Monday, December 13, 2010

Silent Night.

My lovely friend, fellow writer and near-neighbour, Anna Sewell, and I often get together to play and sing. These are photos from today's jam session ... with a Christmas theme.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Book Lovers Christmas Sale.

Giving personally autographed books
for Christmas makes good sense.
Book-giving tells the readers
that you've really put thought into what they might enjoy.
It supports artists and writers
(who often live so far beneath the poverty line
it should be a national embarassment).
Books are easy to wrap, store, hide, and send.
They can be read alone,
or together,
or in groups (and later discussed).
They never go out of style.
And whether you lose or gain, grow taller or shrink,
you're always just the right size for a good read.
Books entertain, illuminate, educate, and help us
to understand ourselves
and the world we live in.

They make smart companions
on the beach, in bed, on park benches,
in staff rooms, or classrooms, on trains
and planes, and in your favourite chair.
Or bathtub.
Books love to travel
but they are just as happy to stay home.
They're a cheap date.
Or they can say to potential dates:
Look at my owner ... she's fun\brilliant\interesting.
Read a good book
and the characters are your friends for life.
Books have no expiry date.
They can be read over and over and over again.
If you think you know someone who has everything,
chances are he or she does not
have a book signed by a local author.
This year, be creative.
Be original.
Give books for Christmas.
And have a merry and mind-expanding holiday.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grey Cup Fever in Edmonton

So the Grey Cup is behind us, and the Riders lost to the Alouettes 21-18.

I don't profess to know a thing about football, but I did get caught up in the fever.

We had tickets and sold them (the proceeds help fund a Christmas trip to Cuba), but took part in many of the festivities.

(Left) This guy (from Southey, SK) never did put his clothes on. Brrr.

We went downtown on Saturday, and it gave me a kind of thrill to be in a crowd of that many Saskatchewanians. At one point Greg and I were at the Spirit of Edmonton venue, standing on the dance floor with beer(s) in hand while a live band did a decent rendition of a Tragically Hip classic, and I looked around at the happy-go-lucky, costume-wearing, well-lubricated crowd and said: "This room full of rednecks ... these are my people."

(Below) Front page news. ;)

(Above) Trooper performs. Not quite the band they were 30 years ago.
I kept my eyes open for anyone I might know, but say only two people all weekend: writer Warren Cariou and his wife, Alison Calder.
For me, the weekend was less about football and more about people. I'm such a social beast. I loved finding out where people were from.

(Left) I call this guy Tractorhead.
He lvies in Edmonton now, but is a smalltown Saskatchewan boy.

(Left) This jolly Rider fan is from Carlyle. We met him at the Spirit of Edmonton venue.

(Above) This young feller was bartending at one of the Huddle Town venues. We saw much creative use of melons.
Warm headgear.
(Below) A family affair.
This guy (below) was watching Trooper and doing yoga moves.

Now here's a story. We met this headressed fan (below) in Huddle Town, and learned he's from Beechy, SK. I said, "Oh, well then you must know my friends Glenda and Sharon MacFarlane," and he said, "I sure do ... I'm tweeting Glenda right now ... I'll send her this photo!"

I had no idea who this TSN reporter was (below), but was mesmerized by how much she resembles Barbie.

Tatting the pride (below).

(Above) Another happy Rider fan, in the line-up to buy a hogie.

(Below) Greg looks like he's trying to get away from Jennifer Hedger. (He wasn't).
(Above) Also from TSN, Darren Dutchysen.

So, after watching the Grey Cup, I confess I'm not much closer to understanding the rules of football, and I found myself day-dreaming through some of the game.
But still, how interesting to live just a few blocks from the stadium. We could see the Snow Birds fly overhead on TV and looked out our window: there they were. When the helicopter cameras panned over the stadium and surrounding neighbourhood, we knew that one of those little white lights represented our house (in the middle of our street).
They say there were 100,000 SK fans in Edmonton. That 10% of the population. All I can say is Wow.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Of a night in November.

Making a house a home (office).


Just finished Camilla Gibb's The Beauty of Humanity Movement (novel, 2010, Doubleday). Greg bought this book because of its Vietnam setting, and I got to reading it first. Gibb is a young (b. 1968) but highly celebrated Toronto writer who holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Oxford. An earlier (bestselling) novel, Sweetness in the Belly, was a Giller finalist and won the Trillium Award, among others. (In other words, she’s a smart and talented cookie.)

