Mesa Mariposa ~ Butterfly Table

26 07 2015

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder….

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Alex in our Frieda Room with Mesa Mariposa. The wet-bar he created from antique doors is in the background

From a mammoth tree somewhere deep in the jungle of Quintana Roo — to a “discard pile” in Puerto Morelos – to the carpenter-artistry of Guanajuato’s Alejandro Vazquez — to our living room in Casa de Colores on Calle Temezcuitate….

When Peter and I spotted an unusual piece of wood among the scraps at a carpentry shop in the jungle outside the fishing village of Puerto Morelos , we knew that beneath the dirt, fungi and moss beat the heart of an exceptional table top. We felt the vibes screaming to be released — it was lovely.

But the artistry of Guanajuato’s Alejandro Vazquez took it to the next level, creating stunning art with function.

In the scrap pile....

In the scrap pile….

David, Ignacio and Gama, the wood butchers/artists in Puerto Morelos called it the Mariposa due to its butterfly shape. We agreed to their ridiculously reasonable price, which included cleaning and leveling. High-five!

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We then loaded Mariposa, other rare finds in wood, and our belongings, into Suzibelle-of-the-Jungle our Suburu (another story) to drive a highly eventful 2,614 km through Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca, and Michoacán to our home in Guanajuato, central Mexico, so Alex could work his magic.

2614 kilometers ~ 1625 miles from Puerto Morelos to Guanajuato

Our journey: 2614 kilometers ~ 1625 miles — from Puerto Morelos to Guanajuato

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More projects are in the works – and Alex and Peter will be working together to create fine Guitars and Basses using mainly Mexican woods — but Alex’s latest creation is our Mesa Mariposa – the butterfly table.

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Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder – especially with the help of a talented artist and friend….

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Publicos Baños

25 01 2015

Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.

Kurt Vonnegut

For the past year or so, Peter and I have been traveling across Mexico – driving from Sonora, the northern-most state, south through Sinaloa and Nayarit to our home in Guanajuato in the central mountainous area…journeys to the artisans of Michoacán…Puebla…Oaxaca…through Tabasco, Campache and Chiapas…across Yucatan and to my other home in Quintana Roo on the eastern coast. Are some of these areas “dangerous”? Yes. According to “national alerts,” and certainly if you listen to USA mainstream media. We travel in daylight (usually) and stay “aware” of our surroundings – sometimes on the major highways, yet more often on the minor roads, bouncing across the frequent topes (speed bumps) through countryside and villages. DSC_5218 Most recently, we traveled from Guanajuato to the southern coast of Oaxaca: Bahia de Santa Cruz. About a 20-hour trip. Our route took us through the Colonial cities of Puebla and Oaxaca; Matatalan, famous for mezcal and pulche; San Martin Tilcajete, world-renowned for exquisite alebrijes; and mountains thick with evergreens juxtaposed against stands of bamboo and banana trees, washed-out roads, and beautiful people.

Trip Route

Trip Route

I haven’t been blogging. But now…time to share –

The beauty of this diverse country.

The idiosyncrasies.

The people.

My impressions.

I hope you enjoy these journeys, as well…. From the Only In Mexico department –- Peter and I are driving through Tlacolula, a small pueblo in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, when we smell roasting cocoa beans before even seeing the Chocolate Shop….

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We’re looking for a restroom, and, conveniently, Tlacolula has a well-manned Baños Publicos. Definitely “well-manned” — three men, waiting to collect my 2 pesos (about 14 cents), dispense the allotted paper squares, and – get this –present me with a printed receipt. Building. Attendants. Electric lights. Running water. Allotment of necessary paper. And. Printed receipt. All for 14 cents.

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I love Mexico!





When Life Flows….

5 12 2014

When one manifests Joy, life flows — flow with it.

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My Love and I are now happily creating lives together in Guanajuato — a delightful 500-year-old city in the mountains of central Mexico. Thus, as delightful as it has been –the time is right to release my beach condo and the life I created in Puerto Morelos on the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo.

So. Following an afternoon of camaraderie on the beach, I’m meeting with my friend and Realtor, Kim Temple, to list my condo-home. Kim looks and is, very Professional. Business-like. Somewhat serious. Explaining procedures — when Jenine, a friend from the beach afternoon, knocks on the open door – “Mary? You here? Robert and I just met these people who are looking for a place to buy in Puerto Morelos. Can we come in?” Of course.

With great flair, enter Robert, Jenine, their two new friends Sandra and Tony – originally from Belize and now from Washington state – along with their taxi driver Cesar – all enjoying beers. Being out of beer, we break out wine. Jenine is enthusiastic and animated — showing, describing, sales-pitching my condo – ousting our friends Steve and Nelly from the guest bedroom. They join the party.

