February may be the shortest month of the year, but it is also the busiest. If you can live through February with all of the following activities, you can live through anything. It all started on Ground Hog day (2nd) with the popular Improv at Nueva Posada. Talent galore treads the boards. Next day we had the spectacular Folkloric Ballet de Guadalajara colorfully alive with syncopated dancing. México’s Constitution Day on the 5th. Then the Lake Chapala Society 2007 directories arrived just in time to calm the nerves of everyone wanting to make telephone calls. Culinary Art Society of Ajijic (CASA) had their award ceremony to show us how to cook, and just in time for the "best ever" 29th annual Chili Cook-off. VIVA La Musica gave us an exciting afternoon with Soprano Dolores Moreno which touched every heart.
The Irish Club had a roaring good time at their monthly "as good as Guinness" meeting. Ten lively artist ladies arrived from California to hold their second "Let’s paint the town" and so they did, while 21 talented musicians arrived for the 5th Annual Edition of the Northern Lights Music Festival to re-repeat and accentuate one of the musical treats of each year giving five different "crowd-pleasing" performances and three patron’s benefits.
Mision San Pablo organizers produced an enormous turn-out for their fund-raising event, while Iwo Jima Day warmed up with a salute to our military. MAS brought into town their monthly international showpiece. Ajijic Carnaval honored Mardi Gras for days and days. St. Valentine’s day arrived with hearts everywhere. President’s week honoring late-presidents Lincoln and Washington. The LCS Dining Club went to a class act Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Guadalajara having a great dinner. Plans were to go to the new Chinese Restaurant where the food was to be prepared by the Premiere of China’s personal chef, but it wasn’t quite ready to receive diners yet.
LLT opened a 10-day run of Quilters, a wonderful piece of Americana. The Academy Awards showed off their stuff with their latest Oscar ceremony. School for the Deaf had their general meeting while the Shrine Club presented in gratitude one of the most important dinners of this year. Then a lot of us just sat down waiting for March to show its calendar of events.
Speaking of Valentine’s Day: Susan and Jimmy Barto brought back to us the meaning of Valentine’s Day. Their musical performance given on this special "heart’s day" for the Casa de Ancianos was a tribute to the care and love director Marlene Dunham has for her elderly guests in her care-center.
At the recent Puerto Vallarta Writers’ Conference, our own editor, Alejandro Grattan, teamed with Susan Page and Karen Blomain in presenting a great deal of valuable information and advice to the hundred or so attendees. The event was perfectly coordinated by Dan Grippo, with an able assist from David Lyons. This was an important first-time meeting between the four founders of their respective writers’ groups. Those founders, left to right in the photo, are: Larry Collings (Mazatlan), Don Gallery (Puerto Vallarta), Susan Page (San Miguel de Allende) and Alejandro Grattan (Ajijic). These four writing groups are producing some of the best material coming out of México today.
2007 Michael Downend ASMP
Baubles, Bangles and Beads certainly brightened up every corner of the Hotel Real de Chapala when Barbara Clippinger and Jim Lloyd co-chaired a spectacular event for Niños Incapacitados on February 1. It was not just fun and fantastical in its Arabian Nights setting, but one of the most successful fundraisers ever for this organization which is dedicated to helping disabled children. The opulent setting was created for the black-tie crowd to bid on thirteen gourmet dinners and a silent auction. It was also a farewell party for out-going president Robin Lawrason, and turning the salute toward the new director, Ivan D’Costa. Photographer Sandy Farber was on hand for great pictures.
Improv Theatre is a great form of entertainment that we have not enjoyed here at Lakeside before this funny group of 8 local talents (Jayme Littlejohn, Randi Watkins, Michael McLaughlin, Keith Scott, Sally Jo Druce, Martha Reuter, Judi McKinnon, Clark Diamond, and Jim Griswold) appeared on the scene. We saw it closing night, and if laughter is a form of salvation, then our souls are clean! It was deliriously funny, and sent you home with a smile. It was meant for uncontrollable laughs and lighthearted fun with 90 minutes of pure delight that’s suitable for all ages and had the entire audience laughing uproariously! A return engagement is now being planned.
