February 28th The Last Birthday Celebration

By Susan Klindienst Fogel

Here it is February 28th. The last day of MY month.
And what a wonderful birthday month it is has been.
I received emails, e-cards and Facebook messages on the days leading up to my birthday.
And of course there was Valentine’s Day which always kicks off the week of my big day.

My friend Kass came down from San Francisco
She brought with her my gift from my darling daughter; a Kindle.

Kass and I had a wonderful time. We swam with the gargantuan and placid whale-shark.
It was a wonderful day that started early with us suiting up in wetsuits.

Our guides were attentive, skilled, multi-lingual and good to look at as well! On the way out to the area where whale-sharks feed we encountered a young gray whale cavorting and breaching and just putting on a wonderful show for us.
Since they are a protected species we were cautioned not to touch the shark. We did not want to cause it any stress. It gently swam by us and curved around and I had to swim backward to avoid a collision. It is an amazing experience to be in the water, under the water, with a purple–polka-dotted fish that is over 30 feet long.

First you see the dorsal fin, and the distinctive shark-shaped head, then you are told to jump in, put your face in the water, and swim with a shark! Counter-intuitive.

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These sharks are not predators, they do not have teeth and they just suck up algae with their giant maw, and glide on by.

And as the captain was turning our boat back towards shore, the great shark fin was headed right for us.
We stopped, and the shark came alongside and hovered , as if posing for us. After a few moments it gave a few flicks of its tail and swam off.
Kass left on my actual birthday February 21.

Mary my closest friend here, arrived back the same day. I missed her at the airport and missed seeing her wearing a headband adorned with felt candles each one sporting a letter spelling our Happy Birthday! Sorry I missed that!
She did wear the headband again when I stopped in for coffee.

On Friday evening my beloved and were invited to dinner with our friends, well, our adopted family Ann and Fernando and their adult children Ixchel and Ruben (they built our house) and Balam and Liliana and the children of both.
And I received lovely gifts from all.

On Sunday, we met Patricia and Gordon for breakfast at La Marmolera. Patricia presented me with cut flowers and a gift.

Today Maria and I skipped our usual massage, then lunch and margaritas under a palapa at La Concha, it is just too cold. We went to breakfast at El Corazon and had a lovely time. Maria was born on February 29!
And so the day is drawing to a close, and the My month is over, it has been grand!

My Funny Valentine…Sung by Sting; A Valentine for Those I Love

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS for this BLOG post
Scoll down to the bottom and start the video. Sting will come on for a few seconds. Then the video will be black. But you will hear Sting sing. Then scroll back up and read while you listen.

My Funny Valentine is a beautiful, sweet song with a haunting melody.
This is our song. My beloved and I are going on 29 years married this April.
I want to share some special Valentines.

Here is the Valentine my beloved gave me a few years back. My friend Mary made the frame:
< ON a trip back from Catalina Island to San Jose , California, we stopped at the Sycamore Springs Spa, and had a romantic evening in an old-fashioned wooden hot tub. And I gave this card to my darling : a>

This has lots of special meaning for us. We had sold our business and we took a trip tp Catalina to enjoy our new freedom. It is there that we decided to retire to Mexico.

My daughter, Melissa and I are a two-woman coffee society and she always finds the sweetest, cleverest and perfect card for any occassion for me:

My Funny Valentine

My Funny Valentine…
What a romantic song.
My beloved said it reminded him of me.
I was touched and feeling tender until I heard these words:
…Sweet comic valentine
Your looks are laughable
Un-photographical…

Imagine hearing those words and wondering what he means by that.
He said I have an expressive face, and a cute smile.
Good Save old man!

So I love Valentine’s Day. It’s part of MY MONTH, February. And it is a week before my birthday, so I get a double whammy of flowers and gifts.
And here is what you see when you come to my front door.

Don’t be deceived that planter is twenty four inches high and the palm about five feet tall.
The photo makes them look miniature.
The grape vine wreath is one I picked up at a segunda and used for fall with silk autumn leaves, and then again for good ole V-Day. I have decided to keep this as a Valentine wreath, and will look for something else for Fall.

So come on in: on the mirrors in the entry I have stuck these good enough to eat, plastic gel hearts and cupids.

And below the mirrors on a credenza rest these golden candles with lovely pink and red patchwork hearts.

I have a lot of heart ornaments.
Do you know when I bought them? At the after Christmas sales. They are Christmas ornaments, that I have re-purposed as Valentine’s Day trinkets.

Don’t you find that word “re-purpose” silly? I hear it a lot on decorating shows on TV.
For me it is as silly as “join the conversation” which alludes to wasting lots of time on social media.

…Smile little Valentine Smile…

I always try to make something special for the house, or for my daughter’s house. This year I made Valentine coasters and a holder for them for Miss Meliss. you can see them and read about them on my sewing blog

Pretty paper goods like plates and napkins are s special detail I like for all occassions and here is a heart shaped basket full of Valentine napkins and plates. I made the table runner and the golden candles are leftover from Christmas, and the shiny red hearts hanging on the candle sticks are another after Christmas find.

