Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Christmas to All!

Inside red chiles

Hot white seeds waiting to burn

Her cool Latin lips

(a haiku from Sacred Lake)

Actually, this is a card that has been handed out by a local dental office advertising prices for dental work: cleaning 150 pesos ($12), resin filling 360 ($30), and crowns 1900 ($150). I'm not sure what the other categories mean, but the prices are good. No surprise many Americans come to Mexico for their dental work.

The weather is a bit cooler in the evening and very comfortable during the day as the winter solstice will soon be here. This is a photo taken over the wall in our back yard of a recent sunset. Christmas is rapidly approaching, and we are looking forward to having all three of our children and our grand daughter, Isabelle, visit for about a week.

Wendy has seen our house, but only when we were looking at houses. She hasn't seen it since we've moved in and fixed it up. Eric and Cassie have not seen the house at all. They were all down two years ago for Christmas when we were living on the west end of Ajijic in our rental. Now they know what a wonderful place this is and I imagine they are looking forward to the warm sun, family connections, and some good Mexican food.

We are planning some trips, perhaps to Tonala, the area in Guadalajara where much of the pottery and glassware is made. There are many vendors and tiendas where beautiful Mexican craft items can be purchases very inexpensively. We are also hoping to go to Guadalajara's wonderful zoo with its brand new aquarium. I will be posting some photos of the visit in the next post.

We had a small dinner get-together at our house for my 59th birthday on December 8. Here are Susan and Steve Barr and Jean and (part of) Paul. Birthdays are not so exciting as we get older, but they are a good excuse for a party!

Paul is a great hiker, and he and I hiked up the ravine in Riberas a couple of weeks ago, with his great dog, Curly. Getting Curly to pose for a photo is not easy, but you get the idea. We found a small reservoir at the top where Curly enjoyed playing in the mud! We will be taking care of Curly when Jeanne and Paul return to the states for Christmas. It will be nice to have a dog around again!

Last Sunday we went to Rick and Valerie's annual Christmas Tree Trimming party. Valerie works in Ajijic as a psychologist, and Rick is a retired engineer who is a long time member of our Great Books discussion group. (This afternoon, we are meeting, and it is my turn to be the discussion leader as we examine William James' lectures on "Pragmatism.") Here Valerie poses next to the finished product, and Rick poses in his newly-refurbished beautiful garden.

Now Mexico is full of interesting architectural details. Rick and Valerie have a swimming pool with concrete stepping stones that allow them to walk over the pool from their living room area to their study. It is a strange sensation walking over the stones and the water. It is another unique Mexican detail!

Above, a new addition to the Chapala landscape is this beautiful mural completed on a new concrete retaining wall, illustrating the history of Chapala. Chapala is the largest town on the north shore of Lake Chapala. For many years it was the premiere vacation spot for Guadalajarans (Tapitos) who wanted to come to the lake for a weekend getaway. It was the home to many expat Americans, Europeans, and Canadians during the early part of the twentieth century. (Now, the more bohemian Ajijic, to the west of Chapala, has become the "in" spot for expats with its more quaint village look. But, we could not even afford to buy a home in Ajijic and opted for the Chapla subdivision, Riberas del Pilar.) This mural, by Javier Zaragoza, is stunning in its detail and scope. I even found a YouTube link depicting the mural while it was being painted:

My new book,
Agave Blood, is now out and selling fairly well. (Fairly well means that I printed 100 copies, have sold 34...only need to sell 6 more to break even!). Several years ago, a group of women authors wrote a collection of stories called Agave Marias. We have decided to have a combined book-signing/reading for both "Agave" books at a local B&B, Casa del Sol (a beautiful space owned by a fellow Mainer, Cathy Roberts) on January 28, when our Maine friends Curt and Judy Webber will be here. It should be fun and will hopefully entice a few people to buy our books! Jim Tipton has reviewed my book for the current issue of Ojo del Lago:

Agave Blood, Poems by Bill Frayer

Reviewed by Jim Tipton

Popular Lakeside author Bill Frayer has just published another fine collection of poetry: Agave Blood.

The first, and longest, section, “Mexico,” celebrates the Bill’s deepening connection with Mexico and its people and his discovery of the “delicious now,” where he is learning “That my present moment/Is all I have/And, indeed, all that I need.” These poems are about many things Mexican: for example, Guadalupe, who hangs “from the mirrors of rusty old trucks,” and “who inspires and protects”; and a little girl in a poor village whose “black braids neatly draped” stirs up love in the poet’s heart; and “The Rubber Tree” at Lake Chapala Society, which presides over the writers who sit beneath it “to speak, and to listen/And to finally speak their truth”; and “The Old Mariachi,” who is “Too tired to be young/And too proud/To stop being/A Mariachi.”

The second section, “Points North,” reflects on the nation that he has left, where, aside from family, he feels less and less connection: “I now look at Maine/With Mexican eyes/And shudder.” In this same nation to the north, old friends “…have evolved/Into strangers/Who I only recognize/As shadow shells.” For soldiers in Iraq who “are dead forever,” Bill asks: “Why did you die?/Were you fighting/For a better way of living,/Or were you/Just unlucky?”

In the third section, “Metaphysics,” the poet ponders, often playfully, more philosophical matters, and these include his own loss of “unambiguous belief” as well as a recognition that he is beginning to see more and more with his heart.

Bill also accepts and embraces his own life, which has become more and more simple. “My Favorite Clothes” begins this way: “I hope to live to completely/Wear out all my favorite clothes.” It concludes:

And if I time it right

I’ll be left with

One fine, faded shirt

And a comfortable pair of pants,

Thin at the knees,

Which will be available for rags

When I leave the building.

This is one of those little books that I like to keep on the night stand or on the kitchen table or car seat to return to, one or two of them at a time. Everyone at Lakeside will find Bill’s poetry both accessible and delightful.

Agave Blood, $100 pesos, may be purchased at Diane Pearl’s Colecciones (Colon #1, Ajijic) or through the author at:

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