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Admist the pandemonium, washing machine repairmen arrive.

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Noisy, joyful, chaos ensues.

Poor Kim.

We decide to meet tomorrow – papers so far unsigned. Kim leaves.

The party continues. More wine. The taxi driver does a Beer Run. Music with Peter on guitar, Robert on harmonica. Stories. Laughter.

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As our new friends get up to leave, Tony collapses.

Oh my.

Too much partying throughout the day?

He’s dragged/carried to the couch for TLC, ice pack, and water.

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The party continues. Tony recovers.

The party morphs to El Bistro for homemade Italian.

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Did the condo sell?

Not yet.

But it will — with joy, ease, and grace.

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When one manifests Joy, life flows — flow with it.





The Camote Man

9 06 2014

“Enjoy the little things in life,

for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

Kurt Vonnegut

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Peter and I had about given up on seeing The Camote Man again – when – while enjoying each other, wine, and emerging stars following a pink-sky sunset– an unmistakable screech penetrates the far-off cacophony of barking dogs and the occasional enthusiastic drummer .

“As the lights come on in Guanajuato they are reflected into the night, and we call them stars….” Dennis Pekus

As the lights come on in Guanajuato they are reflected into the night, and we call them stars….
Dennis Pekus

Each Mexican entrepreneur has his own distinctive marketing technique – The lute of the afilador who sharpens knives at your doorstep. Clang-clang on the tank by the gas company rep. “Aaaagggguuuuaaaaa” sings out the water guy. And – amazing to us – is not only listening but watching these men effortlessly heft their wares throughout the severe slopes of Guanajuato, over 6000 feet above sea level. How does that wiry little guy carry four of those five-gallon water garrafónes?

One of many callejones of Guanajuato.

One of many (steep) callejónes/alleys of Guanajuato.

This night, The Camote Man is obviously below us on a better-populated street: Calle Sangre de Cristo. We live far above, near The Panoramica which encircles this historic city. Will he venture this far? We start whistling and yelling to the universe — and anyone else who’s listening: “Arriba! Arriba! Up! Up!”

It was a couple of months ago when we first experienced the taste sensation – not to mention, the visual delight – of a camote (sweet potato) wood-fire-roasted in a Stanley-Steamer-looking device — coals glowing — pushed amidst the callejónes.

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We are in luck this night. The whistle intensifies. Adults and children emerge from darkened doors, 20 pesos in hand, to receive a steaming camote dripping la leche condensada azucarada and canela. We pass on the sweeten condensed milk but request extra cinnamon – then retire inside to slather on mounds of butter and pour more wine.

A delectable camote for only 20 pesos -- about $1.50 USD.

A delectable camote for only 20 pesos — about $1.50 USD.

 Life is grand. We are grateful.

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Brown

7 10 2013

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine,

but because people refuse to see it.

James Michener

If I lived in this dreary town I’d invest in paint.

Me.

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Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Capital of Mexico’s second-largest state: Sonora

Eight hours south of Phoenix

June.

112 °F ~ 44°C

Summer, I’m told, has not yet arrived.

Brown.

Desert. Dust. Adobe. Dirt. Bricks. Rocks. Cobblestones. Concrete. Boulders. Heat waves. Grit. Grime. Muck. Chaff. Weeds (dead). Dreary. Desolate. Bleak. Barren. Gloomy. Wasteland. Hot. Hot. Hot. Dry. Dry. Dry.

Brown.

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I’ve been a bit reticent to walk Hermosillo’s dimly lit streets at night. This is a “city,” not a village like my home of Puerto Morelos or even Morrison, Colorado.

But Hermosillo, like cities everywhere, is constructed of “neighborhoods.”

At dusk, I reluctantly ventured out my El Centro apartment as the day cooled to approximately 110 and a dusty breeze swirled an errant plastic bag from the curb. My camera captured adobe breaking through cement and crumbling bricks. Tired, hundreds-of-years-old buildings. Ancient arches. Graffiti. Dead weeds. Cactus. Brilliant bursts of bougainvillea. Neighbors filtering into the streets. Sitting on curbs. Leaning against trucks. Chatting. Relishing the “cool” of the evening, the descending dark, the ascending nearly-full moon.

There’s something going around the corner?? A pig. On a leash. Named Chuletta.  Chuletta, translated: Pork Chop. I do love Mexico.

