The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Summer in the city... Not

I do miss going into the city and to the villages, but I am lucky to be where I am with sights like this surrounding me.  That's the archeological site of Atzompa in the distance.  You can see how lush the countryside is with all the wonderful rains we've had.  With very few people around,  like Rex Harrison, Dr. Dolittle, "I Talk with the Animals." and...
They think I'm crazy and ignore me.  Once again, the goat, but not the only one.
Still, what a blessing to be in the midst of such verdant beauty... with friends like these.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Olio - New Music!

Olio - a miscellaneous collection (as of literary or musical selections,) This collection comes from many sources: world music, jazz. house, gospel, Asian, even some funky wah wah clavinet.

Can't get it to embed, but worth a click.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Say it loud...

My trip into the city yesterday gave me much food for thought.  First, no doubt about it, this is the new normal, loud and clear.  Each of us must adapt in our own ways.  And I'm trying, but I really miss going into the city and even more, not visiting the villages. All of these places are, in part, why Oaxaca is so magical and without them, well, it seems as if a vitality has been drained.  Still, this place is resilient and so must we all be.  Just seeing the street art gives me hope.  The things I miss....
And, just like always, imagining the courtyards behind those gates.
And the streets speak, "The working class moves the economy.  Let the rich pay for the crisis."
And a bit of zen..
Scrawled underneath...."I want, I want."   "I got plenty of nuttin..." already.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Summer in the city....

Hard to believe, but what used to be normal and no big deal, is now an adventure, and not without some stress and trepidation.  I can't remember the last time I was in the city.  I bet it was close to three months ago.  It felt great to walk the streets, restoring a sense of forgotten normalcy.  However just seeing the zocalo empty, drove home the point that things are far from normal.
I'd say maybe 75% of the people had masks on and the streets had people and cars on them, but not in the normal density.  I hit six or seven places to either pay bills or stock up on necessities and then beat a hasty retreat back into the country.  It will probably be weeks or months until the next visit to the city.
The whole adventure was simultaneously surreal and totally normal with less traffic.... and exhausting.

Monday, July 13, 2020

A rose is a rose....

Well, this isn't one, but the colors are right.  I need a little help here, because I don't know what this flowering tree is.  Every year it gets attacked by leaf cutter ants, but I have been extra vigilante this year and it has never looked better.
It has been a good rainy season thus far (knock on wood) and things are tall and lush in the garden.  Recognize this flower?
It's a banana flower with the platanos almost ripe at the top of that stem.
And look at the size of that rosemary or romero plant behind it. 
It's bigly! Yuge!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Buggin' Out....

Well, maybe just a little, but I am referring to the saga of the flowering agave in the garden.  I check every day to see how things are going and there is always one of these insects on the flowering stalk.  Often there are a few and I figure it's either love or war.
Several people said it would soon be covered with blossoms and it looks like they are right.  I will keep everyone posted.  It's gonna be exciting!!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Long time comin'....

It's been over ten years coming, but this flower appeared almost overnight.  It is well over two meters tall.  I'm pretty sure it is some sort of agave, but I really have no idea.  It is really spikey. I've watered it with my blood for many years.
Not really the most spectacular of flowers, but I'm sure Mother Nature knows what she's doing.  When it is done flowering, I imagine the plant will being to fade and die.  Then compost, to return in a different form.
The garden is always such a good teacher.

Friday, July 3, 2020


No, not the fish, silly.  It's the fruit of the nopal cactus, prickly pear, and one of the many flavors of Oaxaca.  There is nothing like the classic Oaxacan ice, leche quemada con tuna, or burnt milk with this sweet fruit.
These perfect fruits were on a large plant growing out in the middle of nowhere. Note those little white specks are indicators of cochineal insects, the brilliant red natural dye for which Oaxaca is so famous. Meanwhile back at the nieveria....
So good...

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Just one little flower...

Do you recognize this flowering plant?  I have had it for years and would never dream of dreaming with it, no matter what Carlos says.  It's funny and the story of my life.  I have always been able to grow plants, but have a real problem in harvesting them, mainly because all my plants are my companions and friends.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cock and bull... and a hog

Life in the country during this pandemic is so quiet.  Where I live is pretty remote, but I do see a few people walking by, and an occasional car or moto-taxi, and that's the new normal.  And almost no one, save the animals, on my afternoon walks.
One of the nice aspects of life now, is that I can hear sounds from all over the valleys, people, animals, dogs and distant music... and of course, cojetes, firecrackers.  They and the afternoon thunder storms roll and echo off the mountains.  And lots of birds and peepers... and the lovely sound of rain.  I'm a John Cage devotee, and in heaven.  Oh, and the hog? Silent music.
Get yer motor runnin'.... It's Groundhog Day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What the heck is that?

