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My Slinky’s Kinked…
Nov 26th, 2010 by Les

Lewis Mumford (US sociologist, urbanist and historian)  said: “Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities by thinking absurdly about them.”

Rosalia de Castro (Galician writer 1837-1885) writes: “I see a path, but I don’t know where it leads.  Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.”

And I’m having trouble un-kinking it.  That’s why this blog is so late in coming…in case you’ve noticed its lateness.  My mind can focus on one thing at a time and, for some odd reason, it usually picks the most absurd thing in my life at the moment.  Have you ever tried unkinking a Slinky?!

The days remain lovely in our little part of the world.  No rain, much sunshine, beautiful balmy weather great for walking, hiking, traveling to any one of the interesting places surrounding Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico.  The nights are cool, in the low 40’s, and great for sleeping.

The town has filled with “snow birds”.  Restaurants are busy, the Wednesday market is even busier with fractured Spanish rolling off the lips of Americans, Canadians, South Africans, Australians, British, Scandinavian and panoply of other countries hither to unmentioned.

Excitement is in the air.  Art galleries are opening, classical dance, plays, music from every venue imaginable.  Various exercise and fitness venues are available everywhere and volunteer opportunities are in abundance.  Bus and train rides to places you’ve only dreamed about.  Drivers who will spend an entire day with visitors taking them to any place their hearts desire – the North Shore of Lake Chapala to Guadalajara, Mexico City to the Yucatan and beyond.

Evenings can be spent enjoying dinner and dancing, simply walking on the malecon or sitting on your mirador enjoying the sunset.  Or, if your fancy is early mornings – basking in a heavenly sunrise.

St. Andrews festivities are in full swing honoring the patron saint of Ajijic.  Skyrockets can be heard in the early morning, at noon, around 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.  Native dancing, rides for the children, scrumptious food and little ones running everywhere, squeals of laughter permeating the air.

I have many friends in the states.  Most will, if asked in a moment of weakness, tell you they don’t work in an office; it’s simply Hell with fluorescent lighting.  Here’s one of the problems of everyday life that I can remember, there isn’t any background music.  Here in Mexico there is often background music.  Melodious tones of every type of music imaginable will drift in your door on any given afternoon.

In my unasked for opinion, the hardest part of not working (even with fluorescent lighting)….is not working.  I mean, wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up, but “being” nothing at the moment is harder to handle then the new wrinkles I see each day when I look in the mirror.  Often times I find myself smiling inanely because I don’t have a clue as to what is going on around me.  Yes folks, I am still working on my Spanish and using more and more of it to communicate with our neighbors but find a generous smile and my finger circling my brain (indicating loco) helps immensely!  The Mexican people love to hear you try to speak their language and are so very gracious in helping you pick the word that fits the occasion.  Thank goodness!!

My train of thought does have a caboose, dear readers, and I think I’m getting to it.  We recently had to get our pictures taken for our new FM3 cards.  I guess I still haven’t quite mastered the art of kicking back and relaxing as my FM3 picture stills looks like I really need to take a trip somewhere.  I mean, if the photographer can’t be kind, it would be nice if he’d have had the decency of being vague….soft lighting….maybe a little mist in the background making me look dark and mysterious.  Right now I look like Harry from Harry and the Henderson’s fame.

We are busy.  We have been so fortunate in that over the past year we’ve met many of our blog readers.  Most have let us know when they will be visiting and we make every attempt to get together with them when they are here.  Usually that involves dinner or lunch, perhaps a drink, and a trip back to our casa to give them a feel for “colonial Mexican” architecture and living.

Many of the people we’ve met are struggling with a decision to move or not to move to Mexico.  All have similar concerns and thoughts about their safety (as do their families).  Others simply wonder if it is right for them.  Two of our dearest friends – we met them months ago when they visited and are now joyfully able to see them on a regular basis as they’ve actually moved here and are experiencing life “first hand” have added much to our lives here in Ajijic.

And so I say, sometimes it is only in adventure, in not knowing what is around the next corner that has enabled me to catch a glimpse of success in knowing myself – in finding myself.  More than anything else, you are given the time here in this (at the moment) not so quiet village of Ajijic to explore the uncharted you and truly enjoy the sail!  Viva Mexico! 

Below you will see some of the large prints David has had framed for the show December 3rd, 4th and 5th, 2010.  They are also available online at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/.  Please feel free to visit any time.

