Tag Archives: live a great story

You Make the World a Better Place

Recently, as I went into one of our local thrift shops in Evergreen, a woman and her young daughter were also entering. There are two shops in the same parking lot and this was the smaller of the two, so unless one party is only looking into one section, you are likely to cross paths as you peruse the departments. As I was exiting the housewares section, the girl was showing her mom something in hopes of purchasing it. I did not hear the conversation of what the child’s sales pitch was to her mother nor did I hear the mom’s initial response, but as I passed them in closer proximity and earshot, I did hear the mother say no to the purchase and then she added: “You make the world a better place”. She was obviously saying this in praise of what the girl thought they could do with the item if they did make the purchase. As I passed and let her words catch up to me, I smiled and thought to myself what a wonderful end of a discussion to be privy to. It took me a few more steps to have someone else’s words ring through my brain that good things should be pointed out and acknowledged. Upon this realization, I turned and caught the duo as they were nearing. I then relayed how wonderful it was to hear those words that Mom had said to the daughter. I commented that if people could feel and say that sentiment more often, then this whole world would indeed be a better place. The mom smiled and agreed and once more I turned and left them. It took me just three more steps to realize that the Mom deserved to hear those same words and so once again I made an about-face and went back to the duo and said that I wanted to say to her, that she too was making the world a better place. She took the compliment with a smile and a look of acceptance that she then understood how good that can feel.

I finished with the store we were in and made my way to the second, larger store at the other end of the small parking lot. I was lost in thoughts of items and prices and had not noticed that the mother/daughter had also come into this establishment for more shopping. My lack of awareness to familiar faces was interrupted as the mom, nudged me as she traversed the area and said – as I was passing – that I too, made a difference in this world. I chuckled to myself as this had now become a ‘pass it along as you go’ activity.

Since that day, I have strived to remember to say those words in cases where kindness was shown, an award-winning smile was given, or services rendered that were above standard expectation, or really, instead of a thank-you. It has been a beautiful thing to witness how these words are accepted and responded to. So far, without fail, I have noticed a pause in the person’s reaction. Whereas a standard “Thank-You” is polite and expected, I have observed what I perceive as something similar to a ping on the phone or a pin on the map. Something happens that drops a marker onto their psyche – if only for a minute – and allows them to see the ripples they leave by their goodness. A few times, someone else in the circle of conversation has seconded the comment and agreed verbally and with a smile stating that they too knew this to be true of the person the comment was directed to. It’s fun to see positivity swirl up into a treat for all who are near.

Try it for yourself. One – looking for goodness is a really wonderful thing in and of itself, but two – watching how you change the gratitude from a single moment’s act to one that has farther reaching effects is pretty fun and amazing.

Love you and I do know that, “You make the world a better place”


Words and Wonders

I can hardly believe that I haven’t written a post since Auntie Greta passed. I can say it isn’t for a lack of stories or events, travels, crisis, or celebrations. I hope I will sit down and write some of them out, if not for sharing, at least for myself. It feels too daunting to go back right now and pen them all out, so I will start with a more recent one that is at least already partially written.

This is another Yellowstone National Park story.

This years trip included Beth, one of her daughters Syd and Syd’s 18 month old Rio. I was blessed to be there with three generations for sure, as each age group added a special layer to the entire experience. I am use to traveling with this quick witted bunch who can take any misstep – physical or spoken – and not let it pass without some really good poking fun at it (well, not Rio, but if his purposeful blinks he would send my way were accounted for, then he likely was getting in on the parody as well).

I get together with Beth and the girls fairly regularly and we discuss just about anything and everything . So for this trip, I had an inspiration that I should take a book of poems that we could randomly choose one per day and be part of our discussion(there is alot of car time in Yellowstone in getting from favorite spots to another). I was thinking some Mary Oliver since we were about to be immersed into the grandeur which is Yellowstone. I went to the library and as it was just a week from that location being closed for some renovations, there wasn’t a Mary Oliver book to be found. I went to the section that would normally house them and instead, selected a book of short quotes, poems and thoughts by a person named Atticus, The book was: The Truth About Magic.

Each day, someone would randomly pick a number between 1 and 247 and we would turn to that page and read the excerpt and give our thoughts. Sometimes it was a long discussion, sometimes a nod in agreement or it was a “nope, get another page” since it didn’t resonate with any of us (and why we were getting to a different selection, we would discuss why it fell short of our points of view).

As an example, our first selected page was:

If I’m honest,

very little in life

has compared

in immensity

or magnitude

before or since

to the electric

and wild feeling

of the first time

I kissed

a girl.

