Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Powerful Force

Yesterday Ibis and my sister were talking over coffee when I woke up and they kept exclaiming that whatever they were talking about would suddenly appear on the TV. Nothing crazy, just random things, like Steve Fossett and ponzi schemes.

This morning I woke up with the bed shaking. I ran from the room and they were both at the front door, Ibis quickly unlocking the gate, then we all ran down the four flights of stairs. We don't normally leave when there's an earthquake, but Ibis said this was the strongest one he felt in a while and since my sister had never experienced one, we thought it was better to be safe.

We waited about five minutes. The building didn't collapse so we headed back up the stairs, and that's when they realized they were watching Destroyed in Seconds on the Discovery Channel. We all looked at each other for a moment and my sister suggested we talk about something positive. We settled on winning the lottery, and I'll let you know how it goes.

She and my mom leave today at 3pm we teased that we wanted to make sure she got the full Mexican experience. :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Groundhog Day - A Few Days Early

I feel guilty not posting every day but every day this week has been a repeat of the one before. Lounge around in the morning, go to the beach, read more of Stephenie Meyer's creations, eat dinner... nothing exciting enough to post about.

Today is my mom & sister's last full day here, and we're going to Ixtapa to see the "resort" side of town, then back to La Ropa beach. We will switch it up a little because my friend (and I hope her dogs) will be joining us at the beach. Tonight we'll do our last nice dinner and Ibis and my favorite restaurant, Il Mare. It's Italian but has the best view of the bay.

We've had a wonderful visit. My sister is now in on all Ibis and my jokes and is even saying them herself (bwah-hah-hah! we got another one!). I don't think we've ever spent this much uninterrupted time together - at least not since we were kids - and we're still not sick of each other. At least I'm not. I'll be sad to see them go but I'm so happy we were able to have this week. It'll make the next couple months much more bearable.

I feel so out of touch with the internet this week. I know Blagojevich was impeached, Stephenie Meyers still hasn't touched the fifth book in the Twilight series, Midnight Sun, and lots of bad things are happening as a result of the economy - but what about you? What have I missed this week?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Call Me Ishmael

There are a lot of beaches in our stretch of Mexico and yesterday we went to our third in four days - Barra de Potosi. Rumor has it the beach at the conclusion of Shawshank Redemption was filmed there, but we watched it recently and unless they did some serious editing, I don't think it really was. Regardless, it's our favorite beach here and I was excited to share it with my sister (mom's already been there).

The beach itself is nine kilometers long, a gentle curve that creates a very large bay. We were at the end with the enramadas (small restaurants with thatch roofs), near a lagoon that is currently connected to the ocean. During the summer the water drops back and the sand cuts off the lagoon from the larger body of water. Last week was the first time I'd seen them connected and Ibis and I ventured pretty far out on the sand bar (we skipped that part yesterday).

Ibis has a hard time sitting still for any length of time, and somewhere between the volleyball, swimming, walking, dominoes, soccer, and reading, he shouted excitedly* that he'd seen a whale. We all laughed him off and continued doing whatever we were doing.

At some point he decided to run the length of the beach, so I joined my mom in a lounge chair near the ocean's edge. A sudden shout - then three more - made me jump.

"Whale! Whale!"

I turned to see where they were pointing but couldn't figure out where they saw it in the large bay, so I ran to my sister's side so she could point it out.

A burst of water shot up from the surface, then a large back shape rolled above the waves. Then another burst of water. My dad - ever the boy scout - already had his binoculars glued to his face, so we passed them between us as the whales swam along the bay. The small crowd in the restaurant stared at the water for nearly half an hour as the whales swam out of the bay. My sister had the binoculars the longest and told us there was a baby, and someone else was sure they saw two adults. So, three whales total.

Ibis was still on his run and we figured that he should have been right next to where the whales had surfaced. They popped up every couple minutes and seemed to be very close to the shore where we guessed he was.

I never saw the tail like the rest of the people near us, but it was still really cool. I've heard that January and February are "whale season" here but hadn't seen one before today. (I did see one on our long drive last March, but that was from the car so it doesn't feel the same.) I'm glad we were able to arrange the sighting for my sister on her first visit here.

