Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Come! Celebrate Life with Light, Laughter, Song...and an Enigma

Amid winter's thrall: a fire in the hearth, lights glittering within, reflecting back, and paradoxical yellow flowers to remind us of spring!

And here -- a closeup of just one facet of this improbable radiant jewel of wintertime.... but:

The Enigma! ...for the "woo-woos" among you: Click on the first photo and look more carefully at the reflections in the windows. Yes, in the window on the right, the flight of birds can be explained: a mere reflection of a metal sculpture hanging on another wall. But who is that man with longish-hair in a light-colored gown--just THERE!--between the tree's top and the star in the other window? WE don't know.... but we like it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Honoring Edith

It is with great sorrow in my heart, tears in my eyes, that I post this photo. Here is Edith, and her beloved son Gustavo (renamed Luis by others). I took this photo in the happy times... when she would drop by our porch every day. Together we watched Gustavo graduate to crawling and toddling -- a mischievously delightful child, dearly loved and watched over by his mommy. Edith was so proud of him, and so proud to BE a mommy, and she took a job in the village doing laundry to support him....

I do not know why she left the village. I presume she wanted to do even better by him -- to earn more money and provide him with a better home than the one she shared next-door to us, with her brother and her grandfather.

I do not know, really, what happened -- though I suspect her birth-father across the road from us knows, along with his wife. It's hard to write this. Did she fall under the spell of drugs and alcohol, the fear of poverty, the prospect of a better life, the tyranny of a lover? The lover, by whom she was pregnant again, DID say he would not raise that boy-of-another-man. Edith was pregnant by this lover, and so she gave up her beloved Gustavo, back to our village -- back to her grandfather (little Gustavo's great-grandfather). He was renamed Luis.

Luis was initially horrifically traumatized -- yet he and I resumed our daily joyfulness together -- though now, he would not speak. Nevertheless, daily he came to me, and in pantomime, asked me to play my dulcimer, and then he would roll up in a blanket and lie silently for long stretches of time. He loved my toys, especially the truck that honked....

And then he was gone. But it was GOOD! He'd been adopted in Zihuatanejo by relatives of his who longed for a son. They have two daughters. The mother runs a daycare preschool, the father apparently has a plant nursery. They love little Luis. He loves them. When he visits the village now, he is a normal, active, mischievous, talkative, creative young lad. He remembers me. Posted earlier in this blog is a drawing he gave me (as well as a photo of him drawing it) -- a smiling golden heart. I had always called him "Corazon del oro." He was listening.

One day, Luis was visiting, and so was Edith with her little toddler daughter. Luis showed no indication whatsoever that Edith had ever been his mother... but he was happy and very busy playing. Edith, on the other hand, was utterly changed. No longer the joking, happy, and loving woman -- dear friend -- that we had known. She said not a word when we sat down beside her. She seemed dull and lifeless. Her daughter played nearby, dressed prettily in red velvet. Edith sat with us a short while and then silently got up and walked out of our lives forever....

Not long afterwards, we got word that she had been brutally murdered -- by a gang of men, probably from the bar where she served drinks. It was late at night and she was walking home when they assaulted her. All we know, all I know (I have not asked for details beyond those given me), is that her body was found, naked, slashed brutally about torso and face -- floating in the river.

Her sweet daughter -- there is a happy ending for her too. The father is apparently out of the picture -- but she has been adopted by her blood-grandfather who lives across the road from us and he and his wife have two small kids close to her age. She is completely bonded to them, now -- to a loving and close family. She is happy here. She even loves ME! Walking alone (at age what, 3?) down the village street, she just might catch a glimpse of me in my ramada up the hill -- and she will sing out a happy greeting with a wave to me. I pass by her house -- again, she calls out with a big smile and a wave. She is at ease visiting my playroom... And from time to time, Luis and family drop by as well.

I would love to hug Edith, to tell her that her children are happy and well -- and that she has wonderful children, and that I loved her very much, and that I know her heart was that of a deeply loving mother, and a playful happy soul.

