Perry says Merry

In 2013, my last Christmas in New York, it was all about The Hobbit and the  egg roll -the Jewish tradition of going out for a movie and Chinese Food. thorineggroll .

Last Christmas was the first I spent living in Mexico, and I hosted a Christmas dinner for about 25 people. It was a good excuse to have homemade roast fresh turkey with trimmings.

This is not the turkey. This was your introduction to Mulligan

This year I’m harking back to tradition. Although we have two Chinese restaurants locally, a group of friends and I are going into Guadalajara for an authentic Chinese-American meal. We’re going to lunch at P.F.Chang, which I’d never heard of before. It’s an international chain but P.F. Chang is not one of the 6,000 Chinese restaurants in NYC, so it’s new to me. I saw traditional egg rolls on the menu. I’m in.

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I wish each and every one of you a very Merry something, no matter where you are or how you celebrate, and to you, too, Richard Armitage. I was happy to read that you’ll be home with those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving! (From Mexico)

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My second Thanksgiving in Mexico, away from family and old friends.

It’s traditional here for most of the expats who don’t  go back north,  to take off for the beach for the week on ridiculously inexpensive vacations to Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan or Nuevo Vallarta. But, with some other travel coming up for me, and more house improvements on the horizon, I passed.

I’ve “gone out” for Thanksgiving only a handful of times in my life, and this will be one of them. But, as long as I can get my Thanksgiving meal (generally, turkey is inexplicably difficult to get here, and very expensive all things considered),and spend the morning with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background – I’m good.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

 

 

 

 

Fun Art – Now We Need Fan Art

Have you heard of adult coloring yet? There’s been plenty of buzz about the therapeutic benefits of the activity all over the web, and Amazon and other vendors are selling books on line. In addition, you can actually download prints from the web for free or paint right on line.

Yesterday, my Synagogue Social Committee held an event Color me Mellow.  The prints we used are the artistic creations of Diane Pearl, who I’ve mentioned here before. Diane donated not only prints, but also a wide and luscious variety of art supplies, including pencils, markers, gel pens, and the like.

I wasn’t that keen on the project, thinking that men might not want to participate – but boy was I wrong. Everyone who attended sat down and completed at least one painting.

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Above, is an incomplete work by one of our guests – a guy, using markers.

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This is a more delicate version ( most of the prints have a decidedly art nouveau flavor)

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Some folks, just won’t stay in the lines. The artist above, used water for blending techniques, which is a great idea, and also makes it possible to mix colors with some of the pencils.

What about me? Well, ( and BTW, there IS a Richard Armitage connection here.)

I got into the activity with no problem at all. I love playing with colors, and sitting there with a bunch of colors, Frank Sinatra in the background and some good white wine at hand and other mellow inducing stuff,  I set myself to producing a design with a very specific color palate with the idea of using it in the living room. Let me confess that by the end of two hours, I had only completed about the 10% of the print – the top left gray and orange thingies.IMG_20151030_101506

I had to finish it at home.

This activity was so relaxing and endorphin producing, that  yesterday, I started another one, this time in color combinations that are a little less Southwestern or Mexican looking ( help, I need more supplies, more colors, more different media! I am totally hooked. You can do this in bed and there’s no mess). I got so carried away that I actually decided to skip a charity event for which I had a ticket.

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Eventually, I did some research on the net. I’d noticed on Twitter that adult coloring was being touted. And I found this:

Fan artists – pay heed. We need Richard Armitage coloring pages. The best images will include lots of smaller areas so we can use plenty of colors ( note Jon Hamm’s ugly, but detailed ski sweater). Thorin Oakenshield and Francis Dolarhyde/The Great Red Dragon could be perfect – and I promise,  if someone can create an interesting Lucas North, with some fun designs in it I’ll be the first to download.

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Pleeeease !

 

OT: ‘Mach was!’ Oktoberfest in Mexico

The challenge to mach was! (“do something”) for Oktoberfest, comes from fellow blogger, Herba.
I may be past the deadline for Herba’s challenge, but I thought I’d give it a try and figure out a way to do something for Oktoberfest here in my corner of Mexico.

First, I started thinking about beer. I like beer, but I’m no expert. There are a few Mexican beers that I frequently enjoy. Whether they meet any connoisseur’s standard, I doubt – but I like Negra Modelo ( which has a decent write up) better than some of the less hearty beers I’ve tried here, like Pacifico. Of course, Dos XX  and Corona are also readily available. But would just having a glass of beer that I might be having anyway be “doing something” for Oktoberfest? I thought not.

