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  • Count blessings

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    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: In 1970, when “Sesame Street” was a new children’s educational program on American public television and I was living with my young daughter in then-Salisbury, Rhodesia, Africa, my mom in New Jersey, USA, sent us the freshly minted “Sesame Street” long-playing record album in the mail – to the delight of all the neighborhood preschool kids.

    My daughter and her little friends sat cross-legged on my living room carpet in a semicircle, as if my record player were a hearth, mesmerized by the happy music so new to them and to the world: “Sunny day, sweepin’ the clouds away — on my way to where the air is sweet! Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”

    In the fifty years since then, “Sesame Street” has become the most widely viewed children’s program in the world — broadcast in more than a hundred and twenty countries — and those little kids who sat in my living room have become parents and, some by now, grandparents. ...

    Read the rest of this post from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Count blessings. More #WOWFactor.

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  • Another meditation on home

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    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: Ram Dass, the famous American guru, famously claimed, “We’re all just walking each other home.” He died last December at the age of eighty-eight. So I’m wondering today: Is he home now? Is that when we’ll feel most at home, when we join him wherever his spirit is?

    Home seems to be a subject I’ve been obsessed with, especially in recent years, since I emigrated to Mexico. Of the more than three hundred WOW posts I’ve published since 2014 when I began writing this weekly blog on all sorts of subjects relevant to older women, at least twenty of my short Views (point-of-view personal essays) have attempted to approach the big embracing topic of Home, each from a slightly different angle.

    But I still long to know: Where is Home? And what is it? Is it a physical place or a state of mind? Is it something we take for granted until we don’t have it any longer – like clean air or drinkable water? Is it just a leak-proof roof over our heads? Or something immutable we carry around inside of us, deep in our hearts? ...

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  • Uncommon books

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    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: Most graduates, I’m sure, can’t tell you the day after — much less years after — what the commencement speakers said at their graduation ceremony. In normal times, it all becomes a big blur of ill-fitting caps, swirling black gowns, solemn processionals, deep exhalations, and celebratory balloons.

    But I remember clearly one commencement address because the man who gave it gave me a lasting gift.

    At my graduation from the MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles on June 24, 2007, one of the commencement speakers urged us graduates to maintain a commonplace book. I’d never heard of such a thing, so I was intrigued and paid attention.

    Keep a commonplace book from this point onward, he advised. Use it to write about each book that you read. Preserve what you learn from those books. They are your teachers….

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  • Kings of their mountains

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: “Truth,” I used to say to my college English Comp students on the days I taught personal-essay writing, “is like a ginormous PIZZA.” That got their attention. Then I’d go on:

    “All we can claim for ourselves as individuals is a tiny sliver of that big Truth. Personal essays can never even try to be the whole Truth; they can only honestly say, ‘This is my truth, this is my sliver, this is my point of view, this has been my experience, this is how I see things…’

    “And in that way, as we read others’ personal essays, which may well be totally different from our own, and learn their true stories, we all can get that much closer to the huge, round Truth. We can learn from each other.” ...

    Read the rest of this post from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Kings of their mountains. More #WOWFactor.

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  • Before food was hot

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: This much I remember: It was a six-hour seminar on a Saturday in 1984 at the New School in lower Manhattan. The title of the class was something like “Careers in the Culinary Arts,” a subject I was seriously exploring at the time. The teacher was Carol Durst-Wertheim, who was then the owner of her own catering business in the city, called New American Catering.

    I remember, too, that there had been some mix-up with the room assignment, and Carol was called to task by someone in the administration. I watched her closely from my student-seat – the way she smiled and kept her cool and soothed the agitated administrator with kind and conciliatory words. After he left the classroom, she turned to us her seminar students and laughed it off.

    “Just another day in the life of a caterer,” she said. “You learn that just about anything can go wrong!”

    I wondered whether I, high-strung from years in the super-stressful corporate world, could ever be as calm and easy-going as Carol was in that moment. ...

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  • Art everywhere

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: On my first walk in my new neighborhood two weeks ago, as I turned a nearby corner, I was greeted by a welcoming message imbedded in tiles on the exterior wall of a private home. I took it as a sign. “Welcome to the Guadalupe neighborhood,” the message reads. “Here there is art in all its streets” ...

