Tag Archives: bacalar mexico

Accepting Life’s Fire

28 Mar

In 1982, I couldn’t make up my mind which to pursue in my artistic quest, quilting or weaving. Then a job in a local quilt store was posted in the Austin American Statesman and I jumped at it. Do you remember the days of job hunting in the columns and tiny squares of newsprint? The Sunday edition always had the biggest Help Wanted section. One weekend, I hit the jackpot.

Bolts of fabric.

There it was, a part-time job in a hole-in-the-wall establishment that belonged to a mother/daughter team who claimed to be related to Willie Nelson. I don’t know about that, but they were an interesting pair who knew a lot about quilting. I applied with a little sewing experience and a lot of enthusiasm, and got the job.

I made this at the request of my mother. She collected cows. (The striped fabric)

I remember women excitedly coming into the store with ideas and patterns in hand eager to buy fabric and make magic. The shop walls were covered with bolts and more bolts of solids, calico prints, and stripes in all colors. We happily pulled them off the wall and piled colors high to see the affect they would have when cut up and reassembled into a Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Log Cabin, Star of Texas or any of a million patterns old and new.

Lone Star
Notice the state of Texas quilted in the corners and armadillos across the bottom. The quilt was a gift for my mother-in-law who died of Alzheimer’s disease. It was later returned to me.

The owner would peruse our artistic efforts and pull out a special bolt she called the “fire”. A pink, yellow or orange fabric that was inserted into a blue, brown or green quilt. It was opposite on the color wheel. The customers would raise an eyebrow to which she replied, “trust me”.

Log Cabin
Machine pieced and hand quilted. All quilts made by me.
A variation on a Grandmother’s Flower Garden 1984
Hand pieced and hand quilted.

I am doing my best to trust life when it presents me with its “fire”, whether a pandemic, broken leg, or cancelled trip to visit the grandchildren. When the quilts were finished, sure enough, those unexpected bursts of color made them all the more beautiful. I hope I can say that about my life. The challenges teach me lessons I surely wouldn’t have volunteered for. The unexpected provides the fire, and for that I welcome it, to the best of my ability.

DOS TORTAS

A Smile And A Shrug

7 Feb

Last summer, to occupy the time of quarantine, I mailed art-cards to friends and family. I painted post card sized pictures and mailed them in Bacalar. It’s a fun way to connect and let my grandchildren and others know that I’m thinking about them.

Nights in the 50s have been a delight.

This past week I began to hear from card receivers, my brother, niece, a cousin. Frankly I had mailed the cards and forgotten about them.

I knew that mail from Mexico took its own sweet time, but eight months!

Every few weeks, I routinely stop by our tiny post office and check our mailbox #16. This week, I casually mentioned to the post master, who is quite familiar with my mailing habits, that the cards I mailed in May had just arrived in the US. He gave me a Mona Lisa smile and shrugged. I laughed and went on my way. The trouble is, you can’t have it both ways. That shrug can be both maddening and charming, depending on the job you need to complete, or the deadline you must make.

This week I registered myself and my mother-in-law for a Covid vaccine. The over 60 crowd is up right after medical first responders. Hopefully the appointments will arrive sooner than my postcards. Fingers crossed.

DOS TORTAS

Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

31 Jan

Making garlic soup is about as close to comfort food as it gets for me. I have always used it for medicinal purposes as well as a very yummy meal. Just add crusty bread and you have heaven.

Oaxacan sculptor Josefina Aguilera.

I love soup’s versatility and lack of fussiness. There really isn’t a recipe. Sometimes it’s an “empty out the refrigerator” soup before going Sunday shopping. Of course that means you have to have a supply of vegetables needing to be eaten. Carrots are a staple.

Crimini mushrooms in Bacalar, a rare find.

For medicinal purposes, I use an entire bulb of garlic. Anywhere between a clove and a fist-full will work. The soup can be made on the stove, in a slow cooker or, my favorite, the Instant pot. However you choose, the intense aroma will fill your house and possibly the entire neighborhood.

I tend toward Italian herbs, but follow your preference.

The soup base can be made from liquid from having steamed vegetables, canned tomatoes, a purchased vegetable cube, or meat if you prefer. Chicken soup is a time honored cure for what ails you. I prefer a vegetable soup.

I love white beans.

If you don’t mind the heat, add an inch of pealed chopped ginger and/or a piece of fresh pepper. I leave the pepper whole so it can be scooped out and not surprise anyone with a mouthful of fire. Living in Mexico, the shop owners laugh when we buy one Serrano pepper. Compared to the locals, we are wusses when it comes to our heat tolerance.

I don’t guarantee that garlic soup can cure Covid, but it sure couldn’t hurt. There has been quite a bit of research to prove its benefit in fighting colds, lowering blood pressure, improving high cholesterol and a myriad of other health challenges. Have fun and do report back your experience.

