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.