    Now that I’m settled into my new studio apartment on the other side of town in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, my daily walks have taken me in new directions and opened my eyes to new ways of seeing. Art, I believe, does this for us; it makes us see things differently. It aids in adaptation.

    I had, as most of my regular WOW readers know, loved my previous place, my cozy little old “penthouse” and its close proximity to lush Parque Benito Juarez, where I basked in the beauty of verdant nature every day. That has proved to be too long a daily walk in May’s afternoon heat from my new address, so I’ve had to discover new perambulatory joys. ...

    Read the rest of this post from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Art everywhere. More #WOWFactor.

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  • The silver swan

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: In 1961, when I was sixteen, I spent the summer at a grand mansion on the Penobscot Bay in Maine. My German maternal grandmother was one of many live-in servants who worked for the wealthy couple whose summer residence this was. My grandmother was in her early seventies at that time and tired; I was there to assist her with her laborious work.

    This experience immersed me in a world most of us never see in person: the world of the super-rich. And I came away feeling deeply — and indelibly — that their lives are far from enviable.

    To me, as a shy and naïve (but observant) sixteen-year-old, the woman of the house, or “Madam,” as my grandmother and the rest of the household help called her, seemed to be straightjacketed by conventions and expectations. Why, she can’t even walk into her own enormous kitchen and make herself a ham-and-cheese sandwich! I thought to myself then. The cook would have had to do that for her. The Madam appeared to me to be helpless. Even pitiable. She wasn’t free. ...

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  • Carmen

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: When I was very young, maybe three or four, and playing with the bigger kids in a neighbor’s pool one hot New Jersey summer afternoon, the plastic tube around my waste that kept me afloat in the deep end flipped over in all the ruckus, and I couldn’t right myself no matter how I tried. I remember thinking, for one brief moment: That’s it, I’m done for.

    Fortunately for me, my big brother, who was charged with my care, was one of those big kids, and he came to my rescue before I swallowed too much water. Did he save me out of love? Or out of fear that our father would have killed him if I’d drowned? I’ll never know. All I know is that throughout my life, whenever I’ve needed real help in a moment of need, someone has shown up, just in time.

    Take, for instance, these past two weeks, as I’ve been preparing to move from my “penthouse” in el centro into a new studio apartment only about a mile away, here in San Miguel de Allende. (See last week’s post, “Another Lily Pad,” for the backstory.) It’s not that I felt I was literally drowning. It’s just that with all the stress and sleep deprivation (thinking, planning, thinking, planning through the long nights), I was losing my equilibrium. ...

    Read the rest of this post from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Carmen. More #WOWFactor.

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  • Another Lily Pad

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: It must be wonderful, I sometimes imagine, to live your whole life in a bucolic little village somewhere in the world. Old stone cottages dotting winding roads, rolling green hills, sheep grazing everywhere, plump and happy cows that wear bells, everyone knowing everyone else and everything about you (because they’ve known you since birth), right down to your favorite color (mine: teal). The sense of security, deep-rootedness, and belonging must be beautiful. It’s beyond my comprehension.

    Next week I’ll be moving again. This will be, by my rough count, the twenty-third time I’ve changed residences since I left my family home in northern New Jersey when I was eighteen. My mother thought our suburban hometown was the center of the universe; I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to leave it. I remember having had vague dreams at that time of seeing the world – not just whizzing through on a tour bus or in a rental car but actually living in far-off places for years at a time and experiencing those places like a native. That dream, it appears, has pretty much come true.

    After living here and there for the past many years, I’m now a legal, permanent resident of Mexico, and I’m deeply grateful to be here, with no intention of ever leaving. For the past four years I’ve been living happily in an affordable little studio apartment (which I’ve affectionately referred to as my “penthouse”), in a funky old apartment complex in San Miguel de Allende. ...

    Read more from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Another Lily Pad. More #WOWFactor.

