Dream Big, People

Twenty years from now?
Twenty years from now?

Art Journaling is the first thing I do on waking. I don’t even get out of bed. I reach over and grab my phone and check the prompt. I sit and think. I open my journal bag and grab the book and pen and draw a picture. Then I write. Today’s prompt: What is you most outrageous dream? Two things about this prompt caught my attention. There’s some synchronicity out there. Firstly, I woke up from a very odd musical dream where Burt and I as the Gypsy Carpenters were playing a stadium sized gig with a back up band. The odd part was that I was singing on a ladder from back stage. We can analyze that some other time. Secondly, last night at dinner with my dad and Sara Gay we confessed our next big dream. Stage two of dream achievement plan accomplished. The confession came about because they asked if we were planning to get a new cat when Mimi eventually goes. No, we are not. We are planning on burying Mimi and Elvis when the times come and doing something else. More here down below.

So life dreams, the big ones, are hard to quantify. It’s a tricky thing dreaming. I could say I want to visit the moon. I do want to visit the moon. I wish I could be a universe explorer. But that’s not going to happen so I don’t spend much though on it. It’s a waste of energy.  I could also say I wish I was thirty pounds lighter and super-fit. Just not going to happen. There’s all kinds of reasons why but mainly I’d rather not be that kind of person that worries about those kinds of things.  I like to focus on dreams that I might be able to accomplish if I have the intention, resources, interest, and luck. Burt and I had a great conversation about how neither of us like to talk pie in the sky dreams but we are good at achieving things many people won’t dare to try.  The phrase “if wishes were horses” does not apply to us. I hate those conversations about if I was rich, if I was in charge, or if I was blah blah blah. I’m a down to earth. I can solve a puzzle. I have enough resources.

Here’s what I concluded today, for me, about dreams. Find a dream where you have the drive, the itch, the passion. Then look for the skills, resources, and luck you’ll need to achieve it. I don’t want to be a super famous performer. I’m happy as a community musician. I like to help our kids but I don’t want to run a school. I do want to explore the world. I want to drive. I want to speak Spanish. I want to drive the entirety of South America.

Just as the seeds of quitting work and hitting the road took root a few months before we did it eight years ago this South America idea has been sitting in the soil of our hearts and minds for a while. There are logistical problems with our current outfit. Then there are the elderly pets. There are money concerns, too. Safety, health, age…But recently we saw our window. Mimi and Elvis appear on convergent tracks of expiration. Two years at the most for either or both or them. First step towards down scaling the living arrangements: No new pets.

Last the idea saw life outside the gNash. Burt and I dared tell others we hope to drive to South America. Like all bold ideas it was met with questions and fears for our safety but also with support and excitement. It sounds like we are on teh right path.

So I insist, go find that first step to your dreams.

Below are the 5k race results. I was super pleased to see I had managed under 20 minute miles. Maybe that super-fit goal isn’t as far fetched as I thought.

The next adventure?
The next adventure?
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k
Carrera de Todos Santos 5K results
Carrera de Todos Santos 5K results
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k results
Carrera de Todos Santos 5k results
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

New Year Happens Soon

Todos Santos 5k winners. Every one.
Todos Santos 5k winners. Every one. Daniela (next to Burt) was our very first student in Pescadero. She showed up to music class all by herself.

I’m always thinking like my Girl Scout leader Marilyn Nardoza. What can I do to show these kids a little bit more of the world? Mrs. Nardoza (she’s alive and well and following along on Facebook) took us camping, put on plays, crafted us from here to Mars and back, lead cake baking contests, drug us to area historical sights. She always had a team of mothers to help. My mom was one. You’ve already previously heard previously how I won the cake contest one year after my mom baked my cake when I screwed up the first one. I wonder if mom ever confessed.

