Jan 20, 2023

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Newsworthy or not, Chapter 34, Happy New Year 2023


Greetings my friends.  It suddenly occured to me that I have NOT  visited YOU and my blog for quite some time...I have lots of local, and personal, news to share....ready or not?

I am now 79 (and one half) years old.  I still, like many other grandes, am totally surprised at how 79 years passed by so quickly...just when I was getting the hang of being a little quiet, well, BANG I plopped down again in the FRONT ROW of my life.  Again I am reminded of my former (heavily visited) SHRINK, Dr. Jean U, who told me - You will like reality, it just takes some getting used to - ...the very idea seemed to startle and offend, ME ... but I survived her, her message, and myself and paid attention to the greater specific wisdom of it all.  OPEN YOUR EYES, Leonardo!


Yes, there seems to be no way of dodging it/reality.  I no longer drink my way out of and around it since the 13th of December 1978!  That is 44 years of edging closer and closer to my seat in front row of life. I may not have missed many POPULAR/SHALLOW features in the smoke filled balcony of life for my first 35 years (I did see/catch a glimpse of quite a few colorful shorts and many THRILLERS) however both sober and not so much sober I was mostly in the dark.   NOW, I love reality, mostly, even the hard part seems to be helpful in my color saturated world of accepting and not pretending THINGS are different than they really are.  DENIAL is extra multi purpose but it can be painful (reminds me I maybe want to go on a diet) in the long run of life. Best to stay in the right NOW? 

My reality remains riveted on the life around me in a/this small pueblo in Guatemala.  It is the most fascinating and rewarding part of my very fortunate adventerous/longlike trip!  The people here are kind, very hard working and are respectful to me,..me, a older/single Gringo.  It is a truth of how much love I feel from my fellow artists and friends and some neighbors too...NOTE/REMEMBER how polite/welcoming Guatemalans are to me, a foreigner in their midst.  When you meet a CHAPIN in the good old U.S.A.,please  be kind to them., reality just takes some getting used to,and los Chapins are a happy and loving group of human beings gifted with lots of brilliant cultural background and lots of natural tenacity.

Leonardo at the foot of the volcano

to be continued

Aug 8, 2022

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO, Silent Chirping, Chapter #33

EXCUSES, excuses, excuses.  Just when I thought I would be spared from Covid Virus  I got zapped.  It was nothing serious but  one morning I had a sore throat, runny nose and I thought it best to go to the 24 hour clinic in Antigua.  When I arrived the receptionist told me I needed the Covid test (which was set up in a tiny make-shift room in the parking lot).  I received the test and was quickly escorted to the patio area to wait for results.  Forty-five minutes later the same receptionist announced I tested positive (I was surprised and speechless) and told to go home, drink lots of water and in five days the symtoms would leave and in ten days I would no longer be contagious.  O.K., I can do that but it seemed like I should have a medical specialist tell me and not the receptionist....I was grumpy but went home to bed.  

TRIPLE OY VEY - My voice was becoming SPEECHLESS too!  I felt better but my voice sounded like I was about two decades older than my current 78+ years.  My throat was unsore but crackling in the breeze so I made an appointment with a highly recommended throat doctor in Guatemala City.  He seems to know his stuff and I was thoroughly examined and give prescriptions which I now am into day four....the results seem very helpful so far .....healing in progress as the throat congestion is lifting.  (I have to remember not to yell, or howl, at my three dogs when they bark loudly).

To be continued


Apr 25, 2022


His Royal 18 inch HIGHNESS,  Prince Gonzalo the Gallo

I was thinking of you.  I thought it was way too long since we met up here and shared a few minutes together....sharing a few of my random thoughts that keep me interested in my random real-life plots.

