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Stir Fry You Say!
Feb 27th, 2011 by Les

“We have never been a melting pot. The fact is we are more like a tossed salad.  We are green, some of us are oily and there’s a little vinegar injected when you get up to Ottawa.”  Arnold Edinborough, Canadian Writer and Arts Advocate

 Jane Elliott, American teacher and anti-racism activist said: “This country isn’t a melting pot.  Think of this country as a stir fry.  That’s what this country should be.  A place where people are appreciated for who they are.”

For a brief moment in time they came together in this tiny Mexican village of Ajijic.  Sweden and the Bronx.  South Africa and South Carolina.  Australia and Alaska.  Equator and Wisconsin.  Dallas and Paris, Minnesota via Saudi Arabia.  Canada and Calvary.  And on and on and on….

They mixed and mingled.  Toes tapped and hineys wiggled.  Heads nodded with the music.  Hands clapped and a universal smile played upon the lips of all who were there.  The hacienda was alive with melody drifting out and caressing those who sat on the veranda (okay porch…but veranda sounds so much better) and spiraling gently around those who sauntered through the gardens or sat by the pool, enjoying David’s wonderful photography framed and mounted on the walls of the veranda or displayed artfully within the great room.

Maybe not a melting pot but, as Jane Elliott said, more like a stir fry.  Each person bringing with them their individuality and yet a common bond….life in a Mexican village.

What brought them together on this beautiful evening with gentle breezes traveling off Lake Chapala?  The setting sun in all its pink and orange colors nestling slowly behind the mountains leaving the brilliant blue and puffy white clouds behind and giving us a star-filled evening sky allowing the music from within to soar unencumbered to the heavens above.

Mark and Emmie Clifton

It is said that music is the speech of angels.  The commonly held belief that anyone who can fiddle his way through Virginia Reels without losing his grip, can be depended upon in a musical emergency was validated yet again.  Mark Clifton, with his amazing wife Emmie, brought his special brand of musical talent and banter to our home to share with everyone present.

George Harrison said: “I would rather be a musician then a rock star”.  Well folks Mark is both as well as a composer and writer.  Moving from acoustic to electric guitar effortlessly he blended classic blues, rock and roll, a touch of jazz with a sprinkle of spiritual songs all of which captured his audience giving wings to their fantasies and delight to their senses.  Banter and comments while engaging his audience in spirited repartee and raucous laughter, brought chutzpah, pizzazz and life to a gathering of many.

Can you blend cultures, countries, quirky personalities and a strong sense of bohemian nature?  Yes you can if you add a touch of music that can transcend individuality and strength concocting a liquidity that lingers in your thoughts and gives commonality to each person who had come to simply enjoy. 

During a break in the music we were extremely fortunate to hear about Casa Corazon (House of Heart) a shelter started 10 years ago in response to the many abandoned elderly Mexicans who were sleeping on the streets of Jocotepec.  If you would like to know more about this wonderful cause you can email Rose Ann Wagner at roseannwagner@hotmail.com.

Archie Bunker a character portrayed by Carroll O’Connor, said: “Listen Edith, I know you’re singing, you know you’re singing, but the neighbors may think I’m torturing you!”  That was not the case on this night.  The music that was shared by Mark Clifton brought nomadic characters from all over the world together to celebrate life as we know it.  And, folks, it was good!

Viva Mexico!

Below you will find some of David’s latest photographs…

Entrance

Chapala Zona Restaurante

Sunset on an Evening of Music in Ajijic Mexico

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

Two Halves Together Equal Lots of Stuff
Feb 20th, 2011 by Les

“You have two hemispheres in your brain – a left and a right side. The left side controls the right side of your body and the right side controls the left half. Therefore, left-handers are the only people in their right minds.” Bill Lee, American Pitcher – Boston Red Sox

Conon O’Brien, American Television Talk Show Host said: “In a prime-time address President Bush said he backed limited federal funding for stem cell research. That’s right, the President said, this is a quote, the research could help cure brain diseases like Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, and whatever it is I have.”

The other day I heard this little voice (yes, I hear them often) saying something like I am a virus and I am entering your brain right now….sorry, I will leave, I can’t find a brain. This is often the case where my brain is concerned. I see it as a plus which allows me to monitor activities happening around me with little to no comprehension allowing confusion to reign supreme.

They (whoever they are) say people who rely more heavily on the right half of their brain tend to be more imaginative and intuitive. They see things as a whole and are interested in patterns, shapes and sizes. The right brain is associated with artistic ability like singing, painting, writing poetry, etc. Left-brain dominated people may find their thought processes vague and difficult to follow, for they are quite opposite in the way they think. Left-brain dominated people tend to be more logical and analytical in their thinking and usually excel at mathematics and word skills. But this does not mean that a person who is left or right brain dominated does not use the other part of his brain. For most people, the two parts of the brain work in tandem to enable them to function as well-rounded personalities.

