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Archive for the ‘Casita Colibrí’ Category

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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This morning: Four Night Blooming Cereus flowers and one seriously busy bee!

Life in the rooftop garden.

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When last we left Casita Colibrí’s garden, it had weathered Moving days and the plants were Surviving and thriving wherever they had landed at their new home.

Much to the movers’ relief, some (though, not a lot!) of the plants were to remain on the ground floor. With those, it was within my artistic ability to create an entryway and to arrange the palms and other shade-loving plants in my new apartment’s atrium.

However, the landscaping on the rooftop, where the majority of the plants landed, was left to the imagination — as I had neither the strength nor the skill. Consequently, two and a half weeks ago, under a blazing hot and unrelenting sun, my friend and excellent landscaper Jose Ruiz Garcia and his nephew came over to move, position, and re-position trees and succulents and shrubs — oh my!

Most mornings it’s now where I begin my day. With coffee in hand, I cautiously wend my way up the narrow spiral staircase to commune with my plants, listen to the birds sing and chatter, and enjoy this beautiful and tranquil garden that Jose has created. It’s also a perfect setting to sip a glass of wine as the sun sets.

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Many of my View From Casita Colibrí regular readers have expressed concern regarding how the garden survived the move. I want to assure you, though it desperately needs landscaping, the plants are surviving and thriving in their new home.

Flor de Mayo
Night Blooming Cereus
Cayenne pepper
Crown of Thorns
Madagascar Jasmine
Buddha belly plant (Jatropha podagrica)

Methinks it is, in no small part, due to our daily late afternoon downpours. It is the rainiest rainy season since 2010 — at least that I can remember!

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Yes, that is moving days, plural! However, neither rain nor breakdowns nor dark of night kept Casita Colibrí (the name moved, too) from moving twelve years of furniture, art and artesanía, kitchenware, clothing, books, and her massive container garden to its new home.

Day one began at 4:00 PM and consisted of four trips and a little rain to move from the old casita to the new — hauling furniture, boxes, and some of the smaller plants. Some of it was carried down the dicey stairs and some went over the balcony. Needless to say, the crew of five, plus yours truly, were worn out when we called it quits at 10:00 PM.

With all the furniture ensconced in its new home, the task of day two (postponed a few days due to mechanical issues with the truck) was to move the trees, their ginormous pots, the chimenea, and worm-rich barrels of soil that I have been cultivating for several years. It wound up taking two trips and almost four hours to lower the plants, etc. from one rooftop and then hoist them up to another. Oh, and did I mention, having to detour several blocks due to an accident. Another day of sheer exhaustion!

However, when all is said and done, everything arrived safe and sound, save for one cracked pot. Of course, that doesn’t count the sore backs and the revenge of cactus thorns. Willie Delfín and his crew were amazing.

Now the decorating and landscaping fun begins!

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Alive, well, back in Oaxaca, and enjoying the views from Casita Colibrí.

Looking west at Templo de San José and the Basilica de la Soledad with Monte Albán in the distance.

I arrived three days ago and, unbeknownst to me (as it was supposed to go all the way through to Oaxaca) my checked bag was held up in customs at the Mexico City airport. I can’t imagine what the problem was. Perhaps 5 dry sticks of Sure deodorant? 4 pairs of gardening gloves (1 for me 3 for gifts)? 3 used books? Or, maybe the 15 used compost-able plastic bags I brought back to line my waste baskets? No explanation was forthcoming, but they did put my suitcase on the next flight that evening and delivered it to my apartment around 9 PM — nothing confiscated, no customs fee, and NOTHING missing!

Looking south toward Oaxaca’s airport.

From the evening I returned, I began sneezing, nose began running, and I developed a head-crushing sinus headache. Except for a quick trip to the pharmacy to buy an allergy medicine, I spent all Tuesday in bed. This has never happened before, but everyone is telling me that this season, this year is really bad for allergies. By Wednesday, I was feeling a little stuffy, but much better.

Sunset looking north.

The rainy season was just beginning when I left six weeks ago and now, the hills are turning green, the garden is lush, and tonight, as the sun sets, thunder is rumbling, lightening is flashing in the distance, and a few raindrops have fallen. It’s good to be back!

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Flowers of May there and here…

Flor de mayo (aka, plumeria, frangipani) on the terrace in Oaxaca
Sixty-five year old camellia planted by my grandfather on the Mill Valley patio

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m alive and well and, at long last, in California — my childhood home, to be exact. While I’m loving spending time with family, seeing friends, and happily able being able to wash my clothes in my own washer and dryer, it also means I’m having to cook. Looking back with envy at the meals prepared by my amiga, vecina, and cocinera extraordinaire, Kalisa.

February 12 2021 – Vegetables, queso panela, and basmati rice.
February 15 2021 – Codillo, mole, beans, and salsa.
February 24, 2021 – Eggplant and spinach lasagne.
February 28, 2021 – Duck pozole.
March 2, 2021 – Duck tostada.
March 7, 2021 – Leftovers of chard, broccolini, potatoes, and black beans.
March 8, 2021 – Chicken mole.
March 12, 2021 – Salad of Pochote bounty.
March 25, 2021 – Marinated chicken, green salad, basmati rice, and green salsa.
April 7, 2021 – Michoacán tacos with flores de frijol.
April 10, 2021 – Michoacán las corundas.
April 11, 2021 – Chicken tacos.

As you will note, the occasional vegetarian meal popped up over the past couple of months on Kalisa’s menu, along with inspiration from the recent visit to Oaxaca by Cynthia Martínez, chef owner of La Conspiración 1809 in Morelia, Michoacán. All delicious and works of art!

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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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