Christmas Around the World-MEXICO

By Robin E. Mason

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CHRISTMAS AROUND the WORLD – MEXICO

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I don’t know about you but I tend to associate the piñata with birthdays. Although, it is rather the epitome of Mexican celebration, to this non-Mexican anyway. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that the piñata is very much a part of traditional Christmas in Mexico. “From December 16 to 24 there are a series of processions and parties called  Las Posadas  (from the word for inn) , for many children the most anticipated part of the Christmas season. The tradition was begun by Spanish evangelists to teach the Christmas story to the indigenous people.” [source: Wikipedia]

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Of course, Nativity scenes are universal displays of, well, the birth of Christ. In Mexico, they are “generally set up by December 12 and left on display at least until February 2 and found in homes, businesses and churches. They were introduced in the early colonial period with the first Mexican monks teaching the indigenous people to carve the figures. The basic set up is similar to those in other parts of the world, with a focus on the Holy Family.” [source: Wikipedia]

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In Oaxaca, Joseph and Mary are dressed in traditional Oaxacan costume.

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I am fascinated by this image of Niño Dios, the Child Jesus, dressed in Tzotzil costume, but can’t find information about the tradition—except in Spanish. (and my Spanish isn’t strong enough, nor is my brain on point enough, to glean the meaning.)

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The Nativity aside, what could be more iconic to Christmas than the Christmas tree. (forgive, I am not making the case pro or con, just sharing what is standard, and part of traditional Mexican celebration.)

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This treat the Universum Museum en Mexico City is decorated with polyhedrons.

Not only is the poinsettia another Christmas icon, but it is native to Mexico. One “modern Mexican legend says that the pointsettia was once a weed that miraculously turned into a beautiful flower so that a child could present it to the infant Jesus.” [source: Wikipedia]

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A significant part of the extended Christmas holiday, is “Epiphany, called Día de lost Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day). This day celebrates whtn the Three Wise Men arrived to visit the Child Jesus (Niño Dios) bearing gifts. On the night of January 5, children traditionally leave a shoe by the doorway where the Wise Men will enter, although this is not done in all parts of Mexico. … In the morning after opening the presents, a round sweet bread called a rosca is served.

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Like in any part of the world, there is so much more, different traditions in various regions, and like pretty much any post I write it could very easily turn into a much longer article. I leave you with one final pretty decoration.

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And one final thought…

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This is a bittersweet post for me to write; it is my last post as a regular contributor here at Writing Prompts Crew. I have valued the time spent here, and cherish the friendships I have made. As my own blog and writing career have grown, I must, sadly, pare back other commitments.

Fear not, though, I’ll hover around, and make my usual snarky commentary, and the occasional post as a guest. I thank all the crew and every follower for coming into my life. You have enriched me in ways words cannot express.

And so, in my beloved Irish, I bid you…

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… a fond farewell, not good-bye, but see you soon.  And because my new series  is a family entrenched in French ancestry,

joyeux Noel

et

bonne année!

 WRITING PROMPT—Tío Miguel and Tía Maria are visiting from Mexico for the holidays. We haven’t seen them since we were little. We are teaching them American traditions, and they are sharing their Mexican ones. All is going beautifully, til Tío Miguel discovers the eggnog—and somebody has spiked it. As he hangs the luminaries in place of the piñatas, somebody outside starts hollering.

 

Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas, Christmas Around the World, Christmas in Mexico, Luminaries, Piñatas, Nacimiento, Poinsettia, FELIZ NAVIDAD, and Slán

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The Art of Baking Bread

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THE ART of BAKING BREAD

slide2I wasn’t aware of it as a child, but my paternal grandmother’s sister was a consummate bread baker. I did know, however, that my dad was. (And now I know where he got it from!)

