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  • Cynthia Blanton: SMA Writers' Conference and Dead Bodies

    Cynthia Blanton wrote: The San Miguel Writers’ Conference is another reason why I love this city. My husband and I attended in person in February of 2020, purchasing the Readers’ Package since neither of us is a writer, although I make a pretense of it from time to time in this blog. In 2021, we attended virtually. The keynote addresses both years were wonderful, and this year, there have been many new online programs and workshops which are continuing throughout the year.

    My favorite program, and the first writing workshop I have ever taken, is called Silent Write. It takes place once per month and is a non-critique session designed to get people to let loose creatively and just write. The moderator gives the group a prompt and we have 5 minutes to write something. For the second and third prompts, we have 10 minutes to write followed by a 10-minute period where we can clean up the earlier stories or write something new. Then we can share our stories if we wish. It is great fun, and I’m always astonished at what pops into my head as a result of the prompt. Here is an example:

    10 minute prompt: the ring slipped off her finger and fell down the drain

    My story ...

    For the story continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: SMA Writers' Conference and Dead Bodies. More #CynthiaBlanton.

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  • Cynthia Blanton: Mushrooms and fireflies and food! Oh my!

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    Cynthia Blanton wrote: Last week my husband Erich and I spent a marvelous two and a half days of mushroom hunting, firefly watching and enjoying fabulous meals which constituted "The Gourmet Symbiosis Event of Mushroom Expert Arif Towns Alonso and Lic. Chef David Jahnke." The event, limited to 8 people, took place on the private Rancho Calixto in the mountainous region near the Magical town of Amealco de Bonfil, about 85 miles from San Miguel. The area is gorgeous and reminded us a tiny bit of Switzerland with the forested hills and chalet-style homes.

    The ranch is owned by a lovely gentleman named Clemente who is committed to maintaining the area in as natural a condition as possible. Most of his land is a sanctuary and will never be developed, and he does not allow any non-native species there. He and his staff work very hard to preserve the forests, and he even has a herd of endangered native white-tailed deer. As the herd expands, he sends some of them to other ranches where they will be protected from hunters. We were pleased to view them quite closely as they were being fed.

    The ranch is also a sanctuary for fireflies which light up for about an hour for only a few days during the mating season in July. We went for a hike in the dark and were able to see a lot of the camera-elusive little creatures. No video despite my efforts.

    But the purpose of the trip was mushroom hunting and dining. ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: Mushrooms and fireflies and food! Oh my! More #CynthiaBlanton.

    .....my journal about San Miguel de Allende, photography, travels and anything else that strikes my fancy.....

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  • Cynthia Blanton: Sunday Hikes

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    Cynthia Blanton wrote: The San Miguel Hiking Group has begun Sunday hikes again and we were delighted to join the group on the 4th of July. We drove a short distance to the little village of San Marcos de Begoña and set out on foot on a foggy day. The recent rains brought all the wildflowers to life, and the spectacular Man of the Earth, a type of morning glory, were in full bloom. The ground was covered in them. ...

    We were near the large lake formed by the Presa Allende, the dam which controls the River Laja, as well as smaller bodies of water formed from older dams. This is the old dam which we walked across. A little tricky due to the uneven stones. ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: Sunday Hike, July 4, 2021. More #CynthiaBlanton.

    .....my journal about San Miguel de Allende, photography, travels and anything else that strikes my fancy.....

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  • Gardening and Cooking

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    Cynthia Blanton wrote: One of the benefits of living here in Mexico is the availability of delicious, very fresh produce. Although almost everything we could want is easy to find in stores, we decided to grow some food of our own in a rooftop garden. We had these custom planters installed on December 22, 2020 and began harvesting lettuce and kale on February 18. Stuff grows like magic in the abundant sunshine.

    In addition to my husband's work in the garden, we have been taking cooking classes with a wonderful local chef named David Jahnke. We were taking in-person classes, but when Covid put an end to that, David started giving online classes. So far, we have taken about 120 classes!!! He teaches all cuisines, not just Mexican, and we have been having a great time trying all sorts of new recipes. Now with the garden producing fresh ingredients, we have been incorporating them into our meals. Here are some examples ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: Gardening and Cooking. More #CynthiaBlanton.