Photos to Augment Previous Entries

This is the most frustrating exercise in futility -- simply trying to add photos to previous blogs. Now I have opted to put them ALL on, but even now, I cannot control in what order they appear, nor have I the patience to upload them ALL at once.

So, gentle reader, enjoy the scroll through rather randomly added photos... Not all that I tagged for uploading even showed up!

To begin with -- the above photo is me, inadvertently dressed to match our house!

And above is the finished bowl -- one of a number of Robert's woodworking projects of beauty.
While here is modernity in Mexico -- listening to Hamza Al Din's "Waterwheel" in a hammock.

A glimpse of this year's (2010) Halloween crowd, in our ramada. Annual tradition, this.
...and a heart-stopping warning! My first day this visit, merely wending my way down to the river, I encountered this cheerful message
I proceeded watchfully down to the river-crossing only to find mothers calmly bathing their children, not a care in the world. The story is in this blog somewhere.

But here we have two of three intended photos of Robert working on a wooden bowl. The photo of the finished bowl is above this. His work is beautiful, and as you can see from even these two photos -- a great deal of work. Not pictured: seeking out and transporting the logs from which these bowls are revealed within.... no mean feat, believe me.

For instance, one afternoon Robert disappeared with the car to get a log he'd been eyeing along the highway and came home in the deep dark of night. Guille and Sara shared my concern (accident? arrest? ambush?) as the hours ticked by. He arrived grinning, with his prize tree trunk practically tipping the car's nose in the air!

No photo album is complete without at least one beautiful sunset over the sea. Here's one now!


The above photo depicts Sunday Tiritas! Every Sunday, Guillermo and Sara, and their three at-home kids (Memo, Sandra, Ariana) come over bringing the feast with them. Guille catches the fish and prepares them with lime juice, and they arrive with fruit drinks and utensils. A great tradition.

Below, you see one of the many beautiful flowers that delight us daily. This one grows IN the stream itself. I have no name for it, but beautiful:

And in keeping of "every man 'neath his vine and fig tree" -- here is Robert holding just-plucked figs from our fig tree, and crouched beside our blossoming jamaica bushes (hibiscus, to you).
And here, another taste of how sweet it is. Village kids love to drop by, even that young some of them are brave enough to come alone: and pick out their favorite toys and play with them in our ramada. Here they play with Noah's Ark.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Okay. Here's a challenge for you. I'll give a rough outline of what is rather a typical script for a western-genre movie/tv show. See if you can translate all that action onto a beach along the great western coast of Mexico--a kind of Tortilla Western. See if you can combine both the world of surfers and of local Mexicans, and the flavor of the wild wild west. Email me your script and we can go from there!

So! Along the lines of, say, both Bonanza and Gunsmoke -- borrowing aspects from both, here goes:

A stranger blows into town. Hangs back to get a sense of the power structure, the social structure, the weak spots. He aims to make the place his. Ah! the most popular bar in town is run by the most popular/well-known Miss Kitty, a single woman. Great start.

He makes his moves on her, successfully, and thus he moves into the scene at that bar, and sets himself up as the Little Emperor. He picks out the locals among the clientele and systematically alienates them. He figures that they take up room, they are in his way. Get rid of them! Meanwhile he works on courting the passing-through travelers from the stagecoach run. They are the ones with money, of course. And he can charm them out of it! and then they're gone.

On the side, he starts -- oh I don't know -- continuing the alienation of the locals, maybe with the aim of controlling them or getting them to move on... Say, he does this by making a horse lame here and there, rustling a few cattle -- while doing his best not to be seen doing it!

His fatal flaw is his rage. Flies off the handle and seeks violent revenge if and when one of the locals challenges him. Beats up a few in surprise attacks when they are alone (but not always successfully...). He even threatens other business people -- especially other bar-owners -- claiming they are stealing his business.

A feud springs up between this loner and one of the longtime locals --some kind of power struggle-- and the Loner goes after him one night, but his would-be victim hears of it and is thus prepared. There is a stand-off. It seems to blow over, but of course it's just brewing....

