Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Mall in Mexico (Puerto Vallarta)

Stores? Of course. Our favorite is the Liverpool department store. Click here

Decorations? Of course:

And fun for the kids!

There is also a "jumping place" ie trampoline area that the munchkin particularly loves. For more about the mall click here

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Department store display reflects culture

Walk into Liverpool Department Store in Puerto Vallarta and this is what you see, and like North America, they are a couple of months ahead of the actual holiday - The Day of the Dead.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

They Came - Billie Milholland

I thought this book might be interesting. It's not. It's fascinating. And frustrating. As I read about each woman, I invariably wanted to know more.

What inspired Milholland to undertake the enormous task of gathering all these bits of information together? Billie writes, Women in our small Canadian prairie town didn't have first names. They were Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Day, Baba Yewchin. The day I realized I didn't know the first names of either of my own grandmothers was the day I began specific research of They Came.

The stories are often hilarious and more often harrowing.

Edith Vandiver Scoggins and her babies were alone on the homestead when her husband went away to work on a road construction crew. Their cows wandered everywhere because they had no fences. Every evening before Edith went looking for the cows, she tied the baby into a high chair in the yard. She stationed her toddler beside the chair, with strict instruction to sing at the top of her little lungs. The dog sat beside her and howled. As long as Edith could hear the racket, she knew her children were safe.

Milholland included a recipe from each of the women. Edith's daughter remembers her mother's good thick Potato Soup. I love this bit of Edith's recipe. Cube potatoes as small as patience will allow, until you have a full pot.


European settlement of Western Canada was both rapid and dramatic. People came from all over the world to take advantage of cheap land ($10 for 160 acres/64.7 hectares). Women most often came with parents, or followed husbands and brothers. They traded extended family life in familiar landscapes imbued with ancient histories for life in an undeveloped country with few roads and rough, new communities full of people from diverse cultures, speaking dozens of different languages.

We know the stories of men who settled and developed the West, but of the women, except for a handful of rich and famous, we know little. They Came tells the heroic stories of 113 women who came to Western Canada from somewhere else between 1890 and 1950. Following each story is a recipe, something the children and grandchildren remember fondly....

See more here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Who knew a book about math could be so entertaining?

Who knew a book about math could be so entertaining? Thank you to my Venezuelan friend who introduced me to this book. Originally written in Portuguese, she received a Spanish translation and here it is in English.

May 6 was the National Day of Mathematics in Brazil. This day was chosen because it was the birthday of Julio Cesar de Mello e Souza, a maths teacher from Rio de Janeiro, who was also the author of Brazil's most famous literary hoax, O Homem que Calculava (The Man Who Counted), which is also one of the most successful books ever written in Brazil.

It's a hoax because when the book was first published in 1932, it was said to be the work of an Arabian author, Malba Tahan.  
Melle e Souza created Tahan because he realized that it was easier to get published in Brazil, during the 1930s, if you used a foreign pseudonym. Apparently Brazilian publishers didn't have much faith in local authors.

Mello e Souza created an elaborate history for Malba Tahan. Born in 1885 near Mecca, he had traveled all over the world, including - bizarrely - a 12-year stint in Manchester where his father was a successful wine salesman. Malba Tahan had died fighting for the liberty of a group of Bedouins in the desert.

When Mello e Souza began writing as Malba Tahan, only the proprietor of the newspaper that printed the stories was in on the joke. For several years no-one knew that the famous Arab author was actually a local maths teacher whose other passion was collecting porcelain frogs. When eventually Malba Tahan was outed as humble Julio Cesar de Mello e Souza, however, he was famous enough for it not to matter.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bikes in Mexico

These (there were two of them) sitting in front of a restaurant.

And these for sale in a butcher shop.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire: A Novel by [Shamsie, Kamila]

Incredibly well written novel providing insights that feel 100% genuine. What happens to families grieving the loss of loved ones, manipulated by external forces, and torn apart by circumstances often beyond their control? Home Fire explores all of this which has the reader feeling empathy even for the "enemy." The brainwashing (and that is not nearly a strong enough word for what happens to Parvaiz) is heart rending as is Aneeka's grief. This story will haunt you and have you asking "why? how? but?" as you watch the news which you will no longer take at face value. Powerful stuff.


Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Only in Canada - Chocolate Poutine

A visit to our favorite chocolate shop and this is what we see.

I was tempted to try one, but my husband had already ordered us our favorite dipped cones ... so next time, poutine it is!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Munchkin is attending Escuela del Mundo in San Pancho - a small town on the Mexican coast. Here's a glimpse of her school yard.

"Look, Grandma, it's made of all natural stuff.

Add a bit of recycling.

Dogs, cats, chickens, and a pig. Don't worry, they only serve vegetarian meals.

The next door neighbour.

Check them out on Facebook - Escuela del mundo

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Traffic in Mexico

Not at all an unusual sight in our area. Often we see the riders in town too and using their cell phones while the horse makes it's way seemingly unguided.

Mexico -- more than a beach

A short drive inland from the beach brings you to lush mountainous terrain with rolling valleys.

No pictures of the valleys as we missed the "view point."
But, here are a couple of pictures of Compostella, the capital of the municipality. It's the churches that always grab our attention.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

And finally, the butterflies

which were impossible to capture in flight, so here are a few still pictures.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

A powerful education for this middle class white woman. I didn't want to read it, but I'm so glad I did.

The Hate U Give by [Thomas, Angie]


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

In the jungle the mighty jungle,

the iguana sleeps tonight.