So I looked harder and found that right in my town, there is a local microbrewer, whose beers are easy to find. Corazón de Malta is the name of his label. But when I read up on it, I learned that he was making mainly British and American style beer, so once again, though I plan to try his beer, it didn’t seem like much of challenge to walk a block and have a glass or mug of beer. Moreover, since I know so little about it, what would I be able to say?

Then,  on the main road, La Carretera, I spotted this:

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 Johanna’s Bavarian and European Restaurant (with beer garden) seemed like just the something to do.The restaurant is to the left of the banner, where you can see the umbrellas in the beer garden. The beer garden billing is a bit pretentious in my area, since almost every restaurant is at least partly outdoors, though they might have a roof of sorts.

Anyway, I planned a Sunday lunch with a friend to fulfill the challenge.

Mindful of other information I read on line in connection with the challenge, I vowed to keep away from anything schnitzel, since there seemed to be some disagreement among our German blogging community as to whether schnitzel was actually German. I would have skipped it anyway.  I’ve had schnitzel a few times in restaurants in the old German neighborhood of NYC , known as Yorkville.  But schnitzel to me was disappointing, and  nothing more than an ordinary fried cutlet ( though I think it had an egg on it, at least once).

Thinking back on the schnitzel story, I recalled once being very adventurous, or so I thought, when I once ordered chicken fried steak in a Brooklyn restaurant featuring southern food. I’d heard about the dish for years and wondered just what a steak would look like fried in the manner of  chicken.  But when the dish came, it was just another cutlet.  On the other hand, the taste was something that brought me back to my childhood. as it reminded me of a dish in my mother’s repertoire: veal chops that were dredged in matzoh meal and then fried with onions in schmaltz (chicken fat). Hands down, my mother’s dish was better, to me, anyway, than either of the other two fried dishes, and had the singular advantage of not being smothered in white gravy – a sauce that is both unappealing to look at and worse to eat. ( Southern readers – please don’t send hate mail. I don’t care for Bechamel either.)

But back to Oktoberfest. So schnitzel was out.

Except for some obvious choices, I have no way of knowing if some of the dishes on Johanna’s extensive menu are German, whether Bavarian, or not. Choices included a variety of sausages, including the Oktoberfest special ( a huge Brat with a bottle of beer), some trout dishes, a grilled lamb chop, goulash, some salmon dishes and a few vegetarian options.  There was no sauerbrauten, which would have been my first choice. Appetizers included herring, potato pancakes, and home made foie gras pate, along with onion soup and soup of the day.

My companion and I split the foie gras ( sorry – the plate was emptied before I remembered to take a photo) which was absolutely sublime, Bavarian or not.

I passed on the Oktoberfest special with just one Bratwurst ( should have looked at one first)  because I wanted to do something for Oktoberfest, and went for a wurst combination plate, giving me more  to discuss here. Presentation was not too beautiful, but really, what can you do with three odd sized sausages on a plate? ( a little green would  have helped)IMG_20151018_144429

The sausages were identified as Bratwurst (veal) ( the big one), Münchener, (the top one) supposedly a combination of pork and veal flavored with onions and parsley ( a little bland, I thought) and Thuringerwurst, the one in the middle, which in this case was made from veal. This sausage evoked the best grilled kosher franks I’d ever had, maybe as good as the  Nathan’s Famous  my father used to get in a “Frankie Pack” and grill over charcoal.  It was crispy and a little burnt on the outside, and just the right garlic and seasonings inside. As you can see, the wursts were accompanied by portions of sauerkraut, sweet and sour red cabbage and potatoes.

I left over quite a bit and took it home, where I mulled over whether to offer it to Lucas or Mully ( outdoor and indoor cats, respectively), but in the end, I gave it up to Choya, my neighbor’s roof dog.

I would not ordinarily order dessert, but I sacrificed for the sake of this blog post and Herba’s challenge. Plum strudel. I ate around the chantilly cream, just testing it with one forkful, to see whether it was properly made, and it was. That’s a big juicy blackberry on top.
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So tell me. I know I did something for Oktoberfest. But, did I have Bavarian, or even German food? What do you think of the menu?

