Could You Lend A Hand?

16 Oct

I think we are not good at asking for help. Is it women? Men? US’ers or everyone? It is certainly not just me. In a recent conversation with my daughter, she mentioned an App for organizing meals for anyone who needs help. Her aunt and uncle were recently in a car accident, and a friend stepped up to organize meal delivery. MEAL TRAIN is quite popular, especially for moms with new babies. What a fabulous idea!

What struck me right between the eyes is that it never occurred to me to ask for help. My partner is scheduled for major surgery in less than two weeks and I am the chief cook and bottle washer. While I would love someone to step in and organize the whole thing for me, it hadn’t occurred to me until this minute that I could even ask someone to do that!

This week the sunrises were amazing in Bacalar.

I remember when my now 38 year old son was born. Two friends brought food for which I was supremely grateful. We visited for awhile as I sat on the couch nursing my newborn. After some time they made moves to leave, putting on their coats and standing at the front door. Before exiting one woman casually said, “is there anything else you need?” The dishes piled in the sink flashed before my eyes and I took a deep breath. “Could you do the dishes?” They looked at each other, took off their coats and a few minutes later, the kitchen was spotless. It was a tiny kitchen and they had four hands. It meant so much to me, and all I had to do was ask.

Perfect swimming days.

It has been eight years since we left Austin to retire to Mexico, yet I had no trouble listing twenty people who would probably be quite willing to lend a hand. I need to look into the whole thing and see how it works. One thing for certain is that I can use the help and if I don’t ask, I certainly won’t get it.

DOS TORTAS

It Pays To Have A Daughter

9 Oct

I read recently that having a daughter adds years to your life. Having one who is a social worker by trade is undoubtedly another bonus.

2015

While visiting California this summer, my eldest initiated the uncomfortable conversation, “Mom, what do you want at the end of your life?”. I, who am rarely at a loss for words didn’t have an answer. I guess somehow I imagined living into old age with my faculties in tact and one day just not waking up? Ha, a fantasy at best, although I imagine it could happen. Truth be told, I hadn’t imagined anything.

Reading stories.

My daughter used to work in an emergency room where families brought in their elders after a fall, stroke or other catastrophic event. When asked how they and their loved one would like to proceed, she was met with blank stares. We are all woefully unprepared. There are so many things our society ignores. We will all be there someday. Best get on it. We need to have a plan, at least a conversation.

This book should be required reading by all humans.

I have on occasion suggested books on Dos Tortas. One that addresses this sticky topic and should be required reading for everyone is, BEING MORTAL by Atul Gawande. Whether you need a framework to talk to a parent, family member or significant other, this is it. Do it now.

DOS TORTAS

My Life Goes Better With Yoga

2 Oct

I was first introduced to yoga about 1972. I was studying at The University of The America’s in Cholula, Mexico where there was a young teacher who did asanas (yoga postures) out on the commons. He piqued my curiosity and I joined his weekly class.

1973 That’s me on the right celebrating my 21st birthday in Mexico.

Over the years, yoga has come in and out of my life. Before we left Austin for the wilds of Southern Mexico, I paid $99 a month and walked daily to the Yoga Yoga Studio for unlimited classes.

Downward Facing Dog variation with bone. Stela supervises.

Having scoliosis, the bones in my spine have realigned themselves and moved internal organs to places they wouldn’t ordinarily be. I am blessed to have been able to carry and birth three babies and live most of my life pain free. I believe that yoga has helped.

Stela waits for class to start.

I have lately returned to morning yoga practice. My body feels better for it. I’ve long given up having to prove anything. While structured class with a teacher would challenge and improve my flexibility, the times we live in don’t lend themselves to group practice. Online classes require watching a small screen and interferes with my peace. Since I am not a newbie I have a routine that works for me.

Stela masters child’s pose.

Yoga keeps my body flexible, relaxed and focused. It is something that makes a difference in my day to day life. I can see and feel the benefits which is motivation enough.

OMmmmmm. *dog yoga pictures taken by our lovely house sitter Lei Chen

Yoga is not for everyone but if you are so inclined I recommend it as a gift to your body and soul that will last a lifetime.

DOS TORTAS

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

26 Sep

This week we are settled back in Texas waiting for a medical appointment. While sitting out on our friends’ deck this morning with a cup of coffee in hand, I was enjoying the coolness before the Texas heat kicked in later in the day. A hummingbird flew across my line of sight and popped me out of an early morning haze. Staying in the present moment is sometimes illusive, at least it was this particular day. Until the hummingbird that is. Who doesn’t love those tiny blurrs of beauty.

