Thursday, January 6, 2022

International Day for the Fashionably Late

Pamela and I are both fans of the National Day Calendar, which often leads us to pursue fun activities or special meals. Just yesterday, for example, was National Whipped Cream Day, which we honored with a simple after-dinner hot cocoa and of course hand-whipped cream. Regular readers of our Nueva Receta blog will find many more examples by searching national day or clicking the celebrations tag.

Little did we expect to create our own such day, but this year about midway through the Twelve Days of Christmas I had, as it were, an epiphany. Who has gotten more positive attention for arriving fashionably late than the famous Three Kings who followed the star to Bethlehem. 

When looking for an image to launch the observance on Facebook, I found this Byzantine mosaic, made about 565 years after the event. As Wikipedia notes, representations in this era "usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes and Phrygian caps." These are certainly fashionable!

How to observe the day? One could hold a soirée with a soft start time, or one could extend forbearance to anybody arriving a bit late to school, work, or appointments on this day. And as Pamela notes, if you are the one arriving late, you should be bearing gifts.

Note: Unlike the magi -- who had a decent excuse -- I am more likely to be late, the closer an event is to my house.


Growing up as a Southern Baptist, I never thought much about the Twelve Days as an actual celebration until I started spending time somewhere in Latin America in early January of most years. Beginning with Cuba in 2003 and continuing in Nicaragua or Costa Rica most years since then, I noticed decorations in public places, gatherings at cathedrals, and little kids who were shocked to see me, because they thought I was Santa walking around in the day time.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Perry had a lump in her throat

Perry had a lump in her throat.

 Not the kind of lump that comes from deep emotion, but the kind that comes from cancer.

We thought that she had an infection and treated her with antibiotics, but the lump wouldn't go away.

She couldn't eat because she had a lump in her throat.

We watched her get thinner and thinner, and then realized the lump in her throat was getting bigger and bigger.

We made one of the hardest decisions that any pet owner has to make. 

We called our only child to let him know, and he said goodbye to his dog over Zoom.

We held Perry in her final moments.

As the poison took over her small body we told the vet about the five small animals that Perry bested: two groundhogs, a rabbit, a squirrel, and a possum.

We also told her about the five skunks that bested Perry.

As Perry was taking her last breaths we recited to her the names of all those who loved her: Ashley and Gee, Courtney and Warren, Alicia, Sullivan, Sam, and others. 

We posted our memorial on Facebook, and were touched to see that some of the others who loved her posted theirs as well.

And we were left with lumps in our throats.

Perry La Perra (2009-2021)

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Many of My Mothers

I first posted this on Mother's Day, May 14, 2017; I am adding a few thoughts for 2021 below.

Grateful for all the mothers who have been in my life. 

(Oops -- this ended up being a bit long and a bit sentimental.)

Because people have married young and lived long in my family, I have known many, starting with three great-grandmothers:

Valerie Myrtle Mulligan Sledge [my father's mother's mother] had the best name; I was young when she died, but I do remember her as feisty.

Lydia Holcombe [my mother's mother's mother] lived the longest -- born in 1885 and living until I was through college and almost married. Her children and their children and their children learned about hard work and simple living. I remember her porch, which faced Cold Mountain. And I remember when she got indoor plumbing.

Thelma Joyce Bohanan [my father's father's mother] was a lifelong learner who taught me a love of words -- especially crossword puzzles -- and history. She put her high-school Latin to use on a regular basis.

Sarah Pearl Shreve [my mother's mother] was known as Pearl, but had formally changed her first name to Sarah because she thought Sally was a silly name. Losing her during elementary school was my first real grief. She was a consummate gardener with a small commercial nursery. I never see an azalea without thinking of her -- we had every known variety at our house, from her stock. (2021 addendum: I should have mentioned that she was also an educator, though I do not know for how long. After attending Mars Hill Normal School for three years, she returned to teach in a one-room schoolhouse near her home in the Smoky Mountains. All I remember learning of this was that some of the boys were bigger than she was and did not wear shoes to school. During my third year of college, the same could almost be said of her grandson.)

Esther Jeannette Bohanan [my father's mother] was the grandmother I knew best, and this (2017) is my first Mother's Day without her. I am grateful that about a decade ago, I stayed with her rather than at a hotel when I had a meeting in DC. Every evening we would have a simple dinner and then talk -- mostly politics -- until our eyes could not stay open. I do not remember her reading much when I was a kid, but later in life she read a lot -- I remember seeing JK Rowling, Michael Moore, and the Washington Post regularly, and going to a Harry Potter movie with her.