The only bad thing was it turns out Ibis didn't see them at all. He was gone so long we thought he was standing on the shore watching them, but he said the way the sun was it was too bright to look back towards us - the direction of the whales.

Have you ever seen a whale?

*I just finished New Moon and the adverbs are taking over...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm Officially a Writer

I've received my first rejection! Yeah, I know I shouldn't sound excited, but I feel like I've crossed a threshold that the rest of you have long since passed. It's nothing major, just a short story I submitted at the end of December, and I'm almost relieved because the place I submitted said they don't accept pieces that have been submitted elsewhere. Now I'm free to send it out.

I've enjoyed the past couple days with my family. We've had one beach day so far and plan to go again today and tomorrow. Ibis may even get a day off this week (sarcasm, sarcasm). But seriously, he's planning to take Wednesday off, and might get Thursday as well. My sister and I have already played Scrabble and dominoes - yay! - and I started New Moon last night (double yay).

I hope you're all having a wonderful week. I'll keep you posted on the latest submissions.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Pleasant Way to Waste Time

Amy posted a link for, a site that created word clouds with any text you paste into the box. The size of the words vary based on their frequency within the text. Needless to say, I had fun with it.

Here's Chapter 8 from The Other Side:

And the conclusion:

I did discover a practical use - I pasted my synopsis and now I can see if the largest words reflect what I think are the most important things from the book. Now I'm no longer just procrastinating!

Because that was so much fun, I opened up my nano draft and tried that as well. Here's the opening chapter from Greg's perspective:

And a different chapter from Becca's point of view. She's a teenager so I think it reflects her fairly well (at least I hope so):


My mom and sister arrive at 2pm today so I'm not sure how regular my posting will be next week. I'm hoping to write several posts and have them scheduled to post each morning, so if I don't reply to comments as often, I apologize.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Bare Naked Ladies Say It Much Better

I'm a little worried about what kind of hits I'll get by putting that as my title, but what the heck, it's Friday! I woke up this morning with this song in my head. (Jen, Janna, and Turkey, I apologize for starting the CrackTube so early.)

(click the link, this post will make more sense that way.)

So apparently reading about vampires means I stop sleeping at night. I was very good yesterday and worked on my query and synopsis for five hours, then read a couple chapter from my Dreamweaver book before picking up the shiny black book. I figured I'd finish it by midnight, maybe 1am. Wrong again - 4am! Ugh.

I think my problem is unlike some of you skimmers out there, I tend to hover over particularly delicious phrases, rereading them until they are locked in my brain. I'm sure those of you who read it are thinking to yourselves, "Delicious phrases? All I saw were ridiculous adverbs and an abundance of sighing," but Stephenie Meyers sure knows how to build up sexual tension. For those of you who haven't read it, there's only minimal kissing; the rest is all build-up.

Where am I going with all this? Ummmm, let's just say suddenly I'm even more excited about my mom and sister arriving tomorrow because my sister has promised to wrestle New Moon (the second in the series) way from my niece. I'm not sure if I'll be able to wait until they leave to start reading. I also might have to ask her to bring all three of the books.

I need help.

The good news about my whacked out sleep schedule is I'll be able to stay up a little later with my sister. I'm sure we'll be going out and staying awake past 10pm is usually helpful when you have houseguests. :P


It's not that big of a deal, but my hits have passed 20,000! Woohoo!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

She's Evil, I Tell You, Evil!

Picture this scenario:

I spent the second half of yesterday reading about queries and working on my own (if you're in this boat and haven't visited Query Shark, do.) By the time Ibis got home I was cranky, tired, and sick of looking at the computer. I grudgingly made him two sandwiches for dinner then watched Nadal in Round 2 of the Australian Open. (I'm very unhappy with his wardrobe choices this year. Bring back the sleeveless shirts!)

I finished reading Grammar Girl's book earlier in the day, so I picked up the Dreamweaver instructional book that my dad brought for me. I read the first few pages, but that wasn't what I felt like reading. I had that feeling - you know, the one where nothing satisfies you but everything pisses you off? I picked up my journal and by the time I finished three pages, Ibis was sleeping soundly on the couch.

