First Of All Have Fun

19 Feb img_5860

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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Sometimes the Hardest Things Are the Most Wonderful

11 Feb

Who knew a week of watercolor painting could be so exhausting? Was it fun? Hell yes! Did I learn a lot? Most definitely. But probably the biggest gift was a chance to immerse myself in a group of w…

Source: Sometimes the Hardest Things Are the Most Wonderful

A Story Like The Wind

5 Feb img_5669

When our children were young, I read them bedtime stories. Little Women, The Indian in the Cupboard. I love to read aloud. Maybe it’s because my dad did too. He read the Sunday comics with a different voice for each character. He should have been a voiceover actor.

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My dad like to read, travel and he liked parades.

For twenty-three years we have continued with the bedtime reading ritual. I read aloud, Lisa listens. I wish I had kept track of all the books we’ve read.

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The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Series, the Harry Potter books, the seven Chronicles of Narnia, the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini (I highly recommend them although we’ve never read the fourth book.) and two of my favorites, A Story Like the Wind and it’s sequel, A Far Off Place by Laurens Van Der Post to name a few.

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If I had to pick my favorite book of all time, it would be The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. I think I’ve personally read it three times. And many, many more in twenty-three years. Why did I not write them down? I don’t think I imagined I’d be reading for so long.

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Presently we’re reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

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Not all books lend themselves to being read aloud. Choosing from the adolescent section is a good bet. We’ve slogged through many books that should have been retired early on. We’ve also shied away from anything that might prevent pleasant dreams.

This week I will be in Merida for Art Rendezvous, so no reading before bed. We’ve tried reading over the phone, but it’s not the same.

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So you might try reading someone a bedtime story, a child, elderly person or your spouse. It is the absolutely sweetest experience. And who knows, it could create a lifelong habit.

DOS TORTAS 

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Relax and Hug A Tree

29 Jan img_5637

The commitment of a weekly blog brings on a certain amount of pressure. While there’s no one with a gun to my head, I feel an internal pull to produce. It’s also been a habit I’ve established for over four years. So here goes…

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The pyramids of Dzibanch selfie with US visitor Harper, Lisa and her mom Alice and me.

Nope, I’ve got nothing this week. I’ve been happy and the weather’s been beautiful. Absolutely nothing interesting bubbled up this week in my middle-of-the-night musings, what do I blog about?

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Giant palms. Note the human in bottom right corner. 

Given the state of the U.S., it’s almost embarrassing to be filled with joy and gratitude for each day as it presents itself.

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Majesty growing on a pyramid.

So I’ve decided to share the recent photos of amazing trees we saw while visiting local Mayan ruins with our friend and visitor, Harper. I admit it was her astute eye that grabbed my interest.

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Trees have stories to tell if we take time to listen. These certainly are beautiful. I love the way their roots adapt to barriers. No fuss, just go around and in some cases, go through.

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So if you’re feeling afraid, hopeless or disconnected, or happy and grateful, go hug a tree. They ask nothing of us, except maybe that we don’t destroy the planet.

DOS TORTAS

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There’s Nothing We Can Do? I Don’t Think So

22 Jan img_5587

The book Sisterhood Is Powerful was my first exposure to feminism. I don’t remember much about the book other than it changed my entire perspective on life. My initial response was anger and then a sigh of relief as the world began to make sense. I wasn’t crazy.

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On inauguration day I thought I could skate through pretending it wasn’t happening. Living in Mexico, it is way easier to ignore a lot of the craziness going on in the US. I didn’t take into consideration that the whole world is watching, literally. At my doctor’s appointment on Friday, the waiting room television was tuned to live coverage of the events in Washington. It was like viewing a car accident, horrifying, yet I was unable to look away. The rest of the day was downhill from there.

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During the week I had stumbled across a website listing women’s marches scheduled around the world. I was shocked and thrilled to find a walk planned for Saturday morning in Chetumal, a thirty minute drive from our house.

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It always starts with a small group of likeminded souls.

I scrambled to get the word out. I badly wanted to feel a part of the the US activities. IMO January 21 turned into a giant “yagya”, a sacred and auspicious ceremony being performed by massive numbers of people all over the planet. It was surely a tipping point. Bacalar had a showing of six women out of twelve! Woohoo.