This story concerns art, history, politics, literature, food (namely the Vietnamese soup, pho), poverty, love, and contemporary life for young Vietnamese. I found it moving, informative, and -- like a good bowl of pho -- most satisfying.

The text is richly descriptive, ie:

“She’s remembering that winter morning with her mother in Minneapolis when they lost all contact with Vietnam. The snowbanks were the size of elephants that day, the sky bright,flakes swirling around them as if they were figures in a shaken snow globe.”

The characters embedded themselves in my consciousness. I cared about them. I wished them well.

The pacing was bang on, but, that said, I wish I could have got to this more often than I was able ... it would have been better to read it over a week rather than the two weeks it took me. One loses the story a bit ...

Now look at how effectively Gibb uses sound as a transition. The scene concerns Old Man Hu’ng, the lead character. (Hu'ng is trying to help the American Vietnamese character Maggie track down information about her father, an artist whose hands were mutilated by soldiers. He later went missing, and she returns to Vietnam with six of his paintings, and high hopes of discovering what happened to him. Hu’ng is a poor itinerant pho maker, living in a shantytown next door to Lan, the woman he fell in love with and has not spoken to in 40 years.)

Here's the excerpt:

He lies in the dark, “listening to the gentle patter of rain on his corrugated tin roof ... ” Shortly after: “He falls asleep only to awake startled an hour later, the rain thundering down violently from above, catapulting him back to the time of war. The worst of it was in December 1972, what the Americans called the Christmas bombing ....”

I enjoyed this bit: “It reminds you that you have no attachment to the history or geography of a place, except insofar as you are pioneering your way through it in your own lifetime, your roots buried in some faraway earth.” That word, pioneering. Who uses it anymore? I love it.

She names all the chapters, ie: “Shit on a Canvas,” "An Inverted World," "The Lady Next Door," and "Provenance."

The ending is what I like to call a Hollywood ending, in that things work out. Hu’ng and his beloved Lan reunite, and Hu’ng’s dedicated friends acquire a building for him to operate his business out of. Normally I'm cycnical of these endings, but Gibb elevates the ending with superb writing. The last sentences of the book are transcendent:

“Hu’ng has his moments of wondering whether this is the afterlife or the present life. But then he asks himself, Does it matter?"

Also Reading:

Don Cherry: Hockey Stories Part 2. This requires some explanation. I'm actually taping read-aloud segments of this book to give to my father -- whom I clearly remember yelling "Get out of the way!" (of the television) during "Hockey Night in Canada" when I was but a girl -- on CD for Christmas. You see, Dad doesn't see well, so could never read the book, and I don't think he needs a new sweater or more socks. So this is a personal touch, and hopefully the stories will make him smile.

Don't tell him what I'm doing, okay?

Just Watched:

The 2001 movie "K-Pax," starring one of my faves, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges. Some fine writing in this, and decent acting. But oh the Hollywood ending ... everything came neatly together in a package tied with a bow. Still, worthy of a Shaw On Demand rental on a wet night in November.

The writing at the end is worth watching the movie for.

Just Went To:

The University of Alberta's Studio Theatre production of "Love and Human Remains," a play by Brad Fraser.

From the program cover: "Brually Dark, Sexually Explicit & Wickedly Razor Sharp."

Not sure if I'm getting old, cranky, or discriminating, but I found it excessively violent, gratuitously foul-tongued, and the nudity and simulated sex was just ... well, silly.

Many lines were yelled. The character Benita -- a hooker\mind-reader who welcomed physical brutality and sexual degradation -- was the most theatrical of the troupe, but why the inclusion of many (cliched) urban legends? Ie: car breaks down, boyfriend tells girlfriend not to leave the car while he goes out for help, she hears something on the roof, finds out the next day it's the boyfriend's blood dripping or fingernails scraping (you know the story ... fill in your own rendition) on the roof.

The worst thing about the play, however, was how incredibly miscast it was. Pleeeeease. If anything, the effeminate and over-sexed "David" should have been played by Peter Fernandes, and "Bernie," the Edmonton serial killer, should have been played by the dashing Ben Dextraze.

Did I like anything about it? Yes. The understated music was right on, and no one around me was a) crumpling candy wrappers b) texting c) kicking my seat.

