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Easter Sunday, Peter Cottontail, with a little help from his friends, hippity hopped his way to Casita Colibrí, bringing platters full of Easter joy.

Easter eggs dyed with hibiscus, chili, turmeric, and beets with designs imprinted by cilantro, parsley, epazote and bougainvillea.
Marinated and roasted pork shoulder with organic baby carrots, potatoes, and shallots from the Sierra Norte.
Peter Cottontail’s favorite salad of radishes, cucumber, bell peppers, onions, and lettuce.
Choux pastry filled with creamy coffee with caramelized peanut cream.

A muchisimas gracias to my many-times-mentioned friend, neighbor, and talented cocinera, Kalisa, who dyed the eggs and prepared all but the dessert. The latter yummy decadent delight was purchased from Masea Trigo y Maíz. To quote another rabbit, “That’s all folks!”

(ps) My alebrije rabbit is by Bertha Cruz from San Antonio Arrazola, Oaxaca.

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Yesterday morning a new day dawned and my first night blooming cereus flower of the season greeted me.

Today marks 21 days since my first Pfizer vaccine, yet the date, time, and place of my second vaccination is still unknown. However, during these challenging times, I’m channeling Nina Simone singing, Feeling Good.

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

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It’s the time of year when late afternoon winds come up, landing patterns change to often bring planes very low over the city, and the occasional top heavy plant topples over.

Tuesday morning I came out on the terrace to find my Euphorbia Trigona down. Prone, though it was, neither it nor its beautiful old maceta (flowerpot) suffered any damage. Both are now safely cradled in a wrought iron plant stand.

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This article, Tourists are welcome in Oaxaca, Mexico. Their increasingly bad behavior is not, is one of the reasons these images from my garden express how I’m feeling these days.

Then there is the fact that I haven’t set foot out of the city for exactly one year. Color me prickly and awaiting the vaccine.

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Snowbirds continue to arrive in Oaxaca. For the past several days, Cedar Waxwings have been flocking to my fountain — the first year they have come to Casita Colibrí. They are great fun to watch and seem to have distinct personalities.

Make room for me!
Coming in for a landing.
What are you looking at?

Though I must say, they make a huge mess!

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It’s been a whole month, so I figured it’s about time to again showcase the culinary creations by my friend, neighbor, and cocinera extraordinaire, Kalisa. If you can’t take the mouthwatering temptation, I advise you to step away from the blog post now.

January 4, 2021 – Flor de Frijolón salad.
January 4, 2021 – Pork pozole.
January 10, 2021 – Quiche Lorraine.
January 10, 2021 – Chicken wings.
January 17, 2021 – Cassoulet with duck, sausage, pork, and organic French Tarbais beans.
January 23, 2021 – Picadillo stuffed cabbage leaves.
February 3, 2021 – Pan seared Norwegian salmon in brown butter lemon sauce accompanied by baby new potatoes and carrots.
February 3, 2021 – Mixed berry tart.

Just so you know, the last two are not everyday fare — they were for my birthday. (Please, don’t ask.) I think Kalisa outdid herself!

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You may remember the beautiful hat tree I commissioned from the San Martín Tilcajete workshop of Jésus Sosa Calvo. In these mask-wearing times of Covid-19, it has taken on a new function.

No longer serving as a place to hang my hat or market baskets, it now holds my collection of cubrebocas (face masks).

In case you are wondering why there are seven of them hanging on the tree, each KN95 mask is labeled with a day of the week, so I can rotate them.

New function following fabulous form!

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January sunsets in Oaxaca are spectacular. Looking west, behind Templo de San José, Basílica de la Soledad, and the mountain Monte Albán sits atop, they often have me dropping whatever I’m doing, dashing out the door and onto the terrace to gaze — before the magic disappears into darkness.

January 1, 2021 – 6:11 PM (CST)
January 12, 2021 – 6:05 PM (CST)
January 23, 2021 – 6:28 PM (CST)
January 24, 2021 – 6:22 PM CST

Occasionally, the camera is nearby.