LIFE AROUND ME still astounds me.  There is magic in the volcanos surrounding me.  It's true, I feel it all the time and that is an amazing bonus for a single old Americano fellow who grew up among vibes of beaches and Palm Trees.  I feel the love, I feel the energy, the non-stopped-ness of basic living is front and forward for all to see.  I think it must be eruption-passion inspired and so many people on the Calle Real are related by family.  They are friendly  polite and industrious...a happy family with dozens of primos, primas and sobrino/as.  A whole village of smiling faces that smile on sturdy human beings who work hard, care for others and take care of elders and their children with pride and poise .... lots of beautiful children that the decendents of Maya and Spanish background and raised with glee.  You'd love them. keep in mind everyones kindness to me,the extranajero in Guatemala when you meet Guatemaltecos on the street where you live! 

The rainy season is coming.  I love the rain and the emerald green hills and valleys around me, Department de Sacatepequez.  The Land of the Eternal Spring...it Sprung forth already/already.

Leonardo Ricardo

to be continued

Jun 20, 2021

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 31, Right vs. Wrong and other late night illusions/self-inventories!

I must be nuts.  I was in bed and about to drift off to sleep.  Sleep until that mid-during-the-night eye-opener when I always wake up for an hour or two.  That, like many older imaginative people, is when we like to terrorize ourselves with pending ugly what-if's and random worry.  Everything was perfect for the first, part A, snooze for tonight.  Even my beloved dogger Lulu had positioned herself on the top of my plump pillow (behind my plump head of course but she always reminds me I am wearing a dog night cap.  Lulu makes me smile and I dare not move. I also figure it's all part of Gods big plan that would confuse me if I didn't just shut up and enjoy the somewhat odd personal mixed-breed rescue dog warmth of it all).   

I got up very gently as to not disturb my dog headdress.  See, I do have kindness for others, dog or not, anyone or anything (especially when they are showing warmth, any).  All of which is left to my 77+ (pending with dread the August and Virgo addition to my age) year old accumulated sense of right and wrong in general.  Kindness directed toward animals is a much needed seperate catagory for personal character improvement for many. I still murder spiders. There you have it, you see, there is much personal growth to be done before I let those mil piernas into my unforgiving/overly defensive, sometimes feardriven, heart.


Fidget and blink as I push back my thinning hair and squint at this computer monitor.  Truthfully I am slightly off center in my thinking as I am quite a free-spirited sort of a person. I seem to be gathering some very strict ideas (which of course I dismiss immediately when they apply to me or those I love as I am not a Q-tainted Republican...not even chic to be a Episcopalian Republican anymore. Oy vey, what social decay we are forced to view, I have always been a Democrat anyway).  

I think it is my English (many Scotsmans too) blood which has its moments of non-passion/tenacity in my veins (after exhausting me my whole life with steamy secrets and occassional breathless realities)....really, it's very confusing to be of English descent.  

Official and unofficial cousins. Many Norteamericanoes, including me, believe the English have a wonderous sort of savvy and chic.  However, most often they smash our dreams, are non-nobility and send little cracked crown jewel defects and smudged merit ribbons floating over to us in our National blood stream...representation with a great deal of sometimes unpleasant sensation/outcomes.  The truth remains we must NOT blame the British for our own snobbish ALL-AMERICAN zeal as we sucked/sacked it all out of the pages/film scenes of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibilities.  Reality just takes some getting used to ,,,,we still are missing part of our best education through heritage (and we make their eyes roll).

Alas. Just made me think of the older, years ago but bordering on my age now, waitress at the Rose Garden Luncheon Restaurant at Harrods.  Such a sweet lady who always addressed me (and everyone else but I took it personally) as LOVE. I always went/go there for lunch when in London. They had/have a grand piano and pianist too.  Roast Beef and Yorkshire (not quite Simpsons, or my Moms, but just fine).  I feel I should like Harrods because years ago I purchased my Colport Blue Wheat (now in possession of my dear niece Jennifer)...many trips to keep charging on my Harrod account (yes I had one) the various serving pieces too.  All shipped to Los Angeles where things like that formerly belonged with people like me in the Fashion, or Film, Business held little dinner parties for ten/twelve to show them off in the West part of the city.  Same with my Baccarat Crystal/Gold Circle pattern that I purchased each trip to Paris (naturally).  Later, when I lived in Puerto Rico, my young dentist, Inés M. Acarón, Dentista, was getting married and I exchanged with her the wines and water gobblets for porcelain crowns (which remain uncracked to this day and are well fitted inside my ancient mouth and get spruced up annually).

