I have not only been going to La Ceiba Gráfica for Tai Chi, but to learn a bit about making lithographs. It is very interesting and very frustrating. Up until maybe the late 1940s or early 1950s lithography was a very common printing process for making all kinds of illustrated material. It was the process used for cigar box illustrations, those gaudy pictures touched with gold. My grandfather, an immigrant from a city in Poland, was a printer. I wonder if he was a lithographer. Per at La Ceiba Gráfica told us lithography dominated commercial Polish printing and that quite a number of Polish printers brought their craft to the U.S. and continued practicing it. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ apartment in the Bronx. In one hallway, there was a wide set of shelves that had been turned into a kind of formal table by the addition of a well-made piece of upholstery that hid its original function. On the shelves were stacks and stacks of paper, rejects from the printing shop where my grandfather worked. Many of them had little color samples in a corner at the bottom. I used this paper for endlessly drawing, using a fat fountain pen or one of a myriad of different kinds of pencils that he filled his desk drawer with.
Blanca, our neighbor across the street, comes with me to learn lithography. She is fifteen and in love with horses, especially of the mythical sort. She has a lot easier time drawing her horses than I do trying to draw plants and such. Drawing on the stone is easy and not easy. Dragging a pen with a nib across the smooth surface, I leave crooked lines and bits of ink spray. La Ceiba has been filled this summer with people coming for a week at a time to learn the process: visiting teachers on summer vacation, rich retired men and their entire family, young workers on holiday. A couple of accomplished artists. An older woman who came by herself who also joined us for Tai Chi.
Gacho had four legs until last summer when he was hit by a car. I think I wrote already that I found Blanca covering Gacho with a silk cloth outside in the sun one day. The leg had gotten terribly infected and it was clear that he was going to die if something wasn’t done. We took him to our wonderful vet, Marco Antonio Córtez Pérez who said the leg would have to come off, but not until the infection was treated. For weeks, we brought Gacho in to have his wound washed and to get more antibiotics. The operation was successful, and now Gacho is the king of our end of the street, tiny and feisty, growling at interlopers five times his size.
This is a picture of the houses across the street from our house. Blanca lives in the blue one in the middle. Her family has a dirt floor and water that comes from a hose into an outdoor sink and shower area. But while I am sure that Doña and Blanca and Rosi would find life easier with indoor plumbing, their lives are not grim, all things considered.
And here is a picture of Doña Victoria, Blanca and Rosi.
You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.