I was also lucky to have known a grandmother-in-law for about the first decade of my marriage. Like my own great-grandmother, Izzy was feisty and had a terrific name: Isabella Beanblossom Lauerman [my wife's mother's mother] was never shy about her opinions, and was often witty. She refused to die until the end of her birthday, when she knew the last flowers and cards had arrived.

My own mother Jackie Bohanan is thoughtful, devoted, and proud of her small brood -- always doing whatsoever she could for all of us. From her my brother Bob and I both I learned a love of cooking. 

And I have a mother-in-law who has been nothing but a joy to know -- including me as a son from the very beginning. Judy Helbing has always treated our dogs as her own as well!

And that brings me to the best of all -- Pamela Hayes-Bohanan, the love of my life who has learned motherhood alongside me as I learn fatherhood. I could not imagine a better partner in parenting.

Mother's Day 2021 Memoriams

This mother's day -- coincidentally also our 34th wedding anniversary -- is the first without my mother, who died last July 24. My post about the music she loved is my best memorial. 

It was a very difficult summer, losing not only her but three additional mother figures I did not include above. Our daughter-in-law lost both her mother Betty and her grandmother during the summer. We had met these beautiful women only once, at Thanksgiving 2019, and had been looking forward to spending more time with them.

We also lost our dear friend Jackie Smith-Miller, the mother of a close friend of ours who included our family in her family's Easter dinners just about every year since we moved to Bridgewater. We enjoyed her wit and wisdom both at those holiday gatherings and in many other connections throughout the past two decades. We miss her greatly. 

Jackie's Playlist

When I was growing up, I thought we were somehow related to the Carter Family on my mother's side. Her mother had come from a huge family in western North Carolina, with the Great Smoky Mountains in the backyard. As we would ride around back roads in what was then rural northern Virginia, we would listen to an endless stream of real country music on the AM radio of her 1965 Ford. In general, the older the music and the closer to the Carter Family, the more important she considered it.

These memories flooded back to me as our family made arrangements for my mother, who passed away on July 24, 2020. She actually participated in the planning, mostly by choosing the music.

If you want to know something about my late mother, listen to my version of Jackie's Playlist in its entirety. It includes all of the songs she requested to accompany her viewing. On YouTube, I found that many of her favorites were performed by quite a few different musicians, with June Carter's husband Johnny Cash being a common denominator among many of them. On this playlist, I managed to include a version by the artist she specified, if not the exact rendition.

We were fortunate to be able to hold a funeral service for my mom -- many people lost loved ones in 2020 without that important opportunity. As with most funerals, not everyone who wished to remember her could be present. Because we knew this number might be higher than usual, including even some local friends and family, we were very glad that the funeral home arranged to stream the service. It is still available on the tribute page provided by the funeral home. (Mother's Day 2021 note: this is still posted.)

Friday, May 22, 2020


Three miles walking on this sunny, Covid day is not enough
to clear the mind.

My students
My town
My kid
My world

My God.

A car sidles up to me
Social distance social distance social distance

I walk
They stop

They get out
Social distance social distance social distance

Is she crossing the street?
No, she walks in front of the car
No mask
Social distance social distance social distance

She bends down and I remember
A scene from 15 seconds ago

I had already forgotten
A single flip flop
Is that a flip?
With fur over the toes
For a fancy five year old
Who would be sad it was gone

Car pulls away
Unaware that I was aware
The flip and the flop restored
For a kid I cannot see a smile returns

My mind is clear again
Until it isn’t

~~ James Hayes-Bohanan
Bridgewater, Massachusetts USA
May 21, 2020

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Malbeclipse Part 2: Argentina

Si no vino a beber vino ¿por qué vino?

If you did not come to drink wine, why did you come?
Mendoza Folk Wisdom
(It sounds better in Spanish, even if you don't speak Spanish.)

Part 2 of our #malbeclipse adventure took place in Argentina. We described the reasons for this journey almost two years ago in Malbeclipse 2019, and we are very grateful that we were able to follow through on this dream.  Most of the photos in this post are by Pam; see James' Malbeclipse 2019 album on Flickr for his photos, some with annotations. To read about the Chile portion of our explorations, see Malbeclipse Part 1.

