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      Introducing The Magical Mexicali Community Garden

      Introducing The Magical Mexicali Community Garden

       

      Under the light of April’s super moon was an auspicious setting for the groundbreaking of the Mexicali Blues Community Garden. The dream was hatched up a number of moonrises ago in the Mexicali warehouse, initially inspired by the green thumbs of our talented staff who proudly care for and display an exotic assortment of flora throughout the offices and workspaces.

      The plants of Mexicali Blues lead luxurious lives presided over by figures of Buddha and Ganesha, serenaded by great tunes and alimented by love, light, and fresh river air. With the health and happiness of this groovy greenery in mind, a seed was sown. We thought, why not create a collective celebration of community and cultivation and share seeds, stories and inspiration in the sunshine with our Mexicali staff? It could become a space where we could eat lunch together, play frisbee, plant seeds and sing songs. This seed was germinated amongst the vibrant products and colorful characters of Mexicali, and in due time it was to be planted in the earth. 

      Left: Chauncey glowing in the light of the full moon. Center: The happy office plants of Mexicali Blues. Right: Our view of the first Supermoon of the season from our roof, decked out with panels from Revision Solar!

      The first step was to find the perfect location for a garden, and what better choice than on the Mexicali grounds looking out over the beautiful Damariscotta River? Keith, our web wizard, was gracious enough to offer up his adjacent yard as a site and, albeit in the chilliness of early Maine spring, the idea, the seed, started to sprout. Keith also happens to come from a long line of horse handlers, and donated mature local fertilizer from his family farm.  A few days later we found ourselves in the garden unloading a truckload of organic gold, removing square foot plots of sod, and establishing the framework for what was to come. We couldn’t think of a better time to start a labor of love than under the light of a rising super moon, especially when Venus was squared up with Mars.

      Our sweet little seedlings getting ready to be planted in the community garden!

      Two days later Maine offered us one of its famous surprises in the form of and April snow shower and the newly turned garden was obscured by seemingly never ending white sheets for the following few days. This was an opportune time to sow seeds in the comfort of our own homes and get some seedlings ready to transplant into the Mexicali garden come May. We’re excited to see what additions are brought to the proverbial table and hope for a cornucopia come harvest time!

      What do you think we should plant in the Mexicali garden? Leave any tips for community gardening on our facebook page!

      March 9th ASTROLOGY + ENERGY: FULL (SUPER) MOON in VIRGO

      March 9th ASTROLOGY + ENERGY: FULL (SUPER) MOON in VIRGO

      The full moon this month rests in the constellation of Virgo. It is the first of three super moons in 2020 and is known in the Southern USA as the Worm Moon! This is due to the amount of earthworms present with the ground thawing. Of course, in Maine, it’s usually too early for us to start planting any seeds. In the Northern half of the US, we like to refer to the March full moon as the Sap Moon! It’s almost time to start tapping those trees to get that sweet sweet nectar. If you are looking for a good place to do this we love taking advantage of Maine Maple Sunday! Go to their site for a full list of farms taking part in this legendary super event!

      If you’re feeling an overwhelming urge to organize some of the chaos in your life, we are right there with you. With a full moon in Virgo, you’ve likely been dreaming up wild fantasies and need to kick back into reality. A little bit of Spring cleaning might be just what you need to get control of things again. 

      What is a SUPER MOON? It happens several times a year when the Moon’s orbit brings it closer to Earth. It becomes about 14% larger in our night sky and can up to 30% brighter. Why isn’t the Moon’s orbit a perfect circle? Because of gravity! It’s not only Earth’s gravity that has a hold on our lunar beauty. The sun and all the planets have a gravitational force pushing and pulling on the moon.

      If you’re lucky enough to watch the moon rise you will bear witness to the “moon illusion.” This is when the moon appears to be significantly bigger when it rises higher into our night sky. Scientists say that this has nothing to do with astronomy but instead on how our brains process these visual puzzles. Since the moon is closer to the horizon we can more easily compare the size of it to landmarks that are familiar to us. When it’s higher in the sky that distance and space make us think it is further away.

      Check back soon to learn more about our night sky.