One year we did some enormous walk-a-thon thing. The Battle of Monmouth was the theme. My memories are fuzzy but I’m sure we raised money for every mile we walked. I think Mrs. Nardoza added a kind of scavenger hunt activity challenge to keep it interesting. The scouts had to find certain things by following clues.  We were obsessed with colonial America. That ‘we’ means society at large to a 12 year old. School, scouts, news media, even our home were all colonial style. It was the age of the bicentennial and it seemed as though everything that didn’t happen in Boston happened in New Jersey.  So we walked some lengthy distance collecting leaves and measuring flagpoles in a clump of pre-adolescence wearing our sashes and passing by battlefields and Washington-slept-here homes. My most distinct memory is measuring the flagpole. Someone had provided the basic math and we needed a 5′ volunteer to stand at the base and the rest of the group would back off and see how many time the 5′ kid ‘fit’ in the length of the flagpole. I was exactly 5′ at the time. I felt very special in my starring role as human yard stick.

Yesterday we took on our kids to a 5K race through a neighboring town. This idea to take the kids to run a 5k must have been rooted in the deep sub-conscious of girl scout walk-a-thons. Or maybe it was the former ultra-marathoner in me. As soon as I hatched the plan I started to doubt myself. This kids loose in town scenario is way scarier than kids loose at the beach. Also, I wondered could the kids even cover a 5k? Would they want to? I presented the idea and it was met with frowns and silence. Seeing them like that made me think it was going to be a bust but I said, think about it. A few days went by. I asked, “Who wants to go run the race?” All hands went up. Apparently upon thinking about it they realized it was a ride to the big town and maybe food would be involved.

At 7:15 AM yesterday we picked up 10 kids (9 girls and the stoic Guillermo) and one mother, Vikki. Vikki is always ready to go. She is our guardian angel. So 13 of us piled into two cars and we motored over to Todos Santos in the cloudy dawn light. We had a 3 1/3 kids to adult ratio working to our advantage. We parked a block away from the race start. Remembering my Girl Scout bag of organizational skills I gathered everyone around and gave them a rule and a quiz: No throwing trash. Where is the car? What is my name? What color is my shirt?

Our kids are litterbugs. That 70s era anti-littering campaign that I grew up under is only just now reaching our community. We are constantly reinforcing the No Tire Basura rule. Change of habit happens slowly. Reassured that they knew where the car was and who they were traveling with we headed into the Todos Santos plaza to register for the race. Burt negotiated a group discount of about 30%. This race was a fund raiser for the local organization the Palapa Society. We were happy to contribute nearly $100. Next ensued some brief mayhem as I filled out entry forms with names and ages. The kids dictated and I wrote. A few of the oldest did it themselves. I did Burt’s. Then we pinned race numbers onto everyone’s front. The race number has a metallic bar code that tracks everyone over the course and records their finishing time. This is serious business.

For the next hour we took photos and warmed-up.  After we had already done an excellent warm-up some random dude, Orlando, gave us an impromptu warm up of his own. My stranger danger alarms went off like crazy so I just watched. I am a natural paranoiac. Finally it was time to line up. The kids all got into the scrum of it with Vikki and Burt. I knew I was going to walk and also was carrying a bag of hold my-sweater, my-water, my-camera, my-hat, my-phone for the kids I took a spot in the back. And we were off.

It felt a little sad and lonely in the back by myself. After all the business of hatching the plan and getting everybody to town I was suddenly on the dusty streets of Todos Santos walking in silence.  But it was also nice knowing they were all up ahead. Somewhere. So I walked in peace. Then an ambulance flew past and I was no longer calm. I was what you might call freaked out. Of course my mind went to all the worst places. It was an ugly time. I started telling myself this: Everything is fine. Everything is fine. Everything is fine. I chatted with some other walkers. I walked as fast as I could. About halfway into it all and a half hour after the start I spotted Burt with three stragglers. I told myself, “Ok, three are alive.” I caught up to them and Burt told me he had seen all of our group intact and moving since the ambulance had passed. For the next half hour we cajoled and sang our three kids towards town. As we passed a water station the staff encouraged us to just throw our cups in the dirt when we finished drinking. We were walking through a mat of discarded cups. Despite this, my three girls all ran over to a garbage can and threw their cups away. Hope rises.