Mark and Emmie Clifton

Mark and Emmie Clifton are making a return visit to the Lake Chapala area and currently residing in our lovely village of Ajijic. Mark is a phenomenal blues acoustic and electric guitarist. David and I have been fortunate enough to listen to several of Mark’s CDs. Emmie is a former criminal investigator, among other things, and spent many years working for the US government in Germany. She insists she was not a spy.

Winnie the Pooh said: “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” And go to “them” Mark and Emmie did, with gusto.

One could write a book about Emmie. Actually, one could probably write an entire series of books about Emmie as she is NOT ordinary or nondescript – she IS larger then life. Full of vim vigor and vitality and bursting at the seams with chutzpa, humor, laughter and just the right amount of quirkiness.

I asked Mark to tell me something about himself. Rather then do any editing because you can’t be too sure how my “take” on things will turn out, I’ll let you read what he wrote…..

For such a time as this….

What form does a ‘dream come true’ take? When you are in the midst of what you have planned and thought through…what do you find there?

Heady questions and some realistic thought about just what it is that brings us joy, happiness, contentment and fulfillment.

Joy, for me, is usually a gift, unexpected and totally unplanned. It fills me up and very suddenly I am elated.

Happiness is much different…it happens as I choose to have a certain attitude about my circumstances and my life in general. I can “muster” it up or it can overtake me, almost unexpectedly. It is the state of being content with a certainty that this is NOT all there is and certainly that whatever it is, will pass soon enough.

Contentment is a discipline I have learned through difficulty and boredom, loss and desperation and as I have lived many years already…

Fulfillment is not static, nor quantifiable with any measuring instrument other than my own…it can be momentary, rather lasting or illusory.

So….how do you like living in Mexico? Is it what you imagined or planned it to be? What was your plan anyway? I have lived and visited many places in the US and now some outside the US. I find the US to be the best place to live for many reasons and though there are reasons not to live there full time…it is the best country on this planet.

This is a distillation process…gradually with pressure and some discomfort things that are not necessary are moving out of my life. As I am pressed into a different space, both internally and externally, I find more space that cries to be filled with something. What it is to be filled with I haven’t a clue and trying to fill it with what is familiar is not a necessity. As a matter of fact, trying to fill it at all can be disruptive to my daily sense of peace. So…I am left with a new space, unfilled and unknown…just existing there inside me and getting bigger…wow what a problem to have huh?

Coming to this country has allowed my perspectives to generate new space…that’s why it is the way it is right now. Through a series of plans and then changes in plans…through a series of choices and then no choices…I have arrived at a new location within and without and find this writing I am presently doing quite therapeutic…YEAH….FOR ME…

I truly believe you could give Mark a laundry list and he could set it to music. Below you will find an invitation to a simple get-together we are hosting at our home in Ajijic. If you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood next Friday the 25th, please stop in. I guarantee you will find the time well spent and, heck, Emmie might even be convinced to help Mark with some of the vocals. Now that is something you don’t want to miss.

I don’t think anyone will have a problem guessing which side of the brain is dominant for David and which is dominant for me. If pressed, I doubt whether they’d have a problem with Mark and Emmie or our friends Joe and Jan. All of us will be there next Friday. Kind of scary…huh?!

One of the most exciting things about living in the Lake Chapala area, especially Ajijic, is its ability to combine many worlds, countries, thoughts, ideas, attitudes, cultures and personalities seemingly effortlessly. It is a phenomenal stopping place for many extremely talented people. The Lake Chapala area and, in particular Ajijic, is a melting pot for all of the reasons I mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

Mark wrote a song some time ago and, as luck would have it, we were treated to a mini-concert yesterday afternoon at a lovely party hosted by our friends Jan and Joe. It was a small gathering, just seven of us. Suddenly and without warning he began singing a song called “A New Beginning”, a wedding song. Written for a young couple Mark had met some years ago, it was about the act of marriage and the blossoming of love as he watched it happen between these two young people. However, on this quiet Saturday afternoon our small group listened as he sang from his heart. Wedding vows, snippets of love, heartfelt words brought to life by Mark’s creative ability.

As I listened I watched, as I am prone to do given my background, the faces of my friends and my husband as they listened to the beautiful words Mark had written. I saw a gentle wink and a loving nod of acknowledgement between our hosts, Jan and Joe. I saw Emmie, Mark’s wife with a smile that could have lit up an entire hemisphere and Mark’s eyes upon her as he sang this song of love. I saw David not only in my eyes, but in my heart forever. Each look, each nod, each eye that glistened with moisture filled the room with a palatable sense of love transcending each of us. Mark brought the words of that song to life, not only for his dear Emmie, but for all of us.

Do you dare to miss and opportunity to hear him sing?! If you are here in Ajijic, I hope not. You will also have an opportunity to see, up close and personal, some of David’s wonderful photography taken since we moved to Ajijic and his studio overlooking beautiful Lake Chapala. Viva Mexico!

Mention David, Les, Joe, Jan, Mark or Emmie at the gate.

