Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Climbing into the Past

On our fourth day (I believe it was the fourth. Maybe it was the fifth or sixth--I lost track of time in paradise), we grew weary of lounging under our palapa, gazing at the turquoise Caribbean between intervals of reading/napping/swimming, reading/napping/swimming,
reading/napping/swimming. Truth be told, we'd probably never weary of this peaceful rhythm, which was perfectly synchronized to the lapping of the waves, perfectly synchronized to the rhythms of our souls.

But when you're in the Yucatan, you're supposed to check out the Mayan ruins, right? So we rented a car and ventured into the interior. Our destination: Chichen Itza, home of one of the Mayan pyramids, the Templo de Kukulkan.

On each of the four faces of Templo de Kukulkan are 91 steps. Consider the top platform a step and do the math: 4 X 91=364, plus 1 platform. There are a total of 365 steps, one for each day of the year.

At the base of the pyramid are snake heads, their huge mouths gaping at passers-by. At the spring and fall equinoxes, thanks to the angle of the sun in relation to the edges of the steps on the north side, light undulates down the steps, yes, like a giant serpent crawling down the side of the pyramid. To this day the snake heads appear to come to life twice a year. With their slithering bodies of light, they usher in the spring. Then they usher in the fall. Clearly, the people who built the Templo de Kukulkan were highly attuned to astronomical rhythms.

And they took their ballgames very seriously. We saw this enormous ball field, about the size of three football fields. If you enlarge the image, you'll be able to make out two tiny rings, one attached to the walls on either side of the field. Apparently, balls were kicked through these teeny-tiny rings.

Remember what I said about the Mayans taking their ballgames seriously? At the end of the game, either the winners or the losers--the scholars haven't decided which--were beheaded and offered as sacrifices to the deities. Such sacrificial heads are depicted as impaled skulls on the walls of Tzompantli, the Platform of Skulls.

I must admit that seeing all of this death imagery in person was bothersome. I tried to fathom a culture which seemed to be so attuned to the rhythms of nature, and yet saw fit to offer up its own to gruesome sacrifices. A culture that created stunning architecture and art, but with the labor of enslaved people.

But what really haunts me is the knowledge that in our own time, hundreds of years later, we still live with such contradictions.

And that, my friends, is why we all need to take a break from contradiction once in a while. We need to go on vacation. We need to be quiet and submerge our tired selves in the rhythm of the waves. In that rhythm and warmth there is no contradiction. Just one languorous wave slapping against the shore, then the next, and the next, and the...

...yes...that's more like it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Relaxation

OK, so the vacation was all that we'd hoped for. And more. We'd anticipated much. Lush surroundings. Warm, inviting waters. Undersea snorkeling adventures. Hours in which to practice the pursuit of indolence. Cuisine to delight the taste buds. A romantic Valentine's Day in paradise. We got all that.

And we got more. Later I will be posting about running out of gas in the middle of Yucatan nowhere.

Now kindly proceed to the picture of the gifts I received from Chuck and Jo...

Lovely Parting Gifts

A couple of days before we left for our blissful vacation, I walked out to the mailbox to discover an intriguing large envelope postmarked WYOMING. Its contents are pictured in the photo above. A lovely friendship bracelet from Meanie the Baby Dragon aka Chuck, and his Maw Maw aka Jolene. AND a compelling self portrait of Chuck rendered in pencil on magenta construction paper. As you can see, in the photo I also included a portrait of a model resembling the painter Gauguin. This painting is by Marie Larson, and I believe you'll agree: Meanie is a dead ringer for Marie's model, except of course he doesn't smoke as does the Gauguin look-alike. Then too, Meanie's particular style is a bit more minimalist than is Larson's. Nonetheless, the similarities are uncanny.

I tried to photograph the friendship bracelet on my arm, but holding the camera at such close range created all kinds of wild reflections in the beads. My proclivity is certainly not jewelry photography.

I took the timing of the arrival of these gifts from my Wyoming blogging friends--thanks Chuck, thanks, Jo!--as a good omen for our trip. And was it ever!!! More to follow...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Your Reverend Lady San the Nefarious to Take Flight for Warmer Climes

Not to gloat mind you, but I've acquired a title.

Her Most Serene Highness Lady Jafabrit the Kind of Greater Sodbury,
in her most serene,
most high,
ever-so-abundant Sodburian manner,
has introduced me to:
Lady Fortune the Absurd of Greater Internetshire.

Lady Fortune proceeded
to inform me:
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title was just the teeniest mouse-click away.

Child's play. Easy as blasphemy.

Henceforth let it be known:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Entirely Miss Reverend Lady San the Nefarious of New Invention

Rather fitting, wouldn't you say?

In celebration of our long-in-coming, richly deserved status as noblepersons, Bennie and I--oh yes, how could I forget? Bennie, he got a title too! Henceforth my spouse will be known as:

His Noble Excellency Bennie the Bloody of Praze-an-Beeble.

OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Thursday morning, we're departing for 10 days in THE YUCATAN! We'll be unplugged. No gallery. No email. No blogging (which actually makes me kinda sad). No spreadsheets. No invoices (although we hope that Karen, who will be minding the gallery in our absence, will be writing plenty of those.) No howling winter winds. No dust devils parading their wicked selves up the road. No treacherous ice in the parking lot.

With any luck at all, a week from today we will be:

Sleeping in.

Dining out.

Drinking in the lush greenness of it all.
Is that a pitcher of margaritas I see before my eyes?

Frolicking in the languorous, azure--don't you just love that word?-- azure, sun-kissed waters of the Caribbean.

Perusing the erstwhile Mayan hang-outs.

In the meantime, wanna title of your own? Well, by all means, lords and ladies, earls and earlets, ocelots of Camelot--Lady Fortune has a lot! Lay claim!

Our Lady of Greater Internetshire is dispensing them by the merdeload, yours for the clicking:

Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title