Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An Evening to Remember




The Cash For Chemo Fundraiser last Friday evening at the La Noche Circus was a great success. We had a terrific turnout and everyone seemed to have a great time. For me it was an emotional whirlwind, SO much love and support in one room! With friends like this I can conquer anything. If I just wasn’t so nauseous, LOL.



This wonderful lady, Jayne Clark, outdid herself, bringing several scrumptious appetizers, serving tables and helping to set up and tear down our food area. Thank you so much Jayne, we love you!



The auction was great fun with so many wonderful Items donated by so many wonderful people!


The last item on the auction block was a box of handmade party hats, modeled here by Patrice and Ernesto. Turned out everyone just paid 50 pesos for one hat and most people had one. They were beautiful and unique.



As far as the entertainment was concerned it doesn’t get any better than Johnny Favourite. He did mostly rock and roll that evening which was a bit of a change from the swing, blues and jazz that we normally hear the La Noche. He even performed “Moondance” for me, one of my favourite songs. Van Morrison has nothing on you Johnny!



Salud!! Todd tapping glasses with Billie Mercer, extraordinary blogger and photographer.




Collen and Laurieanne getting ready for the auction.



We were delighted that our good friend Charlie Hall from Rose Ann Hall Designs here in San Miguel, could be with us on this very special evening. Thank you Charlie!!



Todd and Joseph having fun


My Dream Team! Joseph, Joey and Johnny who were responsible for putting this wonderful evening together.



Barbara Eckrote, from, looking beautiful as always.



Carolyn Elam, without whom I would not have had a single picture. Thank you so much for being the photographer for the evening Carolyn! Amazingly neither Todd nor I thought to bring a camera to this event.


Thank you to everyone involved for making this such a special evening and helping us so much with our huge medical expenses.!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Preemptive Strike





I have been spending a lot of time with Google lately. What is the best diet during chemo? Do visualizations and meditation help? What is the best thing to do about nausea? What should you not do during chemo? Are there natural ways to combat a lowered immune system? How long does it take for hair to start falling out?

I don’t know how accurate the answers were to the rest of the questions but the hair loss response was right on target. Google said two weeks after the first treatments hair loss begins to occur. Yep, sure does. Having three cats I am always pretty much covered in hair, but of late it has been my own.

Obviously I was expecting this, even anticipating it. So I should not have been surprised when almost two weeks to the day after my first treatment, when I was washing my hair, to find it coming out in handfuls. Still it threw me a little to actually see it happening. After a few days of having my hairbrush and clothes full of hair I was envisioning a trail of little hairballs following me everywhere, and the image of my partially bald head with tufts of hair hanging off here and there.

That is when decided to make a preemptive strike and shave my head. I was going to get there soon enough anyway so why not just go directly. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00.




It’s not really a look I would have chosen for myself but it is quite cool and comfortable.




Just a reminder for those of you here in San Miguel de Allende that we are having a fundraiser, Cash For Chemo, to help with my chemo and related costs. It will be a really fun evening at La Noche Piano Bar on Friday August 14th from 6:00 to 11:00 PM. We are having a Sock Hop, with live music performed by Johnny Favourite, an appetizer buffet and a live auction. We have some really wonderful items for the auction. Tickets are 200 pesos each and there are still a few left for anyone who would like to come and eat, dance and have some fun.

Tickets are available at La Noche Piano Bar at #73 Zacateros ,

Abrazos Designs at #24 Zacateros

Joey Merrifield-

or you can contact me through my blog.

It’s going to be a great evening and I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Backyard Entomology





Todd and I have been working in the back yard the last little while trying to resurrect our overgrown garden. It is a very small space so I’m not really sure how we managed to let it get away from us to such an extent. I guess we’ve had some other things on our minds, LOL.

For such a small area there are a lot of critters living in and around our yard. We are used to seeing a variety of insect life, the occasional opossum and last week we rescued a tiny rabbit that the cats were trying to take down.There are several types of lizards as well, although their survival rate is limited with three cats lurking around. I think I’ve mentioned before that we also seem to have an inordinate amount of spiders as well. 

There are the big brown house spiders, the little black jumping spiders, and the creepy little scorpion spiders to name a few. However, on our last weeding day the insect population was much more interesting than usual. In the picture below you are seeing an emerald jumping spider, a busy little guy that didn’t really want to stop to model but Todd managed to catch him anyway.




