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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Changing of the Guard

Well it's been a week since we arrived.  Oddly, it seems like we've been here much longer; as if it's where we belong!  Three couples have departed;  a new couple has arrived, and another is due in today.  Over the years we have met so many of Fred and Kat's special friends and are always delighted to find we will be overlapping with them, although it's always fun to meet new people.

This is such a unique experience and one reason is that we have the privilege of being here for a whole month, so we see the coming and going of a variety of people.  Each departure and arrival changes the tone, the energy, and the discussion.  It's sort of like signing up for four weeks at Chautauqua and getting four different experiences.

We had a very interesting discussion the other night.  Fred proffered that the two fields where we are seeing the most important advances are Physics and Astronomy.  As proof he said, "the number of electrons that can go through the head of a pin in a second is the same number of drops of water that go over Niagra Falls in one hundred years, and it takes 8 minutes for light to reach the Earth from the Sun;  it takes 100,000 years for light to reach the Earth from the farthest star in the Milky Way (of which the Earth is a part.)"

The discussion continued as we realized that electrons are much large than nanotrons and whether we have any understanding of physics, we certainly know that electrons are ubiquitous in our lives.  I like sharing my computer story of when, right after college, I went to work for Pan American Airlines in the Pan Am building in NYC.  Pan Am had just acquired their  Panamac computer which took up the entire 47th floor of the PaAm building.  We used to go up to see it- hermetically sealed in a room with airconditioning to prevent it from overheating;  enormous reels turning.  I was told not too long ago that my iPhone has more computing power than that computer, taking up the entire  47th floor had in 1967!!

All we could do was marvel and wonder what kind of a world it will be in the not so distant future.

Fridays are Natalia's days off, so that's when we take Fred and Kat out for lunch and dinner.  Last Friday we went to my two favorite places.  We had lunch at Las Mananitas which I have featured in many of my previous Mexican blogs.  It's where the albino peacocks roam freely and the parrots talk vociferously.  It's also where we imbibe margaritas before lunch which really takes its toll for the rest of the day!

Then for dinner, we go to Gustos.  It's a delightful small hotel not far from our house with an excellent restaurant and an amazing staff.  Fred and Kat really like this place so I am hoping that we will go back every Friday before we leave as there are so many things I want to try on their menu.  Last Friday I had a delicious corn soup that came in a hollowed out gourd.  Then for my main course, I had salmon that had a guava sauce and it was delicious.  In addition to being scrumptious, the food is also presented in such a beautiful way.  The Caesar salad is made at the tableside as well as many other dishes.  The favorite dessert is figs prepared in a delicious sauce that is flambeed at the table and served with a dollop of cheese ice-cream.  Yum!

And you might be interested in the exchange rate.  I think it is the highest that I remember:  about 20 pesos to the dollar.  There were ten of us for dinner at Gustos- a really beautiful, classy restaurant.  We had margaritas and drinks before dinner.  Many had appetizers and everyone had a delicious main course.  Most had wine with their meal and there were several shared desserts.  Just think about that and ponder what a meal like that would cost you in the states.  The bill for an exquisite dinner for TEN people came to 5000 pesos - equal to a bit more than $25.00 a person!!

I also went to buy some shampoo and creme rinse at Woolworths and the bill for both bottles was 64 pesos.  That's about $3.50!!  For both!!

I was a Trump junkie before arriving here in Cuernavaca, but I have been amazed at how easy it has been to wean myself from my daily dose.  We briefly discuss the Yahoo and AOL headlines that we see on our computers such as the First woman to do a triple axel at the Olympics, or Netanyahu's possible indictment.  But the discussion rarely goes further than an acknowledgment as we have no talking heads or panels of professionals feeding our habits.  We were a bit more curious about the Obama's Official portraits, and Fred has sent us all David Brook's editorial about "The End of the Two-Party System" which we all plan to read and discuss tomorrow night at margarita time.  But I highly recommend, as an experiment,  turning off all your news feeds for a day or so.  I think you'll find you haven't missed much of anything and your life just might be more interesting!

A real luxury of Cuernavaca is the ability to read without interruption.  As I mentioned before, there is a table where people place books thaey have brought and they are up for grabs to anyone who might be interested.  Here,  I have discovered Donna Leon.  I had heard about her from many friends, so I picked up her 10th book, A Sea of Troubles and have delighted in her writing, thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of Venice,  and found a new friend in Brunetti, her charming and cunning detective.  Not sure what book I will pick up next!

