Monday, November 28, 2016 Word of the Year 2016: Xenophobia

I receive a daily email from giving me their choice for Word of the Day.  The words are chosen, I'm sure, for their distinctness, current event interest or literary opulence.  Sometimes the word of the day is one I recognize and use in my vocabulary, sometimes it's a completely new word for me.

In today's group of emails came the Word of the Year for 2016:  xenophobia, a noun meaning (according to 
1.  fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers:  Xenophobia and nationalism can be seen as a reaction to the rise of globalization.
2.  fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself:  Learning a foreign language can help to overcome xenophobia.

Here's the link to's explanation of the choice of the word as Word of the Year: Word of the Year: Xenophobia

What are you thoughts about the choice of the word and the reasons for the choice?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Little Vivaldi to Begin the Christmas Season, Guatemala Style

Cousin Linda and I went to la Iglasia del Hermano Pedro (Brother Peter Church) last night to enjoy a Vivaldi concert.

First, let me tell you a little bit about Hermano Pedro, the patron saint of Guatemala.  He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 30, 2002.  Born in the Canary Islands in 1626 he was a shepherd until his early 20s, when he set out for Guatemala, hoping to find a relative there.  First he arrived in Cuba practically destitute and stayed there to earn money for the remainder of his quest to get to Guatemala.  When he arrived in Antigua he entered the Jesuit College but was unable ("unqualified") to complete the course to become a priest.  He became a Franciscan brother and became known as Hermano Pedro.

He spent his early years visiting the sick in hospitals, jails and their homes; later, in 1663,  he founded the first hospital for the convalescent care of the poor and homeless.  Obra Sociales del Hermano Pedro (Social Work Hospital of Brother Pedro) is alive and well in Antigua to this day, four centuries later.  The hospital receives no aid from the Guatemalan government, relying solely on donations for its operations.  The church and the hospital are havens for Guatemala's poor and inform; Linda has been a volunteer in the pediatric department for all of the eight years she's lived in Guatemala, never tiring of her dedication to make a positive difference in the lives of these needy children, some of whom pass their entire lives inside the walls, receiving incredibly good care and love through the continued dedication of the followers of Santo Hermano Pedro.  It is truly an inspiration to visit.

Last night a string quartet (with the addition of a trumpet and oboe) and a wonderful chorale group came to Antigua to perform a lovely concert of works by the Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).  What a lovely beginning to the Christmas season, Guatemala style.  The concert was performed with the group actually on the altar of the church.  Donations of any amount, large or small, were accepted but not mandatory.

Linda and I sat in the first row of pews.  In front of us were several adult convalescent residents of
Hermano Pedro Hospital, who were mesmerized by the performance

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Received the link to a very interesting blog post this morning and thought I'd share it.  I, like many, was distraught over the recent presidential campaign and election.  Now it's time to come to grips with WHAT IS and move forward.

Maybe you'll enjoy this article / post too.

Seven Ways to Create a Positive Path Forward after This Election

The day before the election I was doing some last minute shopping in the great Roseville Mall (knowing I'd not see the likes of it upon my return to Guatemala); it was just a day before the election and I saw, in a gift-store window, the perfect present for my cousin Linda in Antigua.  It was a pair of "Hillary" socks.  I walked into the store and found that the pair in the window was the last pair; the sales lady was happy to climb into the window display to get them for me.  $13 later I had the socks in hand an couldn't wait to give them to Linda upon my return.  Well, yesterday I did give them to her and I thought she was going to cry, which she says she's done a lot of since November 8th.  Finally, she said, "I will wear them to bed since there won't be an inauguration party for this girl."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

PLEONASM - Word of the Day 11/16/16

Pleonasm:  \PLEE - uh - nah - uh m\
1)  the use of more words than necessary to express an idea; redundancy.
2)  an instance of this, as free gift  or try fact.

As the standard of mentality has risen, just so has the dictum of man gone forth that he must and will do his own thinking.  He no longer wishes to have thought iterated and reiterated and hammered upon him again and again.  Pleonasm is repellent to him.
-- Jack London, "Phenomena of Literary Evolution,"  The Bookman,  Volume XII, September 1900 - February 1901.

After having spent time with Jeff's family (Jeff, Alice, Malia and Samantha, almost 17) and Kari's family (Kari, David, Quinn (28), Addison (24), Holland (22), Avery, Tate and Spencer (17 next week)), I've been reminded that my texts, emails, blog posts, etc. are too WORDY.  Well!  My son-in-law, David, even tells me that he knows people who don't even read past the first two lines of an email! And, some people who don't read their emails at all!  Yikes!