Shortly after the spider made his appearance I noticed a beetle that I had never seen the like of. He was at least 2 inches long and one wide, with a shield of shining copper on his back. I tried to find out what he might be, I’m not even sure he is a beetle, but I couldn’t find anything that was exactly right. He might be some kind of leaf eating bug.




Sometime later when we had stopped investigating bugs and moved on to actually weeding plants, Todd came over to me and said “Look down at your left shoulder, you are not alone”. Sure enough I had a little green passenger. A praying mantis. I don’t think I have ever seen a praying mantis prior to that, other than in pictures and public television shows. We immediately went back to investigating bugs.


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My little passenger, and a closer view below.

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I was amazed and thrilled by this little guy. We didn’t get a lot of work done that day but we had fun with critters, enjoyed the sunshine and just being together in the garden, which I think is more important.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Opulence in Querétaro



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Antea Lifestyle Center


Whoever said there is no money in Mexico has clearly never been to Querétaro. The city is booming, American factories and Japanese car companies are springing up everywhere and real estate is flourishing. In Juriquilla, a suburb of Querétaro, resides the largest shopping mall in Mexico and Latin America.

Recently my friend Lin arrived at my house and whisked me off for a day at the mall, and what a delightful day we had! The three department stores in the mall are very upscale versions of El Palacio de Hierro, Liverpool and Sears. El Palacio is so huge that we actually got completely lost inside!




The Antea Lifestyle Center was designed by architect Javier Sordo Madeleno, and reportedly cost one billion dollars to build. It covers 271,000 square meters and is the ultimate in luxury and opulence. The project includes a huge housing development, hotels and recreation as well as the gargantuan mall.




Breaking ground in 2011, Antea has been some time in reaching fruition. Todd and I dropped in to look when it first opened, but although many of the storefronts had the names of future occupants, few were as yet in residence. The names though, told the story. Tory Burch, Chanel, Burberry, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Louis Vuitton, Chico's, Anne Fontaine and Dolce & Gabbana to name a few. As well there was the promise of a Ferrari / Maserati dealership and JW Marriott plans to open a property adjacent to Antea by 2017.


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Of course all the designer stores were wonderful to browse through but it was some of the vendors that we don’t usually see here in Mexico that really fascinated me. We found Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Benetton, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Zara Home, H&M Home and on and on and on.




For a makeup artist it doesn’t get much better than this. Cosmetic Departments in Liverpool and El Palacio that carry Chanel, Lauder, Arden, YSL, Orlane, Clarins, Dior and just about anything else you can imagine. To top it off there is a Sephora and a MAC Cosmetics store!


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Lin treated me to lunch in P.F. Chang’s. OMG it was wonderful. If you don’t want Chinese there is also El Almacén, Fisher’s, Chili’s, Las Pasteria, China (okay that’s Chinese too), Moshi Moshi, Italianis, and the California Pizza Kitchen. Fast food? You name it. Kiosks, which are really little restaurants line the center of the main floor. You will find Starbucks, Krispe Kreme donuts and Suchi among the many offerings.

If you want to be entertained there is a Cinépolis VIP where you can sit in lazyboy comfort while you watch the movie. You can also order from the sushi, sandwiches, bar or coffee menus and the staff will bring your order without disturbing your entertainment.


Photos above and below by Todd McIntosh,



Amazing décor and merchandizing abound in every corner







Sensory overload






Thank you Lin for a very special day!



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Canada Day!!!




Yesterday was Canada Day and for those of us who are not “snowbirds” the Canadian Club put together a great party at the Hotel Misión El Molino in San Miguel de Allende. It was a beautiful afternoon and all the tables out on the lawn in the pool area of the hotel were covered in red clothes and topped with beautiful flower arrangements.




The hotel was a great choice, a perfect venue for events, they do a lot of weddings and bus tours etc. Even though so many of us are not here during the summer, there were still about 50 or 60 attendees. Johnny Favourite, our local celebrity from La Noche Piano Bar, and resident Newfy, led us in the Canadian Anthem and I even (almost) remembered all the words. I only missed one.


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There was a bar set up by the pool but the staff was also very attentive, for those of us who are mobilely challenged. Is that a word? A glass of wine which was all of two ounces cost 70 pesos however, so I pretty quickly switched to beer which is very hard to short pour if served in a bottle.




