'Calandra's Spring' released for Kindle on amazon.com.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Writer's Perfect Getaway

What better to do for inspiration than to tread in the steps, and sit at the desk of a famous writer.  No velvet rope saying 'keep out' and the possibility to feel the same vibe as that guy!  The one I am talking about is D.H. Lawrence of 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' etc. etc. and the place that you can have the experience of being Lawrence on vacation is QQ Accommodations in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico.  This astoundingly pretty B & B is set in a garden that abounds with birds, trees in fruit (including a massive avocado and a couple of mangoes) turtles who live in a fountain and so much to delight the eye.  The building was partly designed and built by famous architect, Luis Barragan.There is an exotic stone tower and the place is completely packed with antiques, artworks and traditional Mexican tiles, pots and bits and pieces.  If you want to know more, details are at this website:

It is short walking distance to the lake, the market and much more, but really, do you want to walk anywhere when the place itself is so appealing?  Just sit in the garden or on one of the many terraces and unwind, think and create.  Just as Lawrence did!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calandra and Aaron - the new environmental warriors

There's an important environmental thread in 'Calandra's Spring' which impacts on the plot and the characters.  As I have been travelling around the world, particularly in Mexico, I have noticed that awareness of the issues is growing.  However, there is still a shocking disdain for keeping places free of plastic wastes, composting and air and noise quality control.  Mexico is the noisiest place in the universe!  The Big Bang would have been welcome here as an attention getter for some party or product!!  The noises, sights and smells of the place soon become annoying as they are so relentless.  Among my acquaintances, there is a high deafness rate and I worry about the next generation as car stereos, boom boxes and iPods permanently set to 'high' are the norm.  The smells of cooking, of garbage and still, fermenting water below the roads are inescapable.  What is this going to do to the evolution of the human body?  Thicker hair growth around the ears and nose perhaps?  More bone around the skull to shield the brain from the noise?  Could this be a new quest for our heroes?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury dies at 91. A productive life.

If I can hang out until I'm 91 and die in my sleep, I wonder if I will have left behind the kind of legacy Mr. Bradbury has?  His books are great reads and politically incisive.  Not a waste of print.  Even had he just written his most famous book, 'Fahrenheit 451' that would have been justification for his life.

Be a traveller ... and make notes along the way

I have done a goodly amount of travel in my life.  Some was for work and other was with family and often I travelled alone, tagging a trip onto the end of an assignment. While the latter is great (you have time to write notes and can travel self-indulgently) it's more fun to have someone to nudge when you see that wacky something or other. Putting it on Facebook just doesn't do it.  Lately, my husband and I have been travelling around Mexico quite a bit and there's not a day goes by when one doesn't nudge the other!  There is much to gasp at, to laugh at and stare at.  There is a level of national obesity here that defies description.  Those Walmartian pictures are NOTHING compared with the Mexicano Walmartians who seem to take as much pride in their bulk from an early age as Tonga's famed late Queen Salote, once holding the record as the tallest and fattest queen ever.  She was often used as a threat in our family home: 'Don't take that second slice of cake or you'll end up like Queen Salote'.  But I digresss.  The other day, I was camera-less. Damn!  And there before my eyes, a bulky miss leaned over before me to pick the choicest tomatoes from the hillock in the supermarket green section.  Alas, the combo of mini-dress and thong failed when combined with the rolls of brown fat that rippled up to her waist in full view of everyone.  She was unconcerned.  People flash bits of themselves here that would be pixelated in 'Survivor' before you can say "Come on in, guys!'.  We notice that in Puerto Vallarta, the gas, water, fruit and fish purveyors put out as much noise as they can to get attention.  In Guadalajara, they whistle softly, or ring a little bell, sing their wares quite beautifully (and sometimes I can understand) and still get sales.  We do much of our exploring on public buses and yesterday broke all records for bussing to undesirable suburbs by accident. It was interesting to see that in this colonia, which had featured in the international news as the site of a biffo between drug cartels, kids still went to school. washing still hung on lines and life just seemed to go on.  There seems to be a higher degree of razor wire in the 'nice' suburbs.  I suppose the others just feel they have nothing more to lose.  We came out of it OK, spending the rest of the day walking in the Parque Colomos, a forested area criss-crossed with running tracks, a great amount of free to use fitness equipment all over the place.  Which made me realise why people in Guadalajara are way thinner than those in Puerto Vallarta.  There are few parks in PV. Just the beach. Lots of that but many of those have been closed off by resorts.  And few people in the city can swim.  For some reason, they just don't get taught, nor do they seem to have the places to do laps and work off the blubber that is drowning their young folk and taking up much shelf space in the Farmacias for diabetic treatments.

If I had stayed in my safe, comfy house in Bulleen, Australia, yes, I would have had my flock of visiting lorikeets and magpies but I wouldn't have seen any of this!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Will we see another Mexican Revolution in our time?