Our group of stragglers was really only one slacker and two groupies. The younger kids had fallen into the abyss of the older kid. They were whining but walking so we just kept moving. The eldest told me it was her first and last race. I told her to never say never (nunca digas nunca). My smartaleck use of Spanish drew a smile. As town drew near we all dug deep and got to the finish line in style. The slacker ran in. I did a cartwheel as my waiting team cheered. Burt crossed hand in hand with the only child to truly be struggling. She was beaming. Burt was ecstatic. It was his first road race, too.

Everybody finished healthy and happy enough. We watched the award ceremony. There were some very fast runners.  Afterwards we took everyone out to fish tacos. Burt and I collapsed for an hour and then headed out to play Bridge.

Team you can do it
Team you can do it
Mayan calendar art in town.
Mayan calendar art in town.
Burt and Paola
Burt and Paola

 

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

I spoke Italian

Family time.
Family time.

One day while we were walking I tried to buy some local sweets. A shop employee asked me what I was looking for and I asked for the local specialty. I used Spanish without thought. The next thing I knew I was chatting with an Italian. I was thrilled and told her I had no idea Italian would be easy to understand. Then she told me were speaking Spanish. Uh. Duh.

We left Amalfi via the scenic shore side road. This two lane highway snaked around the cliffs of Amalfi and was packed with drivers. My bother did a great job of staying calm and being assertive enough to get the job done. The scenery is fun but I passed the time watching the faces of the oncoming drivers. A lot is revealed behind the wheel in a high stress situation. I wondered about the professional drivers here. They would need a rare combination of bravado and calm to do the job every day, all day. This LINK shows a spectacular but not common event. One guide book said the road is super safe because every one is so scared they pay better attention. I couldn’t find data on the actual number of crashes. In general Italy is known for its horrible drivers and dangerous roads so maybe Amalfi doesn’t stand out.

So now we are back in Rome. It wasn’t planned but that’s where we wound up. There’s lots more to see so let’s go.

Grilled shrimp ala Sra. Pina
Grilled shrimp in lemon leaves ala Sra. Pina
Kid in grotto
Kid in grotto
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Internal Monologue

TuVu over the yard. Buzzard in some areas.
TuVu over the yard. Buzzard in some areas.
Xanthu's Hummingbird, Baja endemic
Xanthu’s Hummingbird, Baja endemic

Internal dialogue day. Remember this? If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. Ugh. Morning must be bleeped out. Irritable, annoyed, confused, cold.

Walking to yoga, pep talk. You can do it. Was I supposed to stop for Prissy? She didn’t answer my texts. Did she say she was walking? I could stop by on my way. Ooooh, I don’t want to wake her. What if I misunderstood? She was talking so fast. I think she said she wanted to walk with me. I texted her. I think she said yes. I think she’d answer a text….I guess I’ll keep walking. I wonder if I should have stopped. I should have stopped. Why didn’t I stop? WTF. I could’ve stopped.

Ahh, yoga. There’s Rosemary. Let’s look at that bird. Uh oh. There’s Prissy. oops. She’s giving me the business. I was supposed to stop. Morning not going smoothly.

Ahhhh, actually doing yoga. Breathe in, breathe out. Stretch. Did Myra say, “Tenemos calambres.” hahaha. Oops everyone is looking at me funny. Why did I laugh? Calambres is cramps. I laughed because I recognized it. Rosemary is leaving class. She thinks I laughed at her. Rosemary nooonooonooo. I was laughing at funny sounding word. Calamaties, cramps, english/spanish translator in head has a laugh glitch. No Rosemary! Come back. Don’t be mad. Do I chase Rosemary? Do yoga. Rosemary is a solid friend she didn’t think you were laughing. More yoga. More worries. Where is Rosemary? Must chase Rosemary? Chasing Rosemary. Are you okay Rosemary? Ohh, your tummy hurt. Sorry, thought you were mad that I laughed. Oh, you didn’t know I laughed. Oh, right, it is not about me. Sorry your tummy hurts. I cannot figure out how to be in this world. More yoga. World is perplexing.

Prissy wants to walk tomorrow. Can I remember? We’ll walk together. Can I have a ride home, since you drove? Haha. My evil plan worked. Now I can get a ride home since Prissy had to drive. She was waiting for me so long she had to drive. I am such a loser. How could I not stop? Prissy is smiling. I don’t think she is mad.