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  • The road ahead

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: Let’s say, if only for the sake of argument, that once this coronavirus pandemic has passed — or at least loosened its terrible global grip — the road ahead could be better, fairer, and brighter for everyone. This, of course, will never happen automatically, as if some big, hovering fairy godmother were to take pity on us all and compassionately wave her magic wand. No. It will take some doing on everyone’s part. Especially, I believe, on the part of older women.

    Oh, really? You may ask. You think so, huh? How?

    I have one, strong, immediate suggestion (and I welcome WOW readers’ suggestions as well): Read the new book, In Our Prime: How Older Women Are Reinventing the Road Ahead, by Susan J. Douglas (W.W. Norton, NY, 2020), which has been called “required reading for those of us who are fifty or older – and everyone who (with any luck) someday will be” and labeled, “an informative and sharp call to arms.” ...

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  • Philosopher-plumber

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: Marcus, the plumber for the apartment complex where I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, arrived one day last week to fix a leak in my kitchen sink.

    Marcus is tall for a Mexican man – maybe 6’1” or so – tall enough to make me feel small. (I used to be 5’7”, but I’ve shrunk two inches in recent years.) And he makes me feel a little helpless, too, because though I pride myself on self-sufficiency, I must admit I have zero plumbing skills, nor the equipment. I must rely on him for all that.

    His work clothes, patched and raggedy, look like they haven’t seen the inside of a washing machine in many days. His once-blue (I think) backpack containing his plumbing tools is falling apart. ...

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  • Comer

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: In 1942, in the midst of war rationing, when many households had reason to fear “the wolf at the door,” an opinionated, highbrow beauty from California was the first American woman writer to publish a book that fearlessly included recipes to illustrate and augment her literary prose.

    That audacious woman was M.F.K. (Mary Frances Kennedy) Fisher (1908-1992), and that book – one of the more than twenty books she published over the course of her literary career – was How to Cook a Wolf, which is still in print today.

    In this collection of essays, each headed “How to […],” Fisher eruditely and forthrightly teaches her readers how to survive hard times and do so with style. And her simple, straightforward, step-by-step recipes, using readily available and affordable ingredients, provide solid proof that this can be done.

    Read more from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Comer. More #WOWFactor.

    See also: SMAFAQ: La Comer Groceries. Delivered.

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  • Crazy Days

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: You know when you see an outdoor space wrapped in yellow police tape it’s not a good sign. That’s what I discovered this week at all of the entrances to my beloved nearby park, Parque Juarez. (See last week’s WOW post for my paean to this park.)

    Precaución is the watchword here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, these days. All public gathering places have been closed or cordoned off in some way, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which (gracias a dios) has yet to hit this old colonial city to any discernable degree. (Three confirmed cases here so far, I believe.)

    I respect the authorities’ precautionary stance completely. But still. I’ve got to say (or whine?), I miss walking in my sweet park. ...

    Read more from Bonnie Lee Black at The WOW Factor: Crazy Days. More #WOWFactor.

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  • You are here

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: Let’s pretend, just for a moment, shall we, that you are here with me.

    “Here” is San Miguel de Allende, in the central mountains – the heart — of Mexico, which was built as a fortress in the mid-16th century. This sturdy city, made mostly of stone, has survived many onslaughts over the years (Google its history); and it will, I’m sure, survive the current one.

    Everyone here, for the most part now, is behind their own barricades, hoping and praying that this COVID-19 pandemic-pestilence will pass us by. The streets are essentially empty. Doors that were once open for business are shut tight. Only those enterprises that provide necessities, like grocery stores and pharmacies, are still operating. This beautiful, old, colonial city of over sixty thousand residents is eerily quiet — and devoid of its lifeblood, tourists. ...

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  • Blender Memories

    Bonnie Lee Black wrote: Every morning now, when I make myself the healthy fresh fruit smoothie that I — and my body — have grown to love and rely on, I’m reminded of another time and place when I watched a blender whirl a lifesaving potion for a person I never knew.

    That was in New York, during the AIDS epidemic that emerged in the 1980s, when I and other of my fellow food professionals in the City volunteered our free time to make healthy, hearty meals for homebound people with AIDS.

