Archive for August, 2009

Maestro Chuey

Maestro Chuey flashes one of his contagious smiles

Maestro Chuey does a little bit of everything at Buen Pastor. He’s our Mister-Fix-It Jack-of-all-Trades with the million dollar smile and Can Do Attitude. He’s usually up to his neck on a number of projects like painting, gardening, surveying, repairing, building, restoring, plumbing, and mechanics. A mystery at Buen Pastor is how Maestro Chuey manages to keep his big belly with all the running around he does.

I added him to Buen Pastor’s people page.

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One of the many narrow alleys filled with brightly painted houses in Guanajuato.

F and I spent 12 hours looking for a place to live in Guanajuato yesterday. We went from one end of GTO to the other, both vertically and horizontally. We didn’t have any luck and will be looking again next Tuesday.

Here we are in Callejón Corazones, or Alley of Hearts. Someone had a sign on her door indicating she sold microwaved popcorn. So we took a break on her stoop while she microwaved us a bag, leaned against the wall, listened to someone practicing his drums, and admired all the color surrounding us.

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Over 100!

Click on the image to vote for me at nau. Sign up takes less than half a minute.Thanks to Amanda and Karen, I’ve reached the 100 marker point at nau which enables me to enter the judging round. This round will be based on both number of votes and overall rating. Karen tells me that I’m in the top 1/4 and to go go go! I’m going! Yes!! If you haven’t voted, please do. And if you have a moment, take a look at and vote for the other great projects folks are involved with.  There’s a lot of good stuff going on there.

Here’s Amanda’s helpful email that took me over the 100 points wall:

Hello lovelies,

Our good friend Juanita Benedicto is doing amazing work with women and girls, most of them abuse survivors, at a convent in Mexico. Juanita has been volunteering at Buen Pastor (http://buenpastor.weebly.com/) for the past several summers, and has gotten to know the madres and the women and girls, and they have come to trust and rely on her. Last year, she took a leave of absence from her job as a librarian at Lane Community College in Eugene to spend a year working with the women full-time. Her sabbatical year just ended, and instead of returning to the states, JB just quit her job to do this full-time. Up to this point, Juanita has donated her time 100%, but after years of doing this as a volunteer, she has reached a point where she needs funding to continue her work. To that end, she has applied for a grant from Nau (http://www.nau.com/collective/grant-for-change/), an environmentally and socially conscious clothing company, but in order to be considered for the grant, she needs votes. It’s free to vote, but you have to create a log-in and password (they don’t spam you, though). Pretty straightforward, and should only take a minute or two.

Anyway, if you have a minute, please help by adding another vote for Juanita:


And, if it’s not too much to ask, please consider forwarding this email or posting the voting link to your Facebook profile.

Thank you so much!

And thank you Amanda, not only for helping me with votes, but for telling me about this contest in the first place. Your support means so very much to me and makes my work at Buen Pastor possible.

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50 Cents

Bowl of substance.

Animated by Karen’s recent Ryvita biscuits post, which in turn was inspired by the 30 Bucks a Week guys, I decided to document this morning’s breakfast: Lentil Soup. For less than 50 cents a bowl, it’s hard to beat in terms of price, nutrition, and ease.

To begin, sauté a small, diced onion. Add four chopped carrots and two to three chopped potatoes. As the vegetables begin to glaze, add:

  • salt and pepper
  • dried parsley
  • cumin

Wash and sort your lentils. Then add the lentils to the pot along with enough water and chicken/vegetable powder.

Once the soup begins to simmer, add 8 oz of tomato purée.

Leave the lid cracked a little while you simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish with avocado to add monounsaturated fat, potassium, vitamins B, E & K, and fiber.

The entire project takes around 60 minutes, enough time to listen to a recent Fresh Air where Michael Pollan talks on cooking as a spectator sport. In the interview, Pollan mentions Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham who believes that it was the discovery of cooking by our early ancestors — not tool-making or language  — that made us human. Cooking civilized us.

Pollan goes on to speculate the effects that the decline of cooking has on modern life which is worth listening to. And as for the benefits: along with price, nutrition, and ease, the delayed gratification that goes into cooking a pot of lentil soup–or any meal–means less eating which translates into lower rates of obesity.

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Wedding dress

Photographing a dress at Querétaro bus station

I accompanied F to Querétaro yesterday to pick up some computer parts. We were getting ready to leave when we found a wedding dress we both liked.


I wouldn’t have picked rhinestone-studdied platform sandals out for a wedding (and possibly for never), but the girl helping me out did. When the dress and shoes are put together, they actually look pretty good. Plus, we’re going out dancing after we get married, so I might as well have my salsa on. I know Planet Fabulon would agree.

So now I have the dress, the shoes, most of the paperwork done and the guy… all we need is a date.

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Healing space

Yesterday was rewarding in terms of massage. It was the first time I practiced in my new massage room. A couple of weeks ago, I had asked Madre Lourdes if we could find another space for massage. The old room had a lot of traffic: people coming in and out, the television, the phone, and one of the madres who sat and watched me massage for hours. I thought a more private space would be conducive to relaxation and healing.

So Madre Lourdes and I walked the entire convent looking for a space and we found one. It’s small, but sweet.  The walls are a deep aquamarine blue and there is a picture of the Virgincita comforting the Pope. I like meditating on her as I work. He looks as though he is suffering, and although she is compassionate, her face registers acceptance more than any other characteristic. It’s as though she’s holding his pain, and by accepting it as it is, transmutes his suffering to grace.

This space worked well yesterday. I think it’s going to be a healing room. I already love the way it smells like Aveda and the big, beautiful, green leafy plant Madre Lourdes thought to put in the room.  I took pictures, but they aren’t any good.

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Dead ends

Many egrets have recently been displaced and died recently, here in San Miguel de Allende.

I have been going through my list of foundations and seem to be hitting all dead ends. Many do not include projects in Mexico. Others won’t consider religious organizations. Quite a few are no longer accepting unsolicited applications.

I just got off the phone with Catholic Mission Aid of Cleveland, OH. When I asked about the process to apply and mentioned I was calling from Central Mexico, I was questioned about my Oregon phone number and abruptly told not to call again. Apparently, even though they’re listed in the Foundation Database, the person I talked to (son of the folks running the Aid) informed me his parents are inundated with calls and he could tell me there on the spot that Buen Pastor’s work wouldn’t be considered.

I have felt like a salmon going upstream butting her head on rocks for over a year now. Sometimes, I guess that’s what it takes.

In good news: we have a 5th subscriber and one school girl has her school year paid for. San Jose is still ironing out PayPal wrinkles.

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