If you had to miss the Folkloric Ballet of Guadalajara on February 3 because of a "more than capacity sell out," there are future evenings being planned. Nora Deane has been a beacon from a lighthouse for this extremely talented group of dancers who just completed their European tour and looking forward to circling México. Mrs. Deane is already preparing for a return engagement—literally by popular demand.
Do you really like to eat? I mean really like to eat at up-scale restaurants in Guadalajara! In 2006, the Lake Chapala Society Dining Club went to 5 restaurants in Guadalajara to experience "the best food in the big city." Every one of the restaurants: Pierrots, Santo Cayote, El Sacromonte, La Fonda de San Miguel, and Adobe turned out to be quality dining. Late February, the Dining Club took a capacity 85 members to the Golden Dragon, and shared in great Chinese food. Plans were to go to a new Chinese Restaurant, but they were not ready for dining guests at this time.The owner/chef will be the former personal chef for the President of China. If you will contact the Ticket Booth at LCS, you can find out what new or different restaurants are being planned in the near future. March 23, it will be Los Arcos, a fine seafood restaurant. Round-trip transportation is $100 pesos per person, dinner selected by your choice from the menu.
If you are still hungry, go to the American Legion Post 7 for some of the best Monday night meals in town. There are always lots of activities in progress at A.L. Latest was Iwo Jima Day on February 23, the first of its kind turned out a terrific response for all those wishing to salute our military forces, past and present. The ceremony was touching, and U.S.Vice-Council Charles Sewall gave a tender and stirring tribute to our fallen heros. It was a day dedicated to our freedoms.
....and then if you are still hungry, don’t overlook the Red Cross Steak Fest Dance on March 7, at the Real de Chapala Hotel. This event is sponsored by the Cruz Roja Volunteers, and worth every peso donated to the cause.
Another highly popular club at LCS is the Movie Club which shows a free movie every other Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm. High points about this club is that it shows films that are not in the mainstream commercially. They are usually foreign films, either drama or comedy. Hollywood films do not always satisfy the mind/heart as some foreign films do. If you are a member of LCS, you are invited to attend any or all of the films being shown in the Sala on the second and fourth Thursday each month.
St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner. St. Patrick is a famous legend that is still in the forefront of Irish minds some 1500 years later. We have our own 65-member Irish Club here, with an annual membership fee of $50 pesos. It provides monthly entertainment, an Irish movie on the last Saturday of each month, parties galore, and Irish information worth knowing. You do not have to have Irish ancestry, just a love of all that is Irish and green. Contact Nancy Creevan if interested, either at LCS or 766-5567. You will find it a delight.
And the big winners are: Woman of the Year: Bettina Rigby, Man of the Year: Robin Lawrason, Project of the Year: Ajijic Limpio, Humanitarian of the Year: Jim Powers, Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement: Ann Whiting, Pioneer of the Year: Lissa Taylor, Keeper of the Flame: Needlepushers, Conserveration Award: LCS Gardens, Cultural Achievement: VIVA! La Musica, Couple of the Year: Aideen and Brian Howard, four Community Service Awards: Charlie Klestadt, Sylvia Rendon, and Norm and Jane Pifer and one of the most important set of awards given for scholastic achievement with outstanding high points in Lakeside’s advanced school system: two male students, a Teacher of the Year, and an Athlete of the Year.
The Northern Lights Music Festival walked away with roars of applause again for the fifth season. The Jazz Concert was a gigantic success of enthusiasm, energy, sparkle, and an entire stage full of talent. The Festival in 2001 started off as a hit the first year....and it keeps building stronger. Five years later it was a huge hit comprised of international musicians from top orchestras around the world, and maintains today the same quality. The 2007 Lakeside Community Awards chose the Festival for its International Award due in large for the amount of selfless time these 21 musicians give to our musically inclined youth here at Lakeside. What a roster of stars.