This could go on ad nauseum, of course, but in the end --it just HAS to end in the classic western visual... You see, make that longtime local mentioned above to be one of a set of brothers, in a really tight family (Cartwright/Bonanza style). Threaten one, you've threatened them all. Hell, you could even throw in a little twist of lime and say that Miss Kitty is their sister. You could add that it was out of deference to her that they allowed this to go on so long.

One night, after this most recent and potentially violent confrontation, the brothers ALL come over to pay the Loner a little visit, together. Usually they do not brandish arms, but maybe there is one pistol showing. Use your imagination here -- the setting sun behind them as they walk up to the Loner's digs --big silhouettes, individually distinct. What would be the dialogue?

Whatever was said, these brothers oversee the Loner as he packs a suitcase, and they escort him to the edge of town with a clear understanding that he will NEVER return.

I guess you could tie it up with a scene of people happy and at ease once again, going about their errands and play...

End of story, yeah?

So! To switch it to the surfer/Mexico flavor /Tortilla Western -- this loner could blow onto a surf-beach scene, make the same assessments of where the power lies, and take the same actions including making the moves on a beach restaurant woman; maybe he could damage surfboards instead of horses of people who piss him off (specifically the gringo surfers who have made this beach their special regular beach). Maybe he could engage in a concerted and blatant act of stealing every wave in a set: get ahead of the first guy in line, take the wave and then abandon it just a short bit later, too late for anyone else to catch it -- and swing back to the NEXT wave and get ahead of THAT guy and steal/abandon it...onandon.

I could suggest a few other ideas, too, if you'd like... Court cases, testimonies, just more Interest.

Oh! Make the Cartwright-style brothers all local fishermen! In Mexico, ocean fishermen are strong, brawny, no-nonsense, direct men. Keep them as truly blood brothers -- family! That's a Big Deal here. You could have that setting sun scene be over the ocean when they walk up from their boats to finally END the Rule of the Would-be Emperor. I know the visual well, as I am often at the beach at sunset when these boats come in. It is truly a beautiful sight of strength and energy and beauty... A number of the fishermen are friends from our village, as well as..... well, it just so happens that there IS a set of brothers on this beach, and it just so happens that their sister DOES run a cantina on the beach, and... and...


Yeah! That sign greeted us the first day we walked "the back way" wading through the river and wending through the jungly fields to reach the ocean. Daunting thought that: "Be careful! Crocodiles in the water!" (I'll post pix when I'm back Stateside.)

But people were still bathing in the river, washing clothes while their little kids ran all around, so... ´what gives? We learned that there was a big mama croc and her 7, or 8, maybe 10 (depending on who is telling you) little ones. She was holed up in the freshwater pond alongside the river, not IN the river.

"Don't worry," folks said. "She'll stay in the pond." They are actually feeding her, to keep her there -- fattening her for a future pueblo-wide barbecue! We've heard of these barbecues... Guille himself told us how he waded into the water to wage a death-battle with a (purposely) fishing-net-ensnarled crocodile. The croc was rolling and rolling and enraged as he approached and encircled it by the neck -- and with an expertly placed hack of his machete, he dispensed with it.

Still, when returning from a great ocean day and tranquilly spectacular sunset -- as we did almost every evening -- yeah, still we would shine our little headlamp all over the river and along the banks, and the little trail beside the holding pond. We were looking and hoping NOT to see any glittering yellow eyes reflecting back at us. Never have yet.

But we've seen HER now. She is big. Looking like a dark log some distance below the murky water.... that is, until her nose slowly emerges for an exchange of air and then quietly slips back into the water without a ripple.

As for her kids... well, that is why we were walking around the pond that day. We heard that one of her kids was dead and Robert grabbed his machete. We found it -- by the smell of course. And Robert hacked off it's toothy head with a mighty machete stroke. In time, the skin will fall away and the skull will join the various others in our collection.

Clearly, we have lost our fear of the croc... not our caution, but we're not really daunted by them.