Home now.

Gray Thrasher, another endemic species.
Gray Thrasher, another endemic species.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

More later

My munchkins join in
My munchkins join in. I had them trapped between me and the wall.

It only took six weeks and four meetings to gather together community forces and start the first music classes for kids in Pescadero. Last year when Burt and I were singing with kids in a neighboring town I wondered, “Why are we doing this over here? We should do this in our town.” The bigger, more affluent, more diverse town of Todos Santos has a very successful group called La Sociedad de la Palapa or the Palapa Society. The Palapa Society is well funded and offers an array of classes for kids and adults. There’s even a library. They’re even building a school of their own. More power to them. Meanwhile eight miles away in Pescadero our local kids have not much outside of school. There are no English classes or art classes. No music. There is no Palapa Society in Pescadero but there is a group of people trying to change things. The local government wants to change things. There’s another group of people that want to change things. Some teachers want to change things. There’s a variety of what we used to call at EPA ‘stakeholders.’ Hence the four meetings and six weeks before I could start classes.

A person can’t just start classes without a room. I needed a room. The various groups around town had ideas on a room but all factions were concerned that no faction get credit or control over the free music classes or any other future classes. At least that’s what I understood while I listened at the meetings. We were finally given a room next door to the police station.The giving of the room was so sudden that Burt and I had to do a major cramming session of Spanish tunes for kids this weekend. Back in February I was taking it bit by bit but I lost interest as the meetings drug on. I began to doubt we’d be teaching a single child. So suddenly I was scheduled to teach classes and I had no tunes to sing. We fixed that.

Our classroom is in a central location and fairly neutral territory and I think the police next door will help keep the kids under control. In Mexico almost all buildings are made of concrete block. Concrete cubes are terrible for music. Sound bounces all over and pretty soon your lilting melodies feel like battering rams pounding your temples. Our new space has a patio. It’s the same as the police’s patio. Today we sang on the patio. I had five students and three helpers. Two students showed up because they wanted to be there. Three students were kidnapped by my neighbor April. It was nearly a one on one student/teacher ratio.  I hear the finer schools only manage a five to one ratio so we’re ahead on that. The police were conspicuously absent. They were probably out soliciting morditas. I’m uncertain whether or not getting to know the police is a good  thing.

We sang and danced and laughed and Hokey Pokeyed. I think it went well. Nobody was arrested nor injured. Many thanks to everyone who made this happen. April, Rafa, Janet, Priscila, Artemisa, Burt….

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Spanglish Mixer

I have pictures but once again I can’t get them to load. Burt has been steadily applying himself to Spanish class. I, as usual, have been too. Yesterday there was a Spanish/English Intercambio at the Palapa Society of Todos Santos. Adult learners of both languages gathered under the palapa and learned a bit about each other and played some games. Surprising connections can be made in these diverse socioeconomic groups. Perhaps twenty-five people ranging in age and occupation showed up. There were 18 year old maids and middle aged mechanics and twenty-something gardeners and restaurant workers. There were a lot of white haired retired people from places north. I was paired with a very young hotel maid and an older female business owner. La dueña is the owner of an ice cream shop. I consider that a very useful connection. The young hotel maid was there with two of her sisters. The entire family had moved to the area recently for work. I appreciate learning more about what life is like for the people that work here. Learning English is one way to get a better job. My teacher Ivonne lead the event and she made it hilarious and lighthearted.

Burt enjoyed his companion and also met a mechanic. Mechanics are always good to know. Our current guy is working well but as he says: he’s a very bad man and a very good mechanic. Someday the man might overtake the mechanic and we’ll need a new guy.

After the games and chats the Gypsy Carpenters showed up and played a few tunes in Spanish. We burned down the palapa. We also found an incredible singer that new the traditional tunes we sang. That can’t be beat. Oh LOOK. Here’s the pics.