    The nonprofit, non-sectarian organization we helped then was called God’s Love We Deliver and is still, thirty-five years since its founding, providing free meals made with care and delivered with love to New Yorkers in their homes who are too severely ill (with any illness now, not just AIDS) to shop or cook for themselves. ...

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  • Ten Days

    Bonnie Lee Black: My Mexican friend Ramiro, who is the most warm-hearted, outgoing, people-loving person I’ve ever known, checks in with me weekly to see how I’m doing. Extrovert that he is, it’s inconceivable to him that anyone could live alone and like it, as I do.

    “Aren’t you ever lonely?” he sometimes gently asks.

    “Never lonely and never bored,” I tell him. “I always find plenty to do.” I try to explain to him that I love reading books as much as he loves socializing with people. As an introvert-homebody, I have no trouble at all being alone at home. This is a very foreign concept to him. For me, it’s a great advantage during these shelter-in-place times.

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  • Twenty Bananas

    Bonnie Lee Black: Sometimes, I’ve learned along the way, a teacher has to get to the cold, hard truths of a subject by taking a warm, soft, roundabout route. I think of Emily Dickinson’s words, “Tell all the truth, but […] success in circuit lies….” Run in circles. Tell tall tales. Make a fool of yourself. Cast a spell. Captivate.

    This was the challenge for me this past Wednesday when I taught my afterschool class of thirteen-year-olds here in San Miguel de Allende. These are bright, highly motivated Spanish-speaking Mexican kids whose English is admirable. My lesson plan was to tackle the current, deadly-serious subject – the coronavirus pandemic – in a roundabout way.

    I began far afield by telling them about my Peace Corps service in Gabon, Central Africa, twenty-four years ago as a health and nutrition volunteer. Gabon, I showed them on the map of Africa, is on the Equator. “Hot-hot-HOT!” (I fanned myself.) “Lots of RAIN – and BUGS – and MUD!” (I gestured madly.) “Too many terrible illnesses, like malaria and dengue fever.” (I made a sick face.) “So my job was to teach people – mostly mothers and children – how to do what they could to stay healthy.”

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  • To be a Woman

    Bonnie Lee Black: When my friend Suzanne — with whom I went to high school in New Jersey in the early ‘60s, but who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, like me — came to lunch last Tuesday, she told me about a marvelous group of remarkable women here known as Ser Mujer (“to be a woman”), and a special project they were planning for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8th.

    This project, titled “En Los Zapatos de Ella” (“in her shoes”), is one of many important programs slated for this year’s International Women’s Month in San Miguel (see Events at www.sermujersma.com ).

    “En Los Zapatos de Ella,” Suzanne told me, would be an outdoor art installation of hundreds of pairs of women’s worn (donated) shoes hanging by red satin ribbon from the façade of a large home in the Colonia Guadalupe district of San Miguel – each pair of shoes representing one of the 303 homicides targeting women in Mexico’s State of Guanajuato alone in 2019.

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  • In praise of downtime

    Bonnie Lee Black: I wake with the morning light, without the jangle of an alarm, to begin a new day in which I am happily, gratefully, and luxuriously free. I’ve begun to call this last stretch of my life my “downtime” – a time to relax and enjoy each day, after having been a miniscule part in the vast, cold (and I might add, soulless) machinery of U.S. industry and commerce for roughly five decades.

    No more stress (Will the new management fire me?), no more anxiety (Will the car start in this freezing weather? Will I be late for work?), no more nerve-jangling predawn alarms. In my view, retirement – especially for those of us who have retired outside of the U.S. — is bliss. An earthly form of paradise.

    And this freer time, I’m finding, now that I’m nearly five years into it, is the furthest thing from idle. Especially here in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, there is always almost too much to choose from to do: classes, lectures, concerts, plays, exhibits, literary events, movies, tours, to say nothing of countless world-class restaurants.

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  • A Day for all seasons

    Bonnie Lee Black: It’s still officially winter in the central mountains of Mexico, and in recent weeks the weather has been especially overcast and cold. But this past Tuesday was like a welcome summer’s day – with clear, sunny skies, near-80-degrees (F.) temps, and just a hint of an autumnal breeze. And the fact that I spent the afternoon at the Candelaria fair, an annual rite of spring here in San Miguel de Allende for the past sixty-four years, made it a day for all four seasons rolled into one for me.