Best things about the weekend:

17Km run in the river valley with Greg. My goodness, what a difference a good sleep the night before makes. And cool weather. Love that cool weather.

Today was the most I've enjoyed a run -- long or short -- in months. And I had energy to burn at the end of it.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders won. But what a squeaker. I was busy doing the things I do (today, hanging photographs I'd taken in Indonesia in my ever-transforming study) and only watched the 4th quarter, but holy, did I ever get into it. The yelling. The fist pounding. The elevated heart rate!

Hey, we have six Grey Cup tickets for sale. Contact us.

British custard, and baked apples with roast beef.

Weirdest thing about the weekend:

Much to choose from, but I'll go with this ... after cleaning the front flower bed of a quarter of a grocery bag worth of kitty caca (where are all these cats coming from, and why do they so love crapping in our yard?), I liberally sprinkled a concoction of coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and garlic salt over the dirt. Maybe it will work.

Finally, something I've not yet mentioned:

I now (and again) work for Rawlco Radio (after all these years) writing radio commercials. Life surprises, and surprises again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Once upon a Saskatchewan Reading Tour.

But first, I got to spend time with one of my oldest friends, Kelly Strain, on her farm near North Battleford. Kell, I told you you'd never see these photos on Facebook (I don't do Facebook), but I never said anything about my blog. :)

Then to the SWG (Saskatchewan Writers Guild) AGM, in Saskatoon, featuring poet Don McKay (whom I sat beside at dinner, but was to afeared to speak to about anything that really mattered, like poetry).
Sweet homecoming at the AGM. And no shortage of hugs. Or smiles.
(Let it be said: Saskatchewan, you are missed.)

Gerry, Art, Brenda, and two more Brendas, Carla, Dianne, Pam and Mansel, Geoff and Barbara, Barb, Lloyd, Rod, Betsy, Dave and another Dave, Bruce, Beth, Myrna (visiting from AB) and Myrna who sails, Byrna, Ellen, Bernice, Bob, Bernadette, Shelley, Alison, Louise, and I am missing so many names here, dang it, but this, this is my tribe.

After a night with stellar friend Mark Krasko (of the cruise), I was off to see the parents in Watrous, where Mom treated me and her best friend, Judie, to a Chinese Tea Ceremony. She'd attended one at the new Chinese Tea Shop on Main Street in Watrous (!), and did her prairie best to emulate it for us.
It was fun ... too many years since I was at a tea party.

Then ... back to the woods ... the clearing ... and Middle Lake.
Again, the kindness of friends overwhelms me. Eileen Kaun hosted and fed me and came on the road to Annaheim and St. Brieux, taking on the Grandmother Bones role (from The Bone Talker), which she does so well.

I got to spend time with the Heideckers (Lyal, Michell and family) ... Elaine ... Marie ... Ruth ... Gerry ... Shirley ... and send HUGE bouquets of gratitude to my friends who came out to my reading at the Reid- Thompson Public Library, in Humboldt, including the aforementioned Eileen, Marie (and her grand-daughter), Frank and Millie, Cheryl and Shelby, Shirley, Bernice, and Carrie. Rose Ward at the library is a faithful supporter of local writers and writing: the world needs more Rose Wards.
Brief how-do-you dos to Roger and the coffee rowers. But there's never enough time.
Above, at the Reid-Thompson Public Library, in Humboldt.
Below, at North Park Wilson School, Saskatoon. My children attended this school a little lifetime ago, and it was in this very room where I launched the first edition of Riding Planet Earth in 1997.

The first draft of this realistic, Saskatoon-set novel was written with the grade 6/7 class at this school -- my son, Logan, was one of the participants. The novel is about to go into a 4th printing (my daughter is designing the new cover as I write this). It's a family affair.

And closer. Same group.

Below: my good friend Eileen Kaun \ Grandmother Bones.
Below: Eileen and I with students at St. Brieux School (St. Brieux, SK).

Below: the quilt made by St. Brieux students. (Pieces from their own lives ... just like the story).

Below: at James. L. Alexander School, Saskatoon.

Below: quilt made by students at Annaheim School (Annaheim, SK).

And then, after more visits with ever more dear friends -- Lonnie and Donna, that's you -- I finally turned the Suburu to the west and headed toward the sunset. Another page in my life, turned.