Burt looks a little apprehensive.
Burt looks a little apprehensive. Actually, so does his partner Bernardo.
Sara Gay and her students
Sara Gay and her students
My young friend
My young friend Marisol.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Warm Up for the Show

Jardin de Niños of Pescadero
Jardin de Niños of Pescadero

Last night we had our first show in Mexico last night. We arrived to find three Canadian fans in a mostly empty restaurant. As usual we wondered if anybody was really coming. Within half an hour the place was filled and there were only two people we hadn’t met before. Despite our usual misgivings about performing after a period of time off the singing and playing went smoothly. I even told a story. I’ve been meaning to share it here and so now I will.

Last week we were invited to lunch at Priscila’s house. Mexicans and gringos eat on radically different schedules. Lunch in Mexico is in mid-afternoon. For Priscila and her husband Cornelio lunch is at 3:00 PM everyday. When we are asked to eat with Mexican friends (it’s only happened a few times) we have to carefully adjust our eating so we don’t faint from low blood sugar or blow up from eating 4 huge meals in a day. On this particular day we planned well. We had a regular breakfast and then chips and guacamole at 11:00. Around 2:30 we roused ourselves from our midday stupor. It’s been warm here. Time to get ready to go see Priscila and Cornelio. They live 2 minutes away by car. We drove because we were bringing instruments so we could sing some songs.  At 2:40 we left the house because we wanted to fill up our garafons with drinking water. The water plant is owned by Priscila and Cornelio’s son. It is right next to their house. At 2:45 we had our water. It was too early to knock on their door and we had run out of time wasters. Showing up early is really not the way here. An hour late is on time to most events here. That said, just last week Priscila was telling me that 5 minutes early is on time and on time is late and late is like you never even showed up. I teased her that I had heard that saying in the US but never in Mexico. Mexico is the land of mañana.

So there we were in a cultural conundrum. Not wanting to show up early and be the doofus gringos we stalled. It’s hard to make 10 minutes pass when your right outside somebody’s house. We dragged our feet and parked the car slowly. We unloaded our instruments like we were underwater. We moved to the door and stood outside for 1 minute. The house is behind a 10′ concrete wall. They couldn’t see us standing there. At 2:55 I rang the doorbell. I figured I could apply the 5 minute rule that Priscila shared with me. The door was flung open by Cornelio. Priscila came running: Where have you been? I’ve been texting you! Cornelio came home early for lunch and we’ve been waiting for you!!! Cornelio does not like to wait for lunch. The moral of this story is…keep your phone handy.

This was an uncomfortable start to our always stilted visits. While Priscila and I can chat pretty well, Cornelio’s accent is nearly impenetrable and he has no patience for our faulty Spanish. We focused on the food. First soup, then fried grouper, quinoa, and salad. Dessert was baked plantains with butter, sugar and Cinnamon topped with mango ice cream. Things warmed up when, after asking the word for burp, Priscila told a naughty saying about burps that come from the other end of the body. I didn’t quite get the details of the saying but I was able to reveal that I knew the word for fart (pedo). This made Cornelio smile for the first time.  As usual, potty jokes bridge the cultural gap.

These photos are from yesterday’s warm-up concert at the Jardin de los Niños. In 20 minutes we covered The Hokey Pokey, Old McDonald Had a Farm. The Wheels on the Bus, Cielito Lindo, Cancion Mixteca, and the Barney song. No surprise that the kids LOVED the Hokey Pokey. No language barriers in that song.

Cielito Lindo
Cielito Lindo
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Inverted and Immersed

Downward Facing Dig with assist.
Downward Facing Dig with assist.

That’s me in the purple top. I didn’t wind up there because I failed to follow instructions. I made it through three hours of advanced yoga in Spanish and did exactly as I was told to do. That position is downward facing dog. The teacher is actually lightening the load by acting as a human flying buttress. Buttressing my butt.  The posture looks extreme but it felt pretty darn nice. After an entire day in Spanish speaking company I can say by the end of the day I achieved muteness. Immersion leads to exhaustion, physical and mental. I hardly understood anything Priscila said on the drive home. I had been up since 6 AM and it was headed to 10 PM. Mayra had to interpret. Kinda of embarrassing but also part of the road to fluency. Mental overload.

