Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank You, Carla and Henry!

Billy would have been thrilled to have had both a traditional Mexican obit-like expression of gratitude from the family thanking the deceased closest friends and loved ones, and a heartfelt, non-traditional death announcement.  He was like that.  So am I.  Thanks so much, Carla and Henry.  It is great.

But, I do have to chuckle some: and Billy would be rolling on the floor. In 20 years, if a student of genealogy doesn't do some cross-checking, the budding family tree maker may assume that Eric is or was Henry's spouse....

No disrespect, respectively, Guys.

William B. Crouser, Jr.

Billy's brother had our former hometown newspaper publish this obituary.  I have re-printed it with one spelling correction (my name).................. and without further comment -- for now.

William B. Crouser Jr. Ajijic, Mexico William B. Crouser Jr., 45, passed this life suddenly on his birthday, August 24, 2010. Billy was well loved by all who knew him. He had a passion for life, an adventurous streak, and a soft heart for homeless animals, especially cats. He grew up in Michigan where he attended Clintondale and Richmond High Schools and graduated from Wayne State University. After living many years in Port Huron, Billy retired to Mexico where he resided with his partner of more than 20 years, Jody Lee Harris. Billy will be missed by his partner Jody, mother Mable father William Sr., brother Henry, sister Catherine, brother-in-law Eric and sister-in-law Carla. He also leaves behind two nieces and three nephews who will miss their uncle Bill very much. Rest in peace Billy we love you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photos of the Day

This morning I went down to the lake as usual and saw my Kingfisher friend in the same tree as the last couple of days.  I took several photographs.  These two are my favorites from today.

UPDATE:  FYI --- my photographs are hardly ever "photo-shopped".  What we see are the naked shots, lens smudges and all.  I do use the zoom liberally.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo of the Day

Wow!  I spotted this fella in that tree as I went for a walk this morning.  This is the first Kingfisher that I've seen here in Ajijic.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Bombs Bursting in Air

There is nothing more Mexican than mom, apple pie, and the bombs bursting in air.  On Sunday, October 31, 2010 the Little Virgin of the Rosary completed her annual tour of local churches and returned home to her chapel on the central plaza of Ajijic.  Her escort of native dancers and the faithful were greeted with music and the booming explosions of rockets.  This is village life.

I found myself chuckling the other day as I realized that the bed and breakfast where my brother and his bride will be staying is very close to "rocket central" and the village festival starts soon after their arrival.  Rockets before sunrise.......  LOL

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blue Skies and Street Dogs

Our village has several dogs that roam the streets and the town square (plaza).  All are calm and respectful, even as you step over and around them.  The blond dog pictured on the steps of my friends' gift and DVD movie shop comes by every day for a handful of dog chow.  Today, we both hung around the shop for awhile.

The second photograph features the blue sky and the gazebo in the middle of the plaza.  The gazebo has been freshly painted in anticipation of the two week festival honoring the patron of Ajijic -- Saint Andrew (San Andres).

Ajijic really is a paradise.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photo of the Day

The rainy season has passed.  The mountains are beginning to turn from green to brown.  And, we have nothin' but blue skies.  It is still so very beautiful here in Ajijic, Jalisco, México.

This is the Church of Saint Andrew -- Santo Andres -- the patron of our village.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


"Housekeeping Items" were once a regular feature of the contract negotiations that I participated in when I was union Vice-President and an elected negotiator for the Port Huron Education Association.  They were mostly little things.  Sometimes an item was added to the housekeeping list to reflect changes in State or Federal laws.  One clause or another of our professional agreement would be modified and, of course, no one opposed those changes.  The new contract language would be typed and copied and the negotiating teams' respective Chief or Co-Chiefs would initial the document.  Simple stuff.

Many years ago, the non-discrimination clause of our contract needed to be "corrected" to bring it into compliance with the  federal non-discrimination laundry list. Some folks on both teams took a deep breath and waited to see what I would do.  You see, I was a known homosexual and a union and gay rights activist.  However, the adding of "sexual orientation" was not a mandated change.  Would I make it an issue?

Well, I f#@king caved.  I  was a coward.

I was also bullied.  I was given various reasons why I should not even broach the subject with my own negotiating team.  The possible outcomes of that decision, I was told, were too dire.  The union leadership and most team members did not want a public fight.  Not even a skirmish.  They were cowards, too.

I hope that someday soon the Port Huron Area School District will change its student and employee non-discrimination policies to reflect the reality of 2010.  Do they now have the courage to, as one union president loved to say, "do the right thing?"

Recently, the Saline School District's Board of Education was given the opportunity to lead by adopting a non-discrimination policy that included "sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression."  They chose not to change a thing.......


And, children are dying.....

Hat tip:  Dan Savage via

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Photo of the Day

Lake Chapala is home to the Great White Heron Egret.  They are beautiful birds with a distinctive call that you may hear when they fly by.  I crept up on this fella and started taking pictures before someone startled it.  This was a lucky shot.

