19 June 2015

Chasing Power

Teen magical realism.  I liked it.

18 June 2015

La Tacopedia

It's coming in English.

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

I liked this but didn't love it.  The teenage girl stuff could get really annoying at times and there were a lot of things the author just skimmed over- sometimes I felt like the previous book finally made sense when I read the summary of it in the next book, since they always have to remind you what happened before in a series.  But it was still pleasant to read.

17 June 2015

This hasn't been the best few months for blogging while we've had to focus almost entirely on family things the last bit before we leave the older boys in the US for the summer.  But school is nearly done for everyone, finally; the flights are planned; and the necessary packing and laundry will happen because it always does.  A lot of our friends are moving in the next few weeks and we've been saying goodbye and going to events.

Then we get to come back to Mexico for two final months of exploring. We have trips planed for the coast, Morelia, Chapala, southern Guanajuato state, Guanajuato city, and many day trips.  I have a few more pyramids to see around here, more food to enjoy, and a few more museums to see in Guadalajara.  And there will be packing and moving but that will happen too no matter what I think about it.

And then there will be leaving.


This is the first steampunk I've read and I loved it in so many ways.  The plot left a little to be desired but the idea of airships being the standard mode of transportation more than made up for any faults in this book.

16 June 2015

The Lyra Novels

This isn't exactly a series, but a set of five related books that you can read in any order, or just one or two.  I read the fourth book, Caught in Crystal, not long after it came out many years ago but hadn't read any of the others.  Patricia Wrede is always worth reading.

04 June 2015

I have been pleasantly surprised recently to discover that there are a few things I'm looking forward to about living in the US again for a while. I've never been all that thrilled about going back before, and while I don't want to leave Mexico, at least I'm excited about the next year.  It helps that I'm going to a city that I love, but even more than that, it helps that I know I will be there for less than a year.

The main thing I'm looking forward to is cooking a wider variety of dishes.  We've certainly not been deprived here in Guadalajara and I'll miss a lot of the ingredients that are so easy to find here, but I'm also ready to have more spices, more varieties of rice, more tofu, more hard cheeses, and especially, more Asian vegetables.  And I'll be able to get all that at at least different stores within a few minutes' walk of my house.  Jusay, long beans, chinsay, bok choy, and so much more are waiting for me.

People ask a lot where I want to settle down but there is no perfect place.  I want to have all the ingredients available, from Kyrgyzstan strawberries to Chapala raspberries to Kyrgyzstan laghman that someone else made to fresh masa to moles and salsas and coconut and jusay and hot naan and falafel and tabbouleh and pho and pressed tofu and  so much more.  I want to live near rocky coasts where no one else wants to go.  I want geysers.  I want the people to speak languages I already know.  I want it to never be hot.  I want snow.  I want pyramids and yurts and mountains.  I want wild rainstorms and windstorms.  And that place does not exist.

31 May 2015

Into the Wild and Out of the Wild

These are two fun, lighthearted children's fantasies.  Definitely worth a pleasant afternoon.

30 May 2015

A Little Pyramid Ruin

We kept hearing and reading that there are other guachimonton ruins around the official site and I really, really wanted to see one of the sites.  So when my niece was here we trooped out to the real Guachimontones and then went off in search of a ruin we'd read about.  And we found it!

This a is little pyramid and there's a fence going along the side of it so you can't circle it, but it's clearly a guachimonton with the surrounding platforms.  It's possible there's a ball court on the north side, but it's a really long ball court if it is.  There's a stone wall going through whatever it is. There's also lots and lots of obsidian in the area.

Search for 20.741450, -103.882885 on Google Earth and you'll see the traditional circular mound in the middle surrounded with platforms.  To get there, go past Teuchitlan and then turn right a few kilometers after town at a sign pointing toward La Pena just before a small hill (there is also the remnant of another old sign there and the coordinates are 20.689592, -103.917717).  Drive down that road, go through the tiny pueblita of La Pena, and continue going mostly north until you get to a gate that may well be closed.  But you can open it and drive on through.  Take the next right (20.742571, -103.887319).  The road was bad enough here than we walked up the hill, but when you get to top, go a little further and then you'll turn left at a path (20.740030, -103.884129) that goes right to the ruins.