Pink flamingo and his partner were born in 1978. They can live to be 50 years old.

A parrot grooming himself.

And the gods watching over it all.

Victoria Butterfly Garden more here

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Britt-Marie Was Here

Some time ago, my little old aunt (who lives in Australia and shuffles off to Italy for several months of every year) suggested I read A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (an author I had never heard of).

Well, reading Ove led me to Beartown which led me to Brit-Marie Was Here. Next up My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.

Britt-Marie Was Here

Why do I like Backman’s books so much? They’re about people, regular ordinary people living their lives as best they can. Why do Backman’s characters sing in our hearts? For me, it’s because he takes us into their inner most being. We see their very essence—beliefs, struggles, and desires which become ours as we read. We want for them, what they want for themselves, we recognize our own strengths and foibles as we see theirs. Through his characters, Backman presents philosophical questions that we don’t consider as we hustle about our daily routines, but probably should.

An added bonus is Backman’s beautiful writing style. So pick up one and enjoy! Click here.


Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

5 Reasons to hate Bookbub

5 Reasons to Hate Bookbub

As an author:
  1. Snagging a spot
Here’s a recent Bookbub ad.
A Town Like AliceBy Nevil Shute
“A ripping tale of budding romance and grace under pressure” (The Times): Thrust together by war in Malaya, Jean and Joe reunite years later to invigorate a small town in the Australian outback. A thoughtful, poignant classic with over 16,000 five-star ratings on Goodreads.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Nevil Shute and I’ve read all his books. But how’s a new author to compete with 16,000 five star ratings?

Remember trying to get a job and not being able to because you had no experience, but you couldn’t get experience because you couldn’t get a job.

Well, that’s what Bookbub feels like.
  1. Cost
If listed for $1.99 book ad will cost $1791.
If listed for $0.99 the ad will cost $1127.
If listed for free the ad will cost $712.

If a writer had that kind of money to throw around, they’d already be a bestselling author and wouldn’t need Bookbub.
  1. Time
Apply, get rejected. Apply, get rejected. Apply, get rejected. You get the picture. One publisher said it took her 6 years to get a spot for one of her authors.

As a reader:
  1. Blurbs
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
In this New York Times bestseller
From a #1 New York Times bestselling author
In this “bewitching” New York Times bestseller
In this #1 New York Times bestseller

Really!? ALL these books are on the New York Times best seller list? NOT. Google them if you don’t believe me.
  1. Blurbs
Okay, I know I said blurbs already, but that was just the opening line. How about the actual book description?

When retired cop Jones Cooper receives an unexpected visit, he plunges into an intricate mystery. “Will have you racing to the last page” 

Kate Bishop gets caught in the investigation of a brutal slaying — and discovers a strange ability that could make her the next target. “Fast-paced, riveting, and scary. It will leave the reader breathless”

Preacher’s daughter Catherine Grace escapes her small town — only to discover that the place she left may be exactly where she belongs.

Many readers may be okay with these brief blurbs and get the book anyway (especially if it’s free), but personally, I prefer more information before I spend my money.

SO, why have I tried (unsuccessfully) for a Bookbub ad? I caved because Bookbub has the greatest reach and I'd really like for more readers to find my books. Isn't that the goal of every author?

If I ever get a spot, I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope

Safekeeping: A Novel by [Hope, Jessamyn]

Of the many elements that come together in a great novel, we count on the characters to drive the story, to elicit emotions inspiring pity, fear, empathy, and above all love.

In Safekeeping, author Hope delivers. This is not your typical, building a kibbutz story. Rather it is a coming together of a diverse lot of people during the dying days of kibbutz life.

Nothing will be the same as Ziva remembers from her days of founding the kibbutz. Nor will everyone find what they are seeking, but then, isn’t that “real” life? Despite the lack of a “happily ever after ending,” the tale comes to its proper conclusion and there is satisfaction in that.


It’s 1994 and Adam, a drug addict from New York City, arrives at a kibbutz in Israel with a medieval sapphire brooch. To redress a past crime, he must give the priceless heirloom to a woman his grandfather loved when he was a Holocaust refugee on the kibbutz fifty years earlier. But first, he has to track this mystery woman down—a task that proves more complicated than expected.

On the kibbutz Adam joins other lost souls: Ulya, the ambitious and beautiful Soviet émigrée; Farid, the lovelorn Palestinian farmhand; Claudette, the French Canadian Catholic with OCD; Ofir, the Israeli teenager wounded in a bus bombing; and Ziva, the old Socialist Zionist firebrand who founded the kibbutz.

Driven together by love, hostility, hope, and fear, their fates become forever entangled as they each get one last shot at redemption.

In the middle of that fateful summer glows the magnificent brooch with its perilous history spanning three continents and seven centuries. With insight and beauty, Safekeeping tackles that most human of questions: How can we expect to find meaning and happiness when we know that nothing lasts?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Is this what it takes for a bookstore to survive?

I walk in expecting to see books.

Instead I find blankets,

and serving dishes. Yes, I'm going to read while my guests visit.

and this little guy which I was tempted to buy. After all it had a built in screw driver.

I passed by more dishes, ornaments, toss cushions, purses, greeting cards and paper products ( which made some sense in a book store), skin care products and then spotted diapers and wipes. Who can read with a baby in the house?

Well maybe if you plunk them into one of these....

Yes, there were books too. I made it to the till with my choices and ran into these counters.

Oh, and let's not bypass these for that baby.

And these for ourselves on a cold winter's night.