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  • Cañada de la Virgen

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    Cynthia Blanton wrote: At last - an adventure to report.

    On March 4 we donned our double masks which included an N95, and joined 5 other expats for a special visit to Cañada de la Virgen which is about 15 miles outside San Miguel de Allende. It is a recently-excavated archeological site of the Otomí people, and our guide, Albert Coffee, is an archaeologist who helped with the excavations. This date is special because it is when the sun sets in direct alignment with the slot in the pyramid and is considered to be the Otomí new year.

    The pyramid complex is controlled by the Federal government, but the surrounding spectacular land and canyons are privately owned by the family that produces Cañada de la Virgen organic meat. They are committed to preserving the land, flora and fauna and have done a good job of keeping the area unspoiled. ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: Cañada de la Virgen. More #CynthiaBlanton.

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  • Hats

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    Cynthia Blanton wrote: I would eagerly marry into the British royal family just so I could wear hats. I've always swooned over them, but I could never wear them because of my glasses. No matter how many different styles I tried on, none of them ever looked right. To my great disappointment, the glasses just ruined the effect.

    Then around 20 years ago, I had lasik surgery to correct my vision, but it was badly botched. Very badly botched. At the time, I was on my way to becoming a professional travel and nature photographer, so this was a devastating development and caused me to sink into a severe depression. The only compensation was that while my vision was not good enough to tell if my 35mm slides were sharp, I no longer needed glasses for distance. Eventually I told myself that even if I couldn't see well, I could at least look good. So to cheer myself up, I bought a bunch of hats. Glorious hats. I even had a few chances to wear them although ladies in hats were not common in Toronto. ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: Hats. More #CynthiaBlanton.

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  • What do you say to a horny moose?

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    Cynthia Blanton wrote: What do you say to an amorous male moose intent on making you his blushing bride? I tried "Go away" but that did not discourage him. In this case, had a molestation occurred, it would have been right to blame the victim. I admit it - I teased him. I lured him into my camp with a homemade moose call. He galumphed up to me, then stopped and stared as if to say "WTF?" He was tall and gangly with a branch comically dangling from his antlers. A young male desperate for his first meaningful experience, he reminded me of guys I dated in high school. Eventually he realized this was not going to be his lucky day, and he slumped back into the woods with only a few wistful glances in my direction. (a closer photo at the end)

    This encounter took place in Maine during one of my photo trips while I was searching for scenic landscapes. Before the days of GPS, I used a road atlas to navigate, and I became fascinated with a large empty space on the map labelled the Great Heath. My attempts to find it were frustrating as I encountered a number of dead-end roads but nothing resembling a heath. Finally, I spotted a small area of bright red bushes and stopped to investigate. A man in a pickup pulled up and asked me what I was doing. I explained and asked him if this red patch was the Great Heath. When he stopped laughing, he said "No" but he could show it to me. He told me to follow him, so I hopped back into my SUV and headed down the road behind him. ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: What do you say to a horny moose? More #CynthiaBlanton.

    .....my journal about San Miguel de Allende, photography, travels and anything else that strikes my fancy.....

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  • If I’m Not on Google Maps Do I Exist?

    Cynthia Blanton wrote: The U.S. government may be suing Google for antitrust violations but the rest of us are still pretty dependent on the company for a large part of our day-to-day life. And sometimes Google manages to make our lives just a little bit harder. For a year now, we have been unable to get Google Maps to recognize that our street exists.

    It’s not as if we don’t know where we live. Our little cul-de-sac has four homes and two vacant lots and Google shows a well-known casita (guesthouse) on our corner. But when restaurants, service people, and other locals try to find us, we don’t show up. To complicate matters further, there is a cerrada with the same name and number as our privada elsewhere in town. And of course that one is on Google Maps, so people go the wrong address and ask, “where are you?” We now must send maps, spanish address directions, and WhatsApp location links to give people a fighting chance of finding us. ...

    Continue at Cynthia Blanton's Blog: If I’m Not on Google Maps Do I Exist? More #CynthiaBlanton.

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