Today I can hardly move and I have not said so much as an hola. Tomorrow the real pain will set in. It’s just muscle soreness. No permanent damage done despite the cartwheels, handstands, and headstands. Like the language skills I think I helped, I’m optimistic some physical progress was made even though the body was overloaded.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Immersion today

I am headed out on a road trip to La Paz with my yoga teacher Mayra and my friend Priscila. We’ll be attending a three hour workshop on inversions. Inversions for you non-yogis or yoginis is the upside down stuff. Meanwhile it’s all in Spanish. I could be in for some serious pretzeling if I get my ups and downs and lefts and rights mixed up. So language issues, deep yoga issues and there’s some cultural issues, too. Mexicans eat on a very different schedule. To keep fueled and get in time with my friends I have to eat later or eat more frequently. So far I have chosen to eat two lunches rather than starve from 7:00 AM until 3:00 PM.

Aside from worries of ‘when do I eat?’ there’s ‘what do I wear?’ The few times I’ve seen my friends outside of yoga they were decked out with hair and makeup on. High heels, too. I can’t do this. There’s is no chance I can pass as a Mexicana. I have to go as me, slightly stylish and slightly askew gringa. Huge gringa, too. Time to clean up and get ready. I’ll let you know how it goes.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Birthday Roca

Lots of butter and sugar.
Lots of butter and sugar.

Burt wanted Almond Roca for his 60th birthday and so I made a batch. As usual I mentioned it on Facebook. My friend Priscila saw this picture and asked for the recipe in Spanish. Ack. Translating a recipe is an idiomatic and scientific task. How to say spread, stir, add, and toast? Candy making is dangerous, too.

I decided to give it a go as a generally good language exercise. Late last night, after a Gypsy Carpenter’s show and a lichen lecture, I wrote a translation and stupidly or shamelessly or bravely posted it to Facebook. I expected a lot of laughs from my bilingual friends. Here’s what happened. According to one friend it was so bad that she said to send her the recipe in English and she would translate it to Spanish. By the time I typed her the recipe in English my friend Prissy wrote to say that it was great and she understood everything. According to Prissy my Spanish was very good. And there it stands. It’s likely really bad and comical but understandable. It must read like it was written by an illiterate that knows how to cook.

Here are both for your reading or cooking pleasure:

Almond Roca

2-12 ounce packages of chocolate chips
2 cups butter
1 pound ( or 2 1/4 cups) brown sugar
1 cup toasted and chopped almonds, divided

1. Grease a 14 x 18 cookie sheet. Sprinkle with 12 ounces of chocolate chips. Place I warm oven until chips melt. About 5 minutes. Spread chips over bottom of pan. Set aside.

2. In a large heavy sauce pan on medium high heat combine butter and sugar. Stir constantly until the temperature reaches 300-310 F or 149-154 C. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 of the almonds. Pour into pan of chocolate and spread evenly.

3. Sprinkle remaining chips over the candy layer. Heat from the candy will melt the chips. Spread the chocolate evenly. Sprinkle with remaining almonds.

4. Cut into squares while warm or allow to cool completely and break into pieces.

Eat.

Roca de Almendras

2 1/4 taza azucar moreno
2 taza de mantequilla
24 onzes de chipes de chocolate (2 bolsas)
1 taza de almendras tostadas y picado
1 sarten del galletas (12″ x 18″ mas o memos)

Necesitas un termómetro de dulces.

1. Espolvorea los chipes en el sarten de galletas. Applica aceite antes. Ponga el sarten en un horno calentito. Solamente hasta los chipes se empezar a fundirse. Con una cuchara unta el chocolate en todo el sarten como una capa de chocolate. Enfria al sarten.

2. En un sarten profundo y pesado ponga la mantequilla y el azucar. Sobre fuego de media (casi alta) intensidad se funde los dos juntos. Revolve constantemente hasta la pasta tiene la temperatura de 300-310 F. Quita del fuego. Añade 2/3 de los almendras. Inmediatemente applica la mezcla sobre el sarten de chocolate y unta.

3. Aplica el resto del chipes sobre el pasta. El calor del pasta va a detector el chocolate en pocos minutos. Con una cuchara unta el chocolate. Applica el resto del almendres. Enfria hasta todo es dura.

Disfruntan!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest