Category Archives: Lake Chapala

Chapala Sunset

Everyone keeps asking if the earthquake and hurricane had any effect on our weather here.  I can’t notice that it has, other than a week of rain during earlier hurricanes and tropical storms last week, but this sunset two nights ago is perhaps the result, somehow, of bad weather farther away. I have not augmented the colors. They were really this brilliant!!! These photos were taken over a 15 to 20 minute time period from my deck.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Lake Walk with Frida: Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge, 2016, Week 40

Last week I showed you Little Duck’s Adventure.  This week I want to show you Frida’s. I’ve decided try try to take one of the dogs for a walk every day. Frida got the first turn and did great. After a scare last week when we thought we were going to have to put her down, the miracles of modern medicine saved the day, and she’s like a young dog again. The day after the big rains, we went down to inspect the lake along the malecon. (Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.)

https://ceenphotography.com/2016/10/07/cees-odd-ball-photo-challenge-2016-week-40/

Sunset in Lake Chapala––Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, Day 4:

IMG_8287

Sunset reflected in Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico, last November.

I was invited by Cee from ceenphotography.com to participate in a challenge called Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge. (Check out Cee’s nature photos as well as her thousands of other wonderful photographs by clicking on the link above.

As part of this challenge, I am to post one nature photograph a day for one week and to ask one other person to join the challenge each day.  Today I ask you to check out the  photography of Irene Waters  and I’m nominating her to take part in the Seven Day Nature Challenge as well.

 

https://irenewaters19.com/

Good Still Exists Everywhere!!

DSCF8675

Operation Feed is a local organization that distributes food weekly to 92 families in San Juan Cosala, Jalisco, Mexico. This year they’ve added meat, fresh vegetables and fruit to the staples formerly provided.

                                                      Good Still Exists Everywhere!!!

 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pay It Forward.”Tell us about a time when you responded to an act of kindness with one of your own.

Today, for some reason, I did something I have never done before.  Instead of writing to this prompt, I decided to read what others had written first.  Why this was so, I don’t know.  Perhaps it was because I had the feeling many probably had that it is embarrassing to talk about this subject.  How in the world do you write about it without sounding (and being) narcissistic or self-congratulatory?  There is no way to talk about our own good acts without sounding either falsely humble or like a braggart.

I say perhaps this is the reason, because I was not even conscious of registering what the prompt was.  I just went to the first page listed on the Daily Prompt page and clicked on the first square I saw.  Unfortunately, it was at this exact moment that I got called away by Yolanda to talk about some household matter, and when I came back, I saw these words by Marilyn Armstrong:

“In Judaism, you lose points for telling anyone about your good deeds. The only ones that really count are the ones you do in secret. Pity that has never really caught on :-)”

Thinking it was her blog I was reading, I responded with this comment:

“I have never heard this before, Marilyn, but it sounds like it would make a great theme for a story or poem. I think we need to hear about the positive things that happen in the world. We are all so weighted down by the terrible ones. But perhaps the secret is to broadcast the good acts of others rather than your own. If you look at blogs like Mark’s or several others whose names have slipped my mind, they are often publicizing gross wrongs in the world and encouraging people to draft letters of protest or sign petitions or to give their support by other means. He is not blowing his own horn, but speaking out of a desire to effect change in the world. These are acts we can all see and in promoting them and him, we can spread the word of positive acts not our own. I am not disputing what you say, understand. I agree that people who constantly tell you of all their good works are irritating. On the other hand those who merely demonstrate their own good works by their actions are such wonderful role models that they have no need to blow their own horns.”

But now, the plot thickens.  After hitting the “Send” button, I scrolled up to realize that the blog I was writing on was really The happy Quitter’s blog.  The statement by Marilyn was just a comment!  So, it became necessary to fire off this comment to its author, nonsmokingladybug!

“Darn. Ladybug, I came back to my computer and saw Marilyn’s comment and thought it was her blog I was writing on so addressed this comment to her! I can’t erase it from your blog, but please do if you wish to. This is what happens when I let life interfere with blogging..Ha. I think you also requested I not give you links, which I no longer do. Your point about blowing one’s own horn is a good one as you can see from my response above. Please do erase it if you wish.”

To this, she graciously replied that she saw no reason to erase it as I’d made some good points. She went on to say, in a different comment,

“The long comment won’t matter to Marilyn, since you made it on my blog (grin).
If I might answer that. I think the world is full with good, but many of us don’t see it anymore, because their focus has shifted. Do we need to point out the good in the world? I don’t think so, I think we have to point out that it is still existing everywhere.”

to which I answered:

“What is the difference between pointing out the good in the world and pointing out that it is still existing everywhere? I think they are one and the same thing.  I get so depressed when I see the violence reported in the news, and sitting at home and merely reading about terrible act after terrible act, we are drawn into depression and deluded into thinking there is nothing we can do about it. But when we get  active on a local level, we can see firsthand what wonderful things are being done by so many–and the changes they are effecting.  These messages of how the world can be and is being healed need to get out as well. As you say, this is going on around us all the time.  This is what encourages people to try to effect changes themselves.”

