Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

14 08 2013

WordPress, my blog platform, puts forth a weekly Photo Challenge. Following is my interpretation of One Shot, Two Ways:

Mexico is a hallucinogen, snaring me in a massive hug of subtle hues, intense scents, raw intensity of Life….


Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite authors, writes:

“In the afternoon when the sun lights the stucco buildings across the street, it’s possible to count a dozen different colors of paint, all fading together on the highest parts of the wall: yellow, ochre, brick, blood, cobalt, turquoise. The national color of Mexico. And the scent of Mexico is a similar blend: jasmine, dog piss, cilantro, lime. Mexico admits you through an arched stone orifice into the tree-filled courtyard of its heart, where a dog pisses against a wall and a waiter hustles through a curtain of jasmine to bring a bowl of tortilla soup. Steaming with cilantro and lime. Cats stalk lizards among the clay pots around the fountain, doves settle into the flowering vines and coo their prayers, thankful for the existence of lizards….”

The Lacuna ~ Barbara Kingsolver

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My Past. It Lives in a Tuff Shed.

10 08 2013

Monsters under the bed.

Skeletons in the closet.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

I’ve come to believe that at a certain point, life creates a dichotomy.

A dilemma.

Do I maintain my safe, comfortable, familiar life — remain with status quo?


Experience the life I dream of?

Things I’ve enjoyed throughout my life: Linens. Shiny baubles. Rusty gadgets. Christmas ornaments. Funky hats. Books. The unique, the no-longer-produced, the weird and the wonderful. Hand-crocheted nut cups from the 1940s. Rosebud Haviland china. Depression glass. Silver-plated pewter. Rosepoint crystal. Ginny dolls (predecessor to Barbie). Headboard beneath which my great-grandmother was born. The round 54” claw-foot table that expands to seat 21 at which my grandmother fed a multitude of harvest hands at Threshing Time — at which I fed a multitude of Fab Fam and friends for numerous Thanksgivings. A lovely home nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.

I also enjoy travel and new experiences. Meeting people. Mountain vistas. Deserted beaches. Sunrises over marshes.  Sunsets on the desert. Undulating fields of wheat. Neighborhood bars in foreign countries. Adventure.  My family and life in Colorado. Friends and lifestyle in Puerto Morelos.  An easy to lock-and-leave, uncluttered, condo near the beach of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

Precipitated by many of the changes that take place when one proceeds to fifty and beyond, I thoroughly examined and re-invented myself. Actually, with the help of a kick-ass Life Coach, I created the Me I was destined to be.  (Wow. That sounds weighty. )

Growth? Definitely.

Scary? Certainly.

Exciting? Unquestionably.

Worth it? Absolutely.

I sold my business. Bought a condo in Mexico. My husband became ill, then Transitioned. Our family home in Colorado found new owners.

My mother also Transitioned, and my brother (who hadn’t spoken to her in over 40 years) protested her “Irrevocable Trust,” and attacked my integrity as the executor and as her daughter.

All this is now resolved. I am stronger for having had these challenging experiences. I have learned to put things into perspective — to lighten the load — to let go of hurt and anger – to forgive.

During these – and other — upheavals of life, I consciously set a direction:  Simplify my life – release what no longer serves me.

Sounds easy enough. The actual logistics, however, were practically overwhelming.

Take a deep breath. Believe in the Outcome. One step at a time.

Making the decision to release my house – my home for over 20 years – and all the wonderful Stuff in it — was major.

The basement den was delegated for Stuff To Release.

Staring at shelves holding more than 60 years of book acquisitions, here’s a sample conversation with Self:

“I can’t get rid of this book. I love this book.

Mary. Seriously. Will you ever read this book again?

Well. Probably not. Actually. No.

Ever heard of a library?”

Many similar conversations followed by enough trips to Tradesmart, which pays 25-cents to a dollar per book, netted nearly $1000 and a barely a tad of freed-up space.  A beginning.

My daughter Leslie provided the best mantra, “Does this item bring me joy?”

Things that truly bring me joy – into boxes to stash and store.

Gifts to family and friends. Load after load to Salvation Army and women’s shelters. An auction house took two giant truck-loads. Several months later I received an itemized sales list with a not-fat-enough check. Cashed the check, never looked at the list.

And then I inherit my mother’s three-bedroom home with a packed-full-of-stuff two-car garage.

“Children. The time is Now. Take what you want.”

