16722410_10158248774290501_1439403914849664656_oPlanning my trip to Guatemala in the fall of 2014, I figured I should nail down accommodations for over Christmas and New Years before maybe there weren’t any or they were out of my price range. I thought I would like to spend that time in Antigua, Guatemala and a World Heritage site. I found a place through AirBnB I believe, it sounded perfect but it said those dates weren’t available. I decided to send them a note anyways seeing if they might suggest other accommodations for that time. The owner got back to me, that since I was a single lady, I could stay there during that time any ways, she had booked it off as her child “Oliver” was coming at that time. Oh, I thought, and replied, maybe since this was such a special time for her I shouldn’t impose. Initially I understood by how she replied that she was pregnant and expecting her first child, so I offered to help in any way I could with cooking and cleaning at that time to help her. Then when she kept referring him to him as “Oliver” I thought maybe I misunderstood, maybe he was already born, and she just got to visit with him at that time. So I started telling her a bit about my children and how old they were. She replied then, that no he had not been born yet, and indeed was expected to arrive at that time. I had a place to stay. A wonderful family, and her Mom was going to be staying with them as well to help out and be there for the birth.

I felt like part of the family, the first day there I got to attend a baby shower at their church. I was there when the priest came to visit at their home prior to the birth. They were not yet married yet even though they had been together for sometime as there were problems due to Daniel being from Germany I believe. (Guatemala is very religious with something like 97% being Roman Catholic.) That was another question I was asked from place to place as I arrived, was I religious? My answer, “No”, but I was brought up Roman Catholic.

Antigua is a wonderful place to be around the Christmas/New Years holidays, lots of extra activities happening. There was the evening before Christmas when a procession went by at night, maybe a rendition of them looking for a room for the Virgin Mary, I’m not sure but the lanterns, etc were a nice surprise, and it was very small scale, intimate. Video of procession

Paola had been hoping to give birth at home with a mid wife, but just before Christmas, she learned that the baby was breech, the midwife tried moving it, but he was too comfortable, or big. Paola tried crawling around a bit as she was told this might get the little fellow motivated to move but it just wasn’t happening. Plan B, a doctor and hospital, to find one in a place that she felt comfortable in. That done, now the doctor was trying to encourage her to have it before Christmas, but she really didn’t want to, even though her husband was anxious to see the little guy. I thought the Doctor just didn’t want to be disturbed during the holidays? There was also the thought of schooling and where that would put him in the school year when that time came. Paola decided she would plan for Jan 2, if the baby decided it could wait that long. (Daniel had painted from time to time, images on Paolo’s growing stomach, the one I remember most, the cat’s back end, and  a cracked egg. They also wanted to make a cast of her stomach just before “Oliver” was born. I’m not sure if that happened, but I think so. Very creative.)

On Christmas Eve, which is the day they celebrate or on the stroke of midnight, Paola’s mother Isabelle, Paola, Daniel and myself all sat down to help make tamales, a Costa-rican version as that was where her Mom was from. Quite the assembly line we had going, and by the end we had made over 100.

Making tamales 

(Making cost ricin tamales for new years
Plantain leave, masa with garlic, salt and pork fat, then rice with achiote or paprika , spoonful of peas, pork slice and pork fat, 2 slices of tomatoes and carrot, 6 raisins,1 prune, 1 olive, wrap it all up and bake for 1 1/2 -2 hours at 325′)

Then there was Mass, which Daniel asked why I wanted to come if I wasn’t really religious, part of the experience I told him. A grand church, with a nativity scene that they had brought in dirt from the various areas around so that all were represented.. Then we went home for the meal and gifts, they even got me a journal, with a cover that had local weaving on it. Then I heard it, that strange sound… What could it be? I finally asked, “that rumbling noise, what was it?” It sounded, I said, like someone rolling a barrel of ice down the cobblestone hill. Her brother looked at me, curiously amused. “Only a Canadian would come up with something like that. It was fireworks.”…Okay, I have to admit that did make a lot more sense, and then we went up to the roof top to see. All over the city fireworks were being set off at midnight, not in just one spot, the whole sky was alive with them. I was told that they would set off fireworks at midnight, 6am, noon and 6pm, that’s a lot of fireworks!! I know how expensive they were back home so I asked about that there. Yes they said, they were expensive there as well, but everyone saved up to set off fireworks, rich to poor. On Christmas day I called home to talk to my son on Facetime just before noon, and I was up on the roof top showing him the view when the fireworks started, “Get down, Mom!!!” he shouted, as he thought it was gun fire, no I assured him, just fireworks.

I couldn’t believe all the firework debris along the streets. Then came the New Years celebration, the central street in Antigua was filled with performers, it was alive, and of course a big fireworks display.

The next day, January 2nd, time for “Oliver”, they told me the address of the small hospital, so when I thought enough time had passed, I wandered down, my Spanish not being very good, I managed to let them know what I was there for, and down the hall I went. Very different than our hospitals. There she was with little, or not so little, “Oliver”, one proud father, who I couldn’t believe how much this new born looked like!!!! He seemed all Dad and no, or very little Mom. A mini me, for Daniel. Also a very proud Grandma, and 2 brothers, her younger one was VERY excited even before hand and let Paola know, he already had a car seat so he could take him for rides.

So I was the very first person to hold that first born child, after the Mom, Dad, Grandma and Uncles, pretty special. Such a short time ago now, and he is such a big boy now at 3, (especially for that country, but there comes into play his German father), still looks the spitting image of his dad, who unfortunately, past away last year but will always be remembered, a kind caring person.