I must go back to bed.  I have made it clear for all to see that my mouth is so multi purpose but it really ought stop being so foolish when it lets mean or unflattering (to others and myself) words pass through the aging corridor...thank goodness lips are near-by to soften the blow with a good night kiss.  I like that.  Besos, imagined or not, ready or not here I come.


Leonardo Ricardo

Feb 6, 2021

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 30 - 2020/21, The Years that PLAGUED Greedy Mischiefmakers and Color-challenged Bruisers/Losers!

HARK, it's 2021, February! Patience continues!  Breathe in and out, the end is near, have no fear! Let there be good cheer!

Where did this on-going and gripping, terrorizing, health catastrophe come from?  I will answer and indulge in the blame game.

Nasty.  The Year of International Punishment, and 2020 got an extension!

History (according to Leonardo)  

There/here we were/are  (writing codependently), innocently and quietly, marching along to the off-beat-muffled, yet noisy, thudding drum/dead-beat of a Orange-colored greedy/madperson (who refered to himself by saying others addressed him as Lord and/or SIR).  Sure, he is/was GROSSLY unpleasant, poisoness and ugly but must the whole World suffer for such glaring defects of one repulsive, less-than, of a regional man?  I ask you, why us?  

YES rhymes with STRESS.  

Anyway, skipping over the science, I blame the whole illness/virus/social collapse on the LUMPS EMPIRE CAPERMAN. I also blame his accomplices and the white-haired pal who remained, side-kickingly-steadfastly, and helped lead us into the swamp of grab-whatcha-can while hating others and liking inhuman-rights.


No persons of color, or other, need have applied for the Orange Hatters Mad Ride.  The Dyed-tainted fleece-em-up man strutted around D.C. town, jumped every bore and political whore, then ran as fast as any two bit TRAPPED/ESCAPING con man can/could.

Already (writing codependently again) we all have a FRESH start and will to live.  Line up, get your vaccinations (especially if they are free)



To be continued. 

Meanwhile - Stay safe, avoid bigots, greedsters, religious zealots, orgies, crowds and grandstanding politicos...they spread lethal disease of various types including mental illness.

Jan 25, 2020

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO: Reality just takes some getting used to (still) - Chapter 29

Image may contain: Leonardo Ricardo, smiling, indoor and food

Will I adjust?  Will I accept realtity? Will I ever be calm in the face of "things" that are both inside my ability to "change" and/or accept completely "things" outside of my power to do anything about?

My whole life I have been a "privileged" white person.  Or, at least I did have privileges because I was/am male and a member of the "White"  race.  I am English-American. 

 I didn't/don't  think  much about my "privilege" because almost all of my life I have known I was also a despised "minority" by many. No matter the color of my skin.  Being loathed and despised for  "being Gay" didn't feel like a privilege.  It felt more like shame as I strived/strive to be a whole, and fully integrated, part of the human race.   I make/made a path to follow which included what I thought, and mostly think, was/is wholesome,  enjoyable and personally expressive way to live  my not-so-underground life.  I have always wanted, and have been,  part of everyday society and not only have I lived/worked among isolated and privileged groups but also I have lived/worked in more modest surroundings. I have lived/worked in several different cultures and I still live in one that is different than that of my origin.  Many people live/work in cultures different than their own, do you?

I drank alcohol, I always liked it.  I liked it when I was a child stealing sips of beer as my father did gardening on Saturdays in our back yard.  I helped him do the yard work but each time he disappeared around a corner I joined in by enjoying his cold beer.  He never knew, nobody did and I still love cold beer but haven't had one since 1978.  December 13, 1978. I moved away from active alcoholism.  I couldn't stop drinking but I reached/screamed out for help and my addiction was lifted. I received support from a group of anonymous drinkers like me who wanted to stop drinking. 


 Alcoholism is not a skin color and it is not a "privilege" that many people survive. An  alcoholic like me likes to think drinking "sets one free" to be the unique person he, or she,  was meant to be. 

