Sunday, April 19, 2020

2020 — And back to the unreal world

The day we left Mexico more and more cases of Corona virus were being reported from the US. Recommendations were to wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer; don’t shake hands with anyone and avoid anyone who appeared ill or was coughing. The León airport was quiet, with few travelers. We waited for our plane, sitting far from other passengers.  At one point a group of people found seats near us and one was coughing, wetly, into a tissue as she took the seat next to me. We hastily grabbed our belongings and moved several rows away. I felt bad. It seemed rude and obvious...

At the airport in Dallas we did our best to maintain some space as we made our way through the customs process and were glad to be on the last leg toPortland. 

Once home we had to hurry to prepare for a guest from out of town. Susan Metzger, who we had met on our tour in Morocco a couple years ago was coming from Colorado to speak at our Columbia FiberArts Guild Quarterly meeting, then give a two-day workshop on creating batiks. One person questioned the wisdom of holding these events and canceled out of the workshop. The rest of us believed we could be careful and would be safe. I confess to believing, at that time, that it was not “that bad” and cancelling everything would have been an overreaction. Who knows? We were lucky. No one was infected as a result, and the class was so, so good. 

Over the two days Susan led us through the creation of two batiks—the first based on photos of irises that she had brought, and the second, a design of our own. The process is kind of mysterious, in that you are never sure, until the end, what you will wind up with. The medium is imprecise and unexpected things happen and colors behave differently from one day to the next. Though we all made “iris” pieces, based on the same photos , they were all distinctly different in the end. 

You apply hot wax to your fabric in steps, dyeing progressive colors in between—covering in each step, the parts of the composition that you wish to remain the current color. 

Susan helping Sheri decide the sequence of colors she will use to create her bird

First wax application, then the first, pale blue dye. When these are dry, more wax will be applied

Then a darker blue

Yellow dye turns the unwaxed blue areas to green

And finally a very dark, purple blue dye. 

Here’s my second piece drying at an intermediary stage where the amount of orangey red is startling! Have faith.
At the end we removed most of the wax by ironing our pieces between layers of newspaper and newsprint and gasped to see the results. Here are my two pieces. I like them a lot. 

By the end of the day on Friday, March 13, the Corona virus news was getting bad. Our class had planned to take Susan out to dinner, but decided we just all needed to get home. Ray, Susan and I shared a bottle of wine and a quiet dinner at home. 

The next morning Ray and I took Susan to the airport in a snowstorm, and then we went home and haven’t left. That was a little more than a month ago, but it seems much longer. The snow only lasted for a day and in that month Spring has come. The earth turns, the flowers bloom, the season changes. We stay home and sometimes are so sad we cry—not for ourselves, we are fine, but instead for the sick and dying, the exhausted and emotionally spent health workers, the homeless and hungry, those out of work, those grieving. 

And so it goes...

Friday, April 17, 2020

2020 Mexico - San Miguel is like a dream...

After I wrote my last blog post I realized it would take me weeks to post about our time in San Miguel de Allende if I tried to describe it all. I took hundreds of photos and looking back at them brings back the warmth, the beauty, the art, the music, the people—all so colorful and rich in Mexican culture it seems, now, like a dream I had once, even though it was just a few weeks ago. I think I’ll let my photos do most of the talking. It was hard to edit down to a few favorites. 

The sheer beauty of the place, with its Colonial architecture  and vibrant gardens is what first takes hold of you, then the people.  

Everywhere you turn you find artisans’ work, from the simple carvings being sold on the street, like the woman above, to fine gallery work and artisan markets. It ranges from bright and whimsical to soulful, dark and mysterious.

We spent an afternoon in the mask museum, learning about and viewing handmade masks used in rituals and celebrations throughout Mexico. 

The Toy Museum was a last minute decision when our planned winery tour fell through. I’m SO glad we went there! Pure delight!

One of our days in San Miguel was the Festival of Our Lord of the Conquest, which features native dancers from all over Mexico, performing throughout the day around the main square. 

On our last day we walked several blocks from our BnB to a beautiful home where we took a cooking class. With the instruction of Chef Miguel, we prepared salsas and Mexican rice and chicken with mole, then we sat down to a lovely meal with Miguel and our fellow students. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Mexico. 

That evening we walked down to the Jardin and Parroquia for a last time before our departure the next day. We were hearing about concerns back home about the Corona virus beginning to show up in the US. There was a case, even in our own county. It sounded concerning, but more questions than answers. It was not on our minds as we said our goodbyes to San Miguel, under a full moon. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

2020 So Far — México

San Miguel de Allende is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We had spent a couple hours there about 20 years ago and had always wanted to go back and see more. While we have loved our recent trips to Morocco and to Italy we were finding it hard to think about another long and exhausting flight, so Mexico sounded perfect. We liked the idea of choosing one place and exploring it and surrounding areas. We booked an Air BnB in the center of the old part of of San Miguel and it was the perfect location. 

Our little rooftop apartment and patio was comfortable, convenient and afforded a splendid view in the evening.  We were just a few blocks from the Jardin, San Miguel’s main square, facing the the church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. 

This was the perfect place for a cup of cafe con leche in the morning and to watch people visiting in El Jardin or attending mass at the church. During our stay we saw several wedding parties leaving the church and one morning there were dozens of families gathered out front with their beautifully dressed babies, preparing for a mass baptism inside. 

Each day we looked for something interesting to see or do. One day we took a taxi to the outskirts of town for a tour of The Chapel of Jimmy Ray. I had seen the website and we made an appointment for a tour, thinking it might be fun. It is the home and studio of Anado McLachlan and his partner Richard. Anado welcomed us and showed us around the grounds and home, telling stories all along the way. His little world is filled with color and whimsy and beauty and meaning. He is warm and generous of spirit and humorous and articulate. By far more than I expected. I could say much more, but the pictures tell the story. If you go to San Miguel de Allende, DO go visit the Chapel of Jimmy Ray. You will be richly rewarded.

Anado leads the way

The most beautiful outhouse in México 

There are two galleries where he shows his work, as well as the work of several other artists

Inside the house. 

Enough color and inspiration to keep me going for a very long time, but there was more to come...