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 DIRE C TOR Y  PUBLISHER David Tingen

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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COVER STORY

“Stille Nacht” Robert Drynan shares an unusual wartime Christmas story.

Victoria A Schmidt

EDITOR EMERITUS Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez Tel: (01376) 765 3676, 765 2877 Fax: (01376) 765 3528 Graphic Design Roberto C. Rojas Reyes Diana Parra Morales Special Events Editor Carol D. Bradley Proofreader Sally Asante Theater Critic Michael Warren Book Review Panel Margaret Van Every Margaret Porter Clare Gearhart Roving Correspondent Dr. Lorin Swinehart

Sales Manager Bruce Fraser Carmene Berner ADVERTISING OFFICE Av. Hidalgo # 223, Chapala Mon. thru Fri. 9 am - 5 pm Sat. 9 am - 1 pm Tel. 01 (376) 765 2877, 765 3676 Fax 01 (376) 765 3528 Send all correspondence, subscriptions or advertising to: El Ojo del Lago www.chapala.com elojodellago@gmail.com ojodellago@prodigy.net.mx Ave. Hidalgo 223 (or Apartado 279), 45900 Chapala, Jalisco Tels.: 376 765 3676, Fax 376 765 3528

18 “Advice From a Friendly Bear” Dr. Lorin Swinehart shares his philosophy about bears in the wilderness. 20 Christy Wiseman offers up sage advice in her piece entitled “Moving Forward While Staying Put” 22 Herbert Piekow gives a historical perspective on the “Halls of Montezuma.” 24 Mel Goldberg enlightens readers on the “Story of Chanukah” 26 In “Mexico’s Love Affair With The Virgin,” Carol L. Bowman enthralls the reader with the history of the Our Lady of Guadalupe. She explains the background to the celebration between December 9-12 where the Mexicans share their love of and reverence for this historical icon. 30 “That Night in Ashland” Linda L. Steele describes a special night in this fictional story of how time and circumstances change people. 32 Sue Schools warns us about “Holiday Travel”

Cover by Nayeli Elizabeth Gomez

COLUMNS THIS MONTH 6

Editor’s Page

12 Bridge on the Lake

38 “Christmas 1948” is a look back at a treasured holiday by Rob Mohr

14 Vexations and Conundrums

40 Margie Keane entertains us with her unabashed tale of a romantic weekend called “Slippery When Wet.”

16 Mirror to the Universe

41 Catherine Mackenzie shares a holiday celebration in her youth with her mischievous Grandmother in “Bad, Bad Granny.”

28 If Pets Could Talk

42 This month’s Profile is “Service with Love” as Shelly Stokes tells of the work Becca and Alan Poh have done for La Ola girls’ home, Hope House boys’ home, and medical clinics in Mezcala, San Pedro, Agua Caliente, and Chalpicote, villages east of Chapala and their new endeavors with AlivioIntl.com. 44 Dr. Lorin Swinehart reviews “A Summary and Analysis of Humor in the Writings of Henry David Thoreau.” Written by Major Tomas Benton. 48 “Tying up Loose Ends and Letting Go of Things” by Barbara Hildt 50 “Word Salad” by Sally Asante 56 Judy Dykstra-Brown tells us to “Believe” as she relates a moving story of her mother’s love of Christmas. 60 “Yuletide Stories from the Philippines” by Don Beaudreau

PRINTING: El Debate El Ojo del Lago aparece los primeros cinco días de cada mes. (Distributed over the first five days of each month) Certificado de Licitud de Título 3693 Certificado de Licitud de Contenido 3117. Reserva al Título de Derechos de Autor 04-2011-103110024300-102 Control 14301. Permisos otorgados por la Secretaría de Gobernación (EXP. 1/432 “88”/5651 de 2 de junio de 1993) y SEP (Reserva 171.94 control 14301) del 15 de enero de 1994. Distribución: Hidalgo 223 Chapala, Jalisco, México. All contents are fully protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without the written consent of El Ojo del Lago. Opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Publisher or the Editor, nor are we responsible for the claims made by our advertisers. We welcome letters, which should include name, address and telephone number.

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COVER STORY

VOLUME 37 NUMBER 4

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

34 Lakeside Living 46 Mexican Grace 52 Profiling Tepehua POETRY/PROSE 55 “The Night Before Christmas on Mexico’s Coast.” By David Lyons


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COLUMNIST

Editor’s Page [Ed. Note: This piece was written prior to the Election. As we go to print, there is still resolution to the election. We expect the results to be certified on December 14.]

“Democracy Delayed” By Fred Mittag

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e like to describe America as a democratic country, a beacon of hope for the rest of the world, a “city on the hill.” The description falls well short of the fantasy, however. The Constitution was our official beginning, but it was no more than a “promissory note,” as Martin Luther King put it. Since the Convention of 1787 and ratification in 1789, we have made a lot of progress on that “promissory note,” but we are still well short of being a democracy, in the sense of self-rule by the people. The Founders blessed us with a Constitution that allows us to amend this covenant with the American people, but we need amendments yet unachieved. Amendments that have advanced the “promissory note” are the 13th, which abolished slavery, and the 14th, which granted Black people citizenship. The 14th Amendment corrected the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case, in which the Court ruled that a slave is not a citizen. Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the majority opinion of the Court that “black people, free or slave, could never become U.S. citizens and they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” That seems hard to believe today, but that’s how it was.  Another significant step forward was the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. The House and Senate passed it in 1919, the year of my mother’s birth. It just barely passed in the Senate. In 1920 it was ratified by the 36th state, Tennessee, making it a part of the Constitution. The Tennessee senate had passed the bill to ratify the amendment, but it was tied in the House and could move no further. But then the mother of a Tennessee representative called him and explained the importance of ratification. He changed his vote. A mother’s appeal provided the single vote needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. These constitutional amendments advanced American civilization. They make one wonder about Justice Anto-

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nin Scalia and his protégé Amy ConeyBarrett. They call themselves “originalists,” meaning they base their opinions on the Founders’ original intent. God help us. Some of the Founders were slave-holders. They counted Black people as three-fifths of a human being for the official census to determine representation. One hopes slavery and women’s inability to own property or to vote is not their idea of “original intent.” That would indeed make them reactionaries of the worst sort. The Constitution remains flawed in the basic democratic concept that government should be, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The logical conclusion of this concept that the people grant government power is that if the government fails to serve the people, the citizens must overthrow such a failed government. Government leaders are supposed to be servants of the people, not vice versa. Revolution is not only the people’s right, it is their duty to posterity. You will recognize this as the rationale for the American Revolution against King George III.  The electoral college is a glaring flaw in our Constitution. The Founders made concessions to the slave-holding states. They were less populous and more agricultural than the Northern states, where slave-holding was unprofitable. Slave states were allowed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for representation in the Congress.  The Founders devised a mechanism for the president’s election that did not allow the popular vote to decide. The legislatures of each of the states would choose electors who would elect the president. That’s why millions and millions of people vote in our elections, but only 270 votes elect the president. Most of the states choose electors based on the popular vote of their jurisdiction, but not necessarily. Almost every election cycle sees a few electors violate their pledge and vote for some other candidate than the one to whom


they pledged their vote. Another problem with the electoral college is that it favors the small states, which in today’s terms are generally Republican states. Wyoming, for example, has a small population of 580,000 people. Each state has a slate of electors equal to the number of senators and members of Congress. No matter how small a state is, it has at least one congressman. The result is that the 580,000 people of Wyoming have three electors, with each elector representing 193,333 people. California has 55 electors and a population of 39.5 million. That means that a vote for Trump in Wyoming has four times the effect of a vote for Biden in California. That explains how a president can win the popular vote and still lose, such as Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. This system can hardly be called democratic. There is no constitutional guarantee of the right to vote. Instead, the states determine the qualifications of voters. A conservative Supreme Court repealed rights that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had required. And so Southern states have regressed to severe voter suppression. Local officials find ways to disenfranchise zip codes they don’t like. Just ask anybody from Georgia why Stacey Abrams lost

and Brian Kemp won the governor’s race. His manipulation of voter rolls. In Texas, local election officials decide whether voter signatures match with their registration. These local officials have no training whatever in signature verification. Many people can’t sign their name the same way twice and are, therefore, disqualified. Gerrymandering is an undemocratic process by which state legislatures draw their congressional districts so that state officials choose their voters instead of voters choosing their officials. If Republican-controlled states claim there are too many votes to count before the deadline, the election will go to the House of Representatives, with each state having one vote. Uh-oh. In this case, states like Wyoming and South Dakota get one vote each, and so does California. The states with low populations tend to be Republican, and the states with large populations tend to be Democratic. The Republicans have 26 state delegations, and the Democrats have 23. It does not matter that the Democrats control the House by the size of their caucus because the House has more Republican states, even if they are small states. South Dakota and Wyoming count as much as Texas, California, or New York.

Finally, Trump is already finding excuses to appeal the election to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is no longer a court in the judicial sense but is a political arm of right-wing ideology. The Court has become partisan rather than a court represented by the blindfolded lady holding justice scales. It happened with Bush v. Gore  in 2000. Counting votes in Florida was still in progress. The districts of mostly Democratic voters had not completed their count. The conservative U.S. Supreme Court stopped the vote count along party lines and declared Bush the winner before counting Democratic votes.

There are various ways Trump and his Republican puppets can exploit the Constitution to overcome the people’s vote and give Trump a second term by an undemocratic coup. Does the question become at what point will the disenfranchised people of America revolt? Our Constitution needs additional amendments to come closer to the Enlightenment ideal of human freedom and selfgovernment by the people. Fred Mittag

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Stille Nacht By Robert B. Drynan

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n 1762 and 1763 Catherine the Great, Tsarina of Russia, issued manifestos inviting Europeans to immigrate and farm undeveloped Russian lands. The immigrants were promised privileges preserving their own culture, religion and language and freedom from military service. The greatest response came from Germany in the first five years. Most settled in the lands bordering the Volga River. They became known as the Volga Germans. In the last years of the nineteenth Century and early twentieth, the imperial government of Russia began to rescind the promised privileges and many Volga Germans immigrated to America, particularly pacifist Mennonites. At the time of the Second World War and the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June of 1941, Stalin rounded up the remaining almost half-million Volga Germans as potential subversives, stripped them of their lands and homes, and transported them to forced labor camps. Less than one third survived. *** He stumbled, fell against a sapling, bringing down a shower of loose snow. It cooled the terrible burns on the left side of his face and on his hands. The rest of his body shook from frigid immersion in the icy waters of the forest swamp into which his burning aircraft had crashed. A month before, Yuri Yurevitch Kre-

schenko, called Jerry by his West Point classmates, had been sweating in the tropical skies over Guadalcanal. Now he found himself on Christmas Eve of 1942, lost somewhere in the frozen forest of northern Kazakhstan. Because of his fluency in Russian, he had been sent to train Soviet pilots to fly the Americanmade P-39 Airacobras against the Nazi forces occupying Stalingrad. It seemed ironic that he should return to die in the wilderness from which his Russian father and Volga German mother had fled twenty years before during the civil war that ended in Bolshevik Russia. Jerry staggered forward, not knowing where his path led, but still struggling against what he felt was his inevitable death. He could even hear the sweet song of an angel echoing through the forest: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, Alles schläft; einsam wacht . . . The voice of the angel seemed so near! Did that mean that death was already upon him? He felt acceptance of the approaching end, but still . . . No! Not now! The singing ended! He fell to his knees in the snow. Then he felt arms around his shoulders . . . the angel? He heard murmurings! His mother’s tongue, her Volga German dialect! He began to weep . . . what an unmanly way to go, he thought. *** Jerry slowly came back to consciousness; his face and hands clothed

in soothing coolness, and the terrible freezing chill of the soaking in the swamp was gone. Is this death? He smelled the smoke of a wood fire. Opening his one good eye, his vision swam into focus; he stared into the dark, serious eyes set in a cherubic face. He spontaneously spoke in Russian, “Who are you? Where am I?” “Lina,” answered a childish voice, “you are in my bed.” Jerry absorbed the simple beauty of the small child, but he needed more information. Finally, he managed, “Lina, where do you live?” “Here . . . in this house,” she responded. Her eyes never left his. “Does your face hurt?” “No, it feels cool.” “It looks terrible. Your hands, too,” she added. “Are you alone, Lina?” “No,” she said in childish exasperation, “Mama and Opah.” “Where is your mama?” “In the forest with Opah. I stay and take care of you,” the child said proudly. **** Jerry Kreshenko’s slow recovery from his injuries lasted almost an entire year. Nicolai Steinauer, and Natasha, the widow of Nicolai’s son who was gunned down resisting internment by Soviet soldiers, and her daughter, Alina had fled the round-up of Volga German descendants that followed the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, finding refuge in the forested European Steppes of Kazakhstan. They had built a small log and mud dwelling. In the frozen winter they survived on the few turnips and potatoes ‘Tasha’ had planted the previous summer, berries she had scavenged in the woods, the small forest animals Nicolai trapped and the occasional elk he shot with his World War One relic rifle. Jerry told Nicolai and Tasha his story: while training the Soviet colonel of the squadron to be equipped with American aircraft, they were attacked by a farranging German fighter patrol. The colonel was in the control seat, still getting the feel of the airplane, when they were sent flaming into the forest swamp, the Russian to his death. Apart from the disfigurement caused by the burns to his face and hands, Jerry suffered a broken collarbone and dislocation of his left arm and a crushed wrist leaving his left hand useless. In the early days of his recovery, Natasha spent much of her mornings attending to his injuries. She used cold, damp cloths to soothe his burns and bathed and cleaned his lesser lesions to avoid infections. When Natasha left to gather wood, search for nuts and assist with Nicolai’s trap lines, Alina remained by Jerry’s side and they soon developed a series of childish games to amuse her. He told her stories he remembered from his own youth, invented others and told

her of the wonders of the world that was America. In the evenings he related his stories to Natasha and Nicolai. Often Alina fell asleep in his arms by the warmth of the fire. By the springtime Jerry’s wounds no longer required Natasha’s constant attention, but she continued to spend her mornings in his company. Soon, as the weather warmed, he and Alina began to accompany her on her expeditions into the forest to search of berries and herbs. Then Natasha found excuses to leave Alina behind with small tasks in the cabin. In the warm forest afternoons, Natasha and Jerry became lovers. *** October of 1943 arrived. Sufficiently recovered, Jerry decided to make his way to British occupied Iran so he could return to the United States. In Iran he believed he could sponsor the immigration to the United States of Nicolai, Natasha and Alina. He was sure that the history of the Volga Germans and their present persecution in the USSR, supported by their care and sacrifice on his behalf, would be adequate to assure their acceptance. If he returned to Soviet jurisdiction, there would be no such chance. Jerry did not reckon with the changing world of alliances against Nazi Germany. When they arrived at the Iranian border, British soldiers at the checkpoint crossing would not allow the Steinauers to accompany him any farther. Jerry refused to cross without them and turned back into Kazakhstan with his benefactors. Natasha and Nicolai argued and begged Jerry to return and cross without them, taking Alina with him. If they could not find refuge in America, they wanted Alina to have a future filled with the promise that Jerry had described to them. Tasha wept and held her daughter, finally thrusting her into Jerry’s arms. “Take her with you, make her your daughter and love her as your own.” Surely, even the diplomats would not abandon a child with no other sign of adult support. His own identification and his disfigurement won the sympathy of the British sergeant in charge of the border checkpoint. The sergeant allowed Jerry to pass with Alina despite Jerry’s patently false claim that she was his natural child, admonishing him that it would be up to him to find a way to get her through the diplomatic red tape in Teheran. At the end of November, Jerry and Alina arrived at the US Legation in Teheran. Nobody had time for refugees, especially at the moment. A very special diplomatic event was about to take place and the life of a four-year-old little girl was an annoying distraction. *** The rising fury of the American Minister Plenipotentiary was evident in his

Continued on page 10

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From page 8 voice. “I don’t care who you are, Colonel Kreschenko. I want you out of my reception, now!” “Sir, this will take only a moment of your time.” “Sandra, call the guards. I want this man placed under arrest.” Within the minister’s private office a man, glancing apologetically at another who remained seated in a wheel chair, moved toward the door, as the diplomat began to sputter, “And get that guttersnipe, out of here.” “Where to, sir,” his secretary Sandra, pled? “Send her back to Russia. Let the Soviet border guards decide what to do with her,” the minister now spoke with hard coldness in his voice. The door to the minister’s office opened and Averill Harriman, who had the month before been appointed to be the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, stepped out. Harriman blanched when his attention fastened on the fireravaged face of the American officer in a leather flight jacket and ragged trousers. His eyes wandered to the small child clinging to the man’s only serviceable hand. “Your child,” he inquired? This was the critical moment and Jerry chose honesty, “She adopted me...

