Saturday, August 22, 2009

My daughter, Carla turns 15 in December, which in Mexico means a quinceaños party. Traditionally the girl wears a formal, prom-like dress and maybe a crown, and she is escorted into the hall by a line of suit-wearing escorts called chambelánes.
Carla´s idea for her own party is that it will be at the equestrian center where we ride. She will wear riding gear, and when she is introduced, ride into the party on Lucky. Her chambelánes will be the grooms who tack the horses up - Ramiro, Chon and maybe Xavier nephew of the equestrian center owner. The idea started out as a joke but lately I´m thinking it´s not such a bad idea.
For the last couple of years, my Philadlephia friend, Amanda and I have been discussing about doing a double quinceaños party for our girls, Carla and Lily. We started this talk when they were twelve and had similar interests. But this summer, it turns out Lily came down from Philly as a designer flip-flop combined with old basketball shirt sort of kid, while Carla´s favorite story of the summer is how she chased down an escaped bull that was housed at our dressage barn for an upcoming Western event. Carla, in other words, is more of a horse gal than ever.
We have until next summer to plan an event, and I´m guessing formal dresses and a sparkling disco ball are not in the picture. My friend Gina, whose daughter went to pre-school and first grade in San Miguel, jokes maybe drive her dressed-up daughter through their western Massachusettes town in a pick-up as a celebration.
I´m open to all suggestions.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A New Meaning to Summer Cleaning

When one buys a house in San Miguel and wants to do everything in one´s power to assure that the city awards a permit to install a garage in the centuries-old structure, what is the first thing one does? Call the local shaman to give the house a limpia and general good luck shine-up, of course.
The house, with its lovely pepper tree-shaded garden, newly belongs to our Philadelphia friends, the Burches. They asked me to call Don Jesus. I´ve been a client of his for years. I see him when I get loaded up with people´s energy after giving lots of massages. A little copal, some general brushing off with an eagle´s wing, some energy moving with his hands inches from my skin and I´m good as new.
Don Jesus twitched, walking through the kitchen, from all the heavy, old energy left in the house after the previous owner´s months with cancer and her death. He said the house had two spirits hanging around. "Not bad spirits?" Charlie Burch asked. "I mean, like OK fellows?"
"You spend the night here and tell me tomorrow," Don Jesus said. He advised the family to light little alcohol fires at 8 that night in the strategic spots he showed them in the garden to shoo the lingering spirits.
After advising Charlie to open all the windows, he doused the floors with tap water mixed with some water he brought in a bottle, and moved it into the corners with a broom. When it dried, he lit little fires inside the rooms on a circle of rubbing alcohol he had squirted. Then he misted the air with another liquid he´d brought.
"Ya," he said, spreading his hands. All done.
"With all the stale energy gone, now the trabajadores will do better work And your family can move in comfortably."
We´ll see if the new energy helps convince city officials to grant the Burches a garage.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Tuesday is tianguis day in San Miguel. Tianguis is the Aztec word for outdoor market. I went with my 14-year old, Carla to do some back-to-school shopping from the clothing tables.

The best clothes come from the piles that have survived enough End of Season sales in US department stores to be shipped to Mexico at bulk rates. Concentration is required when selecting.

Today, bras were the big item. Did I say big? Doesn´t every gal need a bra with planets on it?

Drug wars? Shootings? It makes me crazy when would-be-tourists from the US won´t come to Mexico because they expect to find a violence-driven soceity. Look at these photos instead of listening to what you hear on the news. Here´s real life in San Miguel de Allende - a man serenading tianguis diners on his violin.

Anyway, nothing like bargain shopping to take my mind off another agent pass. "Couldn´t see a path for the memoir in this grim market." Blah, blah. Somebody is going to see that people LOVE a good romance, and a well-written, literary - not genre - romance like Fast Break South is going to do well. That´s my belief.
I´m thinking of changing the title to I Married A Mexican Teenager, which was the title of a PEN talk I gave a couple of seasons ago. Comments?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big News, Big Name

Imagine the aroma of a Lavender Festival! Held last week at the Marsh estate in San Miguel and hosted by The Lavender Queen Herself, Jeannie Ralston, author of The Unlikely Lavender Queen, and photographer husband Robb K. to raise money for their lavender project which provides a sustainable business for local campesinos. While sipping a lavender margarita, I was approached by author, Susan Page who heads up the Author´s Sala here in San Miguel.

"I have the best news ever!" Susan gushed.

Can´t be a new baby, I thought. You´re going on a cruise? It´s going to rain in central Mexico soon?

"Guess who we got to keynote at the Writers Conference?" Susan began to hyperventilate.

"Who?" I obliged, but I was beginning to get excited too. Then I thought, nah, with a buildup like this, it´s likely to be disappointing.

"Barbara Kingsolver!"

OK. Susan had me. I was speechless. Then I caught the aroma of lavender on a passing breeze, and breathed deeply.

"Susan. Wow!" This is how you know I am a writer; I use big words.

Barbara Kingsolver! I read The Poisonwood Bible about a year ago, and thought, this writer is a heavyweight.


The San Miguel Writers Conference takes place February 19-23, 2010 in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. For more information, go to