Speaking of mighty machete strokes... and of Guille. I wish I had a video of Guille's mighty slash and catch from this very morning! Upon his advice, we agreed to let him take down the 16-foot tall male papaya tree in front of our porch -- the one mentioned in previous blogs as being our "television." Male papayas put out endless quantities of flowers -- which attract a circus of flying creatures most notably hummingbirds. We would sip our coffee and enjoy the show. But after awhile, they grow too tall and that is all they do -- grow taller.
SO! This morning, Guille stopped by, stood next to the towering papaya tree -- drew his arm back and then in one mighty stroke with his machete, completely severed the trunk. THEN! with his left hand, he deftly caught the upper 12-foot trunk before it ever hit the ground -- and carried it out to our compost pile. So smooth.....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dia de Los Muertos

In Oaxaca, when I visited there, the five days at the end of October/early November were deeply moving, personal connections with those who have died... Day(s) of the Dead. One day for children, one day for old people, one day for those murdered, and the like. On this, their special day, the spirits can return to visit the living.

Homes each had a specially prepared altar with memorabilia of the departed (their actual skulls, back when the Spanish first arrived--but the Conquistadores put a stop to that, so now you see small sugar-skulls with a nametag pasted on, instead). Offerings of the departed's favorite foods are placed there, as well.

It is a happy time. And marigold petals are scattered from the "offrenda" in the house, out the door and all the way to the gravesite when feasible. The spirits can smell the fragrance of marigold and thus find their way back home...

And their graves? They were the scene of celebration! Music, feasting, and celebrating on this one time in the year when all are reunited. All night long, the cemeteries are scenes of laughter, and happiness.

The most touching memory I have -- was when one of the Durango high school students I was shepherding around noticed a lone woman, perhaps in her 60s or more, sitting quietly on the cement grave covering of her departed husband. The young girl approached the woman, and as she did so, the woman's face lit up with joy and she held out her arms to welcome her. "Sit, sit..." she said in Spanish. As the young girl sat beside her, the woman gently reached out to hold her hand in a gentle but firm embrace... The young girl reported feeling such love pouring from the woman's heart. They sat like that, holding hands together, for quite some time.... til the woman felt fulfilled, I guess. In her heart... in that woman's heart... her lost beloved husband had come to her, through the guise of the young woman.

It is an ancient custom and it is primarily Oaxacan. Our villagers, here in the state of Guerrero, only passingly acknowledge the Day of the Dead (mostly simply putting flowers on graves -- I have not noticed an offrenda in any home, nor do they stage parties at the gravesites) And the days that fall on weekdays are holidays in town, such as today.

But they cannot escape the commercialism of America's bedraggled Halloween. The trappings of our Halloween are everywhere, and "Trick or Treat" is the theme of the day. They know nothing (nor do most Americans) of the Celtic origins of the tradition -- a tradition not that different from Day of the Dead. For the Celts there is that one day when the veil is thin and spirits can pass through. Ah, the tales I tell and most favorite is from the epic of Finn McCool. But I digress.

SO! Once again, knowing kids would be coming for sweets, we decorated our ramada with black and orange crepe, put on some sort of frightening attire that scares small children -- and sat beside a big bowl filled with American candies. It is always a delightful time of play with costumed kids and costumed gringos! (pictures posted when I return.. probably inserted here) Our house was always the most active, and favorite destination.

BUT!!! This year, we were trumped, and happy to know of it. Across our road, and down a short way, is a huge two-story cement house (built to house multiple families of the same lineage... that is to say, married brothers and married sisters each with their own families). Only one such family has moved in to a section of the ground floor so far...

....which leaves the entire upstairs available for a Ghost-House of Horrors!! We didn't get to visit it, being busy at our own place, but I was delighted to hear the screams and screeches as the kids explored room to room and got scared by ghosts and goblins. At least that is what we think was happening.

And all is well, and all manner of thing is well, and the waves delight, and the fruit trees abound, and friendships warm the heart.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Literal Literary Escapades

Seems that the easiest way to share snippets of the manymany things going on all at once in our pueblito and on the beach, is to create literary storylets, stealing famous titles for emphasis, viz:

I. "No Exit"
I have to laugh! We drove down the long windy unpaved road into our pueblito on the one and only day that we could have. Had we arrived one day earlier, the viscous deep mudholes on the way in would have swallowed our motor. One day later, and ...hey!... huge earthmovers arrived and gutted the road that goes through the village! They are STILL in the process of digging a deep continuous trench right down the center of it, from one end to the other, right past our house!

