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While I was in el norte, I had no worries about my plants, as I knew my neighbors A&P would take good care of them. It has taken me a week to unpack, put things away, clean (oh, the dust!), and get reacquainted with my garden’s flora and fauna.

I was surprised and delighted this tiny cactus welcomed me with one of its flowers.

Another delight was the presence of Eddie Lizard still hanging out on the outer side of the screen between the atrium and my office. He’s been here a month and a half!

A less welcome sight were these small caterpillars. Thankfully, P took on the task of picking them off with my garden tweezers. They have been munching on my Passion Flower leaves for months and I can’t figure out how to eradicate them. Any suggestions?

After being gone for a month, it’s good to be back home, be warm and dry, and enjoying my garden!

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After two weeks of San Francisco Bay Area grey skies and cold atmospheric river weather, I’m dreaming Oaxaca winter blue sky dreams.

October 2, 2022 – Roof dog in Teotitlán del Valle
October 30, 2022 – Papel picado on my Barrio de Jalatlaco rooftop.
November 14, 2022 – View of waning Gibbous Moon from my Barrio de Jalatlaco rooftop.

Singing Blue Skies along with Ella Fitzgerald.

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2022 began with rainbows and ended with fab food, friends, and family — a good way to say hello and goodbye to a year that continued to bring serious challenges to this planet we call home. In my little Oaxaca corner of the world, the year had its circumstantial complexities but also was filled with visits from old friends, becoming more familiar with my Jalatlaco neighborhood, “any excuse gatherings” with my most excellent neighbors, and several adventures with BFFs in and out of the city.

January 13, 2022 – A rainbow surprise from my rooftop terrace in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
February 19, 2022 – Efedefroy stencil outside Xiguela Tienda, Barrio de Jalatlaco.
March 23, 2022 – Classic car on a street in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
April 12, 2022 – Agave quiote decorating the outside of Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco.
May 30, 2022 – Rainy day streets in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
June 4, 2022 – Found objects art on the rooftop of Restaurant Oaxaca Mía, Teotitlán del Valle.
July 15, 2022 – Grasshopper on my rooftop terrace in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
August 27, 2022 – Calenda dancing its way along the streets of Barrio de Jalatlaco.
September 29, 2022 – Chiles en Nogada at Casa Oaxaca Reforma.
October 28, 2022 – Spiffed up La Hormiga food trailer at Conzatti Park.
November 6, 2022 – Murals at the entrance to Barrio de Xochimilco in Oaxaca.
November 6, 2022 – Ensalada Tehuana at La Biznaga on the corner of Magarita Maza and Benito Juárez (one of my favorite intersections).

Words can’t begin to express how grateful I am to you all for reading, commenting, and following my blog. You kept me going during the worst days of the pandemic and continue to inspire me. Thus, my 2023 wish for you is…

I Hope You Dance
Written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion, always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

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Autumn light catches plant shadow play against my garden’s new blue wall.

Epiphyllum hookeri (Night blooming cereus)

Beaucarnea recurvata (Elephant’s foot)

Pachypodium lamerei (Madagascar palm)

Blue makes for a far more dramatic scene than the former lifeless cream color.

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As the days become shorter and the sun appears lower in the sky, in Oaxaca the shadows play.

September 7, 2022, 3:11 PM. White-winged dove on my rooftop terrace.
September 30, 2022, 6:00 PM. Convite in Teotitlán del Vallle.
October 6, 2022, 8:42 AM. My staircase from the atrium to the rooftop.

Between funny and witty
Falls the shadow

-Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles

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Several weeks ago, at the weekly Friday market on Calle del Refugio, I bought a hibiscus plant in a 6 inch pot. It had a single brilliant yellow with red highlights flower, but was filled with promise from multiple buds. I immediately transplanted it into a larger pot and it has proceeded to put on quite a show. As one flower folds up and falls off, another opens to take its place.

September 10, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 16, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 22, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 26, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 27, 2022 hibiscus flower

Each flower is unique and ready for its close-up!

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At long last, thunder is rumbling and rain is pouring down on the highways, byways, and rooftops of Oaxaca. If you look closely, you can see the buckets collecting the runoff from the new pergola.

View from the shelter of the new pergola.

Oaxaca, a largely agricultural state, desperately needs the rain. Let’s hope it lasts!

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After four seasons of living with the blazing sun on the rooftop of the new Casita Colibrí, I decided the lone, albeit large, umbrella over the table was completely inadequate in making the terrace compatible with human occupation. Thus, a pergola project was begun. Much web surfing and consultation with friends with engineering and construction experience ensued — including Tom H. (thank you!) who designed and supervised the shade structure at the old Casita Colibrí.

May 30, 2021 – The rooftop before I moved in.
July 22, 2021 – A month after my garden moved in.
August 1, 2022 – Construction of the pergola begins.
August 1, 2022 – With a crew of 5, the framing went up quickly.
August 1, 2022 – Lamina being attached to the framing.
August 1, 2022 – More welding of the frame (those are sparks in lower center of the photo).
August 2, 2022 – Installing the final lamina panels.
For those engineering folks, here is how the steel posts are bolted to the floor of the terrace.
August 4, 2022 – Tables, plants, and chiminea positioned and wind chimes finally hung.