We all changed the last line to “a boy” and proceeded to agree that while we couldn’t agree with his statement, we have had those kisses that reached your entire being and were pretty great and so, with this selection, we got to hear about the different kissers in our lives.

With this, our week was set up with views of Buffalo, elk, wolves, grizzly bears (first time for me seeing wolves and Grizzly on multiple days), mountain sheep, coyotes, badger (oh, that’s a fun story), eagles and osprey, waterfalls, mountains, valleys, hot springs and the sharing of words from a book and the stories they brought forth from each of us.

One evening, we were headed to the Grand Prismatic. I had the idea last year to view the Grand Prismatic in the evening ,as we had only seen it first thing in the morning on years prior, and I always lamented that with the air so chilled in the morning and the pool always at it’s inherent intense heat, the steam kept me from seeing it with any clarity. We never made it last year, but we agreed to make it happen this year. On our journey there one evening we decided to drive up and check out to see if the swimming hole in Firehole Canyon would also be worth hitting in the evening (we didn’t have our suits with us to give it a try that day, but it was worth scoping it out),

As we headed up the canyon, there was a family or two swimming in the river at the bottom of the canyon. We wondered why they would swim there, when the actual swimming area was so much better, but “to each their own”, we said as we drove on by. When we got to the swimming area farther up the canyon, no one was there swimming! It was around 7pm and the air still quite warm, so we thought that we had hit the jackpot on selecting the best times and place. The road just past where we would normally pull off to park was coned off with large signs to not stop or park anywhere nearby. Turns out an Osprey family had made a nest and was raising their chicks and the park didn’t want them bothered. We totally got it and slowly passed by as we marveled at the osprey in the nest. We couldn’t wait to see them again the next night when we came to swim.

The next day, we began early so as to catch the wolf pack feeding the pups (more stories here, but trying not to make this an entire novel). We were back at camp for a dinner of spaghetti and sausages (yum) to which I had some wine to pair. We headed to the other side of the park from where we were staying and once again, there were people parked at the bottom of the canyon with suits on and heading toward the water.

It is about a 20 minute drive up through the canyon with the swim hole near the top. As we traveled the beautiful turns with the river rushing through the rocks, over cascades, with the water gushing to a tune that made us all feel like we were chosen for this moment, I looked at my still near full cup of wine and stated that once we got to the swim hole where we were sure to be the only ones once more, I would chug my wine and let the cool water be the great equalater. I knew as soon as this new word left my mouth that I was sure to be made fun of in short order. I literally started counting down from 5 in my head. I maybe got to 3 in the countdown before they both bellowed out the word once more and roared in laughter. I rebuked them as I too guffawed, for the many times in just that day alone that they had found so many instances to make fun of me. Sydney said that the beauty of it was that I was the eternal spring of words and events in which to find humor in. She then decided that we would all have to come up with a poem by dinner the next day with the title: “Eternal Spring”

As if the universe wanted to show us all that we are knuckleheads, we arrived at the swim hole only to finally see that it was boarded up and no one was allowed to go down to the area and swim. We weren’t the chosen ones after all and everyone was being denied use due to the close proximity of the Osprey nest. We laughed all the way back to camp at our stupidity and lack of awareness to anything but the beautiful osprey the day before.

The next day, we could each be found throughout parts of the day contemplating our poems due that evening. Beth claimed that she would do a Haiku. Sydney informed me that mine was not allowed to rhyme and after much thought, we decided that Syd’s had to incorporate the word “Equalater” in it since this was our new favorite non word.

I wrote one that felt as if I was combining some of last and this years emotions of the trip during a stretch where we were sitting on the porch of the Roosevelt Lodge and watching butterflies play in the flowers as Rio scampered on the deck in front of us.

Feeling that mine more somber than I thought we were all expecting, I wrote a second and called it my extra credit submission.

Here are the submissions as we shared them at dinner. Starting with my extra credit, I read:

Eternal Spring

Water rising through the ground

never ending

Where is the source? Do we care?

Pure and filtered by nature.

The river is dry, the pond grows stagnant

yet, like good friends,

it continues to give.

Then Beth read her Haiku:

Cackles, guffaws, chuffs

Like a geyser, laughs come like

an Eternal Spring

Following was Syd’s poem: Eternal Spring

Laughs, like water

From an eternal spring,

Begin in my belly

As we start to sing

Moving fast

Or moving slow

There is no stop

To the endless flow

Happiness abounds

No one is a hater

Everybody loves

The great equalater

We howled and voted Syd the winner.