Drink, Slay, Love

For vampire romance, this is about as good as you're going to get.  I don't know if that's encouraging or not. It pokes at a lot of other vampire books and isn't too silly, and is barely a romance.  And the main character was likable.

29 May 2015

She Shall Be an Ensign

Ardis Parshall, an LDS historian, is trying to raise money so she can write a new church history book "told through the lives of its women."  The funding is 2/3 completed only a few days into the project.

I've read Ardis's blog for years and met her through a mutual friend several years ago.  Ardis has access to the necessary resources, but more importantly, she knows how to find the right information and tell the stories with clarity and interest.  She cares about the people so many other historians ignore (especially the isolated people) and she doesn't just focus on the standard things we've all heard before.  This is the woman we want to write this book and we so very much need a book like this.

I've never, ever contributed to a gofundme or kickstarter or any of the other things before and certainly never asked anyone else to, but if you haven't already, please consider donating.  We can make this happen.  
I always feel so conflicted when we're coming to the end of living in a place.  No matter how much there is to do before we leave, there's always a deadline when you get on that airplane and all the things you're going to get done are done.  If there are frustrating things about the place, you're done with them.  The first is more true here and the second in Kyrgyzstan, but they're both still there.  

I am also so looking forward to the end of the dry season and the end of school in a few weeks.  I cannot wait till both of those are over, and till we get to do a quick trip to the US where I think I'm actually going to see everyone in my family for the first time in a long time.  I always love the end of the school year and having someone in real school makes that even more true.  And I am so done with the hot season.

But sometimes it feels like my heart is being squeezed when I think about leaving Mexico.  This has been such a good place to live in so many ways.  My youngest in particular has been so happy here.  Not only does he speak a lot more Spanish than I expected him to learn, he's learned a lot about Mexico and being a TCK.  It's been so fun to watch him. 

And we're going to have to big family changes this summer and I am not at all looking forward to those. I hope it's for the best, and I think it probably is, although if plans change, I'd be delighted.  

So I'm really happy I'll have July and August here to try to wring out the last bit of Mexico I can fit in.

Life from Scratch

This was another one that I couldn't remember anything about, but it turned out to be good too.  The author did one of those cook a meal from everything country and blog about it things, but it's mostly about her childhood.  There's a lot going on here and it was worth reading.  Even if I think her Kyrgyzstan menu was weird.

28 May 2015

American Ghost

This was an interesting read about the author's great-great-(great?)-grandmother who's supposed to haunt a building in Santa Fe.  I rolled my eyes at the psychic parts but liked the rest.

27 May 2015

The Geography of You and Me

I loved this.  I'm always putting books on hold and then they appear on my reader weeks or months later and I can't remember who recommended them or what they're about and that's what happened with this one.  It's a teen romance, technically, but it's not that at all.  It's really simple but ever so good.

26 May 2015


This is an LDS book that has a lot of short, different stories about people all over the planet.  I liked it.

25 May 2015

The Brothers

I don't know if it's quite fair for me to put this one here at all because I only read the first bit.  It's about the Tsarnaev brothers and I had to read the Tokmok parts.  Since that obviously wasn't the focus of the book it was quick to get through that and then it wasn't something I wanted to read. But I couldn't miss the beginning.

24 May 2015

The Good and the Bad of Guadalajara

So, we only have a little more than 3 months left here in Guadalajara.  I'm used to moving all the time so the blog posts people are sharing right now about expat friends leaving in the summer don't really get me (because good real-life friends can stay good online friends and no one would ever accuse me of being all that friendly anyway).  But the blog posts about leaving a place you love?  Those get me because even though you can stay in touch with people online, you usually don't get to go back to a place you love.

Some online friends have been posting 5 good things and 5 bad things about the place they live and while I can think of many good things about Guadalajara, it's really hard to come up with five bad things.  So those are kind of wishy-washy.

