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, September 30, 2018

Sunday delivery

Even though I am on a back road out in the country, I am always surprised at the number of people who knock on the gate offering all sorts of things, from food to furniture and salvation from the evangelicals.  So every Sunday, I have a couple of ladies who stop by with the most delicious chile rellenos.  I mean, the chiles are as good as they look, nice and fat and filled with chicken and various other goodies.
How lucky am I?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Somebody threw a gernade

Ouch, my head and heart...... Again, I am sure I am not the only one thinking about the senate hearings in El Norte.  Thinking and remembering.... What was I doing 35 years ago?  Oh...  I was teaching at a prep school and was very plugged into that world.  I still am, as I follow the lives of many former students.  What else is Facebook for?  I started teaching in the late 70's, so they are contemporaries of the people involved in the hearings.

So it is easy for me to imagine the incident.  The partying and drinking sounded like things I heard on a regular basis.  C'mon, get real, kids weren't that different then from how they were when I was a kid or from how they are now.  You remember, right? Drinking, partying, sex are constants through human history.  Bad things did and do happen.  I lived through some of them.  I saw what it did to kids... and what it didn't do.  Not only what it did to them, but what it did to me, as well.  Some painful memories...

 I remember feeling like a dinosaur in the late 90's, when I talked to 14 year-olds about an incident at another school that rattled the prep world.  This was a generation that thought that oral sex was kinda no big deal.  After all, this was after Clinton and "I did not have sex etc..."  There I was, a "child of the 60's",  pretty much shocked by their attitudes.  Social mores had changed.

As I say, I know the prep school world and it is pretty much a bubble.  They like to handle things themselves. Yes, now we hear stories about lots of inappropriate stuff, but really, it likes to keep its dirty laundry unto itself... like The Church.  But stuff definitely happens..... the things I remember.... memories, all generated by these hearings in the here and now.

Again, I'm sure I am not alone in remembering and thinking about, to the best of my ability, every relationship and interaction I can remember, to examine if my own behavior can withstand the scrutiny.  We are our own harshest judges.  As I said, ouch, my head and heart.

However, I am glad I am not like all those angry white guys we've seen for way too long.  It must be horrible to be them carrying, so much anger and ignorance of their privileges..  History will not be kind.  Tick-tock, mofos.
And yet, we are uplifted and inspired. We have our new profiles in courage, who we are discovering in realtime. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Primal scream time

Somehow, I think that I am not the only one feeling this way today.  Actually, screaming ain't the answer. Diligence and strength with a healthy dose of that old hope/change thing might work.... and voting the bastards out.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

In the light - The market in Etla

Obviously, I love the market in Etla.  I feel so lucky to be able to shop there, to experience market day. 
Normal life bathed in light.
Always the best produce in abundance.
This is one of the produce stands I always visit.
Breakfast fare.
And always, amazing sights....

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What in your basket this week?

Here's what's in my basket from shopping in the Etla market this morning.  A large purchase for me, but all very nice quality.... four big avocados, eight large carrots, four tomatoes, six bananas, four breakfast rolls, three pan dulces, two apples (from Chile), two kilos of small potatoes, a kilo of the best quesillo (cheese) and a partridge in a pear tree.  OK, not the bird, but everything else for $210 MP or $11.13 US.  I am always interested in what others are buy and their costs.  Of course, Etla is simply a wonderful market... more on that in a bit.  But just look at how good these things look.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

How does your Garden grow - Within the Walls

Happy to share shots of the outer garden, but much has happened within the house's courtyard.  I have to say, even out here in the country, it is nice to have walls enclosing the house.  As with the large outer garden, I pretty much started from scratch with soil that was like cement.  It was so hard, I removed all of it and filled the kitchen garden with compost and worm casings. Incidentally, those wind chimes are tuned to a C major pentatonic and D major pentatonic scales, which gives me a nice lydian vibe with all the wind we get.  There is a small front garden, which is still a work in progress.
Oh... uh.. I kinda have an obsession for solar lights, a little out of control. 
Those humming birds change colors.  They're the best.
A narrow space behind the house.
Of course...
Gardening... What a joy.  So much peace, learning and hard work, all together.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