Then I went ahead and read my original composition,

Eternal Spring:

My heart was heavy in the winter of grief

I journeyed to Yellowstone.

Buffalo carried on, rivers flowed,

water fell in trickles, cascades

and roaring over falls.

It was as if it couldn’t wait for the

next spot it might get to.

Natural reminders that life was bigger

than the burrow I had hidden in

and it waited for no one.

Friends and nature warmed my soul

and in that

I found my peace in the eternal spring

flowing from the magnificence

of lasting friendships, open land, wildness

of the animals and

a power within.

The next day was to be a limerick day about our time in the park, but I think I’ll leave that for another day as I’ve already exceeded the limit of what experts say will be read.

Love Sally

side note: If you do go to the Grand Prismatic near sunset, look at your shadow in the steam of the excelsior geyser right before you reach the prismatic. You will see a rainbow around your shadow and while you can’t always see rainbows around other peoples shadows, if you stand with other people, you will see your shadows move even when you are not. It is super cool. Oh, and you really need to head to the overlook to see the prismatic’s full colors as even in the evening, you just don’t get the full view that you see from the overlook.

My Auntie Greta

My Auntie Greta has recently passed. It wasn’t sudden and she hadn’t been able to place who I was in her life the last time I had seen her, but still it is tough to know when you have once more lost the ability to reach out and physically touch a loved one.

She was one of my mother’s siblings and it always felt like she was the most like my Mom. Truth is, Greta was older, so it was likely my mom who emulated her more than the other way around, but when you’ve lost one, the other becomes more cherished.

I was recently contemplating what were the lasting memories that I have about her and initially I drew a blank. Instead, it was the emotions I had of her that came up way before any memories began to surface. It was her grace of having gone through life altering difficulties and still coming out of it with love in her heart and an amazing capacity to move on from it. It was her smile and laughter that she always showed. It was her ability to listen and care without judgement. Whenever you got to visit with Auntie Greta, you really felt that she was really there with you and she made you feel like she loved being with you. She loved her family and also claimed others as family who she loved as well.

Then memories bubbled up:

My oldest memories are from when we would go to Granda and Grandpa Hively’s house after church on Sundays and sometimes would stop off at Berger’s Bend (the intersection of road just below Grandma’s where Auntie Greta, Uncle Don and my cousins lived. – they are the Bergers).

Aunt Greta and family were also the ones to share in our vacation times as a family when I was young. Being dairy farmers, there were no breaks from milking, so our vacations were of when we would stay at the family pond in an old chicken coop that was cleaned out and used as a cabin. The Berger’s would bring their tent, and for a few days, we could eat, sleep, swim, fish and play at the pond minus the morning and evening chore times.

My recollection of those times is that the parents would feed us kids the obligatory hamburgers and hotdogs and then put us to bed and then rake out the coals and cook big juicy steaks for the adults. We would sometimes awake to their laughter and chatter and the plume of a big fire – as after the steaks, they would throw on a hollowed log standing it up on the coals and thus creating a spectacle of fire shooting out through the top (something that still happens at the pond to this day)

Like most of the Hively’s, Auntie Greta was creative, artsie and a sewer. She would see a design and the next thing you knew, she was making something and showing everyone how to do it. There was a time when every new bag, purse or blanket seemed to come from her or because of her. She would cut jeans apart and make visor covers or another type of purse for your collection. I still have a few.

When she came for a visit, you could be sure that not only would she take pictures of your time together, but you would see the last several rolls of developed film of her previous trips as well. She definitely helped keep Kodak in business.

She loved antiques and the sales and auctions that would have them. I think she felt that it was just as good to go and observe an auction sometimes as it was to get something. She and Uncle Don would tell stories of who and what they had seen and the escapades of people over-bidding or some other shenanigans that were viewed during a sale.

With Aunt Greta around, I knew I was never going to be the only one in the room still sporting a turtleneck shirt. She may be the only person who had as many as I did in her dresser drawers.

I think we will all take solace that she is now in heaven and once more knows everyone around her and the laughter and hugs are plentiful.

I’ve certainly been blessed with tremendous Aunts and Uncles on both sides of my family and I hope the ones still here know how much I love them too.

I love you Auntie Greta. I am so thankful to have had you be a part of my life.

New Year

I say New Year, because I can’t quite give in fully to a Happy New Year. I’m not sure if I don’t want to acknowledge all of last year, if I want to hang on to the parts of last year that were good, or if I am just not ready to turn the page and see the new year as the blank page that many would have you think that it is.

