.  I hate to see it go, but it really doesn't matter since later this year I will move to Mexico, and Netflix never offered disc delivery down there.

My DVD player is getting older, and I suspect that the disc player in the condo that I am going to buy is even older.  I started to worry that someday down the road DVD players will become extinct.  So earlier this month, I decided to buy a new one before they are no longer readily available in the stores. I bought a Blue Ray which is newer technology but still plays my DVD discs.  I was very surprised by how tiny the new players are, so much smaller than the old DVD players.

So, I now have a new player to take with me down to Mexico.  Hopefully it will last a good many years, and this dinosaur will be able to watch my DVDs for the rest of my life!

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Hard to Throw Away

For over a year now, I have been clearing out my house in preparation for my move to Mexico.  I had a garage sale last year (too much work for so little money).  I have taken bags of clothing and household items to Goodwill.  I have received some cash for old coins and unused jewelry.  Small but treasured items have been packed into my suitcases each time I travel to Mexico.  A lot of stuff simply goes out into the trash.  Since my return from my last trip, I have been emptying more drawers, cabinets, and closets.  But on the shelf of my bedroom closet, there is something that must be thrown away, but I hate to do so.  There are a dozen large notebooks filled with slides from years of travel.  The slides are placed in plastic sleeves.  There are also boxes and even old carousel trays filled with slides.  When I retired, one of my goals was to get all of them all sorted and put into more notebooks.  I made a start on that but never finished.

I first started taking slides in 1973 when I made my first trip out of the country... three months spent in Mexico studying at the University of the Americas.  I had a Kodak Instamatic camera back then.  Eventually I upgraded to a 35 mm camera.  My former students can all attest to the many slides of travels to Mexico, Peru, Argentina and other countries which I showed them.  Dinosaur that I am, I still clung stubbornly to film photography after retirement, even though it was getting harder and harder to find someplace that would develop my film.  After the death of my partner in 2011, I joined the 21st century and started using his digital camera.  Now I am a dinosaur again, and some people are surprised that I take photos with a camera rather than with a smartphone.  

I know that I could convert my slides to digital format and store them on my computer.  In fact, I have an apparatus that does that.  I wrote a number of posts on this blog which featured photos from those long-ago travels.  However, I have thousands upon thousands of slides, and uploading them all to the computer would be incredibly time-consuming.  Even those slides which were protected in the plastic sleeves are showing their age.  It would take even more time photo-shopping them to make them look good again.  Every time I look at those notebooks, I think, "I have to throw those out," but, so far, I have not had the heart to do so. 

Fortunately, I have twelve years of digital slide shows from my travels stored on DVDs.  (Hopefully, DVD players will not go completely obsolete within my remaining years!)  Those discs, more than fifty of them, are already packed into a box that will be shipped to Mexico by the moving company when I make the final move.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

It's Ohio

A few days ago, I saw a funny article on the internet which had photos that summed up each state in the United States.  The photo for Ohio was right on the money.

Way back in 1973 when I was a junior in college, I spent the winter quarter, from January through mid-March, studying at the University of the Americas in Mexico.  When I talked to my parents on the phone in early March, they said that the weather was mild and that the daffodils and tulips were sprouting.  When I flew home on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, I only made it as far as Atlanta because the Cleveland Airport was closed due to a heavy snowstorm.

Now that I am retired, I have for many years spent January and February in Mexico.  I miss out on most of the winter, but I know very well that I will probably still see at least one more snowfall even if the calendar says that it is spring. 

I checked out the weather statistics for Cleveland, and the latest measurable snowfall was 0.1 inches on May 7, 1974.  On April 21, 2021, we had 4.5 inches of snow, and on April 19, 2019, we had 11 inches of snow.  In late April of this year, after having temperatures in the 80s F a few days before, there were snowflakes in the air. (Fortunately, they melted upon contact with the ground.)

As we say here in Cleveland, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."

Monday, July 24, 2023

More Dolls

You may recall that on my travels I frequently buy dolls to send to the daughter of one of my former teaching colleagues.  When she was a little girl, I always bought her dolls from the various countries that I visited.  Now that she has daughters of her own, I have continued the tradition and send dolls to them.

