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!

February, My Month!

February! MY MONTH! Tomorrow it all begins…
I was born on February 21st. And in our house, we sang happy birthday every day until the birthday cake was gone.

And in my mind, February belongs to me!

What a month, two presidents and George Harrison all had birthdays in February. And of course Valentine’s Day! I was born in Valley Forge in the middle of a blizzard! And yes I have heard all of the George Washington; hard winter at Valley Forge jokes! In fact my mother wanted to name me Martha or Georgette. But, my OLDER sister, Delia said that the new baby was so pretty that she should be named Susie after her Susie doll. Thank YOU, Delia, neither one of those other names fit me at all!

And yes I am so pretty too. Here I am with my beloved.

My dear friend, Kass is coming to help me celebrate this year. I have not seen her in about three years. She is a friend whose bond was forged as we stood tot-to-toe with the anti-choice bullies that thought they would close down the abortion clinics in the Bay Area. She is a warrior, and a writer, a photographer and my friend! Look out whale sharks here we come!

Kass do you still have your BACORR scarf? For those of you that weren’t there BACORR stands for Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights. How about you Lenay? BACORR was a big part of our lives back in the 90’s, and while we battled for control of the clinic door and won most of the time, life-long friendships were forged.
We changed the law in San Jose, and changed the behavior of the police.
And now we shall kayak, soak up sun and enjoy some icy Margaritas.
Here is a scarf that we all wore, proudly.

My daughter, Melissa has cooked up a surprise for me, she and Kass are in on it, I have no idea what she is doing.
In the past there were two surprise parties, and for my 50th a black-tie bash at the Hotel St. Claire in San Jose, CA.
I still have the wonderful memory boards with photos and captions that she and my sister, Delia made for that occasion.

I am back to blogging. I thought I would tell you all about my favorite Christmas ornaments. Well events transpired that kept me from writing and almost obliterated our Christmas. But, we are OK, and I am back to blogging.

The gray, cold, weather that came down from El Norte is gone. And our beautiful sunshine is back.
We have a new doggie, a tiny, tiny Chihuahua named Coco, and the HoneyMoon Hut is booked solid.

I am starting a juice fast tomorrow to cleanse my body and soul.
So stay tuned in, I’ll have lots of things to say about a lot of things!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, Even on the Beach You Shine for Me!

And so here it is December 6th. Only a few days into the month, not even a week, and it seems like there is no time left. I am hosting two holiday breakfasts at the house. There is a craft show I have made things for. Friends from Modesto, CA. are arriving in Cabo San Lucas on the Norwegian Star and we are going down there to meet their ship.
Other friends are coming up from Todos Santos for an overnight. And we are going there to watch whales from their terrace.
We are staying in La Paz this year. And none of our family is coming down for Christmas either.

No wild trips through LAX. No being bullied by TSA agents. No screaming kids. No crowds. I won’t miss all of that.
But I will miss being with my kids. I’ll miss helping Miss Meliss prepare her house for Santa, decorating the tree, setting the table, shopping, shopping. I love shopping.
Gift wrapping and filling stockings. Eating out, playing Scrabble, watching movies in our jammies while we eat goodies. Those are things I won’t do this year.
There will be no visit to our two grandsons in Thousand Oaks this year.
I am trying to keep busy and not be lonely.
And I finished putting up my tree a few days ago. It is gorgeous. Filled with shiny glass ornaments form days gone by, and some days not so distant.
So here is a photo of my tree. And in the next few days I’ll share some of my favorite ornaments, tell their story, and relate what else is happening here at the beach during Christmas.

How I tricked My Beloved on Christmas Morning

By Susan Klindienst Fogel
December 5, 2010! December is barreling down the pike, no time to stop, only three Sundays until Santa arrives. Sewing, baking, wrapping, entertaining, decorating. !
Over the next few days I am going to show off my Christmas tree and my favorite ornaments .
Because I love Christmas!
I love it! I love the hustle, bustle, and making time for friends and family, and watching their delight as they open the beautifully wrapped box and lift out the lovingly handmade item I dreamed up again this year.