 

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And now, I am the bread baker in the family. I like to experiment with different ingredients and techniques. But nothing beats a slice of plain ol’ fresh baked bread, warm from the oven and slathered with butter!

slide4Over the years, I have adapted and morphed recipes from cookbooks, into my own standard, all purpose recipe. Several years ago, my dad created a clever little bread cook booklet. It has the basic white bread recipe up top, on a flip up page. Then the pages below open to several varieties with ingredient variations, and baking tips.

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My personal specialty is cinnamon bread, I make into rolls or coffee rings or loaves, or some other creative twist. When I say cinnamon bread, I do not mean I sprinkle a little cinnamon on the bread. No, I wrap a little bit of bread around the cinnamon. (Did I mention I love cinnamon and will put it on or in just about anything!)

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I’m going to recreate the little booklet, and will send a copy to one commenter on today’s post. (Bear with me, I haven’t even started this project!) Among the variations are rye bread, corn bread (only different), rice bread, dill bread, whole wheat bread—sixteen in all—and I’ll add my cinnamon bread variation.

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WRITING PROMPT: The macaroni was baked, the jello salad was set, the green beans had simmered all day. I looked at the bountiful table, with a perfect golden turkey in the center, and sighed. Something was missing. The rolls! But when I went to pull them from the oven…

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Natural Wonders – Victoria Falls

Natural Wonders – Victoria Falls

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Today’s post is brought to you courtesy of Wikipedia, and moi!  It’s gorgeous country, and someday I’d love to visit there!

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I have learned that missionary David Livingstone is the first know European to discover the falls in 1855.  He named them Victoria Falls in honor of the British monarch at the time, Queen Victoria. The falls occur on the Zambezi River, running along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls. See table for comparisons.

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There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle—the point from which Livingstone first viewed the falls.

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When the river flow is at a certain level, a rock barrier forms an eddy with minimal current, allowing adventurous swimmers to splash around in relative safety a few feet from the point where the water cascades over the falls. Crazy daredevils!

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Before 1905, the river was crossed above the falls at the Old Drift, by dugout canoe or a barge towed across with a steel cable. In 1905, with the influx of European influence and settlement, the first bridge across the Zambezi and [Cecil Rhodes] insisted it be built where the spray from the falls would fall on passing trains, so the site at the Second Gorge (of five gorges) was chosen.

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The national parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable populations of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of antelope. Vervet monkeys and baboons are common. The river above the falls contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. African bush elephants cross the river in the dry season at particular crossing points. Above the falls, herons, fish eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common.

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Mopane woodland savannah predominates in the area, with smaller areas of miombo and Rhodesian teak woodland and scrubland savannah. Riverine forest with palm trees lines the banks and islands above the falls. The most notable aspect of the area’s vegetation though is the rainforest nurtured by the spray from the falls, containing plants rare for the area such as pod mahogany, ebony, ivory palm, wild date palm and a number of creepers and lianas.[12] Vegetation has suffered in recent droughts, and so have the animals that depend on it, particularly antelope.

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Writing Prompt: What is your favourite attraction about Victoria Falls? Did you learn something new from my (humble) little post? Would you like to visit the falls?

 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Falls

 

 

ME - 041115“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

 

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina. She has three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2017.

 

 

Come visit me at:

 

http://robinemason.com

http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

robinemason212@gmail.com

 

 

Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas, Natural Wonders, Victoria Falls, Zambezi River, Zambia, Zimbabwe, David Livingstone

 

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All Things Irish

by Robin E. Mason

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Dia daoibh agus Fáilte.   Hallo and welcome to me bit on world travel. Of course, when the topic came up my first thought was Éireann (Ireland) don’t’cha know?  I’m part Irish, see, and I do love all things Irish.  It’s in me blood.

Sad little note: I so wanted to do audio on this post, with some good Irish music in the background. Irish is one of two accents I do quite well, but alas, I have no sound to the video. Which rather defeats the purpose! I’m so sad.

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The first thing, of course, once we’ve left the aerfort is to get settled at the inn. A lovely little bed and breakfast. Don’t ye love the thatch roof? I do.

