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Archive for the ‘Casita Colibrí’ Category

Sometimes, the sunset over the Basílica de la Soledad takes my breath away. 

What can I say?  I love the view from Casita Colibrí!

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Day three of cut roses from the Mercado de Abastos.  Gracias a Kalisa!

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Crown of Thorns… new addition to the rooftop garden from the weekly Sunday plant sale in the Jardín Morelos.

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Winter may be coming, but there are always flowers blooming in Oaxaca.

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As my grandchildren finished their trick or treating up in el norte, I put the final touches on my Día de los Muertos ofrenda (offering) here in Oaxaca.

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A yellow (the color of death in pre-hispanic southern Mexico) cloth covers two chests; papel picado (cut tissue paper), signifying the union between life and death, has been added, along with the traditional flowers of Day of the Dead — cempasúchil and veruche (domesticated and wild marigolds), their scent to guide the spirits, and cockscomb to symbolize mourning.  Visitors brought the sunflower and, since my grandfather, father, and father-in-law were avid gardeners, it is for them!

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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.

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The sweet smell of copal incense and its smoke help guide my loved ones to the feast I have prepared.  And, there is water to quench their thirst, as they travel between worlds, not to mention mezcal and cervesa (beer).

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But, most important of all, there are the tangible remembrances of my departed — photos and some of their favorite things.

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Revolutionary catrina and catrin for my revolutionary comadre and compadre, Sylvia and Nat.

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Yarn and a crochet hook for my dear grandmother who many of the abuelas (grandmothers) in Oaxaca remind me of — always wearing an apron, never wearing pants, and incredibly adept with crochet and embroidery thread.  And, for my adored grandfather, a San Francisco Giants baseball cap.  My grandparents moved next door at the same time the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco and grandpa and I listened to many games together on his transistor radio, as I helped him in the garden.

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There are other cherished friends and relatives on my altar, but pride of place goes to my parents.  For my father, who was killed when I was only two and a half, there is beer (below the above photo) — alas Victoria not Burgermeister!  And for my mother, a fan to cool herself as she dances and a bottle of port to sip before she sleeps.

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It’s been a two-day labor of love as I wanted everything to be perfect for my difutos (departed) to find their way and feel welcome in my Oaxaca home.

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Not all cotton bolls are white…

Roberta French, who built my apartment complex in Oaxaca many decades ago, established a textile weaving business and planted coyuche (koyuchi), a natural brown cotton.  She is no longer with us, but her plant survives and grows up onto my balcony.  This time of year, the yellow, pink, and rose flowers bloom, die, form pods, and brown cotton fluff results.

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And the results?  Here, at my apartment complex, the plant is solely decorative.  However, the traditional way of growing, spinning, and weaving brown cotton is still practiced in some communities in coastal Oaxaca, Mexico.  And, I have been lucky enough to have been gifted an old huipil woven of coyuche and acquired a new one at an expo-venta here in Oaxaca city.  If you would like more information on coyuche and its cultivation and weaving, I recommend checking out the Katyi Ya’a collective.

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The late rainy season continues, but my garden brings sunshine to a cloudy day.

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8:00 AM

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5:40 PM

The Stephanotis floribunda reaches for the sky and brings the light.

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Yesterday morning…

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Cleistocactus

There are days when light and shadows paint the garden and I sigh at Mother Nature’s artistry.

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Alas, the massive tormenta (thunderstorm) that hit the city two weeks ago was a one hit wonder, despite predictions of rain almost every day.  This evening, yet again, clouds gathered but only a drop or two fell.

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Looking south…

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Looking southwest…

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Looking southeast…

Guess it’s time for a mezcal offering to Cosijo.  Hope you will join me!

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It’s been a rainy season that “is not” more than “is.”  However, tonight around 6:00 PM, I heard the unmistakable sound of rain and looked out the window.

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This is incredibly good news for the mostly subsistence farmers in the valley of Oaxaca, as crops have been struggling and reservoirs are low.

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The lack of rain has even impacted weavers who rely on plants, rather than chemicals, to dye their yarn.

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We have also had a little hail along with continuing thunder and lightning.