Time Lapse Lilies

Mazamitla Dining Room

Amazing Hummingbirds

Hummingbird in Natural Setting

Hummingbird's Gentle Wingspan

Hummingbirds through the Window

The Pier in Ajijic

The Malecon in Ajijic

Electroencephalographically Challenged
Nov 9th, 2010 by Les

“Being a president is like running a cemetery; you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”  President Bill Clinton

“Most people can’t bear to sit in a church for an hour on Sundays.  How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?”  Mark Twain

It’s funny, I’ve lived a goodly number of years being brain-wave challenged, sort of like the porch light is on but extremely dim.  If I were to wait for the light to go on, I’d have been sitting in the dark for most of my time, so far, on this earth.  Consequently, I plunge forward throwing caution to the wind and hurtling myself into whatever unplanned event might be in store for me.  This can be particularly disconcerting to anyone who might be with me when this happens, like David.  Between his photographic genius and wonder lust and my inept yet constantly intrigued interest in everything that can be seen or heard here in our little village of Ajijic, is it any wonder we are bombarding you, our dear readers, with blog after blog of fantastic photography and inane writings?

I once went to a funeral for someone who died unexpectedly.  Not that we all don’t eventually expect to expire; this guy was in the prime of his life.  He was not an individual one would think for whom the specter of death would have loomed large.  The whole mortality thing was quite vexing to all of us as many of us were eons older then our deceased friend.  The inevitable question each mourner found themselves asking, as they stopped to pay their respects at his funeral:  “what happened?” was heard whispered repeatedly over the other murmurs in the room.  None were prepared to hear the explanation the sincere loved ones shared with each of the equally sincere people who asked.  He was fatally engrossed in the Journal/Sentinel (newspaper) and didn’t see or hear the eighteen wheeler before it hit him.  Of course, everyone wanted desperately to ask what he had been reading. 

It turns out; he was reading a quote from Carl Hiaasen’s book “Star Island” talking about the Calusas (aka Shell Indians of Florida) wherein they were depicted as “badass magnificent”.  The quote went on to say: “They decapitated their enemies and also invented the custom of mooning, which was first used to insult Spanish missionaries”.

As I mentioned in my last blog, along with the photographs David took of the parade held on October 31, 2010 for the Day of the Dead, we visited a cemetery with some of our friends, to pay our respects and watch David shoot some pictures of the celebrations taking place there.  The Day of the Dead activities start on October 31st and run through November 2nd.

As this is considered a holiday, whole families were at the cemetery working on the areas in which their loved ones had been laid to rest.  Though perplexing to me, the combination of both the Catholic faith and these somewhat pagan beliefs is a tradition combining the Catholic holidays of All Saint’s Day (November 1st) and All Soul’s Day (November 2nd) and the Day of the Dead, which is October 31st.

All of the emotions I witnessed as we traveled through the cemetery reminded me of a common practice people in the States have when dealing with the death of a loved one.  Often the family will gather together after a loved one has passed, sometimes with the help of a pastor, priest, rabbi, etc to reminisce and share stories.  As stories are shared, laughter and tears mingle while people share heart warming tales of their lives with this loved one now heaven bound.  The sharing of these wonderful stories give wings to the love and caring these people have for the departed and are believed to be the first steps in the healing process.

The Mexican people share these memories each year during the celebrations that are held from October 31st to November 2nd.  There is much love and many tears combined with thoughts and prayers and, at times, conversations with those who have gone before them.  Below are some of the photographs David took as these gentle people allowed us to catch a glimpse into their “joy” in lives now departed that had touched their hearts. 

I do not know if this is true however Fedirico Garcia Lorca said: “In Span as in Mexico, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world”.  Truism or not, I would be hard put to disagree after spending the Day of the Dead in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.  Viva Mexico!

The beginning of our tour of a local cemetery in Ajijic, Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Each resting place uniquely capturing feelings of those celebrating the life of their loved ones.

This broken cross just caught my eye.

Though some could not afford much, a gentle spray of flowers adorns this unmarked grave.

What a beautiful mixture of colors.

A little more ornate resting place. Yes, that is a poinsettia tree in the foreground.

Another more ornate resting place.

The headstones are interesting.

The mountains in the background add majesty and wonder.

Another headstone.

Another unique resting place. The photograph also gives you an idea of the pathways used to get to each site.

More color mixed in with the lush green surroundings.

A gentle remembrance of a loved one missed.

Yet another site with the beautiful mountains in the background.

An interesting headstone.

I leave you with this shot David took, not in the cemetery but in the home of some friends, prior to leaving to visit the cemetery. A piece of art work hanging on the wall captured in this fascinating manor.

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.  David’s latest piece exhibiting now at the Ajijic Society of the Arts show can be seen more closely when you visit the online store. 