It worked inside of the me for years.

 I thought it worked even as it dimmed/harmed 
 my ability to be the authentic me.  I was afraid to be me and the alcohol helped me feel fearless, no more coward in me.  Alcohol gave me a sense of well-being that I always lacked as I stumbled my way through other peoples ideas of  morality and who I thought, they thought, I must be.

It didn't work.

 I would need to find a self-accepting/natural way to be me and stop beliving the lies about me and people like me. I had believed the fear and demeaning words that some people spew out about me and people like me.  There was no avoiding reality if I wanted to have a full life, the life I had received, if I didn't accept my  right to be me and pursue happiness and integrity.

 Being me does not include having less  consideration for you but you ought to  stop with the blind injustice/bigotry and falsehoods and all-out resentments directed todward LGBTI people and others.  The age of blind/ignorant  hatred/fear of the " other" must end.  There is no place left to hide as truth emerges and the slandering of others dies along with one-sided privileges that must fade and blend into everyones everyday life.

To be continued

Leonardo Ricardo
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Central America

May 27, 2019

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 28: Sleepy morning, all is well

Another good morning from the foot of the Fuego volcano.   It's a sunny a peaceful morning in Scatepequez and I am expecting guests for lunch.  Today I will make a "cobblike salad" for the three ladies who will be joining us around one o'clock...maybe a nice dessert too, I will have to buy that as my baking skills are NONE!   At this time of year almost all the "second" home owners leave to spend time stateside.  They  mostly have other homes in places like Maine, Oregon and Lake Michigan and want to enjoy there family and friends there...one friend departs for a cozy cabin at a lake in Canada each year...nice.  All will return to us about Thanksgiving time.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Jennifer Fisher, people smiling, people sitting

Last week my niece, Jennifer Fisher, came for a one week visit.  It was far too short a time but we managed to get some travel in and went up to the "Quiche" and visited, Nebaj,  San Gaspar Chejul and Acul.  I love going up to the highlands of Guatemala.  It is so peaceful and lush and friendly up there and we enjoyed two nights at Hacienda San Antonio  at Acul...we did lots of shopping inroute at Chichicastenango too as well as buying handwoven fabrics and ceramics at every stop along the way. Our ceramics are all handmade, fired and then painted (a polyurethane finished added for waterproofing)

I am a little sleepy today. Jennifer left last Thursday morning and we took her to the airport in Guatemala City around four thirty a.m. (had to beat the morning traffic rush).  Friday I had a dental appointment, almost my last one in a series, and I was extra sleepy afterward...I slept the week-end away and only awoke to watch YouTube documentaries...I enjoy historical drama (real or not so much). 

I will write another chapter when I am feeling a little more alert.  As usual I am glad to be sharing my life with you, now and before now, from Guatemala with love.

Un gran abrazo from my a very restorative nap, my bed, Hotel Chalet, Chichicastenango,

Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping, bedroom and indoor

Leonardo aka Leonard

to be continued:

Sep 24, 2018

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 27: Our side of the " Fuego" volcano, is safe and we are thankful and bursting with the joy of life! The traditions continue with gratitude and celebration!

Good morning from the foot of the Volcan de Fuego, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.  It's a gorgeous morning in Guatemala and the citizens of my little town are preparing for "Michaelmas" or in my town it is the "Patronal"  2018 celebration for Saint Michael the Archangel

'It's MICHAELMAS SAN MIGUEL DUEÑAS, festivities all week including dancing on the MAIN PLAZA  in front of the parish church of San Miguel the Archangel RIGHT THIS MINUTE...non-stop Marimba bands, food, refreshments and more! Priase to our PATRON, San Miguel the Archangel! Es MICHAELMAS SAN MIGUEL DUEÑAS, festividades toda la semana incluyendo baile en la PLAZA PRINCIPAL frente a la iglesia parroquial de San Miguel el Arcángel ESTE MINUTO ... ¡bandas de Marimba sin parar, comida, refrescos y mucho más! Priase a nuestro PATRON, San Miguel el Arcángel!'