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I adopted her. Yes, she is mine,” Harriman glanced at the junior US diplomat to Iran, “Louis, I suggest that you escort the colonel and his daughter into your office.” Harriman returned his gaze to Kreschenko, “Colonel, I’d guess it has been a long time since you’ve had a cup of coffee,” he shifted to Sandra, “would you please see to it?” Sandra glanced at the child in relief, “Hot chocolate?” “Shakalahd?” Jerry, placed his arm around the child’s shoulder and pulled her against his leg. “She doesn’t know what it is. Yes, please, I think she could use a treat.” *** The 1960 Christmas Day Festival at the Conservatory featured a new voice, Alina Steinauer Kreschenko, a scholarship student from Michigan. The director of the school, when he introduced her, noted that in her first year at the Conservatory Alina had demonstrated a vocal purity and range of unusual quality. In his introduction of Alina he said, “This young lady has a very special story apropos of tonight’s celebration. I have asked her to relate it to you in her own words.” A slim beauty with sparkling dark eyes and shiny black hair, dressed all in white, came onto the stage. She spoke

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

in a gentle voice, modulated by quiet sadness. “I wish to dedicate this song to my stepfather, the only father I have ever known. Yuri Yurevitch Kreschenko, an American soldier, rescued me from the Soviet Union when I was barely four years old. He was a downed American aviator in Russia during the darkest days of the last war. My grandfather and my mother rescued him from death in the Russian winter of 1942. He brought me across the border to Teheran, but my mother and grandfather were refused passage. They have disappeared forever.” She held up a faded document encased in a black frame. “My father’s furious insistence with the bureaucrats at the US embassy in Teheran seemed hopeless when he demanded to bring me with him to the United States, until another man overheard his loud demands and came to our rescue. That kind, gentle man gave me a letter of reprieve and enabled me to become an American citizen.” She pointed to the barely visible signature at the bottom of the framed letter, “It is signed Franklin D. Roosevelt. The President of the United States took the time to do this for a little girl while he, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin decided the fate of the world at the Teheran Conference of 1943.” The lights dimmed and a spotlight focused on the angelic young woman. It

surrounded her figure with an ethereal glow. “Yuri Yurevitch Kreschenko adopted me, raised me as his own, and guided me through my youth to this moment in my life. This song has a very special meaning to me, to my father and to my mother of whom I have only the vaguest of memories since I left Russia.” She paused for an eternal instant, “My father wanted so very much to be here with me tonight, but he fell ill and has been in the Veterans’ Hospital in Iron Mountain, Michigan for the past two weeks. I am here tonight at his insistence. This morning I received a telephone call. My father passed away last night, Christmas Eve, exactly eighteen years from the day he entered my life. I want to dedicate this to my father and to my mother who loved him.” And she sang . . . *** The words caressed Jerry’s spirit, enveloped him. Two voices, in harmony, a duet, voices like two angels: his daughter bidding him Farewell and her mother welcoming him home. “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, Alles schläft, eisam wacht...“ Bob Drynan


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COLUMNIST

BRIDGE BY THE LAKE By Ken Masson

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ll experienced bridge players know that an important objective in bidding is for a partnership to find an 8-card major suit fit, as that is the most likely place where games can be made. However, circumstances alter cases and one must be flexible and bold enough to change strategy as conditions dictate. This month’s hand was played at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge

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Club where West dealt and opened the normal 1 diamond. North and East passed and South had his first problem: What to bid now? If he had been sitting immediately to the left of the opener he would have had a simple 1 no trump overcall. But in the pass-out seat most people play that would show a balanced hand with about 12 to 14 high card points, so he had to find another bid. South solved his dilemma by mak-

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

ing a takeout double, West passed and North bid 1 spade causing another headache for South. With 17 HCP and 4 spades, his first inclination was to raise his partner to at least 2 spades. But another look at his hand showed that the king and jack of diamonds were in a very precarious position, namely, sitting under the opener’s 1 diamond call, so he bid 1 no trump. This bid showed 15 to 17 HCP but it also tended to deny four spades. Fortunately for this partnership, North was on the same page as South and now showed her 4-card heart suit. South showed his preference among the majors by bidding 2 spades, and now North bid 2 no trump showing about 9 or 10 points and a balanced hand. That was all that South needed to bid the no trump game. West had a difficult choice to make for his opening lead. The bidding strongly suggested that his partner would be bereft of values, but he decided to hope that East would have something in diamonds so he placed the 5 of that suit on the table. Alas, on this lie of the cards, there was no way for the defenders to break this contract and all the lead did was to present declarer with an

overtrick. North-South, however, were always coming to at least 9 tricks regardless of how their opponents defended: 3 spades, 2 hearts, and 4 clubs were there for the taking as long as declarer was careful to lead the first low spade towards the dummy. Note that if the spade jack is played first, it will create a second winner in that suit for East. The best news of all for NorthSouth was that at almost every other table the contract was 4 spades by North, quickly going down on the diamond lead from East. West won the first trick with the queen, cashed the ace, gave his partner a ruff, and later won another trick with the spade ace. So a little ingenuity and attention to the bidding paid huge dividends for this partnership. May I suggest you discuss it with your favourite partner and see if you would have been on the same wavelength? Questions or comments: email: masson.ken@gmail.com [Ed. Note: It is Kenneth’s final column. He has offered to send articles from time-to-time. We thank him for his contributions.]

Ken Masson


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A Plague Celebration

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he holidays are upon us! All my friends, both the cautious and the cavalier, have accepted that COVID-9 will be with us into the new year. We are lonelier than ever, and long for the closeness we used to take for granted. We miss hugs. We want to sit close to each other. That is verboten. Thus, the challenge. How are we, older and with underlying health conditions, to enjoy the warmth and

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joy of the season? Revelry formerly meant getting large groups together to eat too much, drink gaily, and toast endlessly. I have pondered this and decided that the next few months will have to include companions, but in creative and careful ways. My husband and I are currently residing in a condominium. We have two options for guest visits. Option One is to have company come to our unit, where visits are in

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close quarters and we are breathing the same air. This option would be for persons who basically live in quarantine. For example, one couple we know work from home, doing almost all work on Zoom meetings and computers. If they do have to meet anyone, they exercise extreme safety precautions, such as distancing and masking. This couple follows all guidelines and so we have labeled them as a “safe pod.” Woohoo! They can come for dinner, which means we still treat them as if they are asymptomatic carriers, but at least they may come inside. Then there are the cavalier crew. For example, my son and his girlfriend. He once asked me, “So do I have to wait for a vaccine to see you again?” He was perplexed that my husband and I will not go out to eat. “I eat out five times a week, in restaurants!” he bragged. Well, that put a label on him: Corona Hot. This brings us to Option Two. Our building allows us to have outside guests in an open-air side courtyard. There is a fire pit and soft music. Plenty of spacing is available and we can move chairs around to accommodate the needed precautions of spacing. This area must be reserved, much like a table in a restaurant, to

limit how many people are in proximity to each other. Most of our social acquaintances and family are not as careful as we are, so the courtyard is the preferred location for camaraderie. We have had several pre-holiday practices for outside visits. Mask until seated. Pack a picnic basket with plastic wine glasses (building rule of no glassware), small popcorn bags filled with individual servings, sanitary wipes, and paper napkins. I ordered paper napkins with the slogan “Isolation Insanity” printed on them, hoping this encourages my guests to let their hair down and make good use of the limited time we have to party. They are free to go crazy. My son and his girlfriend came for the first trial “party at the pit.” She brought flowers, which we placed on a side table. The space looked downright homey. I was so excited! We had placed large beach towels on their chairs to indicate where they were to sit, demonstrating distance. Things were fun, but we noticed we had to yell over background street noise. They moved their chairs in a bit closer, and my inner alarm went off. I made a mental note that happy hours would need to be moved a tad later so that business travelers honking and engine noise did not eclipse the story I was telling. I knew the evening was a success, even with the outside noises, because I received a text from the girlfriend saying, “…we need more, more!!! Xoxo.” There won’t be travel for Christmas with family this year. But I think that with the right outdoor table decorations and holiday music playing, we will show this plague that people will party, no matter how toughly nature conspires against us. Happy Holidays! Katina Pontikes


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COLUMNIST

Mirror To The Universe —Happy Birthday, Jesus! By Rob Mohr “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” —Bertrand Russell

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hen you read this article we will already know the outcome of the U.S. election. Will Trump still be with us or will compassion and hope have gained a new foothold in our world? If each of us had considered the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth, how might we have voted in November? In this new world, saying “Christmas,” the day when mass was said for Christ, has become taboo. Set on winter’s solstice marking the autumn harvest and the beginning of a new year, Christmas replaced several ancient festivals. But for us, what will December bring? Will it be limited to red decorations and sporadic gifts, or might Christmas become a time

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of renewal? Bertrand Russell’s understanding of human nature led him to conclude that all humans were driven by four primary desires: “Acquisitiveness (the wish to possess as much as possible), Rivalry (between individuals and communities), Vanity (a potent motive), and Love of Power (which outweighs the first three).” Consider the implications if he was right. Yet, when we look around, humans, and communities of humans, are fulfilling these exact desires. Is there an alternative? In my mind Christmas is just that, an alternative set of values expressed by a young visionary two thousand and some odd years ago. Not the

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

dogma of organized Christianity, but a new set of desires whose core is harmony with one another and creation. Compassion, and care, for others and creation opens the door for a less discordant understanding of what it means to be human. Yet, if we consider today’s reality, who will reach out to the poor? Who will speak and act out of love, bind their wounds, or proclaim freedom for all of humanity? In place of division, who among us will seek harmonious community, one which ensures healthcare for all people, equality among races and genders, and adequate housing and income and education? Who will wipe away tears in the midst of a global pandemic, give birth to the winds of change, or accept the understandings and values expressed by Jesus of Nazareth? When I was a child, my grandmother, Elizabeth Anne MacQueen, with whom I lived for three summers on her farm, read the bible at six each morning. When she finished, we would walk about a hundred yards to her large garden where we would cultivate and gather food for lunch that day. She taught me the discipline of care. Her world-view was progressive and wide. She recognized the emptiness in the “four desires” named by Russell. If she were alive today, she would say without hesitation, “Woe to

this obstinate nation, to a people who know not truth.” But her tone would be one of love. She would focus on a time, when “the eyes of those who see would no longer be closed.” When good men and women would ensure justice for all. One where life would take place sheltered from the storm of division, hate, and violence. Today, I, too, envision a time when we wake up and our day’s fruit will be love and compassion, served with a progressive openness that will create equal room for all people, black, brown or white, male or female. A place and time when equality and justice will embrace us all, and all people will enjoy a “peace that passes all understanding.” Many of us—in this time of unchecked rivalry, when blind adherence to stale doctrine and a “me first” philosophy governs our lives—have lost sight of what Christmas is all about. Perhaps loving one another and giving useful gifts is not a bad idea, especially if we share our lives in significant ways. So, as you reflect, what kind of Christmas will you create this December? Rob Mohr


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Advice From A Friendly Bear By Dr. Lorin Swinehart

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ome people talk to animals. Not many listen, though. That is the problem.” — Winnie-the-Pooh It was nearly dark the other night as I enjoyed my evening walk in the complex where our daughter lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I approached the end of the sidewalk, I encountered a huge, lumbering creature who seemed as interested in his evening prowl as I was in my own. A large black bear was snuffling about in the grass only a few feet from me. I greeted him with, “Good evening, Mr. Bear,” and advised him that it was safe for him to linger a bit and talk with me

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but to avoid others of my kind, because they cannot be trusted and too often do terrible things. He seemed unimpressed with my words and continued on his way, despite my urging him to come back and stay awhile. I believe that we could have had a mutually rewarding conversation. There was no fear on my part. I love bears. I have been preoccupied with bears much of my life. I looked behind me to find a young woman, perhaps in her twenties, leading two small dogs. “I just saw a bear,” she said, “How wild is that!” I responded that my wife and I were former National Park Service rangers and that I love bears.

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“Well, he came to the right person then, didn’t he.” “Yes, I guess he did.” It was refreshing to find a young person who expressed wonder on such an occasion instead of the usual stock response I receive whenever I mention my wilderness encounters with wolves or bears, “Oh, I would be scared to death.” Such persons live their lives in accordance with a script composed by others. Many years ago, when I was very young, I taught in a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school on the Navaho Reservation in a place called Tohatchi, New Mexico. That autumn, I met my first wild bears, a pair of big, comical yearlings who were so intent upon gobbling pinion nuts that they were oblivious to my presence. Of course, once they spotted me, they went bouncing off into their forested home with nary a look back. One night in late winter, I sat around a campfire sharing stories with Indian friends—two Pawnee, one Navaho, one Comanche. The stories they shared ranged from Navaho witches and skin changers to the dread “chi’indi,” that is said to consist of all that is negative about an individual spirit and to forever haunt his place of death, striking terror into the hearts of all who encounter it. My Navaho friend explained to me that the old, traditional people would never harm or kill a bear under any circumstances, not even if he was tearing down the hogan late on a freezing winter night. The bear, he explained, is man’s brother because he sometimes stands erect on two legs. Recently, a bear was discovered feeding upon a human carcass in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was reported that the bear was euthanized by rangers, a euphemism for being shot. There was no explanation offered as to what tragedy caused the unfortunate person to be lying dead along the trail. Still, perhaps killing the bear was a wise decision, given that

bears become habituated to certain kinds of food and that perhaps this specimen would have developed a taste for human cadavers. A neighbor once returned from a hunting trip in the West boasting that he had killed a bear. I never viewed him the same afterward. If my long-ago Navaho friend was correct about the just and proper relationship between humans and bears, perhaps humans who feed upon bear carcasses should be euthanized as well as bears who feed upon human carcasses. One should not with impunity feed upon one’s brother, especially given that on the average there are only two confirmed bear attacks on people each year, mostly a result of human stupidity, while human hunters kill an estimated 33,000 bears annually. Over the years, I have been blessed again and again by the appearance of one of the Creator’s bears; once in the Everglades, on another occasion in the hills of West Virginia, and years later while serving as a National Park Service ranger in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. My only perilous encounter took place along a remote mountain trail in Montana where I incurred the wrath of a mother grizzly with a small cub. While I gave my ursine friend sound advice the other night, I wonder what counsel he might have shared with me. Some gift shops offer greeting cards and wall hangings with the title “Advice from a Bear.” Such sage advice includes: Live large; climb beyond your limitations; when life gets you down, grin and bear it; eat well, live with the seasons; take time to hibernate; give bear hugs; stay wild; protect your cubs; don’t let anything stand in your way. I wish he had tarried longer so as to share his wisdom with me. Late at night, I awaken concerned about the friendly bear I met here on the edge of town. My advice to him was correct, to avoid humans, but he seemed unworried about the prospects of meeting others of my kind. There is no food or garbage that might attract bears left out in this particular neighborhood. However, poachers have set cruel leg-hold traps up in the Blue Ridge and elsewhere. Perhaps my ursine friend will confine his browsing to the nearby forests where he will be safe. Perhaps no place is safe. And yet, I take comfort in the knowledge that there will always be wild bears. My hope is that every bear will live a long and carefree life, and that every tree will be a honey tree. Lorin Swinehart


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Moving Forward While Staying Put By Christy Wiseman

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e are edging toward the first year in this pandemic and as I mark another birthday, I realize I am edging towards eternity. It doesn’t scare me, it’s simply another fact amid a myriad of facts. I’m at peace with it. What has changed is that as I meet old friends on Zoom whose smooth faces have become lined or whose bodies show an abundance of unneeded skin, I realize that what I love in them goes far deeper than appearance, and connecting with them, even in this limited way, or by phone or email is a gift. Hopefully they feel the same about me. In truth, I am just glad to see the familiar faces and to know they are

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still with us. They are treasured. Those few who have proved toxic are silently wished well as we parted. I’ve learned over the years that boundaries are important. This pandemic has caused a number of outcomes as we are obliged to keep our distances. This isn’t easy as human beings are comforted by the touch and the nearness of those we love. In some cases this prescribed closeness to a spouse or partner has clarified those things we loved about the other person. In other cases, what it clarifies is that we have the wrong partner. In all cases, if we are willing, it clarifies to us who we really are and gives us the

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chance to improve the direction we are heading and the attitudes we are adopting as this silent plague stalks us all. It reveals our true reality while we still have a chance to modify it. Am I saying this plague is a good thing? Yes, in some ways adversity can be a positive. It solidifies in us what our true values are and gives us time to correct the course. It teaches us patience and how to enjoy the things which previously had seemed inconsequential or which had gone unnoticed. Each day I give thanks for being allowed another day. A day in which I can notice how incredible nature really is, or in which I can reach out to another shutin and open the door of compassion for their challenges, or simply spend some time with them as we share what is meaningful to us both. I’m lucky in that I like to quilt and to cook and I love to learn. The Internet provides master classes and YouTube tutorials. We can even order things via the Internet. I recently ordered fish from the Alaska Fish Company. It came with pollock. I had never heard of pollock, but it is a type of cod found in the North Atlantic, so I’m going to try it in a fish soup recipe that my dear friend Linda sent me. She is an excellent cook, so I’ll try this Asian dish with

good crusty rolls and maybe share it with a neighbor, with an understanding that future invites, like the sword of Damocles, would be weighed by how he shares his opinion. He doesn’t need to like it, he simply needs to be kind. I felt myself blessed during this pandemic as my youngest son, Tom, sheltered with me for seven months and I got to know him as a young man of 44 years. He had broken his engagement with his fiancée of nine years and they were both moving on. It was a good thing as they both knew it wasn’t working and they saved themselves a divorce by the break-up. Still, when any dreams of a future family are put to rest, it is painful. The blessing in all this was that I got to know my son in a way seldom available to parents as a child grows and moves on. Tom is a positive, generally happy young spirit. He is addicted to golf, like his father and grandfather before him. He doesn’t like the pandemic, and sheltering with his mother for seven months was certainly not on his bucket list, but his kindness and sensitivity to my feelings made it quite comfortable for both of us and when his job opened back up, I was sorry to see him go. He is the epitome of someone who generally lands “butter side up” which gives me confidence in his future. After all, isn’t that the hope of most parents?! Someday, hopefully soon, this pandemic will be part of our past. While it has claimed so many lives, it has freed others to a more rewarding future, in ways they hadn’t previously imagined. May this time for you be a time of growth, of clarification, and of solidification of the values that will move you into a rewarding and positive future and may you find serenity in the now. Christy Wiseman


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From The Halls of Montezuma By Herbert W. Piekow