There is even a windmill. I’m not sure why, but there it is.




Through the arch is the mini golf course. Definitely something you don’t see here every day.




Unfortunately even the Canadian Club can’t control the weather. A representative from the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City, and one who even came all the way from  the Mazatlán Embassy, were asking questions too see how much we knew about our two countries, and giving away prizes the for the correct answers, when the ominous sound of thunder began in the distance.

In an incredibly short time the black clouds rolled in, a cold wind picked up and the rain began. It is the rainy season after all. And boy howdy, is it a doozy this year! Prizes or no, everyone ran for cover. Luckily the bar was open, or maybe they opened it for us, I am not sure, so on went the party. A Canadian will never let a little rain slow them down, particularly if they come from the west coast.




Inside it was a little dark, but dry and out of the wind.




There was also a better selection of drinks. Even Canadian Club if you were so inclined. And so the party continued to the sound of torrential rain and wind. Sodden people, staff and even a small dog took refuge in the bar, and a good time was had by all.


I hope everyone had a Happy Canada Day!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Good To Be Home…..Mostly


I awoke this morning to the sound of the phone ringing. I knew Todd wasn’t going to get it as he is currently driving a friend to Texas and returning with her car, as she is going on to Canada from there. So I dragged my broken carcass out of bed and of course the phone stopped ringing just as I picked it up.

My first inclination was to crawl back into bed. That was before I noticed the trail of vomit leading across the bedspread, across the bedroom floor and out into the living room. Crap. I had had some stale dated fish in the freezer and decided last night to cook some of it for the cats. I was pretty sure Kashmere, who has a very sensitive stomach, was the vomit culprit.


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Is that a guilty look?


When I went into the kitchen to get some paper towels to clean up the mess I opened the door to the service patio to let in some fresh air and discovered that some animal had managed to get into the service patio and chewed open two garbage bags, strewing the garbage from one end of the patio to the other. Crap again.

I thought I had better work on that mess first as it was garbage day today. After picking up all the garbage, dumping it in a heavy duty black garbage bag and sweeping up the service patio, I dragged the garbage to the street in front of the house, only to have some workers across the street tell me that I had just missed the garbage truck. Crap, yet again.

I dragged the garbage back inside the gate and stuffed it in a large garbage container that we keep there for just such occasions and I noticed that all the plants in front of the house desperately needed water. The hose was already there, so I figured what the heck, might as well do it now. By the time I had finished dragging the hose around behind my walker there was water and a decent amount of mud pretty much everywhere. In order to turn off the water I had to track through the mud and water to turn off the hose.


front porch 004


Now of course the wheels on my walker were covered in mud and I had nothing with which to clean them off so I just had to track through the entry way and dining room into the kitchen leaving a trail of mud. Well the vomit had lasted this long, it could wait until I put on a pot of coffee and cleaned up the mud. After accomplishing both those chores I wadded up a bunch of paper towels and set off to clean up the vomit and put the bedspread in the washing machine.

By then the coffee was ready and I was ready to drink it! I toasted myself a bagel to go along with the coffee. It was only about 10:00 AM and I was already exhausted, as I have not fully recovered from the surgery. I guess that’s why, on my way back to the bedroom with my bagel and coffee, that I sort of ran up against the wall and spilled hot coffee all over me and all over the dining room floor which I had just finished washing. Crap. In my defense it is sort of difficult to steer a walker when you are sitting on it, and both your hands are full.

Back to the kitchen to get more paper towels to clean the floor again. And more coffee. This time I made it back to the bedroom, all the coffee still in the cup, and was about to get on the bed and read while I ate my breakfast when I noticed that I was bleeding fairly profusely. A couple of days ago I had somehow managed to pop a couple of stitches in my lower abdomen and now I had to go and wash and redo the dressing.

With a clean bed and a clean dressing over the remaining stitches I settled in with my Kindle only to discover that my coffee and bagel were cold. Finally resting, eating my cold breakfast and looking out at the plants blooming in the sunshine in the back yard, listening to the birds singing, I thought to myself “well that morning could have gone better but, still…….it’s good to be home.


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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Well That Was An Eye Opener! ….continued for the last time!