On my latest trip, I was busy preparing for my move to Mexico, and I wasn't planning on buying gifts or souvenirs for anyone.  However, one day, as I was walking past the World Trade Center, there was a small bazaar set up on the sidewalk.  I saw a couple of items, and I couldn't resist buying them for the girls.

One vendor was a lady who was born in Romania, and she was selling handicrafts, including dolls, from that nation.  I have never been to Romania. However, it's a country not represented in their collection, so I bought one of them.  Another vendor was selling items from the Mexican state of Chiapas, and I noticed this donkey made of wool by natives of that state.

My schedule has been extremely busy, but I have nothing on my calendar today.  So, this morning I am going to UPS and send them on their way.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

A Mini-Reunion

In other blog entries I have mentioned a couple of my friends that graduated from Berea High School with me.  Gayle and I are, I think, the only ones who still live in our childhood homes.  (When I move to Mexico, she will be the last one.)  Duffy lives in Puerto Rico, but returns to Ohio frequently, and spends extended periods at the house that belonged to his mother.

Duffy is back in Ohio, and the three of us got together last evening for the Berea High School All Class Reunion.  The event is held each summer at the Polish Village Tavern in Berea and is for all graduates of Berea High School.  The get together attracts a large number of people, and the streets around the tavern are blocked off.

I had only been to one of these reunions previously.  In 2015 our class reunion coincided with the "all class reunion" and was a part of the weekend's events.

Here are the three of us, all wearing Berea High School tee shirts.  An attendee from another graduating class kindly took our photo.

We wandered around for a while and didn't see anyone that we knew.  We were on our way to the car, when we saw a couple of our classmates.  One of them I had known since kindergarten and was one of my best friends in elementary school.  So, we stuck around for a while and chatted with them.

After leaving the reunion, we drove a few blocks to the new high school building.  Part of the high school building which we attended dated back to 1929.  In 2013 the school consolidated with the other high school in the district and became Berea-Midpark High School.  Sadly, in 2020 our alma mater was demolished, and a new building constructed.

In 1967, when we were students at Berea HIgh, a 15-foot-high metal sculpture called the Tree of Knowledge was placed on the facade of the building.  The sculpture includes a map of Berea and courses of study.  Because of its cost ($25,000) it was quite controversial when it was installed.  For more than 50 years it stood on the front of the school building.  The sculptor, Robert Fillous, was a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and gained quite a name for himself.  Among his many works of art was a cross made from nails for Coventry Cathedral in England.  Our Tree of Knowledge came to be considered a rather important example of 1960's sculpture, valued at much more than its original $25,000.

The Tree was removed from the building before demolition, disassembled and put in storage.  After all those years exposed to the elements it had deteriorated.  Restoration work was done on the sculpture, and earlier this year it was placed in a more protected area on the new high school.  None of us had yet seen the Tree's new location, and that was the reason for our quick visit to the building.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

More Leftovers

I still have some photos from my April / May trip to Mexico City which I never posted here.  Since I don't have anything new to post, here they are...

These pictures are from the Museo Kaluz, one of Mexico City's newer art museums.  It houses Mexican art that was collected by a wealthy businessman Antonio del Valle Ruiz.  Some are by well-known artists; others are by lesser-known painters.  I already posted some of the Mexican landscape paintings in the collection.

"Woman and Maguey"
by Raúl Anguiano

Anguiano was a muralist who also did oil paintings depicting traditional imagery of Mexico.  (The maguey plant, shown in this painting, is a species of agave that is widespread throughout central Mexico.)  Although not a well-known name here, by the end of his long life, his paintings were selling for over $100,000.

"Chiapas - Women and Houses"
by Roberto Fernández Balbuena

Fernández was a Spanish architect and painter who moved to Mexico at the end of the Spanish Civil War.  This painting is a scene in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

"Huichol Musicians"
by Roberto Fernández Balbuena

The Huichol people are an indigenous tribe that lives in western Mexico.  This painting was done shortly before the artist's death.