First -- the Big Trench that went all the way through the village, with manholes at intervals. The small trench pictured below that is in our yard. It is leading up to our to-be-built throne room -- and down to the manhole and trench for village-wide sewer service, gifted us by the state of Guerrero.

(Pictured below that is our response -- a trench from their manhole, up through our yard to where we will construct a small palace for our new porcelain throne.)

Evidently the government has decided that all pueblos deserve public toilet systems. Most folks here have septic systems however. Robert and I and our next'door neighbors seem to be the ONLY holdouts who don't even have a septic system. We actually didn't even want to bother with such an "improvement." I enjoy the winding walk through the jungly backyard with its flowers and butterflies and dancing sunlight. In this season especially, I like to watch the butterflies flutter around their evening's bedtime hanging vine, and then again, watch them as they awaken in the late morning sun and flutter sleepily in circles before heading out for their morning's sup of nectar. I can still take that walk, of course. But now, with modernity thrust upon us, we are discussing where (and when) to build a little shack for the porcelain throne...

II. "...'neath vine and fig tree..."

As a gift of friendhip, Guillermo planted a fig tree while we were gone. This morning, we ate the first fruit (things grow FAST here). Before this day, I've eaten only dried ones. But ahhhh! To me, a fresh fig, sweet and juicy, reminds me of the wonderful flavor of a ripe peach. Living here in our little personal Eden, we also have mango, lemon, tangerine, guava trees--what have I forgotten to mention?-- as well as copious flowering trees and plants all wreathed in butterflies and hummingbirds. But in keeping with the Biblical verse, we have also a grapevine (not yet producing). A home-made plowshare rests against the wall. We live in peace and unafraid.

(And from here on down, I am utterly flummoxed!! Adding photos is such a time-consuming DRAG, and I cannot even drag them to where they belong, so I will try to circumvent this by posting a new entry of ALL pix -- and you, gentle reader, may insert them mentally to the various essays. Good luck.)

III. "On the Beach"
Well, WE live in peace and unafraid, anyway. Besides the tranquility of the surf, sun and sky, there's a lot of ---um--- fascinating activity. We pay it no mind.

IV. "...do not build your house upon sand..."
But oh, they DO! Doesn't anyone read the Bible anymore? This past rainy season brought down retaining walls and created vast arroyos through beachfront property, threatening the very integrity of some structures -- for starters. We watch. None of this affects us personally, and we enjoy our days with friends along the shore, and play in the sea... And oh, the sunsets!

V. "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
My eyes are tearing up even as I begin to touch on this story. I've many times in this blog touched on edges of this story -- so involving, so tragic -- that it deserves a skilled novelist to tell it properly. It is ongoing through generations.... but now comes the first death that touches us.

Dear readers, you may remember my joyous love of a little boy, Gustavo/Luis (name change is part of the tale). He is FINE! As I wrote before, he has been happily adopted and when he visted last time we were here, he was talking, and vibrant and drew me a huge smiling yellow sun. It was his birth'mother who died...

She was murdered. Horribly. Slashed to death in a dangerous drunken cantina where she served drinks -- her body bore the large black stitches and gauze even on her face. On 10/10/10 she died. I don't know more than that. When WE knew her, when she lived next door still pregnant, she was vibrant and full of laughter. Peter! You remember her!

When her son was born, she was a loving, warm and attentive mother. She was proud of her son and her heart was open -- a clearly intelligent and playful young woman who wanted to do the very best for her child whom she named Gustavo. She came over every day with little Gustavo and we talked while he played on our porch.

We don't know why she left the pueblito and went to a city. Perhaps she hoped to make more money in order to support her treasure of a son. But things went wrong. Some villagers say it was drugs, some even say prostitution. The next time we saw her, which was also the last time that Robert and I saw her, she had already given her son up for adoption. She had come back to visit friends/family. Gustavo was also right there at the same casita, and already renamed Luis and already adopted. He showed no recognition that she was ever his mommy... He was and is a happy little kid tearing around absorbed in play. She on the other hand was dull, no light in her eyes, nothing to say -- a different person to the one we knew. She demonstrated no real recogniton of us as she sat beside us in silence for a short time. And then she just walked away.