What is ‘happy’ anyway? Right now, I feel like ‘happy’ is the glaze on a good cinnamon roll. It’s nice, but it isn’t the substance that makes the layers of sweet dough, butter, cinnamon and sugar come together to be the bit of heaven that a good cinnamon roll can be. I guess I feel like life is like that. If you roll up gratitude, adventure, love and connection, you have something that, like the cinnamon roll, is lovely on any day. And if you have all of those ingredients, then whether that day has the happy glaze or not, doesn’t really matter, as it is a good day none the less. (I probably should eat before writing so that my analogies are not food related. Fun fact: I don’t like alot of sweets, but a good cinnamon roll is my weakness – but please don’t send any as my comfort eating does not need the extra calories)

I guess that is how I am experiencing life right now – every day has the right ingredients, but it isn’t necessarily a happy day. People want to know every day how I am doing and there just isn’t one good answer to give. I am still sad alot some days. Not all the time, and not generally when I am with others, but there is just so much of everyday life that reminds me of what I have lost when Ted died, that sadness creeps in more than I ever thought that it could.

Yesterday, in preparation for the winter storm that they were predicting, I set about looking for the shovels, the windshield brushes, setting up the pallet and backstop so we could stack some wood up underneath the covered portion of the deck and trying to think of anything else that needed handled before the snows covered everything up . As I made my coffee – actually, I warmed up some coffee still in the pot from who knows when, but as I stood in the kitchen, I thought about how if Ted was here, he would already be outside doing all of those things. I would instead be making a full coarse breakfast while watering plants. I would feed him something like ham, potatoes, eggs and toast and he would go back out and continue to do all of the little things that I now must manage. Lucky for me, I have great neighbors and they said they were coming over to fix the gate by the garage (that wasn’t hanging quite right) and to make sure the snow blower would start. We needed some screws and they found them before I did – as I have said before, they have done many projects with Ted, so they know where Ted keeps lots of his extra pieces and parts. We got those projects done and they helped me secure the setup for the wood as well.

I was suppose to go to a New Year’s get together with my “Mom’s” group last night. The husbands were invited too. We will often include the husbands from time to time and the guys end up in one room and us Mom’s still get our time and hilarity together. I realized my perception has changed. All of a sudden, I was the single person coming to the couples gathering. I had to kick myself a bit and remind myself that it’s not like I haven’t gone to any of these functions without Ted before. He could totally decide an hour before we were to arrive that he just had too much to do and didn’t want to stop what he was doing, and so, off I would trot, without him, and never think another thing about it. I need to think of it like I’m just going without him, not that he will never be able to go again, or it is hard. Our gathering was cancelled due to the winter storm that had arrived and made the roads to hazardous to venture out on.

So this is a New Year, but really just another day. It won’t always be a Happy New Year, but it won’t always be a sad one either. I imagine it will be filled with many new and wonderous things and many memories. Every new turn might not lead in the direction I thought I was going, but I will trust that I am on the right road.

Love Sally

Tangled Lights

Last night, I was laying down to sleep and my mind was so lost that I couldn’t even pick out what it was even trying to focus on thinking about. Then, out of the blue, an exercise popped into my head. It was the one where you write yourself a note or letter. One where you are objective and look at yourself as an outsider and offer some kind words and understanding. I realized I was a jumble of tangled emotions and the picture of Christmas lights popped into my head. You know, the ones where in haste, the lights are thrown into a container and somehow during the storage period, they all get intertwined and when you reach in next time to use them, they are so tangled that it feels like it would be easier to pitch them and go buy new ones.

And so I wrote: Dear Sal, I know it hurts and you just don’t even know how to feel your way through all of the emotions. You feel sad, alone, unsure, doubting and like all of the emotions are wrapped in a knot that feels like it won’t ever be undone. You use to have this other person to love, to blame, to lean on, to have an excuse about and now you don’t. Now its just you and you’re not sure where yourself really starts and stops because it was always intertwined with Ted. Now there is this scary prospect of finding out who you really are, where you want to go with life, what you want to do. Take your time and think about that. Be honest with yourself. I know you are mad too. Mad that you have to deal with shit you don’t want to even look at. Tired of thinking about what needs to be done. tired of waking up and not getting back to sleep. So desperately not wanting to deal with bills and decisions even though you have been the only one to pay bills for 32 years.

Then I got a text from a friend who’s sister also just lost her husband. She said that she was thinking of me and her sister and that today would have been their 33rd anniversary. She also included the photo below. (it wasn’t the first time someone sent it to me, but I’ll include it because it is a good one and one I agree with)

I tried to think of a response, but was feeling so raw in connecting my pain and her sister’s pain and knowing that while similar, we are also different, that again, my emotional christmas lights were too jumbled to untangle so as to even write a message in response.

