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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mother figures out there!

“Mi Segunda Madre” woven by Mario González Pérez using wool dyed with natural dyes.

The above wall hanging (photographed in February 2021) was part of the art exhibition, “Sangre y Herencia” (Blood and Heritage) at Hotel CasAntica. By the way, Día de las Madres is celebrated in Mexico on May 10.

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

Thanks to the workers

On this second Día del Trabajo during the pandemic, let us recognize and give thanks to the workers of Oaxaca and the world who continue to keep the wheels turning.

Repairing the bell tower of Templo de San José.
Digging out the roots of a fallen Indian Laurel tree on the zócalo.
Preparing to sweep the sidewalk in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

Happy International Workers’ Day!

Missing mi cocinera

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!

The art of marketing

For the first time since February 25, 2020, I ventured out of Oaxaca city. The pull of my fully vaccinated family in el norte and with no word regarding when the second Pfizer vaccine would be given in Oaxaca, I booked a flight up to California for April 15 (five weeks after my first jab) and a 10:00 AM vaccination appointment at CVS for the next day. Needless to say, I was very grateful to not have to stand in line for hours. However, I am already missing my weekly Friday morning hike up to Pochote Xochimilco Mercado Orgánico y Artesanal.

Click HERE for close-ups of the art in the last photo. Nothing like a little culture to add to the shopping and dining experience!

By the way, the city began offering the second dose of the vaccine the day I left.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Container gardening, Oaxaca style.

Recycled garden planter

I chuckle every time I pass by this planter on the sidewalk of Calle Heroico Colegio Militar in Colonia Reforma.

Yellow to green

The headline in NVI Noticias announced, despite an increase in COVID-19, the federal government declared that, as of tomorrow, Oaxaca will move from semáforo amarillo (yellow traffic light)…

Art by Berza and ARCH on the Calle Constitución side of El Tendajón.

… to semáforo verde (green traffic light).

Mural signed by Hiko in Barrio de Xochimilco.

Inquiring minds are wondering if the downgrading of COVID-19 risk has anything to do with the upcoming elections on June 6.

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.

Sound of silence

Alas, another silent Viernes Santo in Oaxaca due to the pandemic. No early morning processions from churches throughout the city converging in front of the Cathedral to reenact the encuentro where Jesús meets María going towards Calvary. No worshipers praying and reciting appropriate devotions as they moved from one sidewalk Estación de la Cruz (Station of the Cross) to another. And, no rhythmic beat of a tambor, high-pitched tones of a chirimía, and the sputtering sounds of rachets punctuating the hush of the crowds gathered along the route for the early evening Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence).

Only silent sacred vignettes accompanied yesterday morning’s Good Friday walk through Barrio de Jalatlaco…

Unlike last year when church doors remained closed and services were broadcast remotely, the Archbishop announced that this year the churches will be open for liturgical acts on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, albeit with a “limited presence of the faithful.”

A new day

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

Cactus down!

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.

Indomitable bugs abound

In varying states of repair and disrepair and in a rainbow of colors, old but indomitable VW Beetles (known as Vochos in Mexico) are still seen tooling and sputtering their way around Oaxaca — an ideal car for navigating the narrow streets and limited parking in the city.

As the old Timex watch commercial used to say, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking!”

Today, March 19, we celebrate Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos. Apparently anticipating this day, in less than one month I have purchased three beautiful hand woven blouse length huipiles — and they each have a story.

On a walk up Macedonio Alcalá, en route to somewhere else, my neighbor Kalisa and I stopped to say hi to her favorite textile street vendor, Vicente, at his stall just beyond Santo Domingo. My eye was immediately drawn to the subtle color combination and style of the huipil above. As it turns out, it, unlike most of the textiles he had in stock, was dyed with natural dyes (including the rare caracol) and woven by his mother who lives in the Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in the Mixtec region.

The indigo and coyuche brocade huipil above is from the Mixtec village of Pinotepa de Don Luis and was the first in my trio of purchases. It was woven by a woman named Sebastiána and I bought it in response to an appeal by Stephanie Schneiderman to help support the weavers of that area during these pandemic days. It spoke to me the minute I saw it among the selection of huipiles for sale. Stephanie helped facilitate shipping it from Pinotepa de Don Luis to Oaxaca city and within a couple of weeks, it was hanging in my closet.

The third of my huipil purchases was another impulse buy. For several months, on Friday mornings, Kalisa and I have been making the trek up to the Pochote Xochimilco Mercado Orgánico y Artesanal in Colonia Reforma to stock up on fabulous fresh produce from the Sierra Norte, the occasional duck and chicken, cheeses, and fun shaped clay garden pots. However, the vendor of the plants and pots also sells a selection of huipiles from the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca and I fell in love with this Chinanteco one.

¡Feliz Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos!

Fluttering in the wind

Looking up never ceases to make me smile, especially when papel picado (cut paper) garlands flutter in the breeze — images with holiday themes, celebrating rites of passage, and advertising local products.

They are even imprinted on walls.

We are in the midst of Cuaresma (Lent), though pandemic restrictions have canceled most public celebrations, we have the Liturgical colors of violet and white papel picado to remind us.

Even the neverías of Jardín Sócrates have gotten into the act.

Route to the vaccine

Tuesday night, Kalisa and I ventured out on another vaccine reconnaissance mission and found the number of people planning to spend the night in line wasn’t nearly as long as the night before. Ruling out sleeping on the sidewalk, we agreed to give it a try early Wednesday morning.

Route to the vaccine.

We rendezvoused at 6:15 AM, set off to find the end of the line, discovered it was already a block and a half longer, reassured each other that we can do this, and joined the line. Armed with reading material, we set our stools down and prepared to wait for our first jab of the Pfizer vaccine. Eating wasn’t a problem, as vendors regularly came by with food and drink and Mercado IV Centenario was only a few steps away. As for the “call of nature,” public bathrooms are available at the Mercado and Jardín Socrates nearby and a few businesses along our route had signs reading, “Baños 5 pesos.”

7:33 AM – After 1 hour of waiting on Independencia.

We froze for the first 3 hours in the morning. The temperature was in the low 50s (Fahrenheit) and we both were wearing sandals, short sleeve cotton blouses, and only had cotton rebozos (shawls) to keep us warm. The vaccinations were scheduled to start at 8 AM but our line didn’t start moving until 11:30 AM. It turns out, they gave the people in line on Morelos a number when they stopped vaccinations at 5 PM the day before, so they got first priority, along with anyone in a wheelchair.

2:07 PM – Entering the Plaza de la Danza.

One of the enjoyable aspects of our ordeal was getting to know our neighbors in the queue. Like most, they were sons, daughters, and grandchildren holding places in line for elderly relatives. This is the ethos of Oaxaca! Once the sun rose above the buildings and began beating down on young and old, we all sweltered in 80+ degree (F) heat. Despite bringing sun hats, Kalisa and I succumbed to purchasing umbrellas from one of the vendors going up and down the line. Another enterprising vendor was selling plastic stools, but since we had brought our own, he ignored us.

2:32 PM – Post vaccination arrival in observation area.

Once the line actually started moving, it only took 2 hours to get to the Plaza de la Danza, where our paperwork was processed, we got the vaccine, waited in an observation area for 15 minutes, and then left for home. 7-1/2 hours, door to door.

2:44 PM – Post vaccination debriefing.

We were lucky, as they ran out of vaccine by 3:30 PM and Thursday’s vaccinations at the Plaza de la Danza were canceled. More is supposed to arrive, but no one knows when. As for our second dose, we were told they will announce via media when it will be offered AND promised to be better organized. Keep your fingers crossed!

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