OT: When Translations Don’t Work

I thought I’d share some humor with you.

Before I read the terrible reviews of the new film Pan, I thought I might go and see it at my local theater here in Mexico. I was surprised when I looked up the billboard and noticed that Pan was only playing in Spanish. Except for Mexican films, all movies shown here are shown in English with Spanish subtitles, as well as other showings in dubbed Spanish.

And then I figured it out:

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Pan is the Spanish word for bread. And FYI – Rescue Mission also showing, is the film The Martian and Explicit Lyrics is Straight Outta Compton ( It’s not unusual for films to be given different titles outside the U.S.for marketing purposes that I only sometimes understand – the was no confusion about El Hobbit: La Batalla de los Cinco Ejercitos

Still, I think I’ll pass on Bread

OT: A Long Cat Story with A Richard Armitage Twist.

Some readers may recall that in November, I acquired my first Mexican cat, another orange and white, as my previous cats had been. I like orange cats, and it was my intention, once I got settled in Mexico, to find myself one. Or rather, I was hoping he’d find me.

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My little 7 lb. cat, on the right, holding his ground, against 20 pound Oliver. The picture was taken at Oliver’s house, where the cats had play dates while I visited with my friend. Ollie was left to me in his Mom’s will. I was the obvious choice since our two cats spent lots of time together, including many weekends in the country, and once his Mom got ill, he spent a full six months with us, until he came to stay for good.

One orange kitten did find me, or rather, he was brought to me, found on the street, practically an infant. I agreed to keep him until a home could be found, as I had little interest in a new born kitten.

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I had no intention of keeping this kitten, although, in a post, since deleted, I mulled over what to name him. It was my intention to name my next pet Lucas, after one of my favorite Richard Armitage characters, Lucas North, but I refused to name this cat, as he was only with me ” on spec” and anyway, an orange and white cat was so not Lucas North, that I abandoned the idea.

Eventually, my maid brought me one of her five cats ( unsolicited, I might add), and after deliberating about him, I asked her to take him home.   But there must have been a language barrier, because the second night, I saw an orange cat streak past me in the bedroom. He’d been hiding somewhere, with no food or water for almost two full days.)

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Mulligan

Him, I decided to keep, and it turned out to be a good thing. He’s a great cat.
I went through the angst of naming him. Again, Lucas North would not suit, for the same reasons it didn’t suit the name for the kitten, so I settled on Mulligan, or Mully, for short, after Richard Armitage’s character, John Mulligan.

For a while, I had serious problems with Mulligan, who would disappear for hours, sometimes overnight, even though I kept the patio doors closed. It turned out he was escaping by jumping up to what I thought was some duct work in the bathroom, and escaping through a loose teja, one of the roof tiles that make up many Mexican roofs.

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I actually watched him once, as he used his paw to push one tile away from another and get out the smallest opening one can imagine. Where he went, or what he did those nights, I don’t know, but eventually, the escape route was blocked, and Mully was allowed out on the patio during the day only, where he was free to climb the giant Plumeria tree and roam around the surrounding walls, and who knows where else. Good cat that he was though, even when I forgot to close the patio door at night, Mully would come home when called.

So, when this July, I found it necessary to move house, ( one reason for the dearth of serious posts of late), I was a little concerned when the house I selected meant Mully would lose some perks. One perk he lost was that this patio has no planted garden. It’s a potted garden, and Mully is no longer able to use the garden as a litter box. ( Also a lost perk for me).

The second lost perk was that this patio has no trees, and high walls, so it is impossible for Mulligan to get out and roam. I worried that he might be bored and lonely.

On the plus side, however, my last place had no view to the street. The front door, on the street, was solid metal which opened to a long hall. One walked through the hall and made a right turn into the rest of the house. Mully rarely if ever went into the hall.

On the other hand, this new house has a wonderful entrance. It has a gated door on the street, and one walks through a partly roofed, partly open entrance way to the very secure, triple glass front door. The front door is exactly lined up with the back door, allowing lots of cross breezes from the mountains and lake. So for once, Mully could, even from a distance, relax at the front door and watch the world move by ( such as it is) on the street.
I#! View through my gate

There’s always something to see. If you look closely, you can see, at the bottom of the gate, in the street, is a painted hopscotch court, and not a child (or sometimes even an adult) walks by without trying it out.