Why Are You Voting Republican?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Because the World Needs More Smiles

Thank you, Andrew Sullivan for sharing this "Mental Health Break".

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Flash Brindisi" at Reading Terminal Market (April 24, 2010)

I Am Not Hiding!

Here's a reminder to all of my family and friends --- the scenes in this video were mostly filmed in Ajijic.  I love this village and its people.  I love the wonders of nature that surround me.  I love the temperate climate.  And, yes.  Ajijic is a place of Life, Love, Death, and Healing.

It is here that I will grieve.  It is here that I Live.  Somewhere in México....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fire Assistant AG Andrew Shirvell

Mike Cox must fire cyberbully Assistant AG Andrew Shirvell.  He is an immature homophobic jerk.  What an embarrassment for the State of Michigan.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


There are folks like these in every state...... be afraid.  Hat tip:  Daily Kos

Taliban Dan

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo of the Day

Location.  Location.  Location.  And, money.  It seems that this particular block of buildings has been plagued with poor luck in maintaining tenants.  The cost of rent?  Or, more likely, the loss of our traditional sources of income -- Sunbirds and Snowbirds.  This photograph shows a boutique where the photography studio had been.  Next door, and not shown, is an empty store that just two months ago sold generic drugs.  I'm told that a Chinese or Japanese restaurant will soon open at this location.  The dragon painting is just the beginning.....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Republicans in the US Senate

Obstructionist Republicans in the US Senate blocked a vote on the Defense Appropriations bill with a filibuster.  They did not want to vote for the repeal of DADT.  They did not want to vote for the Dream Act.  Hypocrites and cowards all.

Dan Savage said it best.  So, I must reprise this message to all the bigots out there ----  NSFW

Photos of the Day

On my walk today, these flowers caught my attention.  Enjoy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Photo of the Day

The celebration of the bicentennial of México continues.  Evidence of the festivities remains behind no matter how much sweeping is done.  Confetti filled eggs are sold by many vendors around Ajijic's central Plaza during every national holiday and religious festival.  Lots and lots and lots of eggs.

You crack them on a loved one's head, of course.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Photo of the Day

This is the balcony of the municipal building in Ajijic.  There at 11 pm tonight the "Grito de Dolores" will be reenacted.  This cry was the call to arms that sparked a revolution.

My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen by three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines!

-----  Father Miguel Hidalgo

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prudential Financial: War Profiteers

Prudential Financial had a secret agreement with the Veterans Administration allowing them to make a profit off the deaths of America's heroes.  Grieving families were not given lump sum death benefits, but were given "check books" to use in drawing out funds.  Prudential profited from the monies being held for the beneficiaries in violation of the provisions of the actual insurance contract published.

Disgusting.  All war profiteering must end or we will always have wars of choice -- ask George Bush........

Photo of the Day

This critter was pretty brave.  He let me take several photographs of him.  If I got too close he just walked away a little distance.  This part of the boardwalk always has these lake birds nearby.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


To understand a little bit more about me -- a story.  Once upon a free ticket for being bumped off a flight from a convention and 21 years ago, I traveled to México.  Alone.  One day, I decided to snorkel in a National Park.  It was my first time.  And, the first time a school of awe inspiring exotic fish came swimming by me, I screamed.  Underwater.  Not from fear, mind you, I was praising a Creator for that wonder, those tiny swimming miracles.  True story.

For the last three years, the townsfolk have watched two youngish retired Americans walking the streets -- living among them.  And, from time-to-time one or the other of us, or both, would whip out our cameras and photograph something that struck our fancy.  Yes, for three years, we both "religiously" carried a camera.  And, occasionally, we even had a spare set of AA batteries.

Living in México is a dream come true.  And, each and every day I nearly have to pinch myself to be convinced that I actually live here.  It's real.  And, it is beautiful beyond words.  Really.  Hence, the camera and an occasional muttering of gratitude and wonder.

-----------  The first photograph was taken with Billy's Nikon CoolPix lenses wide open.  The shrine on Loma Ancha in just visible above the stone column on the left --- just right of center.  The second shot is full mechanical and digital zoom.  The shrine is centered.

Photos of the Day

I took these photographs on my journey to the shrine on Loma Ancha today.  I spotted these flowers on the path.  And, we encountered these roosters on the road we walked down from on our way to the car.  We actually took a wrong path on the way down from the shrine and we were deposited a few blocks from where we started.

Loma Ancha

I have the rest of my life to see that.....  So, glib.  So, disengaged.  And, so wrong.  Yep, that was my answer to everyone's inquiry as to whether or not I have seen this or that around Ajijic and the Lake Chapala region.  I especially gave my standard "some day" answer when asked about trekking up Loma Ancha to see the shrine.  Many added that the path continues to the top of the mountain and over and down to another village.