The Good

1. Food.  That has to be first.  From amazing produce (even in January) to fresh tortillas everywhere to salsa and sopes and tacos and tamales and molcajete and tortas and lonches and chilaquiles and nieves de garrafa and frijoles and rajas and so much more, I would be happy eating here for the rest of my life. And anyplace with decent and affordable street markets is my friend.

2. The climate. The weather is nearly always lovely here.  I had feared it would be too hot for me all year, but the elevation keeps the temperature lower in the evening and morning and it's rare that I'm unhappy with the weather.  This hot season has been worse than the last and I haven't loved it, but it hot a late start and you can count on the rain coming.  I can't complain about 2 bad months out of 24.  And sometimes I was even chilly in my house.

3. Medical care.  I wasn't expecting to need this, but I did and had two major events that would have been difficult to deal with in many countries.  But in Mexico?  No problem.  There's great medical care that cost a lot less than the US, even in the fancy hospital, and good food too.  I'm seriously considering doing LASIK before we go.

4. Things to do.  You really should never, ever be bored here.  That's mostly what this blog has been about for the last 20 months.

5. People and culture.  Yes, I know all the stereotypes of Mexicans in the US.  I know that the name itself is often used negatively.  But I didn't believe it before and it's completely ludicrous now.  I've lived in places with hospitable and generous people, certainly, but for people who are just plain old nice, Mexicans win.  And I've loved learning the culture and history of Mexico, both ancient and modern.  It never sucked me in as thoroughly the Middle East or Central Asia did, but I'll always love Mexico.

The Bad

1. Traffic.  Rush hour traffic isn't fun here.  But is it in any metro area with over 5 million people?  It's hard to put this one here because rush hour has almost never affected me anyway because it doesn't follow US hours and my husband's work schedule does.

2. Driving.  This is another wishy-washy one.  Certainly a lot of people here think the driving is shockingly bad, but I've never felt that.  I read once in a book that Mexicans move through crowds easily and with little trouble, and I generally feel that way about the driving.  Sure, there are people who do crazy things, but overall I feel like the drivers are polite and flexible here.  I'd rather be stuck in traffic here than in DC any day.

3. No English at church.  This was hard for my teenagers.

4. Relatively few expat teens.  Another hard one for my boys.

5. Cartel violence.  This has had almost no effect on us while we've been here, but there is potential that it could get worse.  If it did, it could become a huge negative for living in Guadalajara.  But for now, it's not a problem.

Red Rising

This is the first in a dystopian series with the lowest people on the totem pole trying to overthrow the government.  I liked it, although I read it a few weeks ago and haven't felt a huge need to get the next book.

22 May 2015

Mexico Elections

I always get behind on blogging when we have company and we've had lots recently which has been lovely.  My niece was here last and I had the best time with her.

Anyway, we're in the middle of an election campaign here in Mexico.  The legislative election will be on June 7th and there are also other local elections like for mayor of Guadalajara.

The main parties in Mexico are PAN (Partido Acción Nacional), PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional- the current president of Mexico is PRI after 12 years of a PAN president with 71 years of PRI before that), and PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática).  There are other smaller parties, but the two main ones I see are Movimiento Ciudadano and Verde.  Verde is aligned with PRI (which means you see signs saying a vote for Verde is a vote for PRI).

The first signs I noticed- which doesn't necessary mean anything- were Verde billboards and window stickers for Enrique Alfaro Ramirez.  Alfaro seemed to be on the back window of every car. He's from Movimiento Ciudadano and is currently leading in the polls for mayor of Guadalajara. The other two major candidates are Alfonzo Petersen (really) from PAN and Ricardo Villanueva from PRI.

There are more and more people handing out campaign stuff on street corners (you can find intersection workers willing to do just about anything, from waving signs for politicians to burning buses for drug cartels- but that's obviously rare) and people stand at intersections with music and microphones to campaign to their captive audiences stuck in cars.

I really wish I could get window stickers for everyone and plaster them all over the car, but my husband seems to think that's a bad idea.