I really wanted to read a good book, one that sucks me right in, but didn't want to start something new since my mom and sister arrive in two more days. I don't expect to have a lot of time to read while they're here and I'd rather not leave off in the middle of a book for a week. One book in particular was calling to me, but I argued against it.

"No, you're too long. I'll be stuck in the middle of you for a week. Besides, I don't feel like carting you to the beach."

It kept calling.

"My sister will tease me endlessly if I'm reading you when she's here."

That didn't stop it.

I climbed on the chair, pulled it off the shelf, and wiped away the thin film of dust the coated the cover. I already knew what it was about, but I read the back cover anyway.


"It's 10:30 at night. My bedtime was half an hour ago. Why should I start a new book now?"

(Yes, I talk to myself a lot when Ibis is gone or sleeping.)

The book whispered sweet nothings in my ear, refusing to be placed back on the shelf.


I got ready for bed, propped up my pillows, and started reading, figuring I'd be asleep in half an hour.

Have I ever told you that Ibis gets up really early sometimes, sometimes as early as 4am? Well, I was still reading when he got up! I'm halfway through, at page 246 of 498, and it was SO hard putting it down. Even after I turned off the light, my mind raced.

All I have to say for myself is wow, Edward is dreamy. :)

As for Ms. Stephenie Meyers, you're evil!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Words aren't needed here, but I do want to point out how cool it is to have a fellow lefty in office.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stuff & a Big Thing

I have a few random things to tell you about, and lucky for me it's Tuesday! Since Janna isn't posting today, I'm stealing her Stuff & Things again.


I dove into my query letter yesterday (talk about papercuts!) and so far it's going okay. If you consider lots of single sentences and phrases double-spaced down the page okay. I do have my description paragraph started but so far it's pretty boring, imo.

I did spend a fair amount of time digging through the various agent blogs I frequent, perusing their old posts on queries. Nathan Bransford (of course) has 87 posts labeled "query" so I started there, plus I checkout with Bookends (they've actually been reviewing current clients' actual query letters - worth a look), Rachelle Gardner, and Kristin Nelson. Today I plan to hit up Janet Reid finish Nathan's archives.

Aside from AW, is there another source you think I should check out?


I'm currently reading Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips by Mignon Fogarty, and while it's making me feel like a complete nerd, I'm reveling in my nerdiness. I know I love grammar, and grammar humor makes me laugh like little else.

Here are a few excerpts I read last night:

When discussing pronoun usage - If it helps, you can remember that Jessica Simpson's song "Between You and I" is wrong. I don't have anything against her. If remembering that her song is wrong helps you remember the rule, she's done a service to the world.

It is I vs. It is me - Now the problem is that 90 percent of you are almost certainly thinking, "That all sounds really weird. Is she serious?" Well, yes, I'm serious, and that is the traditional rule, but fortunately most grammarians forgive you for not following the rule because it sounds stilted and fussy, even to us. So if you're the kind of person who prefers to be proper, it's fine to say, "That is I," and if you prefer to be more casual, it's fine to say, "That is me."

On splitting infinitives - I consider it my calling to dispel the myth that it's against the rules to split infinitives. It's fine to split infinitives, and sometimes, I split them when I don't have to just to maliciously make a point. Yeah, that's my idea of fun! I know it may come as a surprise, but Grammar Girl isn't that adventurous.

I just love her voice and strongly recommend this book if you need a grammar refresher. She's covered every possible issue I could think of, including a few I forgot about until I came across them on the page, and her voice makes what's sometimes a dull subject extremely accessible.


Finally, Barack will be president in just a couple more hours! We've had CNN on since I woke up an hour ago (Ibis had it on long before that) and I'm watching for my friends who are there. A few days ago I read an article discussing how Barack is more than just our new president, he's like a rock star. He's got that cool factor. I believed it when Ibis exclaimed, "there he is!" and I whipped my head from the computer to see him and Michelle walking from "The Beast" to the church. I normally only do that for celebrities.

Words can't express the joy I feel for our country, the hope I have that things will start to get better, and the relief that it's HIM that will be the one leading us on.

Our President. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009


Writers often tell each other that they should reward themselves when they reach certain milestones in their writing. Typically those include finishing a first draft, getting an agent or publishing contract, and seeing your book in print. Others allow smaller treats when they send it off to an agent, publish a short story, or finish an umpteeth draft.