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Our youngest participant.

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Getting to know each other over a post walk breakfast.

I don’t see Bacalar as a seat of resistance but I will do what I can to support and assist in any way possible. The most important thing that I saw the march accomplish was to dispel fear. When we are not afraid, we can do anything. Sisterhood really is powerful.

DOS TORTAS

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Can You “Plan” Adventure? But Of Course

15 Jan img_3627

We have been in our little house along the coast of beautiful Laguna Bacalar in the tropics of Southern Mexico for a little more than a year. The walls have been settling around us. Our gardens are bursting with color from a long rainy season. Life is good.

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Waking every morning to an amazing sunrise.

We left our life in Austin, Texas and made this extraordinary move in 2013 with certain pre-conceived ideas that were completely subconscious. Traveling and living in a foreign country is a great way to hold up a mirror to one’s assumptions. Here are some things that surprised us about our new life.

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Orchid like flowers blooming in the jungle. 

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A stone cross found in Valladolid, Yucatán. 

It’s not as easy to take off for the weekend and travel as we had imagined.

This may be a no-brainer for you but dogs are a lot of work. When we adopted Luna, our first dog ever, she was a throw away street puppy. We didn’t really think through all the ways she would impact our lives. Everyone told us, you HAVE to have a dog. Of course we adore her, but like every other relationship, there are inconveniences.

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A sad little puppy who needed a home.

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Lisa and Luna enjoying tour of the lake.

Leaving our house unattended for more than a day or two is not a good idea. There is crime of opportunity, much like in the US or anywhere else in the world. An empty house is a big opportunity. Since we have chosen not to live with bars on the windows, having a house sitter is the way to go. Finding the right someone takes time. Travel is less spontaneous than we had hoped. Another inconvenience.

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The front of the house.

We have also turned into the proverbial home bodies. The view from the porch is to die for. We can swim and kayak in our back “yard”. The food (my cooking) is the best and our bed is supremely comfy.

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So the “Adventures” of Dos Tortas has been looking more like the laid-back, staid life of Dos Tortas. We are not complaining.

As of today, I am happy to report there are adventures in the planning. Can you “plan” adventures? Stay tuned. We’ll try to step it up a bit.

DOS TORTAS

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My Fixation On Guadalupe

8 Jan img_5538

Apparently I have at least one image of The Virgin of Guadalupe in every room in the house. I did not do it intentionally. As a matter of fact, I did not even realize how much she graced our home until our recent guest pointed it out. How on earth did that happen?!

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A gift from my sister-in-law, at home in the living room in her own niche.

A bit of herstory, I was raised Catholic and about age 16 turned my back on it all and refused to even go to church. My mother was crushed.

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An original  watercolor by my friend Cat hangs in my studio.

For most of the years that followed, I refused to think much about religion. In the 80’s I developed an interest in women’s spirituality. Books such as The Mists of Avalon, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, The Spiral Dance, charged women with seeking the holy feminine. Goddesses from around the globe, Brigid (Celtic), Artemis (Greek), Diana (Roman), Kali (Hindu) and many more replaced the dominant concept of God the Father. I loved the idea of God the Mother and irreverent as I am, resonated supremely with Guadalupe and her vulvar shape.

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Stock photo.

Slowly and over time, my life filled with Guadalupes.

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Pantry wall hanging by Alison Schockner, San Antonio fiber artist and dear friend.

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Every house needs at least one refrigerator magnet.

 

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Bathroom window.

One of the my most cherished spaces is the groto that greets visitors at the top of our stairs. It was built by our contractor David Gowen-Smith. My mother gave me the statue.

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If you think that I have become a bit over the top loca, you could be right. Before you decide, watch the Netflix documentary “Marias-Faith In Womanhood”. It is difficult to describe the connection I have with Guadalupe, but I am clearly not alone.

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This large wooden relief from Yucatán has a prominent place on our patio.

As I seek more spirituality in my life, consciously or unconsciously, Guadalupe plays an important role, front and center. My mother would be so pleased.

