Sunday, March 4, 2018

Jazz Festival and more conversations...

All week long we've been seeing big signs advertising a Jazz Festival at the Cuernavaca Cultural Center, so we were determined to go and check it out.  It turned out to be a delightful afternoon.  The Cultural Center looks quite recent.  It is directly across from the Aztec ruins, so it appears to have created an architectural resemblance to the pyramids.

Loren in front of some artwork at the Cultura Center

There were several hundred people there attending the festival and it was totally free for everyone.  We only sat in one room although when I went to their website, I saw that there are an indoor theater and other rooms.  It's a lovely space.  The festival was running from noon to 7:00 pm.  We arrived around three and listened to three 45-minute sets.  The first one we really liked and they even had a tap dancer for Loren!  The last two had some good songs, but for the most part were that kind of repetitive jazz that starts to get tiring.  But the crowd really liked everything and it was fun to be a part of the Cuernavaca scene.

Vicky and Bob Parsons arrived last night;  Sonja and Conrad left to go back to Chicago this morning, and Jane and Don Hunt have just arrived from Chicago.  This is the last changing of the guard.  Loren and I can't believe that today begins our final week here.  The time has gone by so quickly, and although it will be good to get home, it has been a wonderful visit.

Stay tuned for this week's discussions...

WOW!!!  Something seems to be happening.  We have been talking about the Parkland shootings, the NRA, assault weapons, and "what can we do?"  Fred passed around an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan.  It is called The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe.  It's a bit controversial, and my sister, Carol, and I have had a few go-arounds about it, but I find it compelling. It is very clear that we are living in combative times.  Right vs. the Left; Conservative vs. Liberals;  Right to Choose vs. Right to Life.  And the word "compromise" doesn't seem to have any meaning to either side.  Noonan raises two issues where proponents seem to be entrenched in their positions:  abortion and gun control.

Noonan says that recently the Senate blocked a bill that would have banned late-term abortions (20 months - or right up to the 6th month of pregnancy) and included the exceptions of rape, incest, and the health of the mother.  Pro-lifers argued there is a slippery slope from banning late-term abortions to banning abortions altogether.  NO COMPROMISE POSSIBLE.

Pro-NRAers feel the same way about assault weapons.  As soon as we say AK-47's are illegal, we're on a slippery slope to banning all guns.  NO COMPROMISE POSSIBLE.

Now as a liberal who believes in a woman's right to choose, I have NO problem with banning late-term abortions.  Five months for a woman to exert her right to choose gives her plenty of time.  It's part of the abortion bill where we can certainly compromise.

I would think that any pro-gun advocate would also not lose sleep if assault weapons of war were banned.  People would still be able to own handguns to protect their families and go hunting.  To take weapons of war out of the hands of civilians does not seem to weaken the second amendment. It's part of the NRA lobby where we can certainly compromise.

BUT- leave it to Congress and the politicians and we will be talking about this after the next shooting...and the next... and the next...  Trump has been all over the place, and the sales of guns have skyrocketed since Parkland.

Yet there's hope:  There's hope in the passion of the high school kids that aren't quitting.  I am so impressed with these teens, and it's spreading across the country.  I look forward to seeing the turnout for the march on Washington.  They are savvy, articulate, and using social media to insist that their voices are heard.

And there's hope in the reaction of Delta Air Lines and Dick's Sporting Goods who are taking a risk but also taking a moral stand.  If you find yourself asking, "What can I do?" you can support Dick's Sporting Goods.  Lest you think there are only balls and golf clubs available, they are selling Calia, a line of women's clothing by Carrie Underwood that is soft, stylish and great items.  Go to their website and take a look.  Then buy something.  If all NRA supporters boycott Dick's, (and they will) it could have a very negative effect on the store.  So if you want to show your support for gun control, let's put Dick's over the top!!  They are calling it a Buycott instead of a Boycott!!!

I sense something is afoot this time that might just begin to erode the steel grip the NRA seems to have.  I had always thought the Congress was going to have to do something, but now I'm sensing there are other ways to go.  Businesses, young people, and hopefully other voices and organizations will lead the way.  Where are the churches?  What about voices from our prisons? What about our police forces?   Keep your eyes and ears open and add your voice when you can.  #ENOUGH!

Last night, we shared the Refugee Poem (that is printed on the blog, "Food for the Heart, Body, and Mind,") and again had a good discussion.  Fred is not a big fan of poetry, and he especially dislikes the modern poetry that doesn't rhyme.  Poetry is supposed to rhyme!  Vicky and I disagreed with Fred and we have promised him two poems today that we hope will begin to change his mind.  Vicky is going to find a Mary Oliver poem and I am going to read The Lanyard by Billy Collins.  I'll let you know how it goes over!

Today is Friday, Natalia's day off.  So we'll be out for our last lunch and dinner on the town.  Not sure where we'll end up, but I always like going out.

We had a great day yesterday.  We went to a beautiful golf club for lunch and to a French restaurant, Le Provence, for dinner.  The chef/owner of Le Provence is quite a character.  He always comes out to the table to tell us what his specials are and there is always the duck pate that is the recipe of his grandmother.  We asked him where he was from and he said Ile de Re which is a small island south of Brittany.  We were curious how he happened to get to Mexico, and in his charming French accent he said, "Ah, that's a long story!"  He was a young man and an Australian family came to the island to visit with their beautiful daughter.  He fell in love and when the family returned to Melbourne, he sold everything he had to get the plane fare to fly to Austrailia.  When he got there, her father took him aside and told him he was very sorry, but his daughter was getting married in two months.  So he left Austrailia to see a friend in San Francisco and met a chef who wanted to go to Mexico.  He had always wanted to see Mexico, so he came with him.  He's been here for 32 years.

Today I went with Vicky to the beauty parlor.  She got her hair washed and blow-dried and I got my nails done again before coming home!  The little beauty shop was a one-gal operation and amazingly, there was no running water.  The lady poured a bucket of water in the sink and ladled out the water to wash and rinse Vicky's hair.  In the end, it looked great!!  Then we made our last trip to Sonya's silver shop and Las Mananitas before lunch.

So last night was our "defense of free verse" evening.  Vicky chose Mary Oliver's A Summer Day, and I chose Billy Collin's Lanyard.  We were going to try to show Fred that not all good poetry needs to rhyme.  Here are the two poems:

A Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

The Lanyard
by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Fred provoked a really fun discussion by asking, "What is Poetry?"  That's an impossible question to answer but we thought poetry encouraged us to think differently;  to expand the way we looked at the world;  to unlock another dimension;  to entertain, to teach, to inspire.  Then we began to reminisce about how poetry played a part in our own lives.  Parents had poetry books by their bedside tables;  children were asked to memorize and recite poetry.  

One of the guests, Jane, a Jane Austen fanatic, told about a poem she wrote as a toast to Jane Austen for her birthday.  There was a contest and she won the regional competition and went on to win the nationals with a short but very sweet toast.  Here it is:

On this occasion for Jane,
I’d like to be perfectly plain.
It is most sagacious, and not Austentacious
To toast her achievements again!

The Parsons leave today and then tomorrow is our last day here.  It's been fantastic and I am in awe of Kat and Fred.  Watching them so graciously welcome such a diverse, interesting group of guests over the month has been truly amazing.  They are unique, wonderful people and it is an honor to be a member of this "non-family."  (That's an in-joke for Fred!)


Friday, February 23, 2018

Democrat meets a true Trump Supporter... and more...

Last year I was relishing the thought of coming down to Cuernavaca and having amazing discussions with Republican friends about the man they elected.  However, I was quite taken aback when at one point I asked the assembled group of guests, "How many of you in this room voted for Donald Trump?" and not one hand was raised.  Now, none of them voted for Hillary- but I was very surprised that these long-time Republicans could not vote for their party's candidate.

Fast forward to Cuernavaca 2018, and I was delighted to hear that a very well informed, well read and articulate guest proudly announced she had voted for Trump and was very happy with his first-year performance.  She claims she is a capitalist,  and Trump has done wonderful things for capitalism in this country.  When I asked her to elaborate she mentioned the tax plan, which has not had any changes since Reagan 27 years ago, that will be very good for business.  She said because of the de-regulation that Trump has forced through executive decision, corporations are bringing business and money back to the United States.

When I asked her if she wasn't somewhat appalled about his divisiveness, his mean-spiritedness, his debasing tweets, she said she just ignores all of that.  He's a despicable man, but if he's able to do things that will benefit this country she's willing to accept his foibles.

She later told me that Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson, like Trump, were change agents.  They were renegade, unconventional men that rattled things up and upended the status quo.  The Bushes, Clinton, Obama were not change agents.  They were unable to make any significant alterations to business as usual.

And now it seems that Trump has asked Sessions and the Justice Department to ban bump stock guns - something that no president has been able to do for years.  If Trump can force things through that are good for this country, then Sonia can ignore all the unconventional and unpresidential mannerisms and say he's doing a great job.

This makes me ponder about our political system.  When Obama took office, it was reported that Mitch McConnell said, "‘my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president."  He didn't succeed, but it came clear that any legislation proposed by the Democrats was going to be defeated by any means possible.  Perhaps the biggest win of McConnell's was in preventing Obama's Supreme Court Justice nominee, Gorsuch, from ever coming before Congress.  And indeed, Obama was prevented from doing much of what he wanted to do.  At the last minute, he used his Executive privilege to put many things into effect and then Trump comes along and with the flourish of a grand signature, he has undone many of them.

Now it seems that Pelosi, Schumer, and the Democrats are trying as best they can to shut down the Republican agenda.  If Rubio or Cruz had won the Republican nominee and gone on to become president, would they have been able to pass the tax bill; would they have used the executive power to undo many of the regulations?  Or is the definition of a real change agent someone who lives outside the box, breaks the mold, and is seen as unconventional?

In this particular discussion, I'm not concerning myself with policy.  I'm not debating whether the de-regularizing is good for the county or the tax bill will be beneficial, or even if capitalism is a sound system.  Our political system is mired in a bi-polar bi-partisanship.  I have recently wished that we could form a movement that would unseat EVERY incumbent running for office in 2018.  They've done a lousy job and don't belong in office!  But if we did that, who would we get to replace them?  Do we need to look for crass, hypocritical, egotistical, flawed people who share our views and will get things done?  

I think not.  I have to believe there are good, decent, inspirational leaders who are willing to run for political office that, through their strength of character, will be able to bring about the changes needed to make this country great.  Is it not saying the means justify the ends by praising Trump for his actions but ignoring the way he brings these changes about?

Maybe we can all agree on something Sonia shared with us today:  "Democracy is rambunctious!!"

So much to think about...

Dinner conversation revolved around a lot of names - many of them from Chicago. I wasn't familiar with any of them but it is actually quite fascinating to just sit back and listen to all the connections.  So and so married the daughter of so and so who was the heir of the such and such dynasty.  Then they started to talk about a name I knew:  Ken Griffey.  My ears picked up!  Were they going to start talking baseball?  It turned out it was Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois.  He started trading while a student at Harvard, and now he is the most successful Hedge Fund Trader in the country.  Fred said he was worth $8 billion dollars.  When there was a lull in the conversation, I asked Sonia if she would consider Ken Griffin to be the epitome of capitalism at its best.  She said, "Yes. " His success certainly is an example of capitalism working.

It was time to leave the table and go into the drawing room for our evening coffee where the conversation continued.  I had to say that I view someone like Ken Griffin as an example of capitalism gone awry.  I continue to think something is wrong with our society that puts such value on hedge fund dealers or athletes who make millions while teachers are paid so poorly for their contributions.  I acknowledge that athletes and hedge funds generate money while teachers only generate ideas and hopefully contributing citizens.

Conrad encouraged me to think about the center rather than the extremes.  In a socialist society, there is a tremendous gap between the rich and the poor, while in a capitalist country the middle ground is much wider.  Fred claimed, rightly, that there is always going to be disparities.  I responded that I am not trying to get rid of the rich and I don't believe we will ever be without poverty.  However, capitalism is flawed and needs some corrections.  

For example, when I hear about a highly (too highly) paid CEO who is caught for corruption or has run the company into the ground with poor management and then is given a golden parachute for millions of dollars.  If I, as a teacher, were found guilty of something immoral or was deemed to be a poor teacher, I would be thrown out and my salary terminated.  All seemed to agree that the high corporate salaries were outlandish.  Conrad offered an interesting history of how it all began with Goldman and Solomon who were partners.  They paid out all their employees and stockholders and were left with the rest.  Managers of other firms realized they weren't getting near the kind of compensation the Goldman/Solomon partners were, so they decided to bring some equity to their compensation and away it went.  

Fred aptly pointed out that the remedy for this is doomed as it is the CEOs and the Boards who make the decisions about the salaries of the managers.  It's like the Congress voting to decrease their own salaries and compensation - it's unlikely to happen!  I find myself asking once again, "Is this capitalism at work?"

Our next interesting discussion was something Fred raised:  What is the purpose of Memorials and did we think the 9/11 memorial was appropriate.  I had just been to the 9/11 Memorial when I visited Clo and Arthur in their new house in NJ in September.  I didn't go into the museum, but we did walk all around the two blocks of water that were surrounded by the names of all the victims and first responders.  There was an atmosphere of solemnity and reverence.  On some of the names, a white rose was placed.  I asked someone what that indicated and was told that it meant it was the birthday of that particular victim.  I thought this was really lovely and it brought it home that it was not just the Twin Towers that had fallen but many human beings with names and birthdays as well.  So I was ready to defend the 9/11 Memorial with no reservation.

But then the discussion got interesting.  9/11 was a horrible thing with over 3000 innocent people dying.  Are we honoring them?  The names on the Vietnam War Memorial are being honored for their sacrifice to our country.  They gave up their lives in the hopes of keeping us free.  What about other tragedies?  Should we build a monument when over 100 people are killed in a train accident?  Or what about those people who lost their lives or their homes in the Katrina floods?  Should there be a monument to them?  

I asked Fred to name a few monuments that he thought were valid and he mentioned the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington as examples.  These monuments were recognizing greatness and honoring noble men who had a tremendous influence on our country.  There was really nothing noble about 9/11.

I looked up the meaning of monument in the Oxford Dictionary and it gave two definitions:  1)  To give honor to an individual and 2)  To remember a certain individual or event.

Certainly, the 9/11 Memorial is one of remembrance.  It was a horrible, horrible event that affected every American.  Certainly, we don't want to just erect two new office buildings on the site and in 25 years have people not even know what, where or why it happened.  Everyone in the discussion, with the possible exception of Fred, thought there should be some Memorial in recognition of such a cataclysmic event.

But then we discovered that this memorial cost over $700,000,000  - (that's 700 million!!!)  At one point the estimated cost was over a billion dollars, but they reigned that in.  Over 300 million was donated by HUD- the Federal housing authority.  Michael Bloomberg gave $15 million.  The Congress was supposed to vote to give $20 million/year to help with the $60 million/year maintenance and upkeep, but they reneged on that, so to help raise the funds they are charging $24.00 a ticket to go down and see the museum underneath the Memorial, and raising enough money to maintain it is an on-going problem.  

A favorite Memorial of mine is the Vietnam Memorial Wall done by Maya Lin.  I researched the cost of that and found that it cost eight million dollars, all or most of which was DONATED money.  So it gets one thinking.  Even though I thought the 9/11 Memorial was really beautiful, the cost spent on it seems quite outlandish.

I'm sure emotions fed into the plans for the 9/11 dedication, but emotions are most likely a part of all decisions involving monuments.  I'd like for there to be a monument built to honor and remember every child and adult that were gunned down in a school shooting.  It's not that they did anything honorable, but I want something tangible, lest we forget the senseless violence that plagues this country.  It seems our collective outrage only lasts a few months and then life goes back to normal.  We can't solve a problem unless we remember that there is a problem.  But an $8 million dollar wall that brings honor and respect to over 1,118,000 (both military and civilian deaths) is a very powerful and moving testament to those lost.  A lavish memorial with two 1-acre pools with the largest man-made waterfalls in the United States comprise the footprints of the Twin Towers, symbolizing the loss of life and the physical void left by the attacks. The waterfalls are intended to mute the sounds of the city, making the site a contemplative sanctuary. Landscape architect Peter Walker planted many parts of the memorial with white oaks. More than 400 swamp white oak trees fill the Memorial Plaza, enhancing the site's reflective nature.* (Taken from Wikipedia)  The fact that this memorial cost over $700 million to remember 3000 victims gives me pause.  In a way, ALL Americans were victims on 9/11 so one could say that the memorial really honors over 300 million people...  does that make it worth it?

Well, I think that's enough discussion for now.  It is Friday, Natalia, the cooks, day off which means we eat all our meals out.  We had a nice lunch overlooking the Zocalo this afternoon and are heading off to Las Mananitas to see the birds and have dinner.  Hasta Luego!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Mexican Art

We are all fine after the 7.2 earthquake that occurred Friday near Oaxaca.  We all felt some shaking, but Oaxaca is about 400 miles from Cuernavaca so there was no damage.  There was, however, a 7.1 earthquake last September and the epicenter was very near Cuernavaca.  It did a lot of damage which we can still see.  The cathedral is closed and there is a big tent set up on the grounds where mass is given.  Many of the wonderful Diego Rivera murals on Cortez's Castle have crumbled, and the Borda Gardens has yellow tape to prevent visitors from going under archways.

Lest you think that we are only eating and discussing things, I'd like to share some of the wonderful art that abounds in Cuernavaca.  When we went to the George's house for margaritas our first week, they had artwork everywhere.  We were all taken with the artist, Abelardo de la Pena - especially Loren.  He asked Gail George about the artist and they know him well.  Who knows, maybe we'll have an Abelardo print on our walls at 18 Clipper Street.

Speaking of Borda Gardens, there was a new exhibit that Kat wanted to see, so we went to visit.  The artist is Pablo Vigil.  He only uses three colors:  Red, White, and Black.  His work is done with a pen and for much of his work, you could draw a line down the center and it would be a mirror image on both sides.
It took me a while to get into these pictures, but after a while I became enthralled.  There was so much going on in each picture and at times I felt like I was looking at one of those children's books "Where's Waldo."  If you looked long enough, hidden things began to appear.

 He also did ceramic figures which were very whimsical.

There was another exhibit we discovered as we walked further into the gardens.  The artist was Javier de la Garza and they were bold and colorful.

Then yesterday we took our daily trip to the Zocolo and found there was a big tent set up in the center of the square with a cultural arts fair underway.  Much of the work was from Oaxaca.  The colorful crazy-weird animals that are now so popular in the United States, were started by one family in Oaxaca.  I bought some pretty heart earrings made of wood from a very sweet Indian girl.  There were many pieces representing the Day of the Dead.  I have never been drawn to the skulls, but I adored the skeleton on the bicycle!

For those of you who have followed my blog in the past, you may recall that over the 29 years that we have been coming, there has always been an ex-Pat table at the Cafe Universal, headed by Bob, an American in a wheel chair.  Bob was a Vet from the Vietnam War, married to a lovely Mexican woman and living in Cuernavaca for a long time.  Burt was a regular at the table whom we got to know.  He was a teacher at the University of Indiana.  There were other regulars, and we always stopped by their table to say hello.  Unfortunately, Bob died this past year and the table has been empty.  Yesterday, we decided to sit at the table in memory of Bob.  It is the passing of an institution.

On Sunday we made a plan to go into the Zocolo in the afternoon to hear the band play in the little gazebo in the center of the small square.  When we arrived there was a loud drumming sound coming from the large Zocolo and we discovered Native American Indians, dressed in their native clothes, dancing to the beat of the drummers as incense swirled around us.

