Monday, October 29, 2012

Los Rayos Que Pican

(Did I get the grammar down correctly on that title?  "The Rays that Sting")

So -- my conclusion is this:  it's about surrendering to reality, and having booties MADE of straps and then WEARING them -- in order to be protected from the outrageously painful strike of the stingrays in the sea.

We each have been struck.  Robert first, then Annie, then me... and Robert has now been hit twice.  All strikes happened out there in our boogie-wave territory.  Surfers float above it all.

For both of Annie and Robert, that first strike was an excruciatingly painful ordeal, lasting some four hours. We hover over the afflicted asking what we can do to help, telling stories, massaging shoulders, whatever -- to just help them through... 

For me when I got hit, well, I lucked out.  When I set my foot down after a great ride, a ray struck me... I could feel it hit repeatedly and then wiggle to drill the poison in deep...  but the stinger had hit me directly on a STRAP of my sandals, and so it was all to no effect.  

So, anyway... this most recent strike (poor Robert) brought with it another helpful tip (Robert's invention). 

Just a few days ago,  being a good sport (and the surf waves sucked, so why not), Robert came and joined us surf-widows out there in the shore break waves.  Boogie-boarding, by the way, is the equivalent of sledding down hills.  Getting out to where the waves break (forcing your way through the forces of already crashed waves) is the equivalent of climbing back up the hill.  Catching the wave and riding it to shore is about as thrilling as sledding back down... The size of the wave -- like the steepness of the hill -- determines the hoot'n'holler factor.  (Annie and I are the only surf-widows who go out there and do this childish play -- I guess the others are just too sophisticated for "sledding."  Their loss, sez here.)

The shore waves were big and strong on this day, and so we were all hootin' and hollerin' and bouncing along to shore -- a great day for boogiers -- when Robert put his foot down and then called out.

We know the drill well.

Help the afflicted one limp to shore.  Race over to the nearby sand-dunes where the herbal remedy grows wild.  Gather bunches of it, while any other helper available alerts the little surfside restaurant folks to boil up some water.  In all past instances, the leaves are broken up and put into the very hot water and the afflicted one then painfully lowers the part of his foot that has the hole in it downdown into that very hot water.  One wonder which hurts worse!  Boiling hot water or strike? 

FOUR HOURS of that before the pain subsides enough to move on...

But now, there is IMPROVEMENT!  Robert came up with this one and it worked.  Following his request, the first batch of leaves that I gathered for him were "blendered" to a pulp and then packed and held directly onto the sting area.  Following that,  we submersed his foot into the mash as well.  The pain subsided noticeably (which is NOT to say that it quit hurting like hell -- but it did indeed subside to perhaps like, uh, purgatory maybe).

Robert still believes that hot infused water is also good, so he followed up the mash-soaking with gingerly dipping his foot into the hot water and herb infused bath , too.

The wonderful result (and I thank the mash) is that in a mere TWO hours, the pain had subsided and we moved on!

So..... about booties made of straps.  We have learned that sandal straps block the ray-sting, so then why not make booties that are all-strap?  Well, why not!!  So Annie did just that.  Had a pair made for me as well.  She wears hers... They look kinda like the boots that a knight-in-shining-armor might wear.... and kinda clunky.   The ones she had made for me need a little tweaking before they are wearable (they don't bend at the ankle but that can be tweaked if I would just take them back to the guy).  What is stopping me?  Danged if I know!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Well, so says Robert Frost.  Here in Mexico, apparently, that old maxim is flexible.

When we first moved into our humble village digs, we put up a fence around the entire perimeter of our property -- most especially to keep out the wandering pigs, cows and horses.  We had planted many new baby trees, and flowering bushes -- and we also didn't want their, um, contributions to our soil -- so easy to step in.  We gently and repeatedly instructed our little next'door neighbor kids to NOT clamber over our fence, but instead, to come in by the gate -- just like ALL the other kids in the village do.