I simply fell asleep and actually slept till around 4 in the morning. I awoke thinking about my friend and her sister and how to formulate a response. I finally responded to the anniversary reference.

“Thirty three years. My Ted and I just celebrated 32 in August – a few days after Koo’s birthday. I hope it has been a good day for her. One where she picked a few things to do or eat that she knew they both would have loved to do together. I hope this one day was free of the mess of emotions that follows the death of a long time love and spouse. I cry for her or maybe I’m just crying for me. Or both. I hope she is able to look in wonder at what must be rushing in from all corners of her life to fill the void of the loss of a great one. It’s hard to not just get stuck in feeling the void. I know, as I feel her void and mine so deeply right now. For me, it is like looking at the Grand Canyon. It is beautiful and daunting and you can’t ever see or capture all of it in one look or picture, so you feel like you can’t really ever describe it fully. Hugs to Julia and to you both for your friendship.”

I thought I had felt through enough emotions in the past many hours, but when I got to work, I remembered that our owner and one of the sales guys had gone to visit another of our sales guys who has declined in health rather rapidly and was just put onto hospice. In recounting their stories of their visit, it brought me back to Ted in the hospital and his last decline. It was relayed that if I wanted to visit, that I should get to his home soon, as it wasn’t looking good. I had to admit that it might be cowardice, but I wasn’t feeling like I could face that situation right now. Seeing him in near coma and having to look at his wife in her desperate need to keep him alive felt like I’d be standing in front of a mirror that was on magnification and in that moment of contemplation, just didn’t want to see myself in his wife’s eyes.

The decision was not necessary, as he passed away before we even made it to the lunch hour. I thought about his wife and family again and how they will now have to work through having such a void in their lives and learn how to live in a space without his body but still so full of his spirit. Our entire office was sad and quiet for most of the remainder of the day.

Through all of this onslaught of events that were thrown at me today, through trying to convey responses and basic communications, I felt the tangle of emotions loosen. It felt like a few bulbs made their way out of the mess and more were readily available to lay out for use as well. I know there are still more tangles in there, but to get half a string free feels better.

And to balance out the heaviness of the past 20 hours or so, I received a message that my pregnant friend was heading to the hospital to have her baby. As I write, they are sending me photos from the hospital sharing their story of the birth of their first child. Happy hospital drama this time around. I’ll be glad to shed some tears for joy later when baby Rio arrives.

Love, Sally

Mexico Log Day 9

The four of us awoke early so that we could go find the famous waterfalls of Xico. I was dressed first, so I went on a walk around the grounds as Beth, Lalo and Sydney got ready. I ended up walking the outer perimeter of the resort checking out the cows and farmland as I went. I found myself by the barns and stables and in behind where guests are normally allowed to go. Luckily, there was a short gate that was easy to climb over to get myself out from the forbidden area.

Just as I entered the far end of the parking lot, a truck pulled up and dropped some workers off at the main entrance to the resort and continued onto the grounds with several workers to the entrance through the private gate to the house and barn area I had just come from. I was glad to have not been confronted for being in the wrong area – especially since we wouldn’t have been able to communicate.

We then jumped in the car and headed to the town. We found the smaller cascades just outside of town, but were not sure how to locate the larger falls we had seen photos of. After two times of asking the locals for directions, we figured out the way. The road to the parking lot for the falls, travels thru many fields filled with rows and rows of coffee plants growing among huge plantains. We finally were able to really see how the plantain stalks create the flower and then grow the bananas on each plant.

The streets were stone. There seemed to be quite a few men going to work with shovels and machetes. Handsome cowboys on foot, four wheelers, horses and mules. One could swear we were straight out of a National Geographic with the beauty and character of the place. These photos don’t show it, but most all those that we came across were free with their smiles as we would pass by.

We were the only car to park in the lot and we started the descent to the falls. The path down to the falls was well maintained and with a steady descent. The amount of flowers, lush plants and trees everywhere we looked just filled me with the calm and joy that resides in all nature, -but was more plentiful than I had ever experienced.

I could have stayed in the mist of this falls all day.

Back to resort for brunch with entire family.

We stopped back Into Xico so that I could visit the main cathedral on our way out.

We went to the next magic town of Cuatepec. We did some shopping at some artisan shops in town. I finally found a few post cards and a few blank cards as well. The central square was closed off for some work, but we we walked around the block and bought some ice cream for the kids and I got some of the favorite street treats of fresh churros.