“Mom. We don’t want it.”

I come from a long line of Savers. I have been the repository for All Family Stuff. Thus, in the past year, I have reduced my lifetime of Stuff (No. More accurately: five generations of lifetimes) from two large homes to two 10’x20’storage units. Throughout this time, more sales and give-aways.

Down to only one of these units.

And I still have Stuff.

But as of last month, I’d down-sized to (#1) Stuff That Gives Me Joy and (#2) Stuff I Must Keep, such as tax records, photos, 35-mm slides of family (having discarded thousands of scenic slides early-on).  For me, family photos and slides are “Must Keeps.”

Again and again, I asked myself: Does this item give me joy? Yes.

However. Do I have a place to display, use, or enjoy it? No.

Am I ready to release it? No.


So. Fed up with paying storage rental fees, I invested in a Tuff Shed. Surely my Stuff will fit into 8’x14’.  It does. Barely.

Simplify and Release.

My Stuff has become a metaphor for my life.

I consciously choose:

What to keep.

What to discard.


Ways of Thinking.

Ways of Being.

The Past, of course, is part of Me.

I can bring it out at will.

Rely on it when necessary.

Love it.

Cherish it.

And lovingly tuck it away.

I am neither controlled nor defined by it.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

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Mexican baseball. It’s all about the food.

16 05 2013

My first Mexican baseball game –the Quintana Roo Tigres.

I now know all about Mexican baseball.

It’s all about the food.


And the people.

!!!And the fun!!!

 I understand there is also a competition called baseball.

Not only beer, margaritas, hotdogs and burritos - but flan! And a baseball game.

Not only beer, margaritas, hotdogs and burritos – but flan! And a baseball game.

Entering the Cancun stadium is not unlike any sporting event in any part of the world — theme-adorned Fans, venders hawking tacky toys, candy, food booths, team wares. Testosterone. Feminine energy. The raw vitality of Anticipation.

And Tigres games are affordable. Ideal seats. Four-rows up, behind home base: 95 pesos (about $8.50 USD).

Whadda ya want? Just beckon, and your gastronomic desire arrives pronto. Beer. Chiladas. Michaladas. Plumaros (a massive margarita-like concoction of tequila, sprite and salt). Rum-and-coke. Sodas. Aracherra (beef) burrito with guacamole. Hot dogs.  Weiners splayed open, then deep fried (let’s maximize the grease factor) with French fries, of course. Fried bananas. Salchiccha. Chorizo. Pork chop. Chicken wings. Kibis and bolsas (Kibis are a deep-fried eastern Indian dish Mexicanized with habenaro and marinated red onions. Bolsas seem unique to the Ball Game: small-portion kibi balls served in a plastic bag.) Elotes and esquitas (My personal faves, even though they’re Montezuma’s Revenge waiting to happen. Elotes: corn-on-the-cob on a stick. Esquitas: cut off the cob and in a cup. Slathered with mayonnaise, cheese, crema, chili and lime. YUMMM!) Flan. Candy apple dipped in a tamarindo goo and rolled in chili. Neon-pink cotton candy. Deep-fried churros with your choice of chili or chocolate.   Fried crepe stuffed with Nutella and cheese. Did I mention there’s an abundance of “fried”? What’s not to love about a ball game?

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And the people!  Moms. Dads. Babies. Kids. Grandparents.  Great-Grandparents. Hombres in droopy shorts and backwards ball caps escorting bejeweled girlfriends with five-inch heels, cleavage, and rhinestoned hair. And a few of us gringos.

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Of course we have the requisite scantily-clad cheerleaders, bouncing out from a canary-yellow sports car, coaxing the Tigres to Victory. These dark-eyed lovelies not only gyrate as expected but mingle throughout the stands.

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Alas. Chacho, Tigre’s popular human-in-tiger-costume, was absent this night.

I was particularly attracted to the dead-pan-mime clown who periodically changed costume. My fave was his North-Dakota-style ear-flap hat and saggy pants. His star act? Munching a sandwich, then sharing bites with eager children.

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There was also the crazed fan affectionately referred to as Pollo (Chicken) based on his memorable costume: What else but a vivid red-and-yellow chicken suit? Pollo’s a staple at every game, rousting chants from the crowd, strutting the chicken dance and leading each Section in The Wave. Now how did this possibly happen? There’s a lull in the game. I’m out of the way, lounging by the tunnel, people-watching and minding my own business. Suddenly.  I’m Pollo’s dance partner.  ?A gringa? The crowd goes wild.