I live in a community where there are incredible numbers of people–both Mexican and expat– getting involved to make life better for kids, older people and the pueblos in general.  I feel so lucky to live in a place where the positive natures of people can so easily be seen.  I know when most people see the name MEXICO, they think of cartels and corrupt politicians, but there is so much love and positive energy here as well.  These are the things we are more likely to see in our daily lives than in the news.  As you say, good is still existing everywhere.”

At this point, I realized that in these two comments I had actually written a complete blog post, so instead of sending the last comment to nonsmokingladybug, I decided to publish it here.

If you’d like to see The happy Quitter’s original statement that prompted this confused chain of messages, please go HERE.

For news of wonderful things going on in my community, you might want to read these stories:

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2014/11/02/agustins-story/
https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/07/21/camp-estrella/
https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/07/23/the-boy-in-the-blue-feathered-mask/
https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/07/26/camp-estrella-final-show/


NaPoWriMo Day 24: Building Walls

 

Our prompt today was to write a poem that features walls, bricks, stones, arches, or the like.

Building Walls

The new neighbors are not friendly.
From their side of my wall,
they have severed the vines
that have covered my tall palms
that abut the wall
that has separated our properties
for thirteen years—
those maroon bougainvillea vines,
stretched ten feet wide
by covering layers of blue thunbergia,
formed a community that housed families
of birds and possums and possibly
a very large but harmless snake.
I saw it cross my patio once,
the dog and I turning our heads toward each other,
exchanging looks of surprise
like characters from a stage play or a comic book,
her so startled and curious that she followed,
nose to the ground, to the brush beside the
wall the snake had vanished into,
but never issued a bark.

At night the palm trees
and their surrounding cloaks
would give mysterious rustlings that
aroused the barking of the dogs
and I’d let them in—the pup to sleep
in the cage that was his security
and my security as well—against chewed
Birkenstocks and ruined Oaxacan rugs
and treats purloined from the little silver
garbage can that held the kitchen scraps
saved for Yolanda’s pigs.

Along with the vines,
the new neighbors cut the bougainvillea
that grew to fifteen feet above my wall
and furnished privacy from the eyes
of those standing on their patio,
ten feet above mine,
so that now their patio looks directly down
on my pool and hot tub and into my bedroom,
their new bright patio light shining all night long
into my world formerly filled
with stars and moonlight and tree rustlings.

The old wall has revealed its cracks and colors
from several past paintings
that were later made unnecessary by its cloak of vines.
It is an ugly wall that  separates  neighbors,
echoing the now-dead vines that stretch 80 feet up
to the fronds of the palms.
It takes three men three days to cut the refuse of
the dry vines down from the trees,
two truckloads to bear the cuttings away.

The dogs still bark, but the possum and the birds
have gone to some other haven,
and the men come to erect the metal trellis,
12 feet high, above the top of my low wall.
I hope the bougainvillea will grow
to cover it this rainy season,
building a lovelier wall
between neighbors who still have not met
by their preference, not mine,
causing me to wonder
if I really am as welcome in this country
as I have felt for all these years.
“My neighbors are the same,” my friend tells me.
“They do not really want us here,
and if you think they do,
you are deluding yourself.”

Thirteen years in Mexico. I miss my old neighbors,
best friends who would come to play Mexican Train at 5 minutes notice.
I miss their little yipping dog and the splash of their fountain
that the new neighbors ripped out and threw away
and the bougainvillea that drooped over my wall into their world.
“Scorpions!” the new neighbors decreed, and lopped it off wall-high.
It was a wall more than doubled in its height
by a vine as old as my life in Mexico
that can now be peered over
even from their basement casita.

With old walls gone,
higher walls of misunderstanding
have been constructed.
Each weekend their family streams in from Guadalajara.
Children laugh, adults descend the stairs
to their hot tub down below.
When I greet them, they do not smile.
I have painted the old wall,
now so clearly presented to view,
and I have taken to wearing a swimsuit in my hot tub,
waiting for my new wall to grow higher.

Before detail of tree vine

“Before” detail of tree vine and hedge.

"After" detail of tree vine.

“After” detail of tree vine.

DSC09907DSC09878DSC09288

NaPoWriMo Day 6: Mexico Saves Daylight

We go on and off Daylight Saving time later than they do in the U.S., so this morning was the morning we lost an hour. Our prompt was to look out our window and record what we saw and heard, then to write a poem using these images. It was still dark here when I arose, so I went outside to sit first on my terraza and then in my gazebo which sits at the edge of my property overlooking the hillside that leads down to Lake Chapala. I had never looked at this scene this closely from this time perspective, so it was a unique viewing of a familiar scene for me.

These Chinese Lanterns are solar and await the darkness to shine!

These Chinese Lanterns are solar and await the darkness to shine!