The Wake was held next door -- where she was born as the fourth of five children; where her mother was secreted away to the States to escape a violent alcoholic husband... taking with her the three eldest children and leaving behind the now-deceased one and her little brother (who still lives there). The brother is struggling in his own way.

Motherless children have a hard time when their mother is gone.

One of the older siblings who was taken north, a sister, was caught by US migration as a grown woman and pregnant -- and sent back to this same house that she barely knew as a child. She still lives here -- and is pictured in this blog in an earlier entry.

But to speak now of the wake.... it was a peaceful, healing time. Villagers came over and helped clean up the yard and prepare it for the gathering. Edith's body was brought to the house for viewing (somehow, past all that trenchwork), and the people gathered on the porch and in the yard. Talk was very quiet and respectful. And then, the most beautiful singing. I learned that there is a group of women who practice these songs and come to all church activities. They led the mourners in beautiful healing songs. I could feel the healing music reach the soul of a woman who once held such beautiful dreams for her son... those dreams WILL come true.

And before dawn the following morning, the singers returned and awakened us (just next door) with their angelic songs....

...afterwhich, the church bell tolled, tolling now for Edith.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Little Lula Lullabye Laughing...

As a young woman in Newburyport, MA, I was "that nice lady down the street" to two delightful kids aged 6 and 8. Mind you, in the beginning of our lifetime bond, I lived in a tent in the backyard of an empty house, with my bike leaned up against the tent. I called them my almost-kids.

Decades have passed and they have remained close -- dear, dear friends who are now in their 30s. We gather annually at Rocky Mountain National Park. THIS time, sweet almost-daughter Amy and her delightfully playful husband David introduced Robert and me to our almost-granddaughter -- not quite 6 months here. You can understand that no grandmother, "almost" or bloodline, can resist posting pix. Awwww, isn't she just the cutest, most adorable baby you've ever seen?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quinceñera -- Coming of Age

When a girl reaches her 15th birthday, she has come of age -- a time for consecration in the Church, and celebration with the village. Sandra stands with her mother (Sara), father (Guillermo), and a nephew in the church -- at the beginning of a great celebration.

And so the Mass begins, with all her friends and family in attendance...

Ah, but after the Mass -- she is now a Woman.
These are the girls she has grown up with in the village... Girls we ourselves have known since they were little kids. Some transformation!

And then the party begins. Sandra cuts the cake, and then she cuts up the dance floor -- along with everyone in this village and neighboring ones. The party was still going when we wandered back to our casita... music, food, dancing, and much laughter! We have manymany more pictures, if you're interested....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beloveds in our pueblo...

What joy and wonder as a little 3-year-old gazes at a piñata bigger than he is -- filled with balloons and toys. He is also from "our" family, mentioned below.
Well -- this is not so much about a photo of me (on my "will-you-still-need-me, will-you-still-feed-me" birthday) as it is a photo of the gifts brought to me that morning by beloveds in our pueblo... A beautiful piece of hand-made needlework; home-grown roses; and "I LOVE YOU" -- in English, you'll note -- this from our Ariana.

Speaking of whom -- here's almost everyone in the Ramirez family (for whom we are informally regarded as the Abuelos, the grandparents). Guille, Sara, Ariana, Flori, and Sandra (of Quinceñara fame) -- goofing off before presenting me with a Tres Leches birthday cake which we made short work of, along with sundry other sweet gifties...
And here is sweet Diana Laura (caught in utero by the Migra--now there's a story), with her mother and little sister in the background. Our next-door neighbors... a continually changing scene. So much to say -- but ah, how the photo shows the sweetness of Diana Laura and the bond we share.

And!!! Little Luis (his story is mentioned numerously in earlier blogs) who also used to live next door came back to visit! He has been successfully, deliriously happily adopted by a loving family in Zihua... How his little body shook with excitement as we met eyes again for the first time since then... He drew me this particularly happy face as a gift.... And here is a photo of him from that same day, deep in concentration.