DOS TORTAS

Art by me. A Mexican cocina.

The Best Laid Plans

10 Jan

On Monday of this week, the cast came off my broken leg (Taking Staying Home To A Whole New Level). I had been counting the days, hours, minutes… I had it in my head that I would be able to start walking and getting my life back. How silly am I?

My passport (Living On Borrowed Time) had expired in mid-December and I admit to some anxiety about being without a valid passport while living in Mexico, in the time of Covid. My renewal appointment for April was canceled outright due to the shut down. Finally in December I got a date that I had to postpone after breaking my left fibula. It was only a small break, nothing dramatic. So why was I still in pain four weeks later and wanting to rip the cast off with my teeth!

I rescheduled with the US Consulate for January seventh. I would travel by bus to Playa del Carmen, a couple of hours away. I would spend the night and give myself plenty of time to take a taxi and be at the appointment by noon. Sounds like a plan, right? Crutches be damned.

Sometimes my life feels totally upside down.

Only I didn’t count on the level of discomfort I’d still be in when the cast came off. I must have sprained my ankle pretty badly on top of the fracture. It’s still swollen and bruised. No weight bearing for two more weeks. That didn’t keep me from plowing ahead with my plans. Hotel reserved, check. Bus ticket purchased, check.

https://youtu.be/BEyjS69ZEIQ Hotel Maria Bonita

On Wednesday morning my beloved spouse sat me down and informed me in her most loving, sincere tone, that I was out of my mind. I wanted to object, be right, and revolt, but that small voice that I so wanted to ignore, knew she was right.

How many times has this happened?

We’ve arrived at this place in our relationship after twenty-six years where we trust each other. She’s got my back. I also know that my stupid decisions aren’t without consequences to her. I know I’m selfish, but I try not to be insane. So the best laid plans were cancelled, again. The consulate will reschedule and I’ll have more time to heal. The blog I had hoped to write for today was postponed as well. Oh well, it’s not like any of us are going anywhere any time soon.

DOS TORTAS

Creating Our Own Happiness

15 Nov

When the high point of my day was reporting both dogs’ bowel movements after our morning walk, I knew it was time to take action. The daily routine of COVID isolation was getting to me. When an invitation showed in my inbox for a Zoom “Painting Circle” with my friend and teacher, Connie Solera, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Gazing at the far horizon.
Night time musings.
Not Knowing.

I have also subscribed to Audible, audiobooks. Laying in the hammock to read, makes me feel lazy and puts me to sleep. Listening to The Secret Room by Corrie Tenboom or some equally interesting book, both inspires and motivates. I can prep dinner, clean out the refrigerator or give the dog a bath, all things I tend to put off, while feeling accomplished and lifting my spirits.

I have also picked up my crochet hook and am working on a colorful afghan during the evening TV time. I have told my mother-in-law Alice that the blanket is a gift for a friend who is expecting a baby. That way she can ooo and aaah without knowing it is a gift for her.

As Covid quarantine stretches on for months and perhaps years, reading about what the Jews who hid out during WWII experienced keeps me humble. I suppose reading The Diary of a Young Girl could also be added to the audio list. Keep occupied, look out for your neighbors and please, wear a mask.

DOS TORTAS

Voting From Mexico – No Matter What It Takes

23 Aug

I would expect that everyone in the US and world is aware of barriers currently being put in place to reduce the ability to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

Living as an expat in Mexico, we’re used to having to stand on our heads to get our voices heard and counted. There are many steps involved. If we can do it, you certainly can, so please get on it.

Our permanent address in Texas is provided by Escapees.com. They are predominately a service provider to collect mail for RVers who travel and live out of their campers.

It’s handy for us. Escapees holds onto our mail until we are visiting the US or have a guest coming down who has space in their luggage.

We use the address they provide on our driver’s licenses, for banking and for voting. Texas, as a red state does not make voting easy. Surprise, surprise. Here are the steps we go through to vote.

1. Download from vote.org a REQUEST for a ballot and fill it out.

2. That request form is then hand carried to the US by a friend who is traveling. (We had planned to be in the US to vote, but Covid-19 changed that option).They will mail it to our county election office.

3. Polk County will then mail our BALLOT to a friend who will send it to us by FedEx or DHL which delivers to Mexico.

4. Upon receipt, we will fill out the official ballot and FedEx it back to Polk County Election Office.

This week I posted to a local FB page in an effort to get ballots NOTB (North of the Border) to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I was dismayed by the following response.

I do not know this person but presume the Biden-Harris frame on my picture had something to do with it. So much suspicion is sad.

If we can do it, you can do it. Please vote November 3, no matter what it takes.

DOS TORTAS

Fvap.gov

Vote.org

Creative Practice to Get Us Through

9 Aug

This week I shared my most recent painting with my art coach Connie Solera.