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This night, Tigres defeated the Merida team 3:1, including two home runs. Each hit was applauded by the enthusiastic band, heavy with drumrolls, and punctuated by the crowd’s exuberant cry: Tigres!

Did I mention (could we ever be more wonderfully politically incorrect?) that the batboys are dwarfs? The Merida team had one, but Tigre fans lament that “Mexico City stole ours – we’re looking for another.”

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Mexicans know how to eat.

And how to dress.

And how to fully enjoy An Experience.

They create Amazing Fun.

Thanks to my partners-in-crime for including me in their regular sojourn to support and enjoy the Tigres: Ken and Kathy Ouellette, Amber Pierce-Schultz and Caden, Ed Murphy, Kim Temple, Anne and Steve Lowen with her mom Joan, Rob and Joanne McKinnon.

Thanks to my partners-in-crime for including me in their regular sojourn to support and enjoy the Tigres: Ken and Kathy Ouellette, Amber Pierce-Schultz and Caden, Ed Murphy, Kim Temple, Anne and Steve Lowen with her mom Joan, Rob and Joanne McKinnon.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

So ~ Who Won?

12 07 2011

For those of you holding your breath since my blog about the Wall of Shame and Puerto Morelos’ mayoral election  ~ for those of you losing sleep ~ frantically

“Who Won?!”

 Your wait will be just a tad longer.

Yes. My man  Manuel ~ Mr. Lavender ~ got the most votes.

And as a sidebar:

Little did I know that lavender was so important.

Mexico has such a high rate of illiteracy that the voting form includes a specific color beside the candidate’s name. For this election,  our choices were Brown, Pink, and Lavender.

There were, however, a few slight irregularities.

As in busloads of people from Cancun arriving with forged Voting Cards.

A group of us were enjoying Sunday Brunch Bunch at John Gray’s when Frank called that he was delayed in traffic. (Traffic jams in Puerto Morelos?) We blamed it on the triathlon held that day. But, no. It was an Uprising of The People, protesting the election.

And speaking of indiscretions.

My own Mr. Lavender produced a flyer featuring a photo of the favored candidate, Rodrigo. Printed on lavender paper.

Now, we’re not naming names, pointing fingers, or erecting yet another Wall of Shame ~ but our election was declared Invalid.

So, come December ~ we can look forward to more rallies, singing trucks, flapping banners, a weekend of no alcohol, and perhaps, lavender flyers.

Tally of Votes

The Wall of Shame ~ Muro de la Vergüenza

30 06 2011

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For anyone who hasn’t been in  Puerto Morelos in the summer ~ It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s rainy. It’s quiet. It’s truly wonderful.

Those of us remaining feel like Family.

But, I digress.

Sunday, our citizens elect their first Mayor! Perhaps those new to this area are not aware that Puerto Morelos is not “independent.” We are  considered within city limits of Cancun nearly 40 kilometers north, and our tiny voting populace really doesn’t count for much as far as The Big City is concerned. What the Cancun officials do like, however, are the tax revenues from the hotels and restaurants. Bottom line, they take in our tax money, permits and liquor license fees, and throw Puerto Morelos a pittance to finance services such as road repair, police protection (an oxymoron?), fire trucks, ambulance service. Before any city or state election, there’s a flurry of activity.

So in their infinite wisdom and heart-felt benevolence, Cancun is recognizing that Baby Sister is growing up and can handle money on her own. Not too much, of course, as Cancun carved out choice hotels to keep within its borders. But it’s a start.

Having an election, however, means no alcohol is sold or served from an as-yet-undetermined time on Saturday (Saturday Night in PM with No Alcohol?!) and all day Sunday. Elections are Sunday – because, theoretically, no one is working and each citizen will, of course, vote. And, we certainly wouldn’t want anyone who’d had a beer Saturday night to vote the next day.

The lack of alcohol is compensated for, however, by mindless entertainment preceding the election – singing trucks blaring Promises and Vote-For’s rumbling through streets here and in The Colonia. Rallies. Honking horns. Balloons. Billboards.

I’m all for billboards.

While eating ice cream cones Monday night, my friend Susan and I took refuge from the rain under a flapping canvas sign declaring loyalty for Rodrigo tacked over the front of closed-for-the-season Alma Libre bookstore. I’ve been somewhat partial to Rodrigo since that moment.

