A Savannah Tropical Christmas

IMG_8755I will miss the parrots. They fly by most nights just before dusk and make a big noise, the pair of them. These aren’t them, these guys are from a restaurant in Cuernavaca. The wild pair fly too high to get a good shot. When we go to DF, the climate will shift a bit – no longer Savannah Tropical (with mitigating altitude) – we move to sub-Tropical highland climate at 7,000 ft above sea level. Even though it’s just 50 miles away. Right now, we’re on the southern slope of the mountain, at 4,500 ft above sea level. We head north, over the mountain, to DF – and it’s a different climate. San Miguel is, for comparison, considered a temperate high desert climate – yet another climate zone. It being further north, it’s colder, even though it’s a good 1,000 feet lower.  Amazing how such diverse climates exist within a five hour drive (from Cuerna to SMA).

terrain2Ok, the task at hand. They get me every Christmas, the catalogs. There are such good catalogs out there. I love Firebox – out of the UK so shipping is expensive but if you want a fair bit of stuff, it amortizes. They have killer stuff (do follow the link – click on the name). The other one that gets me is Food52. And Anthropologie. And Terrain (one of my new faves). And Uncommon Goods – they’ve been my ‘go to’ for a long, long time (Note to JR: Do not go to that catalog and try to figure out your gift). For the most part, I can love these catalogs all I want – here I sit in Mexico. Other than ordering gifts to be delivered in the US and Canada – I can’t do much. I did try a small order from a very much lower end fun company (not as good as Archie McPhee but not as bad as Miles Kimball) – so we’ll see if it gets here. It was little, $1 pieces, that I think they shipped separately. Cool little things so I have a stash for the kids when I go north again. I put some stuff in the cart at Food52. But I haven’t bought it yet.

Something happened to me on Friday, December 11 – new moon and all. I woke up really optimistic and decided that I’d have a few weeks of optimistic thought and blue-sky planning and thinking. Good time for it – the run up to our annual plans at the end of the year. I have big plans this year. Being actually in DF (which to make things more confusing, may no longer be DF as they create a state for it instead of  a ‘federal district’) will make it a lot easier. We have great bus connections to the airport from Cuerna, about 1.5 hours direct to the terminal (with WIFI) and to the Taxquenia station at the south end of town (1 hour if the traffic is good). Taxquenia leaves every 15 minutes, the airport every half hour. But it’s still not as easy as being inside the town limits. If all I have to do is get a 200 peso ($16) Uber car and ride half an hour to the airport – I’m probably going to get on a plane more often. It becomes a less expensive trip on some schedules even moreso. And less time on any schedule.

xmaspresentsI did put out more Christmas lights. Wrapped some white lights around a big palm in the pool area, hung baby pinatas up across the top of the cabana, filled a large clear vase with bulbs and put some of those branch lights in a vase in the bathroom. And of course, our tin tree is up. All we had to do was plug it in. I have a present each for our friends’ kids – one is two years, one is three months. And that’s almost it. I’m making surprise balls for a few people. They *are* a lot of fun for a party. I’ve got video of some of my friends opening them that I should use for advertising. But I don’t really want to sell them so screw that. I do like to make them and give them away though, it’s fun.

I am working on the big memoir project for my old boss – sorting out chapters nine through 52 into part two. Stitching them together, moving sections, making sure it all flows. Should take me through to the end of the month. Then the boss (the author) will have another voice edit and I’ll go through it one last time to copy edit (spelling and grammar only). We still have part three to go but that section is quite removed from the first two, I think. So this is a good plan.

In case we don’t do the Vancouver Island Naturopathic business (but I think we will, in due course) – I need to find something for when these memoirs are done. I have a couple of leads. I’m back to that James Altucher thing about identifying the things you liked best when you were 10 years old, because that’s probably what you can excel at. But enough of that for today. I’ll figure it out.

corpus3I met a friend in Mexico City for a visit before Christmas and had a great time, as usual. She’s absolutely one of my easiest friends. No fuss, no muss, no bother. I really do notice as I get older that I see those friend who are ‘high maintenance’ less and less – and that’s a very conscious trend. Oh, I know everybody has problems. But as time marches on, it becomes more like The Kinks’ Sleepwalker in my head. We saw two fantastic Javier Marin exhibits in the city. But back to the point, there actually was one. My friend introduced me to the concept of “ranking and linking” – which first emerged in ’83 in psych circles and was forefront again in the early 90s but there isn’t much about it online. The premise is that you’re either ‘linking’ or ‘ranking’ in every human encounter. Linking bonds people, ranking alienates them and you (ranking yourself against them). It primarily seems to be quoted by Elaine Aron (The Undervalued Self) in a context of low self esteem – the more you rank yourself against people, the less adequate you feel. Only that’s not quite what she was talking about.

gringochartI posted a chart showing the six most gringo cities in Mexico on a social site a few weeks ago. And  commented that Cuernavaca and DF were not on the list. My friend felt I was ranking myself superior by pointing out that I prefer non-gringo towns. She is right about my preferring non-gringo towns, I’ll grant that.  Anyway, I have been thinking about that post (and ranking and linking) – I value this person’s observations and need to explore it a bit more.

