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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Part of a bigger picture

All the different elements that go into a photo, the individuals,
the murals, the reality, the imagined, all get mixed together....
Love the flower on her cheek.  That detail leads to so many more.

Word of the day

It could be "rifa", which means raffle, amongst other things, but no, the word is "becerro" which is a young bull.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who's zoomin' whom

Hmmm... I think that was the name of an Aretha Franklin album, but really this is about a new camera with a very serious zoom.  It is a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS "offering the world's first 50x Optical Zoom lens* in a compact digital camera, which goes all the way from a wide-angle 24mm to 1200mm (35mm equivalent)."  That is some crazy zoom, eh?

The camera is relatively inexpensive and will take the place of my Nikon D300, which has been a workhorse, but is just too heavy to carry with all the lenses.  Technology marches on....
These are from Santiago Apostal and you get an idea how powerful the zoom is.  I did not move from my initial spot, but had to do some serious bracing against a wall just to keep the shot on line and in focus.
Pretty cool.
Here's the woman seated from the first shot.  It should be fun shooting portraits from a distance.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bouncing between two worlds

Here in San Pablo Etla, I am spending the days outside cleaning up the gardens and prepping for the dry season.  Just last week I was raking leaves in Boston.  This kind of work is great therapy and fortunately, there is always an abundance of it, so I get lots of therapy.
Up there, it was prepping for winter, battening down the hatches until I return in February.  Here, most of the annuals, like the cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, veggies, are spent and are now on the compost pile, although I saved tons of seeds for next year.  In the lot next door, where I've planted lots of perennials and trees, the challenge is how to get them through to the next rainy season, which is six or seven months down the road.  Because I've only been in this house a few months, I don't have much of any compost or mulch, so I have to get creative.  The lot doesn't have water, but I have rigged up a hose over the wall and all of a sudden, after a day or two of digging, weeding, mulching and watering, the place looks good.  Let Nature take her course.  But no rain for seven months?  It is always a challenge.

And that brings me back to the post's title, Bouncing between two worlds.  There is always a culture shock going between Oaxaca and El Norte.  Here to there, back and forth.  Oh, my head.  They are such different places, such different cultures, but both exist in a world which is getting closer, smaller, everyday with Twitter and Facebook and all the intertubes.... The Hunger Games opened at Cineopolis last week and Starbucks is here now...

For some reason, this trip north/south was a more introspective one than normal, but what is normal?  Each trip is different, because I am different for each trip.  Fortunately, now I have the time to contemplate the dancing clouds and figure all this stuff out.  I can just go out into the hot, late November sun, with the winds blowing down off the mountains and hack away at the cement-like earth, knowing that, just in time, the rains will return.  Relax.

UPDATE:  It is an hour later and it is raining!  A nice, long, gentle rain - unbelievable!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adios, Mariposas

This is not good.  Not good at all.

From Jim Robbins of the NYT:
On the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.

This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse. 

Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.
That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States. 

“There’s no question that the loss of habitat is huge,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who has long warned of the perils of disappearing insects. “We notice the monarch and bees because they are iconic insects,” he said. “But what do you think is happening to everything else?” 

That means reversing the hegemony of chemically green lawns. “If you’ve got just lawn grass, you’ve got nothing,” said Mace Vaughan of the Xerces Society, a leading organization in insect conservation. “But as soon as you create a front yard wildflower meadow you go from an occasional honeybee to a lawn that might be full of 20 or 30 species of bees and butterflies and monarchs.”
First and foremost, said Dr. Tallamy, a home for bugs is a matter of food security. “If the bees were to truly disappear, we would lose 80 percent of the plants,” he said. “That is not an option. That’s a huge problem for mankind.”
I have always believed that lawns are very unnatural.  I mean, it is only one kind of plant spread over a large area, which, like all homogeneity, makes it prone to all sorts of problems.  I post pics of my current yard which, thankfully, has lots of bees and butterflies.

Even though I just moved in a few months ago, the seeds that I scattered in the empty lot next door came up and now there are lots of zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, cilantro. 
A neighbor just stopped by and asked if she could pick some cilantro and another asked for seeds.
Lots of flowers mean lots of butterflies and bees.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Toto, I don't think we're in....

Well, this sure ain't Starbucks in Oaxaca. 

Signs of the Apocalypse?

