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Archive for the ‘Amy Welborn’ Category

Hard to believe..

As you may or may not know, watercolorist Ann Engelhart and I published two books centered around dialogues the Pope Emeritus had with children.

It’s called Friendship with Jesus. 

And it’s now #2 on Amazon in the “First Communion” category. 

Also take a look at Be Saints - based on the dialogue he had on his apostolic visit to Great Britain.

Also check out the free download of the little book I based on the thought of Pope Benedict XVI, Come Meet Jesus. 

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If you didn’t notice, the other day I mentioned that our new book will be coming out in August:

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Adventures in Assisi is unlike any other St. Francis-book-for-children out there.   I’ll talk more about it as the release date approaches, but know for now that it was inspired by the trips both Ann Engelhart and I have made to Assisi and a desire to bring St. Francis to children in a way that goes a little deeper than peace-animals-creche – as wonderful as all that can be.

 

— 2 —

Homeschooling has slowly revived.   Math has happened, lots of religion, conversations about the trip, music, science museum class, art class, To Kill a Mockingbird, reviewing some of our Shakespeare, gearing up for next week…Holy Week..think we’ll start Hamlet, too….

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Reteaching what he learned in science center class.

— 3 —

Good exercise podcasts, thanks to In Our Time, my favorite.  I’ve listened to:

  • 1848 revolutions - very good.
  • The Concordat of Worms - puts present Church/State conflicts in perspective
  • Robinson Crusoe - I have never read it, but had read something years ago about how contemporary editions generally edit down the religious content.  This program gave Dafoe and the book a thorough, honest treatment and attention to his religious motivations.
  • The history of radio.  I love learning about the history of technology/industry/products/science.  I find the cumulative, aggregate effect of human understanding mesmerizing.
  • Kama Sutra - in general, one of the reasons I love In Our Time is because I find it refreshingly free of any kind of cant – ideological or academic.  In most contemporary contexts, any historical discussion these days are almost always framed in terms of some overriding contemporary concern.   This discussion on the Kama Sutra (a work which is about more than sex, mind you) actually didn’t deviate from that excellent track record, but found myself unsatisfied (so to speak) in the listening because kept saying to myself…but…isn’t this an elitist kind of work about elitist concerns? What did this have to do with the lives of most people in India who weren’t  the aristocratic men who were its audience? 

— 4 —

I have started that little blog on our Mexican trip.  Here it is so far…not much, but hopefully I’ll have it all done by next week some time.  

— 5 —

Binge-rewatching season 6 of Mad Men.  It’s certainly enjoyable television, but that 70% that is really good is violently hauled down by the 30% that is either pointless or evidence that there is currently no one in Matthew Weiner’s circle whose job is it to read scripts or sit next to him in the edit bay and say, “Um…no.  I mean…no one cares about Betty Goes To The Village and everyone will fast forward through it on the rewatch. Promise. “

— 6 —

Currently reading Gringos by Charles Portis.  It’s set in Merida, where I just was, so I’m finding it really entertaining. 

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Reminder:  First Communion/Confirmation/RCIA/Mother’s Day books?  I’ve got some choices….

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The new zipline at the Birmingham Zoo has just opened and was free to members this week…it was a good value for free, but sorry to say, it wouldn’t be worth the normal 20-25 bucks….

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Ann Engelhart and I have a new book coming out in August, and it’s making its first appearances online…

 

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We’re excited!

And a reminder – I have many books that are quite suitable for gift-giving for First Communion, Confirmation, Graduation, and Mother’s Day…and we’re entering into the season, aren’t we?

Saints and such for First Communion…

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Confirmation?  Maybe the Prove It books…

Mother’s Day? 

If you know someone coming into the Church at Easter….maybe the How to Book of the Mass or The Words We Pray. 

 

 

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We’re back.  We’re very glad to be back, too – it was an excellent trip, but you know, it’s always nice to get home, sleep in your own bed, walk around in your own house, drink recklessly from the tap, flush toilet paper without fear of destroying the plumbing of an entire region,  and shop without awkwardness at your own Publix.

Spoiled!