Chuletta - Pork Chop

Chuletta – Pork Chop

This, however, is not a tourist town – and in the night, I’m not totally comfortable as the Lone Gringa. At the upcoming corner sits a gaggle of men about my age, beers in hand — one perched on the tailgate of his pick-up-truck, picking guitar. Should I turn back? Question answered as they clown for my camera. Conversation ensues. Well — with my barely-Spanish, it kind of ensues. But I accept their offer of a cervesa –  international symbol of camaraderie — and enjoy the one song my musician is obviously pleased to know in English – Hotel California.

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This is the oldest neighborhood in Hermosillo, they proudly proclaim. Most of these guys work at the University of Sonora – an engineer, a doctor, a couple lawyers, citizens of the World. We dance. My partner, however, was born with that Latin Salsa gene of which I am sorely lacking. Laughter, however, is universal.

They ask if I like Mexico. “Mexico have good people,” the musician proclaims. “And you are good people,” he adds, touching my heart.

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Brown.

Eyes. Faces. Hands. Hair. Smiles. Laughter. Kindness. Joy. Understanding.  Delight. Friendly. Helpful. Honest. Warm. Welcoming. Bronze. Beautiful.

Brown.

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Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.

Carlos Castaneda

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Mujer de la Verdad

25 08 2013

My friend and I are vacationing where we are possibly the only non-Latin American faces on the crowded malecón, the tourist walkway beside the beach, when I discover that I’ve lost my wallet.

Near-panic ensues — I practically carry my life in that wallet.

Cell phone rings.

¿Es esto Maria Jordan?

Si.

Fast deluge of Spanish I don’t understand.

Working together, we figure it out and meet.

I have named my anonymous caller, Mujer de la Verdad — Woman of Truth. She found my number and, using her own phone minutes, called to return the wallet and its contents.

My friends tell me I’m crazy to live in Mexico. Drug wars. Beheadings. Murders.

I continue to find Beauty. Joy. Peace. And honest, caring People.

I am grateful.

“Genuinely good people are like that. The sun shines out of them. They warm you right through.”  ― Michael Morpurgo, Alone On A Wide Wide Sea

“Genuinely good people are like that. The sun shines out of them. They warm you right through.”
― Michael Morpurgo, Alone On A Wide Wide Sea





I Will Die Living

18 08 2013

One could call me a Retirement Hedonist — living on the Riviera Maya in Mexico, strolling the beach, enjoying yoga, playing with my Grand Babies, exploring my Inner Being, doing some travel….

So why did I sign up for a Spartan Obstacle Race?

Because my daughter Leslie, a Spartan Pro Elite Racer, encouraged me, and my doing this seemed important to her. It also involved a trip to Portland to visit Jessica, my other daughter. And. It was a few months away. No immediacy.

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A great opportunity for Mom-Daughter Time.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’d done The Dirty Girl run twice – great muddy fun. Spartan couldn’t be that much different – could it?

Oh, my.

Leslie’s in the first heat, so we arrive early at the Washougal, Washington, race site. A Spartan Flag flutters and the sun emerges, illuminating the hover of fog over a blanket of lush green. A volunteer waves the way. Race Day.

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Race day.

Observing preparations and absorbing the palatable energy– I realize,

“Damn. These people are serious.”

Elite Pro Women.

Elite Pro Women.

A few of Elite Pro Men.

A few of Elite Pro Men.

 I’m registered for the second day of this two-day event. Saturday, I’m photographing my daughters as they abuse their sculpted bodies and watching them push themselves beyond previously unknown limits.

Leslie:

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Jessica:

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Shell-shocked, I’m secretly scheming:

How can I get out of this? What the hell was I thinking?!

And toward the end of that Saturday:

I can do this. I don’t care how long it takes. I WILL do this.

 Or. Die trying.

Actually: I will die living.

(My new mantra.)

Sunday arrives. Leslie competed with the Pros again and intended to also go again with me. That would entail her completing this rigorous event three times in two days. But she aggravated an old injury, and following her first-place finish, she could barely hobble. The previous day, she lost concentration on the last obstacle, falling off the Traverse Wall. Thus, 30 burpees and dashed hopes of finishing in the Top Three.Leslie ProSpartan Page Header - Version 2

So Jessica – who crossed the finish line 38th of the more than 1000 women who competed on Saturday  – was designated “to look after Mom.”

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The scenery in Washington is glorious. Washougal is nestled in majestic trees and rolling hills (mountains!). The race began with a Tony Robbins/Military style pep rally, “You are a Spartan! Look to the left of you. Look to the right of you. These are your Fellow Spartans! You will not fail! Aroo!”

And we’re off into a burst of smoke bomb.

