Go With God Sandy

23 Apr

The recent visit to our hometown of Austin, Texas included a drive through the old neighborhood. You could tell which houses had had a facelift or complete makeover and likely changed hands. One house stood out with its overgrown yard and clunker parked in the driveway. It looked absolutely the same as when we left almost four years ago. We laughed and wondered aloud how Sandy was doing.

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Pulling out of our driveway August 2013

Leaving Austin after having lived there forty years for me and more than twenty for Lisa meant lots of goodbyes. We visited with friends, some of which we hadn’t seen in years, but who wanted to connect before we took off for the wilds of Southern Mexico. We even threw a party in our yard, complete with live music. There were many opportunities for folks who wanted it. But we never saw Sandy.

She was our neighbor a few doors down. She played softball with Lisa’s team for a few years. I remember hanging out in her hot tub with a group of women naked and laughing. It was a first for me but lots of fun.

Over the years, Sandy became more and more of a recluse. I stopped by her house more than once to invite her to some event and she was clearly uncomfortable and did not invite me in. The house reeked of cigarette smoke. She promised to show, but never did.

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Sandy’s trusty little white truck.

I knew Sandy had retired from her job as a surgical assistant to an eye doctor. She also volunteered with children. I wonder what happened. Lisa and I had dinner last week with some mutual friends who informed us that Sandy had died. When she didn’t show for a cancer treatment, the clinic sent the police for a wellness checkup. They found her in her recliner.

I believe a lifelong struggle with depression and alcohol contributed. She only died the first of March and it makes me so sad. I just came from the grocery store and saw someone who looked like her and did a double take. Then I remembered.

Adiós means “go with God”, so adiós Sandy. I know that you are at peace. We just never know when we say goodbye if we’ll ever see anyone again. So hug them tight and tell them you love them, even if they’re your neighbor.

DOS TORTAS

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God Bless Texas

16 Apr

The Tortas are heading into their final week of vacation in Austin. It’s been fun beyond words. When we lived here, we did not take the time to be tourists in our own city. We’ve been eating great food, visiting locations old and new, and loving on family and friends. 

I’m not a big fan of taking photos of food, but here are a few that I couldn’t resist. A vegan bacon cheese burger from the Cove in San Antonio. Absolutely delicious. Stuffed zucchini at Cuba512 at Westgate and Wm. Cannon. We’ve eaten Thai, Indian, and lots of Texas Mexican food. Yum yum.

A cemetery in Round Rock from the 1800’s that houses the remains of Texas slaves. There are also beautiful old headstones from later times.

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Sunset Valley Farmers Market

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An art gallery in San Antonio while visiting friend Alison.

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A Texas rattlesnake at Roberta’s house.

McKinney Falls State Park outside of Austin.

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Maria’s Tacos with friend Harper.

As you can see it’s been a varied and enjoyable trip. The upcoming week is scheduled with lunch dates and a party. Today we’re hanging out with the grands. Our trip has been so much more than we expected. A truly memorable vacation. God bless Texas.

DOS TORTAS

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Texas Fun

9 Apr

The Tortas are having a blast on our annual trip to Austin. The weather has been perfect and our stay comfortable thanks to the loan of a house and car by friends. We feel very grateful.

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Port Aransas on the Texas gulf.

No trip to the coast would be complete without renting a giant unicorn floaty-thing. Hunter and Grandma rode the rough surf taking in faces full of water. Hunter loved pushing me off the raft. Building sand castles took me home to my childhood on the Jersey Shore.  The kids and grands camped in the trailer with the dogs. The Grandmas got a hotel.

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Grandma Lisa, Sophia and Dad play in the tide pools.

A visit to the State Aquarium rounded out the weekend. Otters, sharks and stingrays, oh my. Everyone had a great time and the kids slept on the long ride home.

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Great Grandpa joins in the birthday lunch. Sophia loves her hat and all things pink.

A birthday lunch to kick off a celebratory weekend for Hunter who turned six on Saturday. He reads and does math and creates Lego masterpieces. Quite a kid.

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Making funny faces.

We are having so much fun. Life is good.

DOS TORTAS

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Lawn signs seen about Austin.

Out And About

2 Apr

The Tortas are on vacation, I know, maybe it’s better to say, the Tortas are NOT in Bacalar for the month of April. We are visiting family and friends in Austin, Texas. As a result, there will be an nominal effort at keeping up the blog. 

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Grabbing a selfie with our good friend Roberta at our favorite breakfast spot, Kirby Lane.

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A respite to contemplate and relax.

Since arriving, I have been in a state of anxiety at landing in a big city and driving around at a gazillion miles an hour. People don’t make eye contact and are focused on their devices or wherever they are headed. Having lived here forty years, everything feels familiar but foreign at the same time.