I could have made the post without a comment I suppose, but that’s the same thing – just more passive aggressive and then there are probably a few who would miss the point.  I’m not objective. In fact, I’m quite opinionated. I am friends with many people on social media sites who are opinionated also. Intelligently opinionated – not stupid shit. If someone I like posts dumb shit too many times, I hide their post from my news feed. Is that ranking? For me it’s just preference, like changing the channel on the TV. It doesn’t mean any choice is better or worse – except for me.

There are many types of people in the world I consciously don’t care to link with and won’t. So according to this theory, if I’m not bonding (linking) with these people, I’m ranking them. I’m giving that a great deal of thought. I really don’t feel superior to anyone (the value of every sentient life being equal)  – although I admit it could look that way to someone else. But someone else could also see me as insane or the new Messiah. And what others think of me is really none of my business, is it? It’s an interesting concept which needs further thought and discussion. And I’ll be watching for for examples of it in my daily life.  I (try to) only associate with people I enjoy linking with. So it will be interesting for me to notice ranking examples. They are probably all on Facebook, which is something I’ll consider very seriously. To be continued.

pinataChristmas is almost here – under a week now. We will have a small turkey, I think. Why not, good excuse and they’ve got great fresh small ones in all the supermarkets. We made one when we had company last month and it was quite decent. I think that’s the trick down here – buy them fresh. Friends from DF are visiting with their two children a few days before Christmas and we’ll have a nice dinner (no idea what at this moment). Our own kids and grand kids are in Iceland this Christmas. Not sure I would ever pick that as a spot to go but they’ve been pretty much everywhere else, I guess. First they are in Finland – it’s all Santa and Christmas adventure stuff for the grandkids. I’m going out to get a pinata today for our friends’ two-year-old. I have to restrain myself, I saw some incredibly beautiful huge ones on the street the other day – easily a four-foot span from tip to tip. No. Cannot do. This is one child. (Note: as you see from the photo, I restrained myself.)

I’m going to make real egg nog. And probably salted caramel shortbread. And that’s it. I don’t want to get fat again this year. Last year, I gained 10 lbs over Christmas and it took a few months to get rid of it. And then before we know it, it will be January and we’ll be getting packed. We do like Cuernavaca and are thinking we will come back when we are tired of the city. The weather is the closest we’ve found to perfect yet (for our purposes). Winter, lows around 60F (14C) with highs around 80F (24C). Never much warmer than the low 90-range F (30C) – and that only lasts a couple/few weeks. It really is, as Alexander von Humboldt declared in the 1800s, ‘The Land of Eternal Spring’. I can see how this became a hot spot.

wisemenThis season is different yet again. Christmas, I mean. Calmer. Not nearly as reflective as the last few. Although I was remembering Uncle Carl singing I‘ll Be Home for Christmas around our dining room table probably 45 years ago. But it’s a lovely memory – he had an awesome voice. No melancholy this year, which suits me fine. I probably won’t panic again for another decade. I almost forgot that it’s my birthday coming up. We could order in. Chinese. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I wonder if PF Chang’s delivers. I bet they do down here, everybody delivers. We’ll be doing our annual lists of goals between now and New Year’s day and I look forward to doing them this year, if only to figure out where I want to be in a few years. God so many things can change in a few years, can’t they? In any event, everyone have a great holiday and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll get there. And remember – Canta, no llores.

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  1. Betty Obee

    Hope you had a Merry Christmas. I am watching (from Baton Rouge, Louisiana), thanks to you, all of the people dancing in the Jardin in San Miguel,. I did not know the web cam existed, before I read it in your blog. I hope your new year holds lots of new adventures and good surprises.
    I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing. I love Mexico and have visited there several times.
    Feliz Nuevo Ano

  2. Steve melbye

    The Gringo chart was very informative. Would like more of that here inbetween your musings.
    If you haven’t checked out the Cuernavaca article in Conde Nast traveler Jan 2016 it’s well done. Prospero ano nuevo!