"Self Portrait with Popocatépetl"
by Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl)

Gerardo Murillo, who went by the name of Dr. Atl, may not be well-known here, but in Mexico he gained fame for his many paintings of Mexican volcanoes.

"Dining Room Picture"
by José Agustín Arrieta
19th century

Arrieta was known for his scenes of everyday life in the city of Puebla where he lived most of his life.

¨Still Life with Watermelon¨
by Roberto Montenegro

Montenegro was a Mexican painter, muralist and illustrator.  This late work of his shows a bit of cubist influence.

"The Unemployed"
by José Clemente Orozco

Orozco was one of the most important 20th century muralists.  His works are often politcal in nature and deal with human suffering.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Mountain View

I have on previous occasions posted some photos taken by a friend of Alejandro who is a mountain climber and guide.  Here is a beautiful picture of the volcano Popocatépetl which he recently took.

Many people, when they think of Mexico, imagine cactus or palm trees.  Yes, those exist in abundance. (In fact, Mexico's deserts have the highest number of cactus species in the world.)  However, the nation ranks 4th in the world for biodiversity, and is home to around 26,000 species of native plants and trees.  It surprises some visitors to see the mountain slopes of central Mexico covered with pine forests.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Lunch with a Former Student

Even though I have been retired from teaching for many, many years, I still get keep in touch with some of my former students.  One of them is Kathryn.  I think we first made contact when she found my blog, and her blog ("Mighty Kool Kats") is now on my list to the right.  She is also on Duolingo, where she is reviewing her Spanish.  Occasionally, she emails me with a question about Spanish grammar.  We have never, however, seen each other face-to-face since she graduated from high school.  A while ago she wrote me that she would like to get together before I make the big move to Mexico.  So, yesterday, we had lunch together.

Kathryn lives across town, so I tried to think of someplace that was halfway between us.  I choose a place called "Sabor Miami" that is located in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland.  The place is owned by a lady from Honduras and features a mixture of Caribbean, Central American and Mexican food.  I had been there several times and liked the food.  However, the restaurant had changed a lot since the pandemic.  There are no longer any printed menus, the selection of food is drastically reduced, and the meals are served in styrofoam containers with plastic forks.  The food, however, is still good.  

Kathryn and I had a leisurely lunch and caught up on what had been going on in our lives.  She had spent a number of years in South Korea teaching English, and she now works at a daycare center.  We commiserated over the state of education today.  Although she loves her job, dealing with some of the students, even at their young age, can be very challenging.  And even at a daycare center, the amount of paperwork is time consuming.  Also, she is irritated that many people view her as a "babysitter" rather than an educator who is preparing the children for elementary school.  She has a master's degree in psychology, for heaven's sake!

It was great to see Kathryn again after all these years, and I hope that we can get together again before I head south of the border to live.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

Voting "NO"

There will be a special election in Ohio on August 8th for a proposed amendment to the constitution of the state of Ohio.  Since I will be in Mexico on election day, this past week I drove to downtown Cleveland to the Board of Election to cast an early ballot.

The proposed amendment would change the rules for amendment referendums.  It would become more difficult to put such issues on the ballot, and it would require a supermajority of 60% for approval.  It is backed by the Republican party and the governor, although a couple of former Republican governors have publicly opposed it.  The backers deny it, but it is widely viewed as an attempt to prevent voters from protecting abortion rights at the ballot box.

What is interesting... and which shows the hypocrisy of our politicians... is that the legislature last year eliminated special elections in August.  They said that special interest groups try to put through issues in the summer when voters are not paying attention.  Yet here our legislators are pulling the same shenanigans, hoping that voter turnout will be low.  Hopefully their tactics backfire.  In my area, the yard signs opposing Issue 1 far outnumber those supporting it.  And I have read that an unusually large number of people in the state have turned out for early voting.

Thursday, July 13, 2023


Here are a few photos of Mexico City street art that were left over from my last trip.  These were all taken in Alejandro's neighborhood.