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Texas Bluebonnets

Today I went for a walk on one of Austin’s many lovely green belts. It was just what I needed! There was cool air, fresh fragrances and lots of friendly dogs and their walkers to greet. In Bacalar, we live outdoors so much, that we feel claustrophobic in the US. Note to self, get outside and connect with nature IMMEDIATELY upon arrival NOTB (north of the border).

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Prickly pear cactus blooming.

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A trail to explore. 

We’re off on an electronics-free weekend camping trip with kids and grands to the Texas Coast. Hopefully I will have some pictures for next week. Until then, if you want to reach us, please use email or FB Messenger and do get out for a walk, wherever you live.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan (3)

26 Mar

This is week three and the final week of my #21EmBody paint along. Who knew that a seemingly small commitment could have such a profound impact. But again, isn’t that how life is when you’re open to the unexpected and unplanned?

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BREASTS

It all started when a friend posted to Facebook an invitation to paint, heal and show respect for our various body parts. Mmmm what an interesting idea! The event was orchestrated by Connie Solera a well known artist’s guru. I was intrigued.

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BELLY

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NAVEL

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SPINE

And as I am prone to do, being the Torta that I am, I jumped in with both feet. Paintings are posted to Instagram and Facebook for the world to see. Not only did I get to follow the amazing work of artists from around the world painting the same subject, but I got to see my own work evolve. I have never produced an art journal before, and my 5×7 sketch pad is now a treasure.

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HAIR

I appreciate the many comments from other artists and friends alike. Even last night I ran into a friend out and about in Bacalar who had seen and appreciated my work on Facebook and is talking about picking up a brush.

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EARS

I couldn’t complete this story without a shout out to George W. Bush. Our forty-third has become an amazing artist with no background but a lot of heart. He was making the rounds of late-night talk shows and I caught him on Jimmy Kimmel. He was friggin inspirational. The man is amazing AND funny. I know, who knew?

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LEGS

What did I learn? The creative process cannot be rushed. It forces me to slow my mind and listen to my inner voice. At the same time, I need to NOT listen to the inner critical voice. It showed up loudly when painting my breasts and belly. Especially my belly. That was the hardest. I learned that my work is mine and doesn’t compare at all to anyone else’s. I love looking at others’ paintings of the same subject. Their amazing work does not diminish mine in the slightest. I had so much fun.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan (2)

19 Mar

The painting challenge #21emBODY with artist extraordinaire Connie Solera continues this week with the prompts EYES, LIPS, NOSE, TOES, SHOULDERS, NECK and HIPS. Retired and living in Mexico, I appreciate the creativity, structure and opportunity to nurture my artistic spark. The idea is to heal our body, one part at a time. I don’t know about healing, but it sure has been fun.

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Hazel Eyes

Staring into my 65 year old eyes, with the wrinkles and skimpy lashes was hard at first. After awhile I became fascinated with me.

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Lips

I used the painting of lips as my experiment with color. I’ve wanted to use myself as the model for this process and a blue painting was my attempt at playfulness.

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Nose

A change from staring a my own face I decided to switch it up again. I choose another nose that is dear to my heart these days. Our dog Luna provides never ending entertainment. This is a replication of one of my favorite pictures of her.

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Toes

Ah, yes, toes. I got down on the floor and played with camera angles to get this upside down perspective. Sketching has also been a fun part of the process. My need to be perfect is falling away.

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Shoulders

Continuing to play with color resulted in this blue/green rendition of myself. I experienced  a lot of shoulder pain at one time and would wake at night with my shoulders reaching for my ears, my body’s response to stress. No more! I’m loving these relaxed shoulders.

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Neck

A bit more stylized, this self portrait hardly resembles me today. It was fun to paint and I added a scarf as an afterthought. You who know me are familiar with my pleasure in making, collecting and wearing scarves .

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Hips

And finally this week, I celebrate my hips. I went to the art supply store yesterday in search of some oil pastels. I’d like to branch out and try new techniques. I like the colors and texture the pastels produced.

As life has spun around me this week, painting has provided an anchor and a focus. I’ve surprised myself with the outcome. I am loosening my grip and need to control. If that’s not healing, I don’t know what is. DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan

12 Mar

Painting and being more artistic, whatever that means, has always been a big part of my retirement vision. It’s funny how I’ve had this corner of my brain where I put things for “some day” when I am no longer working. Of course that vision has changed with actual retirement. (Now Is As Good A Time As Any). Joining with other painters for Rendezvous 2015 and 2017 was fun and pushed me to paint but I returned home with no idea how to continue. No clear plan in retirement means trolling Facebook and playing solitaire  

When my dear friend Alison (Deva Designs, San Antonio), posted an invitation by artist extraordinaire Connie Solera to participate in a 21-day paint along, I jumped at the chance. I respond well to pressure and structure.

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I’m all about self-exploration  and making peace with whatever is getting in my way. After all, what else have I got to do? In this case my body seemed like a good healing target. Lots of material there.