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ost people have heard the rousing anthem of the U.S. Marine Corps and are familiar with the opening stanza, “From the Halls of Montezuma . . .” and, most are familiar with the reference to the Aztec emperor who was defeated by the Spanish invader Cortez, long before there was a United States of America or a U.S. Marine Corps. Few know that this refrain refers to the Battle of Chapultepec Hill where young Mexican military cadets died rather than surrender to the invading American forces. The Battle of Chapultepec Hill was bloody and memorable for both sides. The Marines commemorate their loss of 90 percent of their commissioned and noncommissioned officers with the scarlet “blood stripes” on their dress uniforms. While the Mexicans will never forget the sacrifice of Los Niños Héroes, the young cadets who gave their lives to slow the advance of the superior invading American armed forces. Los Niños Héroes refers to the Boy Heroes, or the six young cadets who valiantly gave their lives rather than be taken prisoners by the overwhelming and better-equipped American invaders. On September 8, 1847, the Mexican Army lost the Battle of the Red Mill, two miles from Chapultepec Hill, to the superior American Army. The bloodied Mexican soldiers delayed the Americans for a few days, allowing the Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, who was in charge of the forces defending Mexico City to mount a defense of Chapultepec. Chapultepec, which means grasshopper hill in Nahuatl, rises 200 feet above the city´s west side and forms a natural barrier against invaders, is crowned by the Chapultepec Castle. The hill originally rose from the lake where the Aztecs built their capitol. In about 1325, the Aztecs fortified Chapultepec Hill and built both religious and residential edifices. Chapultepec Castle, which, at the time of the American invasion, was the Mexican Military Academy and a coveted prize for the foreign invaders. Dozens of young teenaged cadets were studying there. These young, inexperienced

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soldiers-in-training were asked to help defend Mexico City and slow the invading American army and, if possible, prevent the capture of Chapultepec. Unfortunately, there were not enough Mexican resources and the American forces greatly outnumbered the Mexican defenders in both military numbers and firepower. After hours of hand-tohand combat it became apparent that the American forces were triumphing. General Nicholas Brazo commanded the Mexican forces at Chapultepec Hill to retreat to safety. However, several young cadets refused to relinquish their posts. The six cadets who ranged in age from 13 to 19 years sacrificed themselves in order to slow the advancement of the Americans. One young cadet wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and flung himself onto the rocks below the castle so that his nation’s flag would not be claimed by the Americans. These Young Heroes have been forever immortalized in Mexican history and lore. Nearly every Mexican city and pueblo honors these six brave boys with a street or monument dedicated to Los Niños Héroes, to remind all Mexicans that heroes are comprised of people who, no matter their age, give everything they have for their ideals and in the defense of the “just cause.” Each of these boys died a hero’s death in defense of their country and to preserve their honor. Mexico will always honor their valor. At the entrance of Chapultepec Park is an imposing monument of Carrara marble by architect Enrique Aragon and sculptor Ernesto Tamariz commemorating the heroic act of these cadets. On March 5, 1947, U.S. President Harry S. Truman made an unscheduled stop from his Mexico City Tour to pay his respects to these valiant defenders against American aggression. Asked by reporters why he had gone to the monument, Truman replied, “Brave men don’t belong to any one country.” Herbert W. Piekow


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Story of Chanukah By Mel Goldberg

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hanukah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of freedom,” celebrated with the nightly lighting of a ninebranched menorah, special prayers, and fried foods. The Hebrew word Chanukah means dedication, and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple. The Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, ch sound, cha-nu-kah. SOME HISTORY More than 2,000 years ago the land of Israel was part of the Syrian-Greek Empire, dominated by Syrian rulers of the Seleucid dynasty. Antiochus III, the King of Syria who reigned from 222-186

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B.C.E., gave the Jews under his rule some freedom. But when Antiochus died, his son Seleucus IV promoted Hellenistic idol-worship in an attempt to unite the people under his rule. But Yochanan, the High Priest of the Jews, resisted and saw the danger to Judaism by the influence of the Hellenists who accepted idol-worship and the Syrian way of life. Yochanan opposed the Jewish Hellenists who favored the ideal of outward beauty in contrast to Judaism which emphasized truth and moral purity, as commanded by the Torah. When Antiochus IV ascended to the throne, he suppressed all the Jewish rituals. When Yochanan protested, he was assassinated.

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Antiochus IV enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jews. Jewish worship was forbidden; the scrolls of the law (Torah) were confiscated and burned. Sabbath rest, circumcision, and the dietary laws were prohibited under penalty of death. Antiochus’s men went from town to town and from village to village to force all inhabitants to worship pagan gods. A Jewish priest named Mattityahu lived in the remote village of Modiin. When Antiochus’s men arrived in the village, they built an altar in the marketplace and demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. He refused. When a Jewish Hellenist offered to make a sacrifice at the altar, Mattityahu killed him. Then he and his sons and friends destroyed the altar, killed some of Antiochus’s men, and routed the rest. Knowing that Antiochus would be enraged, Mattityahu left Modiin and fled, together with his sons and friends, to the hills of Judea where they formed an army determined to destroy pagan altars. Before his death, Mattityahu called his sons together and urged them to continue and to follow a leader who was called The Maccabee, a word composed of the initial letters of the four Hebrew words Mi Kamocha Ba’eilim Adonai, (who is like God).

Antiochus sent an army to destroy the Maccabees. The army was defeated by the Maccabees, who used guerrilla tactics and swore they would fight to death in defense of their souls and the temple! When the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem, they entered the temple and cleared it of the idols. They built a new altar, which they dedicated on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, in the year 139 B.C.E. Kislev often occurs in December. This year the twenty-fifth of Kislev falls on December 23. Because the Syrians had taken the original gold menorah when the temple was destroyed, the Maccabees made a new menorah with nine branches. When they went to light it, they found only a small cruse of pure olive oil bearing the official seal of the High Priest Yochanan. The oil was sufficient to burn only for one day and it took eight days to consecrate olive oil for religious purposes. But the menorah continued to burn for eight days until new oil was consecrated. They took that as a miracle that God still had the people under His protection. In memory of this, the ancient sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles. Today, one of the traditions of Chanukah is to give gelt (money) which are usually chocolate coins wrapped in gold-colored foil. One explanation is that the root of the word Chanukah can be connected to the Hebrew word for education, chinuch. Thus, the history behind Chanukah customs is educational. When we give children Chanukah gelt, we are teaching them the history and the importance of freedom. And the Maccabiah Games, named in honor of the Maccabees, often called the Jewish Olympics, are held in Israel the year following the Olympic Games, and the best Jewish athletes from throughout the world compete. Mel Goldberg


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Mexico’s Love Affair with The Virgin By Carol L. Bowman

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exico is the land of religious celebrations. For the past 500 years, few months have passed without a festival that honors a Catholic Saint or event as loud booms of cajotes explode into the sky to announce the celebration. But this year, 2020, Mexico’s sacred traditions have gone silent, the masses have worshipped in solitude, and depictions of their faith have faded into the air among the droplets of an unseen virus. Plazas, where throngs of the Church’s faithful used to gather, remain empty. Who among us could fathom Day of the Dead or the Passion Play reenactment canceled? No religious observation will be more sorely missed than December 12, the Day of Our Lady, the Virgin of

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Guadalupe. To break this silence and fill this void, come with me to Mexico’s holiest shrine, the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, located in the Tepeyac Hill neighborhood in northern Mexico City to witness this country’s love affair with the Virgin. Let’s revisit December 12th, pre-Co-Vid-19. Standing on the stone steps at the entrance to this magnificent plaza, called La Villa, I gazed at the throngs descending on this place. Some pushed strollers cradling precious children, others escorted elderly parents in wheelchairs; some struggled with disabilities, others moved easily through the crowdall flooded up the avenue. Thousands of pilgrims including myself, prepared to spend this special day with the Virgin of Guadalupe. Stoic emotions painted their faces, as faithful souls came to pray to the Patroness of Mexico, their protectorate. For centuries, ‘She’ has been a comfort for Mexican Catholics, converts and even curious non-believers. The fervor generated for this unusual image of the Virgin Mary surpassed any religious pilgrimage I had ever witnessed, even my visit to Fatima, Portugal on Easter Sunday. Tokens designed to enhance the spiritual interaction for each individual abounded. Women clutched wooden replicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe, men carried three-foot statuettes of the Virgin’s likeness, swathed in palm branches and surrounded with

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roses; children wore medallions of the Virgin hanging close to their hearts; teenagers held ‘trendy’ battery-operated blinking icons with the golden aura surrounding her image flashing in neon. Young and old proudly donned t-shirts that projected an artist’s interpretation. I felt naked, I came unadorned. I hadn’t anticipated this intense display of passion that resembled a political rally. It is impossible to understand Mexico and its culture without comprehending the national devotion, veneration and eternal affection of its people for Our Lady of Guadalupe. As a permanent Mexican resident, but a life-long Protestant, even I sensed a connection to Mexico’s sacred Lady. You cannot live here and escape her pull. I felt compelled to travel to Mexico City to witness the largest and most spectacular commemoration of The Day of Our Lady, the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica, even though observances take place in every town and village in the country. The story has been repeated millions of times. On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzen, an Aztec convert to Catholicism, witnessed an apparition that he believed to be the Virgin Mary in the hills surrounding Mexico City. The vision wore a blue-green mantle, the color reserved for an Aztec divine couple. Spokes of light that resembled maguey cactus spines the Aztec used to make pulque, radiated from her image. Her belt style represented a sign of pregnancy and her skin beamed an olive hue, like that of the native people. She spoke to Juan Diego in Nahuatl language. She asked Juan Diego to report her revelation to the local Bishop and to request that a shrine in her honor be built on that spot. Archbishop Fray de Zumarraga required proof. On December 12, the Virgin again appeared to Juan Diego. The date coincided with the Feast of Immaculate Conception, the most sacred and celebrated event in the holy calendar for Mexican Catholics. Following ‘Her’ instructions to provide evidence of her vision, Juan cut a huge bouquet of Castilian roses he found growing in the hills. He filled his apron-like cloak (tilma) with these long stemmed beauties which were not native to Mexico and would never bloom in Mexico City’s winter climate and carried them to the Archbishop. When Juan unfurled his apron to lay the roses at the Father’s feet, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, framed in gold was miraculously emblazoned in the agave threads of the cloak. The Archbishop authorized the immediate construction of a shrine at the site of the apparition and ordered that the Virgin’s image preserved on the tilma, be protected forever and hung in the shrine as a symbol of ‘Her” miracle. This image of the Virgin Mary, that

physically resembled the indigenous and Mestizo cultures of Mexico, would finally bring meaning for the new converts to Catholicism. ‘She’ gave them something to believe in and that belief has intensified over almost 500 years. Initially, Catholic Church officials questioned the wisdom of allowing the indigenous population to revere the painted image, but the Dominicans argued that the Aztecs’ veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe provided a lure toward conversion. To them, ‘She’ became the first Mestizo, the first true Mexican who joined Old World Spain and New World reality. I felt sandwiched among the faithful in the standing-room only crowd inside the New Basilica with a capacity of 50,000. I found myself shuffling on an electric people-mover, passing by that same image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that had appeared on Juan Diego’s cloak. The completely round Basilica provided a perfect view from any point in the building. Protected behind bulletproof glass, the cloth had an enormous Mexican flag draped beneath the vibrant impression. I felt ‘doubt’ dissipate and ‘belief’ fill that void, as this powerful miracle evoked a feeling that this was a Shroud of Turin for the Americas. The Old Basilica, Templo Expiatorio del Cristo Rey, under construction from 1531 until 1709, held the Virgin’s image until the newest shrine to house Juan Diego’s cloak was completed on October 12, 1976. The New Basilica, considered one of the architectural masterpieces of the world, was designed by Mexican architect, Pedro Ramirez Vasquez, who also built Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. Several events over the years have served to cement the Mexican people’s faith in the Virgin. In 1921, a disgruntled parishioner set off a bomb inside the Old Basilica, causing significant damage to the altar, but the image of the Virgin remained unscathed. In 1791, after an accidental ammonia spill onto the tilma’s canvas, the image apparently repaired itself without external help. On May 6, 1990, Pope John Paul ll beatified Juan Diego at a mass at the New Basilica. In 1999, he proclaimed the Virgin of Guadalupe to be the Patroness of the Americas and on July 31, 2002, before a crowd of 12 million in the plaza of La Villa, he canonized Juan Diego. ‘Her’ religious miracle was complete. Carlos Fuentes, noted Mexican novelist said, “You cannot truly be considered Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe.” I left the Basilica having witnessed that truth. Carol L. Bowman


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COLUMNIST

If Our Pets Could Talk By Jackie Kellum

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efore you decide to bring another pet into the family, THINK. During this decision process, you should be realistic regarding your current pet’s ability to adapt to this change. Things you need to consider is your established pet’s age, especially if he is a senior with poor vision or hearing, has difficulty walking, has pain due to age or illness, is medically fragile, or has been alone for a long period of time. If you are dealing with any of these issues, you need to question yourself if this is the right time and thing to do to him. Will your current pet acclimate easily to this change in his life and feel comfortable in his own home? Another question to answer is, Will your establish pet(s) benefit from this new addition? When you are considering a new possibility, evaluate the personality, energy level, and assertiveness of the potential “new guy” so there is a good match with your other pets. To keep the household peaceful, you must also consider your current responsibilities before taking on new ones. You need to be truthful and realistic with this evaluation. This applies to both cats and dogs. Another decision factor is knowing if you can handle this situation financially and whether you can make enough time to provide meaningful attention to each pet. Part of this thought process should include, and you have an answer for, what will happen if something “happens?” That is, if you become disabled or when you die. Who will be responsible to take care of your pets in these circumstances? Death is not an “if” circumstance, it is a “when” situation. If your honest answer is yes, a new addition would be good, you need to make a plan about the introduction of the new pet and not just “wing it.” Also, make sure all pets are current with their vaccinations and parasite prevention. If you have any medical concerns about either pet,

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have them examined by your veterinarian prior to the introduction. Have reasonable expectations about the new addition’s behavior and reactions to his new housemates. Observe for and have a plan how to deal with territorial behavior, possible food aggression, “marking” in the house that did not occur previously, or jealousy on the part of either the new or established pet. If there are many pets in the house, make the “new guy” introductions one by one in a quiet, calm environment, not a “mass meeting.” This helps the new one from becoming overwhelmed, frightened, or possibly aggressive with this new situation. Each dog and cat has their own unique natural instincts and behaviors that need to be addressed with introductions. Stay in control of the introductions. Introducing your dog or cat to their new family members in the right way is essential for building positive relationships and safety for all. Properly socializing your dog or cat to other pets means giving them the skills they need to successfully live together and encourages positive interactions. To create a harmonious household you need to guide or teach each pet what to do when they feel overwhelmed, and ensure a safe and calm environment for each pet member. Reward calm behavior by giving positive attention, or possibly a treat. Introducing a new pet mate to an established pet may be less complex if they are the same species (dog-dog, cat-cat) versus dog-cat or catdog. But whatever the circumstances, the success of the introductions and integration requires thought and planning. Jackie Kellum


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That Night In Ashland By Linda L. Steele novels@att.net

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hen you run into your old buddies from high school, you won’t have anything in common with them. You will have changed. Don’t be surprised about that.” I heard that kind of talk all the time. Now I was back in my hometown, with my folks, on leave, and what I noticed was not so much that I had changed, but the old hometown was different. My friends from school were busy making lives of their own. Some had gone off to college and others were busy working every day. None of them had time to hang out

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with me. They had moved on, just like I had. Main Street was deserted at 9:00 on that Sunday evening in early fall. A stiff wind was blowing, and it was chilly. The only signs of life were the occasional car moving slowly up the street and in the distance I could hear the whimpering of a small child, or an animal, coming from the dark alley between the bank and the jewelry store. Surely nobody had abandoned a small baby. Curious, I had to investigate. The cries were louder as I neared the end of the cluttered alley. Empty packing boxes littered the back

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entrance. The crying was frantic. I started moving boxes and down at the bottom of a large tissue box was the tiny little being who had been making all that noise. It was probably foolhardy to have blindly reached down into that box when I was unable to see more than a dark shadow squirming wildly inside, but that was just what I did. I grabbed the little thing and pulled out . . . a tiny little puppy. “Shhh, shhhh,” I crooned to it as I cuddled it in my hands and then tucked it into the front of my coat to warm it. “What have they done to you, tossing you all by yourself into that big old box?” I asked. The little ball of fur just grunted and gave a little snort as it calmed down. “I’ll bet you’re hungry. I wonder if you could share a couple of hamburgers with me. Are you big enough to do that? There’s a little place down the street where we can get some.” I hoped it would be open this late on a Sunday evening. As we approached the little diner, an old railroad passenger car that had been converted into a restaurant, the lights were on and several cars were parked outside. Behind the counter was a large, older woman wearing a white uniform with a lacy green hanky that had seen its better days, drooping out of her front pocket. It was probably meant to be some sort of decoration. She looked tired and grumpy. “What can I get for you?” she asked loudly, without the hint of a smile. The words were no sooner out of her mouth than her eyes fell to the puppy with its tiny head protruding through the opening of my jacket. “You can’t have that dog in here,” she cried loudly. “Take that animal out of here right now.” “Could I just order a couple of burgers and some fries and wait outside till they’re ready? We won’t

stay inside while you fix them.” “You certainly cannot! Get that dog out of here, now!” As I slowly turned to leave, I was surprised to hear the young woman who had been sitting on a stool near the angry waitress say, “Well, if he has to leave, then you can just cancel my order. I’m leaving too.” I looked down at the earnestlooking face of the sweetest young woman I have ever seen. She was a very small-statured blonde. When she smiled at me, I forgot all about being hungry. I wanted to get out of that diner, and I wanted to know all about that pretty girl. “Do you suppose the Lyn-Way is still open?” she asked with an impish grin on her face. “Or shall we take my car to the Dairy Dolly and have our burgers in the car? I’d hate to see you get kicked out of another place.” “I’d hate to get kicked out of any other place, and,” I added, “I’m not gonna leave this poor little guy anywhere by himself.” During the next two weeks my pretty girl, June, and I were together every day. By the time I had to leave, she was my wife. I hated to leave her, but I was glad to leave my little four-legged friend, Copper, with her to keep her company. So much has happened since then. We had two sons. She was the perfect mother, made our home a secure, happy place. My June was an excellent cook. That eventful night in Ashland, Ohio, was 51 years ago. Now my June is gone, carried away to heaven in the middle of the night, and I’m an old, retired guy. To this day, I am still so glad that I investigated that box in the alley and found Copper and that I was thrown out of the diner. I can only believe that the angels must have been watching over us that night.


