Sunday, March 4, 2018

Jazz Festival and more conversations...

All week long we've been seeing big signs advertising a Jazz Festival at the Cuernavaca Cultural Center, so we were determined to go and check it out.  It turned out to be a delightful afternoon.  The Cultural Center looks quite recent.  It is directly across from the Aztec ruins, so it appears to have created an architectural resemblance to the pyramids.

Loren in front of some artwork at the Cultura Center

There were several hundred people there attending the festival and it was totally free for everyone.  We only sat in one room although when I went to their website, I saw that there are an indoor theater and other rooms.  It's a lovely space.  The festival was running from noon to 7:00 pm.  We arrived around three and listened to three 45-minute sets.  The first one we really liked and they even had a tap dancer for Loren!  The last two had some good songs, but for the most part were that kind of repetitive jazz that starts to get tiring.  But the crowd really liked everything and it was fun to be a part of the Cuernavaca scene.

Vicky and Bob Parsons arrived last night;  Sonja and Conrad left to go back to Chicago this morning, and Jane and Don Hunt have just arrived from Chicago.  This is the last changing of the guard.  Loren and I can't believe that today begins our final week here.  The time has gone by so quickly, and although it will be good to get home, it has been a wonderful visit.

Stay tuned for this week's discussions...

WOW!!!  Something seems to be happening.  We have been talking about the Parkland shootings, the NRA, assault weapons, and "what can we do?"  Fred passed around an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan.  It is called The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe.  It's a bit controversial, and my sister, Carol, and I have had a few go-arounds about it, but I find it compelling. It is very clear that we are living in combative times.  Right vs. the Left; Conservative vs. Liberals;  Right to Choose vs. Right to Life.  And the word "compromise" doesn't seem to have any meaning to either side.  Noonan raises two issues where proponents seem to be entrenched in their positions:  abortion and gun control.

Noonan says that recently the Senate blocked a bill that would have banned late-term abortions (20 months - or right up to the 6th month of pregnancy) and included the exceptions of rape, incest, and the health of the mother.  Pro-lifers argued there is a slippery slope from banning late-term abortions to banning abortions altogether.  NO COMPROMISE POSSIBLE.

Pro-NRAers feel the same way about assault weapons.  As soon as we say AK-47's are illegal, we're on a slippery slope to banning all guns.  NO COMPROMISE POSSIBLE.

Now as a liberal who believes in a woman's right to choose, I have NO problem with banning late-term abortions.  Five months for a woman to exert her right to choose gives her plenty of time.  It's part of the abortion bill where we can certainly compromise.

I would think that any pro-gun advocate would also not lose sleep if assault weapons of war were banned.  People would still be able to own handguns to protect their families and go hunting.  To take weapons of war out of the hands of civilians does not seem to weaken the second amendment. It's part of the NRA lobby where we can certainly compromise.

BUT- leave it to Congress and the politicians and we will be talking about this after the next shooting...and the next... and the next...  Trump has been all over the place, and the sales of guns have skyrocketed since Parkland.

Yet there's hope:  There's hope in the passion of the high school kids that aren't quitting.  I am so impressed with these teens, and it's spreading across the country.  I look forward to seeing the turnout for the march on Washington.  They are savvy, articulate, and using social media to insist that their voices are heard.

And there's hope in the reaction of Delta Air Lines and Dick's Sporting Goods who are taking a risk but also taking a moral stand.  If you find yourself asking, "What can I do?" you can support Dick's Sporting Goods.  Lest you think there are only balls and golf clubs available, they are selling Calia, a line of women's clothing by Carrie Underwood that is soft, stylish and great items.  Go to their website and take a look.  Then buy something.  If all NRA supporters boycott Dick's, (and they will) it could have a very negative effect on the store.  So if you want to show your support for gun control, let's put Dick's over the top!!  They are calling it a Buycott instead of a Boycott!!!

I sense something is afoot this time that might just begin to erode the steel grip the NRA seems to have.  I had always thought the Congress was going to have to do something, but now I'm sensing there are other ways to go.  Businesses, young people, and hopefully other voices and organizations will lead the way.  Where are the churches?  What about voices from our prisons? What about our police forces?   Keep your eyes and ears open and add your voice when you can.  #ENOUGH!