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Four years ago today, we were marching in the streets of Oaxaca — part of a worldwide post inauguration day response to the dark days we could see coming following the results of the US election. Alas, it was far worse than our imaginations could take us. What a difference four years makes! At yesterday’s inauguration we watched as a young woman in a dazzling yellow coat, with her brilliant words and luminous spirit, captured the dark and replaced it with trust in our power to bring light to an imperfect country. Thank you Amanda Gorman for your inspiring words and presence.

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never ending shade?

And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us

For there was always light.
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Quotations from The Hill We Climb, a poem written and read by Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamela Harris.

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When I was twelve years old, I met one of my (still) best friends. While my family’s garden consisted of roses, camellias, fruit trees, colorful annuals, and lawn and our indoor plants were limited to African violets, hers had Japanese inspired landscaping outside and tropical plants inside. After all, they had been to Hawaii! The orchids and anthurium seemed so exotic and I was impressed. Eventually, over the years, orchids became one of my houseplants of choice but, for some reason (maybe cost?), I’ve never had an anthurium until now.

While shopping for poinsettias last month at my favorite seasonal plant pop-up shop (1/2 block up from Mercado Sánchez Pascuas on Tinoco y Palacios), I saw this anthurium (anterio en español), the price was 1/5th the cost in el norte, and couldn’t resist.

My goal is to find a talavera pot for the anthurium (aka, flamingo flower, tailflower, painter’s palette, and laceleaf). In the meantime, set against my beautiful old hand-carved and painted desk from Michoacán, my Christmas gift to myself brings a smile — much needed during these challenging times. And, according to Wikipedia, it is “effective in removing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia from the air” — though I suspect that’s not a problem here at Casita Colibrí.

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Kalisa, my many times mentioned friend, neighbor, and cook extraordinaire, outdid herself in December.

December 4, 2020 – Chicken cutlets
December 12, 2020 – Honoring Hanukkah with sweet and savory latkes and rugelach
December 24, 2020 – Shrimp fettuccine on Christmas Eve
December 25, 2020 – Socially distanced Christmas dining on the terrace
December 25, 2020 – Pork loin for Christmas dinner
December 25, 2020 – Glazed carrots with mint
December 25, 2020 – Polenta
December 25, 2020 – My contribution of a garden greens salad
December 25, 2020 – The piece de resistance, Kalisa’s poached pear and frangipane tart
December 31, 2020 – New Year’s Eve dinner of paella with shrimp, chicken, sausage, asparagus, and fresh peas

It was a challenging but definitely delicious year!

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Hindsight is the ability to understand, after something has happened, why or how it was done and how it might have been done better.

2020 was a year that most of us would like to forget but that will probably remain vividly etched in our memory banks for the rest of our lives. It was a year our worlds became smaller and forced us to see what was before us. It was a year that we will continue to examine and try to understand. It was a year that has important lessons to teach about who we are individually and collectively.

January 2020 – Visiting very dear friends and getting my Pacific Ocean fix at Avila Beach, California.
February 2020 – New resident in Casita Colibrí’s garden, an Argiope spider.
March 2020 – One of the last calendas of the year, graduation of public accountants.
April 2020 – Morning visitors at Casita Colibrí.
May 2020 – Sunday morning walk past the Xochimilco Aqueduct Arches.
June 2020 – Morning view from Casita Colibrí of Templo de San Felipe Neri.
July 2020 – Balcony garden of greens at Casita Colibrí.
August 2020 – Rainy season morning view of Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Soledad from Casita Colibrí.
September 2020 – Monday morning walk on calle Garcia Vigil, “Together in (healthy) distance.”
October 2020 – Susana Trilling discusses the foods of Day of the Dead at Casa Colonial.
November 2020 – Sunset view from Casita Colibrí of the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Soledad.
December 2020 – Sunday morning encounter with the new sculpture on the Alcalá, “Agaves Contemporáneos Oaxaqueños” presented by the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca (MACO).