The many events/traditions in the pueblo where I live for over a decade are most often spiritual, festive, all-inclusive and very happy (except for the Good Friday procession when everyone is robed in black and band plays funeral dirges behind a crucified Jesus ) .

The celebration of San Miguel the Archangel will go on all of this week.  There are BIG WEEKEND PLANS: rodeos (2+), parades, our Queen crowned, fireworks (daily), marimba groups playing and dancers dancing in the parque/plaza central  (in front of the parish church and the municipal palace).   Daily Mass. 

There are vendors and games and every street is loaded with families and friends gathering, chatting, singing and laughing...it's a grand time of the year as San Miguel the Archangel travels from home to home each  night for "entradas".  These "entradas" are nightly parties, hosted in private homes, with tamales and a fruit punch served  to the guests. There is a canopy that reaches on to the street for all well-wishers to feel welcome even with overflow crowds.  The hosts and guests capture the REVERENT and FUN intention of each citizen to honor and admire the medium size carved image of our personal "patron" . The statue of our patron saint will eventually  make way, in procession, to a special place at the high altar before September 29th, his very special Saints Day.

We invite you visit our studio/sala for our latest "art tour".  Our team of artistas, Leonardo, Henry and Francisco welcome you to enjoy the video above as we add to the celebration. 

Please join our friend Estela Vazquez on one her regularly scheduled Artists' Studios tour and meet us: 

Artists´ Studios Tour
Antigua Guatemala

Horray and Ole'

St. Michael the Archangel, our hero
San Miguel Dueñas, Sacatepequez
Central America

Find me on facebook too:
Leonardo Ricardo
(Leonard Clark Beardsley)

Video by Henry Leonardo Minas Veliz

to be continued

Jul 14, 2018

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter 26: My intentions remain "good" - vamos a ver!

Good evening.  It's about ten thirty at night at the foot of the Volcan de Fuego, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.  It's Saturday night and I can hear a few people out on the street celebrating.  Young voices laughing and talking and screaming friendly shouts at one another.  I am in my room.  I just watched several YouTube choices.  Not bad, not sad, and one was even romantic with a happy ending. Puts me in the mood...a good mood. 

Happy endings. I hope they are true for me and for you too and also for the young people celebrating Saturday night on the street (there are two Cantinas in my neighborhood) where I live.  I think I grew up with Happy Ending movies and real life good intentions at my house.  I just now was reminded of my parents and the intention on their part for everything to be happy, healthy, warm/well-appointed as they indulged in All-American dreaming in their/my home.  Somehow we lived in a bubble of "good intentions".  I may have mentioned before,  I love "good intentions", even if they turn out to be a little different than I thought/meant them to be. I can learn a lot from my intentions (especially the ones that I think are especially honorable...and, I often do) after I have executed them. Gotta keep a close eye on reality and personal responsibility in the aftermath of my intentions.

Here I find myself growing older (more older) in a very small town in Guatemala.  How could this be that I have made Guatemala my home?  There are only a couple of other "Norteamericanos" living in this village and I rarely see them although I consider them friends.  The rest of my connections with "Americanos" are with wealthier folks (mostly) who have lovely second homes in Antigua.  Antigua, Guatemala is about a half hour from here by car.  Antigua is a treasure of a historic place with dozens of Spanish Colonial ruins to explore and enjoy.  Antigua is a rather fabulous place with good restaurants and fine hotels...it even becomes a "wonder" in our world during Holy Week each year.  I like visiting my friends and I enjoy having them visit here.  Often I have casual lunches or larger parties in my sala/studio/home.

I like living in San Miguel Dueñas.  I have lived here over a decade although Orlando, Florida is my actual residence.  I know something that you should know.  The Guatemalan people are extremely kind and well mannered.  Even after terrible incidents at the U.S. border with some deaths and child seperation  from their parents and the vicious treatment by ICE officials...still, always/siempre, Guatemalans are friendly and respectful to me.  Good character abounds all around me.  I feel sickened by Donald Trump and his bigotry.  

