Monday, April 12, 2010

Lazy, Hotter Days

Well, we don't have many great photos since the last post, so I thought I'd put a new photo of Chuy up front. He's about ten pounds now and very healthy. He's completely house trained, and adapting to our routine well. Chuy and I take about a 2 mile walk every morning down to the park by the lake. He's doing well with walking on a leash. When he gets tired he just lies down wherever he is. Not a bad strategy, I suppose. Like Maggie, he's very good at just living in the moment, and he reminds me to live mindfully!

The spring heat has arrived. The daytime temperatures are about 90 degrees F. but the humidity is low. We've had not a drop of rain since February, and I don't expect any until the rains arrive in June. In the meantime, it's hot during the day, and dusty. It seems as though dust accumulates on the car and inside the house on the furniture. Fortunately, the evenings and mornings are cooler. During the middle of the day, we tend to stay inside and relax.

We are busy with a number of things this week. We are hosting the Maine/New Hampshire group for drinks and appetizers on Wednesday. There are, at any time, about 30 people who hail from Maine or New Hampshire who gather at one of our houses for a happy hour; then we go to a local restaurant for dinner. These evenings are nice, since we can discuss the Red Sox and Patriots, the weather in New England (and how we are glad to be missing it!), summer travel plans back to New England, etc. It's a nice group and a fun tradition.

Pixie and I are both teaching workshops for our Unitarian Universalist fellowship. Pixie is teaching a workshop entitled "How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything." It's a creative exploration using craft items and drawing to enable people to explore what's important in their lives and seems to be popular and fun. I am leading a writing workshop for people to do autobiographical writing. Some people are writing a memoir, some are writing memories down for their children and grandchildren, and others are just experimenting with using their own memories to produce fiction or poetry. We meet once a month and usually sit on the terrace while participants share what they've been working on.

I am still teaching English to three Mexican students at one of their houses. We sit around a table and go over vocabulary and practice speaking and writing. For this week, each student is writing a story to share with the group. As each one writes his or her story, we use it to generate new vocabulary, English idioms, and practice grammar. I am enjoying this informal teaching much more than teaching a larger class of younger people at the library. The student I have now are all adults and highly motivated. Pixie is still teaching at an orphanage in Chapala. She is now in the process of working to help reorganize the ESL program. She loves her little Mexican children.

Our great books discussion group is still meeting twice a month. We enjoy it because it makes us read challenging pieces we likely would not read on our own. So far this year, we've read Plato, Plutarch, Immanuel Kant, Heinrich von Kleist, Thoreau, Matthew Arnold, William James, George Bernard Shaw, Chekhov, Yasunari Kawabata, Shirley Jackson, Lisel Mueller, Clarice Lispector, Eavan Boland, and Tim O'Brien. I like some readings more than others, but our discussion is always interesting because all twelve people in the group actually read and prepare for each session. I always walk away from each session feeling like the time we spent reading and discussing the works was worthwhile.

I will be reading some poems at the Ajijic Writer's Group this Friday. Several sessions ago, we had a guest speaker, James Falen, who is perhaps the most eminent translator of the Russian writer, Alexander Pushkin. Although I was a little bit familiar with Pushkin, I was very impressed by Falen's translations of some of Pushkin's Lyric poetry. Here's one example from Falen's translation of Pushkin's Ressurection:

The artist-vandal's lazy brush
Besmears a truthful work of art
And in a senseless, drunken rush
Destroy's a painting's living heart.

But with the years those painted lies
Like rotting scales are all unpeeled,
And once again before our eyes
A work of genius stand revealed.

So, too, with age there disappear
My soul's transgressions and untruth,
And then once more there reappear
The purest visions of my youth.

I was so inspired by reading the volume of Falen's translations of Pushkins rhyming lyric poetry, that I produced two new rhyming poems. The first, entitled Migration, is about my experience visitng the Monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan in February. The second, Sonnet to Futility is a lament about writer's block.


As you alight upon my wrist
Looking hale, firm and fit
Your Princeton patterned, paper wings
Have brought you here to rest and sit

In these high pines in Mexico
From Canada; you’ve made your flight
Primordial beacon led the way
I, pausing, breathless, drink in the sight,

Scores of thousands dripping here
From branches heavy with the dense
Migratory miracle
Of Monarchs mating, and I sense

As I look out upon the swarm
That I have witnessed here today
An unexplainable event
And now I watch you fly away.

Yet my small life, be as it may
Will never replicate this day.

Sonnet to Futility

So again I sit here, take my pen
To ink a poem upon this page
I touch some part of me, which then
Was immature, but now, with age,

I can see its truth from here
And let the cadence through my lips.
I know not how these special words
Can find my heart, the poem drips

Back deep within my soul again
It stirs my muse, more rhyme spills out;
Yet, alas, it’s naught, no birth
Of poem here; I’m left in doubt.

I fear I’ve mined all store of verse,
And labor on, in endless curse!

In the latest edition of the Guadalajara Reporter, there are articles about the earthquake risk in Jalisco (after last weeks quake in Baja California), an upcoming UN conference on telecommunication to be held in Guadalajara which is expected to bring 3000 delegates to the city, the rising life expectancy in Mexico (75.4 years, a rise of 14.8 years sine 1970), a concert of perhaps the world's best mariachi band to be held in Ajijic, and an article about a 52 year American woman who has been released from a Mexican prison after serving four years for money laundering and involvement in organized crime.

Finally, this photo shows our attempt to rejuvenate our sickly bougainvillea plants along the west wall of our garden. We had rather large plants which were here when we bought the house, but they never produced many blossoms. Our young gardener, Horacio, suggested we cut back the plants and also plant some new ones. We did, and now we'll have to see how well they grow. You can see the new growth on some of the cut-back plants...but we'll see. I'll post results later.

We have made our final plans for our visit to Maine this summer. We'll be flying to Boston on June 24, then renting a car and driving to Waldoboro to visit my dad and step-mom for a few days. On July 1 we are moving into a condo owned by friends from our Auburn UU Church, Marc and Beth Ayotte. We'll be there until July 29, when we'll visit Gloucester, MA and my two brothers. before returning to Guadalajara on July 31.

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