From Noticias
Starbucks cafes opened a branch in the city of Oaxaca, the 400th of the country, which generates 15 direct jobs and 25 indirect, reported the national head of the firm, Federico Tejado.

Accompanied the businessman Alfredo Harp Helú and wife, Isabel Grañén Porrúa, the entrepreneur also announced that already seek new options to open more stores in the Oaxacan territory.
Starbucks is a transnational firm's largest coffee in the world, which was founded in Seattle, Washington, United States, in 1971. It currently has about 18,000 locations in 49 countries. It also offers sandwiches and pastries, as well as books, music and movies.
Alfredo Harp Helu is a Mexican businessman of Lebanese origin, and as of 2011, with a net worth of $1.5 billion, is according to Forbes the 974th richest person in the world. He is also the cousin of Carlos Slim Helú, who as of 2013 is the richest person in the world as ranked by Forbes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Muerteada in San Agustin Etla - 2013 version

The video kinda says it all.  A totally insane experience.  This year was crazier and more intense than ever.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Medias Rojas Nación

I do believe the local sports franchise won the big enchilada.
Even George Washington, at the entrance to the Public Garden, has the beard and jersey.

Dim Sum Mecca

While I am in El Norte, I take advantage of the things that are impossible to get in Oaxaca.  Things like dim sum.... really good dim sum.  Today, I made my pilgrimage to The China Pearl located in the heart of Chinatown.  Because the sun was out and the temps mild, I jumped off the train in Copley Square and walked the rest of the way.  Lots happening, but it can wait.  Ahhh... smells like Chinatown.  There's the sign. 
And the entrance.
Up the stairs.
"How many?"  "Just one."
A strange kind of tamale?  No, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves.
Filled with yummy stuff.
Mushrooms filled with shrimp and fish paste.
Then my favorites...
scallion cakes. 
Hot, right off the griddle.
So good.  You can't believe it.
Next, good pizza.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Really?.... Really???

This is the message by yesterday's Youtube video.

And the details.

Who knew that the Kochs owned the wind?  Yes, they are disputing my use of a wind sound, which incidentally, is from the stock sounds in iMovie.  That, plus, reality, you know, like real wind.

I know, it must be some sort of a koan, a riddle, with some deep and profound meaning.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Magic Carpets

I am currently in Boston taking care of the chores of autumn like cleaning the gutters and raking leaves.  Luckily, Newton has a great community composting program and those 30 bags by the curb will disappear mañana and be beautiful compost in a few months.  So that's what I've been doing for the last few days.  Finally, I can look at shots from Muertos and these brought back some nice memories.  Just a few of the rugs and carpets that were a part of the week. 
First, this large (9x6 ft) beauty by Roman Guitierrez Ruiz from Teotitlan del Valle that is hanging in an exhibition in the city at the gallery at San Pedro y San Pablo.
Or this gorgeous and delicate sand painting from inside the church in Teotitlan del Valle.
Finally, three more rugs that somehow ended up back in my house... gotta support our local artists and good friends;-)  This beauty from Sergio Ruiz.  That's his mother Emilia (the video star) and his niece, Beatriz, one of my all-time favorite kids... along with her two brothers.
 And these two from good buddy, Antonio Ruiz and his daughter, Beatriz.
 My entire house is filled with red rugs from Antonio.  I love them... and the rugs, too.

Monday, November 4, 2013

More food, glorious food.

We stopped at the house of Zacarias and Emilia Ruiz in Teotitlan del Valle a couple of times over the weekend.  The whole Ruiz family are such wonderful people and cherished friends..... and Emilia may be one of the best cooks evah.... seriously.  On Friday we had these very special tamales filled with chicken and mole amarillo.  They are quite delicate and the flavors are wonderfully subtle. She had made a mere 400 of them for the day.  We put a minor dent in that number.
On Sunday, we returned for mole negro and there is no way to describe how good it was.  Emilia's mole has such an amazing texture and color.  I think it is the best I have ever had and I have had it many times at their house and guess what?  It is always the best I have ever had.  Evah!!
That is Sergio in the background behind the mezcal bottle.
Here is Claudia, Antonio's beautiful wife, serving some up to take to him as he was working at the school as part of his cargo, his village assignment for the year.
And she kept saying she was not beautiful.....  yeah, right.
 A kettleful for a hundred servings or so.
After stuffing ourselves we were ready to buy some rugs, which I will show you in a bit.  For now, enjoy that cheese samich you're eatin;-)