Valentine’s Day at our house on either side of the border means cards, flowers, chocolate and a nice dinner out.
No flashy gifts, no over the top balloon rides with champaign and diamonds, just a sweet, day to be extra-romantic.

…Every day is Valentines Dayyyyyyyyyyyy…

Valentine’s Day, Tulips and ME

Valentine’s Day, or as we say it in La Paz; Dia de Amor.
When my kids were young (pre-teen through high school) I always purchased cupcakes for every season. I would put them under a cheese dome in the center of the table, and there they would sit until dinner time.

Of course there were other treats throughout the day, but the cupcakes, well they were the ultimate treat!
One year Bubbie, (Yiddish for Gramma), my sweet, late mother-in-law was staying the weekend. At dinner she was the first to choose a cupcake. She turned the plate, removed the dome, and looked for the cupcake with the most icing! She who eschewed treats and sugar and used to follow me around reading excerpts from Prevention Magazine about the evils of coffee, had to have the most of the sugary icing dyed red with red dye #1!

Well here I am in Mexico, and missing out on the usual exchange of Valentine’s in the mail, and treats at the office and a dinner out.

Since my birthday is also in February, on the 21st, my beloved and I usually visited Calistoga in the Napa Valley for a weekend of mud baths, massages and good food. This was after the kids had flown the coop.
We would do this or visit Carmel, or do both each on a separate weekend in February.
The gardens and garden shops in both Carmel and Calistoga would be bursting with Spring blooms. And hanging planters and wine barrels all dripping in color.

And the curb strip in front of my San Jose home would be blooming with 1,000 daffodils.
And just to make sure I had enough daffodils, I also planted bulbs in front of my neighbor’s house.
How I miss Spring flowers.


The other day I was in Chedraui, the main grocery store in La Paz and right before my eyes was a display of the loveliest potted tulips. I did not hesitate; I grabbed two pots of these luscious blooms. One pot for my office and one for the dining room table.
And here they are:

And when my beloved came home for lunch is said “Oh sweet darling thank you for the tulips!”
And he said “ So I don’t have to go to town and buy you one of those readymade flower arrangements they sell on the corners?” “I am disappointed.”

Don’t believe him for a minute, he was relieved.
And so to chase the” I am not in California anymore blues”, I decorate my house for every season.
And tomorrow I’ll show you what I did for Valentine’s Day.
Feliz Dia de Amor!

Juicing for Jesus or World Peace? How About Juicing for Renewed Health?

It is day two of the juice fast. I have a friend coming to visit on the 16th. I can only do this until about the 12th, so I can slowly break the fast. I also have to be very careful during the break so I don’t destroy all of the hard work that I will have put in. And then back on the fast.

Why am I doing this? Not for peace. Not to find Jesus. But to cleanse my system, lose weight and get back on a healthy track.

How do peace and Jesus fit into this?

I have been thinking about fasting for a few weeks. For the last two months I have felt like a sluggish lump, and I can feel the weight of grief I carry with me over my darling 8-year old grandson, Thomas’ battle with cancer.
So I did a Google search on fasting and many, thousands, millions of sites popped up.

Almost all of them, well okay those on the first two pages, spoke about finding Jesus or being guided by Jesus, or finding their Christian souls. As soon as the religious stuff started, I moved on.

Then I found a site with a picture of Gandhi on it. It had good, but limited advice about juice fasting or “Juicing”. It was a sub-page on a site called codepinkalert.org. A political site and the fasting was to move the US government to bring our troops home.

So back to Google. I kept finding info from one particular site, and quotes from the books the site owner had written.
I needed some better information and juice recipes. So I bought his e-books and am reading them on my computer screen. Not fun-at-all. And I am glossing over the Garden of Eden, Heaven, and Hell stuff.

Yesterday I longed to sit comfortably in front of the fire with my doggie and read.
“Oh if only I had a Kindle.” I said. I have resisted the idea of a Kindle until the pain of reading from the screen hit home.

Anyway back to the fast. November was a month of horrors for our family, every day Thomas suffered more form the chemo, side effects, and other barbarous things the doctors were trying in order to shrink his massive tumor. My beloved and I suffered with him and our son and daughter-in-law. We cried a lot that month, and we wished for a miracle.

My beloved even said he would give his life for Thomas.

One weekend in mid-November, I started feeling tired and achy. Then I had a serious bout of diarrhea, and could not eat. I did not even want coffee. I could barely keep Jell-O down. My sweet husband made chicken soup from scratch, and I sipped that. On Monday I dragged myself to the doctor. He prescribed B-12 shots. I felt energized and better within hours.

Before that I was down, out, run down and going down for the count.

There comes a time when your body speaks. And mine was screaming, deafening shrieks:
“Help me!” “Cleanse me!” I am compelled to do this. And I know I will feel better, look better and be healthier afterwards.

Yes the sadness is still there, we worry about Thomas every day. We call our son, and react to his state of mind: if he is calm, we are calm. If he is troubled, we are troubled.

But he and his wife and older son need us to be there for them through Thomas’s battles. And I cannot help if I am sick, sluggish and dull.

This morning I made a strawberry/blueberry smoothie with only a half banana to thicken it. Delicious and refreshing.
On to the new organic market in town to find more goodies to juice up!