Confirmed in the Faith....

By the time the Confirmation Mass began, the church was filled and all of us outside were seated in chairs -- right in the road (stopping any traffic til it was over)--with more folks seated along the side to the right. All of our little playmates from our first years living here --growing up! Ah, but of course, there's always a new crop of preschoolers...

Here's a glimpse inside -- a church built by the local parishioners over a number of years, and still in progress.
And here is one of our dear kids-growing-up -- Ariana Ramirez.

The greenness of our casita....

(But first -- a dreamy photo taken one evening, from the porch...)

So! Living in the sub-tropics is an immersion into greeniness....

And so.... we just went ahead and painted our buildings green (different shades every time) as well. This is taken from the ramada looking at our porch (where we LIVE--not inside the rooms). The sky-blue walls appear washed out in this photo -- but they are convincingly sky-blue such that birds and insects occasionally fly right into it (no broken necks!).

Then, turning around and looking the other way is a view of our green-pillared ramada in all its lushness...

...and this is yet another view of the ramada, taken from our porch.

And -- the porch itself. It is from here that we "watch TV" -- all the hummingbirds and butterflies and lizards and.... and... and... Care for a cup of coffee? How about a ripe mango--all of those yellow fruits in the foreground--they came from our own trees. Of a morning, I just wander around our four trees and pluck the the fruit, falling into my hand when ripe.

Robert at "Home Tree"/Mexico Spring 2010

There he stands, contemplating a risky task -- cutting off a diseased limb as big as a tree unto itself -- without getting caught under it.

And! There he stands, successful.
Not pictured are the days/hours spent sawing it into planks to be turned into furniture...

But here's an idea of just how heavy those planks are, once Robert cut them.
Guille is hauling them into our yard, where they carried them/stacked them inside the casita-- to dry til we return in the fall.

Robert (and friends) at work

Before the work begins, Santos of the Italian-accented English, and Sara Ramirez stay in the shade of our back porch.

Robert, Guille and Memo mixing the cement in the shade of our carport with the edifice to be constructed looming behind them....Our new wash-house.

And here, the men begin, by blocking out the walls to be constructed....

And a rather some time later....

And the close-to-finishing touches ...

Guille has such a fine eye for detail (as does Robert)

And here is where we left it til we return in the fall. Enough! We'll smoothcoat the outside walls and then paint them. Following that, Robert will begin with his woodworking projects to make a door to the shamrock-shaped shower room, and shelves for dish and clothes washing to the right of the shamrock.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Last Three of Thirteen...

I can't just leave the chicken story. So here's how it progressed up to when we packed up and headed north. When I last wrote, there were 8 chicks and a hen...>>

Just before leaving for a towntrip to Zihuatanejo, we saw the mother hen lurching and falling, wings spread all cockeyed. A village kid said that clearly, she had been stung by a scorpion. Give her garlic. We ground up a clove and got it down her mouth, put her in the shade, with water, and propped up upright with two bricks. One chick was also missing (presumably scorpion as well). The remaining six chicks hovered nearby as we left for town...

When we got home, our neighbor had taken the hen back to HIS yard, where he just left her flopping on the ground. He gave her no water/food/garlic. Said she didn't want any. The chicks slept by her at night and wandered our yard by day. Not surprisingly, the hen died. The chicks continued to sleep where their mother had lain....

Well, if anyone is actually reading THIS far: those 6 surviving chicks were reduced to 4 in a 3am tlacuache attack... The screaming survivors came racing over to our yard, waking us up to their desperation. We covered them up with a big flower pot, and that became their new safe home.

Of those 4, one actually had already also SURVIVED a rat attack that temporarily crippled one leg. We called him Hopalong, of course.

Then an eagle swooped down and reduced the flock to 3... Three roosterlets.

Those 3 continued to sleep by our porch each night under the flowerpot. Every single evening at dusk, they came and waited for us to drop it over them! If we were late, they'd huddle on the spot where the flowerpot SHOULD drop.

When we left Mexico, we turned them over to our neighbor who insisted that all these chicks were theirs in the first place (but made little effort to protect them). We will probably never know the ending.