Friday, June 22, 2012

Many Year Hiatus After Economic Meltdown

I Haven't touched this blog since returning to the States really. We still mind our p.'s and q.'s, fret over large repair bills but, we have had the luxury to save for Vacation. We're going west folks, like the pioneers only we have petroleum power and comfort in this modern conestoga (including a bathroom and fridge to boot!). We couldn't do this journey without our friends the Laffey's for the loan of vehicles, the wander, we own. In March we marked out the states each each person in the family had been to. The kids (then ages 11, 9, and 6&2/3) had been to. Of course, they all noticed a void in the western states and the eldest shouted: "THIS summer, we have to go west!" How can you argue with an adventuring mapper? You can't...unless he comes to live with you for the summer, out west of course, because he can't live with me in angry non-adventure mode. The western United States is vast, beyond comprehension until you experience it, and I decided this would not just be the journey I plan for kids to see. "If this is the trip we take as a family, tell me the main point you want to see, Grand Canyon or Yellowstone? We can't do both this summer, it's a multi-summer project." The eldest being more geographically savvy gave his endorsement "Yellowstone! I gotta see that place before it blows up!" No, he has never seen 2012, but he's watched hours of documentaries on Yellowstone, so we honored his emphatic response. Tonight, after the first 308 miles of our journey, we land in Rock Island, Illinois, in the estuaries of the Mississippi River. Cranes and Blue Heron were flying everywhere this afternoon. We unpacked the fishing reels to do some dock side fishing, we caught nothing, 9 and now 6&11/12 came back to the motorhome. I turned around to untangle almost 7 year old kids fishing pole and looked up. I said "Holy hell! What is that burning thing in the sky?" No, I'm not religious and the world isn't coming to an end but there really was a burning thing in the sky! The object burned fiercely, above airplanes until it's trajectory lowered and after three minutes or so...nada, no fire, everything toast. That was Rock Island, Il on the 22nd of June 2012 folks. If you could tell us what that astronomical event in the sky was, we'd be much obliged. What a great kick off to our first tour out west, burning objects in the sky! That is exactly what this family looks for, the extraordinary in the adventure, and we're only on day one. It only gets better as you go farther.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I have this ongoing argument about paths with my children. More significantly pathways. Often I ban toys in "my area"; the living room, the dining room, my bedroom. Those general places where I pretend "we-are-organized", my "children-items-can-be-elsewhere" space. As I walked outside this morning, I observed all the objects in the pathways. Things for the average adult to trip upon. The order queen in me was ready to criticize "clear that from the pathway, someone is bound to break their neck not looking where they are going!" Translate, I will break my neck by not paying attention. Instead I paused.

Clearly my children are pondering how someone will encounter the pathway with their creations upon it. Will someone see it for what it is? A path to creation and imagination? When did their imaginative designs become only an obstacle in the path of my walking? I will relegate that judgment of mine to the person I was yesterday and say today precarious space means nothing to the adventurer, all space is negotiable, it is my job to honor this and be mindful that creativity is everywhere. Now if I can just keep that in my heart...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bedtime Stories

Just to ruminate here...we read a dictionary-esque book again tonight(Sebastian´s pick, what is it with the kid and dictionaries?) about space and building colonies on the Moon and Mars. Since we are so near NASA, it´s cool, it´s fitting and above all everyone is interested in the unknown here. Somehow the conversation devolved to the fact that G.W. (my personal irritant) lives in the same state as us. Immediately eyebrows crease in worry, the enemy is too near, we have to get out of here looks...ever experienced those? Should you answer no, consider yourself grateful. Tonight, I saw those worried eyebrows and, silly mama, I thought to put them at ease. Long story short I told my children: "Don´t worry, if I find out where George lives, I´m going to bend him over my knee and smack him on the bottom with my wooden spoon from Africa! AND I´m going to start a group *100,000 Mothers to Spank George W. Bush With a Wooden Spoon* Wait until you see the line!"

