Monday, January 16, 2012

A Salty New Novel

Here's a review for Key West Story: A Novel by Rick Skwiot.  Look for this new novel on Amazon and other e-book sites.

Having a protagonist who is a writer is not easy to pull off - writers are not known to be action figures after all, but Rick Skwiot does it beautifully in Key West Story: A Novel. It helps that his writer, Constantine not only drinks rum but dodges bullets and domesticating-minded women. 
To save him from being a cliché, Con does NOT live on a houseboat - he lives in a rental, trying to stay ahead of the utility bills - and is befriended by an Ernest Hemingway look-alike, who claims to be the real thing, and who helps Con chew over a life and a writing career gone off-course. 
"It's all that matters," say Papa Hemingway, who in 2012 is called Nick. "Without it, it's like a bad novel. No matter how fine the writing or how beautiful its moments, it never works if the core isn't solid, if it has no heart." 
To stave off writer's block induced panic, and possibly solve the paying-the-rent-problem, Con agrees to go to Cuba with "Nick" on a dubious and ill-explained mission. "A voyage of faith, Conman," his new pal tells Con about traveling and possible sunken treasure, but also about finding his best-selling writer self again. 
High seas and low surf adventures lie ahead for the writerly pair. In the end, the appreciative reader will have gotten to know several unique Key West characters, many of whom have lost some rudder power in their own lives, and all of whom find their core, their heart and their destiny, some in unexpected ways, with a salty Atlantic breeze at their backs. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What the Angels Want Me to Know

I told Carla about the angels I heard singing. (See previous post.)  
“Mom, they are definitely trying to reach you. What do you think they are trying to tell you?” 
“I don’t know,” I said. 
“Just be aware.  Don’t try too hard.  Let it come.  You’ll find out,” my 17-year old said.

So I have some maestros, or teachers, and they are trying to tell me something with supernantural signs.  Why me, and what could it be?  I am not gifted with extra abilities like my daughter.  What am I supposed to be doing with the regular abilities I have?  Or learning? Or understanding?

Maybe the answer is in my dreams.  They’ve been vivid lately, and full of detail.  Like the lady riding a white horse around and around in a circular arena. She had very long hair and was very competent on the horse.  She was standing on its back with her arms spread as the horse galloped.  She was naked but there was no shame to it.  My girls did this – volting - years ago when they were learning to ride.  The gal in the dream was very confident and I had the feeling of wanting my kids to see her.  Here’s what one dream interpretation site said:
To dream of a white horse signifies purity and good fortune. It indicates the image of a prince charming and his white horse coming to save the princess.
Horses symbolize strength, speed, and endurance. It also indicates having control over things and directing them towards your aim. 
To dream of a woman symbolizes love, nurture, caring, and passivity. It may represent your female side or your own mother.

I told my poet friend Fay about the angelic singing I’d heard the day before. 

“Angels are all around us,” Fay said. “I spoke to angels once through a medium.  They’re very bossy! My angel told me to get a pen and paper and write things down.  She said I would work in a store.  I thought,’ Me in a store?  I don’t think so.’”   We spoke in Garrison and Garrison book store in San Miguel.  She knew I saw the irony.  “And here I am, perfectly at home, surrounded by books.”

“Angels and spirits are trying to reach you because you are open.  And because you put a beautiful and honest work into the world,” Fay said. She gestured to my memoir, displayed on a Garrison and Garrison table.  Tears formed in my eyes.

Earlier that day a friend who’d lived in San Miguel when our kids were little, came into the spa to buy a second copy of my book for a friend.  “Almost finished your book. Wow.” my friend, Carmen, said drolly. “You really put yourself out there.”  Her tone was part respect, part repulsion. 

I focus on a text I picked up on Facebook earlier in the week that I keep going back to.  It was written by a Mayan leader who wants the world to know that 2012 is not the end of the world at all, but a time of great change as our planet moves into the World of the Fifth Sun. 

At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000 years the Sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life, a tree remembered in all the world's spiritual traditions. 