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Holiday Travel By Sue Schools

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re-COVID-9 (Ye Good Olde Days), I enjoyed driving my huge van to Texas and beyond to compete in chili cook-offs, visit friends and family, and do some shopping. I always take one or two of my standard poodles with me for companionship and an illusion of protection. Even parking in shaded areas, the summer temperatures are dangerous for my loved ones, so I prefer going in cooler months. One time, I traveled a few days before Christmas and learned a hard lesson. Not sure of my arrival, I canceled my motel reservation in Laredo only to find out when I did arrive that evening, all the rooms in the town were taken, except one which was normally $40 (this was years ago, remember) and that night priced at $110. My van has a twin bed, a port-a-potty, and ice chest, so I decided to sleep in the

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Walmart parking lot. Recreational vehicles are allowed in W/M lots everywhere, but for some reason the guard tapped on my walls about 4:00 a.m. I had planned to leave about 5:00 a.m., so groggily I went inside the superstore to use the facilities and stopped at an all-night ministore for a cappuccino to go. I was on the road a little early and returned Lakeside by sunset, and as always, was glad to be home again and pleased with my new memories and purchases. Last year was different as I traveled north on December 20th and was amazed at the southbound traffic. Hundreds of cars were lined up to proceed through the first tollbooth, with many just turning off their engines and walking around to stretch. The same occurred at the second caseta de cobro and there were Oxxo shops on both sides of the high-

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way. Travelers who had been shut up for hours were all descending on the stores for bathroom breaks, cold drinks, and snacks. I can’t even imagine the plunder on the plumbing tanks nor the depletion of toilet paper and provisions. Also, my mind boggled at the tollbooth income at 273 pesos per carload. If I were a bold criminal with bandit amigos armed with machine guns, the nightly haul could have been tremendous. When I made the trip this November 2020, there were new tollbooths being built to further the delay and increase income proportionately. From Matehuala to San Luis Potosi,

there were individuals peppered along the southbound sidelines waving at passing cars. At first, I thought they were possibly trying to hitchhike to SLP for a special holiday Mass. But on and on they sat or stood and waved. One family was joined by a grandmother in a wheelchair! I’m a little slow sometimes, and finally realized they were lined up to welcome back their Mexican compatriots who were returning home for the holidays. It was an incredibly warm feeling and even as an expat resident, I felt welcomed. A word of advice, leave early or stay late to avoid the holiday rush. Viva la Mexico!!


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Carol D. Bradley

Email: cdbradleymex@gmail.com Phone: 33-2506-7525 “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put all together that overwhelm the world.”  —Desmond Tutu    Your local restaurants, theaters, and musicians are gearing up for high season, as it is, with their best for you and all COVID precautions. Please, if you can, go out to your favorite restaurants and venues, like and share your best on Facebook and/or follow them on websites to get all the latest news. Our local entertainers and small businesses need you now more than ever.    CDB  The Lake Chapala Society hosts Open Circle  every Sunday at 10AM, a popular community gathering in Ajijic, to enjoy a diverse range of presentations.  For more information  and to make reservations,  see their website: opencircleajijic.org.  In order to follow State of Jalisco safety precautions, attendance will be limited to 80 persons, reservations required, use of mask is mandatory and temperature checks on entry. During this period, we recommend bringing your own coffee or bottled water, and please remove containers upon departure. As a service to our audience and presenters, Open Circle will video-record presentations and upload them on the LCS YouTube channel.  OPEN CIRCLE DECEMBER 6, 2020:  December  6.  How  to Maintain Brain Wellness  Presented by Dr. Enrique Lopez  Dr. Lopez will provide practical tools and lifestyle tips for keeping the brain healthy and vital. Additionally, he will describe how the professionals diagnose and assesse cognitive disorders and differentiates between normal aging and a cognitive disorder such as dementia.   Dr. Lopez is a psychologist/neuropsychologist and has been an allied health professional at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences since 2004. He completed a post-doctorate fellowship in neuropsychology at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital in 2000. Dr. Lopez attended OcciDr. Enrique Lopez dental College in Los Angeles from 1985 to 1989 with a major in psychology and minor in Spanish literature.    December 13.  Música de Mis Amores   Presented by San Juan Children’s Orchestra and Chorus (Música Para Crecer)   Música Para Crecer, under the direction of Maestro Dani Medeles, is blessed and honored to celebrate another holiday season with Open Circle. This year they will present a program of Mexico’s all-time favorite songs, those the great music pedagogues Dr. Suzuki and Carl Orff call “the soul of the people,” songs acquired through the mother’s milk. The students have heard these songs all their lives and they are in their blood. The program was carefully arranged to challenge the students musically and technically without departing from their musical roots. 

Like many nonprofits at this time, Música Para Crecer is facing existential challenges, not only financially but also with regard to school enrollment and concerts. With the help of friends, parents, and supporters, the program continues to pay salaries and maintenance, but the pandemic has reduced student attendance from 70 to around 40. Those who’ve stuck with it demonstrate their devotion to music, and the school is Música Para Crecer there to support them in their dreams. Studying and playing music with other students gives them a sense of community and a feeling they are not alone. Music provides them the strength they need right now and for the future as well. Let’s do whatever we can to keep this program alive.  Mexico de mis amores Concierto  • Caperucita Encarnada  • De colores  • Cielito lindo  • Zopilote mojado  • Dios nunca muere  • Somos novios  • El relámpago  • Yesterday  • Zacatecas  • Ojos españoles  • Danzon Juárez  December 20. Where Did We Come From? Where Are We Going?   Presented by Noris Binet  For all living things, physical identity is the result of countless generations of evolution and DNA encoding. Each of us carries an extraordinary legacy. When we become fully aware of the genetic pool of our ancestry, we realize we are part of a colorful tapestry. Wherever we go we bring with us who we are. That place is transformed by what we bring and in turn we are transformed by the place. Ms. Binet will explore how this transformational exchange takes place, a process enabling us to realize our oneness and to love life as it is—always new, flowing, unpredictable, and mysterious.  A visual artist, poet, author, spiritual teacher, and sociologist, Ms. Binet lived Noris Binet in Ajijic from 1982-89. A native of the Dominican Republic, she studied with several indigenous communities, including the Huichols for whom Lake Chapala is sacred. She has worked over decades with diverse communities around the world to build bridges by reclaiming a sense of the sacred. Ms. Noris has a BA in sociology from the University of Guadalajara and received an honorary PhD from the International Institute of Human Sciences in Canada. She returned to Ajijic three years ago.  December  27.  Shakespeare  & Fermat: Two Fascinating Enigmas to Ponder  Presented by Michael Warren  Michael Warren will intrigue us with two enigmas from the 17th centu-

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ry. First he will discuss the dedication of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, published in 1609: “To the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets Mr. W.H. all happiness and that eternity promised by our ever-living poet wisheth the well-wishing adventurer in setting forth T.T.” All sorts of theories have been advanced as to the meaning of this dedication and the identity of Mr. W.H. Michael will proffer his own interpretation.  Second, he will discuss Fermat’s Last Theorem, a mathematical puzzle of historical importance first set out by Pierre Fermat in 1637. For 350 years it has defied solution and prompted extraordinary advances in mathematics. Michael Warren is a poet, actor, and mathematician. For the last several years he has been writing the theater reviews for the Ojo del Lago.  Michael Warren  January 3.  The Great Pause   Presented by John Stokdijk    John Stokdijk will share his thoughts about the coronavirus crisis as a spiritual experience. What insights can be gained? What lessons can be learned? How are we to live now? John will share some of his exciting new discoveries during this extremely disruptive pandemic. His presentation will be a continuation of the spiritual journey he shared at Open Circle in 2015, accessible by clicking here: Secular Spirituality.   John and his wife, Pat, moved to Lakeside in 2012. Locally he is best known for launching the Ajijic Book Club in 2016. ABC has continued to meet and thrive utilizing Zoom. In addition to reading, John enjoys tending his garden and exercising on his treadmill. He and Pat have remained mostly in quarantine supported by local shopping and delivery services.  Lake Chapala Artists  -  showcases the initial results of more than two decades of research into the many talented artists and authors associated with Lake Chapala. With a few notable exceptions, most of the artists/authors whose profiles appear on the site were active in the area between 1890 and 1990. Updates and new material are added each week.   Website http://lakechapalaartists.com/  This treasure trove of information, quotes, and glimpses into the lives of residing or visiting artists and writers is written and curated by Tony Burton. A forthcoming book is planned for late 2021.  Here is a short extract of one of the many delightful stories: “Ajijic ‘Love Trap’ unites Canadian author and English nurse”:  At this point, it is best if Helen’s daughter takes up her mother’s story:   “Her uncle and his chiropractic friend met her . . . and planned to drive her to Lake Chapala. Unfortunately, the sun was setting and uncle Herbert was not able to see the road well and ended up driving over a cliff. My mother’s back was broken to the point the doctors fused it. Poor thing, she spoke no Spanish [and] was in a Mexican hospital [presumably in Guadalajara] sharing a room with a woman bullfighter! It was there that my father met her and began spending time with her while she recovered. As he had been there awhile he had picked up some Spanish, while she had none. The day she was released from the hospital, he proposed.”  The quote is from a personal communication from Helen’s daughter, Colette Hirata, after Mr. Burton contacted her in the course of research.   The illustration is a photo of an oil painting by Ann Medalie (also profiled on the website). Other published works about Lake Chapala by Tony Burton: “Lake Chapala Through the Ages: an anthology of travelers’ tales”  “If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants,” both available in Ajijic at La Nueva Posada, Mi México, and Diane Pearl’s, and in Chapala at Villas QQ.  Bare Stage Theatre presents . . .   In a recent, local press release, with a deadline of mid-October, Bare Stage announced its comeback for a November

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production. Shortly thereafter (and with no ability to stop this press release) COVID-19 cases spiked and our state instituted another shutdown for entertainment. We chose our cast and had just started rehearsals for Here on the Flight Path by Norm Foster, but sadly, we decided it would be best for all concerned not to move forward with this show. We are so very sorry and we understand your disappointment. As cases continue to climb, we will now take a hiatus until we can see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” It truly breaks our heart. We know you will be there for us upon our return and we so look forward to that moment when it comes. Please stay safe and healthy out there ‘til the good times roll again!  Please Like, Follow & Share our Facebook Page:  www.facebook.com/barestagetheatre2018/ IT’S STILL CHRISTMAS, NO MATTER WHAT! Experience the true, lasting joys of Christmas by attending one of these programs featuring nativity readings and traditional carols singalongs:

Photo cap: Lake Chapala Baptist Choir and Freedom Chorale Members Sunday, Dec. 20, 4pm at the Chapala American Legion; Thursday, Dec. 24, 4pm at Mama’s Musical Bar in San Antonio; Friday, Dec. 25, 4pm at the Lake Chapala Baptist Church. All programs feature the Baptist choir and members of Freedom Chorale, under the direction of Cindy Paul. All three programs are free! Little Lakeside Theatre presents:   Christmas Music Fest, with classical Christmas songs, Christmas popular songs, Christmas readings, and a Christmas carol sing-a-long. The dates are December 18, 19 & 20 with all performances at 4pm.    Performers will be Catharine and Robert Thieme, Marsha and Mark Heaton, Michala Swanson, David McIntosh, Michael Warren, Brian Fuqua and Susanne Bullock on the clarinet. (no photo at press time)  COVID-19 precautions will be in place for all performances maintaining a minimum of 6 feet social distancing. Tickets will be 200 Pesos; available by email at tickets@lakesidelittletheatre.com . Box office sale dates can be found at the LLT website – www.lakesidelittletheatre.com.  


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Christmas 1948 By Rob Mohr

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t seems, at times, like yesterday—my childhood, the people I loved, and those who loved me beyond any reasonable expectation. My father’s younger siblings, two sisters and four brothers, had gained in me a new play toy. And, my mother’s two sisters and four brothers followed suit. My aunt Margaret, who showered me with affection, took me to movies and, always, bought me ice cream. My memories of my early life are rich and textured. Every Christmas, my two sisters and our very large Chow, Hippopotamus Tam, (I named him because he was the fattest in a litter of eight) were loaded up and driven from Asheville to my grandparents’ home in coastal South Carolina, where we arrived midst enough cousins to ensure we had the makings of two baseball teams. We played tennis on my grandfather’s clay court, walked in the fields and woods, and picked up pecans from the twenty-seven trees that filled the field beside the house. On Christmas Day–during the exchange of gifts (a very formal affair, we all had to be well dressed)—we filled my grandmother’s living room with palpable energy. During the meal that followed, my maternal grandmother’s love and wisdom nourished us all. As a ritual, my aunt Beatrice always complained “that beast should not be seated at a civilized table.” That was me, who smiled, knowing that I was loved and

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El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

that her words were a secret embrace. This Christmas feast included a fullsize baked country ham (if you have never tasted a cured Christmas ham, you have missed a bit of heaven) and a turkey that had been specially fed corn and shelled-and-cracked acorns for six months or so. There were multiple dishes of dressing filled with pecans and sage, and vegetables, crowned with sweet potato casserole topped with whipped cream. For dessert there were pecan and apple pies. And for the adults, wine was always served around the table that seated twenty-six. This Christmas I was given a glass half full while the smaller children ate around the kitchen table. I felt very grown-up. After the meal, before we could escape, we all retired to her large living room, which had a handcrafted French piano, and sang all the old Christmas songs which featured my mother’s and her two sisters’ soft voices as they took turns playing the piano. The adults all told stories of their early experiences, which added dimension to our understanding of those who loved us. My uncle John Edmund, named for his grandfather, excited us all with stories of the girls he knew at Davidson. As I heard his rich voice, their images emerged in my mind of young women who were all very intelligent, vivacious, and perfect in form. This was the moment I first realized I needed to start noticing. Over the years seated with family in this true living space, fixed in my memory was an almost full-size oilgram of The Night Watch by Rembrandt. His magnificent painting dominated the space. This painting, in time, led me to become an artist.  Our Christmas was idyllic, yes, but back then we did not fully realize how blessed our families were. I know now, with mature eyes, our annual family Christmas was a gift of the best fortune the gods could bestow. A treasure that rests Rob Mohr forever in my heart.


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Slippery When Wet By Margie Keane

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here are many things one shouldn’t do after a certain age but, sadly, we don’t find this out until after we do them. Take, for instance, the romantic getaway my husband arranged for us. As the ads for New Year’s Eve packages began appearing in our local paper, offering wonderful menus, dancing, and champagne toasts for $100 dollars and up, Tom said to me, “Let’s not spend a lot of money celebrating the New Year, okay?” I have never enjoyed going to a club to celebrate, so I readily agreed.  I started planning a nice,

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romantic dinner. But no! A few days before the end of the year, Tom informed me that we had reservations at a hotel on Pismo Beach, with a sunken tub, a fireplace, and a balcony so we could watch the sunset. And only $300.00! “What happened to ‘Let’s not spend a lot of money’?” I asked. He gave me his sexy smile and said, “We deserve some fun. We’ll get some candles and bubbles. The tub is supposed to be very large, so we’ll get naked and frolic amongst the bubbles.” Okay, keep this picture in your mind.  Tom is five-foot-ten and weighs in at 220.  I myself am not

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

a sylphlike creature. I smile when he suggests we “frolic amongst the bubbles.” God bless this romantic. The hotel and the view from our balcony were both perfect. The sunken tub had a wide marble ledge surrounding it, and looked large enough for six people. After a delicious dinner in the hotel’s dining room we returned to our suite and Tom suggested that I shed my clothes while he prepared the tub. When I walked into the “frolicking room,” there he was, submerged up to his chest, a lovely layer of bubbles floating around him.  I eased myself down into the wonderful warmth on the opposite side of the pool and began to really appreciate his plan. I started imagining myself more as a Meryl Streep and less of a Queen Latifah. Amazing what a couple of martinis can do. I closed my eyes, and leaned back in the jasmine-scented waters. Totally immersed in this lovely, warm fog, I heard Tom’s voice calling me. I opened my eyes but I couldn’t see him.  Had I died and gone to heaven? All I could see was a huge white cloud. Wait!  It wasn’t a cloud, I was staring at bubbles! I was surrounded by a wall of bubbles. Tom’s voice called to me again from be-

hind the wall. “It’s almost midnight. I’m pouring our champagne.” Great, more bubbles. I mowed my way through the bubble wall and together we toasted the New Year. We frolicked until we got all pruney and I suggested we get out. Tom was by the side of the tub so he scooted up and was soon seated on the ledge.  I had been paddling around toward the middle of the tub. I moved toward the side but because of the curved wall I slid back to the middle again.  I tried once more but slipped right back. Trying to hide my frustration, I asked, “Darling, why is the tub so slippery?” “I don’t know. Maybe because the bubble stuff I used was foaming bath oil? Do you need some help?” He was watching me, trying hard not to laugh, but I could see his belly twitching. With menace in my voice I said, “Why don’t you just go into the other room, sweetheart? I’ll call you if I need you.” Have you ever watched a walrus try to clamber up onto a dock, miss, slip back into the water, and roll around?  Well, that was me— not a delightful little dolphin “frolicking amongst the bubbles,” but “Wilhelmina Walrus,” thrashing and rolling, fighting my way to the rim of the tub. Very, very un-sexy! I finally managed to grab the ledge, haul myself up, and slither over the side of the tub to safety. So, ladies, let me give you some advice. If your husband or lover suggests a romantic frolic amongst the bubbles, make sure there is NO oil in whatever you get to make bubbles. Oil does not belong in your sunken tub. Save it for your salad. Margie Keane