That's where I come in.

I don't really think finishing the third draft qualifies for a reward, but since I didn't do anything for the first two (that I remember), Friday I bought myself something I've been eyeing for months:

The woman at the beach actually shortened it for me and took the large stone from a different piece to make me a customized necklace. Most of the vendors have similar merchandise and I've ogled this particular piece for months, but never asked how much it costs. Hopefully she didn't rip us off too much (we paid 100 pesos).

I was quite satisfied with my reward, then Saturday morning my dad and I went to the grocery store and I pointed out a cushion for my chair that I've been lusting over. (What can I say, I sit in a hard chair all day.) He offered to buy it for me and it was in the cart before he could eat his words.

Old, flat, uncomfortable cushion:

New, fluffy, orange (that matches the walls) cushion:

Please note that I can flip it over when I need to be in the "hot seat." Oy.

It feels like I'm sitting on a cloud!


Of course I can't have all good news. I was catching up on blogs yesterday and came across a review for Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. It's about a 19yo Mexican and her journey north to America. Grr. The plot is different but it's still about a journey north. Crap!


How do you reward yourself when you reach certain milestones, whether writing or some other task?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day of Reckoning

After I bring Ibis to work this morning, I'm going to sit down and read through my latest additions to my book. I think they're good, I hope they improve upon the story and make it more complex, and I'll soon find out.

After two days at the beach, I have a quiet day at home doing laundry and eating leftovers, and I'm actually looking forward to it. Don't get me wrong, I love a day full of volleyball, soccer, frisbee, swimming, and dominoes; but I'm physically tired and looking forward to the rest. After all, we're supposed to go salsa dancing tonight!

Any big plans for the weekend, especially for those of you who've trapped indoors in sub-zero temperatures?

Friday, January 16, 2009

[Insert Backflip Here]

I did it! I finished this draft! It didn't quite happen in the manner I had hoped, but I passed 60,000 words and I'm so much happier with my story than I was at the end of the second draft.

My final word count is 62,741 and there are 206 pages. That's an increase of almost 20,000 words and I don't know how many pages. (I'm writing this Thursday night and I'm a little bit loopy right now.) To say I'm relieved is such an understatement.

Around 8pm Thursday night I was very disappointed with myself. I'd edited close to thirty pages on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but my dad and I went to the beach Thursday and I didn't get anything done. Lucky for me Ibis is still sick and fell asleep around 9pm. (Clearly I don't want him to be sick, but it did help me in this situation.) I normally turn off the computer when he gets home since we have so little time together, but with him safely tucked into bed I decided to pull an all-nighter. 12:30am isn't exactly late, especially for some of you night owls, but I'm not used to staying up to crank things out. Aside from the stiff joints, it feels good.

I've had a new reader lined up for this draft, then earlier today another writing friend offered to read it as well, so now I have two more opinions to add to the mix. After I hear back from them, my plan is to incorporate their suggestions, run it by a final proofreader (hi Mom!), then dip my toe into query hell.

Then the real stress will begin.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Favorite Things

This meme has been working its way around the Blogospere, so I thought I'd join in. While thinking of my list, I had a twisted version that had all of them beginning with the letter F, but since this is a family version, I'll keep it clean. ;)

My favorite things:

1) Friends & Family If you know me at all, you already know these are at the top of my list. I'm a social person and those close to me make me who I am. Since I went away to school when I was fifteen, my friends became even more important to me since they became my immediate support network.

2) Reading & Watching Movies I love a good story, whatever form it takes. If I can lose myself for an hour of two, the writer has done a good job.

3) Fine Wines By fine wines, I don't mean expensive, I mean anything that tastes good to me. I tend to be more of a red wine connoisseur - cabernet & merlot now, although shiraz and chianti have had their moments in the spotlight - but I also adore a good Reisling. We had the white wine at our wedding instead of champagne.

4) Shopping I don't have to actually purchase anything to get the rush. I love browsing through the shelves and racks, touching things and imagining them in my home. Be it Target, Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic, or Crate & Barrel; I can spend hours in any of them. When it comes to actually buying things, I usually head for the sales rack.