— 2 —

I have two deadlines over the next four days, but after that, I think I’m going to pull together a separate mini-blog about the trip.  It was that good, and it’s that close and it’s that relatively inexpensive (I couldn’t have done Florida theme parks for a week for what I did Mexico for ten days. If I wanted to do Florida theme parks, that is. Which I don’t. Sorry, not sorry.) I want to have a website out there with all the details on our trip that might just serve the purpose of encouraging folks – individuals, friends, couples and families – to go to Mexico.  Plenty of you do, and I met and saw plenty of Americans every where we traveled, but I just want to do my part to encourage more.

And we’re not done, either.  It won’t happen in the next few weeks or even months, but this trip did not exactly satiate the Maya-Mad One, so I see Palenque and related sites in our future, definitely.  And Costa Rica or bust, Colleen !!!

(We flew in and out of Cancun and spent very little time there, but I’ll say that it held no interest for me.  I found the run of huge resorts on the coast between Tulum and Cancun so weird. Be brave. Go beyond the all-inclusive and cruise ship excursion!)

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Excellent Gran Museo de Mundo Maya in Merida – rich exhibits and quite a bit of interactivity.

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Because it’s interesting, fun and safe. Safe, people.  I – a single woman with two children – drove all around the Yucatan, walked in cities at night, and never felt anything but perfectly safe and comfortable (Except when I was about to run out of gas, that is.) There are parts of Mexico I wouldn’t venture into alone, certainly.   Border areas, other places known for conflict. There are parts of the US I wouldn’t wander about alone, either.  But the Yucatan isn’t one of them, and it’s very accessible to the US, and very educational and culturally rich.

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University of the Yucatan in Merida

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— 4 —

There are, indeed, as you hear, frequent police checkpoints on the roads – mostly at the borders of states and in and out of towns.  I probably encountered fifteen of them.  I always met the law’s eye with a direct look, a smile and a nod,  was glanced at and waved through.

(I also always stuck slavishly to the speed limit. Never, ever went over.)

They were also doing selective breathalyzer tests on the road out of Progreso (beach town) last Saturday but, oddly enough, I was not targeted.

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A soccer team doing some training on the beach in Progreso

— 5 —

I stayed in some great places.   Specific shout-outs to the Pickled Onion B & B and the Cascadas de Merida B & B.  Both were excellent, and the latter, in particular, is a model for a small hotel/Bed and Breakfast.  As an introvert, I may not seem like the natural constituency for the relatively close quarters of a B & B, but honestly, when I am traveling to an unfamiliar place where I don’t speak the language, I value the intimacy of a B & B – I need the assistance and advice that the owner can give, and I also appreciate the opportunity to bounce my observations of the day’s touring off of another adult over a glass of wine.

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By the way….if you’re a watcher of House Hunters International, you’ve heard of Merida.  It’s where I first heard of it and became aware of the amazing way in which those relatively plain facades  can conceal surprising interior spaces.

(Other stays were, in order, and for one night each: Mayaland Bungalows, the Plaza Colonial in Campeche, and the last night, the Marriott Airport Courtyard in Cancun. On points!)

— 6 —

Speaking of pickled onions…I didn’t know they were one of the National Condiments of the Yucatan.  I loved them – I’ll be making them myself soon!

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No pickled onions, but, you know…food.

— 7 —

Oh, and speaking of food – everyone stayed healthy throughout the trip.   We were super careful about the water, of course.  Bottled, purified water the whole way, including during teeth-brushing.  We ate plenty of just normal low-end restaurant, street and market food, and did just fine.

Some of the best food of the trip?  Here.  In Progreso. Three big plates – 1 fish and 2 chicken - small plate appetizers set out the way they do (ceviche, pumpkin seed spread, octopus, pico de gallo and something else, along with fried tortillas), four soft drinks, all for 190 pesos, which is about 14 bucks, and crazy.

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Now to those deadlines…..

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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The Joys of Home

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Go ahead.  Drink straight from the tap. Like a boss!

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We are nearing the end of this Mexican journey.  We’ve seen a ton, made new friends, developed new tastes and learned a lot.

I’m pretty wiped out tonight.  Perhaps in the morning I will write a bit more, but tonight, just a few photos and the quote that indicates transitioning back into the US is starting to happen in our American chain hotel here in Cancun:

“Mom, is it okay for me to flush toilet paper yet?”