And I am starting with a story about how I tricked my beloved one Christmas!

I don’t go to the mall , I rarely shop in department stores. I haunt fabric stores, virtual and real, and search for downloadable online patterns designers. I try to find the perfect gift for one and all. Living in La Paz, means having to plan my Christmas sewing far in advance. I have to see who is coming down , one of my guests for the HoneyMoon Hut, or family or friends, and ask them to accept small packages of fabric and patterns that I have ordered online, and have shipped to them.

One year it was his ‘n her aprons.

Another year I made neck roll pillows and sleep masks for use anywhere but especially while on a plane.

And there was the year I made 17 purses for the women in my life, and 17 jars of green chile soup for the men.
And one year I made my beloved a gorgeous robe. I got up every morning at 4. Had my coffee, enjoyed the quiet, and sipped my brew by the light of the Christmas tree.
I would sew until 7. Have breakfast, get dressed, and then login to work in my home office at 9.
When it came time for fittings, I told him it was for Miss Meliss, and I needed to check length.
He said “This is gorgeous she will love it.”

Boxes of any kind, and especially gift boxes are hard to find in La Paz. But there are a few enterprising souls that set up stalls on the street and sell pre-wrapped boxes. The tops are wrapped and there is a lsice of tissue inside. But paper, tissue and ribbon are available in most stores.

Miss Meliss and her hubby arrived a few days before Chrismas and wanted to do some shopping in La Paz to soak up the flavor of Christmas in a small city in Mexico..
In one clothing store they had pre-wrapped suit boxes, which would be perfect for a certain robe.
I told my beloved to choose a box for that special present he had been helping me with. He chose a metallic, blue, foil box!
Was he ever surprised, when on Christmas morning the big, blue , foil wrapped box was on his pile! “Melissa “, he said, “ I think this is for you.” MissMeliss, was in on the secret. She said “ Nope, I am sure it is yours.”

My beloved was surprised, touched, had tears in his eyes and laughed that he had been “gotten”.“ “Susan, you got me.” Were his exact words.
He loves the robe, it is elegant and is the perfect length.
So tomorrow I’ll show you my beautiful Christmas tree.

Here’s a photo of the robe:

The robe that Tricked my beloved

Friday Fill IN

Happy Halloween to those that celebrate it!
Photo courtesy Spering PhotographySo…here we go!

1. While the cat’s away the geckos take over!

2. Having a break between big sewing projects fabuloso!

3. Children are grown, married and in a different country.
4. A dip in the pool, naked when I get home from work or shopping or what have you.

5. This may seem odd, but Tequila really does have medicinal qualities.

6. The work week is over and that seems like a fine idea to me!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to watching some US television with my beloved, having chocolate, tomorrow my plans include private drinks and tapas at Casa Coctel on the hill overlooking the Gulf of California with another couple, and listening to jazz and Sunday, I want to enjoy breakfast out with friends at La Marmolera!

Mexico is Safe, But What about the US?

Photo by Claude Vogel of MexSense
I am so tired of the screaming hysteria of the US prress and how they terrorize would be visitors to Mexico.
Here is a post written by Lola for Mexico Premiere