With a renewed appreciation for the small things that bring joy and give life meaning, on this New Year’s Eve, I wish you all health, peace, and joy in 2021.

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What an unusual yet lovely (and delicious) Thanksgiving 2020 was.

Cranberry/pear relish bubbling on the stove.

After the fact, I realized this was only the second Thanksgiving I’ve shared with just one other person. Childhood dinners were filled with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even the Thanksgiving I spent in Denmark, the international school I attended prepared a turkey with all the fixin’s dinner — to the delight of the American students and curiosity of the other international students and Danes. Once married, we hosted or joined family and/or friends — and that has been my tradition ever since, even here in Oaxaca.

Sage dressing with whole wheat bread, celery, onions, and carrots.

Keeping Covid-19 protocols in mind, Kalisa, my (now famous) friend, neighbor, and cocinera extraordinaire and I decided we would persevere in an attempt to carry on with an albeit downsized celebration of just the two of us on my terrace. For the main course, we ruled out turkey, discarded chicken as not special, and settled on repeating the success of rabbit — concluding it would go well with my cranberry/pear relish and sage dressing. And, who knows? The indigenous peoples may have proffered rabbit to the starving and clueless foreigners.

Roast rabbit à la Kalisa.

So, we made our own pilgrimage up to Pochote Mercado Orgánico in Colonia Reforma to again purchase the criollo rabbit Kalisa would be preparing. A couple of days later, at Mercado IV Centenario, we happened upon camotes/sweet potatoes to be used for her “pumpkin” cheesecake. Unlike my first several Thanksgivings here, when bags of fresh cranberries could only be found at Mercado Hidalgo, I was able to purchase all the ingredients for my cranberry/pear relish at Mercado Benito Juárez. As for the dressing, I still had some Bell’s Seasoning brought from the USA a couple of years ago, and the rest was easily found. Looking at our menu, it occurred to me that perhaps we needed something green. That was easily solved with some baby lettuce from my garden (alas, no photo).

Pumpkin cheesecake with caramel topping.

And so it was, a Thanksgiving where two friends gave thanks for our very present blessings — friendship, health, abundance, and being welcomed into the beautiful and loving arms of Oaxaca.

Two friends giving thanks on a rooftop terrace in Oaxaca.

By the way, the place settings were for photo-op purposes only. We retired with filled plates and glasses of wine to the south end of the terrace where we could sit and eat 8 feet apart.

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It’s been a whole month since I’ve delved into the food porn photo archive. With Thanksgiving only two days away, what better time for a few of my dinners from the past ten days.

Rabbit served on a bed of fettuccine.
Eggplant, anchovy, and goat cheese pizza topped with arugula.
Roasted chicken served with tortillas (of course), guacamole, pickled red onions, and green salsa.

And, what better time to express my gratitude for having such a great and talented friend and neighbor who delights in sharing her culinary artistry with others. ¡Muchisimas gracias Kalisa!

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These are strange days leading up to our departed coming to call while we are living in the time of Covid-19. With public activities canceled, thus no nightly calendas (parades) filling the streets and our ears, and fewer tourists, Oaxaca is experiencing more peace and tranquility this Day of the Dead season — albeit laced with a touch of melancholy and anxiety.

Masked and shielded, I braved the mostly local crowds south of the zócalo, to shop for cempasuchil (marigolds), cresta de gallo (cockscomb), apples, mandarin oranges, peanuts and pecans, chocolate, and pan de muertos (Day of the Dead bread) — but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as years past.

However, the joy returned when I unwrapped photographs of my parents, grandparents, and other loved ones; selected some of their favorite things to put on my ofrenda; placed the fruit, nuts, bread, and chocolate among the photos; positioned candles, flowers, and incense; and poured my departed a copita (little cup) of water and another of mezcal — all to beckon, entertain, and sustain them during their brief stay.

I’m looking forward to a more personal and reflective Día de Muertos this year.

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