So I went to Victoria and dreamed of living on a boat ...

But first I had 3 glorious days in Vancouver, and I did all the things I love to do when in that fine city.

First, I call my friends to see who I can see. This time I spent an afternoon with Joanne Derosiers, who immigrated to Langley from Saskatoon. We've known each other since our firstborns were in diapers (that'd be cloth). Granville galleries, Malaysian food
on Denman ... and much catching up.

I did a little shopping (this is so not like me), ran around the Seawall, and other directions. Vancouver Art Gallery: always a treat.
Shawl: Winners, Downtown $25
Skirt: 2nd-hand store, West End $2
View of the City: Priceless

I went to a broom store, 'cause I like doing things like that.

(Hold the jokes, please).

Then Greg and I took the ferry to Victoria (top deck dining), and rode a public bus (standing room only) into the city.
I met my new mother-in-law (really, really liked her ... super sense of humour) and my new sister in-law and family (ditto), and learned some interesting facts about Gregor's family. ie: His uncle Ron (in Ohio) wrote the lyrics to one of Loretta Lynn's #1 hits, "Happy Birthday," and also penned some other popular country tunes.
Listen up here:

Wilburn Brothers Picking Up The Mail

Loretta Lynn "Happy Birthday"
I got to see the homes Greg grew up in, the schools he attended, and the rink where he got his auspicious (WHL) hockey start. (Of course he was running the bag off me at the time and we really just whizzed past these places, but good to glimpse, and I don't remember a more pleasant 20ker.)

Oh sunny day at the Victoria Inner Harbour. (Chips on the menu ... seals posing for close-ups).
Greg and his mother, Shirley.

The Empress was all decked out in red vines,
and we took a stroll through but didn't stop for
high tea.

Summer colours in fall.

I encouraged Greg to pose with this cowgirl mime. (I'm sure he'll get me back.)

We visited my beloved aunt Mary and uncle Bob --
ever the gracious hosts -- and then, like birds, we flew back to the nest on 93rd Street.

"Don't Ever Assume Anything With Tigers": Book Recommendations, Plus One Film

So I've been taking some reading cues from the Giller Prize shortlist, and from CTV's "CANADA AM" host, Seamus O'Regan. Seamus had Vancouver nonfiction writer
John Vaillant (pronounced Valiant) on a recent show to promote the author's book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010).

Valliant was previously awarded the GG for NonFiction for his book The Golden Spruce. The new book concerns a Far East Russian poacher, Vladimir Markov, who exists in a "poach or starve" environment. Markov was attacked -- or rather, threshed -- by a Siberian tiger, and the story is told in large part from the perspective of Yuri Trush, a Russian game warden who leads a team to investigate
the massacre.

In between advancing this dramatic story, the author writes of politics, local characters, animals, perestroika, etc. This is top-notch writing, readers, and the way the book's structured is genius.

I appreciated how Valliant used disparate quotes – many of them from literature, incl. the Bible – to open each chapter. I enjoyed learning Russian words, like Luchegorsk, which means “Light City.” Tayozhnik is "forest dweller," and my favourite matrushka, gives an exotic ring to "mother."

The man's a poet, too. He writes of “a hatchwork of forest” ... “those cross-hatched branches wove a spangled basket against the sky and somewhere inside it was the tiger, hunting.” “Here and there, along the road, were birch trees bent double by heavy snow, their forked branches plunging earthward like lightning bolts frozen in mid-strike.” Shadows are described as “ragged and confused”.

More examples of fine writing:

“ ... and then there was no sound but the dogs: a series of shrill and urgent calls and responses that ricocheted between the houses, each one trailing a faint echo behind it like a sonic shadow.”

And what a delicious vocabulary. I ate these words (and more) up:

decadal – consisting of tens (no duh)
rhombus – “a rhombus of a house” - quadraliteral, in which all 4 sides have the same size “It is hard to say if these are shamanic devices or exercises in bricolage ...”
frangible – “When it is extremely cold there is an almost frangible quality to the air; even the trees seem frozen hard as crystal, so sounds move differently, becoming sharper and more percussive.”
herring – a field dressing soldiers used in the Afghan war to close a wound .... strip a tin from say a can of fish, pinch the wound together, bend the strip in half, place over the wound, and clamp

Interesting Russian expression: “'Somebody else’s family is like a dark forest.’”

