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I Don’t Think so, Therefore, I’m Probably Not
Oct 28th, 2010 by Les

European toilet paper is made from the same material that Americans use for roofing, which explains why Europeans remain standing throughout soccer matches.”  Dave Barry, American Humorist/Writer

Taken from Mechanical Engineering Magazine: “In December of 1998, a British mathematician, Sir Roger Penrose, discovered a familiar design on the toilet paper rolls that his wife brought home from the market.  Ironically, the design was his copyrighted, five-fold, symmetrical polygon pattern.  Penrose immediately took action, and filed a lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark for breach of copyright.

Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge.  Apparently, I only gargled.  For every day and in every way I am at one point or another amazed at what life has to offer.  The facts I’ve learned through the course of my life, although interesting are oft times irrelevant here.  Embrace the Mexican culture.  Love the people.  Learn the language.  Try not to assume simply ask when befuddled. These have become my mantra replacing the little choo choo who repeated “I think I can, I think I can” which has sufficed through most of my life.

For instance, I’ve known people who hire other people to shop for them.  Some have lives too busy to squeeze in an occasional shop.  Others have neither the patience nor fortitude it often takes to go to one of those mega-stores, shelves filled to the warehouse ceilings with goods offered in quantities gargantuan in nature.

Shopping in our little village in Mexico can be an adventure of its own.  Those familiar with this blog have heard about our various shopping excursions – both good and questionable.

I find it immensely (let’s not forget I am easily entertained) amusing that I often find the obscure easy to spot, while the completely apparent could bite me in the butt with barely a tremor of recognition.

Something I haven’t mentioned and I find delightfully absurd in a village bounteous with abarrotes on every corner and, often, in mid-block is how frequently people come to our door with items for sale.  No, they are not the “Fuller Brush Man” paraphernalia.  For instance, the other day our doorbell rang, I bounded down our stairs, threw open the door and was greeted by an entire family – mom and children – selling various vegetables.  They come often and I usually buy veggies from them as, quite frankly, the veggies are to die for.  I also love to have small change for each tiny little hand as well as a sucker or other sweet to share with the ninos.

I’ve been greeted by a young woman selling two-for-one toothbrushes and people collecting for this or that charity.  A few weeks ago David and I were returning from the Wednesday market and found several people on our block selling toilet paper.  It wasn’t European toilet paper.  This stuff was packaged neatly and appeared soft yet crumbly in nature – trust me when I say both are important items.  Now I look for traveling toilet paper sales people whenever we are “tripping the cobblestones fantastic” to purchase a healthy supply.  I don’t know about you, but this is something new for me – not TP – the whole mercantile to the door thing.

The other day the doorbell rang, not stopping to think about what I was wearing – suffice it to say it was a “stay at home outfit”- I hurtled myself down the steps and threw open our door.  The person on the other side of the door jumped back with an expression something like – whatever look you were going for, you missed – gulped loudly and prepared to run.  That’s when I realized my minimal Spanish had paid off and I shouted: “lo siento, soy un idiota”.  Laughter ensued and an awkward moment was bridged.

I have a friend who likes to say: “Unexpected happenings are dancing lessons from God”.  I think she quoted this often when she was with me because, for some mystical reason the unexpected was part and parcel of our friendship.

I believe we can only understand Mexico, its people and its culture when we allow the unexpected to happen.  I leave you with a couple of quotes I received recently from some of our blog readers:

As far as being open to Mexico goes: “You can learn things in your life at any time, if you are willing to be a beginner.  If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up for you.”  A Barbara Sher quote received from Rebecca.

I leave you with the following quote to ponder.  It is a Johanna Gustafsson Frust quote received from Steve: “A philosopher is a person who searches in a pitch-black room for a pitch-black cat that isn’t there.  A theologian is a person who finds that cat.”

Viva Mexico!

These are random photographs David has taken during our travels both in our village and Guadalajara.  Alas, we were unable to capture a photo of our traveling TP sales people.

A bird in the backyard.

A bird in the backyard.

At rest on the grass by the pool.

At rest on the grass by the pool.

A rose in our yard.

A rose in our yard.

One of my favorites from Guadalajara.

One of my favorites from Guadalajara.

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.