I love thinking that a giant cross will be formed across the galaxy on my youngest daughter’s 16th birthday.  I go back and read a favorite line from the Mayan leader. 

The element of the Fifth Sun is celestial.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Angels Singing

When I first had my ankle pinched, Carlos said maybe it was Mary, since she died of cancer, telling me to get checked for cancer.  Getting a cancer check I could do!  It would be an hour or two, and then done.  OK, I’ll get more than one!  I’ll check my breasts, my uterus.  Or maybe I’m supposed to be getting to those nine Masses.  I’ll pay for 9 Masses!  Any task that has a time limit, that doesn’t mean a lifestyle change.  Meditation, sheesh.  Here I am writing instead. Yes, Resistance is my middle name. 

Meantime, a couple of mornings ago, over coffee, I was telling Carlos about a dream I’d had in which a dog, probably our dog, vomited and in the huge mess, several sizes bigger than the dog itself, that came out I realized there were mesh bags containing animals without hair and two kittens who desperately needed to be released from the bags, or born.

I began to hear a sound, and I interrupted the part of my story where I do manage to free the kitties and hairless animals. It was singing.  The voices were high and clear and pure like voices from a boys’ choir.  All I could think was celestial song.  I stood by my kitchen counter, thinking, I am listening to angels.  I held my hand in the air for minutes, listening.  

“Hear that?” I asked my husband.
“Yeah,” he said, with furrowed brow. 

And then the sound changed.  Its high pitch lowered, and I realized I was listening to a pack of dogs barking. 
Perhaps weirder things have happened in my life but I sure don’t know when.  Was I suggestible because I had just read the article about the lady who speaks to angels, and written about her?  Do I need my ears cleaned, my head screwed on straight?  Or was I hearing a message of love? 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Witches, Numbers and Angels

Is it sychronicity that I pass by an open door on Calle Reloj the day before Christmas and enter a Christmas knick knack and garage sale, and leave with four magazines in Spanish, which made only an 8-peso dent I my Christmas shopping money?  And that, on the day after Christmas, after several days of fiestas, I allowed myself to lay down on the couch in the reception area of my spa, and read a magazine.  I picked up a December 2010 Marie Claire and it flipped open to the article, Mujeres Encantadores.
It’s about women with dones or gifts, women with powers and perceptions beyond what most of us experience. 

Some call themselves brujas, which means witches.  Brujas in Latin countries doesn’t mean mean old ugly black magic person. Brujas y brujos are people who have some contact with the supernatural world and who most likely use their gifts for altruistic purposes. 

There’s the Wiccan priestess who began following her calling when she noticed in a bookstore one day that she was drawn to the books on the Wicca religion. She cleanses people of bad vibes and to bring out the best in them using a dagger, fire, herbs, egg, a pendulum, or whatever is indicated.  To get the year off to a good start and insure that your house is protected and prosperous, she advises to place a broom behind the entrance door and repeat, “I put you here so you can cleanse those who arrive with bad energy, and allow abundance to enter.”

Gabriela, an astrologer, believes your birthday is your new year.  During the days leading up to your birthday, you should close cycles, get rid of old resentments, ask for forgiveness.  This way, you’ll start your year with new energy, things will flow in your favor and you’ll have the force of the planets on your side. 

Maria Esther is a tarot reader who predicted the swine flu and the death of Michael Jackson.  She makes yearly predictions on a popular Mexican radio program.  To insure a prosperous new year, she advises one to pass a purple candle over the body, imagining a cleansing of whatever bad has accumulated in 2011.  Then burn it.  Immediately after, write your name on a pink candle and ask that only love and other good things will come your way in 2012. 

According to Claudia, a numerologist, we live through nine year cycles, and each one is dominated by a tendency.  Adding my numbers, I found that I am presently in level Nine.  Nine assures that this is the opportunity to finish things that are pending and consolidate plans. It’s also a very spiritual period, and I am supposed to take advantage of that.

 Finally, I read the story of Pilar, a food and beverages manager with a corporate event planning company. She speaks to angels. 