Bad, Bad Granny By Catherine A. MacKenzie

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’ll never forget one Christmas when my maternal grandmother, Granny Whiting, stayed with us over the holidays. Mom and Granny attended the midnight church service while Dad stayed home with me and my younger siblings. They didn’t arrive home until after 1:00 a.m., so it was late by the time they went to bed. We kids always rose early on Christmas mornings and snuck down to the Christmas tree while our parents slept. But that year things unfolded a little differently. At around three in the morning, Granny woke up my younger brother Harry and me. Perhaps, after attending church at midnight, she had never fallen asleep. Granny Whiting was a staunch Englishwoman. Prim and proper, she did no wrong, and truth be known, she never wanted to do wrong. I’m not really sure why Granny wanted to break the rules that time, but the three of us slithered down the stairs into the living room. “We have to be quiet,” Granny whispered. “We don’t want to wake the others.” One of us plugged in the tree lights and the bountiful tree glowed, creating shadows in the room. Silver icicles, hanging from the spreading branches, sparkled like a kaleidoscope as they picked up the colors of the bulbs. Below the genuine pine branches was an expanse of gaily wrapped gifts of all shapes and sizes. “Let’s look,” Granny whispered with excitement. Then, gathering her nightgown, she leaned into the gifts. “Cathy, do you see one for you?” “Not yet,” I said. “I can’t find one for me either,” she moaned. “Harry, do you?” Like co-conspirators, the three of us rooted through the gifts. We were careful to whisper, for Mom and Dad’s bedroom was at the top of the stairs of our splitlevel house. We didn’t want to wake our parents, nor did we want to wake our siblings who would be too little to remain silent. We were soon fully involved in our escapade, searching for our names on gift tags. Once we found one of our gifts, we proudly showed it to the others and tried to guess its contents. When curiosity overtook us, we tore off a bit of wrap-

ping paper to peek inside. Granny had as much fun as we did. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a voice bellowed, “Get back to bed!” There was a pause. “And that means you, too, Mother!” The voice belonged to my mother, and she sounded angry. Before Harry and I had a chance to move, Granny had dropped whatever gift she held, jumped up, and bolted away, her flowing white nightgown ethereal like a ghost floating up the dark stairs. Harry and I remained by the tree, staring at each other, wondering what had just transpired and how Granny had disappeared so quickly. “Get back to bed!” Mom bellowed again. As had Granny before us, Harry and I scrambled up the stairs, breathing a sigh of relief when we reached our beds. The next morning there was lots of laughter when, at a more presentable hour, our entire family gathered around the tree. Granny, Harry, and I giggled as we recalled our middle-of-the-night caper. I’ll never forget that episode and how in the middle of the night our straitlaced grandmother became a child, how she instigated an adventure, how her daughter had scared her, and how she got all three of us into trouble. For Mom blamed her, of course. Granny was certainly old enough to know better. Bad, bad Granny! Catherine A. MacKenzie: Cathy’s writings have been published in numerous print and online publications. She has also published several short story collections, books of poetry, and children’s picture books. She published her first novel, Wolves Don’t Knock, in 2018. Mister Wolfe (the second in the series) will be published in November 2020, and My Brother, the Wolf, the final volume, will be available in 2021. She lives in West Porters Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada. Reach out to her at: writingwicket@ gmail.com Check out her website at: www.writingwicket.wordpress.com Follow her on Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/cathy.mackenzie.790

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Service with Love

By Shelly Stokes

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ecca and Alan Pohl, founders of Alivio International, made the first of many visits to Chapala in 2010 to help with a summer program for local children. Like so many of us who eventually move to the area, the community and the local people found a place in their hearts. On various trips, they worked with La Ola girls’ home, Hope House boys’ home and medical clinics in Mezcala, San Pedro, Agua Caliente and Chalpicote, villages east of Chapala. Becca’s background in nursing and Alan’s talents as a carpenter and pastor give them the skills to tackle all kinds of projects, but it is their thoughtful perspective on where to help and how to help that is especially refreshing. They resist the urge to go for the easy fixes. Instead, they dig into the details to find the underlying problems. Why are there so many intestinal infections in this community? Why so many kidney problems in the next community? Why don’t people trust the local water? Rather than organizing ongoing medical clinics and medication distributions, Becca and Alan ask why these needs are present – and then look for ways to prevent the problems instead of treating the symptoms. During a recent conversation, I asked Becca why they chose to work

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with people in Agua Caliente. The village is not far from Chapala in distance, but the road along the lake is horrendous and the alternative route makes for a very long drive. Without hesitation, she said the distance from Chapala was exactly why they chose to work there. Most Lakeside organizations choose to work closer to home, and very little aid gets out to villages further to the East. Becca also explained that she and Alan pick their projects carefully. They are a two-person team and can only do so much. Even when they partner with a local Rotary club, they feel that they can be more effective taking on projects in small communities, where helping a few families can make a difference to the entire community. After several medical clinics in the villages, it became clear that clean drinking water and proper sanitation could prevent many of the infections and medical issues they were seeing. Knowing that big infrastructure projects were not feasible, they set out to find a home-based solution for purifying water without electricity. After finding a low-cost ceramic filter that can remove the vast majority of impurities, they went to work with the Chapala Sunrise Rotary club to distribute the filters to people who needed them. While working on that project, they learned a lot of hard lessons about what works and what doesn’t work when you are trying to change behavior or beliefs – particularly when you are an outsider working in a local village. They discovered that it’s not just a matter of showing up, handing out filters and thinking a problem is solved. It’s not just a matter of taking water for analysis and handing out an information sheet showing that the filtered water will be fine. The informationrich approach that works well in the US or Canada simply doesn’t translate well to a rural village in Mexico. Through trial and error, Becca and

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Alan were able to uncover the belief system that informed the relationship people had with their water. They learned that people in the villages grew up hearing that the water wasn’t safe from authority figures they trusted. To tackle the drinking water problem, they needed to tackle the belief system. And for that, they needed help from a local doctor, a pastor, a government funded environmental agency and members of the Chapala Rotary club. As they learned more, they set up a system. To get a filter, a family had to attend an education session to learn how the filters worked and how to use them. The local partners (pastor, doctor, government official) provided assurance that the filters would, indeed, make the local water suitable for drinking. Finally, each family was given a certificate of completion, which helped instill the new behavior in their home – and could potentially influence other families and neighbors to do the same. While the water filter project connected Becca and Alan with several communities, it is not the only project on their plate. Before moving to Chapala, Becca started a Days for Girls group in Lethbridge, Alberta. Volunteers in Lethbridge made kits of reusable menstrual pads, and Becca distributed the kits on trips to locations in Costa Rica and El Salvador. Here in Mexico, she distributed kits to the Wixárika (Huichol) people in the Sierra Madres and in villages east of Chapala. After moving to Chapala in 2017, Becca wanted to set up a Days for Girls Enterprise, teaching local women to make pads and liners that could be donated and sold to local women at a subsidized price. Unfortunately, she was faced with another hard lesson. The pattern and construction methods to make the Days for Girls pads and liners were simply too time-consuming to make it a viable work-fromhome enterprise. Discouraged but not deterred, Becca spent the next two years designing a reusable menstrual pad that is both comfortable to use and simple to construct. Over time, her “sewing ladies” in Agua Caliente turned into a small but capable sewing cooperative that enables women to work from home while taking care of their families. The women produce reusable menstrual pads that are sold under the Bela Feminina brand and distributed to local schoolgirls along with health and wellness education. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Becca and Alan knew they needed to switch gears. With the total shutdown throwing vast numbers of

people out of work, Alan focused on emergency food relief efforts with the Sunrise Rotary club. Working with Rotary members and local partners, they coordinated and distributed weekly food dispensas to 130 families for five months. Becca redirected the efforts of her sewing ladies, putting them to work making 4-layer reusable facemasks. With help from friends, Becca sold masks in the expat community as a fundraiser and made donations to local front-line workers, including 85 masks for the entire Chapala Municipal Police force at a time when masks were not readily available. When fabric masks became commonplace, Becca made yet another pivot. She contacted Teleton hospital in Guadalajara to see if the kids in the rehab program needed masks. Expecting that they might need 350400 masks, she got a big surprise when they asked for 1900! In her usual fashion, Becca took a deep breath and got to work. By expanding her sewing group, the women made 2000 masks for the Teleton kids and earned valuable income while other family members were out of work. With life returning a bit more toward “normal,” Becca is once again taking three children from Chalpicote to Teleton in Guadalajara every other Wednesday, working with her sewing co-op, establishing the new El Tulipa bazaar, and serving as president of the Chapala Sunrise Rotary club. Alan is back to work with the boys at Hope House, serves as pastor of the Lakeside Community Fellowship and supports Becca’s projects in the community. Becca and Alan truly serve the Lakeside community and the surrounding villages with an abundance of love. They rely on fundraising and sustaining donors to fund all of their projects. You can read more about their current efforts and make donations at: Aliviointl.com

Al and Becca with boy from Hope House


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A Book Review By Dr. Lorin Swinehart of: A Summary and Analysis of:

Humor in the Writings of Henry David Thoreau. By Major Tomas Benton Thoreau is a Funny, Funny Man

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n occasion, a work of scholarship appears that is so meticulously researched and so carefully analyzed that it casts new light upon a supposedly familiar subject. Such a work is Major Tomas Benton’s A Summary and Analysis of Humor in the Writings of Henry David Thoreau. Few of us think of Thoreau as a humorous man. Most view him as the apostle of silence, solitude, and simplicity. Some, who have not expended the effort to actually share in his wisdom, may erroneously regard him simply as a cranky old hermit who lived in the woods. Others, of a more extroverted tendency, wonder how he could have endured his two years and two months in isolation at Walden Pond. Still others, such as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, have been inspired to take action by his concept of civil disobedience as an effective means to seek redress for centuries of cruelty and injustice. Many simply admire his stubborn determination not to live a Life Without Principle, the title of one of his most memorable writings. Like all highly functioning people, Thoreau possessed a rich sense of humor, expressed in such a wry, tongue-incheek manner as to be easily overlooked by nearly all but the most careful readers.

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In an earlier work, Pieces of My Puzzle, a chronicle of his recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder following a hitch as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam, the author describes his spiritual journey on the way to self-actualization. Major Benton moved from site to site, always experiencing new and greater adventures, including a period as manager of The Dolphin Connection in the Florida Keys. One source of wisdom in the course of his travels was Henry David Thoreau. In his introduction, Benton says, “Thore-

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

au’s uniqueness is his many-sided self.” The same can be said of Benton. He explains that following his tour in Vietnam he began to question many of the suppositions regarding religion and racial issues with which he had been indoctrinated during the years of his boyhood while growing up in a small Virginia town. He adds, “Discovering Thoreau’s personal integrity as expressed in his writings gave me hope.” Benton’s research drove him not only into Thoreau’s better known publications, like A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, The Maine Woods, Life Without Principle, and especially Walden, but to the man of Concord’s 39 journals, compiled during a 24-year span, a Herculean process. Throughout his major writings and many of his lesser known ones, Thoreau pokes fun at the foibles and foolishness of his fellow Concordians, microcosms of the human condition in general. Before the publication of Benton’s book, however, it would have been easy to overlook the humor that underpins much of Thoreau’s musings. His powerful essay Life Without Principle provides an excellent example, what one would expect from an Old Testament prophet descending from rarified heights than from the jibes of a standup comedian. Still, Thoreau’s sense of humor shines through when, for instance, he compares his town’s meeting house to a windmill, “Turned either by the winds of doctrine or public opinion.” Who among us has failed to compare the polemics of politicians to gusts emanating from windbags. Thoreau adds that such windmills are rarely turned by the winds of heaven. Thoreau pokes fun at a 1667 municipal ordinance mandating that every housekeeper kill twelve blackbirds or six crows because of the damage caused by the creatures to the corn crop. When, in 1695, the law was amended to dictate that every unmarried man be required to kill six blackbirds or three crows as long as he remained single, he notes that the pesky birds continued to demolish the corn crop, even though there were by then so many scarecrows in local fields that they could be mistaken for men. Thoreau concludes that either many men remained unmarried or many blackbirds had made the trip to the altar. Thoreau was not loath to poke fun at himself on occasion. He tells of cooking and devouring a large clam that he had found along the beach, only to be informed after the fact that parts of it were so poisonous as to kill a cat. Regarding himself as more

hardy than a cat, Thoreau continued through the day and the evening without symptoms until laid low in the evening by a severe case of diarrhea, which he appears to find hilarious. Thoreau’s humor, touching upon the satirical, does have a bite to it. Mark Twain famously advised that if you scratch a humorist you will find a sad man. Given Thoreau’s often scalding analyses of the habitual busyness and rampant materialism of his neighbors, Twain’s view may be on target. Thoreau may have been a bit prescient, sensing the long-term consequences of Western man’s misguided philosophies, culminating in present conditions which more closely resemble the theater of the absurd than the much ballyhooed last best hope. Remembering that the aim of satire is to cause readers to see themselves and their follies as though in a mirror, Thoreau’s condemnation of gold seekers in Australia and California, a stark example of contorted human values and efforts, effectively fills that role and stands the test of time. He eviscerates such men, those who attempt to live by luck in order to acquire the means of commanding the labor of others less lucky, comparing their philosophy and religion to the dust from a puffball and opining that a hog, who finds his living by rooting in the earth, would be ashamed of such human companionship. Near the end of his book, Benton adds several pages of quotes from Thoreau’s writings. This is a handy reference for those of us who have been inspired by the great man’s writings and can benefit from having many of the more familiar ones readily at hand. Major Benton’s book is highly recommended to all who have come to value the wisdom of Thoreau but who would benefit by viewing his wisdom from a different viewpoint. Benton’s research would also benefit the novice who would seek to better understand the devotion others possess for Thoreau. Benton’s Pieces of My Puzzle is highly recommended as a spiritually and intellectually absorbing companion piece. Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Book Design: Mike Riley (www.ajijicbooks. com) Book Availability: Online from w w w.amazon. com; locally from Diane Pearl’s until January (Ajijic), La Nueva Pasada Hotel & Restaurant (Ajijic), or directly from the author (majorsigns@aol. Lorin Swinehart com).


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COLUMNIST

Mexican Grace This is a regular feature column inspired by the September 15, 2019 Open Circle presentation of stories that manifest “Mexican Grace.” El Ojo is looking for more anecdotes that relate the many encounters, initiated by expats or locals, that exemplify the special forms of mutual giving and receiving that define the Mexican Grace that brought us to this unique paradise--and that keep us here. Please email articles of up to 900 words with a Title and your name at the top to both victoriaAschmidt@gmail.com and loretta.downs@gmail.com. Photos are welcome.

Only In Mexico By Libby Colterjohn

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hen friends up north have trouble understanding why we moved to Mexico, I often tell them this story. It goes so far beyond our perfect climate and affordable economy into the heart of what makes the Mexican people so special. Some years ago between Christmas

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and New Year, my husband and I received a call from our son Richard to say that our son Nigel was critically ill with

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

what appeared to be acute encephalitis. The prognosis was uncertain and so Richard had made reservations for us to fly to Toronto the following day. That night there was a massive snowstorm all the way down the Eastern Seaboard of America. When we arrived at the airport in Guadalajara next morning, we found that planes were backed up all over the continent. Our connecting flight to Mexico City was delayed indefinitely and there was no alternate they could offer us. We sat there in agony for the next four hours and were eventually given seats on another flight that might, or might not, reach our Toronto flight on time. Luckily, both flights were with Mexicana, now sadly defunct, so we got off the plane in Mexico City and literally ran as fast as we could to the connecting gate for Toronto, arriving just as the plane headed off towards the runway. The attendant at the desk politely told us we were too late. At this point, my nerves broke and I burst into tears saying that we had to get that flight because our son was dying. Her attitude immediately changed and she asked us to sit down and she would do what she could. A few minutes later she led us down some stairs to a waiting car, gave me a big hug, and wished us well. We drove right out onto the runway where

the plane was lined up with some others for takeoff. As the plane was moving slowly, we drove alongside for a few hundred yards until it stopped just long enough to drop the stairway and take us on board. They had upgraded us to first class and we collapsed into our seats, both in floods of tears. We were on the plane to Toronto, without any luggage of course, but we had made it so far! The flight attendants were full of kindness and compassion, insisting that we have a drink and something to eat and, if possible, got some sleep. We arrived in Toronto mid-evening to find the blizzard was so bad that they had cancelled all ground transportation and we had to get to Hamilton, Ontario, normally about an hour’s drive away. There were hundreds of forlorn passengers and very few taxis, but most of these people understood our urgency. We were really lucky to find a taxi driver willing to drive to Hamilton in these extreme conditions, for a double fare and a bed in a motel for the night. About three hours later we made it safely to the hospital and found Nigel critically ill but able to recognize us, at least for the next few hours. This turned into the worst month of our lives as we watched our son lying there unconscious, intubated, and fighting for his life. Duncan and I took over looking after the four children of about four to 11 years old, so Meighan could stay in the hospital, and this kept us busy to the point of exhaustion. The kids were really suffering through this, but were able to console each other a little and the neighbours were amazing with their gifts of food and offers to babysit. I shall never forget the incredible kindness from so many people, in both Mexico and Canada, who were prepared to do whatever it took to help us. I am sure that the Mexicana staff and aeroplane crew broke all the rules in the book and risked their jobs to get us onto that flight, and I will cherish their kindness and selflessness for the rest of my life. God bless Mexico!