Well, that was just hilarious to the under eight and not politically educated crowd. Me, the person that detests the notion of spanking and hated the threat of the wooden spoon, wants to smack G.W. on the bottom. Actually the mominatrix in me kind of likes the idea of him squealing for mercy and yes, that is in print! Fast forward to me putting rice away after the story, with my Mexican wooden spoon. Roarke in his three year old wisdom saw the girth of that spoon and his reply was: "Mommy, that would smack bigger than the spoon from Africa! You can put that in your purse and smack George Bush on the bottom with that one when we find his ranch. He´ll really be sorry then." Oh, I wish you never knew a politicians name, how I wish you weren´t so painfully smart somedays. But really, Roarke, you did make me laugh in a very strange fashion. My mothering is so unorthodox I´m sure I´ll hear the criticism but just so all you critics know, I ended the conversation on how Bono shook G.W.´s hand to work for change. Furthermore, you should know Bono is the modern Jesus for my children because really wouldn´t Jesus be a rockstar now? No one listens to the radical religious person in this mixed up United States of America.

Still, I think I have some wooden spoons itching to make contact with an old white man´s behind! Oh, the thrill of it all! (But so not parenting peace...)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Disposable Culture

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The other night I read about this site called their byline is "ideas worth spreading". Lover of ideas and learning that I am, I journeyed to the site and watched Capt. Charles Moore talk about the great Pacific Gyre (read floating garbage heap the size of the Unites States). All that crap, all that waste floating about in the Pacific that cannot be retrieved and cleaned up...I wanted to throw up. I have to confess to being an anti-litter freak, I have picked up others garbage and presented it to them saying things like "you forgot to throw this away, I thought you might want to do that!" The incredulous looks I have received, who cares, pick up after yourself because news flash: this world is not your personal dumping ground. I found the Pacific Gyre as hard to digest as the albatross community that dies and regurgitates our human garbage.

On Tuesday I found a local Audubon bird sanctuary, smack dab in Houston in one of the prestigious neighborhoods. What a gem! Everyone loaded into the car to check out a section of the Great Texas Migratory Path, we went to look for nests and colorful birds. The picture above is what we saw the most of. Garbage, stranded in a creek, floated down from elsewhere or sometimes contributed by the inhabitants from the homes backing up to the creek. Perhaps I am naïve in thinking that if you have curb-side recycling you wouldn´t throw your unwanted furniture over you back fence to collect creekside. This jaunt proved to me that money does not build social responsibility. What I do know is that if I had money to spend upwards of $500K on a home I would donate my furniture, to my maid or gardener, to Goodwill. What I also know is I would walk down that slope to the creek, motivate myself and my children to clean that crap up, we´d take the pool cleaner, we saw lots of pools on those properties, you know they have pool cleaning equipment.

For 10 minutes I stood and stared at the stagnant mass of garbage, the idea flashed into my mind to walk down there, start cleaning but then my outrage began rising. Instead, I´m going to print the picture and deliver it to the doorsteps of the houses backing up to the offensive mess and make a suggestion...get outside of your house and live your life in this world. Clean up your act because others should not have to clean up your household debris, teach your children and yourselves to step away from whatever the diversion may be and clean this up. The gross negligence behind their fences is forgotten and if we all choose to shove our crap under the rug, so to speak, what value do WE as humans have in this world. The manicured lawns in that neighborhood were lovely but it´s all for naught because I see the skeletons in the closets and those skeletons are hideous.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Sweet Huizache blossoms, I heart that smell.
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Saturday, February 28, 2009

In the United Sates...

Everything is measured in pounds, grams and kilos are so much easier, get with the metric system people...I never have to carry cash, it´s one fills my gas tank up and wipes my windows, what the hell ever happened to full-serve, this sucks...every store has a parking space right there for you...televisions in the check-out line are ridiculous and wrong, don´t mind-numb me as I one cuts in front of you in line...the "fresh fruit" is a joke...mega-stores give you access to one sop shopping but not quality...the trees are big and beautiful...the lawns are big and beautiful, and freshly mown grass is a scent I have sorely are shades of grey, taupe and beige - go wild folks,pick magenta, it may improve your life...I can choose from 20 different tampons and hundreds of shades of lip gloss from Target(!) one knows each other...constant news...constant chatter that I actually understand (and wish I didn´t)...Home.