Drove back to Veracruz, and finished off our wonderful day with a seafood meal at one of their favorite restaurants and then some time out on the malecon.

Mexico Log Day 8

The days of Magical towns.

The Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) designation is awarded to those communities that over time have maintained their original architecture, traditions, history and culture. As well as to those that have been of great relevance to the country’s history.

This was the day that we were going with the family to Xico (pronounced Hico). We began our day with a stop at the cafe de la parroquia and had cafe lechero and ordered a bombas and enchilada suizas. I had previously had this dish on Isla Mujeres and it was one of my favorite dishes there. Sadly, these were nothing close to what I had on the island. Still, we had a blast as there was a gal ahead of us in line that we thought might be a model as she was tall, thin, had perfect posture. A young guy met up with her and the two more older gents met up with them at the table next to ours. We made up stories of who and what they were doing. People watching and devising stories of others lives is fun anywhere. This town has some of the largest espresso machines I have ever seen.

We went to the house and Syd and I went up on the roof for the view. We could see the pools in the yards, the park across the street and the skyline with the crazy building that looked like someone had fashioned it after a half played Jenga Game.

The road trip to Xico had us passing through Xalapa and Cuatepec – which is another magic town and deserves some time to see. We decided then that we needed another trip just to spend some time in this part of the state and explore. We did drive down some of the side streets to get a taste of the town, but alas, we had a destiny and needed to motor on. The region is very lush and beautiful.

We made it to Xico and it is the most magical of the towns. We drove through the streets a bit and then headed to the place we were staying at. It is a beautiful resort with farm grounds surrounding the well groomed multi palmed area. This area is abundant with cattle ranches and coffee/plantain plantations. The resort is called Agua Bendita. The plant life there was just amazing. The leaves on many of the plants and trees were larger than I had ever experienced.

We then went into town to have dinner at the Campanario restaurant. I was filled with wonder ever since entering this town. Combine the beauty of the land with the old world cobblestone streets and the historic buildings and streets, and this is a town that feels like it is a treasure from another time. One that the inhabitants know they are blessed to know and live within.

The restaurant had it’s own internal wall of lush plants, historic photos on the walls and as like everywhere in the state of Veracruze, a gal making the fresh home made corn tortillas. Most of our table had some form of steak after the standard appetizers and I had rellenos. We had a dessert tamal that like a sponge cake with light filling in it wrapped in corn husk.

It rained off and on during dinner and was sprinkling when we left. We drove a few streets over and walked up one of the main streets toward one of the churches of the town. We stopped and purchased coffee and mole and Paola bought us each a Chile sec

I went to a honey shop and bought some pollen stuff for Ted

We went into another coffee shop where they were roasting the beans and bought more coffee.

It was getting late and dark and the church at the top of the street was closed, so we made it back down to the cars and made our way back to where we were staying. We joined up with the family in their bungalow – which was really a bit more like small two bedroom house. They had a jacuzzi in their place which they filled for the kids to enjoy as some of us watched Thursday night football of NY Giants and Washington Redskins. Lalo’s father was once a professional soccer player, so sports was always available to watch with Don Lalo.

Enjoying the foliage at night was just another lens to see the beauty.

We then went back to our one bedroom two bed bungalow that the four of us shared like the one big travel family that we are.

Mexico Log – Day 4

Day 4 was a a restful and beautiful river boat ride day.

Lalo had showed us how to use the coffee grinder in the hotel so that if we were the first ones up, we could go ahead and make coffee. This is the hotel that has been in the family for a few generations and they only use the kitchen for family and some staff meals. Lalo actually grew up in this hotel in one of the rooms with his parents. His Aunt and Uncle currently live in a few of the rooms. Rosaura (Chagua) , Lalo’s Tia (aunt) and younger sister of Luzma, was up and made traditional Veracruz style enchiladas with eggs and beans, salsa, and queso. Enchiladas Veracruz style are the ever present home made corn tortillas but instead of being filled and rolled and covered, they just fold them over, the sauce on top, then whatever fillings and cheese are thrown on top or off to the side. It was delicious.

We walked down the beach for a quick morning look and ended up walking all the way down to the breaker where the river meets the ocean. Not thinking that we were going to be out so long, we of coarse forgot to put on sunscreen and since this was not tourist season, there were none of the carts trolling the beach with all kinds of inflatable toys, sand buckets or sunscreen. We walked on beach and out on the first sandbar – there are generally three sandbars along each portion of this beach. We found some shells and three complete sand dollars.

