Saturday, May 31, 2008

where there never was a hat

This photograph belongs to Andee Carlsson -- and always will.

The date was December 19, 2007. I had just returned from a November-December scouting trip to La Manzanilla and Barra de Navidad to look at houses and to make a decision on whether I would retire in Mexico. By that day, I knew I was retiring in Mexico.

But I had travel journal entries that I wanted to use for some purpose. The travel journal existed because Andee of
My Life in Chacala urged me to write down my experiences. And she was candid about the reason: she wanted to hear about places she had not yet visited in Mexico.

When I told her about the journal, she pushed me one step further: she convinced me to start a blog. It is hard to believe that it was only five months ago.

Andee and I had become on and off email correspondents. So, the next thing she did really touched me. She was the very first person to add a comment (what I now consider to be the heart of blogging). And then she made the following entry in her blog:

A new Blogger friend, Steve, just started his Blog. He is writing about his search for a place to retire in Mexico. I like how carefully he is looking around and checking out his options. Nice photos too. Steve in Mexico I put the Link on my Links list too.

It was one of the nicest Christmas presents I could receive. A veteran blogger welcomed me into the community. She immediately followed up with suggestions: Stop being cautious. Speak your mind. Tell us your dreams. All of it first class advice.

Most of you know the rest of the story. Andee died less than a month later -- a loss many of us still feel acutely.

I am telling this tale now for two reasons. The first is that Andee left a grand legacy in this community. The people who meet her genuinely try to assist one another. We are supportive. And we like each other. Andee commented on that aspect of blogging often. (And I will say it again. The decorum on these pages is almost the antithesis of many Mexico message boards.) We should do our best to welcome and encourage new members in the community.

The second reason is that there will be a time of memory in Spokane, Washington on Saturday, 14 June. I was planning on attending, but I am not certain if I could deal with the emotions that I can feel as I write this. One thing I do know is that Andee has become such a part of my daily life I doubt I could memorialize her any more than living out the principles she espoused on her blog.

One thing we will never forget is her memorable photography. The photograph at the top of this blog is from her collection.


wayne said...

Stop it. You're making me cry. Her post is how I found you. You probably don't know this, but she would not put just anyone on her blog roll. You had to earn her respect first.

wayne said...

P.S. She used to get so angry at me with my Explore Mexico blog. Most of the chapters end with a cliffhanger for the next one. She hated that and wanted me to email all of the chapters to her at once rather than waiting. Of course, I never did. I made her "suffer"! LOL! (sure wish I had now.)

Anonymous said...

andee was a great photographer! i often complimented her on her pictures but she did not give herself much credit for her work.

i will mostly remember her as someone who used to love walking around chacala enjoying visiting the locals. she really loved the kids, often giving them little toys and sometimes giving a few pesos for a video game at the weekend internet cafe. and as you know, she is the one that started the advertising for the techos ladies. she was definitely a big help in getting those businesses off the ground and i know she is missed by all who knew her.

steve i have looked on your profile but haven't been able to find your e-mail address. i would very much like to write to you, i have a few questions. could you possibly e-mail me at


Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- When I wrote that piece early this morning, I did not realize only 5 months had passed since Andee's death. It almost seems like a year. Time can play funny tricks. On the other hand, I still feel as if I could simply sit down and send her an email.

teresa -- I went through Andee's blog late last night and early this morning reviewing her photographs. She always had a good eye for her subjects. But you can also see how she taught herself to improve both color and framing as time went on. Her work has helped to inspire me to return to photography as a hobby.