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LUNGS for the kicker.

My first day was a blast. I never would have thought to paint lungs. I went in for the medical illustration, a career that I would have loved if I knew it existed. I have recently discontinued all asthma medication thanks to my Mexican pulmonologist. Woohoo I can breathe!

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HEART

A shout out to my Catholic roots. This time however, it’s MY Sacred Heart with no thorns, thank you very much.

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BACK

A bit more playful this time with a selfie in the bathroom mirror. This may be my favorite so far.

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BONES

I started with an X-ray of my pelvis from a fall of a couple of years ago. This painting really took on a life of its own. Some days you have to get out of the way and let the creativity flow.

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HAND

My other retrospection of late has been my relationship with God. This painting is from a pendant, a hamsa, which represents “the Hand of God”.  I like hand images and have a few.

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FEET

Feet are not the easiest subject. I did notice that I hit a wall with each painting, doubting my skill, doubting myself. Mmmm I wonder how often I do that?!

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ARMS

I chose to celebrate the hug, the hugger and the huggie. My life would be so much less without them. My biggest lesson so far has been that I don’t need to compare myself to the other artists. My work (or play) is my own. Please visit, comment and share at #21emBODY on Instagram and Facebook to see the amazing art being produced by participants of this challenge.

DOS TORTAS

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All In The Family

5 Mar

Last week I made a trip NOTB which included a visit to my Atlanta family. Border crossing both ways was smooth sailing, unlike our Thanksgiving trip last year.

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Pam, Jane, Joan, Patricia with myself (bottom left).

My mother’s brother Jack (97) and my Aunt Irene (93) preside at the center of a large family with so many grands and greats, they’ve lost count.

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In celebration of their recent 75th wedding anniversary.

My uncle flew in World War II and if you get him talking about his flights over Japan, he is sharp as a tack. My aunt, not so much. Her dementia, and short-term memory loss however, makes life with my uncle quite bearable.

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Lt. Col. John E. Marder decorated Air Force Pilot.

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The lovely Irene.

The visit with my cousins was quite wonderful with promises to do it again soon. Busy lives and long distances get in the way. They are closet blog followers, so this shoutout goes to Joan, Jane, Patricia and Pam. Cousins are the best.

DOS TORTAS

 

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Turn Here

26 Feb

On our way to Merida for the watercoloring adventure, Rendezvous 2017, our little band of travels got hungry and began looking for a place to stop. It is a long drive and we had set out early from Bacalar. Casually making a turn off the highway in search of a little village eatery, we were quite astounded at what we found.

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The pyramids of Mayapan were not 100 feet off the highway. We had all traveled the route to Merida many times oblivious that this ancient village was hidden behind the trees.

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Mexico is like that. Make a wrong turn or a right turn and step into a whole other world.

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A winged bird-human.

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Posing with a giant carved mask.

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My friend Yolanda made the climb to the top of the largest pyramid. We were so amazed at how many times we’d unknowingly passed these pyramids.

We spent a brief time climbing the pyramids and taking pictures, with promises to return when we had more time. I never tire of learning about the Mayan people who lived in the Yucatán so many years ago.

DOS TORTAS

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First Of All Have Fun

19 Feb

I’ve always considered myself a creative person. After all, I was an “art major” in high school which translated into hanging out with a cool crowd and having fun! In college I quickly learned that my lack of marketable talent meant bleak job prospects. I ended up with a degree in English and a blog. And so it goes.

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What all the fashionable watercolorists standing in a cemetery are wearing.

Upending our lives and retiring in Mexico has given me a chance to recreate myself. Part of that recreation, besides napping in a hammock has been watercoloring. Painting has always been one of those “back burner” dreams for someday when I retire.

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A sweet mother and child park scene. Learning about perspective.

Last week’s blog was a walk down memory lane as I participated in Rendezvous 2015. I haven’t painted much since, and I was excited to travel to Merida, Yucatán for Rendezvous 2017.

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Carolyn, our mistress of ceremonies  is a painting unto herself. The entrance to Hacienda Misné day one.

The gist is, we paint on site at a different location daily for five days. Merida is enchanting with its mercados, parques, churches, a massive cemetery and of course, the nearby beach in Progresso. The hard part was picking a subject. Each evening we critique each other’s work. It is a growth opportunity or a fork in the eye, depending on whether you take it personally.

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Progreso beach scene.

The agreement is to produce five paintings, all matted and ready to display. We had a gallery showing/party on Saturday evening and felt very accomplished and exhausted.

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My favorite of the week, a lovely little market scene.

Our happy little band of participants has varying levels of skill and experience. People always say, “oh, I can’t do that.” NOT! I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter if you’ve never painted. My motto is, not know what I’m doing has never stopped me before. Be fearless, be bold, but most of all, have fun!

DOS TORTAS

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