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Tying Up Loose Ends and Letting Go of Things By Barbara Hildt

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et’s face it, when we’re old and have lived most of our days in this life, our time is limited. We can choose to lament our losses and things we didn’t accomplish or we can choose to appreciate all the people and experiences we have had. Now, in my seventies, with a little regret I am accepting that there are things I had hoped to do and accomplish that I won’t be able to do. But I realize that to feel content, I need to let go of regrets, disappointments, and unfulfilled aspirations. I need to forgive myself and others for not living up to my expectations. Thinking about my failures, shortcomings, and mistakes only leads to sadness and other negative feelings. Instead, I choose to appreciate all I’ve learned from the experiences I’ve had, both positive and challenging. Some of us have experienced major losses that caused us to totally change the focus of our lives. It felt like the bottom fell out of my life when I lost a race for Congress in 1992. But that loss turned out to be a course-correcting blessing that put me on a more fulfilling path, working with people to prevent violence, and with programs to develop peaceable youth leaders. And the hurtful infidelity of my first husband freed me to enter into a more loving relationship that endures. It may occur to us that it’s time to tie up some loose ends before we depart.

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We need to ask ourselves which relationships and matters we can simply let go of and which we still need to do some work on. Then we need to decide how best to proceed. Whether we are aware or not, we all have held onto negative thoughts and feelings about some people in our lives. These buried negative feelings might even be the partial cause of physical problems we have. Late in life, my mother learned, with help from a therapist, that pent-up anger she had never expressed may have been the cause of her arthritis. We may feel we were let down or even betrayed by a parent, sibling, or friend many years ago and as a result those relationships were damaged and may no longer exist. If we have never been able to express our true feelings about those relationships, we may want to consider doing that even if we can’t say what we’ve felt to the individuals involved. Whether we send them or not, writing a letter or an e-mail telling those people our truth about things that came between us, how we felt then and how we now feel, can unburden us. A reconciliation may come from writing the words “I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me” or “I have forgiven you.” Forgiving always benefits the one who forgives as much or more than the one who is forgiven. Forgiving allows our souls and bodies to let go of the negative thoughts and feelings we have carried that do us more harm than good. When we forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and mistakes we are liberated and free to move on with our lives, and able to feel the love energy that is available to us all. As we look ahead to a new year and a brighter future may we all consider letting go of things we don’t need and tying up our unfinished business so that we can enjoy the days we have left. Barbara Hildt


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Word Salad By Sally Asante

And You Thought Learning Spanish was Tough!

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or those of us who, in our later years, decided to leave our north-of-the-border homes for the sunny shores of Lake Chapala, learning Spanish was one of our top priorities. While some lucky few took to it like the proverbial duck to water, others, myself included, have found it as elusive as Big Foot. Oh, sure, I can make myself understood, as most of us can. But what I hoped would be a quick stop by Walmart or Farmacia Guadalajara can easily devolve into a lengthy game of hide and seek simply because my Spanish is insufficient to ask a clerk where I might find shoelaces, aluminum foil, baking soda, or pickle relish. Oh, the frustration. I am a lover of language. I find it intriguing, fascinating, often amusing, and almost always logical. Wait. Logical? Or so I thought until recently when I received an email from the well-known linguist and humorist Richard Lederer that made me ponder what learning English must be like for the nonnative speaker. With his permission, I reproduce below a portion of Richard’s take on our mother tongue: English is the most widely spoken language in the history of our planet, used in some way by at least one out of every seven human beings around the globe. Half of the world’s books are written in English, and the majority of international telephone calls are made in English. Sixty percent of the world’s radio programs are beamed in English, and more than 70 percent of international mail is written and addressed in English. Eighty percent of all computer texts, including all websites, are stored in English. English has acquired the vastest vocabulary of all the world’s languages, perhaps as many as two million words, and has generated one of the noblest bodies of literature in the annals of the hu-

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man race. Nonetheless, it is now time to face the fact that English is a crazy language—the most loopy and wiggy of all tongues. In what other language do people drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? In what other language do people play at a recital and recite at a play? Why does night fall but never break and day break but never fall? Why is it that when we transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when we transport something by ship, it’s called cargo? Why does a man get a hernia and a woman a hysterectomy? Why do we pack suits in a garment bag and garments in a suitcase? Why do privates eat in the general mess and generals eat in the private mess? Why do we call it newsprint when it contains no printing, but when we put print on it, we call it a newspaper? Why are people who ride motorcycles called bikers and people who ride bikes called cyclists? Why do we put cups in the dishwasher and dishes in the cupboard? Why—in our crazy language— can your nose run and your feet smell? Language is like the air we breathe. It’s invisible, inescapable, and indispensable, and we take it for granted. But when we take the time to step back and listen to the sounds that escape from the holes in people’s faces and to explore the paradoxes and vagaries of English, we find that hot dogs can be cold, darkrooms can be lit, homework can be done in school, nightmares can take place in broad daylight while morning sickness and daydreaming can take place at night, tomboys are girls and midwives can be men, hours—especially happy hours and rush hours—of-


ten last longer than sixty minutes, quicksand works very slowly, boxing rings are square, silverware and glasses can be made of plastic and tablecloths of paper, most telephones are dialed by being punched (or pushed?), and most bathrooms don’t have any baths in them. In fact, a dog can go to the bathroom under a tree—no bath, no room; it’s still going to the bathroom. And doesn’t it seem a little bizarre that we go to the bathroom in order to go to the bathroom? Why is it that a woman can man a station but a man can’t woman

one, that a man can father a movement but a woman can’t mother one, and that a king rules a kingdom but a queen doesn’t rule a queendom? How did all those Renaissance men reproduce when there don’t seem to have been any Renaissance women? Sometimes you have to believe that all English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. (Reprinted with permission.) Sally Asante

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COLUMNIST

PROFILING TEPEHUA By Moonyeen King President of the Board for Tepehua

moonie1935@yahoo.com

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s 2020 comes to a close, recognition of all unsung heroes from this incredible year of challenge should be sung loud and long. What would the small villages have done if not for the strong among them? Tepehua has its own unsung heroines - nurses Olga and Casi who have contracted the Covid disease. They work the front line in Guadalajara all week and volunteer for the Tepehua Clinic every Friday. All necessary precautions have been taken, and fortunately the Tepehua Center has been shut down for months now so exposure was limited. There are other heroes in various organizations that have been fighting quietly behind the scenes for justice and equality...ever trying to level the playing field. Those trapped within poverty cannot fight it alone, and when they are hit with a devastating health threat on top of that, the most incredible things can happen. Those who never knew they had strength and power to make change rise up, and change happens. Local heroes and natural leaders emerge and take over. This column has talked about the quiet heroes before, those people who quietly do the right thing because they know they can and feel they should. Whether it is by deed or financially, the one supports the other. The deed of course, comes in many forms and kindness doesn’t need financing, but reality is that permanent change usually needs financing of one form or another. Spiritual change is another thing that happens in times like these. The one thing that should never happen is for people to ‘give up’ and leave it up to God.  HE is busy. Nobody can handle crises but us, and if they are not handled properly we have only ourselves to blame, not the devil. So we, the people, will prevail. If we steer the ship ourselves for

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awhile, we will get through all kinds of problems. We can create things others cannot because the people will be in charge. Like potable water with a controlled price. Tepehua can do that now because the people helped us, and now the people will run it creating work for themselves and health for their families. Water can heal. If a patient is in stage one to three diabetes, changing colas for clean water can reverse the situation in a matter of months. For the two years Tepehua gave away free water (along with a dose of education on nutrition) to those at risk, there was a remarkable change in the health of the people. Fewer diabetics needed care, and a huge drop occurred in the cases of parasites. Two years ago, the Tepehua clinic gave away free parasite medication to everyone because the rainy season always brings a rash of patients. This year few people contracted parasites. Water can kill. Water born diseases can be spread by bathing, drinking, using dirty glasses, a multitude of ways, and common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. But it can affect ears, eyes and skin. Diarrhea is a killer of children around the world. One relates developing countries to water pollution, but today even the USA estimates 4.32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illnesses per year from polluted public water systems. In the next column, we will cover the Lakeside villages that have taken the water problem into their own hands and the results they have achieved. For all those unsung heroes that have seen all of us through a very bad year, you have no idea how much you are appreciated, and probably will never know. So many have risked their lives for us, especially the volunteers because you don’t have to...but you do it because you can. Thank you.


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Can You Hear Me Now? By Tom Nussbaum

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amn, I left my hearing aids on my nightstand,” Greg said as he slipped the elastic bands of his light blue COVID-19 mask over his ears.” Walt exhaled with frustration as he donned his white mask. “Not again. Well, I’ve got mine.” He stopped. “Crap. I was gonna buy batteries before I picked you up. Mine are almost dead.” He laughed at his forgetfulness as they neared the popular Ajijic restaurant. “So, not only are we hearing impaired, but now our masks are gonna muffle everything we say.” “What?” Greg asked. “Why do you want muffins on a velveteen plate? What restaurants have velveteen—”

A blast of Mexican music, a hybrid of traditional mariachi and energetic pop, interrupted him as they stepped through the open doorway. “And,” Walt added, “we’re gonna have to deal with this loud music.” A hostess, younger than Greg and Walt’s masks, greeted them. “Two?” she mumbled behind her floral-patterned mask, as she grabbed a pair of menus. As predicted, the blare of a trumpet smothered her monosyllabic question. Greg nodded with hesitation and looked at Walt. “What did she say?” “She said ‘Two?’” “That’s what I thought. Why’d she say ‘You?’”

“What?” The hostess led the duo to a table surrounded by several occupied ones and in front of the band. “Ramón will be your server,” she said, as she laid down the menus and left. “Our waiter’s name is Damon?” Greg asked. “He must be from El Norte.” “She said his name is Raven,” Walt corrected erroneously. “He? She? They must be transgender.” Greg focused on the band, unaware his companion had spoken. “I wonder if they know any Ricky Martin songs? Diane loved Ricky Martin.” The widower toyed with his wedding band. “Oh, yes, my wife loved Dolly Parton, too.” A slender waiter, in black slacks, white shirt, and black mask, approached the table. “Good evening, gentlemen. My name is Ramón,” he announced to preoccupied ears. His English was perfect, his accent, however, thick. The band began playing Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero.” “Oh, how wonderful,” Walt gasped. “They’re playing ‘Jolene.’” Ramón lowered himself to ear level. “Hola, gentlemen. I am Ramón.” This time he was successful. Both men turned to the waiter. “Hola, Damon,” Greg greeted. “¿Como esta usted, Raven?” Walt asked. Robotically Ramón inquired, “Would you gentlemen like something to drink?” “Yes, I do need some time to think,” Walt said. “I haven’t even looked at the menu.” “No, sir. To drink. Can I get you something to drink before you order?” The waiter adjusted his mask, hoping that would improve communication. “Oh, of course. To drink. A margarita. Rocks. Yes, a margarita, por favor.” “OK. Sangria it is. And you, sir?” Greg furrowed his brow in thought. “A mojito?” “Certainly,” replied Ramón. “A Pacifico.” He stepped away.

Several minutes passed. The music paused long enough for Greg and Walt to hear the hum of muffled conversations around them. A shrill one, however, rose above the others. It appeared to be an argument between a burly man and spindly woman. “I think she is accusing him of ordering the wrong wine,” Greg said looking toward the disturbance. “Yes,” Walt replied. “Ramón certainly is taking his time.” He looked at the menu. “What’s good here?” “A beer? No. I didn’t order a beer. I ordered a mojito. You know I hate beer.” As the band began the next tune, Walt’s right hearing aid screeched, like a dying banshee. “What’s that?” he asked, looking around. His glance settled on the husky man. “What?” Greg uttered as the man rose and stepped toward the duo. His black mask bore a Day of the Dead motif. “What you looking at?” he charged. “And which one of you said my wife looks like a mosquito?” “I did,” Greg said. “I ordered a mojito. Are they good here?” “Mojito? You said ‘mojito?’” The man stepped back. “I suppose everything’s good here.” He smiled. “I thought you said . . . oh, never mind.” He slithered back to his table. Ramón returned with a sangria and Pacifico. “What are these?” Greg asked. “Your drinks, señor.” “But we didn’t order these.” Ramón leaned in and squinted, as if trying to hear better. Walt continued. “We ordered a margarita and mojito.” “OK,” Ramón said as he stood. “That’s one beef fajita and a burrito.” He left. “I think he got it this time,” Greg said. “But why didn’t he take these drinks with him since they aren’t ours?” He gazed toward a table at which a large man sat. “Look at his fajitas. That is a huge serving. I should order that.” “Ssshh!” Walt hushed. “Don’t call him fat. He can hear you.” “What?” The band began playing a familiar tune, but with a mariachi interpretation. “Hey,” Walt said, “They’re playing Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca.’” “Oh, yeah. Cool.” Greg smiled. They were listening, however, to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” In the kitchen, a chef prepared beef fajitas and a burrito. Tom Nussbaum

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From the Ojo Archives

The Night Before Christmas On Mexico’s Coast

It’s the night before Christmas, but I live at the beach. I’m afraid a white Christmas is out of my reach. No snow, no sleigh bells, no Santa’s reindeer, The sound of the surf is all that I hear. I miss mistletoe and I miss all the holly Strung lights on my cactus, it wasn’t as jolly What I wouldn’t give for some eggnog right now Tequila’s just not as festive somehow.   Now don’t get me wrong, I love living here But I get a bit homesick this time of the year When the kids were young, I’d be up until three, Wrapping their gifts to put under the tree.   They’re all grown up now with lives of their own Instead of their hugs, it’s a call on the phone Hey dad, how are you? How’s Christmas down there? They tell me they love me. I know that they care   It’s enough I suppose and I’m glad that they’re well Maybe next year they’ll visit, wow, that would be swell But tonight it’s just the missus and me And two cats – they’re the reason we can’t have a tree On the satellite radio I hear Crosby croon Irving Berlin’s wistful holiday tune And I realize I’m not the first one to dwell On Christmases past, we remember so well  But the hour is late, it’s past time for bed The tequila I’ve sipped has gone straight to my head So I take my love’s hand and step out for some air And gaze at the stars hoping Santa’a up there He isn’t of course, as I’ve known all along, And that cheery white Christmas is only a song But I hold my love to me and give her a kiss, And ask - does it get any better than this?  We live in a tropical heaven on earth Enjoying good health, aware of its worth I have everything I’ve ever wanted and more And a Christmas as white as the sand on the shore Merry Christmas to all

David Lyons Saw you in the Ojo 55


Believe By Judy Dykstra Brown

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don’t know of anyone who loves Christmas as much as my mother did. She could barely wait for Thanksgiving to be over to put up her tree. Those trees were covered with icicles, bubble lights, angel hair and boxes and boxes of ornaments saved and added to over the years: blue or pink plastic birds whose legs fit over the branches so they seemed to be standing on them, a treetop angel with spun white hair and a face cracked and marbled with age, strands of large lights and later dozens of strands of miniature ones, homemade ornaments, glass balls, plastic stars, candy canes—each year the number of ornaments grew. The tree was always fresh and the largest she could find, screwed into the Christmas tree holder that held water to keep the needles from falling off for as long as possible. Under the tree was always a skirt of white pull-apart Christmas “snow,” a plastic church that lit up inside and presents, presents, presents: handmade gifts from the church bazaar, clothes and toys purchased in Pierre, 60 miles away or ordered from the Montgomery Ward or Sears catalogs. The tree went up the day after Thanksgiving and came down only after the new year had arrived, but the pine needles in the carpet crevasses and its borders along the wall remained like hidden memories to be discovered for months afterwards. The year my mother died, my sister Patti could not bear to think of putting up a tree or celebrating Christmas. I was far away in Mexico and it was the first year in her life that she hadn’t celebrated Christmas with my mother. I knew she was grieving, but I was deep in my own sadness of the past year. In January, I had a hysterectomy and on the day I returned from the hospital, I learned that my mother had gone into the hospital. My doctor had forbidden air travel but we considered putting a mattress in the back of the van and having my

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husband drive me from California to Wyoming, but my sister assured me there was no need. It was nothing serious—just a bout of pneumonia. We’d been there for Christmas less than a month before and we could come again once my mother returned home from the hospital. But that trip was never to be experienced, for within a week, my mother had passed away. In March, my husband, Bob, flew to Michigan to be with his mother who had gone into the hospital, and after ten days, she, too, passed away. Then in September, two days before we were to drive down to Mexico to move into our new house, Bob discovered he had cancer and lived just three weeks. All-in-all, a sad year that had been moderated by our happiness in looking forward to a new life in Mexico. A few months after Bob’s death, I went forward into that new life, but my sister was left in the town where she and her husband lived and where my mother had lived for the last six years of her life. Everything around her reminded her of my mother; and with the advent of Christmas, those memories grew more poignant. The small Wyoming town where my sister lives is two hours south of Billings, Montana, which is her usual shopping town and where she goes to get her hair cut and to see the doctor. A few weeks before Christmas, when a friend asked her to accompany her on a shopping trip there, she agreed. Even though her heart was not in it, as they browsed in a local store, she bought a few items, paid for them with her credit card and carried the bag to the car. It was not until she got home and unpacked the bag that she found the small package in the bottom of her bag. She unwrapped it, trying to figure out just what it was—nothing, surely, that she had purchased. As she removed the final layer of paper, this is what was revealed: Where had it come from? How


had it gotten into the bag? She had not purchased it. It was not listed on her receipt. Nor had her friend purchased it, so it wasn’t a case of the clerk putting it in the wrong bag. Was it the last Christmas miracle provided by a mother who over the years had so faithfully purchased the new boxes of fragile icicles to hang above wrapped boxes that contained dolls, new Christmas dresses, ice skates, princess phones, bottles of bubble bath or miniature formals for our favorite dolls? Skunk games and paper dolls and books, first watches, necklaces, music boxes and drop-seat pajamas? With no other explanation, my sister could not help but consider that perhaps it was a little message from my mother, urging her not to give up her faith in and enjoyment of Christmas. It has been fourteen years since my mother died, and my sister has hung the ornament on her tree every Christmas since. It has been a few years since I spent Christmas with her, and I had forgotten this story, but yesterday, when I arrived in Phoenix to spend Christmas and took pictures of her tree, she repeated the story again. Her tree is miniature in comparison with my mother’s tree, but it is

infused with my mother’s love of Christmas and everything it entails— a childlike sense of wonder that, to this very day, my mother encourages us to share. Tonight, as my sister and I fill stockings for each other, her husband, Jim, and the longtime friends who will arrive tomorrow, I’m sure she feels as I do—both of us “good girls” who are minding our mother by remembering to BELIEVE in the Judy Dykstra magic of Christmas. Brown