How does your garden grow - Found plants

Lots of the plants in the garden come from a single cutting or from plants found by the side of the road.  It cracks me up to see how they have grown and spread.  And I remember where each came from.  Like this beauty.  I confess to doing a Jack Nicholson from "Chinatown," when he coughed and ripped a page out of a registry.  Years ago, I coughed and broke off a tiny piece of this when I was in a courtyard in the city.
It has thick leaves and a strong fragrance.  I think they call it Mexican oregano, but I really don't know.  From that one cutting, I learned it was very hardy, could last through the dry season and was a good ground cover.  It has taken over certain areas.
And these beauties, the large leafed plant, Elephant Ear, I luckily found by the side of the road on one of my walks.
It musta been fate, because I had just seen some amazing ones in the inner courtyard of the church in Etla.  It had no leaves, just a stalk and now, it is thriving.  I have several in pots, as well.  The other, I snagged from the parking area at the paper-making studio in San Agustin Etla.
Again, one tough plant that does well in sun and shade and works as a ground cover.  I have other "found" plants, agaves, cacti, plumerias, and others that just reseed themselves, like lavender, lettuces, zinnias, even the papyrus.  Really, it is that it is easy to grow things here although there are many lessons to be learned about growing thing when the may be six months with nary a drop of rain.  I'm slowly learning.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How does your garden grow?

Plants are some of my best friends.  And they have rewarded me with a lifetime's pleasure and many, many lessons about the nature of existence.  I remember at an early age, being sent out by my mother to weed the garden and discovering that I liked it.  I was hooked.
I discovered I had a "green thumb." I read "The Secret Life of Plants."  I was even more hooked and I have had a garden everywhere I've lived for the past fifty years, always trying to leave the place better than when I found it.  Here's how this current garden looked just after starting.
And now.  Lots of good stuff goin' on.
I know where very single plant came from and most of them were cuttings or really small or inexpensive plants and then propagated.  Then, all they needed was time.
I believe that a garden is a reflection, an insight, into the gardener and I think that this is true as this garden pertains to me. 
Yes, there are rocks and weeds and some plants that will make you bleed - the agaves get me every time - but, all-in-all, I like it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Today's market basket.

I am lucky to have a Wednesday market just down the road, which I hit when I don't head over to Etla.  I admit to being a fussy shopper.  These were today's purchases, all for $51 MP or $2.71 US.  How does that compare with where you shop?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

'Tis the season...

I love watching the weather move in.  At its simplest, Oaxaca has two seasons, rainy and dry.
This is a bit too simple given Oaxaca's incredibly diverse geography, beach, coastal plain, rain forest, high desert, desert, mountains and fertile valleys.
We are coming to the end of a strange rainy season with heavy rains every afternoon and evening.  It has been dry in many areas and every drop is a blessing.  There are also such things as micro-climates, where it rains in one area and only a few kilometers away, things are dry as bone.
This was yesterday.  It was pouring with blue skies overhead the the sun shining in the distance.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Arbol de Cerebro? .... Ah, yes, Braintree

It's a small world isn't it?  This one goes out to all my New England folks.  Here's Domingo with his wife, Angela and his daughter, Denise.  Domingo plays a very good game of pool and above all, is a always a warm and gracious gentleman.  I get to shoot a little pool with him every now and then.  And today he was wearing a shirt from Braintree, Mass, a town just south of Boston...... not that he had any idea of where or what it was, but smiled when I told him.  Braintree?  You know, arbol de cerebro.... I guess you kinda hadda be there.  Today, he won more than I did... but there's always next time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

All that glitters..

Is not gold.  As a gardener, I spend many hours enjoying the company of plants.  They are a bit of an obsession and, no matter where I am, I'm always checking them out.  I am fascinated how varied and tough they can be.  Often, it's all about survival and propagation of the species. And when it comes to tough, pernicious plants, this one is right up there with kudzu.  I have no idea what it is, but believe they call it "lidia" here and if you look closely, it's everywhere.
It is a parasite that attaches itself to trees and gradually completely covers its host. 
The seeds can stick to anything, steel, concrete, birds, you name it and so it spreads.  There appears to be no way to stop it.  And now it's on trees all around me like this big one that overhands my garden, which is already covered with air plants.
And just like the leaf-cutting ants here, there ain't no stopping it. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

To the market....

Every time I return from El Norte and shopping for food there, I am struck by how lucky we are to have the local markets here.
It's a healthy slice of normal life.
Not only are the prices very reasonable, the freshness, the quality, is always just wonderful.
This is Etla, where market day is Wednesday and always worth the short drive for me.  Look at all those taste treats!
And here is Doña Melisa, who makes the fattest and most delicious tamales.  Her rajas are my absolute favorites.
She has been feeding me for over ten years!  And, oh, the aromas, the sights,  the temptations...
Thumbs up all around.

Monday, September 3, 2018

A tree grows in Brooklyn...

But this ain't Brooklyn, it's Oaxaca, where corn is a way of life.
It used to be a god and it still is. No matter how you look at it, it is amazing plant.
One of my favorite moments at my reunion was talking to a farmer about corn.  He said,"My wife doesn't want to ever hear another word about corn."  I responded that people in Oaxaca could talk about corn for days.  After all, they developed the original varieties.