Most of the wine we drink in Casa Hayes-Boh is Malbec from Mendoza. A few years ago, we realized that this grape goes with just about everything, as the many Malbec references on our recipe blog attest. From some cursory exploration online and from our experience in the aisles of local wine stores, we knew that Mendoza is home to many vineyards, and that Malbec is very important there. We had no idea just how true this would be. On arrival at our hotel the first night, the simple restaurant in the lobby turned out to have an extensive wine list, including a couple dozen Malbecs from Mendoza.

We quickly realized that the choices were overwhelming, and also that we could waste a lot of time driving aimlessly about to wineries that might not have any openings on their tours. Pam noticed that quite a few agencies in the city book winery tours, so we visited one of those agencies our first morning. We had an excellent short tour that afternoon, a longer tour with an incredible lunch the following day, and found our own way to a vineyard on our third day. Some of the highlights are below.

From one of the tour bus, Pam noticed a graffito with a dramatic take on a familiar theme --

Graffiti in Mendoza "Meat is Death"; "Dairy is Rape"

Thus our first afternoon brought us to the lovely Vistandes (get it?) winery, where we started to gain an understanding of just how much Malbec a typical operation produces in Mendoza, as well as another winery, an olive-oil factory, and an historic church. 

We visited the Trapiche winery to begin our second day of touring. Seeing this brand so often at home, we were not surprised to find that it is one of the oldest and biggest of the Mendoza wineries.
Iscay is the Incan word for two - used to name this blended wine

A canary in a coal mine
problems with the rose bushes indicate a problem
 with the soil that needs to be addressed

Looks like George Jetson lives here; compare below

The press is called a trapiche
enthusiastically shown here by our guide;
the company derives its name from the press.

Ants are as important for organic wine as they are for organic coffee;
they are honored at the entrance to the Trapiche visitors' center.

From Trapiche, we went to the Familia Zuccardi bodega, which is actually a collection of various wine projects of this extensive family. The main tasting room was quite busy -- with dozens of visitors at each tasting -- and serves as a small gallery for some very talented local art students.

It was here that we had a fantabulous lunch with countless courses and three wine glasses that were never allowed to sit empty for long. We shared a table with fellow tourists from Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, all of whom were surprised that we could carry on a conversation in Spanish (with some Portuguese).

On the third day we drove south on our own, using old-school GPS to find our way to the Bodega Salentein in the famous Uco Valley, about an hour's drive to the south of the city. 

We hoped to have lunch there, but its restaurant was booked solid in the dead of winter. Views of the Andes were the best we had seen from any of the vineyards. It turns out the Uco and Mendoza are valleys in the sense that Tucson is -- meaning not really valleys at all.
Salentein has lovely views
Instead of a tour, we enjoyed an excellent glass each and enjoyed the views. We then visited its famous -- and free -- art galleries. They include this fun piece that tempted us to break the no-photo rule (which we had conveniently not noticed).

Having fun at Salentein Winery and Art Gallery
 Uco Valley Mendoza, Argentina

The Chilean portion of our travels had its theme songs; for this one, only the UB40 classic comes to mind. Best listened to without the official video, which is garbage.

One last thing: we did not expect to see llamas or alpacas on this trip and for the most part we did not. We saw one from a bus window, plus these on currency worth about 50 cents.
One map records the important sites for both parts of our adventure -- where we stayed, where we ate, where we toured vineyards (and the like) and where we were when we saw the sun blink out for 2-1/2 minutes.

Also see Pam's StoryMap featuring photos of our trip.

To read about the Chile portion of our explorations, see Malbeclipse Part 1.


We made this entire journey without knowing about this key bit of nomenclature, courtesy of Terrible Maps:

Malbeclipse Part 1: Chile

Part 1 of our #malbeclipse adventure took place in Chile. We described the reasons for this journey when we started planning it almost two years ago in Malbeclipse 2019, and we are very grateful that we were able to follow through on this dream. Most of the photos in this post are by Pam; see James' Malbeclipse 2019 album on Flickr for his photos, some with annotations. To read about the Argentina portion of our explorations, see Malbeclipse Part 2.

Chile was without a doubt the cleanest and most welcoming of any country we've ever been to - this includes the US. It also had the best roads, by far. Even as millions of visitors descended from across the globe we were hard pressed to find any litter, were welcomed everywhere we went, and encountered nary a single pot hole.