      🌖 Artwork by Emma Lucille McCabe!

      Find Emma's work at emmalucilleart.com and follow her @emmalucilleart on Facebook and Instagram

       

      FEBRUARY 9th ASTROLOGY + ENERGY: FULL MOON

      FEBRUARY 9th ASTROLOGY + ENERGY: FULL MOON

       

      Rising on the ninth of this month, the Full Moon of February is also known as the Snow, Storm, or Hunger Moon. Up here in Maine that will make sense to a lot of us but these names go back further than we may realize.

      The Native Americans of the North East referred to it by these names because of the harsh winters Maine is known for. Those storms would make it more difficult to hunt or gather food, thus naming it the Hunger Moon. It's no wonder we stock up our pantries before each storm. The timing of our recent and long awaited snow squall definitely has us looking at our star charts. 

      The Moon will be in Leo for the weekend and will provide ample energy and light, making it a great time act on instinct. But we warn you to be safe and take caution. There's an air of drama that tags along with this lunar phase which can lead to conflict. Use this energy as a catalyst to jump into new activities!

      With Venus rising in Pisces it is a good time to nourish your relationships. If there is tension now is the time to address it in a respectful and nurturing manner. The goal is to seek harmony and balance. 

       

      Here's what every sign needs to know for this month's Snow Moon:

       

      Aries- Venus is in your sign! Look for new relationships or take extra time to put extra love and attention into one you have. Don't be afraid to open up and jump in.

       

      Taurus- Be adventurous! Whether it’s in love or if you’re looking at a list of goals you haven’t acted on yet. This is YOUR time!

       

      Gemini- Recognition is coming for you! It’s clear that you’ve been working hard but don’t let it get to your head. Take time to settle in to your new routine and don’t splurge with your sudden success.

       

      Cancer- Take this opportunity to change things up! Don’t let yourself get stuck in the same routine you’ve been in. It’s important to be in control of what YOU want.

       

      Leo- If anyone can find guidance this month it’s you. Let the lunar energy guide you- listen to yourself and trust your instincts.

       

      Virgo- Break down those rigid walls and introduce new healthy habits! Change your workout routine or start that drawing class you’ve been wanting to try.

       

      Libra- Communication is key. Take those feelings of gratitude for your loved ones and let them know. This will help you feel more connected, even if there is distance.

       

      Scorpio- It’s time for hygge! Be comfortable and use this energy and power to accomplish your goals.

       

      Sagittarius- Does it feel like everything is in place? Use this to boost your confidence and take on a new opportunity.

       

      Capricorn- Your strong-headedness is definitely at the forefront and the energy might even feel overwhelming. Roll with it but be cautious of how you affect others.

       

      Aquarius- Don’t hold back because this is your time for fulfillment in your relationships. Find a friend in Leo- they will help you.

       

      Pisces- Don’t get carried away. Your season is almost here and that’s giving you an electric energy source. Use it wisely and invest in yourself and experiences over possessions.

       

      Remember to check back in for our next lunar interpretation for the approaching New Moon!

       

      🌕 Artwork by Emma Lucille McCabe! Follow her @emmalucilleart or find her work at emmalucilleart.com. 

       

       

      MEXICALI BLUES CRUISE FOR A CAUSE: A PARTY WITH A PURPOSE

      MEXICALI BLUES CRUISE FOR A CAUSE: A PARTY WITH A PURPOSE

      We’re sending out sparkling vibes of major gratitude to everyone who helped make our first Cruise for a Cause an amazing and unforgettable event! Big thanks to The Maine Dead Project for rocking the boat and keeping us grooving with awesome Grateful Dead tunes, Flatbread Company Portland Maine for donating and serving pizza to hungry dancers, Casco Bay Lines for sending us out to sea in style, and all of YOU for your amazing energy, enthusiasm, and awesomeness! All the money raised from ticket and pizza sales is being donated to Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake, an invaluable organization dedicated to providing a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 30th year than this fantastic party with a purpose! Thank you ALL!!