Yes, This transition is difficult, what transition isn´t?. But if you haven´t ever left what you know, consider what is alien about your own culture to others. My kids are baffled, I am baffled. We will make our way but Houston, re-entry is a problem. Do you copy that?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Pan American Highway

As we traveled up Highway 57 to bring us to Texas, my eyes drank in the scenery in case I don´t travel the road again for awhile. The absence of billboards is something I appreciate as is detracts from real life, this is what we did see...

A very large bull meandering in the highway, nothing stops traffic like a 900 pound animal in front of you. Tierra Quemada, the name of a town, it means burned earth and I think I wouldn´t want to live there. Real de Catorce rising like a giant. Las Palmas in it´s 1960´s wonderfulness. "Vulcanizadoras cons pistolas a las 24 horas" and that would be tire repair dudes with pistols 24 hour service, I´m never traveling the Pan-American Carretera at night. Men driving donkey carts on the dirts roads of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. The skinniest horses I have ever seen were in the alti-planos of San Luis Potosi, the land there is high in the mountains and anything thrives there is a mystery. Coyote roadkill with giant swooping vultures on the side of the road to clean up. Vendors with casacabel skins every few kilometers, yes people (mostly women and children) make their living selling the sketletal remains of rattlesnakes they have killed. There are a hell of a lot of rattlesnakes for sale in north San Luis Potosi and the "homes" by the stands are built of scrap pallets, corrugated cardboard, threadbare blankets, a piece of tin if you are´s third world living at the edges of a fancy highway. Pozozs de Santa Ana, and I wondered if the misery of revolution had lived here and been left broken, to whither out. Ancient adobe walls abandoned for 20th century building scraps. Land being cleared of Huizache and Mesquite trees and the trees were just set on fire, no collection of firewood, no conservation but the air smelled like they should be smoking ribs and it was a scrumptious smell.

When we arrived in Monterrey the smog hanging over the city hit us in the face and the smell burned our nostrils. Monterrey is like Gary, Indiana in the 70´s, pumping out the nastiest fumes that even your air conditioner cannot conceal. Isabel remarked "I have to get out of this city, it stinks so bad I have a headache!" She was right, Monterrey is another place I don´t know how anyone survives because of the carcinogens being released into the air. Entire mountains are cut away to harvest materials for concrete, the entire ecosystem around the city is marred from production of industry. Sebastian wondered how the mountain didn´t fall down on "all these people, look at this mom, it´s so dangerous." My eight year old sees it, my six year old smells it in the air, why can the adult reapers/rapers of the land acknowledge what is wrong with that brand of progress?

As we exited Monterrey I composed some poetry while driving:

huizaches drenched
with yellow blossoms
and the air, oh the air
moving the sweetest of smells...
of spring
beneath mountains
gouged by industrialism
and the cloud
of the 21st Century
saturating an entire
choking everyone

I haven´t written poetry since 10th grade high school, and the teacher thought I had copied some beatnik poetry (because she said it was too good for 10th grade literature, ego boost.) Whether it´s good or bad, I don´t really care, that is Monterrey in my minds eye, a hopeful wasteland, waiting to be reclaimed. Drive the Pan-American Highway 57 for yourself and observe, the cloud of what the United States does not want in their back yard is waiting there for you to witness.

Please don´t get it in your head Mexíco is ugly or worthless. There is untold beauty of heart and miracles. The most luscious land I have ever seen is in Urupan, home of avocado export to the world. The most gracious people one could encounter, and my standards are high as I grew up in the mid-west and expect a "hello, how are you today?" with chatty banter, live in Mexíco. The Pan-American Highway really isn´t Pan America at all, it is a desolate fast stretch of highway that takes you through places you´d never go to get to where you want to be. Mexíco is where the hearts of my children lie because it is beautiful and forgiving while giving and with mysterious otherworldiness of the town we lived in and loved. But that chapter closed during 947.8 miles (including when I went the wrong way and had to go back.) That our last memories should be on that toll-road driving from the unknown to the unknown sucks.

Before I have said, my children are brave and fierce (also annoying). In traveling Highway 57 I could not have chosen better, more attentive companions. Constantly they pulled me out of my torpor from driving to look and see the wonder in the wasteland. The beauty in the breakdown.