DOS TORTAS

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Feliz Año Nuevo Torta Style

1 Jan img_5458

We weren’t big celebrators of Christmas and New Year’s before we immigrated to Mexico. Holiday gatherings had included fewer gifts, less decorations and more food, friends, and family. In fact, Mexico was a needed escape from thle frenzy, traffic and non-stop Christmas music. Can I get an amen?!

We spent today, New Year’s Day with friends on a great boat ride. We had so much fun that we didn’t take many pictures. Muchas gracias to our amiga Harper for sharing hers.

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Friends Barbara and Jean who wanted a boat ride.

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Lisa wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

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Luna gets in on the fun.

Wishing you all peace in 2017 from our house to yours. Remember to have fun and learn stuff. DOS TORTAS

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Encounter Of The Amazing Kind

25 Dec img_5427

When moving to Bacalar, Mexico in 2013, our heads were filled with pyramids, mercados, artesanías, cenotes (crystalline natural wells) and colonial churches. We forgot that sometimes the best part of travel is the people you meet along the way.

Last week during our birthday getaway to the small Costa Maya town of Puerto Morelos (Mexican Expat Life) we were reminded of that other, wonderful aspect of living in Mexico.

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As we enjoyed our rooftop birthday meal before heading out to a special treat, Cirque du Soleil, we were lovingly attended to by the manager of the restaurant La Sirena. As Lisa and I finished dinner and were hurrying to catch our taxi, we made the most amazing discovery.

Last year Lisa had a visit from her long lost friend, Michelle. Off they went to Valladolid to celebrate Michelle’s birthday and experience a taste of Mexico. Along the way, they met a bedraggled traveler who volunteered to carry their luggage from the bus to the hotel. A lovely lunch followed, their treat, as this young man had clearly not had a square meal in awhile.

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Ian, from Ireland, with his lovely brogue had asked at the time how he could repay their kindness. Lisa told him to pay it forward. There is always someone who needs help now and then.

Imagine our delight in meeting up again with Ian in Puerto Morelos. Catching up the next day, we discovered “the rest of the story”. He had met the girl of his dreams, married and now has a six-month old daughter, who’s pictures he lovingly shared. He was as thrilled to connect again with Lisa, as she was with him. Isn’t life a hoot? Happy holidays to all from…

DOS TORTAS

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Mexican Expat Life

18 Dec img_5403

Sometimes adventure is not WHAT you visit, pyramids, churches, mercados, etc. but WHO you meet along the way. Join the TORTAS as we venture out from our home in Bacalar along the Costa Maya to explore parts unknown (at least to us).

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To celebrate a Torta birthday this week, we visited the pueblo of Puerto Morelos nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Little did we know that this cozy fishing village is an exploding tourist town and expatriate destination.

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Guatemalan boys walking the beach looking for tourist pesos.

Something lacking in the far reaches of southern Mexico that we call home, is an English language bookstore. What a surprise to find Alma Libre Bookstore. 

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Rob and Joanne Birce

Not only are Rob and Joanne long time residents of this sleepy little town, Rob went to school with our friend and fellow Bacalar resident, Mitch! We were immediately family and Joanne told us all the best places to eat in Puerto Morelos.

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Visit their website for all things Puerto Morelos.

At Joanne’s recommendation we dined at La Sirena and met the owner Anthony Chalas from my home state of New Jersey. Greek food in Mexico, yum!

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Great artwork for a photo op.

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Caribbean sea turtle mural.

On our two day tour of Puerto Morelos, we got to visit the local mercado and meet Ann Trépanier, French Canadian and artist extraordinaire.

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Making art from recycled plastic. My kinda gal!

Ann makes “fabric” from heating together layered plastic bags. She is passionate about the environment and the changes she sees in her precious little town due to unregulated tourism.

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I wish I’d bought all her bags. Contact her at welovepuertomorelos@yahoo.com

There was one more astonishing encounter with a restaurant manager, but that is a story for another day. Travel in Mexico is full of opportunities. Do venture out of the all-inclusive hotel compounds. Not only will you meet lovely Mexican people and fellow fearless travelers but expats from around the world who live, love and fight to protect Mexico’s resources. Do tell them “hello” from

DOS TORTAS

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