Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Queen of the Night makes a stunning appearance, her reign so tragically short

The Night-Blooming Cereus is putting on quite a show in our Colonia San Antonio courtyard tonight.

One night only, folks. By morning these beauties will be withered old crones, bereft of the intoxicating scent currently filling our home.

Rose spotted the — what shall we call it? — the chrysalis of the Cereus earlier this afternoon. Raul our gardener was just as excited to see them — there are two. We missed the blooming of several of the cactus flowers earlier.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

And there is it … bloom!

Parque Juarez, with its countless shades of green, sometimes surprises.

This one was a stunner, to me.

A bougainvillea, alone among the carefully parsed trees and bushes, backlit by the late afternoon sun.

It was as if on fire, a brilliant fuschia fire.

Life in San Miguel de Allende is forever magical.

When you least expect it to be.

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Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

Flowers. Just flowers — but from San Miguel de Allende, Cape Cod, and Newport

In San Miguel de Allende, we call this the rainy season.

Many days, the clouds will roll in during the afternoon and by 5 p.m. or so, there will be rain, thunder, and lightning.

It is happening right now as I write about it. A little early in the day, 1:30 p.m. but nobody ever complains about the rain.

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Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

Clouds. Just clouds.

Sometimes, you just have to go with the material that is right in front of you.

Today, it is nothing more than clouds.

Just clouds.

“You should see the clouds,” Rose calls out to me. I am in my favorite chair, in a cool dark room, battling ignorance and mean people on Twitter. “They’re really beautiful.”

She is right. Rose knows her clouds.

Big beautiful fluffy, floating, languid, lazily hithering and dithering clouds.

Not “looks like rain” clouds. Not trouble-ahead clouds. Not massive gray-dark sheets of roiling angry wetness.

Just legions of marshmallow clouds floating over San Miguel de Allende on a summer’s afternoon.

The kind of clouds in which you can see famous faces, clowns, ghouls, horses, funny dogs, dragons, elephants, and cars.

The kind of clouds for which soft fields of grass were created, so you could lie on your back and see famous faces, clowns, ghouls, horses, funny dogs, dragons, elephants, and cars.

The kind of clouds that inspired Joni Mitchell to write “Both Sides Now.”

The kind of clouds that John Constable painted in sprawling vistas like “The Hay Wain” and “Wivenhoe Park.”

Where would poets be without clouds? Looking at you, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Maybe they are the same clouds, just recycled two centuries later?

Still hanging around, but posing now for iPhones.

Or, the kind of clouds under which young people fall in love and old people fall into reminiscing.

The kind of clouds for which the word “chiaroscuro” was invented.

Nobody can say that, back in the day, they had better clouds than these.

I’ve seen the evidence.

The best clouds ever — and always — are the ones that capture your imagination for a moment, just before morphing into whispy cotton candy swirls.

Timing is everything with clouds.

Pull your head up out of your cell phone, your busy works, your depression, your self-obsession, your shoe gazing — and look up.

Don’t let a day go by without observing the clouds, no matter how many or how few.

Don’t compare them to clouds past. That is not why they are here.

This is no cloud fashion show.

Clouds appear because they are trying to tell us something.

Seek out their shapeshifting secrets.

Learn their names, understand their reasons.

Follow the shadows they cast upon the ground.

You won’t find a pot of gold.

Maybe something better.

Love?

_______________________________________________________________________

Put more magic in your life!

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Rants and raves, Uncategorized, Writings

Things that happen — or don’t — when your debit card dies and goes to finance heaven

Thirty things I can not do — according to the 876 e-mails that I just deleted — now that my only debit card has been hacked and terminated by my bank:

  1. Buy tickets for the San Miguel chamber music festival’s new season.
  2. Help the Democratic Party defeat the existential threat to democracy that is the Republican Party by donating to 73 candidates for various state and national offices who are currently soliciting me for funds to continue their campaigns.
  3. Take advantage of the special discount being offered by several companies on photo-printed coffee cups, T-shirts, and aprons – and of course, photo books.
  4. The latest one-day-only Kindle book deal of the century! Just for me!
  5. Free shipping – for today only! – on lots of stuff that I don’t need, never wanted, and didn’t ask for.
  6. A 50 percent discount on New Yorker magazine. Ends very, very, very soon!
  7. Twenty-five percent off all personally designed birthday and thank you cards. Extended offer! This won’t last forever. Why are you hesitating? Surely you know somebody with a birthday coming up soon.
  8. Pay my New York Times subscription which has detected a problem with my current method of payment and even after some 30 years as a subscriber has no desire to cut me some slack.
  9. Take advantage of Kayak’s and Skyscanner’s alerts on the price of airplane tickets to Boston, Providence, San Diego, Sacramento, and Reno. Prices going up very soon! maybe in the next few hours! Don’t hesitate!
  10. The last chance to book car rentals at soon-to-go up prices for the just mentioned cities. 
  11. Last chance (again) to get a New Yorker subscription (which I already have) – save 86% on the cover price! (Lots of these. Lots and lots and lots. The equivalent of the inserts that tumble to the floor when you open a magazine.)
  12. An opportunity to get summer fun flexibility by booking a Lake Tahoe vacation rental NOW!
  13. Invitation to donate to Alex’s GoFundMe account. (Who is Alex? I don’t know.)
  14. PayPal has selected ME to apply for its exclusive credit program and they are giving me $40 off future purchases – if only I could.
  15. Last chance to get $50 off certain health and ancestry deals with 23andMe, now that they have a chunk of my DNA sample and personal data.
  16. Today only’s special 40 percent-off deals from Amazon. Is this a duplicate? Is this a repeat? It sounds sooooo familiar….
  17. Purchase the perfect bra from Natori.
  18. Use the limited-one-time-only special credit from Uber Eats.
  19. The last chance to have my gift matched at several non-profit fund-raisers.
  20. Migrate e-mails to a new cloudHQ email address.
  21. Save 20 percent on Rick Steves travel bags.
  22. A free trial on internet-based security cameras.
  23. Incredible deals, this week only, at La Comer supermarket.
  24. Starbucks: Become a member, win incredible prizes!
  25. Renew my now-discontinued Prime subscription. Only days left to do so.
  26. Watch the 88 best movies on Netflix — which will soon discontinue my subscription when my next monthly payment comes due if I don’t cough up some dough and replace my credit card with one that works.
  27. Only one day left to take advantage of the clearance program that will enable me to by-pass airport security lines and stick my nose up at the hoi-polloi.
  28. A chance to bring someone I love for free on Amtrak’s limited-time-only two-for-one hot summer deal. Seriously hot. As in, this is one hot summer and the AC on Amtrak sucks.
  29. Unlock Expedia’s rewards benefits.
  30. Win a custom-designed Airstream trailer and Ram 1500 truck from Omaze.

I also can not:

Pull pesos out of an ATM machine. 

Order a new book from Kindle.

Pay for a meal in a restaurant.

Buy a case of wine.

Load up on dwindling medications.

Get U.S. dollars when I fly to Boston today.

Pay for a hotel room.

Pay for the rental car I reserved a month ago

Pay for gas when I drive to Rhode Island.

On the other hand:

I can sit and read a book

I can write to people

I can call family on the phone and chat

I can sit in the courtyard and ask the birds how they managed before the Internet.

I can turn off, tune out, and drop out.

I can go for a long walk in the countryside.

I can sit in the Jardin and listen to Mariachi bands as the sun sets.

I can sit on the roof terrace and watch the sunset.

I can count the church bells and make sure they are keeping proper time.

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Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

In the Garden


And I turned to you and I said No guru, no method, no teacher

Just you and I and nature And the father in the garden

–VAN MORRISON, “IN THE GARDEN”


So I sit here in the garden, in the early summer light

A cup of coffee grows cold beside me

In the stillness that morning brings, fleeting stillness

The workers next door have not yet stirred to break the silence

With their hammers and saws and boisterous shouts.

There is still room for the birds in the dense green

To sing their songs, perform their magic,

Find love among the branches.

