Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Often my dreams consist of saving people, frequently leaving me more exhausted when I wake up than when I bed down. The objects of my rescues are my children, grandchildren, ex-husbands and lovers, occasionally extended family members, and sometimes friends and unknowns.
A lady I know insists she has an innate skill for interpreting these dramas that go on in my sleep. She informs me that in my effort to maintain calm in my everyday life, I allow my anticipation and fears to visit me in a place where I can relinquish control to some other authority.
If that’s the case then I’d like there to be some Port Authority for checking ID’s, passports and past records of former violators. Some of the people that manage to pass through the portal of my Netherland are doing so without permission, invitation and consent. I am rarely surprised to see them. I have learned to accept their presence and dutifully view the show from my front row observation pillow. These images follow me around in my waking hours, sometimes influencing my thoughts and actions. That can be good, reminding me to not commit the same errors of the past. Other times I am simply haunted.
In real life I’ve lost people in crowds; been left on docks; missed planes, trains, busses; forgotten appointments, classes, birthdays and directions. I’ve misbalanced checkbooks, overdrawn, underestimated, forgot to mail the check, forgotten the day (forgotten the month), picked Door Number Two, mistaken a name, misplaced a face and transposed the number. Most are occasions I have memories of and can recall, relate and share. Dreams are different. They are ethereal, and as with lies, fade away, having no material substance with which to cling.
Throughout the day, images enter my perspective like cartoon bubbles, hovering and disappearing. I close my eyes again in an effort to freeze an image; just long enough to get a perspective, but… it was just a dream. Or at least a part of one that fluttered through my unconsciousness long enough to cause a disturbance on my personal Richter scale.
As far as the maintenance of calm in my life? That is something that will never happen. I’m sure of it. I suspect I will continue to be consumed by all things irrational, behind the curtains of my eyelids. Asleep or awake. And not be surprised.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Sixty. I don’t feel sixty. Nor, have been told, look sixty. But the facts are there, in black and white, on parchment paper and family bibles.
I have not accomplished my life dream and though I realize many go out without even knowing what their true purpose in life is, I am not one of them.
However, to begin the course for my next chapter of living, I have some tasks to accomplish.
Today I will begin the process of elimination. That is: eliminating things I have collected and schlepped around over the decades. I must sort and dust and decide.
There are… photos albums and overflowing boxes of images that begged to be catalogued and will now be purged. Dishes: crystal, china, silver, plates, mugs and ceramic bowls made by my erstwhile teenage potter, her name etched carefully on the bottom of each. Toys; some that were hugged and abused by my own babies. Books; reference, novels, children’s, bios and guides; loads of these. Curtains, blankets, linens, serviettes and table cloths, and delicately embroidered pillowcases. Projects; half finished, unframed, requiring mending, long forgotten or purposefully ignored. Art. (The word stands alone.) Framed photos, large and small. A sizable music collection of CD’s and cassettes, even vinyl, a few long out of circulation and some painful to the ears. Electronics, furniture, and computer paraphernalia that will always mystify me. Files, papers, drawers and cabinets full of information, useful and obsolete. Clothing, the easiest perhaps. Trinkets, mementoes, tchotkes. Memories, sorrows. Joys.
Sixty. A few days ago, I celebrated this benchmark with a group of dear friends. I’ve taken inventory of the past six decades and find myself bewildered as to how I even got this far. I often joke with visitors who ask “What brought you to Mexico?” Yes, a plane brought me to Puerto Vallarta; and at times a car. Now the joke’s on me.
A series of complications found me back in Vallarta this time. I have an FM2, a visa that allows me out of Mexico for only 90 days. While this is a hardship in certain ways, it also permits me to own property and not pay capital gains (28%), once I sell. Since I am trying to immediately sell a piece of property, I became hogtied by Mexican immigration.
My era here has past. It’s time to open the door to new and more innovative, cleverer, more ambitious people than I.
So I will be a homeward bound angel. And I will diligently search for that elusive agent and publisher for my books; perhaps produce a chapbook of my excellent poems and continue to write, for the amusement of myself and hopefully others.
I’ll take that 28% loss. I thought it might be painful but there are things other than money that impinge upon the emotional spine.
Money and time; the ultimate equalizers. One, perhaps negotiable, the other, never really. Not having much left of either, I am encouraged to make a new plan. It won’t be the first and with any luck, not the last.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Party