5) Games Tetris and Scramble seem to take up the majority of my game playing time when I'm alone, but I adore real-world scrabble and dominoes, neither of which Ibis ever wants to play with me. My sister arrives on the 24th and I cannot WAIT to play both with her. I played tons of dice and card games in college (a lot of which seemed to center around alcohol) and I hope to add a Playstation or Wii to the household when we return to civilization.

6) Creating When I was little, I dreamed of being an artist, then a writer, then an interior designer, then a graphic designer. My drawing skills are mediocre at best, so the artist part is merely a hobby, but the other three have found a way into my life. (Again, the interior designer part just on a local level, lol - my house.) I seem to have an endless amount of creative energy and love watching my ideas develop into something I can see and touch.


Most of you have played along, but are there any favorite things you'd care to share?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Apologies

I would like to take this moment to apologize to any family and friends - and anyone else that may be lurking - who live in the Midwest. This morning I woke up and felt a little chilly. So much so that I turned the fan so it was only pointing at my feet, which were sticking out from beneath the sheet. My bare feet, sans blankets.

I've been running around all morning in a tank top, underwear, and flip flops, closing the blinds against the bright sun. To be fair, it has been cloudy for the past day and a half, so it's not quite as bright as normal, but it still creates a wicked glare on my monitor. In fact, my clothes didn't fully dry on the line yesterday because the sun wasn't as strong.

Last night my dad and I walked along the beach to meet Ibis at work, then we had dinner in an outdoor garden, surrounded by trees and flowers (and two stray kittens, weird). Our biggest complaint was the bits of plant matter that dotted the table and that it was a little more muggy than normal (which I didn't notice).

My beach plans have been postponed until tomorrow, but by then the clouds should pass and the sun will be back in its full glory.

So to all of you, my friends and family currently freezing your tooshes off in sub-zero temperatures: I'm sorry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Strange Welcome

Ibis started working at the hotel a year ago, and many of the guests who come every winter have started to return. There are several people who stay for one or two months, and we got to know them last year during their stay. By the time they left to return home, they all wished us well and said while they hoped they'd see us next year, they really hoped they wouldn't.

If you recall, we thought we'd be out of here by now. When we wished farewell to those who planned to return this year, they knew our hopes to leave and wished us the best. Now that they're arriving for their two-month stay in paradise, we're met with a combination of joy and sadness. Yesterday I picked up one such guest at the airport - someone I'd hung out with a little last winter - and while she was thrilled to see me and gave me a big hug, her face immediately showed her dismay that I was there. Instead of talking about the things she was looking forward to about her stay and how excited she was to be back in Zihua, we talked about the latest in our immigration wait and the few things that have happened with our case since I last saw her.

Ibis and I are touched that the guests, so many of whom are strangers when they arrive, care so much about our well being. I feel guilty talking to them about why we want to leave when they choose to come here every year, but I think they understand. My hope is that we'll be in their position someday - looking forward to a vacation in Zihua each winter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pondering Writing

The other day, my friend Jen answered her own question about why she blogs, then turned the question to her readers. She also asked why we write in general.

I commented that I originally started this blog as a platform for my now, temporarily abandoned memoir, and as a way to keep in touch with my family back home. Nothing ground-breaking, but her question stuck in my head. Later that day, I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune about a woman who started a blog when she discovered she had cancer. Kindra McLennan used humor in the face of a life-threatening illness and shared her feelings with her family in a way they will always remember. She passed away at the beginning of this year, but people are still commenting on her blog.

It's a very touching article and worth the read.

In more personal news, I've had several successful writing days and reached 60,000 words yesterday! Plus four. :) I still have around seventy pages to edit, but I only have one or two scenes that I planning to expand, so the new writing should only amount to a couple more thousand words (I'm hoping). I also passed the 200 page mark, another goal I had but had kept to myself. I'm so relieved to finally reach that mark!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hand Gestures

Ibis lost his voice yesterday so now we're communicating by hand signals. His favorite? The Sammy Sosa chest-thump kiss-kiss thing. So sweet.

I'm not sure how his day as a receptionist will go, seeing as the main thing he does is answer the phone and talk to guests, but I suppose he'll figure it out.