Until today.

Driving into town after a trek to the airport, I’m greeted by larger-than-life Manuel — giving a Thumbs Up and grinning crookedly, depending on the direction of the wind – ensconced in purple. Well, not actually purple  ~  lavender. His supporters, wearing lavender tee-shirts, carry lavender balloons.  I figure this has to be a guy secure with his masculinity. And what a nice smile. With gigantic thumbs.

Note-to-self: never allow my photo on a fluttering canvas sign.

In retrospect (and actually relating to this topic) one of my favorite billboards was erected in the Town Square last March:

 The Wall of Shame.

Muro de la Vergüenza

 The Wall of Shame was not simply a “billboard,” but a permanent cement structure boldly naming nine public officials for mentirosos and corruptos.  Signed El Pueblo (The Town).

Does one really need to understand Spanish to get the drift? Corruptos?

I did look up mentirosos – – loosely interpreted:  You’re a big liar!

It seems these are the officials who ignored the overwhelming vote of the Puerto Morelos citizens to elect their own mayor.  Perhaps allowing our election wasn’t total benevolence, after all.

And perhaps the United States could take a lesson from Mexico: Visualize the heart of town, the most-busy intersection:  Muro de la Vergüenza. Has a nice ring to it.

Elections in Puerto Morelos are Sunday.

Why wait? I’m buying extra wine tonight.

Planning an Election Party.

And wearing lavender.

ARTEzissimo ~ Galeria y Cantina

23 03 2011

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My art becomes the windows to paradise –

people bring this paradise back into their homes….

~ Zissi ~ Franziska Schuett ~

If one needed to decompress from a Caribbean lifestyle, ARTEzissimo — home, kitchen, cantina, art gallery, guest house – would fill this need. White décor, high ceilings, tall windows for an abundance of natural light, green plants – all merge to allow casual conversation, comfort, and maximum appreciation of an eclectic art collection. Options for drinks or dining include the kitchen counter to chat with Zissi and pat the dogs, the gallery with its sofa, or outdoor gardens.

Guests are greeted by Xolo (“cholo”) the Mayan hairless canine. With his bare gray-and-pink splotched body, white Mohawk head-tuft, random hair-bursts, and his prominent and oh-so-Mexico cojones, Xolo initially appears somewhat off-putting (dare we say, “ugly”?). But his pleading eyes, nearly toothless smile, and wagging rat-like tail lovingly win your heart – and after a glass or two of vino tincto or the Zissi Tequila Special (tequila, orange juice, grape fruit juice over ice), he begins to resemble Star Wars’ Yoda or a wrinkly, pock-marked great-grandfather you may have known in a past life. Mickey, the soft, brown-and-white, tail-wagging rescued street-dog appears much more “normal.”

Zissi’s behind the bar, chatting with guests while serving up complimentary botanas – chips and home-made salsas or perhaps a spicy potato/chipotle/chorizo mixture. Wine is 35 pesos; vodka, rum, tequila 30 pesos; beer 20 pesos. She offers breakfast with coffee, and later in the afternoon, features a changing daily cuisine — Thai, Italian, or French often created with fish caught that day; prices range from 65 to 120 pesos. She’s not in this, she says, to make big money. Wine glasses are small, perhaps even a jelly glass. When asked if she’d like more glassware, she responds: “How many wine glasses do I need? Three? This is a Art Gallery, not The Ritz. My friends expect the food, not the plates, to reflect quality.”

Zissi — Franziska Schuett — traveled from Germany to Puerto Morelos in 1988. “I saw Mexico,” she says, “and then went back to Germany where everything was gray and cold. My art is intended to show people we are living in paradise – to open their eyes to appreciate nature. It is part of us.”

She grew up in a family of artists. Her father’s work is displayed in the bathrooms – an ethereal chalk of eight-day-old Baby Zissi hangs in the women’s bath, and a whimsical confession honoring his attraction to early-century whores adorns the men’s room.

A bust of her mother, created by her father — much too bland for Zissi’s taste — now sports piercing Caribbean-blue eyes and whore-red lips. “This is art – I can do what I want.” Her personal style ranges from pencil-pastel realism to 18th-century oils to graphic art to water colors – often with a poignant social commentary. The house itself is art – including a ‘50s-style washing machine with an interior light and black/white cowhide motif in the gallery and a European-style canvas oil propped on the stove of the Cantina. She laments that her artwork is part of her private collection and not for sale – with the gallery now open, it’s a challenge finding time to create.