Those of us from the generations who actually wrote letters to friends and relatives who didn't live within our telephone no-long-distance-zone thought we were ever so modern when we graduated (or lowered ourselves) to email.  Now, some people don't read it!

I've enjoyed having the time to study a bit more about my language, as well as Spanish and French; I've come full circle from thinking mine is the most reasonable language - to - mine is impossible to spell and pronounce - to - mine is a pretty great language after all.  I intend to keep up my enthusiasm and endeavor to better my grammar, spelling, punctuation and pronunciation - in Spanish, French, and especially English.

If I develop the ability to make my written word more fluid and pleasant to read, I fully intend to do so - even if I resort to 


Thinking About a Return to Blogging

November 16, 2016

A long time has passed without a single word from me.  I've been thinking about all my 'virtual' friends a lot lately; a few weeks ago I started thinking about jotting down some thoughts in blog-land.  Well, here goes:

I returned Monday from over 10 weeks in California, having finally had my second total knee replacement, this time the left.  Now I have two bionic knees and am happy as I can be with both of them. I flew to Sacramento on the 1st of September and had the surgery on the 13th.  Because I'd spent the last year being very diligent about my gym participation, I'd lost considerable weight and had built some really good muscle mass, making both the surgery and the recovery much easier than even I'd hoped.  I was in and out of the hospital in just over 24 hours and was up an walking right away (with a little protection help of a walker - I didn't like the idea of being bumped into!).  I even started walking outside my daughter's house in the second week; even made it to a restaurant or two that week too.

I was completely discharged from MD care about three weeks ago and spent the last two in California visiting friends and having fun. I so enjoyed seeing my grandchildren - the twins and triplets are all getting ready to turn 17!  That, in itself, is hard to believe.  All five of them are driving and going every which way from morning 'til night.
This is 5'7" Mimi with (from Left) Tate 6'3", Avery 6'1"
 and Spencer 6'5"

 The photo was taken in September on the occasion of Quinn's engagement brunch.  Yes, Quinn, who had the disastrous "left at the altar" episode in her life has found love again.  This time with Jordan, who will be welcomed into the family on April 29, 2017.  I'll leave that story for another day.  Suffice it to say we're thrilled and here they are:
Quinn and Jordan.  Quinn met Jordan a while after the disastrous
wedding call-off and he offered to be a friend!  Voila!
To Jordan's left is Quinn's dad David, very interested in the brunch
menu.  All this in Napa, California.
Jordan had asked David for Quinn's hand and then planned a whole weekend in the Wine Country.  He proposed in a vineyard (with photographer at the ready) and we surprised Quinn by arriving for the engagement brunch the next morning.  Fun, fun, fun!

More to come!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Leo; April 11, 1905!

April 11, 2016 - Happy Birthday, Dad.  You'd be 111-years-old today!

Leo Francis Ryan, born April 11, 1905 to James Francis Ryan and Agnes (née Kuus) Ryan, the youngest, and only boy, in Meriden, Connecticut.  He spent 30 years in the military service - first Navy for four years, then Army for 26.

Thinking of my dad on this beautiful Spring day in Antigua, Guatemala.  I don't have access to many old, old photos to share; but, here are a few:

1943 - After nine years of marriage Mary-Patricia (Patsy) was welcomed
into the Ryan family on February
3rd.  This photo was taken sometime in the Spring of 1943.

Because I was born in the middle of WWII, Dad was gone for much of my infancy and early childhood.  My memories of him almost aways include his being in one of his uniforms.  And, even when he was in civilian clothes he was always impeccably dressed and groomed.  He was a serious person; however, I always felt so loved and cherished.

Wedding day, September 17, 1960 - Marilyn Turville, Dad, me, and
 Susan Votaw - heading into St. Justin's Catholic Church,
Santa Clara, California

At the time of my wedding in 1960, Dad was retired from the military.  He was unable to participate in the wedding rehearsal and I remember the night before the ceremony, he practiced the "cadence" of  the wedding march down the aisle - to make sure he would be in perfect step!  An introvert by nature, the whole wedding day was a challenge to his sensibilities, but he carried it off with love and it was a wonderful day!