I was very happy to spend the day of my 60th birthday on a rooftop overlooking the ocean, dipping in the pool and playing cards, looking forward to strolling next door at sunset to join a group of friends for a celebratory dinner at one of my favorite beach restaurants. It would have been quite satisfying. I just didn’t expect too much, having made it clear that low-key was the operative word for this year’s commemoration.
My good friend Candace picked me up shortly before noon and with a bit of frustration, explained the errands she had to run before we could get to our first destination: the pool and card table. I told her it was fine with me, we had the whole day ahead of us. We drove out the coast highway and came to a lovely cliff-side villa, where she encouraged me to follow her while she conducted her business. My first inclination was to feel like an intruder, when we ran into a couple who were purportedly guests of whom we were disturbing. They nodded curtly as they gave us their permission to enter, then disappeared. We wandered down a grand staircase into the foyer and living room, with a sweeping view of the ocean and famous volcanic rocks Los Arcos.

There was a woman in the pool; her back turned, taking in the scenery. She looked vaguely familiar but then at my age, many people do.

We wandered into the kitchen area and dining room, me following Candace obediently. She had requested margaritas, which I thought was a little cheeky and even cheekier still for me to ask if maybe we could get them to go. Candace was the one complaining that all this running around was cutting into our card playing time. As we waited for our margaritas to be mixed, we wandered in the direction of the pool.

The woman who I had glanced at moments before seemed much more familiar to me and I stared at her, trying to understand what my good friend Shawn was doing there. She stared up at me and I stared back at her. Candace pulled her dress over her head to reveal a swimsuit and dove into the water.

Maybe my eyes popped out, perhaps my jaw dropped; I don’t recall but just then Shawn said Surprise! Happy Birthday!
What are
you doing here? I asked.

I still wasn’t totally getting it.
It took me a while to get my bearings. I didn’t really understand at first until it dawned on me what my friends had done.

The guests, Patti and Gary, who we’d disturbed on our way in, turned out to be Shawn’s friends, visiting from California. They were great actors, playing up the disgruntled vacationers. I wasn’t expecting Shawn to attend my birthday at all, since it was her husband Greg’s birthday as well and he was flying in that day. The foursome had planned to spend that night in Yelapa, down the coast and only attainable by boat. Or so I thought. Greg was not privy to the plans, either, so there were more surprises in store for the day.

At some point, I watched tables being set and nosily counted the place settings. Twenty-four people would be joining us for dinner.
We swam. Played cards. Moved everything inside when the skies opened up. Relaxed. Read. I never really got over my astonishment. In our well appointed rooms, we freshened up and dressed for the arrival of others.

At the appointed hour, they began to drift in. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends. We ate and drank for what seemed like hours. The food was divine. The company was delightful. When the evening ended long past the midnight hour, I retired to my room in this lovely villa and slept like a lamb, only to be awakened in the morning by a knock at the door and a breakfast tray. We didn’t leave Villa Luna Creciente until past 7 p.m., the whole day spent in absolute bliss. I cannot thank my friends and family enough for making this possible. Like a dream come true.

And reflections on turning 60?
It was more than I could have realized. More on that later. I promise.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back Home

I am home again; arrived a week ago today. Not sure how it feels to be home. Tomorrow I will be sixty years old and as I consider the past decade, I have been very fortunate. We could say it is a matter of luck, but as Dad always said “It’s a good thing there are two kinds of luck or I wouldn’t have any.”
I am in the process of considering how my future will play out and realizing perhaps ten years in Mexico has been enough. I love this country. I love the people and the culture. My experiences here have been rich beyond what I could ever have imagined a decade ago. For the most part, leaving my Mexican friends will be what pains me most. To a person, they have provided me with an understanding of kindness and love. Certainly, I have met a fair number of rogues, but admittedly, one will find those types anywhere. Since many Mexicans are not able to travel to the United States, due to immigration procedures or lack of funds, I will be obliged to return to Mexico on occasion to be filled again with their affection, good will and chicken mole.
I am often dismayed when I hear my non-Mexican friends grumble about some of their problems, criticisms and complaints about the country they have adopted. Foreigners are so welcome in Mexico, which has a very generous and tolerant immigration policy. This is, of course, a part of what makes up the country’s wealth: her mixture. In the beginning, these were conquistadors, who themselves were welcomed by the innocent and vulnerable. From the slave ships that embarked on the eastern shoreline to the present day ex-patriots from all continents, Mexico has been enriched.
I don’t know exactly what happens next for me. That remains to be seen and I am anxious and willing to discover. Thinking that life would be very different at this time, I need to somehow devise a new plan. Getting through tomorrow is my foremost goal. When I am sixty years and one day old, perhaps I will be more enlightened than I am today.