A painting outside of a veterinarian's office

A portrait of Mexico's most revered President, Benito Juárez

Aztec-inspired artwork on a street corner

A painting outside of a tattoo parlor

Another mural depicting the Battle of Puebla in which the Mexicans held back the French invasion in 1862.
Although crudely executed, it is better than graffiti scrawled on a wall.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Punishing the Virtuous


(image taken from the internet)

It is that time of year when I have to renew my auto registration. First, I had to go for the emissions testing of the car.  There is a location for the testing less than a mile from my house.  The test is free, there was no wait, my Prius passed the test, and I was soon on my way.  With the paper saying the car passed in hand, I went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  Fortunately there was not a line there either, and within fifteen minutes I left with my new registration, and the sticker that I have to attach to my rear license plate.

It was all very quick and easy, but I have two reasons for being disgruntled.  First of all, within two or three months, if all goes according to plan, I will get rid of the car just prior to my move to Mexico.  But I am most annoyed by the fact that the annual registration renewal costs $161.  One hundred dollars of that fee is a surcharge that is added because I have a hybrid vehicle. (The surcharge is $200 for electric cars.)  The rationale is that we are using less gasoline, and therefore paying less gas tax.

Here we are at a time where it is essential to cut our reliance on fossil fuels.  There should be incentives to buy fuel efficient vehicles, but instead, those of us who are doing a small part to help the environment are penalized.  I mentioned this to the young fellow who was waiting on me at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and he said, "Thanks to our Republican governor and legislature in Ohio."

If anything, a surcharge should be placed on the registration of the gas-guzzling vehicles!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Trying to Copy a Recipe

While I was in Mexico, I had a very tasty salad at a restaurant near my apartment.  I consisted simply of avocados, tomatoes and cheese in a vinaigrette dressing.  Yesterday I tried to replicate it at home.

I chopped three avocados and three ripe tomatoes.  I wasn't sure what kind of cheese to buy.  I ended up getting a chunk of sharp provolone.  It proved to be a good choice.  It was rather salty and went well with the bland flavor of the avocados.  For the dressing, I used organic apple cider vinegar, and I squeezed in the juice of one half of a lime.  I added also mixed in a spoonful of vinegar from a can of pickled serrano peppers that I had opened in order to add a bit of heat.  I added some sugar.  (I used stevia instead.)

The finished product was very good.  I didn't duplicate exactly the taste of the salad I had in Mexico (the dressing, I think was different), but I came close.  It is definitely a recipe that I will make again, especially when I have moved to Mexico City.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Catching Up

Since I am not going to take my desktop with me down to Mexico, I have been backing up my files, especially all my photos, onto a high-capacity flash drive.  I usually create slides shows of my trips which I burn onto a DVD.  I knew that I still had to make discs for my trips in January/February and April/May of this year.  I will save my pictures from my most recent trip in June, but I won't make a disc because, other than getting together with my former student Megan a couple of times, I really didn't do anything special on that trip.  What I didn't realize, however, was that there was a trip from way back in August of 2017 for which I had never created a DVD.  So, I have been spending some time each day getting caught up.

First, I have to organize the photos and videos, putting them in order and deleting the ones I don't want.


Then I upload them to my video program and put background music to the pictures.


Then I burn the slide show onto a disc.  I have completed the discs for August of 2017, and January/February of 2023.  I have one more to do.  

Saturday, July 8, 2023

A View to the East

Yesterday morning, when Alejandro drove his sister to work, he could see that, in spite of the high clouds in the sky, there was an exceptionally clear view of the volcanoes to the east of Mexico City.  When he returned home, he went up to the roof of the house and took some pictures.

Iztaccíhuatl (Izta) is to the left and Popocatépetl (Popo) is to the right.  The recent rains have covered the peaks with snow.

Friday, July 7, 2023

The Milkman Cometh

Those of us who are of a certain age remember the days when the milkman would make his daily home deliveries.  The milkman is not a thing of the past in Mexico, at least not in Alejandro's neighborhood.  In the past year, he has been traveling up and down the streets, not in a truck but on a bicycle cart, and the blaring recording he plays has become a part of the aural landscape.  From the cooler attached to his bike, he sells milk, cheese and yogurt.