We ended up leaving the sand dollars at the end of the beach for someone else to find. We then walked up the river side of town and saw hurricane destruction that was more prevalent or just hadn’t had the time to be completely repaired or cleaned up. Most buildings are concrete, so it is in the roofs, windows and downed trees that you notice the damage. I can see why some of the poorer sections of town have makeshift roofs and do without windows. It must be hard to try to replace them after every bad storm.

We Walked back thru town, stopping to see a few of Lalo’s friends along the way. Walking through town with Lalo feels like you are walking with the mayor. He stops to shake hands/fist bump or just greet just about everyone. Even when he isn’t stopping on his own, someone will see him and pull over their car to talk, or run out from nowhere and greet him.

Lalo’s cousin had been in town with his girlfriend, so we headed back to spend a bit more time with them before they were to leave that day.

To cool off, we sat with our feet in pool for a bit. I had been watching the kids nanny braiding and caring for Meranda’s hair every day, so I asked if she wouldn’t mind braiding mine for something different and to keep it out of the gulf breeze as we took the river boat ride later. Breeza (sp?) who is just sixteen or so and lives with the family, made quick work with my hair and had it complete in no time. Paola’s husband died a few years back and so live in help became a must so that she could continue to work. Anyone would want Breeza in their home though as she is a lovely hard working young lady who, much like most people I met on this trip, would brighten any room.

After saying goodbye to Lalo’s cousin and his lovely girlfriend, we then walked to the malecon on the river side. This is where we met Lalo’s friend Luis Eduardo (el gordo) and took a boat ride on the river with Ricky (Rickytin). We learned about the three types of mangroves (manglares) – red (roots anchored from top to bottom, closest to the water), white (roots from bottom to top, middle) and black (roots from bottom to top, farthest from water) and the conservation efforts of certain groups in the area. We saw a spotted turtle (tortuga pinta), five crocodiles (cocodrilos), spider crabs, red crabs, black crowned/white crowned/yellow-bellied egrets, vultures, an eagle and a royal duck. We got 32 oz micheladas from the party boat and would troll up to the tourist boats to provide refreshments and treats.

We came back to the hotel and ate pozole and talked with Luis Eduardo. I took a nap while the others talked politics, then came back and we played Unstable Unicorns which is a card style game that is a fun way to end any day.

Mexico Log Day 7

Beth, Syd and I arrose for sunrise on the roof of the hotel. It was a beautiful spot and just seeing the town as it was waking up and the small fisherman boats coming and going was serene and lovely. Very few seemed to be up in the town except for the roosters we could hear in the quiet of the dawn.

We then went on a walk thru town thinking we might find the coffee and bake shops open. Neither were open, but wanting to walk some of the side streets, we traversed down to the river side and back up other streets to the ocean side and back to the hotel. We saw more beautiful flowers, boats parked in and out of the water – and what happens when someone has seen English language use contraction of n’t and didn’t get it right, shouldn’t have tried, and now I don’t know if you actually eat there or it’s not really a restaurant since it is spelled restauran’t.

I missed buying some cinnamon bread from one of the street vendors, so when we saw a dude selling bread, we stopped him to see what he had. He didn’t have my cinnamon bread, but he did have rolls that were like our Hawaiian bread we get. We purchased one of his rolls and walked in the surf back toward the hotel’s street.

As we got back to the hotel, the night shift guy was just receiving a delivery from someone. It turned out that it was zacahuil for us for breakfast. It is like a tamale stew in a banana leaf. It included a bag of the pickled onions, japs and carrots. We had some of that with our Hawaiian roll and coffee.

It was getting hot again, so we then headed with our coffees to the pool to hang out with out feet in the cool water.

I went in search of a post card in the shops in Tecalutla. None were to be found. It would seem that no one sends post cards or letters much in Mexico these days. Not sure if that is due to instant communication through phones or what.

We went into Gutirriez Zamora looking for the cueritos tortas (pig skin sandwich) that Lalo loves and wanted me to try. This is again a city built with hills and countryside to one side and the river to the other. Some hills were so steep that the photos we took make us look gravity defying.

The places he knew that sold the sought after sandwich, were all closed, so we went back home. As we passed through another street in the town, I recognized that it was where the cemetery was, so they stopped so that I could have a visit. I find the history in cemeteries fascinating in any town. We also visited another of the family hotels and some fun spots around the town.

We got home in time for the family big meal. Today it was tortilla soup. Followed by plain and adobo thin pork chops with beans and rice with carrots and potatoes. One of my favorite meals. So good, I forgot to take any photos.