My lovely wife hands me a cup of coffee every morning.

I began to observe and appreciate the sky, trees and general beauty of the Texas hills. I have so much gratitude for our friends who opened their lovely home to us.

Other things that contribute to my joy began to flow through my foggy brain.

Water in all its forms, rain, swimming, showers, and the ocean. Dogs, squirrel antics, birds, and roses with beguiling fragrance. The sky in Bacalar and Texas, sunrises, and sunsets. Then there are vistas, mountaintop, ocean, and even lovely backyards.

Looking for the sunny side of life.
Laguna Bacalar, Mexico

Some days are harder than others but I am always reminded by the evening news, it could be so much worse. I hope you enjoy your day and count your blessings along the way. I try to choose peace. We are still optimistic of seeing the surgeon before leaving Thursday for Mexico. My fingers are crossed so much I think they’re stuck.

DOS TORTAS

Doing The Covid Two-Step

19 Sep

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the two-step is a dance frequently performed at a country western bar in boots and cowboy hat. Back in the day, it’s where I met my Sweetie, twenty-seven years ago this week. No one would have put money on us, yet here we are.

Gay bars in the 90s.

These days, the only dance we’re doing is to avoid Covid infection while traveling in the U.S. One, two cha cha cha.

Pharmacy shelves are empty.

Rapid home tests are as elusive as the proverbial needle in a haystack. I believe folks have boxes at home next to stockpiled toilet paper. My daughter orders rapid tests online at 4am when supplies come in and sell out quickly.

Last week we got news that my former sister-in-law succumbed to conspiracy theories and vaccine avoidance. There are so many sad stories of needless death, it’s difficult to turn on the news. RIP Val.

Fingers crossed that we get to talk to the surgeon this week and schedule Lisa’s spinal fusion. It’s been another one of those dances, slow, slow, quick, quick.

At least I can share photos of our pups who are doing well at home in Bacalar under the care of our house sitters. Enjoy.

Luna enjoying a hot stone bath.
Stela harassing my MILs cat.

DOS TORTAS

Get Vaccinated

The Broken Cookie

12 Sep

When my kids were little, it was not uncommon for them to have a meltdown at the oddest times. After a fun day at the waterpark, some seemingly inconsequential thing would trigger a full blown scream-fest on the way home in the car. We called it the broken cookie syndrome.

One of my favorite pictures of our kids.

It makes no sense to try and talk a child out of a tantrum. A broken cookie tastes the same as a whole one. But after a day of trying to hold it all together, the slightest infraction ie the broken cookie and the wheels fall off.

That’s what happened to me today. We have been four days of caring for our three year old twin granddaughters. We sang songs, read stories, did yoga, drew pictures, and walked to the park, all the things you do with young ones to pass the day. Let’s not forget naps, baths, and bandaids on skinned knees.

Our bundles of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a volunteer gig to help out their parents. Except, the girls were supposed to be in school all day and our job was to transport to and from, feed them dinner and put them to bed. Easy peasy right? Runny noses from allergies made it impossible to go to school in the time of Covid. We thought they would get better as the week progressed but they never did.

Wonderful artwork by the girls in my journal.

Today I had my own broken cookie. I made a broccoli slaw which was a first for me. Raw broccoli, carrots and a peanut sauce. The slaw was my own version of a Pinterest recipe, substituting what I had on hand. Yummy. It was a bit of work and I was excited for dinner.

Lisa came to ask what she could do support dinner prep and I suggested she slice up some tomatoes and cucumbers for the burgers. She misunderstood and added them to my slaw.

I have NO idea why it upset me so badly. I wasn’t mad at her. But I found myself sitting in the bedroom senselessly boohooing. Dear God what is wrong with me? I blame it all on a broken cookie . The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. BTW the slaw was still delish.

DOS TORTAS

Broccoli Salad (This recipe lends itself to many options, adding pineapple or apple is nice too)

4 well packed cups small broccoli pieces, stems removed (~2 small-medium heads of broccoli) you can grate the inner stems too.

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup shredded carrot

½ cup dried cranberries

DRESSING:

½ cup plain nondairy yogurt

¼ cup vegan mayo

3 tbsp tahini (or peanut butter)

1 ½ tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp white miso (optional)

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

¾ tsp fine grain kosher salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

Cheesy Roasted Sunflower Seeds

½ cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (or peanuts)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

¼ tsp salt

Just Take The Next Step

5 Sep

We have been NOB (north of the Mexico/US border) for almost six weeks. It has been a full on vaca which includes dodging Covid, eating favorite foods and hanging with the grands.

Up very early for a flight out of Austin.

There’s nothing terribly profound to share. We’ve been enjoying the amazing produce that abounds in Northern California. Figs are in season and are able to be picked off a neighbor’s tree. Heavenly.

One of my favorite fruits.

Temps are a bit lower than Lisa likes, but I am quite content. I just didn’t bring enough warm clothes. Living in the tropics, our wardrobe is limited in that department.

The local farmers market is always a treat.
My art journaling continues. Produce inspires.
Stela has put yoga on hold. Rainy cool weather in Bacalar has her ready to snuggle.

It is such a strange time we’re living in. Lisa’s mom got very sick with the flu. Thank God she didn’t have Covid but there was certainly a lot of anxiety until test results came back. Hang in there. Somehow we’ll make it through.

DOS TORTAS

On To Another Adventure

29 Aug

Our time in Austin, Texas has been renewing for our spirit and relationship. Lisa and I haven’t spent time alone in several years. Do you believe it?! Between Covid, her mother, and the dogs, well, it’s probably a lot like your life.

Morning on the Sunset Valley Greenbelt.
One must be up early to beat the Texas heat.
I love the majestic trees of Central Texas.

With the help of family, friends and Uber, we had a comfortable place to stay and transportation. Our house sitters have taken care of hearth and home and the dogs.

Back in Bacalar, Stela has taken up yoga. Resting pensive pose.

We are very grateful as we move on to the next part of our adventure, visiting California.

Bald Cypress

I miss the trees when we are in Mexico. Then again, Austin doesn’t have Laguna Bacalar.

Thank you sitters Dino and Lei for the updates and photos.

Time to pack.

DOS TORTAS

Painted on the overpass along Ladybird Lake hike and bike trail.

Beholding The Art

22 Aug

Guest blog by Father Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

When we look at art, we are usually quick to judge its value according to our own preferences based on style, color, size, location, and even country of origin! However, there is another invitation—one that goes beyond our likes and dislikes—and that is to simply “behold” it. Many of the apparitions in the Bible begin with “behold”—usually uttered as a command, an invitation, or perhaps a call to a different style of attention. In a sense, it is a giveaway that, in fact, we can and need to “switch gears” once in a while to be ready to perceive what is about to come at us…

From the house where we’re staying in Austin.
Our son.

Once we decide to behold, we are available for awe and wonder, to be present to what is, without the filter of our preferences or the false ledger of judging things as important or not important. A much broader, much deeper, and much wider field of perception opens up, becoming an alternative way of knowing and enjoying. The soul sees soul everywhere else too: “deep calls unto deep,” as the psalmist says (42:8). Center knows center, and this is called “love.”

I invite you to “behold” something today. In my experience, you will seldom be disappointed. Find a bit of ordinary beauty—a print, a sculpture, a photograph—in your home, online, or at a museum—and gaze at it until you see it as one instance of a manifestation of the eternal creativity of God. Allow your “beholding” to move the work of art beyond its mere “relative truth” and to reveal its inherent dignity, as it is, without your interference or your labels. It becomes an epiphany and the walls of your world begin to expand.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017), 99–101.

The yard at a friend’s house.

I have written of the inspiration I receive from Father Richard Rohr. (Finding Inspiration). His daily posts this week are about appreciating art in our daily lives. I have been keeping an art journal during this trip to the US. It’s been fun and a different way to collect memories.

My friend Roberta.

It’s so easy to be critical of my art but I’m not going to go there. I’m enjoying a different way to chronicle my visit and invite Spirit into my life.

DOS TORTAS

Cloudburst

14 Aug

Whenever I come across something that gives me a good belly laugh, I have to share it with my partner. But when it’s a fall off the couch, tears and snot guffaw-fest, it has to go on the Dos Tortas blog.

This week we watched Cloudburst with Olympia Dukakis on Netflix. I began by not paying much attention but was soon completely riveted. I’ll surely go back and watch it again. The zingers were flying fast and furious and absolutely hilarious.

https://www.imdb.com/video/vi2691547161

The fact that this movie came out in 2002, before lesbians could legally marry in the US, means that I am waaaay behind the times in my movie watching. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Thirty-one years together.

DOS TORTAS

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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