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The Ojo Crossword

Night Walk By Rob Mohr

Above my horizon rest a crescent Moon whose ghostly form fills heaven’s sweep, joined with Venus’ expanding smile. An ancient union made in eastern skies, where their graceful dance seals their love, while Mars’ red glow westward leads,  as I enter lustrous heaven’s cryptic frame. Framed by Orion’s three stars arrayed, a crystal crown of the God’s refugent light, a family formed by transcendent spears, which which leads me back to long lost worlds, ACROSS 1 Naval fleet 7 Chest muscles 11 Compass point 14 Used a rotary phone 15 Crazed 16 She 17 Type of American Express card 18 Entice 19 Anger 20 Who lawyers work for 22 Overshadows 24 Rascal 27 Tilt 29 Bird’s home 30 Imbued 32 Overcompensate 35 Mistakes 37 Condemn 38 Tavern 41 North Pole 42 Defiled 44 Modest 45 Captain (abbr.) 48 Sounds 49 Amelia ___ 51 Heredity component 52 Coupe 55 Two 56 Digital audio tape 57 Rights’ opposites 60 Horse sound 64 Abridged (abbr.) 65 Garret 67 Elapse (2 wds.) 71 Lab animal 72 Loaf 73 Tenant 74 Compass point 75 Data transmission rate 76 Low ranking officer DOWN 1 Hubbub 2 Tear

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3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 21 23 24 25 26 28 31 32 33 34 36 38 39 40 43 46 47 49 50 52 53 54 58 59 61 62 63 66 68 69 70

Entrance rug First letter of the Arabic alphabet Prefix for half Jewish calendar month Palsy affected Flightless bird Thick string To lack symmetry British county Slaves Seize I want my ___ Some Thoughts Wise Man’s gift Percival nickname For Tiny mark Award Purpose Ammunition (abbr.) Costa __ Transported by bus Stadium Start over Hog Doctoral degree Mocked Billion years Fish eggs Knowing Not rural Cake Smooth but insincere Cola Island Dale Boo Winter malady Pounds per square inch Implore Japanese currency

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

when Ancient’s found in each brilliant night escape from each day’s mortal struggle, to speak in soliloquies of time and space, of Moon’s rise and Mar’s slow demise where gyrations of Venus, Sun, and Moon aligned their farmer’s eyes and hearts, to mark their days, weeks and months.   A count the ancients knew and understood, guiding when to plant in warming earth, as spring rains descend on nascent crops nurtured throughout heaven’s starlit nights.  As I now reflect below this complex sky,  who am I within this unperceptive world, where human understandings slowly fade  throughout the days’ long, slow march, constrained at times by grievous strife? Yet, this enchanted night has disposed a spiritual gift from our watchful God, who breathes new life as I complete my course, beneath creation’s eternal sky.


Holiday Eating Tips Anonymous

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls. 2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly it’s rare! You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up!   Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s a party! 3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand-alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat. 4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission. 5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? 6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog. 7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again. 8. Same for pies. Apple, Pump-

kin, Pecan, Cherry, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day? 9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. 10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!” Have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. P.S. These are not Weight Watchers endorsed. P.P.S. During these times of COVID, read to celebrate Holiday’s passed…and prepare for post COVID Holiday’s. There will be celebrations once again.

Saw you in the Ojo 59


Yuletide Stories From The Philippines By Don Beaudreau wbeaudreau@aol.com

I

t is 1969 and I am a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer teaching English on a remote island in the southern Philippines. It is a beautiful place, this tropical island called Jolo, despite the centuries of warfare between Muslims and Christians for dominance of the island. On this day I am on a hike with a half dozen of my male students. We have reached the top of the mountain that overlooks the town and the bay. It is called the “Crying Mountain,” because it is where the rains first appear on the island every afternoon during the rainy season. We discover a little, thatched hut.

60

There are pigs and chickens in the yard. A young Muslim man greets us from the doorway and invites us inside. When we enter, we see a teenage girl nursing a baby at her breast. She greets us, too, and asks us to take a seat on the straw mats covering the floor of their modest home. Then the couple begins to ask me questions. They want to know where I am from, and what I am doing on the island. After a little while, the baby finishes with its feeding, and the young woman holds the infant out to me, offering it. “Please, take him,” she tells me, her tears beginning to flow. Having held very few babies, I

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

feel awkward about doing as she asks. “No . . . no, thank you,” I say, not knowing how else to respond. She says something in her native dialect that I do not understand. She is very upset. One of my students tells me, “She is sad that you do not want to take the baby.” “I can see that,” I say. So, I change my mind and accept the woman’s offer, hoping beyond hope that I do not drop the precious thing before I can return him to his mother. The woman suddenly brightens. “Yes,” she speaks to me in English again, “you will be a good father for my son.” Suddenly I am confused and wonder if I have heard her correctly. She continues. “You will take him to America with you. He will have a better life there.” Then she abruptly gets up and walks out of her house. I am astounded by what has just happened and do not know how to respond. My students come to my rescue and tell the father that I could not possibly accept such a wonderful gift as much as I might want to; that in America, things are done differently, etc. etc. etc. We thank the man for his hospitality and rapidly leave. My students joke with me about my almost becoming a father! ***** Two decades later I am in the Philippines as a member of a human rights “fact-finding” group. One day we visit the notorious area on the outskirts of Manila known as “Smokey Mountain,” where the city’s trash is dumped and burned. The fire and smoke are always evident. And so are the squatter families who live on top of this refuse. There are thousands of human beings who call this place “home.” Their hovels are built from the detritus of others. The children play among the trash. The old people smile at us. And the babies stare at as us—filthy, malnourished, and infested with parasites. Many of them cry. And many of them die. As I walk through this hell-onearth I am overwhelmed with grief. I am reminded of that baby boy and his family who were living on top of the crying mountain of Jolo. “Please take him,” his mother begged me. “You will be a good father for my son.” So many things happened during that two-week human rights trip, including my trip home. While waiting at the Manila airport for my plane, I met a young American man who is returning from his tour of duty on a ship in the Persian Gulf. We decide to have our seats changed so that we can sit together. A 16-hour

flight through a typhoon over the Pacific is a way to learn a lot about a person. And about yourself, too. My 22-year-old friend has been allowed to fly home earlier than the rest of his shipmates because he has become a father—for the first time. His daughter had been born a month before, and her daddy is ecstatic about meeting her. But he is upset that the impending war had prevented him from being with his wife for the birth of their child. I think of how lucky I was to witness my daughters being born and I sympathize with the soldier’s situation. And the more and more he talks about how thrilled he is to be a dad, the more and more sentimental I become. In fact, I am so happy for him, that I begin to tell every flight attendant who passes by that he is returning from the Middle East conflict and will see his daughter for the first time, a story which nets him two free bottles of champagne and me, one. (Well, it didn’t hurt to tell them that I was his father. I certainly felt like it and could hardly wait to see the kid myself!) So, the more we drank champagne, the less we notice the typhoon, and the gushier we become—even if he is a Marine! And even though we are still over the Pacific, two hours from touchdown, my surrogate son decides it is time for him to clean up so that he will look presentable to his wife and kid. So off he goes to the restroom with his carry-on bag. He comes back all spiffed up and ready to celebrate one of the biggest events in his life. The plane lands and we wait to get through a very long immigration and customs line. As I observe his eagerness to get through this process, I feel that I am watching a kid who is just dying to open Christmas presents but is told he must wait until the right time. But finally, the Marine is free and he rushes through the door to claim his fatherhood. I am right behind him and it becomes my overwhelming joy to take the very first photograph of him with his daughter. No painting ever created of the Madonna and Child is as meaningful to me as the photograph of that Marine, his sweet little girl and his beautiful wife. And I think of all the advantages this child will have, unlike the little one I met on top of that crying mountain so many years before, or the many children I saw living on top of that other “mountain,” that trash heap called “Smokey.”


Saw you in the Ojo 61


Service - EL OJO DEL LAGO Tel. 376 765-3676

Pag: 56

* ANIMAL CLINICS/PET SHOP - CLINICA VETERINARIA SAN ANTONIO Pag: 07 Tel: 376 766-0808 - LAKESIDE FRIENDS OF THE ANIMALS AC Pag: 15 Tel: 376 765-5544 - MASKOTA’S LAKE Pag: 42 Tel: 376 766-0287, 33-3448-2507 - PET PLACE Pag: 26 Cell: 333-1964-150 - PET SITTING Pag: 59 Cell: 331-885-7999

* ANTIQUES & FURNITURE Pag: 12

* ART GALLERIES/HANDCRAFTS - AJIJIC SOCIETY OF THE ARTS - DIANE PEARL COLECCIONES Tel: 376 766-5683 - GALERIA ALFREDO Tel: 376 766-2980 - LA BELLA VIDA Tel: 376 766-5131

Pag: 06 Pag: 12 Pag: 25

* BAKERY Pag: 46

Pag: 07 Pag: 11

* BEAUTY Pag: 47 Pag: 11 Pag: 57 Pag: 49 Pag: 51 Pag: 41 Pag: 27

* BED & BREAKFAST - CASA TRES LEONES Cell: 331-350-6764

Pag: 11

Pag: 49

* BIKES - RIDERS OF THE SIERRA MADRE

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- LA BELLA VIDA Tel: 376 766-5131 - SO CHIC BOUTIQUE Tel: 331-762-7838

* GARDENING

Pag: 38

Pag: 41 Pag: 47

* COMMUNICATIONS Pag: 03

Pag: 53

Pag: 52

DENTISTS - AJIJIC DENTAL Pag: 09 Tel: 376 766-3682, Cell: 33-1411-6622 - DRA. ANGELICA ALDANA LEMA DDS Pag: 14 Tel. 376 765-5364, Cell: 33-1351-7797 - CHAPALA DENTAL CARE Pag: 27 Tel: 376 765-5584, 376 766-3847 - MOJO DENTAL - Dra. Cristina Barreto Tel: 376 688-2731 Pag: 41

* FISH MARKET - COSTALEGRE Tel: 376 108-1087, 33-1173-6144

- FUMIGA Tel: 376 688-2826, Cell: 331-464-6705

El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

* GRILLS Pag: 13

* HARDWARE STORES - CASA INARQ Tel: 376 766-5397 Pag: 51 - FERRETERIA Y TLAPALERIA GALVEZ Tel: 376 766-0880, 387 763-0341 Pag: 66

- M.D. CARLOS ALONSO FLORES VALDOVINOS Tel: 376 766-5126, 376 766-4435 Pag: 11

Pag: 24

* LEGAL SERVICES - FELIPE GONZÁLEZ-Atorney at law Tel: 33-1862-6230, 33-1073-8553 - SOLBES & SOLBES Tel: 331-520-5529, Cell: 333-676-6245

Pag: 53 Pag: 31

* LIGHTING

Pag: 03 Pag: 13

* MUSIC / THEATRE / EVENTS - D.J. HOWARD Tel: 376 766-3044

- RAINBOW NOTARY & NUPTIALS Tel: 904-333-7311

- MAQUINARIA Y HERRAMIENTAS PROFESIONALES Tel: 387-763-1232, Cell: 33-1892-2142

Pag: 59

Pag: 53

Pag: 44

* MALL / OUTLET - CENTRO LAGUNA Tel: 376 766-5514

Pag: 35

Pag: 29, 51

- PURITAN PUOLTRY Tel: 376 765-4399

Pag: 47

- ALTA RETINA - Dr. Rigoberto Rios León Ophthalmic Surgeon Pag: 16 Tel: 376 688-1122, 376 688-1343

Pag: 47

* PAINT - QUIROZ-Impermeabilizantes Tel: 376 766-2311 - QUIROZ-Pinturas Tel: 376 766-2311

Pag: 48 Pag: 24

* PHARMACIES - FARMACIA EXPRESS II Tel: 376 766-0656 - FARMACIA MASKARAS Tel: 376 766-3539 - FARMEX Tel: 376 765-5004

Pag: 41 Pag: 26 Pag: 37

* PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT - JOSÉ MARTÍNEZ RUBALCAVA Tel: 376 688-2683, Cell: 332-255-2040

- L&D CENTER Tel: 376 766-1064

* MEDICAL SERVICES Pag: 38

Pag: 18

* OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT

- HEALTH INSURANCE Pag: 15 Tel: 376 766-0395, 1-888-449-7799 - LAKESIDE INSURANCE - EDGAR CEDEÑO Cell: 33-3106-6982, Tel: 33-1594-7897 Pag: 08 - PARKER INSURANCE SERVICES Pag: 13 Tel: 376 765-5287, 376 765-4070 - PROTEXPLAN U.S. Toll Free 1-800-608-5743 Mexico Toll Free 01-800-681-6730 Pag: 22 - TIOCORP Pag: 14 Tel: 376 766-4828, 376 766-3978 - HECHT INSURANCE Tel: 376 109-1694 Pag: 55

- MAMA’S MARKET Tel: 33-3972-7453

- BEST MEXICO MOVERS US/CANADA: (915) 235-1951 US Cell: (520) 940-0481 - LAKE CHAPALA MOVING Tel: 376 766-5008 - STROM-WHITE MOVERS Tel: 376 766-6153

* NOTARY SERVICES

* MEAT / POULTRY

* FUMIGATION Pag: 30

Pag: 21

* MARKET Pag: 30

- DERMIKA Tel: 376 766-2500 Pag: 13 - DR. BEN - CERTIFIED PLASTIC SURGEON Pag: 10 Tel: 376 766-4871, Cell: 333-105-0402 - DR. GABRIEL HERNANDEZ NUÑO - Plastic Surgery Tel: 376-766-5513, 376-766-0866 Pag: 51 - DR. FRANCISCO J. REYES ESQUIVEL PhD Surgical Oncologist 376-766-2500, Cell: 331-110-7351 Pag: 20 - DR. HECTOR G. MIRAMONTES - SPECIALIST IN COSMETIC SURGERY Tel: (332) 203-6398 Pag: 12 - DRA. CLAUDIA LILIA CAMACHO CHOZAOphthalmologist Tel: 33-3403-3857 Pag: 09 - PLASTICA LIFT Pag: 37 Tel: 376 108-0595, 376 688-1820

* MOVERS

- ATLAS COUNTRY CLUB Tel: 33-3689-2620

* INSURANCE

- COMFORT SOLUTIONS Pag: 28 Tel: 33-1228-5377 - GENERAL HOME SERVICES - Amancio Ramos Jr. Cell: 331-520-3054 Pag: 14 - MARBLE & GRANITE Pag: 47 Tel: 376 766-1306 - PISOS Y AZULEJOS DE LA RIBERA Pag: 59 Cell: 331-250-6486 - ROBERTO MILLAN - ARCHITECT Tel: 376-766-3771, Cell: 331-340-3758 Pag: 43 - SIKA Pag: 47 Tel: 376 766-5959 - WARWICK CONSTRUCTION Pag: 46 Tel: 376 108-8754, Cell. 331-135-0763

- STEREN Tels. 376 766-0599, 376 766-0630

Pag: 24

* HEARING AIDS

* COMPUTERS

- TEPEHUA TREASURES Tel: 376 763-5126

Pag: 20

- NAPOLEON Tel: 376 766-6153

- TRANSITIONAL DIRECTIONS - Life Coaching Tel: 766-2928, +52 331-435-7080 Pag: 13

- LAKESIDE - CompuShop + Repair Tel: 33-2340-7501 / 376 668-1354

- GARDEN CENTER Tel: 376 765-5973 - RAINFOREST Cell: 331-241-9773, Tel: 376 766-4534

* GOLF

* COACHING

- ISHOPNMAIL Tel: 376 766-1933

* GARAGE DOORS OPENERS

Pag: 49

* CLEANING SERVICES - AXIXIC SPRING CLEAN Tel: 33-1075-7768 - STEAM CLEAN Tel: 33-2385-0410

Pag: 39

- AUTOMATIC GARAGE DOOR OPENERS Pag: 24 Tel: 376 766-4973, Cell: 332-213-8933

* CANOPIES - LONAS MEXICO Tel: 376 766-0045, Cell: 33-3956-4852

- UOU Tel: 33-3149-4536, 376-106-1618

Pag: 25

* ELECTRONICS/ TECHNOLOGY

* BEER & LIQUOR STORES - BETO’S WINE & LIQUOR Cell: 333-507-3024

* BOUTIQUE / CUSTOM SEWING

* CONSTRUCTION

* BANK INVESTMENT

- ANGIES’S Tel: 33-3800-8773, 376-688-3366 - CHRISTINE’S Tel: 376 106-0864, 376 766-6140 - CRISCO SALON & BARBER SHOP Tel: 376 766-4073 - EDITH’S SALON Cell: 33-1310-9372 - GLORIOSA Tel: 376 766-3372 - HILDA WORLWIDE Cell: 33-1717-2784 - NEW LOOK STUDIO Tel: 376 766-6000, 33-3950-9990