There's an anecdote about baboons that were attacked by a pride of lions, and how the former were so terrified, they ran directly toward their attackers. (This happened in Kruger National Park, and is included in the memoir by George Rushby, a legendary British elephant-hunter-turned–game warden, in his book No More the Tusker.) “The baboons were apparently too terrified even to try to escape up any of the surrounding trees,” wrote park warden Stevenson-Hamilton, “and hid with their faces in their hands while the lions simply struck them down right and left with blows from their paws.” (Stevenson-Hamilton witnessed this massacre).

After the description Valliant writes: “The most painful detail in this anecdote is the baboons’ resignation: with no hope of escape, they fashioned a refuge of last resort from the darkness in their own hands.”

Here’s how descriptive the author can be in describing place:

“The town proper is a battered collection of urine-stained apartment blocks placed at irregular intervals along pot-holed, grave-strewn streets. In some cases, these slab-sided, wire-draped five-story buildings are arranged around grassy commons littered with butts and pieces of playground equipment so badly damaged that they look as if they had weathered some kind of natural catastrophe.”

And describing the forest and snow:

“The day they were given was crystalline, brittle, and bitterly cold. The taigo was at its winter finest and seemed made for the eyes alone: the sunshine was so brilliant, the snow so pristine, the sky so depthless, the stillness of the forest so profound that speech or motion of any kind felt like an intrustion. Here, even the softest sounds carried an echo, and the search party’s presence, announced by the irksome, eightfold squeakig of their boots, seemed out of place, an affront to the exalted silence all around them. Burdened as they were by their dark concerns, these men were stangers here.”

“But the snow missed nothing: a meticulous record keeper, it captured the story and held it fast.”

And how about this piece of trivia: “The brandname Viagra is derived from vyaaghra, the Sanskrit word for tiger.”

I read this book in Edmonton and Vancouver, Sept-Oct 2010, in a damn hurry because I could only have it for one week, due to high demand.

Reading good books teaches us so much about writing. I read this, and the books below, and thought how entire writing workshops could revolve around one good book.

Now to a few poets, all nominated for the prestigous Giller Prize.

John Glenday (b. 1952). His book Grain (2009, Picador Poetry) is his 3rd book of poetry. Glenday's a Scottish poet who also works as an addictions counsellor. It’s a slim book with some phat lines.

Good lines: (from “Stranger”):

“How simple it is to become a ghost ¬—
just one word, one gesture, and we slip

through the fretwork of other people’s lives
as easily as water through a stone.”

And he writes well of snow, as in his poem “Silence the Colour of Snow” which includes:

“You know, they used to say that
if every tongue in the world were stilled at once,
the common silence would translate itself

to a snow that even our summer winds
could never drive away.”

His best poem is a translation from the Hungarian. It is excerpted below:

The Uncertain

from the Hungarian

A white moth falls, dying,
like a torn scrap of paper,

or paper burned to ash,
or dogged summer snow,

or a petal from a mountain rose
discarded by a love-sick girl,

(Please find the book to read the entire poem; it's worth it)

Another Giller nominee I read was Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin – The Sun-Fish - poetry, 2009, The Gallery Press, Ireland. On first read I disliked the book, then I picked it up again, got beyond the capitalized first word of each line and the formal stanzas and read it closely -- for the content -- and wow, it’s great.

Get these lines: “A grange of luxury. The silk scarves\Came flying at her face like a car wash,” (“The Witch in the Wardrobe”)

Fron “the Liners’ (“...and the moon skating to her door.”

I adored the following poem, excerpted below:


I laid myself down and slept on the map of Europe,
It creaked and pulled all night and when I rose
In a wide hall to the light of a thundery afternoon
The dreams had bent my body and fused my bones
And a note buzzed over and again and turned for the night.

We advanced to the window: the square frame showed us
Everything, where we had washed up, above rolling domes,
A splash of talk reaching us; behind us we could not hear
How the dark oil-paint slid down the wall

Fantastic stuff. The poet was born in Cork City in 1942 and teaches at Trinity College, Dublin. It doesn't get much better than this, IMO.