      See a video with Pete's terrific speech and awesome music clips here: 

      THE POSTCARD PROJECT: CONNECTING STUDENTS FROM THAILAND AND MAINE

      THE POSTCARD PROJECT: CONNECTING STUDENTS FROM THAILAND AND MAINE

      Lauren Crosby of Georgetown, Maine is a Fulbright scholar teaching English under a Fellowship in rural Northern Thailand, in the province of Sukothai. She observed that, as many of the students come from a farming background and do not have much need for English in their daily lives, they did not feel very motivated to learn or speak English. As she contemplated how to shift this, she thought about her simultaneous desire to share cultural experiences with young people who have not yet had the opportunity to see what goes on "outside" of the world they live in.  Reflecting on the many similarities between her rural homes in Thailand and Maine, she came up with a plan to motivate and excite her students by connecting both cultures with international pen pals! This project was intended to give her students the opportunity to actually write english to REAL english speakers, and to share their culture with students in the US. Lauren teaches about 500 students at the Thungsaliam Chadnupatahm School, and she was able to connect each of them with their own pen pal by organizing with 16 schools throughout Maine. The project was a huge success! We'll let you learn more in her own words. . . .

      It's not even 9am and the sweat is already pouring down my back. I'm trying to keep cool as the 45 sixteen-year-old Thai faces stare back at me—but it is impossible with no AC unit and ceiling fans that look like they are straight out of a 1985 Sears Catalog. 

      My students sit on the floor around small square tables. For years, their English classes have consisted of memorization, grammar practices, and vigorous testing with Thai teachers who can't speak fluently themselves. By their junior year of high school, the majority despise english class because they simply do not understand. After a couple of weeks teaching in Thungsaliam Chadnupatahm School, I realized how the system worked, and I really started to think about ways I could make English class realistic, fun, and interactive—because if I didn't, it would be a helluva long year. 

      I fan myself with the cheap oriental paper fan that I picked up at the market, wishing I had two cabana boys with those small misting fans at my side. My mind is trying to think of the clearest way possible to explain THE POST CARD PROJECT to the students so they understand. My options are limited, as I work in a public government school that doesn't have money for resources like computers, projectors, etc. I pick up a white board marker (silently pray that it's not dried out) and draw a sketch of America. Most of the students recognize it— "AMELIIICA!!" Good, I say, my beloved home. I then sketch Thailand on the other side of the board—"THAILAYYYND!!!" Fabulous. I then define MAINE in a different color, and draw a bunch of smiling faces. We discuss how America has 50 states, and Thailand has 77 provinces. Same same. Maine is a state, and there are sixteen-year-old students there too!

      I connect the two countries with a dashed line—and drawn an envelope smack dab in the middle. The students are gasping now as I slyly pull the colorful bag of shiny new materials out from behind my desk (curtesy of Mexicali).  I show an example of a couple of post cards I picked up at the Sukhothai historical park, and now the kids are clapping, as they have figured out what we are doing—writing and designing post cards to send to real live "falang" students in MAINE, USA!! 

      Seeing their expressions reassured me that all the legwork I put in the previous weeks was worth it. When I was brainstorming this project, I didn't want to be lazy with it. Sure, the kids could have just made post cards and I could have given them a grade and that would be that, but where was that "fun" aspect I decided I was trying to incorporate?! Because I did my undergrad at the University of Maine at Farmington, several of my peers have gone on to be fantastic educators in the state of Maine. I sent everyone who I knew an email, and then started cold-emailing educators from rural schools with whom I did not know to see if they would be interested in participating in the cultural exchange project. 

      While simultaneously doing this, I was really trying to pull some funding for postal and material costs. I tried contacting the Fulbright organization, The Department of State, and the United States board of Education with no such luck. I got frustrated and then it dawned on me: MEXICALI BLUES. 

      My favorite memory of Mexicali Blues was with my nana when I was 9 or 10 years old. At the time, my nana was working the night shift as an emergency room nurse at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta. During the days, she would cart me and my sisters around on various shopping adventures on Route 1. After Big Al's, she loved to go to Mexicali Blues to shop around. My younger sister and I always thought the store was somewhat odd–the smells, the stones, the clothing. Coming from a lobstering family, we were not what you would called *worldy* girls yet. When nana lit incense and rubbed patchouli under her nose, we wrote her off as crazy—but we loved (and still love) the liquid licks of Jerry's guitar and the crumbly voice of Neil Young that spun softly on the stores speakers. 