However, the parents decided, while we were Stateside this past summer, that such a good fence was a barrier which prevented them from gathering the widespread eggs from their many free-range chickens--all laid on OUR property.  (Mind you, the chickens just fly over the fence, and wander our woodsy little-crawling-bug-filled-property for their meals.) So -- rather than walk down to the road and enter our property through our gate, they simply cut a square hole in the fence, right next to their house.  THAT hole is for their kids to get through.  As adults, mom and dad clearly roll over the top of the fence at another section between poles. 

Our first day back, I went over to the fence to greet the laughing jumping kids (mom was in the background watching)-- and I saw that hole.  The kids were trying to crawl through to greet me, but I reminded them to use the gate -- like all the other kids in the village do -- and off they ran.  I looked at the mother, with a look of surprised incredulity, and she looked away impassively as though she had other things to do.

So I amend Robert Frost in this case.  Deep patience and inner calm make good neighbors.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Power of the Sun

This is our front yard.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's Next?

There's a joke that shows up occasionally on Facebook in which a self-important college freshman accosts a senior citizen, saying that it's impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.   

"You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one!" he shouts.  "My generation grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon.  We have nuclear energy, ships and cell phones, computers with light speed -- and so much more..."

To which the senior citizen replies:  "You're right son.  We didn't have those things when we were young...."   and the joke goes on from there, but I'll add my own two cents first.

-------   1951   --------

ME (all of 5 years old):  "Dad?  What are they going to invent when I grow up that we can't imagine now?"

DAD (all of 40 -- and quite surprised):  "Ha!  That's an amazing question for you to ask me.  Usually, kids your age expect the world to always stay the same.  Why... what...  why are you asking?"

ME (with a shrug):  Well....  they said (referring to a commentator on TV) that when you were a kid, you never imagined TV and now we have one, so I wanna know what will be when I grow up that I can't imagine now..."

DAD (pensively, and after a pause):  Voluntary poverty.  (NOTE:  if he explained that, I do not recall, but those two words stuck fast in my memory......)

-------   1971   -------- 
ME (all of 24, and very much a back-to-the-land communal hippie at Wheeler's Ranch in Sonoma County, California -- dad had come out there to visit me):  Hey dad -- do you remember when I asked what they'd invent when I grew up, that we couldn't imagine then....and you predicted "voluntary poverty."  Well!  Here I am!  Do you remember?

DAD (all of 60, laughing warmly):  Yes, but I didn't mean YOU!!

He stayed for several days, wandering The Land with me, meeting my friends, and their funky homes.   When he left, he hugged me warmly, and gave his approval...  commenting that we were living in a good way, peaceful, and healthy.  He actually added that it reminded him of his early childhood -- and reminded me to be careful of my long skirt around the wood cookstove -- the same lesson his sisters had to learn, he added.

------ Back to that joke -----

After a brief silence, the senior citizen responded as follows:

"You're right, son.  We didn't have those things when we were young, so we invented them.  Now, you arrogant little ****, what are you doing for the next generation?"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Found Sculptures and Dear Friends

This fierce shark, pictured above, was once a piece of driftwood that I picked up after a storm.  
I changed nothing other than to paint it, so that you too might see how utterly fierce it is!!!

 And THIS, above, is what we see each and every morning when we open our eyes.

 This is the one surface I keep solely for interesting objects in arrangement...

 ....and here is a close-up of two favorite objects.  We purchased the Shaman, but the merman wielding a fiery sword is another piece of driftwood that I picked up on the beach -- and just can't talk myself into painting... yet. 
OH!  and that Spiderman?  Drift-plastic. He was half-buried in the sand when I found him, too.

Best of all..... are these ongoing friendships among the kids in the village.  They are free to drop by whenever we're home.  They know where the toys and projects are, and are free to pick and choose.  It is always a delight to have visitors such as these.