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First stop, then, is a real Irish pub! (I’ve a little secret to tell ye, but ye mustn’t tell anyone. I might have a go at a pint of Guinness! It’ll be our little secret, aye?) I’ll give the cottage pie a try for supper. What do ye think?

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Isn’t this a spectacular view? It’s the O2, now called 3Arena, in Dublin. U2 was the first band to play there in 2008.   Wouldn’t you love to see Riverdance perform here?

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After a good night’s sleep and a hearty bricfeasta (breakfast) of bagún (bacon) and ubh (eggs) and arán (bread), and a nice hot cuppa, we’re ready to see the town.

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An historic landmark, as are so many in Ireland, is Trinity College. Me breath catches just walking through the gates…

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… and then there’s THIS! Have a look at that library!

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We could spend days in the city, stopping at every little café and nook and cranny. And a mall’s a mall’s a mall, and not so different to the U.S. But take a gander at that clock, will ye?

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One place I’ve longed to see since I studied geology a few years ago (yes, me, shocking I know) is The Giant’s Causeway. It’s to the north, and it’s magnificent. Don’t you agree?

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Would ye like to see how Irish pottery is made?  I’d go just to see inside that gorgeous building! They’ve lovely porcelain china, and a ton of other pretty baubles. Which is your favorite? Mine’s the Celtic mugs. And the Shamrock dishes.  All things Irish….

http://www.belleek.com/

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I’d visit every castle in the county if I could. And probably write a story for every one of them!

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But this. This is what I love the most. The mountains. The green.  The misty sky.

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Breathtaking, isn’t it?

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There’s a story is this cottage….  Can ye hear them speaking to ye?

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Ruins.

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Villages and towns.

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Ballyedmond House.

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We’ll take a day here, at this little shop, Molly Gallivan’s. They’re in County Kerry, and they’ve quite a bit going on behind those stone walls. There’s a craft shop and a tea room, dinner theatre and the farm to tour. It’ll be a fine day, don’tcha think?

http://mollygallivans.com/

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No trip to Éireann would be complete without a visit to Blarney Castle. Will you kiss the stone? I will.

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One last lovely view before we fly across the pond. Slán, fare thee well, for now, me lovely Éireann (Ireland), I’ll come back again one day.  Will you?

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WRITING PROMPT:  You’re only here for an interminable business trip. Your business associate insists on showing you ‘round town, but you can’t wait to get back to the hotel and put your feet up. You’re ready to pack and head home. Until…..

ME - 041115“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina. She has three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2017.

http://www.robinemason.com

http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas, World Travel, Ireland, Éireann (Ireland), Giant’s Causeway, Irish Pub, Molly Gallivan, Belleek Pottery, Blarney Stone, Four Leaf Clover

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MY FIRST WRITERS CONFERENCE

by Robin E. Mason

originally posted on my blog, http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/  on 3-27-15

“I’ve been thrown in the deep end.  Of a deep ocean.  In a tidal wave.  …

Since the release of Tessa, I have sought to broaden my writer’s presence.  I have joined writer’s pages and groups, I have subscribed to other author’s pages.  I started a blog and revived another one, and this robin bird finally decided to tweet.”   [blog post “Drowning” 041114]

When I wrote Tessa I didn’t know for Author page—Facebook or Amazon—hadn’t even heard of Goodreads, avoided Twitter, and wasn’t blogging at all, at all. I wrote. That was it. Only AFTER she was released into the wild did I plug myself into the unique community of writers. A year ago, I was “ … learning to swim.  And I think my feet are touching some sand in the murky waters, and I’m starting to wade through this media panoply.” [blog post “Drowning” 041114]

That was media. The other, and perhaps more enriching, branch of this tree I’ve climbed, is writer’s groups (and yes, I’ve attended) and conferences. And this is the more troublesome branch for me, because… it involves money. (‘nother story, ‘nother blog post, ‘nother time – think testimony) Money: I haven’t had it. Not to spare, barely enough to meet living expenses. Ergo, definitely not there to pay for a conference, let alone travel to and from, or accommodations whilst there. I longed to go, to attend, to rub shoulders with the who’s who of writing. I viewed pics posted on Facebook wistfully, hoping – praying – for my turn.