Entonces, here I am.  Another weekend alone with my three dogs.  The Dog Ladies; Honey, Dulce, Lu Lu, and, yo, Leonardo. We keep a keen eye on one another even as we nap, eat, run up and down the stairs to the kitchen and garden and dream those somewhat fitful dreams that dogs dream so well.   I am having them too as I get older.  Sometimes I wake up in the night and I remember *things* that I wish I had done better (or not at all)..and then I think of how fortunate I really am.  I have been loved, I have been brave, I have been sad, I have followed my creative path...a bit daunting sometimes to do. I have been rewarded with loving friends (and challenged by a few mean/opportunist people and a couple of thieves too). I have learned to avoid *difficult* people and/or not keep trying to make them healthier...or, even make them see my point of view...whew!  They have their own lessons to learn regarding "intentions", ready or not?  

I learned something recently that I did not know before now: I love a very large group of people, both now and before now...I love them better now.  It doesn't seem to matter as to when I loved them...love is rewarding to me even when the "beloved" are dead. It also surprises me that I feel love so deeply...is this what age brings?  More feelings of love?  Love reveals itself even in my "flores and fuego" Maya inspired art work?

As I paint paintings in the art studio each day I share lots of memories in my mind (and sometimes with my associates) that entertain me and allow me to be grateful for life and all of you (and some of the thems too).  

Soon I will be 75 years old..it's quite an adventure and my intentions remain good I believe...we will see how they work out. 

Gracias a Dios and gracias for you in my life,  

Leonardo Ricardo aka Leonard Richard
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Central America

to be continued

Feb 22, 2018

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - CHAPTER 25: My innermost sorting machine, change/can-not-change, begins to operate at dawn shortly after the dog kiss wakes me up.

"Lu Lu" Gonzalez

I wake up early in the morning, sunrise, for many years now.  I hate getting out of my warm cozy bed.  I have a new dog, Lu Lu, who licks my face about five thirty a.m.   I prefer to think a dog kiss is "glad to see you this morning kiss"  instead of the "lets eat" kiss.  

Reality just takes some getting used to.

One of the cool things about DENIAL: Denial is multi-purpose.  If one is good at denial, and I am, it can be used in almost every situation.  Customizing my life to suit my preferences in thinking/believing is a little risky however.  Sometimes the annoying truth still nags in the back of my mind and will not allow me to linger in the delights of a more preferred reality.  On the other hand, I am quite good at facing the stark reality and its 
"startling" discoveries by accepting the hard/cold facts. I have learned "clarity" by living with "situations" where I am powerless to act/fix them. I can not always offer up solutions. Imagine! I don't even want to try very hard  when "surrender" is the wisest choice. I know real from faux (mostly).  Life keeps presenting new dilemmas and challenges and I keep wanting to retire from thinking/doing anything other than to keep a narrow focus on REAL things I can do something about.  Some extra unpleasant things "I can change" but many I can not change...that's the hard part of becoming more "rightsized"

"Dulce ska Ms.White" and "Lu Lu"

My innermost sorting machine, change/can-not-change, begins to operate at dawn shortly after the dog kiss wakes me up. 

Outside my bedroom window, on a outside inner-patio-garden-corridor, I grow plants. Beautiful/healthy plants of many varieties.  I am not a gardener but I have been helped over the years by talented people with green thumbs/talent. The view from my bed is that of a huge number of potted plants on several levels surrounding the large Virgin of Guadalupe statue I purchased from a door-to-door salesman over ten years ago.  Only in Latin America can one buy a Virgin of Guadalupe statue from someone who comes to your front door selling them.  How could I not be compelled to buy one?  I try and keep a long burning candle glowing all the time in front my my statue.  It's a way of remembering others (and myself) who are struggling sometimes when facing truth.  That inability to "change" the things I/we can often requires outside intervention (and trusted confidants/friends)....I abandon myself to the light of each new day as I petition the Virgin of Guadalupe and the powerful forces of Maya inspired spirituality...I am surrounded by powers greater than myself.

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonard Clark Beardsley
Sacatepequez, Guatemala 

to be continued