I don’t know the geography of this garden by name,

Only by the heart, defined by what my eyes take in:

The delicate flowers, the flirty birds, the twisty vines,

The shaded coolness of the branches. So many voices

of green, vying for my attention. I know

Only that it is too beautiful for me to rise and exert my will

Where it is unwanted, unasked for, upon another day.

An empty bag awaits upstairs with a ticket to somewhere far

And I only know I don’t want to leave the garden.

I want to sit here in the peace, in the coolness,

Listening to the plants breathing ever so lightly

Parsing out their secrets ever so lightly

Unlocking a state of grace ever so lightly,

Grace I can not achieve no matter how hard I try.

Outside, mothers and fathers walk their children

Hand in hand to school as church bells chime,

A touch of grace all its own.

I see their shadows pass on frosted windows,

And I sit and listen to the plants.

And listen to the birds.

And listen to the silence.

And my coffee grows cold for I dare not move

I can not move,

I don’t want to move.

I want only to become one

With the stillness.

In the garden.

While there is still time.

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Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

Waddup? Nuttin, you? Nada. So, howzabout a cat and cacti picture then? Cool. And some dancing girls.

“The Cat in the Cacti” was one of my favorite Dr.Seuss books to read to my sons when they were toddlers. They did not grow up confused, but I did. Still am, I guess.

You want to hear about how my IT wizard supercharged my streaming media speed so that I can actually watch a movie uninterrupted (sometimes) off my FireStick?

Nah. Me neither.

How about the coming Sriracha shortage because drought conditions in northern Mexico are killing off the chiles harvest and the hot-sauce factory has closed?

You already know that one, huh?

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Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Uncategorized, Writings

One last day, walking Dublin with James Joyce by our side

Walking down Eustace Street in the Temple Bar district, toward the River Liffey as evening begins to set on Dublin.

Leopold Bloom poses a tantalizing puzzle in James Joyce’s epic novel “Ulysses”: “cross Dublin without passing a pub.”

Thanks, I suppose, to computers, GPS, and Google maps, that puzzle has been solved many times over. Why you would want to do it, is a puzzle to me. When in Ireland. …

Here’s a tougher puzzle: Walk across Dublin and not see a reference to James Joyce – be it a photograph, a statue, a quote on a wall, a bookstore window, a mural, a pub name, a simple conversation, or a T-shirt in a tourist shop.

It feels like Joyce is Dublin and Dublin is Joyce, and though he has been dead these many decades, the full ripe glory of his passion for this city is everywhere.

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Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Uncategorized, Writings

Sunday morning and Ennis slowly stirs awake

Dublin is alive and kicking by the time we arrive

Dublin toward dusk while crossing the River Liffey, heading for the Temple Bar district on a quiet Sunday.

Our man Mick picks us up at Corofin Country Lodge on Sunday morning and drops us off in the center of Ennis, as promised. Thirty euros all.

Mick looks like Jason “The Transporter” Statham. All efficiency and business. The man in black. The car in black.  

Unlike Statham, Mick likes to speak. He’s quite a conversationalist. I think. Mick speaks in a thick accent that may have been a mix of Gaelic and English. His words came in phrases, in short rapid bursts like an assault rifle.

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Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Rants and raves, Uncategorized, Writings

Day 5: Carran to Corofin: “Turn right at the castle ruins.”

Near the end of The Green Road, a garden of earthly delights on the way to Corofin. (Photo by Rose Alcantara)

It is the last day of The Burren Way and we are walking from Carran to Corofin through a rocky wonderland in a gentle misty rain.

You know it is going to be an interesting day when our B&B host Julianne’s directions include the phrase, “Turn right at the castle ruins.” 

She also urges us to detour from the route to visit the triple ringfort of Cathair Chomáin, built on the edge of a cliff around the year 800 A.D. It was excavated in 1934 and 2003 but still holds much mystery about its origins. 

Over coffee and toast – Julianne offers us a full Irish breakfast (part of the B&B fare) but I am thinking of the consequences of a full stomach and the six-plus hours of walking ahead – we learn some of the history of her cottage which has been in and out of her family since the 1800s. It is decorated in the comfy Irish style – family photos cover every wall and horizontal surface. Books cover what is left.

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