It happened for the first time during meditation, Pilar explained.  She suddenly felt an immense happiness, as if her heart was expanding.  She felt filled with love.  She began to speak in an unknown language and blow kisses all around.  Her maestro explained that she had finally made contact with her superior self, the one that we all have that is pure light.   Her higher self, or her angel of the light had a message of love for mankind.   And something else.

“The beings of the light are on Earth so that you can experience the marvelous opportunity to make contact with your internal self, to open your hearts and eliminate judgements and egos. Go inside yourselves to find the divine source.  Pay attention to your heart.  It will point you to the correct path, and will give you all the answers you seek.”

I closed the magazine and sat staring at the wall for several minutes.  According to the article, we are all born with gifts, and if we don’t develop them, they get stuck.  I have known my daughter Carla is gifted ever since she pointed with her six year old finger to the pink energy balls that floated above my washing machine that she saw and I didn’t.  Shortly after, she held her hand close to my face when I writhed in pain from a deteriorating tooth.  Her little hand seemed to have magnets in it, drawing the pain from my cheek to her palm.  When we go into the Parroquia, the spirits who are buried in the vaults below the church floor rise to visit with her, sometimes telling more of their stories than she needs to hear, like the lady who was trampled by horses.  Carla feels the pain in the back of her knees. 
Carla’s extra perceptions are clear. But the idea that I might have gifts is a bit stunning. Am I supposed to wake up to my own gifts?  How do I do that?

Here in front of my eyes, right there on the page I so randomly opened to, was the message I have suspected the spirit who pinched my ankle wanted me to understand, the message I’ve been avoiding.  The people who work with energy say that to feel the power of our gifts we must cultivate our spirituality. 
I think there’s no getting around it any more. It’s time for me to meditate. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Spirits, Elves and Buried Treasure

New Year’s Day asada in our house yesterday. I told of hearing celestial singing as I drank coffee with my husband early on New Years Eve day.(story to follow in next blog post!)  Immediately my mother-in-law had a story. 
“I woke up at 3 AM one night, hearing children playing outside the window.  I couldn’t make out what they were saying.  I just heard children’t voices and laughter.  I went outside to tell them it was time to go home and there wasn’t a soul in sight.”  
Carmen looked around the table where Carlos’ father Silvano, Carlos, the girls and I sat expectantly with our beef tacos. 
Duendes,” she said.
Elves! I was not surprised.  Carla sees or feels them in the trees along the river to the left of the highway to Dolores Hidalgo.  During the basketball season, we drive over to Dolores every Saturday for Carlos’ games and Carla scans the treeline for duendes.
I tell my mother- and father-in-law about having my ankle grabbed by an unknown entity at 5:15 a.m.the other morning.
“You know what that means,” Carmen says knowingly. 
No, I don’t!  Enlighten me!
Carmen held up her hand, her thumb and forefinger separated by several inches, gripping an imaginary stack of bills.  
“I’m supposed to find the treasure?” I asked.
Carmen nodded her head.  She is not the first to have mentioned this theory.  After my first post about being woken by the spirit ankle-squeezer, I got this reply from Mexican blogger Leslie Limon, who is also married to a Mexican man. (
If you don't mind me adding my two centavos, Hubby's family believes that if you are visited by a spirit/ghost, it's because there is money or treasure buried somewhere near you and they want you to find it. Next time your visitor is around, ask where the treasure is? :)
OK, Spirit, I’m ready! I'm leaving my ankles at the bottom of the bed for more messages.  It would be lovely if you could pinchingly point out where the bag of gold is hidden.  It occurs to me though, that there is no bag of money on our land or hidden in our walls because we built our house (it’s half built anyway) from scratch.  Shrubs were removed, land was turned over, walls were constructed.  Nothing was turned up unless it was and some albanil made off with our rightful treasure!  Then it occurs to me too that the treasure is us, the Ortega family, sitting around a table full of food, swapping stories. 
Can’t a little elf just show up, whisper in my ear and tell me if I’m right?  Or pinch my ankle.