Finding our hotel was no small feat, and we were grateful to be tackling Santiago's wondrous and mystifying boulevards on a quiet Sunday morning. We concluded that "involuntarily" was the only way to make a U-turn in this lovely and lively city.

Once we settled into our room, we ventured out to meet up with Paulina, a friend James had met when she visited Bridgewater two years ago, just as we were contemplating this trip. We met at Parque Arauco - an upscale mall with many of the same stores we find at our local malls in the US. One special thing we discovered, though, were these Escher-esque outdoor escalators.

Colorful window displays and public art were also featured throughout the mall.

After a day in Santiago we headed north to the Elqui Valley, which Paulina had recommended for our eclipse viewing. We arranged to stay for two nights before the eclipse and two nights after, because we were taking no chances on missing it!

The beautiful public library in Zapallar was made from re-purposed shipping containers

Just outside the library we discovered this container for recycling of cooking oil

We went to Zapallar in search of penguins. Alas, we found none. We were not, however, disappointed by this lovely walk along the shore, on a well-maintained path.

No penguins, but we were happy to find some pelicans

Beautifully colored boats put us in mind of the Azorean whaleboats that James rows

 Even the graffiti was beautiful 

There was much energy, artistic and otherwise, evident on the eve of the eclipse. We attended a piano concert, and also witnessed all kinds of spontaneous activity on the town plaza.

Van Gogh - Starry Night

Weed Pants

We love that this information sheet with "Tips for Locals" was translated into English
 Also note tip #6: Be respectful and cordial with the tourists
Wondering if such a thing will ever appear in any kind of documentation in the United States

The special glasses allowed us to see only the sun when we were wearing them
We got them from a friend who was flying in the totality shadow on a NASA plane

As the eclipse proceeded, the program at Quebrada de Paihuano included ongoing commentary in Spanish and English with one of the many local professors of solar astronomy. Carly Simon was not featured in the program, but a few minutes before totality, the discussion was interspersed -- without comment -- with (e)clips from this inevitable album.

The emcee and the professor encouraged the crowd to be silent during the 2-1/2 minutes of totality. Of course this did not happen, but the exuberance was quieter than it might otherwise have been.

12:25 pm - total eclipse still over four hours away

4:16 pm - partial eclipse

4:27 pm - partial eclipse

4:33 pm - partial eclipse
4:39 pm - Totality!

4:42 pm - sun begins to appear again

5:01 pm

5:09 pm - sun is going down behind the mountain
We did not try to leave the area the day after the eclipse -- veterans of other eclipses told us this would be a very bad idea. So we explore the Valley a bit more on the following day, and we were delighted to have had the opportunity.

The Elqui Valley is home to Chilean poet, and winner of the Nobel prize in Literature (1945) Gabriela Mistral. Pam had read some of her work when she was a student of Spanish literature in the 1980s, but seeing the homage that her home paid to her almost everywhere we went prompted us to read some of her poetry together. Pam picked up a bilingual edition of Madwomen from the library where she works when we returned.

We also toured the Pisco Mistral Distillery. (Hurrah!) As with almost all tours we took while traveling, we had to insist on a Spanish-language tour. There was always deep concern expressed that the "next English tour was full", and then some sort of disbelief, followed by surprise when we said we wanted to take a tour in Spanish.
A free glass is de rigueur when doing a tour and tasting

This special edition pisco was 43.3% alcohol, instead of the usual 46%, in reference to the time of eclipse totality
The Mistral pisco distillery is very proud of local poet and Nobel Laureate Gabriela Mistral. They were also very proud of the eclipse, and offered two eclipse cocktails (Sun and Moon), made with the special eclipse pisco mentioned above.

Statue to Gabriela Mistral as a schoolteacher in Paihuano

This teeter totter (balancín) is inscribed with words from a children's song. See the full song and translation here

The people of the Elqui Valley also show pride in their home 
through the display of colorful public art 

Even this map of  tourist attractions in Monte Grande was both useful, and artfully done

"I came from Temuco just to try Pisco"

This one Google map records the important sites for both parts of our adventure -- where we stayed, where we ate, where we toured vineyards (and the like) and where we were when we saw the sun blink out for 2-1/2 minutes.

Also see Pam's StoryMap featuring photos of our trip.

To read about the Argentina portion of our explorations, see Malbeclipse Part 2.