We all live in our own bubble

It’s funny how we often assume that others lives are similar to our own. Until someone says something or does something that takes us by surprise. It doesn’t have to be a “BIG” thing it can be very small, like how they arrange the dishwasher, if they even have one. As much as we have many general big things in our worlds that make us more similar than different there are still soooo many variations on so many others.

My children and Daughter-in-law often talk about first world problems, so true. When we are perplexed or stressed because our cell phone isn’t working as we think it should, or we have so many choices of food, that many actually put food restrictions on themselves like vegetarian, vegan, organic, raw food only. (I actually feel sometimes that they are judging and trying to shame us into eating this way.) We are so fortunate that we have food! Readily available food, clean drinking water, so much that we actually flush our toilets with clean drinking water. We live a very blessed life.

I read a book called “Understanding Poverty” that was an eye opener. The skills needed to survive in a low, middle and high class situation. On the low end, being able to move in 24 hours or less, on the high end knowing several languages to be capable to order off of a menu in most places in the world. How we survived socially, in the lower end how friends and people you know are assets to survival, no money but Pete down the street fixes cars when you need that service,, that when someone asks you for something if you have it to give, you give it. It said, have you wondered why low income people rarely have much money a day or two after they were paid? Apparently if they hadn’t spent the money and a friend knows they have some that friend can ask for it or Pete that worked on your car for free can now ask for it and you are obligated to give it, okay that explains that. For the middle class, when you are meeting new people you introduce yourself, you maybe even have an elevator speech, a little blurb about who you are, to help you with your business. The Upper class, on the other hand waits for a colleague to introduce a stranger, a vetting process, as if you haven’t been formally introduced you may be looking for a something in return. How interesting.

I was relating to my sister that I thought people were less materialistic now a days, she looked at me with eyes of wonder, not in her world. I was reading a book by Brene Brown, and she was telling how many people who are experiencing something warm and fussy like watching their sweet children sleeping, all of a sudden jumps to a thought of something terrible happening to them and ruining the moment, and I thought “Really” why would people do that, those types of thoughts would never sneak in to ruin my wonderful moment. So sad to hear they might for others.

This year I created 150 paintings of Canada, I would love for them to tour the country, and have been looking for ways to do that. I have looked out my provincial Arts Council and the Canadian Arts Council for possible support, but low and behold they want you to be famous first! How you get to be famous is the crux, but I suppose it is like talking to a person lately that was talking about a young person and they were asking them what they want to be when they grow up , and they replied a professional athlete. They were confused, as they had never heard this person had ever been involved in any sport prior to that and they were 17/18 now. How does one get to be famous, with out the work behind it, the practise and struggle? I guess that is what I maybe need to think about myself, the struggle part….do I really? Does an artist actually have to struggle with “Art” first? Then there was the discussion about whether art is moving more and more towards the elite, and that you need to have a patron or know people to succeed, where on the other end there is always, “Etsy” I suppose, I do like the sounds of a “Thriving” artist vs a “Struggling” one.

The world is such an interesting place, even more I think we need to check our perceptions to actual reality, and who’s reality?

Awe to be an “Artist”

Awe, to be an an “Artist”.

I remember when my younger sister, Nancy came home from kindergarten with her original painting, I think it included a colourful Mexican hat. My Mom loved it and told her how wonderful it was. My heart sank I had already been usrpt from my throne. My life as an artist shattered…….I was only 18 months older, but to my fragile young self, I was deflated. Hilarious now.

Little did I know at the time my youngest sister, Marcia would outshine us all in that regard. At 15 she received scholarships form the Provincial Government to be mentored by other artists. Unfortunately for us she died at 17, my first funeral. It was devastating and such a hard but good lesson on how not to take anyone for granted and that we can all die at any age.

As much as I loved art, we had always been told, you couldn’t make a living doing it. Believing that, I thought I would learn to design energy efficient cars in Pasadena California, (they had electric cars even way back then 1980, but still they were put on the back burner). That wasn’t in the cards at the time. I applied but they wanted me to have  degree first. Well I thought it should be in design of some type….A fine art degree wasn’t going to get me any where so I decided on Interior Design, and moved to Winnipeg, as the University of Manitoba had the highest accreditation course for Interior Design in North America, surprise, surprise! Winterpeg! T-squares and tunnels to avoid the elements in the winter, it was an experience.

I believe in Life Long Learning

George Dheilly, Logger, grapple operator, My Dad

So here I am, signed up for a blogging 2 week course with WordPress. Isn’t that great they offer free courses?

There is nothing like having deadlines and being gently pushed. Actually I hate deadlines, so always try to get them under my belt as soon as possible, so I can get on with the next adventure. Sure does help with getting things done though, or at least 95% done, sometimes I admit I have a hard time with the last final push. I admit I am not a perfectionist. I don’t know if it’s fair to say I am easily bored (though it probably is), but I feel more like I am easily distracted by the next “Wow” thing I decide I would like to do, once it pops into my mind.


My mind always has new ideas popping into it. I think that is because I love researching art, places to visit, community building, nature, public art, recipes ….how to be a more compassionate and passionate person. Life is full of experiences, and I want to live to tell them.

My father, a logger, grapple operator actually, and proud of it. Was a fantastic story teller, or at least I thought so. At the supper table he would tell us about his day, the practical jokes he played, the race he had against the young guys. He would use the salt and pepper shaker, the knives and forks, what ever would relate the story best to us, and when he told his story he was always full in, and so were we.My Dad's grapple, Squamish, BC


To tell stories, you need to have experiences, and that has been a goal of mine in life, to have experiences, good, amazing experiences. Eye opening experiences, experiences to learn from, experiences to share.

I just launched my art website, yvettecuthbertartist.com, and this is my first blog post.

I hope to be as entertaining and as open as my Dad was sharing his stories.

Who knows where this will go from here.