Monthly Archives: February 2009

El Proyecto de Lavanda (The Lavender Project)

It’s still brutal icy winter here in Massachusetts, but every morning shower brings a burst of Mexican sunshine via some wonderful soap that I picked up in the gift shop at San Miguel’s botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio. I’m generally not a fan of perfumed soaps, but the products made by The Lavender Project at Rancho la Colorada are heavenly. They seem to carry the smell of fresh lavender and desert air, along with the good karma of supporting a worthy cause.

From The Lavender Project website:

“In a pueblo in the central mountains of Mexico, the people can smell their independence. In a field surrounded by nopal cactus, each one looking like a collection of Mickey Mouse ears, are 2,000 fat lavender plants, which fill the country air with their famous aroma. This scent may be able to solve the problem that afflicts not just Rancho La Colorada (population 1,000), but so many pueblos across Mexico. The problem of the missing men and lost opportunities.

With almost all of the young and middle-aged men in town gone to the States looking for work (and maybe or maybe not sending money back), Rancho La Colorado feels like a women’s commune. Until two years ago, these women and a few old men were supporting themselves mostly through subsistence farming. But now a U.S. non-profit called St. Anthony’s Alliance is helping the pueblo become self-sufficient through lavender, with the idea that many of the townspeople can earn money through the cottage industries–soap-making, sewing sachet bags–associated with lavender. The hope is that many of the men now working in the States will eventually be able to afford to stay at home.

Now that the organic lavender plants are producing flowers, the town’s co-operative has started to sell goods in the nearby tourist center of San Miguel de Allende.”

— Jeannie Ralston, author, The Unlikely Lavender Queen

Teen Self-Care in the Age of YouTube

Annalena mentioned last night that she’s taken to watching this video every morning — that if she watches Smokey Robinson and The Miracles sing The Tracks of My Tears, she has a good day. I think back to when she was a baby and discovered the comfort of her thumb to sooth herself through the night. I don’t know how she found this video or what exactly about it she finds sustaining, but on a non-linear level, it makes all the sense in the world. The lyrics of the song transcend time, not to mention the suave dance moves. How wonderful that YouTube makes this wisdom of the ages accessible to teenagers in 2009.

Berkshire Living "Rest of the Story" Free Event About Healthy Eating

Well, don’t I feel special…as it happens, the March Berkshire Living community event is also an off-shoot of an article I wrote. The press release follows below. This event is free and the two panel members are both super smart and lively. Hope to see you there!


Kripalu executive chef Deb Howard and Dr. Nina Molin, founder of Ananda Health Center for Integrative Medicine, will discuss strategies for health and wellness through healthy cooking and eating in “Eat Right,” part of Berkshire Living’s award-winning Rest of the Story series of free public forums, on Sunday, March 22, at 11 a.m., at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington.

An outgrowth of the story “Kitchen Aid,” by writer Gina Hyams — who will also participate in the event – in the March-April special Food and Dining issue of Berkshire Living, the event, moderated by editor-in-chief Seth Rogovoy, will focus on nutrition, ingredients, food selection, and healthy preparation methods, and include a question and answer session.

Each month, Berkshire Living, a regional lifestyle and culture magazine, and the Triplex join forces to present “The Rest of the Story,” free public forums based on an article running in the concurrent issue of the magazine. The series was awarded a Gold Medal for Community Service by the National City and Regional Magazine Association.

For more information, call Berkshire Living at 413-528-3600.

The Berkshire Living Visionaries Breakfast Series: Annie Selke

February 27, 2009 UPDATE:
Here’s a link to Charlie Deitz’s WAMC report about this event.

The following event flows from (but is different than) my recent BBQ cover story about Annie Selke. This new lecture series is like our own little Berkshires TED conference…be there. Call soon, though, as seating is extremely limited.

BBQ: Berkshire Business Quarterly Events
The Visionaries Breakfast Series
A Quarterly Talk with the Region’s Greatest Thinkers and Doers

Behind the Scenes with Pine Cone Hill’s Design Visionary and Founder Annie Selke

Annie’s Hard-Won Wisdom: “The Top Ten Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know”
A Breakfast discussion including A Private Tour of The Annie Selke
Companies New Headquarters

February 26, 2009
The Annie Selke Companies
125 Pecks Road
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Seating is Limited. Advance Reservations Required.

Buenos Dias from San Miguel

Greetings from Cafe Etc. where there is miraculous wireless Internet connection. A quick hello. The previous post refers to my mother having had a small stroke. The good news: Her prognosis is excellent and poco a poco she’s getting better each day. Her doctor and neurologist make house calls. They think she’ll be walking in about a month. A physical therapist now comes daily to the house, a speech therapist a few times a week, and massage therapist a couple of times a week, along with the maid and gardener, and two caretakers to periodically spell me to shop for groceries, go to a Nia dance class, and…oh, maybe try to get some work done…la, la, la: welcome to expat life.

As difficult as all of this is, really, my mom couldn’t have been luckier and we’ve been having a good time together. On the scale of strokes, hers isn’t so bad and San Miguel has extraordinary and affordable resources available to aid her recovery. There may not be state-of-the-art medicine here, but there is world-class loving care.


Started the day thinking about faith, for good reason it turned out.

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