Mexico Saves Daylight

Nobody knows
what this new day
has in store for us.
The colors stolen by night
have not come back yet––
only the string of miniature Chinese lanterns
strung on the patio
glow their soft tones:
lavender, yellow, peach, rose, lime green.
Powered by energy stolen from the sun,
they light up this very early morning darkness
otherwise lit by the random stars of
streetlights undulating over roads that wind up foothills.

The mountain peak named Señor Garcia
stands against the gray predawn sky.
Colima volcano peers over his shoulder,
half-obscured by mist and clouds.
My day emerges.

Scatterings of lights twinkle
from the small pueblos across the lake.
Bats swoop and dart
after the last insects of the night,
then speed impossibly into second-story tejas
for their communal day’s rest.

The hot tub cover,
submerged a few inches beneath the water’s surface,
forms a mirror for the wild hair of palm trees.
Dried leaves rest on the water,
swirling in the breath of morning.
Roosters crow.
A cacophony of bird calls:
“Me hee hee hee hee hee. Me hee hee hee hee hee Me.”
scolds the most persistent of the lot.
Mourning doves answer in a register from another time.
The grind of trucks accelerating on the roadway far below
too small for trucks.
Church bells speak their language,
tolling the morning hour.

The round
subtle drone
of unseen bees
takes precedence
over all other sounds
as I move to the gazebo.
I picture a whole hive
moving to new quarters,
starting that process over again,
busy giving birth to their new home,
perhaps in the stark Guamuchil tree
that survives like a dinosaur
among the castor beans
in the jungled houseless lot next door.

Like one of those internet birthday cards
where an invisible hand
yields a brush
over a black and white drawing,
slowly, colors lost to the black night
emerge through the fog
of earliest morning blues and grays.
Rose pink of the first hint of sunrise.
Colors of houses on the mountains:
vivid orange and gold,
lime green and blue.

Bougainvillea silhouettes give way
to curly detail and bright color:
fuchsia, orange, peach, gold, brilliant white.
Three green foam noodles lie abandoned poolside,
caught in the arms of aloe vera
and by the crown of thorns.
Green washes the hillside
around the gold and brown
of last year’s corn stalks.

The diverse calls of grackles
join the morning conversation.
Quetzacoatl spreads his sinuous frame
over the entire wall above my bedroom doors
as though stretching his kinks out for the day ahead.
7:30 am April 6, 2014,
announces the computer screen
glowing on my bedside table.
Coral sheets and a blue pillowcase.
A large watercolor of a woman
with birds perched on her shoulders
and her hands.
I yearn to go back to bed,
but time changed here
in the very early morning.
It is an hour later
than it was
the same time
yesterday.

Mount Senor Garcia from my gazebo

Mount Senor Garcia from my gazebo

Backyard overlooking Lake Chapala.

Backyard overlooking Lake Chapala.

Quetzacoatl Mural Over Door to Bedroom

Quetzacoatl Mural Over Door to Bedroom

Poem written after the Celebration of Life for Nina and Eduardo

 The ceremony for Eduardo and Nina was full of the loving thoughts of friends, details about their lives given from many perspectives, a few tears but even more laughter from remembering the good times.  It was only on the road home that the contrasts in the peaceful happy setting I saw around me and the events of a week before hit me.  The first lines of this poem ran over and over again through my thoughts and I had to pull over by the side of the road and write this poem.  Part of me wonders if it is exploitative to write about this sad event, but I’ve found that many of my writer friends who were friends of Nina and Eduardo have been driven to do the same.  It is as though I no longer know how to think about things unless I do so through my writing or my art.  Somehow, the only way to process a hard truth of life is to make use of it creatively and to try to create a message that makes sense even though the deed never will.

After the Ceremony: Driving Home

The streets are filled

With ice cream and cerveza

and the wildly patterned legs

of senoritas.

It is a day

of sunlight and red flowers

and fuschia flowers and blue.

A slight wind

 strums the swaying branches

of the palms,

but no other sounds

compete with the passing hum

of oncoming traffic streaming

 from the city to our shores,

 seeking safety, quiet,

the gentle lap of water against willow,

hypnotic bobbing of the pelicans

between the undulating liria––

a lazy day away

from the cares of urban life.

I pull to the side of the road to watch

 these visitors to our world.

 Have they not heard or

have they just forgotten

the breaking glass,

the knife, the club,

the red screams

slicing the midnight air?

The ones who were the screamers

 are very quiet now––

part of the calmness

of this afternoon.

Their darkness

is dispersed by sunlight.

Yet all of their fear and pain––

the terror of their leaving––

now gone from them,

is kept like a souvenir

within the hearts of friends

whose turn it is to remember

for a while what we, too,

had forgotten.

Our happy world

lies like a blanket

over a bed made messy

by pain and loss.

It is the world’s bed,

and deny it as we will,

we all have lain in it

and will again.

                                                                              –Judy Dykstra-Brown      February 24, 2014