Goddess Mother Crone

Her response to me was, “I love what you got going on here too.  I’m so curious to who those figures are. What they mean to you. What story they press on your heart.”

Our Lady is pissed too!

Sometimes the women that show up in my paintings feel as if they are calling to me to bring them out of the ethers.

No idea about these two.

I can smear paint around and see them, hear them, sharing their pain, joy, and confusion, or is it mine? Such times we live in.

One of those paint smearing days.

I started out journaling my quarantine experience in a beautiful handmade journal that I bought on my most recent trip to Oaxaca. It called for paint more than words. Color and line seems to better express emotion than dialogue these days. There just are no words.

Sadness overwhelms.

I have filled the entire journal which makes me long to return to Oaxaca. Using up what we have is a wonderful lesson from staying home. I have dragged out my watercolor pencils, pastels, markers, oil crayons, acrylics, lord I have a lot of art supplies.

Makes me want to dye my hair lol.

I share most of my art on Instagram at dos_tortas if you want to take a look. Also photography is a new creative pursuit that I enjoy. There’s no telling how long before we can safely travel again. For now I will continue to smear paint and see who or what shows up. What is your creative activity? It’s what will get us through.

DOS TORTAS

Unpacking My Racism

12 Jul

I have always said that racism is in the water. Whenever a white person declares indignantly, “I’m not a racist”, I have to laugh. Being raised white almost anywhere on the planet ingrains racism into our being. This week I saw how true that was for myself. I looked in the mirror and had to come down off my high horse. I am no exception.

A Visitor

I was kayaking one beautiful morning this week on Laguna Bacalar where I live and met a young couple sitting with their toddler on a dock near my house. We began talking in Spanish, because after all we’re in Mexico. When I realized that the man was translating our conversation for his wife, I asked them where they were from. The answer was, San Diego (California USA).

Sunrise on Laguna Bacalar

Our conversation continued with them asking me questions about Bacalar, and I then committed what is referred to as a micro aggression. I asked this brown skinned woman again where she was FROM.

Our Dock

I’ve been to San Diego. I was in awe of its perfect climate, big homes, flower filled streets and high cost of living. I guess my racist brain could not imagine this brown-skinned family being from such a white, wealthy place. I discovered that she was Philippina, which is besides the point. She was from San Diego.

We’re All In This Together

Seeing my unconscious assumptions is what unpacking racism looks like. Processing the immediate shame and embarrassment is important, only NOT with a person of color. My black and brown friends do not want to hear about my racism. They already know. My prayer is that seeing my stupidity will help me be less stupid next time. I will however make different mistakes, cuz that’s what it means to be human in this world.

DOS TORTAS

Amen

Living On Borrowed Time

5 Jul

My passport expires mid-December 2020. I was reminded by a friendly airline attendant the last time I traveled. (Seems like ages ago.) With added security measures, one cannot travel with less than six months left on a passport. You do the math, July! And somehow July is already here.

Leaving myself lots of time, I had an appointment for March 18 at the US Consulate in Playa del Carmen, about a two hour drive toward Cancun. New photos, check, directions to the Consulate, check, application filled out, check, prepaid return envelope from FedEx, check, renewal fee, check. I was all ready.

While giving up my passport always makes me nervous, my research told me that it was a relatively painless process and that I would have my new passport fairly quickly.

Then it happened, Covid and the quarantine. An email arrived the night before my appointment. The Consulate would be closed until further notice.

I have called several times for a status update. Still closed. They will issue emergency passports only. I once had my passport stolen, in Greece. I was issued a temporary passport to get me home to the US. That wouldn’t be bad if I absolutely needed to leave Mexico. The trouble is that the US is not renewing passports either. That means that I could be stranded in the States for who knows how long. Not what I want for sure.

Stela helps write my blog.

I will keep calling but with the cases of Covid going up in both Mexico and the US, things are not looking good. What would it mean if I were living in Mexico on an expired passport? I have no idea. As with so many other things in our lives, I’ll say a prayer and take it one day at a time.

DOS TORTAS

Adiós Carla

28 Jun

My friend Carla says adiós to Mexico and leaves for Europe with a one-way ticket tomorrow. She bought a little house on Laguna Bacalar, sight unseen eight years ago. For a long time she was the only person who spoke English in her pueblo.

While the view from her dock is beautiful, the little village she lives in on the east end of the Laguna is riddled with poverty, lack of education and little infrastructure. With Covid, there is more fear and crime.

Breakfast with Carla

We have been having breakfast together once a week for about a year. We talk politics, community drama, aging, and the tilting world we live in. I know she has been unhappy for quite awhile but hoped she could find peace.

Women’s March 2017

Friendship is not easy to come by among the expats in Bacalar. Actually anywhere. I will miss her.

DOS TORTAS

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