I love Texas

Young man standing in a field

I love Texas, especially San Antonio, where I live.

I returned from a three-week cruise, and my plane from Houston to San Antonio was delayed, so I got home later than expected. Since I have given up drinking (because it makes me stupid), I was fully capable of recognizing my bags and getting them off the conveyor belt. Since I am 68, I pack light so I don’t have to lift heavy bags.

A good ol’ Texas boy (I could tell by his twang) struck up a conversation with me. He had come to San Antonio for a new job, and it was the first time he had flown, even though he was about 30 or so.

He said, “I’ll help you with your bags.”

I started to say, “No need. I pack light,” but he seemed to really want to help, and I believe in letting people do their feel-good deeds, so I said, “Thanks.”

He moved close to the belt and said, “Come on, Mom. Stand here beside me.”

Rather than correct him, I said, “Thanks, darlin’. I appreciate it,” and smiled.

He pulled the bags off when they arrived and helped me get them on my trolley. I thanked him again and headed for the taxis.

Someone, somewhere, raised that boy right, and I want to thank whoever did it. It made this grandmother feel good about the human race.

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Cinco de Mayo (updated)

I love living in San Antonio, Texas. We have many different cultures here; we even have a museum, The Institute of Texan Cultures, which holds celebrations of various populations in Texas, including those as diverse as German, Sikh, and Arab.

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

One festival San Antonio celebrates is Cinco de Mayo on the fifth of May. Many people enjoy tamales and enchiladas and everything else Tex-Mex, in addition to margaritas and Coronas with lime. Some don’t know the reason for the celebration. They think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, but that date is September 16th.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over the French forces of Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla. Mexico was having difficulty paying back war debts to several European countries, and the French army came to force payment. Mexico was invaded many, many times. They often lost, but this time they won.

America loves to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, perhaps even more than the residents of Mexico do. It’s not too late to go to Market Square or the River Walk in San Antonio for today’s celebrations. Keep in mind, though, that thousands of people will be there with you.

Update: I read in comments on another site that Napoleon III also wanted to support the Confederacy in the War Between the States. If he had won, American history might be vastly different. I don’t have a source for this assertion since it was a comment rather than a post.

TORTILLA SOUP – I am including my favorite Five-Ingredient Tortilla Soup recipe.

Credit Dollar Photo1-2 cans (10-ounce) chunk chicken
1 can (15-ounce) whole kernel corn, drained
1-2 cans (14.5 ounces each) chicken broth
1 can (15-ounce) black beans, undrained
1-2 cans (10 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chili peppers

Dump all ingredients in a pan and heat. If you are worried about the result being too thick, you can save the drained liquid and add it back as needed. If you like, you can add a can of undiluted cream of cheddar cheese soup.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or strips, some in the soup and some on the side. A squeeze or two of lime adds taste.

I like to add chopped celery also, if I have time. You can serve guacamole or chunks of avocado on the side. Sour cream works great also, along with sliced jalapenos or canned sliced carrots.

You can add cilantro, but I hate the taste. It’s not my fault. A DNA researcher who hated cilantro decided to see if he could find a genetic marker for liking/not liking the herb. As he ran various tests on others, he checked whether participants liked the taste. He found there was, indeed, a genetic marker for their preference. If you don’t like cilantro, it’s not your fault. It’s in your DNA.

Note: If you find errors or typos, please let me know in the Comments section.

Sources:http://cincodemayo.org
http://sanantonio.about.com/od/recreationandleisure/tp/CincodeMayo.htm
Photo Credits: Dollar Photo Club

What Happens at the Uffizi Stays at the Uffizi

Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

When I went to Italy in the eighties, I was part of a tour group of twenty people. We spent a full day visiting the Uffizi Museum in Florence, one of the most famous museums in the world. It has a large collection of unique works of art and masterpieces, mostly from the Renaissance Period, although it contains works from the twelfth century to the present. My favorite pieces were works by Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, and Raphael.