Wedding Reception Left to right:
Brother Jim (16), Dad Leo, Mom Dorothy, me (17), John (almost 22), John's mom Doug, John's dad Spence,
John's sister-in-law Barb, John's brother Larry

Oh, how time flies.  Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.

Friday, March 11, 2016

And, After Another Long Pause, the Story Continues . . .

March 11, 2016

Again a long pause in writing!  It's not for lack of material, but time!  During these last several weeks, I've been spending lots of time and energy making my little rented casita a real home for Lacy, Eleanor, and me.
It's been quite a treat to watch  Vulcan El Fuego, as it's been erupting almost every single day for the last
several months.  This is a shot taking right at sunset, when the lava flow is a little difficult to see.  At times, the entire upper area around the crater is spectacularly glowing, flowing lava in the darkness of the night.
First, we painted all the interior walls "piña colada" yellow, a soft, but happy color.  Then, I had some furniture built - a round table and six chairs for the dining area, along with four comfortable chairs for the living area.  The whole casita (little house) consists of a living- / dining- / kitchen- in one room and one bedroom.  There's a nice bathroom and lovely wall-in closet with all built-in drawers and closet hanging.  I've befriended a fantastic carpenter / painter / fix-it man, Cesar, who's been working almost non-stop for weeks.

After having the dining table and chairs built and delivered, I decided I wanted to turn the set into a spectacular work of art; I found an artist, Leonardo Ricardo, an ex-pat from California, who has also become a good friend and has created a spectacular piece of art - my dining room table.  I shared with him that I like blues and wanted the tabletop to say something about El Fuego.  It's a work in progress, but last Friday I gave my first dinner party, using the new table.
Currently Cesar is prepping the chairs (sanding) and will paint them a midnight blue so
 they won't compete with the tabletop.  Check out the center base and feet of the table.

This is a not-so-representive closeup, but, if you look closely you may see some almost
 invisible 'stripes' representing El Fuego.  And, more easily seen are splotches of an
iridescent orange representing spurts of lava that fly out of the crater to then flow
 down the sides of the volcano.

It's such a fun process - so much more relaxed than when I tried to decorate, work, raise kids, take care of a husband, etc!  Today, Cesar spent lots of time sanding chairs, buying paint and brushes, etc. for painting next week.  We also went to the glass man - all shopping within a couple of blocks of my house(!) - and he cut some pieces of glass to put in a couple of food cabinet doors to minimize the view of foodstuffs while sitting at the table!

See the Guatemala versions of "Kitchen Witches" sitting on the top of the cabinet.  They're "Kitchen Angels!"
I continue to do volunteer work, almost on a daily basis; mostly teaching English right now.  Later I'll be helping to buy equipment and furnish a new surgery center that will be built here in Antigua by one of the wonderful foundations - this one will be performing cleft lip and palate surgeries for patients from all over Guatemala.

On another note:  One of the foundations I work for gave a Venetian Masquerade Gala a couple of weeks ago; the turnout was fantastic and everybody arrived in costume.

Cousin Linda Champagne and I got ourselves all dressed up for the ball.  Costumes were
 created by a wonderfully talented German ex-pat from clothes she buys in the
"Paca" (used clothing that's shipped here from Canada and the US and sold for
practically nothing to the hard-working, albeit poor people of Guatemala).
Both of our costumes probably cost a grand total of $30!!!!
One last note for this post:  We're in the full bloom of Cuaresma - the Lenten Season - Antigua's Semana Santa - Holy Week - is something to be seen, at least once in your life.  There are processions and processions all during the forty days of Lent; this coming Sunday's will be from the church in San Bartolomé Becerra and it will process in front of our little compound.  So, tomorrow night we will be out in the street making an "alfombra" (carpet) for the procession to pass over on Sunday.  I plan to be out with my Guatemalan neighbors in "haciendo penitencia" (doing penance) making a beautiful carpet that will welcome the procession.  Hopefully I'll have some beautiful photos to share.  

For now, here are a few photos I took last year.  These carpets are made out of dyed sawdust, fruits, vegetables, etc.  The work is magnificent, each is unique, and there are literally hundreds of them put together during the whole Lenten season, but during Semana Santa, it's one of the most amazing 'celebrations' in the World.

Such almost unbelievable color, artistry, and detail

A stunning carpet in black, gray, and white

Families, neighbors, and friends spend hours, days, weeks, and months planning and
constructing these masterpieces

All vegetables

Just take a look at the length of this alfombra - it's almost 2 blocks long!