What If The Shoe Was On The Other Foot? Some Thoughts On Violent Crime And Tourism
Posted: 07 Oct 2010 05:12 PM PDT
By Lola
What if CNN headlines blared “Drug Violence Claims 4 Lives In Popular Vacation Destination” every time a gang-banger (any color, any race) shot up a rival gang’s sidewalk in Los Angeles? What if Fox News ran a constant ticker that read “Murder Chose Chicago 131 Times This Year” and held forms discussing why the city should be boycotted? (In fact, September in that city ended last week with 30 homicides. Nearly 20% of the victims were teens.) Should travel warnings be issued for the Windy City? Should we close up California because, according to the LAPD, even though overall gang crimes fell 12.2 percent, 31 more people were shot [this year] in suspected gang crimes, an increase of 4.9 percent?
I wouldn’t be lying if I said the US has more violence than other first-world countries—and that’s been a fact even before drug use in this country escalated to the point where every enterprising dealer south of the border wanted a piece of the action. We have more robberies, rapes and assaults here. We glorify violence in our movies and our TV shows. We breed serial killers. Meth labs are popping up like daisies in the suburbs (and we all know how sweet and mellow meth-heads can be). We are now even venturing into suicide promotion with the sudden spike of bullying in our schools.
So… honestly. Where are our travel warnings?
Are you mad yet? You should be. This is a great country. It’s a beautiful country. And if you stay away from the scary section of town, if you don’t deal drugs, if you aren’t a hooker and you steer clear of shady bars, chances are you’ll have a ball and be safe as houses in every city, coast to coast. It’s not a guarantee, though, because even in this great nation of ours, innocent lives have been claimed in crossfire. But the police scanners certainly won’t keep me from enjoying the fall weather along the Navy Pier in Chicago or spending a weekend of pure fun in Los Angeles.

So why should I cancel my visit to Puerto Vallarta? Or forget my plans to visit Mexico City for a week?
I shouldn’t. And neither should you.

Yes, be careful. Yes, take normal precautions. No, don’t go to the locus of the cartels for a drive or a drink.
I know I’m not the only one out there who thinks this way. I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness, but sometimes it sure feels that way. So, I’m doing what I can with the tools I have.
Here are just a couple of links from like-minded people. I know there are many more of you out there. Raise your voice. Let it be heard. Thousands upon thousands of people in Mexico depend on tourism for their livelihood. People who can’t feed their children become desperate. And we all know about desperate people. Please help reverse this desperation by looking beyond the headlines.Thanks for your time.
Lola
The Economist blog:Mexico Safer Than Canada?
Mexico Boutique Hotels Blog: Mexico Safer than the United States

Hurricane Preparedness for Divas: Reprised

The calm after the storm
By Susan Klindienst Fogel

So here we are at the end of August. No real threats to land or sea in Baja from Hurricanes.
Hurricane Frank, hung around and flexed his muscles a bit, but like all bullies he left when no one reacted to his bluster!
Here is my annual reprise of Hurrican Preparedness for Divas!

It’s that time of year again: hurricane season. The season officially opens on May 15th. That is when the National Hurricane Center (NHC) starts sending out public advisories about hurricanes.

After experiencing four hurricanes in southern Baja, I have come to be an expert on how to prepare. And also having grown up in New Jersey where hurricanes come every year like clock work, I take every hurricane warning seriously. And I have perfected my preparations to make sure that the high-maintenance Diva that I am remains comfortable.

We lived through hurricanes Juliette, Ignacio and Marty in our old house two blocks back from the beach. We were on vacation for Ignacio ( a non-starter).
Two years ago over Labor Day, hurricane John wailed through. We had been in our new house right on the beach only nine months. Built to the standards of California for earthquakes, and Florida for hurricanes, we were confident the house would sail through unscathed, and it did. But we still lost power.

What I learned about hurricanes in Mexico:

They are just as unpredictable, and dangerous as anywhere else. But the damage they do to infrastructure is immense, and far-reaching. And being without electricity can be a five-day ordeal. We all forget how much we depend on electricity. After hurricane Juliette in September of 2001, I have learned a few things that served me well last year.
As soon as you get the warnings:

1. Charge up your tooth brush
2. Make bread
3. Make a chocolate cake or brownies
4. Grind a week’s worth of coffee
5. Make sure the Itty Bitty Book Light has fresh batteries
6. Buy butane candle lighters to light the stove and grill

Just before Juliette hit, I was baking a birthday cake for my beloved. Not too long afterward the power went off, and stayed that way for FIVE days. We still had propane. So every morning we had freshly brewed coffee and chocolate mint cake. It takes the sting out of being without a shower, and air conditioning. And of course the calories don’t count. It was a weather emergency. We boiled water on the stove and poured it directly into the basket of the coffee maker, a little slow, but we had dark, rich Italian roast every morning. We actually hand-squeezed the grapefruits using the electric juicer parts and elbow grease. Needless to say I was exhausted by the ordeal of five days without electricity.