I have had this plant for many years and it has never done this before. Can you recognize it? Here's a hint with a better shot of the leaves.
It's the fruit or seed pod of the night blooming cereus. Crazy, huh?
This has been a good year for the plant.  It has flowered several times and has more little buds on it right now.  Of course, I miss most of the blossoms, because... uh... it blooms at night.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The local Cheshire Cat

Life out in the country during this pandemic is even more quiet than normal.  I'm often alone on my afternoon constitutionals.  It's a time for reflection and meditation on the nature of many and sundry things.  Like what's the cat thinking... or selling. 
After all, it is a tienda, a store. No there's more going on there.  Maybe it has to do with what's right over it's shoulder. 
The ancient archaeological site of Atzompa, a part of an advanced Zapotec civilization the came and went.... not that history has a habit of repeating itself or anything.

Friday, June 12, 2020

That's one way to do it....

Each village or neighborhood seems to be adopting their own protocols for dealing with the virus.  Some have closed themselves off to visitors.  Some, like where I live, have checkpoints.  However, this was a first for me.  I wanted to go to one of my favorite viveros or nurseries in nearby San Lorenzo Cacaotepec and this is how they were handling it. 
I'm have no idea what they were spraying, but my car felt the love.  Incidentally, the vivero is quite serious about being safe.  Hand sanitizers and one had to wait in one's car until they opened the gate, greatly limiting the number of people inside.  Great plants, pots, potting soil, all at really reasonable prices.  I use a lot of their potting soil, which I mix with peat moss and worm castings.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Pre Carnaval Oaxaca 2020

It's hard to believe that this was just a few months ago.  The streets
filled with music, dance crowds of happy people, all living and loving
the best of Oaxaca.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Say cheese - Doña Vicky

How people are dealing with the pandemic is quite different between the city and the villages.  Closings, cancellations and masks have been the norm in the city, for the most part, for weeks.  However, out where I live to the north of the city, folks are just starting to wear masks, but only about half of the people.  Many businesses are open, like lots.  Fortunately, the market in Etla is still open,  although access is restricted.  For me, it makes sense to run in and get everything fresh and of excellent quality.  In and out in minutes,  No meat shortage here!
Plus, how could I live without Doña Vicky and her fabulous and famous quesillo, salsas, moles, and everything vital to staying happy at home.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Room with a view....

This house has a wonderful sun room with windows that sweep 180° west to north.  It's part of a guest suite, but with no guests, I've been spending more time in there, just to watch the world go by.  And with all the sounds coming in from near and far, it is always interesting, calming.  Time passes. Hey, whadya know?  Is that a ray of hope?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

At last...

Five days without phone/internet after getting blessed by Cocijo, the Zapotec god of rain, thunder, and lightning, everything is back to normal.  He knocked out everyone around me with one intense rayo, strike.  It sure made me appreciate and respect him all the more.  And thanks, also, for the hurricane force winds and torrential rains which have filled my cistern... and the double arcoiris.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Music in the air...

The bugs are back!  The air is filled with the most wonderful and ethereal sounds, free music.  They are cigarras or chicharas and must be in the cicada family and right now I am completely surrounded by their loud and insistent singing.  It sometimes gets so loud, I break out laughing. 
I think this is a female, because she did not sing and I waited and waited... Only the males singand do so  by vibrating plates, or tymbals, located on either side of their abdomens.  Crazy, huh?  Something to do with sex, I think ;-)  And they hide quite well..
Listen for yourself:

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Oaxaca's got this...

Never let it be said that Oaxaca isn't staying on top of all things timely and virus-related.
But of course,  all oaxaqueños know to stick to mezcal... at least until the beer shortage is over.
Did you know that the average Mexican drinks eighteen gallons of beer each year? And all the beer producers are shut down due to being deemed "nonessential."

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Orange Blossom... Special..

Staying at the house has advantages.  Plenty of hours to fill with cleaning and chores.... the garden has never looked this good this early.  It's the tail end of the dry season and we've had a couple of decent rains, so everything started to wake up. 
This young orange tree has never has so many blossoms and the fragrance.... sublime.  The bees enjoy it even more than I do.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Maestra Maria Jimenez Ojeda's Music stands

The remarkable detailed painting by Maria Jimenez Ojeda from San Martin Tilcajete has bought her worldwide fame and recognition.  These three atriles or music stands were created by Maria and her brothers, Aron and Candido.  The brothers construct the pieces and Maria works her magic with paint.
Her meticulous detail work is just remarkable.  The doves are one of her signature motifs.
Her work was in such demand, she often had nothing for sale and one had to place orders and that's what I did.  The wait was more than worth it.  The gold filigree painting on the vertical part of the stand.... simply wow!
Mariposas and doves....
A masterpiece...
Again, the detail on the vertical is amazing.
Again, I encouraged Maria and her brothers to have fun and make whatever they wished....
They took me at my word.  The toucans on the fish's shoulders(?) are another of her most popular pieces and my favorites... which she knew.
It was sweet of them to incorporate the things they knew I love into the atriles.  I'll post some of the other carver's personal touches mañana....  In the meantime.... Maria Jimenez Ojeda, renown as one of the best painters, not only in Oaxaca, but in all of Mexico.  Gracias, maestra!