Pag: 38

* CONSIGNMENT SHOP

- MULTISERVICIO AUTOMOTRIZ ESCALERA Tel: 376 765-4424, 333-440-2412 Pag: 59

- INTERCAM Tel: 376 766-5978 - MULTIVA Tel: 376 766-2499

* FURNITURE

Pag: 53

* AUTOMOTIVE

- COLIBRI GARDEN Tel: 376-765-4412, Cell: 333-156-9382

DIRECTORY

- BODY SHOP AJIJIC Tel: 376 766-5246

* ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

- GALERIA ALFREDO Tel: 376 766-2980

directory.chapala.com

* BODY SHOP

* ADVERTISING / DIRECTORY

- ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS Tel: 376 766-5961

EMERGENCY NUMBERS EMERGENCY HOTLINE 911 CRUZ ROJA 376 765-2308, 376 765-2553 FIRE DEPARTMENT 376 766-3615 POLICE Ajijic 376 766-1760 Chapala 376 765-4444 La Floresta 376 766-5555

Pag: 12

* REAL ESTATE - AJIJIC HOME INSPECTIONS Tel: 33-3904-9573 Pag: 38 - AJIJIC REAL ESTATE Tel: 37 6766-2077 Pag: 17 - ARELLANO CORPORATION GROUP Pag: 49 - BAUERHOUSE PROPERTIES Tel: 33-3038-1803 Pag: 31 - BETTINA BERING Cell. 33-1210-7723 Pag: 23 - BEV COFELL Cell: 33-1193-1673 Pag: 46 - CIELOVISTA Tel: 33-2002-2400 Pag: 05 - COLDWELL BANKER CHAPALA REALTY Tel: 376 765-3676, 376 765-2877 Fax: 765-3528 Pag: 68 Tel: 376 766-1152, 376 766-3369 - CONTINENTAL REALTY Pag: 37 Tel: 376 766-1994


- CUMBRES Tel: 33-2002-2400 - FOR SALE BY OWNER Tel: +1 720-984-2721, +52 33-1395-9062 - FOR SALE BY OWNER Cell: 33-1433-3599 - FOR SALE BY OWNER Cell: 33-1759-3184 - FOR SALE BY OWNER Tel: 33-2015-0953, Cell: 333-115-9298 - JUDIT RAJHATHY Cell: 331-395-9849 - LAKE CHAPALA REAL ESTATE Tel: 376 766-4530/40 - LORI FIELSTED REALTY Tel: 331-365-0558 - PIEDRA VIVA Tel: 33-2801-8468 - RADISSON BLU

Pag: 05 Pag: 59 Pag: 45 Pag: 50 Pag: 52 Pag: 19 Pag: 67

Pag: 22

* SANITIZING - PROCOMVET-Specialized Sanitizing Tel: 33-3058-3448, 33-3649-8833

Pag: 55

* SATELLITES/ T.V. - AJIJIC ELECTRONICS S.A. DE C.V. Tel: 376 766-1117, 376 766-3371 - SHAW SATELLITE SERVICES Tel: 33-1402-4223

Pag: 57 Pag: 20

Pag: 27

* SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS

Pag: 43

- PROGRAMA PRO NIÑOS INCAPACITADOS DEL Pag: 33, 39 LAGO A.C. - LOS NIÑOS DE CHAPALA Y AJIJIC Pag: 63 Tel: 376 765-7032

Ajijic Resort, Spa & Residences

Tel: 376 766-4525, Cell: 332-255-5972 Pag: 02 - RAUL GONZALEZ Cell: 33-1437-0925 Pag: 03, 45 - SANTANA RENTALS AND REAL ESTATE Tel: 315-351-5167, 315-108-3425 Pag: 32 - VISTA ALEGRE Tel: 33-2002-2400 Pag: 05

* RENTALS/PROPERTY MANAGEMENT - AJIJIC HOMES 4 RENT – Property Management Tel: 33-1520-1980 Pag: 49 - COLDWELLBANKER CHAPALA REALTY Pag: 54 Tel: 376 766-1152, Cell: 331-386-7597 - EAGER REALTY Tel: 333-137-8447, 376 766-1917 Pag: 20 - FOR RENT Pag: 48 Cell: 333-667-6554 - FOR RENT Pag: 59 Cell: 33-1115-6584 - SANTANA RENTALS AND REAL ESTATE Tel: 315-351-5167, 315-108-3425 Pag: 32 - VILLAS DEL SOL Pag: 57 Tel: 376 766-1152

* RESTAURANTS / CAFES /BAR - AJIJIC TANGO Tel: 376 766-2458 - GO BISTRO Cell: 33-3502-6555 - LA TAVERNA Tel: 376-766-2848 - MANIX Tel: 376-766-0061, Cell: 331-065-0725 - MOM’S DELI & RESTAURANT Tel: 376 765-5719 - THE HOT DOG SHOP Tel: 376 766-3807, Cell: 333-662-9990 - YVES Tel: 376 766-3565 - ZARANDEADO PERO FELIZ

- VIDA BELLA SEÑIOR RESIDENCE Tel: 376-765-4000

* SOLAR ENERGY - SUN QUEST ENERGY Tel: 376 766-6156, Cell: 333-117-9126

* SPA / MASSAGE - GANESHA SPA Tel: 376 766-5653, Cell: 331-385-9839 - TOTAL BODY CARE Tel: 376 766-3379

- AIMAR-Stained Glass Cell: 33-1741-3515

- DANIEL’S PERSONAL DRIVER Cell: 33-3662-9990 - OMAR MEDINA Cell: 33-1281-2818 - TAXI-Arturo Fernandez Cell: 333-954-3813

Pag: 06

- CHAPALA TREE SERVICE Tel: 376 762-0602, Cell: 33-1411-0242

Pag: 03

Pag: 18

Pag: 30

* TAXI / TRANSPORTATION

* TREE SERVICE

Pag: 40

Pag: 49

* STAINED GLASS

Pag: 66

Pag: 28

Pag: 25

Pag: 40 Pag: 56 Pag: 57

Pag: 44

* WATER - TECNO AQUA Tel: 376 766-3731, 376 688-1038

Pag: 48

Pag: 38 Pag: 25 Pag: 57

* RETIREMENT/REST/NURSING HOMES - ALICIA’S CONVALESCENT Tel: 376 766-1194, 376 766-2999 - CASA LA VIDA REAL Cell: 33-2174-1180, 33-1629-9219 - CASA ANASTASIA - Care Home Tel: 376 765-5680 - CASA NOSTRA-Nursing Home Tel: 376 765-3824 - NURSING HOME LAKE CHAPALA S.C. Tel: 376 766-0404

Pag: 31 Pag: 37 Pag: 25 Pag: 27 Pag: 19

Saw you in the Ojo 63


CARS

FOR SALE: Jeep CJ5 1976, Rebuilt motor, trans, and transfer case. new brakes holley demon carb new suspension y mucho mucho mas.  $150,000 pesos. Send PM. FOR SALE: 2005 Nissan Platina Excellent condition, new brakes and rotors, new motor mounts, new ac electronics, new alarm system, new rh mirror, new water pump, all new belts. 58,000 pesos. Cell: 332 821 3531 in Chula Vista. FOR SALE: custom golf carts. Email ryan@sccarts.ca  WANTED: SUV Wanted. Want to buy a clean, solid car for a working Mom who travels with two babies in car seats.  We’d prefer a small SUV, but any really good car would do.  PLEASE, no lemons!  This hard-working woman drives every day from Guadalajara. The vehicle she has broke down on the Chapala Highway near the El Salto exit....and we absolutely don’t want that danger to happen ever again! Please call my cell if you have a vehicle for sale:   331-722-3408  WANTED: Mexican plated Travel Trailer or RV. Used with a good price. Well worn is ok if price is ok. I can not see the reply. Email: LanaCoffman@ yahoo.com FOR SALE: Custom 1992 VW Bug, Green and yellow VW with rear of car customized. Removable for rear included. Good condition and reliable. Easy to get around in and find parking places.  Green Bay Packers or Ore-

gon Ducks color scheme. $55,000.00 pesos. Jalisco plated current. More info and photos available just email me.

COMPUTERS

WANTED: Looking to buy Spanish laptop in good condition, Our #4 Oaxaca student will need a laptop soon so I’m looking to buy her a MS based Spanish language laptop. Two to three years old, 14 inch screen or larger. If you have one you want to sell please let me know.

PETS & SUPPLIES

WANTED: I need 2 soft sides , airline approved, pet carriers if anyone has one of two to sell.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE FOR SALE: 21 inch IMac. One year and one month old. Two keyboards one wireless in Spanish never used the other Macally English connected by usb. 17500 mxn or I will accept U. S. dollars. Priced reduced 15000 mxn. Available next week.  FOR SALE: Men Lift, hold Clubs. Nock-off, Trailer made ping Driver King Cobra- Tight lyes-. Right Hand Ladyes Golf Club, Full set. Gordon Brown 763-5314. Best off Have lock. FOR SALE: Walkers. I have 6. Two basic 500 pesos, two with front wheels 750, two with wheels and seats 1500. I live in Roca Azul. cell 331-406-5253. 5 left.

The Ojo Crossword

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El Ojo del Lago / December 2020

FOR SALE: Samsung 46” TV, $4,500, Colby 20” color TV. $400, Kindle (new in box) $800 motorcycle seat chair with wheels $200, Ryobi, battery powered weed eater, almost new $120. Contact Don @ 376-766-0400 FOR SALE: Have 2 sets of gas logs for fireplace for sale.Private mesage me for more info.La Aurora $3000 pesos for both.private message me for more info FOR SALE: Shaw 600 receiver with remote and power cord. $1500 pesos. Shaw 800 receiver with remote and power cord. 3000 pesos. Shaw 630 receiver (this one records) with remote and power cord. 3000 pesos.  All receivers are free and clear to be activated.  376-766-4032. FOR SALE: Palos de golf surtidos, Taylor made driver 10.5 matrix ozik felx con cubierta original $1,980, 1 Jet speed taylor made 10.5 ajustable flex r/49 gramos matrix $2,150, 1 Taylor made sldr 460 fade draw 10.5 speeder 57 flex r 57 gramos fujikura , 1 Ttaylor made rbz flex r 65 gramos, 1 bolsa de palos de golf completa. *Todo se encuentra en excelentes condiciones *aceptamos ofertas, para más informes 3314317368  mikenan@ prodigy.net.mx FOR SALE: We have many brands of golf balls for sale in excellent condition only used once by pros. They include TITLEIST LADY ROCKET BALLS TOP FLIGHT PRO V 1 DISTANCE and many more brands. They are all priced well below market value. Don,t wait please email  ssnnkenn7@aol.com (Ask for SUZI) Phone 376-766-4456 Cell 3318245205. FOR SALE: 2019 26” x 4” fat tire electric bicycle. 36 volt battery, 500 watt motor. 7 speed shimano gear shifter, dual disc brakes, attachable carry rack and bag. 2 rear view mirrors. Excellent condition. $18,000mx FOR SALE: Over 50 discs and a zip up carry case that will hold another 50 . A variety of music. Country, Rock and Roll, pop, etc.  250 pesos FOR SALE: Turquoise Atlantic 4 wheel spinner suitcase pull up handle, All zippers work  550 pesos. Red Destination small and light carry on suitcase.  2 wheels, pull handle and all zippers work.  300 pesos  376-7664032. FOR SALE: Backup Camera and 7 inch LCD Monitor. I have a backup camera that attaches to the rear license plate bolts and a LCD monitor that clips to the rear view mirror. All new never installed. Asking $400 pe-

sos. WANTED: Bike for Tall Man. A Mtn bike in any condition for myself. I am 6’5”. I’d take a look at bikes that are sized as L,XL or with a 19” plus frame size. Been to the 3 shops in Ajijic on the carretera and am still looking. Thanks in advance.  Please drop me a line at other.br@gmail.com if you have something. FOR SALE: Lasko’s No.CC23150 3D Motion Heat Ceramic Heater features power controlled louvers plus side-to-side oscillation to create 3D heat waves. Ceramic heat offers 1500 watts of quick, comforting warmth with fan powered delivery for quick warmth. Ceramic element provides added safety with self-regulated automatic overheat protection. Exterior stays cool to the touch. ETL listed. Used less than one year. Complete with remote.  Asking 800.00 pesos.  Contact: peteredwards@052@gmail. com or 376-765-2698. FOR SALE: I have a full set of 664 Epson Ink Refills . Never opened.  Sells on Amazon for 730.00 pesos. Yours for only 500.00 pesos.  email at peteredwards052@gmail.com or call 376-765-2698 FOR SALE: Topper 3” full size matrimonial bed GOOD condition... original over 1000 USD please call for more info - YOU pick it up = no car, no room to hide it. I got new matress! Cindy 3339036113. FOR SALE: Twin bed mattress topper. still in the factory wrapping. never used. Purchase locally $145.00. for sale $100.00. Cell. 332 821 3531 WANTED: Mens bicycle, Looking for a mans bicycle large enough for a 6’ 200 lb male.  FOR SALE: Swissmex Cosmos 15 Ltr garden sprayer for sale. Used but in working order 150 pesos. 7664389 FOR SALE: SLIK-800G Camera Tripod. Lightweight aluminum, compact, adjustable, 3 way panning head, 3 section legs, centre column radial brace.  Very good condition, $15 USD. Email: rjmc444@gmail.com FOR SALE: New “Lifetime” double composter brand; deluxe, new, still in the box. 10,000 pesos. Please contact Ed at 376-765-3147 if interested. WANTED: Want to buy used hard side, lightweight suitcase. Looking for about carry on size of a bit larger. 331 857 0798.  TIA FOR SALE: Selling 125 Italika scooter 2 years old with only 695km $11,500p or BO! Call John 331 5756663


FOR SALE: Bosch stackable washer/dryer only $8,500p. Call John 331 575-6663 FOR SALE: 2 lamps for sale with no shades. $400 pesos each Now $300 each. Please PM if interested. FOR SALE: Entertainment Center A 20in Vizio TV $400 pesos and 19in Sylvania TV $300 pesos(not smart) No remotes, Model VX20L HDTV, Model LC195SLX, Please PM for viewing FOR SALE: 7 Drawer Dresser for sale. 63in high, 24in wide and 21in deep. REDUCED! From $1500 to $1000 pesos Please PM to view. FOR SALE: FAT TIRE BIKE - 26” Mongoose Argus mountain and beach bike. As you know, fat tire bikes are the safest for cobblestone streets. A friend of a friend was injured when her bike tire got caught in between a cobblestone. Some of the water runoff grates are a hazard as well. I bought this bike used for $600 USD ($1100 new) and spent another $150 fixing it up. I added a mirror, gel seat cover, 2 bike locks, a removable basket, a

rear blinker, a massive chain and an air pump. Price is 10000 pesos FIRM. Mongoose MTB aluminum frame and fork, Tektro hydraulic 290 disc brakes and levers. Shimano drivetrain with Shimano M670 rear derailleur and slm610 Trigger Shifters, the FSA comet fat tire 100mm wide 24/38 double crank set, FSA bottom bracket and KMC chain make riding and shifting simple and efficient. The 100 mm wide rims with cut Outs alloy disc hubs, stainless steel spokes and Vee rubber mission folding 26 x 4.0 mountain tire round out the wheel set. FOR SALE: Kimball Baby Grand Piano, Recently tuned, played regularly by professional musican, $2,000 USD or Best Offer. Please Call. 331298-5737. WANTED: Home gym, free weights, benches or any weight lifting equipment wanted. Please send private email or call 3334615442. FOR SALE: I have a small, lightly used, Cress sample kiln for sale in Chapala. The inside dimensions are 8 x 8 x 8 inches. It has been used for

making beads and small pieces. There is also some utility shelves that come with it and various supplies like cones, shelves, kiln cleaner, etc. Please call or send me an email if you would like to see pictures. Cobra 331.993.8523 krugerrentals@gmail.com FREE: Plumeria cuttings In Chapala...downtown....I have cuttings from my tree that has never dropped its leaves and has bloomed constantly for 2+ yrs. 331 857 0798   WANTED: I am in need of a set of Adjustable Dumbbells. Contact at jmm46@gmx.com FOR SALE: Guitar amplifiers. Trace Elliot Trident custom shop and Guytron GT100FV Randal switch master 150Up for sale to continue to fund my classic car restoration are 2 rare tube amplifiers. The first is a beautiful trace Elliot custom shop trident H100 head. Finished in blue Python print and white silk it is one of a kind and one of very few 3 channel tube amps ever made. $2000 USD firm cost over $2700 in 1995 dollars for a stand factory green head plus shipping from

the UK. The second amp is a Guytron GT100 FV with a pair of matching 1/4 stack cabs. Sold as a set for $3700 USD (over $5000 USD new plus Tax and shipping) This is the modem FV version of this amp which is one of the most unique circut designs ever made, using a class A preamp section with a class A/B power section it allows you to get everything from a fender blackface to a mashall in one amp at any value level! The Third amp is a Randal switch master 150 a 200W combo solid state amplifier with a very clean channel and a single 12” speaker. A very unique sold state with excellent tones. $500 USD. Contact me at 387761-0570 Erik. FOR SALE: Original Prada Shoes, size 24.5 Mexican, Only 1 time was used, price $3,000 pesos. Call to Alma 331-005-3109 FOR SALE: Individual Brass Headboard, Price $2,200.00 pesos. Call to Alma 331-005-3109.

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El Ojo del Lago / December 2020


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El Ojo del Lago - December 2020  

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