A huge “muchisimas gracias” to Civil Engineer, Omar Rito and his crew of five for their wonderful work constructing a perfect rooftop pergola in two days!

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According to reports, Hurricane Agatha is the strongest to make landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast in May since record keeping began in 1949. As of tonight, Oaxaca’s governor said there have been ten deaths and twenty are missing, mostly due to flooding on the coast and mudslides in the mountains. Fortunately, friends living on the coast have marked themselves safe on social media. However, given the images and video I’ve seen posted on Facebook, Twitter, and news websites, the devastation is great and much help will be needed to clean up and rebuild.

Here in the capital city of Oaxaca, up and over the mountains from where the hurricane made landfall, we had steady rain yesterday and today we had a couple of episodes of torrential downpours. In Barrio de Jalatlaco we haven’t been hit with gale force winds, our cobblestone streets haven’t become rushing rivers, and we’ve only experienced intermittent power outages. And, as I write, the Guerreros de Oaxaca baseball game is being played at Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos — I can hear the chants and cheers from the above rooftop.

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Spring has sprung in the valley of Oaxaca and that means the hottest and driest months are upon us. Despite conventional wisdom, the temperatures actually cool down a little in the summer, when the afternoon/evening rains come. I confess, this time of year, when the thermometer hovers around 90º (Fahrenheit), by early afternoon my energy is sapped and motivation melts away. Hence, blog posts are few and far between. However, today is a little cooler and my blog’s namesake inspired me to let my fingers not just hover over keyboard, but actually type!

Colibríes in murals seen on walls around the city…

Artist: Marcos Lucero
Artist unknown

A few of the colibríes seen in the art and artesanía in my Casita Colibrí home…

Watercolor by Estefani Hernández
Hand-painted pillow by Pilar Miranda
Tin hummingbird purchased at MARO

Speaking of hovering, a little information from the book, Colibríes de México y Norteamérica/ Hummingbirds of México and North America to go along with the pretty pictures:

Hummingbirds are noted for their incredible ability to fly. They can hover suspended in the air and can fly in any direction, even sideways and backwards, allowing them to reach their food anywhere. Their powerful chest muscles are extremely developed (they can account for around 30% of their body mass) and this allows them to beat their wings very rapidly, from an incredible 80 wing beats per second, up to a staggering 200 wing beats per second when performing certain maneuvers during courtship. Their muscles also allow them to reach amazing speeds, ranging from 50 to 95 km/hr when diving in flight during courtship.

A .pdf of the book is free to download from the above link.

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Late yesterday afternoon… What was that smell? What was that sound? I climbed the spiral staircase up to the rooftop terrace and what did I see?

The little dark dots on the terrace floor confirmed my suspicion. The smell was rain, the sound was rain, those spots on the terrace floor were rain drops, and there was even a hint of a rainbow!

I stood watching and listening and savoring this infrequent, but much welcome, dry season development, when the clouds moved to reveal the rising moon.

The old Blood, Sweat & Tears tune began playing in my head, Sometimes in Winter. Thank you Steve Katz for your beautiful and evocative song.

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Last Saturday, Hagamos Composta picked up our filled bins and left these. Are our compost gals making a statement?

The librarian/archivist in me compels me to share a link to Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online. Proud of my profession.

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Today is Día de los Tres Reyes Magos — a day the children of Mexico receive gifts from the Three Kings (aka, Three Wise Men, Magi). Alas, I am in quarantine at home with a possible case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. I say “possible” because, though the rapid antigen test result was negative, Emerging Data Raise Questions About Antigen Tests and Nasal Swabs. Plus, three days after attending an event where I took off my mask to eat and drink, I began experiencing all the symptoms — stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, dry cough, and no energy. Ugh! Fortunately, I am double vaxed and boosted, and after two days of feeling miserable, I am beginning to feel somewhat human again.

Instead of greeting the Three Kings on the street and watching them bring smiles and gifts to the children of Oaxaca, I will content myself with keeping company with my Melchor, Baltasar, and Gaspar — woven of palm fronds in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. And, I will treasure the gift of wonderful friends and neighbors who have kept my larder stocked and generously offered their help while I’m confined to quarters. They are my reinas y reyes (queens and kings)!

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It’s been a crazy busy visit to el norte gratefully sprinkled with some fun with family and friends. However, now I’m getting ready for my return to Oaxaca and the hummingbirds in my Jalatlaco ‘hood.

The last image is a commissioned watercolor by Raul Baños hanging in my living room. How many colibríes (hummingbirds) can you see?

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I’m in el norte visiting family, getting my Pfizer booster, and seeing friends. Today, it’s chilly and grey, so I’m letting the crystals I hung in the new Casita Colibrí’s entry window cast their magic.

In morning, as the sun pours in, they paint rainbows all over my home.

And, I’m singing along to the John Sebastian tune, I’ll Paint Rainbows All Over Your Blues. (Click the YouTube link, it will make you smile.)

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