Friday, January 01, 2016
wrapping it all up
Happy new year from the cast of Mexpatriate.
I have an annual tradition of compiling the 10 most popular episodes (based on your comments) of the past year. Re-reading my essays also gives me an opportunity to figure out how I invested my time.
It was quite a year. I lost three close friends. Took two road trips -- through southern Mexico with my cousin Dan and his wife Patti, and up to Oregon and back with my brother Darrel.
Then there was the visit to Fascist China (I have acquiesced to those of you who found my reference to "Red China" anachronistic) -- with the follow-on cruise to Korea, Japan, Russia, and Canada.
I also resurrected my relationship with Amazon. Shipments now regularly show up at my post office box or my house. A pair of sandals and dog accessories are currently in transit.
But none of those episodes made the top ten list for 2015. Here are the winners -- once again, by the number of comments from readers. Interestingly, all of them were written in the second half of the year.
#10 -- sawing memories in half (29 October). Following Hurricane Patricia's visits to our shores, I wrote about the sound of chain saws cutting up fallen trees. It reminded me of a more innocent time in Powers when timber was still an industry.
#9 -- ghost of a chance (8 June). My most prized acquisition on my summer trip to Oregon was a bottle of ghost pepper chili powder. One of the hottest peppers known. I had great plans for spicing up dishes -- and most of them worked just as anticipated. My favorite use, though, is spicing up my tomato juice.
#8 (tie) -- puppies on the half shell (10 December). One of my quests in 2015 was to purchase a dog. Most of you showed great interest in whether I would get one puppy -- or two -- or none. In this episode I was still in my Hamlet mode. But it did introduce you to the two puppies I was considering -- Red and Green.
#8 (tie) -- best-laid plans (26 August). In August, I initiated my long-delayed walking program. Barra de Navidad has a splendid walking/running/jogging/bike path, and I wanted to put it to good use. For some reason (probably ill-fitting shoes), I developed a large blister on the bottom of my left foot. That led to an infection in my leg and -- well -- a series of doctor and hospital visits. Health-wise, 2015 was not a great year for me.
#7 -- moving to mexico -- learning the language (15 October). When I cut back on my essay writing in August, I decided to devote more time to exercise and working on my Spanish. The Spanish project has worked far better than my exercise program. After all, conjugation has not put me in the hospital. I brought several Spanish lessons with me when I moved to Mexico. They have helped. But there is material here for a follow-on episode.
#6 -- the naming of dogs (17 December). Having purchased only one puppy, I was faced with the prospect of finding an appropriate and witty Spanish name. American politics offered up the solution. Barco Rubio. It is witty. Whether it is appropriate is another question. After all, I just named my dog "blonde boat" -- in Spanish. He doesn't seem to mind. As long as food is involved.
#5 -- moving to mexico -- food budget (13 December). One thing I have learned in the nine years I have been writing Mexpatriate and its predecessor is that the content of the essay will almost always be subordinated to the personal fervor it evokes. This episode was a perfect example. I wrote about my trip to the local grocery store that specializes in imported foods. All of them were very expensive. My point was that food budgets can be inexpensive in Mexico as long as the buyer does not try to re-create a northern dinner table. Most of the comments ended up discussing the items I purchased and how unhealthy they were. But I was not surprised. That is merely what happens in the blogging word when religious topics (like food) are mentioned.
#4 -- toying with the story (22 August). After announcing that I was going to shut down Mexpatriate to concentrate on exercising and learning Spanish, readers convinced me that I could do both while writing only occasional (rather than daily) essays. I surrendered.
#3 -- farewell (21 August). This was my curtain call announcement for Mexpatriate. I have yet to tell you the full story -- and I doubt I ever well. But events from late August convinced me it was time to change a few things in my life. Mexpatriate was one. My original plan was simply to shut down the whole operation. But, as you can see from #4, I changed my mind. I will admit the comments and email I received had a great part in moving me back to the keyboard.
#2 -- welcoming patricia to the party (22 October). In October, Barra de Navidad was faced with its first hurricane since Jova in 2011. And Patricia was a big storm. By the time it was off our coast, it was a category 5+ hurricane. I received a lot of advice to flee. I didn't. As projected by the computer models, Patricia steered north of us: following about the same path Jova did four years earlier. My house turned out to be a great sanctuary not only for me but also for a local Mexican family.
#1 -- an opening for a princess (8 September). I thought "farewell" was going to own this spot. But I had completely forgotten about this episode -- and the controversy it caused. I announced I was looking for a wife, and then created a list that could be called mildly sexist. Of course, it was all a put on. As a warning to people who might take it seriously, I tacked this on at the bottom of the piece: "Just in case you are curious, this is not one of my jokester essays. My life is ready to take a turn for the better." My mother saw through it immediately. But the comments did lead to some good advice on getting a dog.
So, there it is. 2015 in review. On the whole, it has been a good year -- even with the hospital visits.
It is now time to start a new year with my puppy who believes he is a fox with very sharp teeth. And there is probably an essay in there somewhere. But it will have to wait.
For all of you who left comments this year, thank you very much. It would be nice to hear from more of you.
We trust all of you will have a blessed new year,