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, February 28, 2016

Geeks bearing gifts... tortillas!

Oh, the things you miss.....
I am on a very quick to El Norte to check on the house and to vote and pay my taxes.  Thus far, an interesting visit.  This house is well over 100 years old and I guess I have had it for the last thirty years and for the first time ever... the pipes froze.  Yes, very ugly, but not as ugly as it could have been, but that is a story that can be best imagined.  At any rate, I always come bearing gifts of quesillo from Etla, mole negro from a secret source, chocolate and, of course, tortillas.  Believe me, there ain't nothing like the real thing.
These folks really crank out the tortillas, hundreds and hundreds of them.  You see the whole process here from grinding the corn.
Working the masa.
Onto the press and then on to the comal.  They make it looks soooo easy, but believe me, it is not.
Mine were still on the comal when I took this picture. That's how fresh they were.... and too hot to handle.  I always tell people that these are going to be gifts for folks in Boston and they get a big chuckle out of that.  And the people on the receiving end always really appreciate the tastes of Oaxaca, big time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Walk this way....

Walk with me on my late afternoon walk.  It is nice and hot and quite windy..... beautiful.
I am joined by others along the way.
 You can see the natural colors from the wool.... black. brown and white all from one sheep.
This goat walked with me for a while.  Its coat was wonderfully soft.  Really!
I was checking out this cart and noticed my house off in the distance, just in front of the white one.
 "A horse is a horse of course, of course...."
This is me being eating by a graffiti fish while invoking the sacred heart in a voice bubble.
Ahhhh.... so nice to be here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Arboles de la vida

I needed a little more life in my life.... so I went on an arbol de la vida binge, all tapetes, rugs.  I love how different each one is.  My life is richer surrounded by this little forest of trees.
These two are from a good friend, Sergio Mendoza, from Teotitlan del Valle, of course.
Such unique designs.
The pictures do not do them justice.  I hung them up in the stairwell and then discovered I could not get a decent shot of them without killing myself.  These two are from different artisanos, but were made to hang next to each other.  Over two meters each.
I wonder if I am done with this binge.... I think not.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Purple Haze

Or maybe it should be Purple Rain..... the jacarandas are starting to bloom, always at this time of year.
And a sign of things to come.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

"Time passes slowly out here in the mountains".... a bit of a lull, but still with lots of work to keep me busy.  Some new additions to place.  A fountain!  Surrounded by thyme
Crazy, huh?  And some new wall art,
All from the ceramic place in San Sebastian Tutla.
It is mid dry season and I am still learning how to keep a garden going without using much water.  One adapts as the plants speak, "Uh, Chris, I'm dyin' here.  How about a little water?" Mostly, the plants adapt to no water and go dormant.  The ones that don't... well, that's one of life's lessons, free from the garden.  Still, I can feel the excitement, thinking of when the rains will come.  I have planted so many things, this place will explode.

Friday, February 12, 2016


And that's at the airport.  Out here in the foothills......

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Carnaval in San Martin Tilcajete

This village, already famous for its many woodcarvers, is now one of the places to be for carnaval on Mardi Gras.  And lots of people showed up this year, which is very good for the village.  San Martin Tilcajete is one of Oaxaca's treasures, and one of my favorites, really a remarkable places filled with so many talented families of artisans.  It is a must visit for alebrijes seekers.  And yesterday, I loved seeing the carvers strutting their stuff.
 What a beautiful mask.
A classic.
He's got the look.
There were so many different looks and styles.
And some very different masks this year.  People here are so artistically inventive.  It is an essential element in the social fabric here.... and the economy as well.
These harlequin outfits were beautiful.
So many striking images and moments. 
¡Viva San Martin Tilcajete! y muchas gracias!

Thousand words...

From yesterday's carnaval celebration in San Martin Tilcajete.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


One of the things I love about this place is how distinctly people dress.  You can tell where someone is from just by what they are wearing.  And if you want to see that in its most glorious, the market in Tlacolula on Sunday is the place to be, where traditional dress from various areas is wonderfully on display.  We always comment on how beautiful each style is and the work that goes into creating the look.
 These shots are from the mini-guelaguetza dance performance by kids from the village.
Kids learn the dances almost as soon as they can walk.  
And it is just normal life on display.  A perfect example was last week's feria in San Juan Guelavia, a village just a few kilometers before Tlacolula.  Imagine how great it must feel to bask in this much appreciation and pride at that early an age.  I'd be hooked for life.
Traditions that make each village unique and traditions that will continue because the young are raised in a world where it is all normal. 
I'm envious. Oh, to be a child again. Well...... maybe not.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Día de la Candelaria,

Today is candlemas or, as it is known here and many other places, el Día de la Candelaria.
From Wikipedia
It is traditional to celebrate the presentation of the Christ child in the temple on February 2. The dressing and adoration of the Jesus and family meals around tamales is a very important tradition.  This festival is closely linked to that of the Epiphany, during which, the tasting of the rosca de reyes (kings cake) will determine who will be responsible for organizing Candlemas. Indeed, the one who finds the muñeco (bean-shaped Christ child) in the cake is named as godfather of the child. It is he who will dress the little God (image of the Christ child in the form of dolls of varying size) on Candlemas with richly decorated clothes. It is then brought to the church to be blessed. The memories of these events are often passed from generation to generation in families.
I went to three different villages to try and find some of the most wonderful action of the year, but all in vain.  I was either too early or too late.  I did notice there was a lot of activity at the corner Niños store.  I'm sure you have one in your area.  I am pretty sure these were last minute orders as many of the niños looked old, but were just in for new outfits,
Here one gets new booties.  I love the little girl giving me the eye.
So I did not find el Dia de la Candelaria, but I did find. el Dia Mundial del Lavado de Manos.
Who knew?  So light a candle and wash your hands.  For me, as a gardener, today is halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.  We are getting there.