We honestly hope each one of you were able to attend the Equestrian Extravaganza on January 20. Tickets were a little expensive at $500 pesos, but all the proceeds went to support Pasos Milagrosos (Miraculous Steps), a new venture in equine therapy for handicapped children. Equine physical therapy uses the body heat of the horse and the repetitive motion to improve muscle tone, balance, posture, flexibility, strength, coordination and cognitive skills. Among the many conditions that benefit from equine therapy are cerebral palsy, MS, Downs Syndrome, autism, spina bifida, brain or spinal cord injury, amputation, deafness, blindness, and more. In addition, the children get a rare sense of adventure and accomplishment in their difficult lives. Pasos Milagrosos is a project of Elena and Pablo Cooper of San Nicolas de Ibarra. They provide the locale and the horses, and have obtained help from professionals from Guadalajara for training the horses and the volunteer therapists.
When did Carnaval become such a big item? This year revelers made enough noise to last us until San Andres arrives in November so it can start all over again. However, it is delightful to see our pueblo come alive with scampering children having fun, lovers committing to each other in the Plaza, and know that the preparation of the Passion Play (Via Crucis) is coming up on the 5th of April. If you have resisted walking in the Plaza, put on some comfortable sneakers and go watch the fun. Plan to see Ajijic’s famous Passion Play starting Maundy Thursday before Easter Sunday.
Laurie Jenson of Dos Lunas Galeria is one whale of a gallery owner who works with the Secretary of Culture and the Centro Cultural Gonzalez Gallo in Chapala. She is opening Jalisco Abstract and Child’s Play (selection of children’s art) on Saturday, March 3 from 5 - 9 pm and the Centro Cultural Gonzalez Gallo (the old railroad terminal). Featuring the visual arts, 20+ non-representational artists residing in Jalisco who work in oils, watercolor, acrylic, clay monoprint, encaustic, wood, stone, metal, mixed media and digital prints will be on display. The local artists are: Efrén Gonzalez, Felugue, Manasvini, Antonio Cardenas, Anselmo Rochin, Diane Pearl, C. Jordan English, Cynthia Roberts, Xill Fessenden, Louis Schroff, Jaqueline Stewart, Libby Shipman, Isabel Fuentes, Claudia Perenzalez, Adriana Velarca, Adriana Dorantes, Ignacio Osuna, Rick Present, Chana Tolere, Daniel Noll and Jessica Krichels. The exhibit will remain standing for two weeks only.
International Chef Manuel Arredondo prepares meals totally with organically grown products. Arredondo has had 20 years designing dinners and restaurants in Europe, and the USA. He masterminded and prepared a birthday dinner for Ex-President George W. Bush, Sr. with 5500 guests in attendance. He then created a special athlete’s dinner for the Olympic Games’ winners in Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996). He certainly knows his way around a kitchen. Chef Arredondo is often called upon for national TV broadcasting, Fox Sports, Travel Channel, NBS Univision and CBS. His talents have been featured in the New York Times, Houston Chronicle, and Chef Magazine. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation as well as a graduate (2005) of the La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana (ALMA) at Colorno, Italy with a Master Degree in Italian Cuisine. Currently he is being commissioned to create a dinner for some 150 guests in the magnificent home of Hall of Famer Colin Daniels (in Chapala) to honor the first-time ever visiting of the International Commander of the American Legion. June 13th is bound to be a memorable day.
Misión San Pablo is an orphanage with a mission touching the heart. The nuns of the order of Las Misioneras del Cristo Resusitado are creating conditions to help save and prepare productive lives for children ages 2-14 whose parents have died from AIDS-related conditions. On February 22, the Hotel Real de Chapala rang loud and clear with joyous revelers who wanted to help director Bettina Rigby in her quest to give every child a chance to live with the idea that there can be a career for them, too! Without the Misión’s help, these innocent children are doomed to a possible life of poverty. If you feel inclined, offer your volunteer services to the Misión San Pablo. Operating money to help cover huge expenses is gladly accepted. Go for it, because it will gladden your heart knowing you helped someone who might never have been able to help themselves.
This is station 101 Ajijic, signing off until next time!