#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Welcome to the many rooms of author Madeleine Thien

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Madeleine Thien signing books after her keynote address at #smwc2020 on Wednesday.

If the author Madeleine Thien were an Air B&B, there would be a waiting list 600 people strong to occupy her rooms.

The rooms of her imagination, the rooms of her research, the rooms of metaphor, and tangible rooms of exacting detail. The rooms of her prose and connectedness to the great minds of 20th Century theorists and the early Enlightenment, 17th-century rationalists hunted and scorned by church and body politic alike for questioning the composition and very existence of their God.

What brilliant yet challenging rooms they are, in the prose of Thien.

Spinoza’s rooms, for certain. And Martin Heidegger’s. And the adjoining and more intricately appointed rooms of the mind of his acolyte and lover, Hannah Arendt. Philosophers all who wove brilliant thoughts, existential transports, with universe-spanning concepts that transcended time, space, and dimension. Continue reading

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Sending a photo through artsy filters unearths emotions missed in the original — but is it art?

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This is what you get when you step out your front door around 7 a.m. in San Miguel de Allende. Not every day but when it happens you whisper a little prayer of thanks to the photography gods. (Then curse the limitations of your sad and old iPhone.) But taking the photo is just the beginning of what you can do.

I am not a photographer. I am a guy with a used iPhone who takes pictures.

I emphasize “used” because the newest phones seem to be veering awfully close to mimicking the abilities of a decent camera.

Mine is not in that class.

Even if I had a new phone with the latest camera technology, or even if I owned a halfway decent camera, I would never call myself a photographer. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

In San Miguel de Allende, always follow the music

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Aguascalientes holds an impromptu dance party at the corner of San Francisco and Corregidora in San Miguel de Allende on Tuesday night. Dancing couples filled the street.

There are abundant guidelines to enjoy a visit to San Miguel de Allende.

Among them: “Don’t walk and gawk.” Many people end up on their faces while looking to the left or right while walking. You might see that colorful dress in the window but what you miss is the sudden change in elevation of the sidewalk.

If you want to look, then stop, relax, take it all in before proceeding with your walk.

Besides, you’re in San Miguel de Allende, the magic city! What is your hurry? Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

A guest video blogger offers a fresh look at San Miguel … and our home

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My guest video blogger Caira Button is the Catrina on the right. Her lovely assistant is Catrina Rose Alcantara. Facial art is by our talented friend and neighbor Jimmy Hickey.

Good news, Musings & Magic fans, we have a guest blogger today!

A guest VIDEO blogger.

Let me introduce Caira Button, daughter of my dear wife, Rose Alcantara, and an accomplished video blogger who lives in Chicago. Continue reading

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

‘I rescue hummingbirds’

IMG_8932Hummingbirds are drawn to the atrium at the top of our stairwell.

The blue glass lantern looks like a feeder, I think.

But the atrium is like a fish wier.  Once a bird flies in, it can’t get out.

There is something sad and poetic about this, as they flutter from corner to corner. Like little feathered Marcel Marceaus, they feel the edges of the glass box, probe the invisible, flap wings against the glass.

Freedom is a fraction of an inch away but the glass will not yield to their perceptions.

Sometimes, on the outside, a mate flies up to the glass. You can feel the concern. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Seeing San Miguel in new and fresh ways through sketching, cooking, and dichos

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The collection of images in this post have no specific relevance to this post, other than they are “things” I have noticed since Thursday’s Literary Sala. For example, how often to you see a Sue Grafton book sitting on a window ledge? Especially themed well with the window display was “K is for Killer.”

I went to the Literary Sala this week to learn about urban sketching and Mexican cuisine but, more than that, I learned how to see San Miguel through new, fresh, and exciting  eyes.

Susan Dorf has been drawing San Miguel scenes and people for a decade and many know her through the colorful sketchpad images that appear in the weekly bi-lingual paper, Atencion. Her eye for detail is extraordinary and her ability to capture the essence of street scenes in ink and watercolor rivals the hundreds of iPhones trying to do the same.

Patricia Juana Merrill Márquez is a San Miguel native with roots going back 400 years. She is an architect, a hotelier, and a champion for Mexican cuisine. She also collects dichos — Mexican idioms and aphorisms that open a window onto this unique culture.  “The Buen Provecho Book,” is a mix of recipes and lively insight into Mexican culture.

I guarantee that few of us see the same San Miguel as these two. Continue reading

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

Remember that time Gordon Ramsay’s greatest challenge on ‘MasterChef’ was flan? No?

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Gordon Ramsay knows flan. And you don’t.

Two things happened last week.

My wife, Rose, and her daughter, Caira, binge-watched the 10th anniversary season of Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef.”

It is what they love to do when they are together.

Because our place is small, I sort of binge-overheard. Continue reading

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