Gina Hyams Author

Category Archives: family

Mom and Bros in Mexico 1958-59

Jan's 4th birthday. San Miguel, 1958

Kris, age 2, in a parade. San Miguel, 1959

Note on back says: San Miguel banners at start of "Los Pereginos" in San Miguel "La Periginacion a San Juan de los Lagos." January, 1958

Note on back says: Fried pig, boiled goat, pulque and friends. Brionis (sp? can't read handwriting) my guitar teacher in baseball hat. (that's not me in the glasses and shirt in case you wonder). Rancho Jalpa, Gto. Mexico, 1958

On rooftop in our first home in Mexico. San Miguel, 1958

Taken at a friend's house. May, 1958

Jan and friend in patio of our house. San Miguel, 1958

June, 1958

Our rented little grass shack. Yelapa, Mexico, 1960

Haiku About Waiting for College Application Decisions


There’s no mail today.

Focus elsewhere. Spring. The Dog.

The house without her.

My Late Father-in-Law Bob’s Pipe Collection

Pinterest has me seeing details. Here is my late father-in-law Bob’s beloved pipe collection, which now adorns our living room wall.

Buenos Días, San Miguel de Allende

Mom and me at Café Yénatu Panza in San Miguel

Hooked Rug Sunflower Valance

The hooked sunflower valance is an early birthday present from my mother-in-law Babs. She hooks rugs in a church basement with other seniors. The priest always greets them: “Welcome, hookers!”

Farewell to "Our Funky Cheese Shack"

It’s the end of an era: Annalena and Hannah hung up their headphones last week after more than five years hosting “Our Funky Cheese Shack” on WBCR-lp, Great Barrington’s community radio station. During their final broadcast, the girls played excerpts from their very first show, when they were geeky 7th graders stressing about the middle school semi-formal dance. It’s been a long and hilarious run. We’re so grateful to the station for  for giving our kids such a steadfast and supportive place to find their voices. There’s no shutting them up now…

Mother-Daughter Spa Day at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende

My mom and I checked out the Hotel Matilda Spa this week. The Matilda, which opened a year ago, is located in the charming neighborhood near Parque Juárez on the site of the former Hotel Villa Jacaranda.

Gina and Leigh at the Hotel Matilda Spa. The artwork in the background is titled "Aránea" by Angelo Musco.

The property has been completely transformed from its Colonial roots. It’s now sleek and modern, decorated in a subtle palette designed to showcase the hotel owners’ serious collection of contemporary Latin American art, along with San Miguel’s brilliant blue sky.

Leigh enjoying lime tea and cookies in the spa relaxation room.

The intimate spa has a Zen-Mex-Moroccan vibe to it. We were treated to side-by-side pedicures in a private room that looked out on a rock garden planted with cacti, wild grasses, and bamboo. While our feet soaked in hot water, therapists Alma and Esther rubbed camellia-scented avocado oil into our hair and massaged our scalps. The spa offers many scrubs and wraps that utilize indigenous ingredients, such as nopal, coffee, and coconut.

After the pampering, we enjoyed lunch on the terrace. The restaurant has a new chef, Jorge Boneta, whose upscale menu riffs on Mexican street food. It’s a winning concept that feels just right for the Matilda, which is about world-class, yet unpretentious hospitality that’s steeped in the flavors of 21st century Mexico, as opposed to generic fancy “continental” cuisine and style.

We shared four appetizers: Yucatecan suckling pig tacos cooked in banana leaves, spicy sea bass ceviche topped with a tangle of cucumber ribbons, Zihuatanejo shrimp cocktail, and chopped salmon served in lettuce cups with garlic sauce and crispy fried leeks.

Pickled onions and steamed tacos

Shrimp cocktail

My mom and I agreed that it was the freshest seafood we’d ever tasted in San Miguel. The shrimp cocktail, in particular, was transcendent. The succulent shrimp were served in a dark beer-hot pepper sauce on a bed of citrus with whisper-thin slices of radish. My mom said, “This shrimp cocktail is so good, it makes me forget every shrimp cocktail that came before it.”

Leigh at Hotel Matilda

Saxophone-Playing Angel Atop Our Christmas Tree

We've had these two Mexican tin ornaments for years. Dave had the brilliant idea to put them together last night.


Festive kissing balls at Taft Farms in Great Barrington.



2011 Day of the Dead Altar

Our Day of the Dead altar stretches six feet across the living room windowsill. We adorned it this year with crabapples, quince, blue corn, chile peppers, and a handful of scrappy marigolds.

My mother’s father and mother, Ralph and Mae. A bowl of salt traditionally represents the spice of life and flowers its ephemerality. The tequila is meant to lure the spirits back for a party. Candles light the way.

My father Ralph (a concrete-amathyst ring he made and his Boy Scout handbook tucked behind the marigolds).

Dave’s father Bob (one of his favorite pipes propped on the picture frame) and brother Peter. Etta-pus is represented by two cat figurines. The glass of water is meant to quench the spirits’ thirsts after their long journey.

Dave’s brother Peter, Dave’s mother’s mother Helen, and my brothers Jan (that’s his blue bird of happiness) and Charlie.

By night.

My Father's 1928 Boy Scout Handbook

Looking through old photos for our Day of the Dead altar, I found my father’s Boy Scout handbook, issued 1928 in New York City.

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