      Nana had come to the house one day to rave that she had seen these plastic hand-shaped chairs in the window of Mexicali, and us girls had to have them! So there we were, a forty-five minute drive later up to Newcastle, in Mexicali, purchasing two of the most exotic hand-shaped chairs I'd ever seen. Now, 15 years later, they are still on the porch, waiting to relieve anyone who comes around. Everyone in my family has their favorite Mexicali tapestry for the beach or for their bed, and I'm now using patchouli soap and prefer incense over candles.

      Before leaving to teach in Thailand, I attended a Friends of Thai Daughters fundraiser on the coast of Maine, sponsored by Mexicali Blues and other small home-grown Maine businesses. I met Pete and Kim, the Dead-head, do-good owners of Mexicali, and hit it off with both of them. I thought it would be worth reaching out to them for funding, but I had low hopes because all my other options for funding had been exhausted. Turns out, Pete's father was once a Fulbright scholar in Thailand too, and Mexicali would be pleased to fund the project!

      Because of my family's vast history with the store, I instantly felt a sense of home, and was honored and excited to have Mexicali be on board with this project.  After I explained the post card template directions, my 45 sixteen-year old students began meticulously making their postcards using rulers and straight edges. I comment that they can use scissors, but I am ignored. In Thai culture, crafts and such things like clothing, art pieces, theatrical performances, or public displays of any kind, are given lots of time. The students work vigorously with The Grateful Dead playing on my portable speaker in the background. No one complains, no one acts out, they are all focused. A miracle. Engaged, realistic, and fun. They haven't even met their new Maine friends and they are beyond ecstatic.  Class ends 25 minutes later as I collect the beginnings of their special post cards. I explain through hand gestures that next class we will write our postcards using the slang American greetings, goodbyes, and questions we have learned the first month. The kids leave with smiles—everyone says goodbye to me as they walk out the door, "See you later alligator; see you in a while crocodile; peace out Girl Scout, LATER!" 

      ~ three months later ~ 

      It is early May and it is so hot that I can only stand up to teach when it as absolutely necessary. My New England-born skin does not understand why it's being baked in an actual oven, and I have to apply copious amounts of prickly heat powder to soothe the heat rashes on the creases of my elbows. 

      I walk into my office, my glorious air conditioned office, and see several small packages on my desk. I'm stoked! Rarely do I receive mail in Thailand. I've been looking forward to this moment for months. 

      I open the first envelope in my first period class. Beautifully designed hand-written post cards spill out from students at Boothbay Regional High School. Images of lobsters, lighthouses, boats, chickadees, saltwater sunsets, and four wheelers. My heart bursts with happiness. Each card I share with my students feels like little seeds of my home, the place I feel the most grounded. The students "ohhhh" and "awe" at the oceanic scenes. They ask several questions and read and reread their postcards throughout the whole 50 minute period. Students bring the postcards home to show their families. Students follow their new American friends on social media. The atmosphere in the classroom is jubilant and peaceful--the sounds of two cultures connecting. 

      Over 800 students participated in the post card project. Two nations brought together by art, the English language, and a funky clothing store located in MAINE, USA. 

      Thank you Mexicali Blues for making the project a reality!

      We couldn't be more pleased and honored to be able to help such a wonderfully enriching and enlivening project. Big THANKS to Lauren for inviting us to be a part of it! We would also like to thank YOU, dear reader, as 1% of every Mexicali purchase goes towards supporting projects like this that are dedicated to doing good in the world!

      MEXICALI BLUES MAINE SUMMER BUCKET LIST

      MEXICALI BLUES MAINE SUMMER BUCKET LIST

      Maine in the summertime is a magical place to be, and there are so many awesome things to do while the weather is warm and beautiful! We asked some members of the Mexicali Tribe what they definitely will be doing this summer, and what they would recommend to other people who want to live Maine life to the fullest. Have you done any of these things? What's on YOUR summer bucket list?