We were heading back to the city of Veracruz for the night and everyone was anxious to get us on the road so the we wouldn’t be driving on the “scary highway” at night. We said goodbye and gave hugs to the Aunties and Willie with promises to return to see them again sometime.

This highway is the one with all the little towns/stands/little farmers markets along the road. This highway also has long stretches of countryside where people speed along as fast as they can. It also has it’s share of potholes and it is a route for seemingly every double tandem tractor trailer rig in the state. So, picture a two lane highway curving up and down the countryside, people going at various speeds along the way and everyone passing even when the views of oncoming traffic cannot be seen. It was a bit like a roller coaster ride that sounds and feels unsafe and you wonder if you should have gotten on that ride. Actually, I always felt safe with Lalo driving. It was seeing the acts of the other drivers that was astounding. I mean. I might have held my breath a few times when we were overtaking a tandom trailered semi that was weaving all over the road ahead of us. It was definitely not the all day site seeing non-hurried drive that characterized our drive to Tecalutla.

It was dark by the time we made it into the city. We checked into our hotel and dropped off our bags and headed over to the family house there.

It was Mexican Independence Day. We watched the speech and toasted with a lovely tequila. I had looked up a bit about their Independence Day and unlike ours, where we celebrate when we signed the documents as a done deal, in Mexico, the day is the beginning of the struggle for independence. It is the day of determination, hope, and togetherness.

Miranda went and put on her Independence Day dress she wore to school that day. So cute.

The Plans for the next day is onto some of the Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns)

Mexico Log Day 6

Lalo went out first thing and brought back Atole morado (it was a purple drink) and mixed it with a horchata he also brought -the mixture called campechana. I prefer the straight horchata, but I do always appreciate his desire to show and share the tastes that he grew up with.

Today for breakfast, we were fixed Infladetas (inflated tortillas) mole. Onions, Queso fresco, and eggs with chorizo. Delicious as always.

We sat around the family table and talked. Lalo went and got out family photo albums. It was fun to see the aunts and his mom chiming in on some of the pics. Lalo’s other aunt showed up today. She is other sister to Luzma, Chagua and Willie. She is Estela. Watching and listening to them all recalling certain photos and talking about the locations, antics, making fun of some and seeing the closed eyed remembrance of being in a time and place of others was so fun. There are no cultural differences when sitting with families as they look at family albums.

We sat by the pool and talked there for a while and threw in a load of laundry. Once the load was complete, we hung the clothes on the line on the roof of the house to dry.

Beth and I were headed up to the room to chill out for a bit as it was hot and humid again and we thought we could rest and make notes of our travels in the comfort of the air conditioned room, but the hotel staff was cleaning our room. Beth headed back downstairs and I headed up the stairs to see what the other floors were like and to see if I could find the roof access – as Lalo and Sys had said it had a great 360 view of the town. I found the access and indeed you can see the ocean to one side and the river to the other side.

After a quick nap, we hung out in our room for a bit and then went downstairs to sit with the family as they had their main meal -3:45 pm lunch meal. We didn’t eat with them as we were going to a friends auntie’s restaurant for the shrimp and seafood cocktails.

I had the everything seafood cocktail with shrimp, conch, octopus, crab and oysters. Vuelve A La Vida (bring back to life) it was called. All very fresh and delicious but the sauce was on the sweet side for my tastes.

The place was not air conditioned, so I was sticking to the table and chair and feeling quite uncomfortable by the end of the meal.

Welcoming a walk and the gulf breeze through the streets, we went looking for some zero beer for Sydney to make a michelada for herself later. Watching us have those big ones from our river boat ride the prior day with the tamarind around the top had given her a craving for one.

We all went to the beach for an evening swim – super fun and refreshing. Syd, Beth and I went out to the first sand bar and bobbed in the waves. The first sand bar was about chest high today. The current would quickly transport us down the beach and we would fight the waves and current to try to stay near/even to where we had left our belongings on the beach. We were sucked under by a few waves and came up laughing and waiting for the next. Lalo was out on the second sand bar and body surfed like a pro out there for a while.

We then slogged back to the pool in the hotel and hung out there for a while before heading to bed. Luzma went with us to the beach and in the pool and it was great.

I showered in the shower by the pool with my suit on. Beth waited to shower in our room. When she got her suit off, she found that there were strategic pockets of sand plastered to her body like someone had slapped mud pies to her (sand pies in this case). I guess she had taken more tumbles and had gotten really blasted by the ocean waves earlier and the pool water only seemed to solidify it. It was pretty hilarious looking and left us giggling in our own beds as we said goodnight. I drifted off with another appreciation of a great day.

Give to others to improve your wellbeing | Mental health