Upon leaving the museum, I saw Maxine and Gwen, two elderly sisters, staring down at a grate in the sidewalk under the portico next to the building. Both had knitted brows and worried looks. I had just come out of the museum, and they didn’t see me yet. I told myself I should hurry on my way before they caught sight of me. Unfortunately, I just can’t pass by when someone needs help.

I went over and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I was changing the film in my camera,” Maxine said, “and the canister popped out and dropped into the grate.”

“Why don’t you just buy another roll?” I asked.

“I had all 36 pictures from the beginning of the trip until now. I really want them back.”

Together, we peered down into the grate.

A man walking by stopped and asked, “Is this another exhibit?”

“No,” we said.

He shrugged and walked away.

Actually, we could see statues and paintings beneath the grate, so we knew this must be part of the Uffizi.

“What can we do?” Maxine asked.

“Follow me.” I walked over to the entrance to the gift shop, which is the room everyone must go through before they can leave the museum. The operators hope, of course, that people will linger and buy souvenirs after seeing the artwork. A uniformed officer stands guard at the opening from the museum to the shop so people won’t sneak into the museum without paying.

I went up to her and asked, “Do you speak English?”

No. No Inglese.”

I tried to explain the situation in Italian, but she just kept shaking her head, so I motioned that we just wanted to go back in the museum. She grew more and more frustrated.

Fortunately, I knew the word for office in Italian, so I said, “Ufficio, per favore.”

She pointed behind us and said, “Exit.” She didn’t say, “Uscita,” since she could already tell we were Americans.

I stood my ground. “Ufficio, per favore.”

Once again, she pointed her finger said, “Exit.”

Ufficio, per favore.” I could keep this up all day if I had to. We would not leave without Maxine’s film.

Eventually, the officer sighed dramatically and pointed through the doorway she was guarding. She made climbing motions with her fingers and waved toward some stairs at the back of the museum. The two sisters struggled up the flight of stairs, out of breath by the time we found a receptionist behind a desk.

I went up to the woman and asked, “Do you speak English?”

No. No Inglese.”

Once again, my rudimentary Italian made it impossible for her to understand the situation, so she picked up her phone and spoke into the handset. When she hung up, she pointed to another set of stairs going upward, and we went up another flight, with the sisters stopping to catch their breath a couple of times.

An elegant woman stood in the office doorway at the top of the stairs. She spoke perfect English with a beautiful Italian accent. I explained the problem to her. She went over to her phone, spoke into it in Italian, and then said, “Follow me.”

We went down both flights of stairs and one more before we reached the basement. A handsome young custodian met us at the bottom. He was tall and broad-shouldered, looking quite fit in his blue uniform. A lock of black hair curled on his forehead like Superman.

The woman explained the situation to him in Italian. He smiled, nodded, and started looking around.

We all searched among the dusty statues and paintings for at least thirty minutes before Maxine examined her camera and said, “Oh, wait. It wasn’t the film that’s missing. It’s the battery.”

I said, “Oh, I saw a battery stuck in the sill of the grate while we were on the sidewalk.”

Maxine gave herself a face palm.

Gwen said, “Don’t feel bad.”

“We all make mistakes,” I said.

Her red face told us our words were little consolation.

The three of us thanked the woman and the man for their assistance. I told the woman we wanted to send a thank-you note to their superiors praising them for their willingness to help. She would not give me her name, saying she did not need to be thanked.

I turned to the man and asked, “Come ti chiami?”

“Fabio.”

I raised my eyebrows, opened my eyes wide, and asked in as sultry a voice as I could muster, “Fabio?”

He grinned and said, “Si, Fabio,” then raised both fists in the classic bodybuilder’s pose. I certainly would remember that name long enough to write a letter to his supervisor.

After we climbed back up the stairs and exited through the gift shop, Maxine and Gwen wanted to buy me lunch for being so helpful, but I declined. I realized that if I had not tried to “fix everything,” they would have found out a lot sooner that only the battery was lost.

But then I wouldn’t have met Fabio.