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Two hours and counting… Giving thanks to Cocijo (Zapotec god of rain, thunder, and lightning) and hoping this isn’t a one hit wonder.

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Once upon a time, I went to Linda Hanna’s house in San Andrés Huayapam — the B&B Casa Linda.  In addition to running a B&B, she leads artisan tours, is a major collector of textiles, art, crafts, and you name it, AND holds occasional yard sales.  I always try to attend the latter and always buy a thing or two or three or four.  Thus, 2-1/2 years ago, this loveseat found it’s way onto the terrace of Casita Colibrí.  Linda wasn’t sure where or when she originally purchased it and it had long been relegated to a bed for a member of her animal menagerie, as the palm had completely disintegrated on one side, leaving only the jute webbing to prevent one’s bottom from landing on the ground.  However, it had “good bones” and I had fallen in love with it.  I figured that with a couple of decorative pillows to hide the hole, it would look great and be relatively functional.  They did and it was.

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Over the course of the past couple of years, the elements have caused more wear and tear to the palm and the wooden frame needed work.  Into the story comes Sebastián, of Talavera transformation, part 4 fame.  As if it wasn’t enough to be a carpenter, stonemason, electrician, plumber, and glazier, he and his wife Elizabeth had taken classes in weaving with plastic and started a business — primarily making baskets/purses.  A couple of months ago, he stopped by to show me their latest projects and I had an inspiration.  Could they refurbish my loveseat?  His eyes lit up, said yes, we talked colors and designs, and a few weeks later he hauled it away.  On Wednesday, it came back home.

I suspect you are asking, why plastic when the palm looked so beautiful?  Two reasons.  Firstly, it was a spur of the moment decision, but I knew Sebastián, trusted the work he does, and loved the creative possibilities he showed me.  Secondly, I’d bought the loveseat to live outside on the terrace (albeit, under the gazebo) and in the back of my mind, as the palm seat, back, and arms continued to deteriorate, I’d wondered if there might be something more long lasting that could be used.  Thus, plastic.  However, it’s not just any plastic, Sebastián and Elizabeth’s business uses recycled plastic.

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By the way, they also refinished the wood, using a marine varnish to help contribute to its longevity.   I think, in its new incarnation, my loveseat still looks right at home and what is old is new again!

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June in Oaxaca city, the mornings are grey.

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Bougainvillea

The sun eventually appears.

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Plumbago

Afternoon clouds gather and thunder rumbles in the distance.

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African tulip tree

Then darkness descends.

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Night blooming cereus

Alas, this June only a minimal amount of rain has fallen.  But the garden endures.

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X currently marks the spot in OaXaca — be it for HOT weather, blockades, or orb weaving spiders.  Regarding the latter, another, in a long line of Argiopes, has chosen to take up residence on my terrace.

Argiope spider in middle of web with stabilimentum

Fun fact:  The purpose of the white zigzag of silk, known as a stabilimentum, is disputed. It reflects UV light and may act as camouflage, attract insect prey, or prevent larger creatures from accidentally destroying the web.  Whatever the function, this gal’s (yes, it is a female) is one of the best I’ve seen!

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Act two of this year’s night blooming cereus extravaganza began the night of April 22…

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Continued the night of April 26…

Night blooming cereus flower

And, it looks like there will be more in a week or two!

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Plumeria (aka, Frangipani, Flor de mayo) currently bringing their fragrance to the Casita Colibrí terrace…

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As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers — even if it’s still April!

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My Opuntia microdasys are blooming and, like the jacarandas, their blossoms are a subtle sign that spring has sprung in Oaxaca.

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It is commonly known as “bunny ears” or, in Mexico, “alas de ángel” (angel wings) — though I can see nothing angelic about them and you certainly don’t want to pet those fuzzy looking paddles.  Those glochids (hair-like spines) are nasty.  I know from personal experience!

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I have two large pots of them — one with white glochids and the other with yellow.  However, despite my personal run-ins with them both, I’m still in search of the rust colored variety.

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This morning’s ecumenical gathering of the birds at the fountain — seen through my (dirty) kitchen window.

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I think the orange one is a Bullock’s Oriole — the first I’ve seen on my rooftop garden.

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