Is it good for a nation to be stratified with ersatz slaves (brainwashed by Mother Church to hold off on fulfillment till they reach the Pearly Gates) at the bottom of the pyramid? And yet, there doesn't even seem to be simmering revolt here in Mexico where some of my acquaintances (members of our local sewing group) can make around 200 pesos a day for a physical slog in a garden or house.  True, many of them couldn't stick it out at school.  Stickability is present here ut needs someone to channel it.  I look at the conditions here and, taking into consideration the consumer tax and cost of rental and utilities, the people are under more stress than the French were in the 1780s.  Substitute Mr. Carlos Slim for any of the Louis and you have an interesting scenario.  Perhaps he should think about doing more than establish his museum in Mexico City, an edifice that will do nothing for the people who never get to go there from  Chiapas, Oaxaca or Zacatecas.  I would suggest that he focus on education - he has enough gelt there folks to build a school in EVERY town.  And to employ teachers.  Some examination (measurement) of standards is required too.  The architects, doctors and engineers down here don't seem to be using internationally approved text books!!  It's a great country, but they waste enough water to green a whole agricultural belt parallel to the coast line cities and that alone would stop the interminable (and carbon-wasting) procession of trucks north and south.   There are enough mangoes wasted to create a new industry of mango oil for the cosmetics industry.  Teak stands could be grown as well and provide the raw material for weather-resistant furniture making.  Hey, vote for me!  I could fix it, but only if I were a cardinal (making it a mortal sin not to be smart) or  ... a dictator!

Without making this a Marxist diatribe, I can point out that in nations where ALL profits are shared, where healthcare is universal and where doctors are not deified, where there is genuine freedom rather than the siege/defeatist/paranoid mentality of places that feature a gulf between rich and poor, are happy, creative and functional.  Here in Mexico, even the smallest hovel will sport its razor wire, barking 'watch-dogs' and padlocks.  The notion of shared lands such as those they have in Scandinavia would never work here.  In the coastal cities, Resorts have gobbled up most of the access to attractive beaches.  Lately, I have noticed signs in Spanish declaring that if anyone stops you (molestan!) on the way through to the beach, call the police and a particular journalist.  Good luck!  The drug cartels are another problem.  THAT is what requires a massive groundswell of a very brave revolution in Mexico.  Every person should, at grass roots level, refuse to take their money, supply them with the fertilizers they need to grow their drugs, building materials to construct their fortresses and the priests should deny them entrance to heaven - ever!  Again, it sounds simple, but with all those Russian and American made guns they have at their disposal, there's an imbalance.  The simplest cure would be for the USA to stop buying their products altogether immediately.  Dry up their market.  But tell that to people like Charlie Sheen or to Jay Leno who sniggers at the whole marijuana culture in his monologue.  Ban the narco-ballads as well.  They suck, musically, anyway!

Of course, the trafficking of drugs is, at heart, caused by demand meeting the gap between rich and poor and the fact that it is a 'no skill' profession.

It is tiring tossing these problems around and looking for solutions!  I think I will handball it to Dr. Edward De Bono who, so far, appears to have been silent on the 'war across the border'.  But look out USA, it has begun to creep north and already the deaths are mounting (the burnt-out body-filled car in Arizona last week).  It is time to do something NOW.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

City or Country?

Where would you most like to live?  In the city or in the country?  I have done both and once I was able to zip between each.  At the moment I am staying in the enormous, noisy, dusty and visually over-stimulating city of Guadalajara, Mexico's second city.  The smell of tacos of all kinds is on most corners as pop-up eateries abound.  Sometimes, I just wish I could smell nothing but freshly cut lawn, but there's not much hope of that. Unless I visit a soccer field. I went back to TonalĂ , the craft centre of Mexico.  Well, one of the craft centres. Puebla is another.  There are many.  I always think about Stendhal's Syndrome and how the over-stimulation of senses, not just arts, can cause a spin-out.  I think, to a certain degree, the whole world is suffering from visual, aural and sensory overload these days.  It's kind of silly to add to it by scrawling graffiti (no matter how meaningful to oneself) over walls and even as tattoos on one's body. Too much distraction.  Nobody's easily able to get down to work.  There's music and noise all around us in cities.  In rural areas, the luxury of being able to sit on the grass and just listen to nothing but the wind and maybe a distant magpie or kookaburra, is taken for granted.  I long for the quiet of our home in the tiny Aussie town of Snake Valley.  It was beautiful.  But too far from family.  And actually, I could never write there.  I found far too much to do and the days just slid by, sneaking past me before I noticed.

We are never happy!  Ruby slippers can click all they want but these days, it is important to make 'home' where you have to be and not keep circling back to the comfort and serenity of the easy places!