 Then we went across the street.  I was struck by how many people were milling about.   Young people; people with families; older people.  The shoe shiners were busy at work;  the balloon sellers were making quick sales;  people were buying mangoes and corn on the cob on sticks from street venders.  And this happens in the town square every Sunday.

At 5:00 the brass band began playing in the gazebo.  The first was a march.  Then they played Sinatra's My Way.  It was such a fun atmosphere and you couldn't help but to smile.

On our way to catch a cab home, we passed by a fairly large group of older people who were dancing to the music they had brought on a boom box.  These people had obviously been dancing together for many years or had practiced at home together because they were really great!  I'm not sure what they were dancing- maybe the meringue, but they were very serious and very good.  And they had drawn quite a large audience to watch them.

Judy and Emil left yesterday and Sonia and Conrad arrived.  We haven't seen Sonia and Conrad for several years, so it's delightful to be with them again.  Stay tuned for what the days ahead may unfold.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Food for the Heart, Body and Mind!

Phew:  divergent geometry where parallel lines meet; the tempered scale of 12 notes- is it a mathematical or algorithmic scale?  It's an exponential scale that the Greeks, with their obsession with astronomy, probably brought it about. Einstein physics goes back to the isosceles triangle and the Pythagorean theorem.  My head was spinning and I had to leave the breakfast table to catch my breath!   As Loren said, "The noise that you may hear is a lot of minds being stretched (happily)!!!"

It's only the first day that Emil and Judy have been here.  I always look forward to the discussions even though many of them are way beyond my ability to comprehend.  I just marvel at the minds at work.  Emil works for the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and has been to EVERY county in the world!  Last year I asked if I could see his passport which was very large and very thick with lovely visas stamped throughout.  Judy is a mathematician who until a year ago worked for the National Science Foundation and was very instrumental in establishing a very famous telescope in Chile.  One couple brought a world map down with them that was blank.  The challenge was to write in every country of the world.  When we posed this challenge to Emil he was undaunted.    When someone raised the possibility of getting all the "istan" countries correct, Emil said no problem!  There are 195 countries in the world and it's mind-boggling to me that I know someone who can name them all!!

It was Valentine's Day and the Zocolo was hopping with couples going up on a stage in the middle of the square and then people stated chanting, "Beso, Beso, Beso" and the couple had to kiss!  We surmised it was sponsored by some TV show.  There were heart balloons all over the place.  It is also Ash Wednesday, but there were more balloons than ashes!

Natalia always goes all out for Valentine's Day and she didn't disappoint this year.  The table was decorated with beautiful roses and for dessert, she created a gorgeous heart cake.

Last night we discussed David Brooks' NY Times Editorial called, The End of the Two-Party System.  I found it to be very interesting.  He contrasts the big news items of the 1990's: the reunification of Germany, the Oslo Accords, the end of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa - all things that Brooks says are part of "an abundance mindset" - to the financial crisis of today, the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan politics, the protective borders of 2017 which Brooks describes as the "scarcity mindset.  Trump as the leader of this Scarcity mind set has embraced the Warrior style of governing.  Anyone who isn't with him is against him.  In describing what this style of governance is doing to the country he says, "Eventually, those who cherish the democratic way of life will realize they have to make a much more radical break than they ever imagined. "  We had a very interesting discussion about this and I highly recommend you read the piece.

I just finished the book called The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner.  It's a fun read.  In addition to spending less than one hour watching TV, access to natural light, living near nature and owning a dog among other things, having 4-6 servings of fresh fruit adds to one's happiness quotient. There are actually several components to happiness that occur naturally here in Cuernavaca and the abundance of fruit is only one of them.  Every morning we have a platter of fruit passed around the table with mangos, papayas, bananas, grapefruit, pears, pineapples and watermelon.  Then often our dessert for lunch has fruit in it.

I loved the other day when a whole, peeled mango appeared stuck on a fork for each of us to eat like a delicious lollypop!

I will leave you with a poem that my son, Arthur, sent to me and which I brought down to share with this diverse political group in Cuernavaca.  Hope you enjoy it.

written by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

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