The gallery itself – a room adjoining the Cantina — houses major pieces by renowned Mexican artists, changing approximately every two months. The current exhibit showcases Luis Alberto Platas Reyes of Cancun.

This Gallery/Cantina has been a long-planned idea, now coming to fruition.

Galeria – Open to Public

Cantina – Private Club for friends, their guests, and other open-minded people – passionate, personable people interested in art of the neighborhood – “You know who you are.”

Hours — 11:00 – 6:00 pm
Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays

77580 Puerto Morelos ~ Av. Ninos Heroes 779
Tel: 87 10576
Cel: 9981 44 95 01

Miraculous Meal Experience

1 02 2011

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In my first blog entry nearly  a year ago, I mused that a meal is more than just the food and that savoring the meal is not unlike making love – being present and relishing each delectable moment with all the senses…The recent dinner, prepared by Chef Edward Murphy in his home, created just such a rare magical experience.

For the silent auction benefitting Natalie and Cantina Habenaro, Ed and his wife Cheryl generously donated a five-course meal including wine pairings. Len Semeniuk purchased this event, and I am grateful to have been one of the eight to enjoy this exquisite culinary affair. When it comes to The Total Meal Experience, Ed and Cheryl are masters.

We were greeted by the scent of something wonderful sautéing in garlic and a table set with a cheery orange cloth and pink bougainvilleas among glistening candles. I’m juxtaposing Emeril Lagasse as Ed deftly dices and peels a mango, stirs one of several sauces, and checks the oven. Out his window, the sea’s whitecaps dance to a breeze-song. Cheryl pours champagne cocktails over berries and guides us to wicker chairs on the cozy patio.

This was a daydream-about Puerto Morelos evening – the soft caress of an ocean breeze — intense pinks and cerulean blues piercing the white cloud-puffs above the mangrove – friends enjoying each other’s company and crisp champagne….The evening soared upwards from here….

The sweet-spicy surprise of a mulatto salsa/habanero jelly on the eat-with-fingers lollypop lamb chop, melt-on-your-tongue puff pastry infused with prosciutto, shrimp with garlic aioli on a chickpea pancake….and this was only the first of five sumptuous courses, plus the cheese board….

The evening’s camaraderie flowed with easy conversation, joyful memories and toasts to Ed Hoffman and Cantina Habanero, laughter generously punctuating the silence of taste-buds-in-awe. It was one of those evenings that we didn’t want to end. Yet somewhere around midnight we could find no more excuses to linger just a bit longer and strolled to our cars and homes, more than satiated with wonderment and exquisite food prepared with love….

¡La vida es rica!

About our Hosts….

Cheryl writes:

Edward did his apprenticeship at the Hyatt Regency on Yorkville in Toronto and graduated from George Brown College, Chef Program. For the last 20 years, Edward was Executive Chef for the Canadian Auto Workers in Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada.  It was a very large property on Lake Huron with 130 rooms and convention facilities for 2000.

Yes, Edward and I did meet while he was a Consulting Chef and I was the Catering Supervisor — we fell madly in love, got married, moved to the country — Markdalem Ontario, Canada — and had a 120-seat restaurant called Mrs. Murphy’s Restaurant and Catering company.

We certainly have had fun working together for the past 28 years. We always made a good team — he was back of the house, and I was front.   In this case, it does really pay to sleep with the boss.

Menu – Ed Hoffman Memorial Dinner

Prepared by Chef Edward Murphy with his charming assistant Cheryl Murphy

Welcome Champagne Cocktails


Lamb Chops with Mulatto Salsa/ Habanero Jelly

Palmetto with prosciutto

Shrimp with garlic aioli on chickpea pancake


Thai bouillabaisse with grouper shrimp and scallops

wine: Covey Run Late Harvest Riesling 2007


Tuscan Bread Salad


Deconstructed Beef Wellington with Fois Gras and Creamed Mushrooms

Dauphinoisse Potato

Carrots and Asparagus in White Truffle Beurre Noisette

Creamed Spinach with Chaya Madeira Sauce

Penfolds Pino Noir


Papaya and Guava Crepes in Grand Marnier

with dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Italian Sweet Wine


Assorted cheese served with poached pears


Aged Manchego

Old Cheddar

Ile De France Camembert