MY TURN CAME!! Weekend with The Writers (WWTW) was right here in Greenville, SC!!! I could walk to it I had to….  (so glad I didn’t have to)

wwtwlargebannerhttp://weekendwiththewriters.com/

Let me take a moment and share how this came about—and the utter and incomparable value of networking. I was part of a thread in one of my writer groups, talking about memes. I do a decent meme, and promised to create a meme tutorial on my process. (haven’t forgotten that, ya’ll!!) One of the participants and I were later having a private IM conversation about it, and she asked me where I live. Because she was coming to a conference in Greenville, SC. That was the first I heard of it! I clicked on the link, Father God made a way for me to pay for it, my new friend offered to let me room with her, AND they picked me up. (oh yeah, I’m not driving right now—long story, also money related… ) And I only heard of the conference on 25 February—THREE WEEKS before the conference!!  I shared with a friend how it all came together, and me watching it happen; she said, “Favor looks good on you.” To which I replied, “It feels kinda good too.”

So I got there, and it was amazing. I  was at a conference!!! On the one hand, it felt as natural as if I did this every day. On the other hand, I felt like a five-year-old at Disney for the first time. (I kinda was!!)

Headlining our event were Kristen Heitzmann, DiAnn Mills, Edie Melson, and Lynette Eason, all names I’d seen and at least read blog posts. Only one, Kristen, had I heard of before I dove into my own writing career, having read Freefall, a few years ago, declaring her to be one of my new favorite authors. All of them personable and approachable, willing to interact – not sure what I expected, not divas with body guards, I’m sure! I felt as an associate, if at entry level, with their stellar multi-published careers. Quite heady for this former invisiblet!!

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Gotta give a SHOUT OUT to the WWTW staff, who were amazing, catering to the needs of each of us in the room – even providing chocolate for us at the mid-afternoon doze-off on Saturday – and making us all feel welcome.

My takeaways from the event – and I benefited from each one:

  • DiAnn Mills and Characterization (possibly my weakest area) – let’s see, she covered a good gamut—body language, color symbolism, sensory perception. The stand-out statement for me, “Transfer my emotion to my character point of view.” (altho, I think my tendency is more that I pick up the emotion of my characters.)
  • Kristen Heitzmann and Writing a Compelling Story – “A compelling story compels me to write it.” There’s more but I don’t want to give the whole conference away for future attendees!! *wink wink  And yes, when I’m writing, I’m compelled to do so.
  • Lynette Eason and Queries and Proposals – For me, more of a review. Bottom line, be professional about it.
  • Edie Melson and Social Media – Hot topic for this writer! Remember the “Drowning” references above? Edie also covered a good gamut in her topic, and made me feel good that I’m doing the right things, media-wise. Mostly. I need to up my “presence” on Twitter, with #hashtags (yeeps! they’re missing from this post!!) and some great suggestions for tweeting on the regular.

And the biggest take-away: no two authors’ paths are identical. Every article written, every conference workshop, offers something of value; and every author gleans from this tidal wave of information the splashes and puddles that best fit his or her career. I was very happy to hear a consensus that if you are an edit-as-you go writer, which I am, then OWN IT. Yes, thank you.

I take that back. The best take-away from this conference are the friends and connections I made. Now if I could just get my pics to upload from my phone….


WRITING PROMPT:  I arrived at the hotel and it was more than I could have imagined! My room was right next to the guest speaker…


ME - 041115I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas.  I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I, really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

Come visit me at:

http://robinemason.com

http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas, My First Conference, Weekend with the Writers, Kristen Heitzmann, Lynette Eason, Edie Melson, DiAnn Mills, #FORWARD

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