    In previous years the Candelaria plant-and-flower fair has been held in Parque Juarez, a charming, lush, early-20th century French-style city park just a five-minute walk from my apartment. But this year, because Parque Juarez is in the process of being torn apart and restored to its original splendor, the Candelaria, which began on January 30th and lasts until February 16th, is being held at the newly inaugurated Zeferino Gutierrez Park.

    This new park is a forty-five-minute hike from my home, but on Tuesday it was well worth the trek there and back. I drank in the beauty of the fair’s thousands of flowers, thrilled to the throngs of happy Mexican children playing on the vast park’s lawns, almost danced to the music coming from seemingly everywhere. And I learned things, too ...

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  • Girl, appropriated?

    Bonnie Lee Black: Late last year, at the age of 89, famed Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet, and short story writer Edna O’Brien, published her forty-fifth work, a novel titled Girl.

    Girl is the fictionalized story of one Nigerian schoolgirl, whom O’Brien has named Maryam, who is among a group of other girls abducted by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, raped, imprisoned, and enslaved. Maryam, however, ultimately manages to escape, along with her baby daughter, Babby, fathered by one of the jihadist fighters.

    Maryam’s journey back to her village is relentlessly harrowing. And when she finally reaches her village, instead of being welcomed home, she and her child are treated as outcasts. (It is a wonder – and a tribute to O’Brien’s vivid imagination — that the story has a hopeful ending.)

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  • Friends

    Bonnie Lee Black: It’s fun, I sometimes think, especially at this stage of life, to wonder about the What-Ifs: What if, for example, I had had the self-confidence to refuse that older man’s pressing marriage proposal when I was so young and naive?… What if I’d stayed in that well paying job in NYC until retirement?… What if I’d emigrated to France in 2001, as I had so hoped to do?… What would my life look like now?

    And today I’m thinking: What if I’d pursued different course work in college and graduate school, such as Cultural Anthropology and Comparative Religions, subjects that have always interested me and intrigue me still? Surely (to answer my own question), I’d know what I was doing now, instead of bumbling along as an anthropologist-wannabe who studies other cultures and religions through inexpert, first-hand, on-the-ground observation at every opportunity.

    When it comes to religion, I’m especially curious to know: What makes people follow one religion over another, then claim theirs is supreme? Is it just a matter of cultural identity? Family pressure? Habit? Hunger? Other?

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  • Hada Morada hopes to help make wishes come true

    Bonnie Lee Black: Hada Morada, the newest member of my puppet family, has a job to do, and she’s intent on doing it.

    She’ll make her debut on the school stage at the end of this month, when classes start up again. She’ll sashay (so to speak) into the classroom, waving her varita mágica (magic wand) and ask the Mexican kids – ranging in age from eight to eleven – what they wish for.

    Although her name, Hada Morada, is Spanish for “Purple Fairy,” Hada will be speaking English to the kids because, well, that’s what they’re there to learn. She hopes to use her otherworldly wiles to charm them into paying attention, knowing they’ve likely never seen a fairy in person before, only in fairytales.

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  • Born on the first of the year

    Bonnie Lee Black: Elsa was born in Oak Park, Illinois, to Swedish immigrant parents on the first of the year, January 1, 1940, during the second world war; and although, as far as I know, she’s never served in the military, she has certainly emerged victorious from various life battles. Now, at eighty, she plans to finally retire and write a book about her experiences. ...

    Ten years before, after “a heartbreaking breakup,” when all she wanted to do was “drop out and bury my ashes under a cactus,” Elsa decided to buy a small piece of land outside of San Miguel and build a little house on it. At first she found, in this poor, indigenous village, where running water and electricity were intermittent and the people still collected wood for cooking, that the adults saw her as an outsider, an interloper. She felt unwelcome.

    Her story could have ended there, of course: single, older woman living alone in the countryside, in a little house behind a tall, sturdy gate, keeping to herself. But the local children knocked on the door of her heart, and she opened it.