Life and Its Alternatives
Nov 5th, 2010 by Les

This article is meant to be funny.  There is not a modicum of truth in it.  Seriously.  I do not wish to give the impression I even slightly know what I’m talking about.  And, I believe, so far I’ve succeeded in reaching that goal.  You’d think that would be easy to ascertain for those who have spent any time reading what I’ve written to this point.  However, if you are visiting our site for the first time, please know nothing I say has relevance.  I spend my days looking for the humor and absurdities of a gringo’s life in Mexico.  Well, actually, just my life in Mexico.   I believe the comment: “I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools.  Let’s start with laptops used by blog writers” or some such thing, was written entirely about me.
There are many informative Internet sites you can visit to read about the Day of the Dead and its significance in the Mexican culture:  www.chapalaclub.com;  www.dayofthedead.com to name just a few.  I would encourage everyone to do so.

David has, as always, taken wonderful photographs of the parade held in the early evening on October 31st.  There will also be photographs of our visit, born of curiosity and wanting to pay our respects, with some of our dear friends, to one of the cemeteries in our small village of Ajijic.  It was an amazing experience and our hearts were touched by the love and caring evident as people of all ages worked on the final resting places of cherished people in the villagers lives.  Children’s graves were strewn with toys, baby bottles, special foods they may have enjoyed during their short time on this earth, placed lovingly near for all to see.  Adults and children’s resting places surrounded by flowers, grass trimmed just so by careful tending with loving hands.

The comments below are simply my musings and my own thoughts in regard to the inevitable and tend to lend themselves to the dark humor connected with same….

Death is not funny.  At least that’s been my experience.  Zombies can be, at times, funny if portrayed intentionally as humorous: inept, motor skills are extremely suspect and hygiene is not big on their least of “must dos”.  Most zombies, I would think, have a faith based on frisbeetarianism which is the philosophy that when you die, your soul goes up on a roof and gets stuck.

George Carlin, an American comedian of sorts, put it another way:  The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first; get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, and you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating… you finish off as an orgasm.

It goes without saying, but say it I shall, many would disagree with Mr. Carlin. Many have over time.  It would be interesting to know where he might be at the moment.  My guess, stuck on the roof.

I stood on the sidelines as the Day of the Dead parade went past our house and headed toward the Ajijic town square.  David, camera to eye, lopping after them barreling here and there getting one wonderful shot after another.  The costumes worn by the Aztec Indians were absolutely mesmerizing.  The masks, hiding some faces, were intriguing, somewhat fanciful and at times a tad frightening.  The ever present firecrackers were, as always loud.  (An aside, if you are going to live in Mexico, at least the Lake Chapala area, become one with firecrackers as they seem to be used in every celebration and activity I’ve seen/heard since moving here a year ago.  Also, be aware – they go off at any time during the day or night.)  Other than the roosters lilting sounds in early morning, firecrackers are a given, I’m venturing a guess, in most towns and villages throughout Mexico.

What I found most interesting over the past few days were the many smiles I saw on the faces of the Mexican people as they enjoyed the parade, worked on the various altars they had set up in their yards, windows, on their roof tops, in their homes and businesses and as they worked on their loved ones gravesites.  As we watched the parade or walked through the cemetery we were greeted with buenos dias, buenos tardes, hola, etc. Even in this setting everyone remained gracious and loving – a joyous celebrations for those who were heaven bound.

Humor, and in particular dark humor, has often been a companion of mine.  I would venture to guess anyone who has worked in a hospital setting, can appreciate how a well-chosen comment, perhaps dark in nature, can give wings to laughter that often allows necessary tears to flow.  The reason for the celebrations and its intertwining with the Catholic faith both perplexed and fascinated me.  The photographs below will give you an idea of the dichotomy of the day.

(There are so many photographs to share I will only present the ones taken at the parade in this blog.  Our next blog will feature the photos taken in the cemetery.)

The parade begins.

The parade begins.

Children carrying ornate balloons.

Children carrying ornate kites.

Aztec costume.

Aztec costume.

Another view of the costume.

Another view of the costume.

More costumes.

More costumes.

The feathers are amazing.

The feathers are amazing.

More feathers in many colors.

More feathers in many colors.

An interesting shot.

An interesting shot.

Same person, different shot.

Same person, different shot.

Another Aztec costume.

Another Aztec costume.

A contrasting float.

A contrasting float. This is a little girl portraying, I believe, the Virgin Mary.

They are making their way to the church in the Ajijic plaza.

They are making their way to the church in the Ajijic plaza.

The church plaza where the parade ended.

The church plaza where the parade ended.

A young parade participant and his/her dad.

A young parade participant and his/her dad.

The Aztec Indians in front of the Virgin Mary in the church yard.

The Aztec Indians in front of the Virgin Mary in the church yard.

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.  David’s latest piece exhibiting now at the Ajijic Society of the Arts show can be seen more closely when you visit the online store.

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