This actually ties into my writing. Yesterday I got started on one of the few scenes I have left to write - a bar fight. While fight scenes are new for me, I added the extra challenge of not having the MC involved in the fight. Instead, he was standing nearby, talking to two other people. I had to find a way to keep the action of the fight going while also showing the conversation. There were lots of hand gestures.

I still have a little more to write to finish the scene but I'm glad I got past the initial hesitation I had to writing it. Hopefully the rest will keep flowing!


btw, my dad's bag arrived yesterday, so he's all set now.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dad is Here, His Bag is Not

Everything went well yesterday except for the part where my dad's luggage got off the plane with him. He checked two and only one made the jump from Mexico City. He has toothpaste and underwear, but no t-shirts. I've lost luggage on that flight and it arrived a couple days later, so hopefully it's just taking its time and seeing the sights.

Today we're on the hunt for some type of shelving unit for his room and any other odds and ends he wants. He's right in the middle of everything so he should be able to find his way around easily enough.

As for me, I edited another 15 pages yesterday and passed the halfway mark in my book. I'm currently on page 102 of 191, with 56,094 words. I still have several new scenes to write, including a bar fight (lol), plus some reflective stuff at the end. My readers all thought the climax happened too quickly so I want to try and stretch it out a bit.

I'm meeting my dad later this morning so now is my time to work. Hopefully I can fight off facebook for an hour or two....


I also wanted to mention again the fund set up for Travis Erwin, who lost his home and everything in it last weekend. Anything you can do to help is appreciated.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Dad Arrives Today!

That about says it. His flight lands at 4:30 then we'll get him settled in his apartment. Did I mention that? He's rented a small apartment downtown that's within walking distance from the market, the beach, and all the bars and restaurants. Not a bad way to spend two months.

If I know my dad, and I think I do, we'll spend the three hours after he lands buying whatever he needs to feel comfortable. Some people like to relax when they land, maybe pick a place for dinner, but not him. He won't sit still until everything is to his liking. Ibis works until 8pm so that will actually work out so we can all go together, rather than him meeting us when we've nearly finished.

I'm not where I want to be with my edits/rewrites, but that's okay. I'm getting there. Since he's not staying with us I won't be "entertaining" nonstop and he assures me he won't get in the way of my "schedule." I have to quote schedule because I'm so bad at sticking to one that I really don't think I should call it that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Habitat for Travis

On January 4th, my fellow blogger and friend Travis Erwin, suffered a terrible tragedy. His home burned to the ground and he and his family lost everything. While his family is safe, they are now homeless.

Travis is a wonderful writer whose stories have touched me in the months since I've met him. Check out his blog for the latest on what they're going through.

A site has been set up to help them rebuild. Anything you can contribute will help.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slowly But Surely

I was very optimistic when I wrote my writing goals last week. I still am, but I've already had a few bumps in the new year. I'm almost to 56k, which means I've written over 10,000 new words, but I was hoping to already have reached 60k by now.

But, I'm ok with that.

I'm really happy with some of the new scenes I've added and I still have several big ones coming up. At first I went through the document and randomly picked what scene I wanted to work on, but now I'm going through chronologically. I added a new opening chapter and among other things, my MC gets stabbed, so now I have to make sure I incorporate his wound throughout the story. Just little details here and there, but it's a good way to also read through it once more.

We had family come to town yesterday so I was only able to work in the morning, then my dad arrives this Thursday (YAY!!!). That means I have today and tomorrow to really try to crank this out. I know I'll still be able to work once my dad is here, but I'll want to spend time with him, especially when he first arrives.

How are you doing with your goals now that we're almost a WEEK in 2009?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our Trip to Huetamo

We left for Huetamo early New Years Eve day and made it there in about five hours. I never managed to get the camera out, so here's what you missed: four hours of constant curves, three stops so I could throw up on the side of the mountain, one large herd of random cows blocking the road (on a curve, no less), several possible bandidos that Ibis was convinced were going to try to rob us, and 33 burros on the side of the road. I only counted the ones that were loose and actually on the road, not the ones behind fences or tied to a tree or bush. Let's just say there were a lot of burros. And chipmunks.

