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Archive for the ‘Casita Colibrí’ Category

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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Day of the Dead altars and their offerings to the departed vary from region to region and, within those regions, from family to family. Ofrendas (offerings) are an integral part of Día de Muertos. They are a beacon to the departed, an ephemeral work of art, and the sum of their lovingly chosen parts. As you can see from the photos below from several in Barrio de Jalatlaco, even on public display, they are intensely personal and creative.

Galería Shadai – Flowers, papel picado, candles, incense, pan de muertos, fruit, nuts, a casserole, and beverages.

And, there is a catrina tapete de arena (sand carpet) made of sand, beans, and flowers.

However, the only photo is of Maestro Francisco Toledo placed on a side pedestal.

Los Pilares Hotel and Restaurant – Flowers, papel picado, catrinas and catrins, candles, fruit, pan de muertos, and beverages.

And, there is a beautiful floral arch.

No photos of loved ones, but it’s a love story to the state of Oaxaca.

Family ofrenda – 5 de mayo at the corner of La Alianza. Family photos of the departed take center stage with papel picado, cempasúchitl (marigolds), and skeletons playing supporting roles.

Then there are those magnificent floral candles like one sees in Teotitlán del Valle.

And, lest the departed can’t find their way home in the greatly expanded city, an old photo and skeletons await outside the altar alcove to show the way.

Last but not least, my altar and offerings. It was a creative challenge to set up in the new Casita Colibrí.

It’s smaller than previous years, but I have figured out a way to make it bigger and better next year.

A yellow (color of death in pre-hispanic southern Mexico) tablecloth; papel picado (cut tissue paper) signifying the union between life and death; cempasúchitl (marigolds) and flor de muerto from the Sierra Norte, their scent to guide the spirits; and cresta de gallo (cockscomb) to symbolize mourning. There is salt to make sure the souls stay pure and chocolate, peanuts, pecans, apples, mandarin oranges, and pan de muertos (Day of the Dead bread) to nourish them. The sweet smell of copal incense and its smoke help guide my loved ones to the fiesta I have prepared for them. There is water to quench their thirst, as they travel between worlds, not to mention mezcal and cervesa (beer). And, there are the tangible remembrances of my departed — photos and some of their favorite things.

With candles lit and incense burning, I’m loving it and hoping my very dearly departed will find it warm, nourishing, and welcoming.

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After a twelve year wait, my Pachypodium lamerei has bloomed! Though not a palm, you may know it as a Madagascar Palm.

First thing every morning, while the coffee is brewing, I go up on the rooftop to wish my plants a “buenos días” and check to see if the water heater pilot is still lit — but I digress.

Two and a half weeks ago my Pachypodium lamerei surprised me with its first ever flower.

And the blooms keep coming. I think it likes its new home!

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Pink sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Pink sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

What about a weird sky at dusk?

View from the rooftop — looking northwest, not so weird.
View from the rooftop — looking east was ominous.
View from the rooftop — looking southeast was seriously eerie and beautiful.

Last night’s sky over Oaxaca was the talk of locals on Facebook. Rain came an hour later.

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Yesterday’s view from my front door…

A late afternoon deluge. This is the rainy season in Oaxaca!

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With storms to the north and storms to the south, Oaxaca is stuck in the middle. And the rain keeps falling. Sometimes, the sun peeks through the clouds…

On the terrace – August 22, 2021 – early evening.
View from the terrace – August 22, 2021 – early evening.
View from the terrace – August 22, 2021 – early evening.

And, sometimes it doesn’t…

View from the terrace – August 25, 2021 – midday.
View from the terrace – August 25, 2021 – midday
View from the terrace – August 22, 2021 – midday.

Sometimes it rains in the late afternoon, sometimes at night, and sometimes (like today) the rains come on and off throughout the day. ‘Tis the season.

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If it’s Friday, in addition to flowers, it is the day a produce stand sets up just a few blocks away. Mi amiga Kalisa and I stumbled on it during one of our Friday morning walks and little did I know that eight months later I would move nearby and it would become my weekly fruit and veggie vendor.

Weekly produce stand on Privada Lic. Primo Verdad.

The stand has both imported and local fruits and veggies. Three weeks ago I couldn’t resist some of the freshest looking huitlacoche I’ve seen.

Huitlacoche sauteed with onions, garlic, dried chiles, and verdolaga (purslane) — the latter from my garden.

For the uninitiated, huitlacoche (aka, corn smut) is a fungus (Ustilago maydis) that can attack ears of corn during the rainy season. Here in Mexico it is a delicacy. I sauteed it with some other goodies (see above photo) and used it, along with quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese), to fill an omelette.

Quesillo and huitlacoche omelette garnished with sliced avocado.

One would never guess that, as a child, I was a picky eater!

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Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day

It’s Friday and I wanted to introduce you to my aforementioned flower vendor. His name is Moises and he also sells sprigs of herbs.

Today I bought two bunches of agapanthus and one of romero (rosemary). And, the Sesame Street song, People in Your Neighborhood, keeps spinning around my brain and singing in my heart.

Well, they’re the people that you meet
When you’re walking down the street
They’re the people that you meet each day
.

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One of the delights of my new and improved Casita Colibrí home is that it is located in a real neighborhood — one with the feel of a small town. Most everything I need is available within a few blocks. Then there are the vendors! They traverse the cobblestone streets plying their wares — the gas trucks with their distinctive horns, moos, and jingles blasting from loud speakers, the guy shouting “tamalestamalestamales” so fast that it’s hard to understand at first, the paletas (Mexican popsicle-like frozen treat) vendor pushing his cart and calling “palEtas,” and the flower seller who, after I happened to be at the apartment complex entrance and bought agapanthus and a few lilies, doesn’t even yell “flores” when he arrives every Friday in front of the gate, he now just rings my buzzer.

This week, I bought two bunches of alstroemeria.

The previous week, it was two dozen long-stemmed yellow roses.

The quality is excellent — the roses lasted almost an entire week!

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