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Between 3:00 and 5:00 AM I actually did get some sleep, probably as a defense mechanism. The lights came on only once during that time when one of the cleaning crew came in to wash the floor. The floor in our room had been washed four times, with a horribly strong smelling disinfectant, between 9:00 PM and 4:00 AM. Would that they had paid as much attention to the bathroom!

At 5:00 AM the day in the Maternity Ward begins. The lights come on for good. The nurses arrive to check IVs and give pain medication and ask the usual questions that the night shift had all asked before. When I was asked what I was there for (what I was there for????) I explained that I was scheduled to have my uterus removed at 8:00 AM. Checking my chart, the nurse said “ah yes, however it is more likely to be 10:00 AM than 8:00 Am.”

Lovely. I had not been able to eat or drink anything since 9:30 the previous evening and I would have killed for a sip of water after a night in that 30 plus degree room. However,  now that was not to be forthcoming until sometime that afternoon. A night attached to an IV produced another trip to the bathroom, which I approached with a certain amount of dread, but found it to be currently free of blood, pads, bandages and overflowing waste baskets.

When I arrived back at the room Curly and Larry were waiting for me. Another round of questions, mostly in unrecognizable English ensued, and then they informed me that they would be back to get me shortly to take me for a chest ex-ray. I was ready for that! I whipped out the chest ex-ray from my bag and said “See, I’ve already had a chest ex-ray”. Again the response was “Yes, but that was two months ago”.  Good grief.

Sometime around 11:00 AM an orderly with a gurney arrived to take me to the prep/recovery room for surgery. There I met the anesthesiologist. He was handsome and charming and even though he asked me all the same questions again, I loved him. He told me that I had two choices. I could have general anesthetic or a spinal block. I asked him which he thought was the better way to go and he said that if it were him he would take the spinal block. Sold.

All my leg operations had been done with a spinal block and it occurred to me that I had not had to have any of the multitude of tests prior to those surgeries. Then I realized that La Doctora, had assumed that I would be having general anesthetic and to be safe insisted on all the tests. Twice, as it turned out! The three weeks waiting in lineups and undergoing endless poking and prodding, not to mention a very long night in which most of the tests had all be redone, had all been for naught. Holy crap!

The operation went well, and La Doctora even came to visit me for about 30 seconds the next morning. I won’t bore you with the details of the next couple of days in the sweat lodge with the multitude of crying infants and an impressive set of stitches from the navel on down……

On the morning I was to leave a cheerful young lady from Seguro Popular visited the room and stopped to tell me that my surgery might not be covered. “But don’t worry”, she giggled, “it will only be a small payment”. Todd was not allowed in the Maternity Ward but I figured he was probably in the hospital so I phoned him in a bit of a panic and he told me that he had just been chatting with a man from Seguro Popular who did the paperwork for the hospital check-outs.

He was also told that my surgery would not be covered and that Seguro Popular did not cover non-Mexicans. Todd explained that everything up to that moment had been covered but the administrator remained adamant, and I was afraid I was going to be held  hostage as I had no money.

Todd being the resourceful type went off to find a computer and contacted Seguro Popular. He printed out all our rights as stated by the website and returned to the officious administrator, whose response was “ Oh I didn’t realize that you HAD Seguro Popular!  You won’t have to pay anything!”  Huh???? Shakedown attempt or misunderstanding? We will never know, and I prefer to think it was a misunderstanding.

This experience has taught me a great deal. About myself, about the Mexican class system and about humility and appreciation. I have had more than my share of medical treatment since moving to Mexico and all of it has been exemplary. Excellent doctors and medical facilities. But I was paying for the care, the doctors, the nurses, the medications and the facilities.

Now I am on the side of those who are unable to afford that kind of care. I have met doctors, doctors in training, nurses, orderlies and cleaning staff who are all over worked and underpaid. I have met the patients who are happy to have this care and appreciate that it is available to them for free. As am I. I have been lucky, I have led a privileged life.

In that sweltering little hospital room I was offered the humour and camaraderie of the other patients and their family members who attended them (all women), and I felt privileged in a different way. I have come out the other side of what, for me was an ordeal, but for the others was a way of life, with a different outlook.

This experience is quite profound for me and it is difficult to put into words, but the real reason that I wanted to write about it is to share this information with the other ex-pats here, who like me, may not have seen this side life here. For me it is at once sad and joyful. The sadness comes from the underprivileged lifestyle of so many struggling families here, but the joy comes from the way that they embrace their lives, with love and humour.