I have long wanted to make a video the neighborhood milkman, but, every time I hear his recording, either I do not have my camera at hand, or he does not pass directly by Alejandro's house.  Then, on my last day in Mexico City, while I was taking a walk, I was able to record the elusive milkman.

The recording he plays begins with a song announcing the arrival of "el lechero" (the milkman).


The recording then goes on to promote the nutritional values of milk.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

A Poor Man's Notre Dame

A couple days ago I showed you pictures of the Mexico City Mormon temple which is located a short distance from Alejandro's home.  The building is clearly inspired by pre-Hispanic architecture.  While taking my walk, I came upon another church which is oddly reminiscent of the Gothic churches of France.  

It is the parish church of San Felipe de Jesús, and it stands out as being very different from other Catholic churches in the neighborhood.  

The facade includes a rose window, a la Notre Dame, but the bell towers are truncated and only two dimensional.

It's an interesting building, although the attempt to copy Gothic architecture doesn't quite work.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

BOOM! by the Lake

Yesterday was perhaps the last Fourth of July that I will spend in the United State.  So, I decided to go see the fireworks last night in the neighboring city of Berea.  I walked there since it's only a half hour away, and parking in the area is impossible.

The Fourth of July celebration in Berea is called the "Grindstone Festival", a reference to the city's legacy as a center for the quarrying of sandstone and the production of grindstones in the 19th century.

The festival is held on the shore of Coe Lake which was once a sandstone quarry.  

A stage was set up and live music was playing.

I went to look for a good spot to watch the fireworks.  Even though it was still an hour before the pyrotechnics started, the area was already crowded.  I managed to find a spot along the pedestrian bridge that extends into the lake.

To the left you can see the fountain in the lake.

The fireworks began at 10:00 P.M.  They were quite impressive.  Sometimes in the past, they would shoot off a single rocket, and then you would wait several seconds for another single rocket.  This year there was an almost constant barrage of fireworks.  Here are a few videos of the show.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Mexico City's Mormon Temple

 Not far from Alejandro's home is Mexico City's Mormon temple (or more correctly, the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).  On my last day in Mexico, while taking a walk in the neighborhood, I realized that I had never posted any photos of this area landmark.

The Mormons have long had a presence and interest in Mexico, and their membership of over one million followers is second only to the United States.  I am not going to make any personal comments on Mormon theology, but they believe that that Native Americans, including the pre-Hispanic civilizations of Mexico, were the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and that, after his death and resurrection, Jesus visited the Americas.

The Mexico City temple was begun in 1979 and completed in 1983.  It has more than a passing resemblance to a pre-Hispanic pyramid, and the architectural details are clearly inspired by the buildings of ancient America.

The spire is topped with a statue of the angel Moroni, who according to their beliefs, revealed the golden plates which tell the story of the ancient peoples of the Americas.

The temple is part of a seven-acre compound.  While walking by, I saw more buildings behind the temple which I had never noticed while driving by.

Only members of the Mormon faith are allowed to enter the temple.  However, next door is a visitors' center which is open to the public.  (And where I am sure they hope to attract new converts.)

The sign outside this smaller church-like building says that it is an "Institute of Religion".  There are numerous Mormon churches throughout the city, and they all look exactly like this building.

The property also includes this apartment building which serves as housing for young missionaries.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Mural Progress

On my recent trip to Mexico, I showed you some pictures of a mural that was being painted along a wall not far from where Alejandro lives.  On my last day there, I took a walk and photographed the progress that had been made in a week's time.

The mural portrays the Battle of Puebla which was fought on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo) of 1862.  Here the Mexican forces halted (at least temporarily) the advance of the invading French troops.  It was the first time in history that a non-European army had defeated a European power.  Even though "Cinco de Mayo" is not a national holiday in Mexico, in Alejandro's Mexico City neighborhood of San Juan de Aragón, a reenactment of the battle is held every year.

I am sure that by the time I return to Mexico next month, the mural will have been completed.