Last night, we shared the Refugee Poem (that is printed on the blog, "Food for the Heart, Body, and Mind,") and again had a good discussion.  Fred is not a big fan of poetry, and he especially dislikes the modern poetry that doesn't rhyme.  Poetry is supposed to rhyme!  Vicky and I disagreed with Fred and we have promised him two poems today that we hope will begin to change his mind.  Vicky is going to find a Mary Oliver poem and I am going to read The Lanyard by Billy Collins.  I'll let you know how it goes over!

Today is Friday, Natalia's day off.  So we'll be out for our last lunch and dinner on the town.  Not sure where we'll end up, but I always like going out.

We had a great day yesterday.  We went to a beautiful golf club for lunch and to a French restaurant, Le Provence, for dinner.  The chef/owner of Le Provence is quite a character.  He always comes out to the table to tell us what his specials are and there is always the duck pate that is the recipe of his grandmother.  We asked him where he was from and he said Ile de Re which is a small island south of Brittany.  We were curious how he happened to get to Mexico, and in his charming French accent he said, "Ah, that's a long story!"  He was a young man and an Australian family came to the island to visit with their beautiful daughter.  He fell in love and when the family returned to Melbourne, he sold everything he had to get the plane fare to fly to Austrailia.  When he got there, her father took him aside and told him he was very sorry, but his daughter was getting married in two months.  So he left Austrailia to see a friend in San Francisco and met a chef who wanted to go to Mexico.  He had always wanted to see Mexico, so he came with him.  He's been here for 32 years.

Today I went with Vicky to the beauty parlor.  She got her hair washed and blow-dried and I got my nails done again before coming home!  The little beauty shop was a one-gal operation and amazingly, there was no running water.  The lady poured a bucket of water in the sink and ladled out the water to wash and rinse Vicky's hair.  In the end, it looked great!!  Then we made our last trip to Sonya's silver shop and Las Mananitas before lunch.

So last night was our "defense of free verse" evening.  Vicky chose Mary Oliver's A Summer Day, and I chose Billy Collin's Lanyard.  We were going to try to show Fred that not all good poetry needs to rhyme.  Here are the two poems:

A Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

The Lanyard
by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Fred provoked a really fun discussion by asking, "What is Poetry?"  That's an impossible question to answer but we thought poetry encouraged us to think differently;  to expand the way we looked at the world;  to unlock another dimension;  to entertain, to teach, to inspire.  Then we began to reminisce about how poetry played a part in our own lives.  Parents had poetry books by their bedside tables;  children were asked to memorize and recite poetry.  

One of the guests, Jane, a Jane Austen fanatic, told about a poem she wrote as a toast to Jane Austen for her birthday.  There was a contest and she won the regional competition and went on to win the nationals with a short but very sweet toast.  Here it is:

On this occasion for Jane,
I’d like to be perfectly plain.
It is most sagacious, and not Austentacious
To toast her achievements again!

The Parsons leave today and then tomorrow is our last day here.  It's been fantastic and I am in awe of Kat and Fred.  Watching them so graciously welcome such a diverse, interesting group of guests over the month has been truly amazing.  They are unique, wonderful people and it is an honor to be a member of this "non-family."  (That's an in-joke for Fred!)



Essie said...

Nancy ~ home in CT on yet another snow day. Remember March?!! I have been reading your blogs and love them. So stimulating and provocative. I find myself wanting to respond to many points (not the least of which is how can pro-life people not understand the follow-through: social services & gun control. How can it be only about birthing a baby, and not helping to support the child, the family, the schools, and better safety for all?) I've always loved Lanyard! Did you see my FB post? Got to hear Rep. John Lewis speak last week. Much going on. We'll talk when you return. How is your hip? Love love.

Essie said...

PS: Penzeys Spices (which are excellent, btw) have been on board, are very outspoken, and have taken a huge corporate risk since the election and last year's march, so be sure to add them to your list of companies to support. I've seen some outstanding essays by their CEO on FB.