Once we arrived, we pulled out the camera. This first picture is a building up the street from Ibis' grandmother's home. Unfortunately the entire family was in Morelia for the holiday so we were only able to track down a cousin. We spent the rest of our visit with his brother and his family (they have different fathers and therefore different families).

A cool bridge on the main road.

One street near the market. Cars still drive through these narrow passages but the sheets protect the vendors from the sun. We returned the following morning for breakfast and got to see them hang the sheets before it got too hot. Ibis also bought ten pounds of food that he's been dreaming about for years.

The road above the market leads to the church, which overlooks the entire area.

There are gates on all four sides of the church plaza. This is just one of them. The flowers and trees were beautiful.

We returned to the church with his brother's family later in the evening. I'm not Catholic but it was impressive to see how many people gathered to be blessed before the new year.

The plaza in the center of town. We stayed in a hotel on the plaza, thinking we'd be downtown for all the new year's festivities, but it was deserted. We went to bed before midnight and waited for the sound of gunshots to wish each other a happy new year. :)

This was on the drive back. Because our drive there was so awful, his brother recommended a different road that would eventually meet up with the toll road from Morelia. It wouldn't necessarily be faster, but he promised less curves. We didn't have a map but Ibis had a good idea where we were headed, plus he's not afraid to ask for directions along the way.

We saw a lot of animals on the road but I was only able to catch a couple of them. These horses were being led, unlike the cows we saw on the way to Huetamo.

My camera was too slow! There were about twenty large cattle, but I only caught the last one and the guys moving them along.

A burro running alongside the rode. We usually honk so they know we're there but they're pretty good about staying on the side. We saw dogs in a few places that did NOT want to get up from the middle of the street - how dare we disturb they're rest!

More cows.

A melon farm. Yes, Ibis went up to them and bought four melons. We've been eating food from Huetamo and melons for the past four days.

And now for the fun part of the trip. What Ibis' brother neglected to mention was that the road connecting us to the toll road was - oh... how do I say this - not finished. The pavement turned to gravel, which turned to dirt, and we chose a dirt lane along the side instead of the bumpy gravel, but they eventually merged back together.

We did stop a passing car to make sure we were headed in the right direction (there was NOTHING out there) and he assured us that we'd hit the toll road in another hour. That was after we'd already been on this road for an hour. We kept thinking it was strange that his brother didn't mention the dirt road, but we were too far along to do anything about it then. The stretch of road leading up to that point was brand new and beautiful, so we figured it all balanced out.

Our car after two hours of dirt roads.

The toll road! I took this picture to show how people travel here. There are several kids in the back of the truck that you can't see in this picture, and not only am I constantly bothered by how unsafe this is, they were also throwing all their garbage out the side.

Agave plants (that's what they make tequila with).

Lakes along the drive. They always make the long drive more enjoyable.

The mountain that saved us. Somewhere in hour two on the dirt road, Ibis said that he recognized this mountain. We've commented on past trips from Morelia that it looks like a face (lying down) and sure enough, we could see it from the middle of nowhere. It gave us hope that we were going the right way and would eventually make it there.

The shortcut recommended by his brother took five and a half hours, but at least I didn't get sick. We checked the map when we got home and we drove all over two states, and the dirt road we were on isn't even shown. In all it was a good trip, although disappointing that we didn't get to see his family. I'm glad I got to see where he was born and I have the urge for a roadtrip out of my system for a couple more months.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Oh My, Oh Nine, Oh My

We had a short but eventful trip to Huetamo for the new year. I remembered to take pictures so I'll put together a post for next week. I haven't written anything since Monday - eek! - so I'm hoping today and this weekend are productive for me. Now on to today's post...

I don't know how many of you are fans of the Violent Femmes, but I have had this song stuck in my head for a couple days now.

It's called Jesus Walking on the Water and is a good song, but that's not why it's stuck on a continuous loop in my head. If you listen to the first 15 seconds, and replace "oh my" with "oh nine," you'll know what it's like to live in Melanie's head.

I cannot believe it's 2009! I haven't started on my goals yet, have you?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

We're still out of town and away from the computer, but I used mental telepathy to contact the internet so I could wish you a happy new year!

I hope everyone had a safe & fun night. Bring on '09!