The film recommendation (again, thanks Seamus) is "Never Let Me Go," based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Brit Carey Mulligan rocks the screen, but Keira Knightley and Charlotte Rampling might initially bring viewers to the theatre. What a concept: the story's told in the 1970s - 1990s, but we're told at the outset that medical history has been made (ostensibly an end to cancer), and what follows could easily be classified as medical sci-fi. Thus, the film is slightly historic\contemporary\and futuristic. It's a directorial coup. Though not the feel-good movie of the year (hell, I wouldn't like it if it was), I do recommend seeing it.

Final note for this post: pips to the manager of The Garneau Theatre in Edmonton, who personally asked film-goers what they thought of the movie as they were leaving, and took the time for discussion. Most impressive. And I'll be back.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mazatlan #10: The Series: Nachito, and others

Juan Jose introduced us to Nacho, an intellectual, musician, and music teacher from Mexico City who has lived in Mazatlan for 10 years.

Nacho invited us over to his home for an exemplary meal (sopa de frijoles, salmon, postre) and conversation. It was a wonderful noche.

The world is minute, as I am ever learning. I first learned about Nacho in 2002, via another friend, photographer Gerardo Montiel Klint, who lived with Nacho and his family for a time.

Nacho played "New York, New York" for us on his double bass.
I've learned something about the drug problems here, and how they are related to politics and corn. Yes, corn. This is a huge simplification, but it seems that in the field, corn and marijuana are complementary plants, and when the new government (PAN, which replaced PRI, who until 2000 had held power in Mexico for 80 years) doubled corn production, marijuana growth also doubled.
We also happened onto a bar full of expats the other day; it was a veritable Peyton Place. A few of the folks were friendly, but others clearly gave us the impression that we were not welcome. On two occasions I was struck by the utter arrogance of some expats.
Both times I met let's-call-him-David, he literally turned his back to me and said nary a word (to me) the entire time I was there. He was also one of the two expats we met who answered Greg's friendly question: "Where are you from?" with a semi-hostile: "I'm from here." Yeah. Right. You're from Michigan, or Vancouver Island, or Florida. You may have owned property in Mazatlan for 3 or 5 years, or even longer, but you are definitely not from here. These guys could spend the rest of their lives, be that 10 or 35 years, but they will never be FROM HERE. What a joke. And what extraordinary arrogance.
We've met a man who was an extra in the movie "Titantic" and "Troy."
We've met a woman who simultaneously reads and walks, all over the city.
We've met the doctor who owns the loro (looks like a macaw, I thought it was a parrot, but it is a loro -- a bird indigenous to an island off the coast of Mazatlan -- that talks a blue streak, and so often whistles the tune "The More we get together, the happier we'll be ..." I freaking LOVE this bird.
I am gaining more material each day for my major writing project -- an essay -- in Mazatlan.

Mazatlan #10: The Series: El Quelite

Amigos, I have been without internet and phone service for a week -- damn MegaCable ... there's a story in this, too -- thus the lapse in posting, and this morning is the last morning of a month of mornings in Mazatlan.

I have much catching up to do. Last week we had planned to travel to the nearby city of Cobala with Juan Jose, and we were about 25 minutes out of the city when Juan Jose's fanbelt blew.

He called a grua (tow truck) and in 45 minutes or so we were heading back toward Mazatlan, all of us jammed in the towtruck, with me

on top of Greg. (Happy to report: he has retained the feeling in his legs.)

JuanJo phoned a friend, journalist Arial, who said "No problem, you can use my car to take your friends to El Quelite ...." (a town north of Mazatlan). Arial was waiting for us with a big smile at JuanJo's house when we arrived. Awesome. We drove him back to work at the NorOueste building, and we were on our way ... right across the Tropic of Cancer.
El Quelite was like a movie set. It's a charro town (cowboys who wear the large sombreros, studs down the sides of their black pants, etc.), with beautiful gardens, the largest cock fighting farm in NW Mexico, a cemetary like a wonderland (one of the crypts was akin to a child's pink playhouse, with electricity), and a restaurant owned by a doctor who is a friend to famous actors, writers, and Mexican presidents.

In the cathedral we saw a statue of popular Saint Charbol, and JuanJo told us the story about Juan Diego (of the roses) who walked 15 miles to mass every day, and met the Virgin. He told The Lady: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf .." Poetry. He died in 1548, and was and is a model of humility for all.

(digression: as I write this, there is a gecko a few feet away)

In the cemetary and cathedral.

El Quelite sights.

Greg and Shell with the cocks behind us.