Life is Nothing Like the Brochure
Oct 23rd, 2010 by Les

“To me photography is the art of observation.  Its about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”  Elliott Erwitt

“They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze.  They should photograph me through linoleum.”  Tallulah Bankhead

“The modern pantheist not only sees the god in everything, he takes photographs of it.” D. H. Lawrence

I have something to say but I don’t know what.  Has that ever happened to you?  There it is, I’ve said it, and I have worked myself up into a frenzy of lethargy over it.  David and I began our morning with a conversation about the comment made quite recently: “The lady is a pinhead”.  It was a rousing discussion which ended in the realization both of us felt the comment had merit though, at the very least, I was surprised I found myself agreeing with the quotient (before anyone remarks, I know it is not the correct usage of quotient…it just fit so well in the sentence!). 

I know absolutely nothing about art.  Quite frankly, you couldn’t even begin to fill a thimble with what I think I know.  I often feel, when watching David barreling about town with his camera in tow, his ability to capture the soul of a moment comes first from his heart, travels to his eyes and the camera in concert with his talent captures that beauty.  I, on the other hand, have thought quite seriously about donating my body to science when I die….science fiction that is.

This is, for all intent and purposes, an artist colony or, at the very least an artist’s haven…if you will.  There is so much to see, experience, revel and take part in and, yes, capture be it on David’s digital Nikons, a painter’s canvas, a jewelry makers creative genius, etc…. here in Mexico it is, at times, most overwhelming.  Now that we’ve both somewhat mastered the ability to keep our feet firmly planted on terra firma – even if it is covered with cobblestones – each day offers up a myriad of opportunities to view our lives through the eye of the camera hung around David’s neck.

The first, of the 2010-2011 seasons, Ajijic Artist’s Society art show took place this past weekend.  As the artists came together on the little Ajijic town square, you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm mounting.  Over the months of June, July, August and September (rainy season here) I would venture to guess all of the artists, in their different art forms, explored new techniques to present at this opening show.

Some had travelled and captured in various forms the sights, sounds and experiences they enjoyed in the new places they visited.  Some came up with not only new pieces of art but ways in which they could display them to their best advantage.  Cool morning light gave way to warm, gentle breezes coming off of Lake Chapala, vendors selling fresh fruit, local culinary treats, ice cream and candy began to set up their tempting treats everywhere.

Laughter was the voice of the day.  Hola could be heard over and over again as people reconnected and shared their experiences of the past months or made new friends of the many who were enjoying the show.

One of the things I like most about these shows on the town square is you get to “people watch”.  I can sit contentedly observing the, at times, chaotic mixture of native cultures blending graciously with some of the gringo habits assimilating themselves into the excitement of the day. Church bells ring, families walk together into the square children running hanging onto each other, arms linked and laughter blending with music and merriment.

As I sit near the little area David and I have set up to display his art work, it comes to me, gently nudging me like a kitten butting its head against your arm – this is small town USA with a Mexican flare.  Though you could not mistake this for anything but a vibrant Mexican village it does have some of the markers of a small town square.  In particular, it is a place where you will see entire families – all ages represented.  It conjures up a vision of a gazebo festooned with lights and flags, a band playing lazy whimsical tunes as families spread picnic blankets on the grass and children chase their pets, play tag, eat ice cream and revel in the joy of being a child.

Mexico is a contrasting country.  There is much going on here and there are many things that could be improved upon, as in any country.  For one day, a sunny Sunday in mid-October – all that needs to be done is forgotten while all that can be done, enjoyed and cherished can be embraced and loved with sheer abandon. 

David has opened up, for me at least, a new world.  His ability to notice things, quite ordinary things, taking place around him and to capture the heart, light, joy and abandon of the moment is a gift and he has helped me to see and cherish it.  Mexico is full of these moments.  Life is not like the brochure.  Isn’t it grand!!  Viva Mexico!

David at the art show on the square with some of his work.

David at the art show on the square with some of his work.

More of David's art work.

More of David's art work.

Yet another view.

Yet another view.

I thought I'd leave you with a few shots of the mountains.  This is one of the many spectacular sunsets as seen from our mirador.

I thought I'd leave you with a few shots of the mountains. This is one of the many spectacular sunsets as seen from our mirador.

These are cloudes floating over the mountains as seen on one of our walks into the village proper.

These are cloudes floating over the mountains as seen on one of our walks into the village proper.

Another shot taken in the morning of the cloudes shrouding the mountain tops.

Another shot taken in the morning of the cloudes shrouding the mountain tops.

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.

Talk to the Hand
Oct 10th, 2010 by Les

“What is the difference between exploring and being lost?”  Dan Eldon, English Photojournalist

(I think not knowing where you are going but going there with full intention, “hell bent for election”, so to speak, is the difference.)