¡Ah!  ¡Las Conejas! 
We are delighted to share our love of green salady things with our friends.  Here, mother (Sara) and daughter (Ariana) have come over to help prepare food "for rabbits" as the lovely young Ariana likes to call salads.  And I really MUST add that there have been COUNTLESS times when Sara has invited us over for her delicious home-made meals of fresh-caught fish (by husband Guillermo), home-made blue corn tortillas, and various greens and vegeys, all of them perfectly spiced -- just fiery enough!
By the way, they regard us as their abuelos...... their grandparents.

Los Arcos -- our newest ramada

Morphing from just an elevated water-tank to a gravity-fed shower stall, then to a shaded hammock refuge as well...This newest addition to our little compound of shade roofs is soon to have also a kitchen sink (oh, and refrigerator, shelves, work-benches).... We love our newest refuge.

To make it more unique,Robert decided to add a touch of nature to it -- the arched trunks of beautiful selected trees, which help hold up the roof.  Naturally, we call this refuge Los Arcos.

Here are pix of the work as it has progressed from previous posts -- from putting up the arches to making cement and finishing the little walls...

When we return, we'll paint those little walls, hang up our hammocks and settle into Eden.


Here's lookin' at you!


Mothers' Day is such a sweet celebration in the pueblito in Mexico....  The school children present dances and skits, and also involve their mothers in games.  I've written about these celebrations in previous posts.  This year I attended the  middle-school age party.  Here are some photos...

The mothers all sit in in school desks (and a number of their children carved their names in the wood, I happened to notice) -- thoughtfully placed in the shade.

And to get the ball rolling, the MOTHERS are invited to play some party games first.  As I reported last year, a favorite game is (what I call)  "Caca Aiming."  Self-explanatory, I believe:

Then the kids begin their skits and dances.  This is my favorite:  the kids cover themselves up, hoping to be unrecognizable in these big bags,  and dance around awhile.  THEN, the mothers must come forward and fearlessly hug the child they are SURE is their very own darling.

How certain do these mothers appear to be as they come forward to hug their very own?

It all ends with some great and spirited dancing...


In the yard surrounding our humble casita in Mexico, we have four large mango trees, each of which produces copious  numbers of large, luscious, ripe mangos which drop to the ground in profusion every day in the fall.   Well, we just can't eat them all, and certainly cannot give them away.  Why not, you ask? 

Because EVERYBODY seems to have a plethora of large, luscious ripe mangos.  So here is our solution.... We set up our home-grown factory for making sun-dried mangos, as shown in the photos below. 

Alas, we cannot bring the dried mangos back to the States.  It's against importation laws.  Too bad, because they are reallyreally delicious.
 So here is our sweatshop (our ramada).  In the foreground are tree-fallen mangos soaking.  In the background, Robert is patiently peeling & slicing the ripe mangos...

And now -- with  the work kindly shared by our dear friends Sara y Guillermo -- the mango slices are carefully placed on the drying screen (which Robert built, of course).

Excellent work!

....and with that, the screen is put up on the slanting roof where the mangos will dry into crisp, delicious chips.  This takes several days -- and they must be hauled in at night to avoid dew and... furry/feathered friends who would like some, too!

These dried mangos really ARE delicious....

Thursday, June 21, 2012


          As a 6th grader, I dressed up as the Greek god Mercury, and enacted some of my favorite myths about him (and yes, I am wearing the dining room drapes).   Apparently I was setting the stage for my unforeseen future career as a performance artist / storyteller (archived at ).
      And now, just yesterday in fact, I performed what may be my final full-on storytelling gig:  a selection of favorite stories along the theme of  "Dreams of Flying."
     Fittingly, I ended the program with the very first story I ever performed -- the story that so motivated me when I first READ it, that I knew I had to perform it -- and so strong was that motivation that I rented a hall, put out flyers/press release, and showed up!
     "Jumping Mouse"  is that story.
     That was in Newburyport, MA -- full house attendance.  People asked me when my next show would be.  I shrugged and said impulsively,  "Next month."  And on it went for decades, to my delight!

* * *

And all of it -- the marvelous pageantry of travels, friendships, adventures --
sandcastles against the tide...
This is not morose.  It is fascinating.