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  • Run on

    Bonnie Lee Black: Having just finished reading (on Christmas Day) the astounding new novel, Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli, which is the Big Read choice here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, this year, and which has, close to the end, a whole chapter, titled “Echo Canyon,” written in one, long – 19 pages’ worth! – run-on, stream-of-consciousness sentence, I feel inspired to try my hand at something similar – not 19 pages’ worth, of course (I’ll spare you) – but the same idea: allowing thoughts to flow seemingly effortlessly onto the page, some of the thoughts that for the past few days have been swirling around in my mind like the monarch butterflies that flit from milkweed to milkweed in the pollinator garden here in Parque Juarez, where I walk nearly every day; because it’s post-Solstice now and the light (and with it, hope) is growing longer by the day, and it’s post-Christmas with all its unbearable, to me, hoopla (which, I’m convinced, J.C. himself, were he alive today, wouldn’t go for either), and it’s almost post-2019 (gracias a dios), so I’m looking forward to 2020 – such a nice, rounded, even number, don’t you think? – and all of its positive potential, plus I’m ruminating ...

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  • Angels made me do it

    Bonnie Lee Black: You look at me with one eyebrow raised. “And what, exactly, did these angels make you do?” you ask.

    “They made me change my attitude and outlook,” I say.

    “About what?”

    “Christmas this year.”

    “But I thought you were intent on forgetting Christmas. Isn’t that what you wrote recently?”

    “Yes, but … That was before I noticed the angels.”

    “Where?” you say, still looking at me dubiously.

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  • Dreams Come True

    Bonnie Lee Black: They came to my Creative Nonfiction classes and workshops in Taos, New Mexico, harboring the same dreams: to write and publish books containing their own, personal truths.

    They were older adults, close to or already past retirement age, highly educated, successful professionals from a number of fields, such as business, medicine, academia, the arts. They’d written before, of course, some even Ph.D. theses, but never about themselves. They wanted to learn how to write more informally, less pretentiously, more friend-to-friend-across-the- kitchen-table and less lecturer-at-the-lectern.

    They had stories to tell, and they wanted to tell them clearly and compellingly, so that even their families would one day want to read them. They knew that this process – learning a new way of writing, like a new way of living – would take humility and determination, but they were in it for the long haul. No one seemed to have any illusions about writing a best-seller and becoming a rich and famous author. We were all beyond the age of illusions.

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  • The Color of Hope

    Bonnie Lee Black: On my first-ever trip to Scotland in the summer of 1986, the weather was abysmal. It was sunless and dank. The sky resembled wet cement and felt just as heavy overhead. I remember shivering incessantly and thinking, No wonder the Scottish diaspora has always been so large.

    Then one day, up in the Highlands, I happened to gaze heavenward and saw — like a miracle of biblical proportions — the seemingly impenetrable gray clouds break apart, revealing a flag-size patch of pristine blue.

    “That,” I said to one of my traveling companions, pointing to the patch, “is the color of hope!”

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  • Starship

    Bonnie Lee Black: On Thursday my friend Kim and I went for a nice long hike. Forgoing the turkey (she’s a vegetarian) and all the trimmings (trappings?), we packed some bread and cheese and a small container of red wine (all verboten, we later learned – but, then, who knew?) and ate it slowly while sitting on a big, old log by the water’s edge, serenaded by wild ducks.

    It was a glorious Mexican late-November day – bright, clear-blue sky, in the mid-70s F. (No snowstorms! No cancelled flights!), and we felt deeply thankful to be embraced by the beauty of Nature at San Miguel de Allende’s 220-acre botanical garden, known as El Charco del Ingenio.

    On our miles-long hike along El Charco’s well maintained trails, Kim and I passed countless towering cacti and succulents. Mexico, we learned, has the richest variety of cacti in the world; and this botanical garden’s collection is made up of plants gathered from all parts of the country.

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  • Hibernation

    Bonnie Lee Black: It’s seemingly inescapable. Even here in the central mountains of Mexico.

    Halloween was not yet a memory, and already my favorite, grand supermarket in San Miguel de Allende, La Comer, was piping Christmas music throughout its bright and spacious aisles and displaying stacks of glittery Christmas tree decorations for sale.

    So depressing.

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