“This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.  And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.  And this I must fight against: any idea religious, or government which limits or destroys the individual.”  John Steinbeck, US Writer

Did you ever find yourself having a conversation with yourself…out loud?  Sort of like talk to the hand, except the palm you are looking at is yours?  Since moving to Mexico I find myself having rather, dare I say it, animated conversation with myself.  It has not, as far as I can tell, escalated to arguing with myself at this point, or launching into a discussion in a public place.  I see it in the not-to-distant future if I continue on the cobblestone path I am currently hurtling down.

I decided to include a gallery of David’s latest pictures of all things Mexican in this post.  As I’ve said many, many times we are always walking somewhere.  What’s really fun about that is we don’t even consider taking the car, much, anymore.  As a trained psychologist I know behaviors of any kind are subject to change and certainly subject to the eye of the beholder.  Anyone knows behavior can change if given a “New York Minute”…so to speak.

I think David and I walk more since arriving in Mexico because we have become more comfortable walking here.  One of the things, at least for me, I enjoy about David is he loves to walk.  Another is he loves to explore new places, as I do.  However, he has more of the Mexican born explorer Captain Juan Bautista de Anza in him then I do.

I use, for example, making our first foray up the mountain side of the carretera.  As we traveled ever upward the cobblestone streets became more narrow.  David would have continued on his merry way oblivious to what I thought looked like private drives.  I, on the other hand, did not want to journey further.  I do have a smidge of, lets say, Carrie Adell Strahorn (the first white woman to tour the entire Yellowstone Park – American Indians having done it a long time before her adventure) within.  Carrie simply doesn’t channel herself through me that often.  It simply is restrained by my too many “have nots”, “could nots” and “should nots” taking possession of my senses at various moments of opportunity.

Many of our adventures in Mexico have been born of diffident decibel levels or, more accurately, referred to as “selective hearing processes”.  Picture this: I’m traipsing behind him as he strides (he’s 6’5” and I’m 5’4” to help you compare his strides to mine) confidently into, oh let’s say a narrow passage.  I look at it and go “no way”.  It looks dark at the end of that tunnel.  There could be animals at the end of the tunnel.  There could be no way out at the end of that tunnel and no where to turn around.  All of this is going on in the fraction of a second it takes me to realize he’s off on yet another adventure.  He is now barreling ahead as I run to catch up spouting a myriad of uncertainties that have assaulted my brain and, apparently, not his.

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean.  Good friends of ours are heading toward Ajijic later this week.  David writes: remember the San Luis Potosi detour. It will take you around the city and also around the mountain passes. It’s just before the city and the sign says ‘detour’ in Spanish. I was looking for it, but didn’t recognize the Spanish word until we were past it. If you like mountain driving, keep on the main highway. Once you get past SLP and enter the mountains, the drive is a real ‘thrill’.

I felt compelled to write them the following interpretation of what David had written: By “real thrill” he means I was driving and the mountain roads scared…quite honestly….the crap out of me.  Would not want to do it again.  Just wanted to clarify David’s idea of “real thrill” and my idea of “real thrill”!  Let me be perfectly clear on this… very high mountains,  roads that would accommodate 2 cars going opposite directions…not much more….we are not tucked into the mountain side of the road…we are on the drop-off side.

Mexico has afforded us an opportunity to be surprised.  Fresh implications of a culture we’ve yet to begin to explore open their arms to the visitor daily and beckon us to come in.  Taking time to enjoy, listen, join in, find amusement and remain open to new ideas that might erupt at any given moment has become the norm and we welcome it.  Do we always agree with the things we see?  No.  We are in their world and we respect our Mexican friends enough to learn why it is they feel a certain way or do things another way.

As I mentioned above, I will continue to talk to my oh-so-familiar palm as well as remain open and ready to see what this Mexico, this contrary developing country has to offer.  I will not only look at the beauty of the landscapes, I will continue to search for the Mexican person within.  Why do they do the things they do.  From where do their strong beliefs come and their passion for living begin?  Not from books or endless essays but from the people themselves.  Viva Mexico!

The aforementioned tunnel.

The aforementioned tunnel.

I love the curves and contours of this picture.

I love the curves and contours of this picture.

Mexican sculpture removed from house being remodeled.

Mexican sculpture removed from house being remodeled.

Mountain flowers in a garden.

Mountain flowers in a garden.

Through the courtyard window.  One of my many favorites.

Through the courtyard window. One of my many favorites.

Cobblestone wall with tree.

Cobblestone wall with tree.

Three flags.

Three flags.

Spanish ladies.

Spanish ladies.

Guadalajara market.

Guadalajara market.

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