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Let’s be honest here. I do not run. I walk. But for the sake of image and race photos – I do the obligatory sprint across the Start line. Then settled into my trudge up – severely up – the first half-mile. Across vistas, through trees and the first obstacle: hurdles. Not so bad. If you don’t count form.  All followed by a treacherous rocky-slidey down the same mountain.

While Dirty Girl involves climbing towers of tires, Spartans flip, drag, and push them. Spartans also do the Atlas Carry involving a 60-pound cement block and a requisite five burpees. They carry sand bags up a mountain, then back down. And walls and hurdles, over-unders, and a massive slip-n-slide into frigid muddy water. Dirty Girl had us boosting each other up stacks of straw bales and scrambling through a bit of squishy mud. This Spartan Sprint – only 5k (a loooong 3.5 miles) with 18 obstacles – had us crawling/slipping/grasping/sliding under (real) barbed wire for a full quarter-mile. Uphill. For starters.

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Then. Grab this chain – it’s fastened to a cement block. And get one of those logs. Take them around those trees and back. Together? At the same time? How far?

Leslie calls this the Toddler Obstacle – not totally unlike carrying a sleeping baby while dragging a screaming toddler and balancing bags of groceries. For her: static items such as chains, cement, logs –no problem.

“Need some help, Mom?”

I can do it.

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Although I did accept a “leg-up” for a couple of particularly tall wall-climbs.

I’ve watched my 3- and 5-year-old Grand Daughters shinny up rope cargo ladders at the playground. Those climbs, relative to their heights, must have been just as daunting. In my mind, I can hear 5-year-old Lucy: “You can do it, Nana. Watch me.” But this ladder strung between trees was at least 30-feet high. No safety net — Oh shit. I’m up. Now I have to get my leg over?! — And then, back down.

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I could feel Jessica’s nerves. (Is Mom going to panic and freeze? How do I get her down?)

Oh, ye of little faith. I am doing this. All of this.

I will die living.

Carl Jung wrote about the four archetypes, four stages, that we as humans move through during our adult lifetime:  Athlete (we are preoccupied with our appearance).  Warrior (out to conquer the world and emerge ahead of anyone in the way).  Statesman (our focus turns to serving others to make the world a better place).  Spirit (we realize that we are infinite spiritual beings having a temporary human experience).

My daughters are beautiful, amazing Warrior Women.

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Leslie St. Louis

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Jessica Dover

I’ve also been a Warrior in my own way, raising them, starting and managing my own successful business. And now, I’m relishing my life of being part of, rather than conquering, the world.

And no. I hadn’t trained enough. No way could I even try the rope climb. And I fell flat on my back attempting the Inverted Wall. (Jessica helped me by doing 15 of my 30 burpees for that failed obstacle.) I almost hit the target with the spear throw (“almost” doesn’t count). And perhaps I could have done the Traverse Wall, but not after all the other trudging, crawling, swimming, hurdling, slithering, sliding, climbing that day …. So overall I did about 75 burpees– albeit modified, very slooooow ones.

But. I did it.

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And finished #1 in my age group.

This statistic would be so much more impressive if I could omit the fact I was the only person in my age group (others had more common sense?). However, in this year’s race season, there have been 11 of us Spartans aged 65-69.  Currently, I rank #5.

To add further perspective: On this Sunday, Leslie, a Pro Racer, claimed the First Place female title, clocking in at 50 minutes.  On Saturday, Jessica finished in 1 ¼  hours. The event took me 2 ½ hours.

I can barely move. My knees are raw. Shoulders ache. I limp. I’m still digging mud out of my ears and various orifices.

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In the words of three-year-old Grand Daughter, Sky, who ran a Spartan Kid Race:

“I won!”

Lucy: "I made so many friends in the mud!"

Lucy: “I made so many friends in the mud!”

Sky: "I won."

Sky: “I won.”

Yes. I won.

Not fading away. Living.

So, today?

Do I meditate with a beach sunrise? Or. Attack the world with a Spartan Race?

I will die living.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”   Hunter S. Thompson

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

Related Links:

Although Leslie’s website  and Facebook, Colorado Obstacle Racers, targets events in Colorado, it is also a great source of overall information on obstacle racing, human interest stories, and data applicable to life and wellness —          http://www.coloradoobstacleracers.com/index.html

To experience beautiful writing and a valuable perspective on intention, outcomes and success, read the story of 3-year-old Sky, Eye of the Tiger: My Preschooler Won the Spartan Kid’s Race               http://www.coloradoobstacleracers.com/1/category/leslie%20st%20louisa786cd900c/1.html

Spartan Race site:    http://www.spartanrace.com/index.html

Obstacle Racing Media is a new online e-zine dedicated to the sport:         http://obstacleracingmedia.com/