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'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 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 is rewarding to me even when the "beloved" are dead. It also surprises me that I feel love so 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'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