Letters from Lorraine V
Buenos dias, everyone!
I am in the eighth month of my new life in Mexico, and one awareness has become perfectly clear — there are too many goddamn beautiful things in this amazing country! I am mesmerized by its artisans and their work, more every day. Sometimes I find it hard to drive because my eyes wander — I see beauty in nooks and crannies everywhere I look.
In fact, whenever I drive with Georgette, my Vineyard friend and part-time SMA resident, I find myself saying to her, “Look at the color of that house, oh my god, did you see those color combinations?” This last month, the jacaranda trees, which are the most heavenly shade of purple, have been blooming all over San Miguel. And when the flowers fall (which is now), the sidewalks and streets are paved in purple. Mexico is truly a feast for the eyes. I am in awe of this gorgeous country and its culture.
I therefore am in big trouble with all this gorgeousness around me. And I have learned the hard way not to take a lot of pesos with me when I venture to town. Why? Because I would spend it all! Yes, I love supporting the San Miguel de Allende economy, but basically I am a hopeless lover of all things exotic and beautiful, and they are literally everywhere here.
For example, since I arrived in September of last year, I have developed a compulsion to buy antique decorative sombreros. There is a very eclectic, cool antique store I am forced to pass on the way to my bank. The owner, who must be psychic, has a luscious, new velvet sombrero on display every time I pass by. And, of course, I never take a different path — I mean, what if I missed a color I didn’t have? Just so you know, I hang all my acquired sombreros on my stairwell walls. I’ve yet to find an occasion to wear one and most likely never will, but I feel it is my duty to rescue these little beauties from some uncaring person who might think of them as a joke.
I have another confession: Lately I have taken this Mexican art addiction — I mean art appreciation — to another level. I have managed to find two unnecessary, but hopelessly desired outdoor home-improvement projects for my beloved little casa.
The front and side of my house had little to no privacy and a terrible in-your-face view of my neighbor’s unkempt eyesore of a house. And since living in my new house, and having made the inside more beautiful than when I bought it, I would become instantly depressed whenever I would step out my door due my neighbor’s hideous casa. I could not ignore this ugliness any longer and decided to do something about it.
I called my favorite workman, Julian, and had him hire a crew to build a wall. We built it not just for privacy and security, but for esthetics and beauty. In gathering the materials for the wall, I found a dozen decorative black metal screens, which are rare to find already made. I used five for an outdoor shower I had built in the courtyard, two became part of a screen I had made for the tiny pool house, and the other five were used for my Great Wall of Los Frailles.
I designed every inch of this great wall and am now wonderfully happy whenever I step out my front door, which is actually on the side of the house. The front gate, at the end of the wall, was at one time used inside my house. It is installed but will be a work in progress for a while. I’ve ordered lots of butterfly, flower, and humming-bird stencils, and very slowly, I will decorate the glass windowpanes.
I have said to my neighbors many times, I swear that was my last house project. But one day, out of the blue, I heard the big back steps that go from my living room down to the courtyard scream, “For God’s sake, tile us. We look ordinary, embarrassing, and truly shitty.” I told them to calm down — that I was already on it.
Which is true. My home project buddy, Julian, and I just made our second trip to Delores Hidalgo to buy tiles for the courtyard steps. Delores, as I call the town, is famous for its porcelain work and decorative tiles. I could spend hours and plenty of pesos there if I had the time, but Julian and I have been on a mission every time we go to this incredible place. The first trip was for tiles for the wall and now the tiles for my back courtyard steps.
That is what is being done as I write this letter, the tiling of the screaming steps. And wouldn’t you know it, this “last” project of mine spawned yet another completely unnecessary but absolutely had-to-have tile job. Interestingly, there were enough of these scrumptious tiles left over from the back steps to tile the front-door entrance. You know, the front door that is actually on the side of the house.
I am going to stop writing for now and let the photos speak for themselves. And I am making a promise: This is my last home project — that is, until I discover another one, I just can’t live without. There are lots of awesome stone carvers in the area whom I have yet to discover. Oh, no!
P.S. If you don’t know me well, you may not know this: Part of the reason I retired from my clothing-design business and moved here was to devote myself to writing, but mostly the writing of one particular book.
I am currently about halfway there. This small book of mine, which will be about one hundred and forty pages, is a giant essay of sorts, and it is the reason I haven’t been writing essays and sending them to you. I hope the Letters from Lorraine will suffice until my book is finished. I absolutely do not want to lose contact with any of you who remain interested in my life and my creativity.
Just thought I’d let all ya’ll know!
April 21, 2022