The Catholic shrine above Ajijic looks out upon Lake Chapala and the villages below.  It is something that for the last three years I took for granted. The shrine can be seen from most any point in Ajijic and, from below, it looks to be about three quarters of the way up the mountain from Upper Ajijic.  I promised Billy that someday we would journey to the shrine.  This morning as the sun was rising, Christian and I made our way to the foot of the pilgrim's path.  We climbed Loma Ancha to the shrine.  And, we carried with us a portion of Billy ashes, messages, and flower seeds to cast "on the wind".

 Billy wanted his ashes spread around the places that he loved.  In addition to our pilgrimage to the shrine, we also spread some of Billy in Lake Chapala and a wee bit next to our mango tree and amongst the banana trees.  Billy's brother said that he would have some of Billy spread in the Saint Clair River back in Michigan.  We loved living just blocks away from the bottom of Lake Huron and the mouth of the Saint Clair River.  We used to walk and ride bikes along the Thomas Edison Parkway -- one of the most beautiful places in the world -- in my hometown of Port Huron, Michigan.

  I kept my promise to Billy.  And, we made it to the shrine on Loma Ancha.....

In This Shirt

I am lost
In our rainbow
Now our rainbow
Has gone

By your shadow
As our worlds move on

But in this shirt,
I can be you.
To be near you
For awhile.

But in this shirt,
I can be you.
To be near you
For awhile.

There's a crane
Knocking down
All those things
That we were.

I awake
In the night
To hear the engines purr.

There's a pain
It does ripple
Through my frame
Makes me lame.

There's a thorn
In my side.
It's the shame, it's the pride
Of you and me -- ever changing.

Moving on now.
Moving fast.

And his touch
Must be wanted.
Must become
Through your ask.

But I need,
Jake, to tell you,
That I love you -- it never rests.

And I've bled
Every day now
For a year,
For a year.

I did send
You a note
On the wind
For to read

Our names,
There together,
Must have fallen,
Like a seed.

To the depths
Of the soil
Buried deep
In the ground

On the wind
I could hear you
Call my name
Held the sounds.

I am lost.

I am lost
In our rainbow
Now our rainbow
Has gone

I am lost
In our rainbow
Now our rainbow
Has gone

I am lost.

I am lost.

I am lost.

----------- The Irrepressibles - In This Shirt

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Photos of the Day

 On the way to the central plaza in Ajijic from Calle Guadalupe Victoria you may now pass by the newest mural being painted.  It is "in progress" -- all seems to be going well for México's bicentennial celebrations.  We are painting the town....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Photo of the Day (Friday)

It is a bit cool and the rains have stuck around all morning.  On the way to breakfast this morning, I passed this "new" store and its mural.  The reflection in the glass door is from across the street.  I have no idea what is opening in this location.  Stay tuned.

Photo of the Day (Thursday)

We had great weather yesterday.  The rains ended early and the remainder of the day was sunny and warm.  The banana tree on the right finally toppled as the bunch of bananas that had been growing reached maturity.  Now, we just have to wait for them to ripen.  Note the other trees growing.  It takes about two years for this variety of the tree to grow, fruit, and die.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Photo of the Day

It seems to have rained most of the day today.  Before a long afternoon nap, I snapped this photograph of some blossoms soaked in rain.  The blooms in Ajijic are awe inspiring.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ohne Dich (Without You)

I'll be back to writing sometime soon.  Right now, I am content to walk about the village and along the shore of our lake taking photographs.  I love Ajijic.  God has blessed me with this opportunity to live in a place of life, healing, loss, and love.

Photos of the Day

Did I mention that we are in the middle of the rainy season?  It rained late into the morning today.  These photographs were taken today from the boardwalk facing north into the mountains.  It was still raining high up in the mountains.

BTW.  Lake Chapala is about a mile above sea level.  Think Denver.  The lake is a "high mountain lake" and I live on the mountainside above it.  And, the mountains reach even higher behind Ajijic.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Photo of the Day

As I walked home from the Plaza after a brief visit with Doctor Polo, I came upon this horse parked between two cars.  It is not an unusual sight.  And, the sounds of horses in the streets are common.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Photo of the Day

I was at the end of the boardwalk again today.  I sat under a tree near the lapping waves of Lake Chapala.  Lake birds, mountains, and old fishing boats -- classic Ajijic scene.  Paradise is just so ..... photogenic.  Je Je Je Je

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Photo of the Day

Photographs and paintings of fishermen in Lake Chapala are as common as those of the Cerro de Garcia and lake birds.  The fisherman in this photograph was casting a net to catch fish.  I took this photograph at the west end of the boardwalk.  I sat near the water under a tree.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Without You

Photo of the Day

The boardwalk along the north shore of Lake Chapala in Ajijic is absolutely beautiful.  As I walked today, I found myself exclaiming aloud, "Oh, God!  I love this place!"  And, I do.  Adding to yesterday's theme, photographs and paintings of this lake bird are everywhere.  This photograph was taken today near the basketball court.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Photo of the Day

The subject of my photograph, taken this afternoon, is probably the most photographed by the town folk, visitors, and tourists in Ajijic.  The Cerro de Garcia is on the south shore of Lake Chapala.  Numerous paintings and murals abound......