Oh yes, you should as soon as you start getting weather warnings:
1. Buy extra water for drinking and cooking.
2. Get ice, candles and batteries
3. Fill the car with gas.
4. Buy an old fashioned phone that needs no electricity
5. Make sure your flashlights work
6. Fill important prescriptions
7. And visit the ATM

Usually the grocery stores and restaurants will get power and you will need cash to buy things, the ATMs, and credit card machines, needing internet lines, were down for the entire time we were without power.
After watching the disaster of Katrina I have done this:

1. scanned our passports and residency visas and emailed them to my kids
2. scanned other important docs and credit cards and emailed those as well
3. charged the cell phones and camera and sealed them in plastic
4. sent emails to family with emergency numbers and likely places we would end up if we had to flee the house

I also made a survival pack. I packed all of the important documents in Ziploc baggies. Gathered sneakers, medicines, bottled water some dog food, doggies collar and leash, some clean undies for me, nylon windbreakers, flashlights, keys and our wallets, and put them all in a canvas bag at the bedside. Now that we are on the beach, we may have to cut and run in a flash. I wanted to have our life in a bag at hand.

After Juliette. We went to town in search of working phones or Internet service so we could reassure our family that we were safe. Juliette was a category 5 hurricane. Because it was a few weeks after the September 11th attacks, no other events made the news in the U.S. When friends and family contacted my daughter saying they hadn’t heard from us, she assumed we had gone away for the weekend since it was my beloved’s birthday. That is why we now inform them in advance of impending hurricanes. So they will worry appropriately and search for us if we don’t make contact.

We have a nice saltwater pool, gas stove and lots of friends. Our house became the hub in the days following the hurricane. A little bit of a party atmosphere prevailed.
Friends would come for a shower. They could fill a bucket or two and stand in the pool house shower and wash their hair and douse themselves from the bucket. And of course by having a pool we had the luxury of using the “bucket flush” method to flush the toilets.
And we could spend hours neck deep in the pool tepid Margaritas in hand.

After the shame of Katrina, the world watched, and Mexico, especially La Paz, learned about emergency preparedness. CFE (electric company) and TELMEX ( telephone trucks) with cherry pickers and other emergency equipment were gassed up and deployed along the highways for easy access to damaged areas.

The first area to get power back is downtown. Next comes the poorer neighborhoods, then the rest of us. This makes sense. Once the restaurants are open, those of us with cars and cash can go have a good meal at lunch time and a cold drink. We have the wherewithal to take care of ourselves. The poorer areas need the government assistance.
We would head into town every day to do just that, have a meal, sit in air conditioned comfort, have a cracklin’ cold beer, buy more emergency Tuna…ok, we did grill steaks.
But, for a day or two after a big downpour we can be cut off from town, by floods, so we live on what we can boil or grill, and tuna.

The funny part of the last few hurricanes is that our cranky Internet service stayed up throughout the storm until we lost power. My friend Melanie that lives an hour south of here right on the Pacific beach and I kept giving each other updates, she was describing the storm as it passed her before it hit us. Melanie and I shared recipes, and discussed what we were serving the hurricane party crowd.

Last year we had a hurricane that was more like a giant thunderstorm, it came in the daytime. I pulled a nice chair into my luxurious bathroom with the best view of the beach and watched our normally flat bay, have real surf. Great fun!

When it all got too much, the hand juicing, no hair dryer, no internet, more tuna for dinner, I would simply remember a few of my favorite things…oh, that’s Julie Andrews. What I would do was remind myself that this would end soon, and I would think of the women of Afghanistan and feel truly blessed.