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

Chapellita in the Ajijic Plaza

Chapellita in the Ajijic Plaza

Chapellita in the Ajijic Plaza

Chapellita in the Ajijic Plaza

Overlooking San Juan Cosala and Lake Chapala

A Doorway in the Village

Sunset in Mexico

Marching to a Different Kettle of Fish….Plan B
Feb 14th, 2011 by Les

“Ideas are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands.  But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.” Carl Schurz, German Revolutionary

“If you want God to laugh, tell Him about your plans.”  Woody Allen, American Comedian, Actor and Director.

I’m from the Midwest.  Enough said?  Unfortunately not.  When it snows you make two plans.  Plan A: you can shovel.  Plan B: you can make snow angels.  I most often have chosen snow angels as opposed to grabbing the old shovel and hoisting that snow.  Believe me when I say it was the easier of the plans to follow.  Just another one of my idiosyncrasies.  Having most frequently been drawn, like filings to a magnet, to the road less traveled, I’ve ended up discombobulated at times yet mindful that where ever I may find myself it will probably lead to another great adventure.   Something David and I have in common.

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.  Some say the first five words you hear when you are born plot your destiny.  Excuse me; it must take a great deal of introspection to discover exactly what the first five words you heard were.  I think someone said something like child birth pain is absurd.  I’ve embraced the absurdness of life with gusto, as far as I can tell, most of my life.

As a child I did have a Plan A and a Plan B.  Plan A was to eat all of the M&Ms in the package at one time (something my parents were strongly against for obvious reasons – I was already way too over active).  Plan B was clearly thought out as well, if I couldn’t eat all the M&Ms I’d switch to those long strips of paper with the little candy dots on them thinking I’d appease my parents with less sugar content.  Needless to say they weren’t having any of it and I usually ended up with an apple.

As I got older my Plan A an Plan B were not quite as clear.  I like to go with the flow, as I’ve mentioned.  Going with the flow meant if I couldn’t convince people I had actually gotten to the place I’d wanted to be, I’d confuse them with my brilliant and weird conversation thereby eliminating any explanation of any sort.  Believe me that worked more often then you think.

When the idea to move to Mexico first sauntered across our minds, with no one nearby to say: “are you crazy”, David and I journeyed south faster then water seeps into a trap door in a canoe.

We’re here now and enjoy most every minute of it.  Temperate weather, beautiful sunshine, gracious and welcoming nationals, excitement awaiting us, literally, around every corner, a chance to learn the customs, humor and the history of a foreign land.  All of this without leaving our continent.  Who could ask for more?

Consequently, when we began hearing people talk about putting a Plan B in place down here, our minds were intrigued.  First do people actually have Plan A and Plan B and use them?!  The foreignness of being organized and thinking ahead, never having been one of my strong suits, fascinated me.  Second it would take something like herding turtles to get my mind to lock in on Plan A, much less Plan B.

The reality of some of the happenings in the Lake Chapala area has been in the news lately.  Burying your head in the sand and not acknowledging, no matter where you live, there will be some problems doesn’t work.  I believe it was President Harry Truman who said: “We must have strong minds, be ready to accept facts as they are.”  The facts are simple: drug cartels are constantly trying to recruit local teenagers to do their bidding.  That is a fact.  The Mexican government is working to eradicate this problem.  With any developing country there will be problems.  Heck the statistics for American deaths in all of Mexico from the beginning of the year 2010 through September of 2010 is sixty.  In most metropolitan cities in the US, the stats are much higher for a markedly smaller area.

Mexico’s destiny must be achieved.  Its government is working diligently to accomplish what is best for its people and those of us crazy, somewhat bohemian and adventurous ex-pats who choose to live here are acutely aware of the process.  We have front row seats.  I prefer to be an optimist.  Its sort of like falling off the Empire State Building, and after 50 floors or so, my thought would be… so far so good.

Our Plan B, you ask, if we feel things are not as they should be we will move on.  We have registered with the US Consulate in Guadalajara.  We let our family know when there are warnings which are sent to us via email.  We see the bright side of living here and it outweighs the issues, at present, and the bright side is so bright there is no need to polish the dull side.

Most of the ex-pats I’ve met are tougher then a one eared alley cat.  I for one am used to the absurdness in life.  Heck I’ve got a shadow that rarely sees fit to do what I do.  We will continue to watch.  We will continue to be aware.  What we will not do is not take time to see the beauty of this foreign land – even with its flaws.  Viva Mexico!

Below you will find an invitation.  If you are currently in lovely Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico we hope you will take a couple hours out to hear some great blues played by Mark Clifton…

 

If you plan on attending, please mention you are friends of David and Les to the person at the gate.

  More of David’s wonderful photography….

Ajijic, Mexico Malecon

Bowls from the Local Market

Chapala's Malecon Shot

Beach Front in Chapala Mexico

Church Steeples in Chapala, Mexico

Young Amigo on Chapala's Plaza

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

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