These are from Coba.  I drove from Merida to Coba to Tulum to Cancun today.  I’m glad we did Uxmal and other Ruta Puuc sites because they were heads and shoulders above these in terms of interest and detail.  It was delightful to ride around Coba on bikes, and the setting of Tulum is gorgeous, but there is just a lot more at the other sites and the almost cruise-ship port vibe of the way into Tulum (not the site itself, which is, I repeat, lovely and well-done) is really off-putting.

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I find the obsequiousness of the Maya ball game, pok-ta-pok really fascinating.

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Touring Coba would have been fairly hellish if we hadn’t rented bikes.

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One of mine is one of the blue specks there.

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It was the end of a fabulous tour of the Sotuta de Peon – a living history hacienda dedicated to demonstrating the growth,  harvesting and production of the henequen plant – sisal – which brought great wealth to the Yucatan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Cart ride out into the fields.

 

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Visit with a Mayan man who had worked at the hacienda beginning in 1947, telling us about the process, in the Maya language.

 

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Arroz paleta – tasted like rice pudding.

 

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Maquech Beetle jewelry. It’s alive and it’s a thing. Look it up.

 

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Monday night in Merida – more dancing!

 

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Adios, Merida and gracias! We learned a lot and you were a lot of fun!

 

 

 

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Merida Altar

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Progreso, Mexico.

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Well, I tried….

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Kabah ruins

 

 

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Kabah Ruins

 

I was thinking that this would satiate him.  It does not seem to have taken things in that direction.

— 2 —

It’s gone great so far.   I’m not enamored of driving on Mexican roads, though.  It’s not that they’re dangerous or treacherous.  They’re in excellent condition.  It’s just that they are incredibly boring.  At least in the parts of the Yucatan in which I’ve been driving.  They’ve been mostly two-lane with a decent speed limit, but with vegetation growing slam up to the side of the road and few breaks in the scenery.  The breaks that exist are towns and villages, all of which are marked by serious speed bumps which Must Be Obeyed.  It’s okay.  It gives you a chance to observe the scenery without seeming to rubberneck, but after a while…it can get tedious.  I was ready to arrive in Campeche today, and ready to ditch the car for a day.

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At one point,  a bit up in the distance, a strange animal started to cross the road.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was…some sort of huge weird badger with a skinny body and long tail? A…what?  Joseph yelled, “IT’S A MONKEY!”  And in retrospect, I do believe he was correct.

— 4 —

It’s an obvious thing to say, but spending even three days in this climate affords a real education in how culture develops in relationship to said climate.  Life is very busy starting about 6am, then by noon is spent…and you can really understand why.  And you can understand why things perk up again around 5.  It just makes sense. Nothing original about that observation – it’s just good to experience it.

— 5 —

Walking around Campeche, I was twice approached by different trios of awkward high school students, needing to conduct an interview with an English speaker for their English classes.  I was recorded answering questions like “What is your name?” and “How old are you?” and “Do you play any sports?”  It was very sweet, and it was enlightening to see how difficult it was for these kids to pronounce English, even in this world in which we think that because of the prevalence of American pop culture, it should just come naturally to everyone.

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Campeche Cathedral

— 6 —

One point I’m glad to see emerging on this trip is this teachable moment:  When you are aware of Mayan history, you are aware of a history of a civilization that rose and fell without any reference to Europeans.  That broadens the mind tempted to narrowness in a couple of ways.  First, it’s always good to learn about an accomplished non-European civilization.  Why not.  Secondly, the dominant narrative out there in pop history (an umbrella under which I would group most school-taught history) is that if there’s a fallen non-European society…Europeans were probably at fault.   Of course, since the Mayans collapsed centuries before Europeans were even thinking about showing up, that undercuts those assumptions nicely.

(By the way, Michael and I went to a totally cheesy but somehow winning presentation of the history of Campeche that combined a desultory tour through a fort (in Spanish), a video projection on a wall of said fort, and some exciting live action up on the ramparts.  The mix of cultures was celebrated not decried, and – shock of shocks – the coming of Christianity was presented as a good thing – as the introduction of a God “who asked only love” into the culture. )

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