Well I think I'll send this on for now.  Stay tuned as I sense there are some very interesting discussions coming up.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

2018- Back In Paradise

When I dislocated my hip three weeks ago, one of the first things I said to Loren as I was writhing in pain on the kitchen floor was, "I'm going to Mexico!"  Nothing was going to stop me, as, after only one full day here, I know why.  It's just glorious!  Fabulous people, amazing food, impeccable weather and invigorating conversation.  I am calling it my "Cuernavaca Rehab Center" and it's better tonic than any doctor could have prescribed!

We were given what Fred refers to "the bridal suite" although "that's putting the cart before the horse," he was quick to remind us!  I retorted that "Sorry Fred, but that horse is already out of the barn!"  Here is a panoramic view of our bedroom:

 And lest you forgot... here is what we are calling "home" for the next month!

Our political talk has been almost nonexistent.  We only get Fox News here on TV which is so awful that we haven't been watching it.  We'll get an occasional update from someone who saw that Nancy Pelosi talked for over 8 hours in 4-inch heels, but then we all seem to shrug and continue on with other conversations.  Some of the topics so far have included a recounting of hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro, a two-week walking tour from the east coast of England to the west coast, Ruppert Murdoch, the quirkiness of birding, a lot about the political and art scenes of Chicago and many more.  The "book table" contains a wide variety:  Donna Leon's latest detective story from Venice, a number of Economists, The Elements of Typographic Style, Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, and Architectural Digest.

There is a lovely American couple who live next door.  Gail and Phil George have an incredible house that was once in Architectural Digest and that Fred and Kat had rented for two years.  Gail & Phil invited us all over for cocktails on Wednesday afternoon.  I wish I had some pictures to show you as the home is indescribable.  It was really fun for me, as it brought back many memories of when we had stayed there.  The house is modern with an overall white motif.  But the artwork, furnishings, and murals are astounding.  Phil had been in the CIA before becoming an architect himself.  He created the design for the old Braniff Airlines terminal.  Gail is a gracious and energetic host, and Sergio, a key member of their staff, makes killer margaritas!  We had a lovely time and returned home just in time for Gilberto to announce that dinner was "listo."
 Fred and Kat Hickman, Gail and Phil George sitting in the front row with the Hickman guests behind.

One couple, Judy and Lester, have made a tradition of bringing something for the group to read in preparation for a collective discussion.  One year they brought Thurber's Secret Life of Walter Mitty, another year it was a Garrison Keillor piece.  This year, for some reason, they decided to challenge us with a section of a book called Aging Thoughtfully by two very erudite professors from the University of Chicago.  The piece they selected for us was Aging and Friendship written by Martha C. Nussbaum, a doctor of philosophy.  She crafts her thoughts around a large collection of letters written between Cicero and his friend Atticus.  Lester opened our discussion asking us if we wanted to emphasize form or function.  I was already out of my element.  We were a little shaky with the Cicero/Atticus conversation, but there were some wonderful exchanges about friendship and aging when we allowed ourselves to get personal:  The older one gets, the more important friendship is;  there needs to be some shared values but differences can strengthen friendship; the ultimate friendship involving trust and forgiveness is found in a marriage;  our culture tends to make older people feel invisible;  some were reluctant to reveal their age in public fearing they would be dismissed as not having anything to contribute.  It was also revealed that having obvious physical difficulties like walking made one constantly being helped and aided without being asked when in fact we'd really like to do most things ourselves and keep our independence even if it might be at a slower pace.  The discussion ended after dinner while we were all having coffee in the salon.  Judy quoted Cato from our handout:  "Old age is honored only on condition that it defends itself, maintains its rights, is subservient to no one, and to the last breath rules over its own domain."   She then continued to say how the assembled group perfectly exemplified this quote.  Fred and Kat have the most incredible social network around them that they have nurtured over many years;  we were active people traveling, volunteering, getting involved in civic and art programs, painting, singing, attending classes and in so many ways staying alive and well.  We ranged in age from 70-90 and we decided, at least for our short stay in Cuernavaca, we weren't old!

Enough for now.  Hasta Luego.