On the second day after I moved in, I looked out my front door and saw, just sitting there, a charcoal gray cat with beautiful blue/gray eyes. Mully came to investigate also, and the cats had a staring contest through the screen.

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The cat came day after day, and eventually, after discussing it with my landlord and neighbor, I learned that the cat had been rescued with other kittens, and more or less belonged to the neighborhood. The tenant before me fed him, and that’s why he was there. He was also there to torment the caged roof dog next door, for it was down the roof steps that he made his entrance to my actual front door.

So, I started leaving food out for him. And because it was so fitting, and because fate had her way, I named the cat Lucas North – a perfect name, considering his coloring, his eyes, and his resourcefulness in finding a good place to eat and a safe house. ( He now takes afternoon siestas in a box outside the door, and generally comes and goes as he pleases.)

So finally, I had my Lucas North – an outdoor cat, stealthy and fearless – sometimes.

But some odd things happened. For one, sometimes I knew the cat was coming because the dog upstairs would bark her brains out. Other times, he would just appear after a desultory bark from upstairs.

At times, Mully was very interested in the cat, and would sometimes hang out at the door, as the two flirted with one another, through the door.
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At other times, Mully had no interest and would walk away once he took a quick look at the cat.

On the third or fourth day of Lucas’s arrival, or rather, his acceptance, I fed Mulligan in the morning, but he continued to cry for food – barely touching his own, until I saw Lucas North’s silhouette at the door. I fed Lucas, and Mully was satisfied. So now, he was pimping food for the other cat.

The other odd thing was that most of the time, I would go out and feed Lucas, who would chirp and stand nearby, and generally hang around. Other times, he would flee through the front gate, and come back only after I had left.

Once, he walked right into the house and sniffed Mully, who sniffed back. Another time he walked into the house and Mully chased him out.

I also noticed that, after being treated to canned tuna or other canned food, he would often reject just dry food, while other times, he was happy to have it.

Another oddity, I thought, for a street cat, was sometimes he would leave food over, especially if it was dry food. Also, sometimes, after eating a really good meal, he would reappear in only about 20 minutes, begging for more.

Lucas North was, indeed, a cat of contradictions, and I never knew which version of him I would see. But I figured, I now have an outdoor cat and an indoor cat. Mully has a friend and I finally got my Lucas North.

Lucas shows up like clockwork in the morning at 7 a.m. when I wake to feed Mully ( and him) and in the evening for his second meal. As I said, he often spends the siesta time sleeping outside the door in a carton that just happened to remain after the move.

The other night, I felt a stab of sadness as I watched Lucas through the door. It was dark and I could just make out his shape. I was playing with Mully, as I always do before bed – this time the game was throwing a ball down the hallway, and Mully chased and pounced at it. I noticed Lucas watching, but a little distance from the door. And then he moved closer and closer until his nose was up against the door. Mully on the other hand, was showing off, tossing the ball, somersaulting, and having a rousing good time, all right near the door.

It reminded me of a movie my mother once told me the plot of – Stella Dallas, in which Barbara Stanwick, as a rejected mother watched through a picture window, standing out in the cold rain, as her daughter married a wealthy and prominent man.

The next day I put a toy out for Lucas, but he had no clue what to do with it. He simply ran away through the gate.

I tried again, a day later, and this time he batted the straw mouse around a little, pounced, and then placed it in his box, (where he is right this minute, sleeping).

A day later,  he  sneaked into the house ( I think Mulligan helped) – and before I knew it, he was in the back room. He took one look around, and made his way straight to Mulligan’s toy box where he rooted through the contents and absconded with a crinkle ball, which I later found in his bed outdoors.

Lucas North’s approach/avoidance, practically schizophrenic  behavior, and Mully’s varied lukewarm reception at times, and hearty greetings at others, made for some head scratching.

Until the morning I looked out the front door as usual, and saw two  identical gray cats sitting at the front door.

Two.

I went out to feed them, and sure as rain, one of them scampered away through the front gate, and the other hung around to be fed. Twenty minutes later, the two were there again, and again, the second cat ran away when I went out to give him some food.

I can’t tell the difference from looking at them. The scaredy cat won’t let me close enough. It is only their behavior that lets me know who might be whom.

So, it turns out, fate had an even bigger surprise for me. Not only did I finally get Lucas North; it seems I got John Bateman as well.