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, December 2, 2022

Back from Beantown...

Ahhh.. it's so nice and warm here.  And so good to be back at my Friday market with all that good produce. I was just in Boston where it was cold and iconic.
But the cost of fruits and vegetables was crazy.  And the quality?... Well, I know we are spoiled here with all the fresh food, but it was really driven home this time. 
I loaded up with all sorts of good stuff today and plan on eating nothing but fruits and veggies to balance out all that good Thanksgiving food of which there was an abundance. 
Still, there is nothing like a New England autumn.  Always a meaningful time.  Good to see people wearing masks here.  They were not in abundance in Beantown, but I wore mine.  I'm too young to....

Monday, October 31, 2022

It's Muerteada Time...

In the villages it is time to put on those dancing shoes and get ready to party hearty for about sixteen hours.  There are muerteadas, elaborate costume dances, in villages all around me.  They go from house to house with a killer bands.  Oh, the music!  A little food, some beer and mezcal, it's a party.  I think there were two in my neighborhood last night, as I heard the bands each trying to play louder than the other.  Six tubas can makes some serious noise.  This mural is for nearby Santiago Etla.
They always do it right and it's on the Pan-American highway, so it gets lots of exposure.  Each year, it's more elaborate and beautiful. 
This one is on the outer wall of the mercado in the Villa de Etla.  In this shot, you can see a traditional costume for this area, pants and vests covered with bells and mirrors that weigh a ton. 
I can say this from personal experience.  I have no idea how they can dance starting a six in the evening and ending up at 10 AM the next morning.  However, the music is infectious and you can't help but move. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Flores for the Souls...

One of the joys of this time of year is finding the fields filled with flowers for all the Muertos ofrendas, offerings and decorations.  This one is tucked right in near the house.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

You've got the look....

It's beginning to look like....


Saturday, October 22, 2022

A rare sighting...

My garden is full of mariposas, butterflies, but this is the first time I've seen a Smyrna blomfildia or Blomfild's beauty. She was feeding on some rotting nisperos yesterday. Males are more orange, while females are more brown.  What a treat to have her visit.  Bring friends next time.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

We Flew to OAXACA MEXICO for the Food

This couple from Italy has the best reactions to first tasting the food we eat every day.  I follow them on Youtube where she is an absolute pistol.  She is a really good cook and a really tough judge of all things... cooking.


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Convite in Teotitlan del Valle...

It felt so good to be back in Teotitlan del Valle for another celebration, a convite or procession of hundreds of girls and women, all unmarried, through the streets of the village.  Each carries a canasta adorned with a religious image, flowers and flags. 
It is no easy thing to walk several kms with one's arms up and battling the winds.  You really need to start young to be able to manage it, but so many do and it is always a glorious sight and a joyful time. 
And, of course, the light at this time of year is always perfect.  I'll try to post video mañana.  I got some nice shots.

Friday, September 30, 2022

International Artist Day?....

That's everyday for me.  We are surrounded by so many talented artists.  They are everywhere.  I follow a lot on social media (kiptoe, Ten Hundred, Jess Carp, Nerdforge, Smoe Nova, Terri Danso, Bobby Duke, etc.) and am a patron to a couple (Blackbean CMS and an amazing young student at Stanford, Jackie Liu.)  I encourage you to check them out on Youtube. 
And by following these and many others, I am made more and more aware of the beauty and talent that surrounds us.  Here, Margarita from Mexico City and her gorgeous murals in Jalatlaco, is a perfect example.  Such beautiful work, gorgeous colors.  And then there is her smile and the fact that her clothing looks just like her art.  Wonderful!  Again, I encourage to check out those artists.  You will be amazed and inspired/

Thursday, September 29, 2022

International Coffee Day?

Coffee Day?  I thought that was everyday, but maybe that's just in my house.  And for the absolute best coffee in Oaxaca, there is Cafe Pluma in the SW corner of the Benito Juarez Mercado.  Run by Mario and his sister, Sofia, they have a wide selection of coffees, some of the tastiest from the coast. Once you taste their coffee, there is no going back.  Everything else pales by comparison.
Here's this week's supply, two kilos.... just kidding, that's at least ten days worth ;-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Seventy Two...

So this is 72 …. who knew…. and who knew that you could still have a zit on the tip of your nose at this age. Many thanks for all the birthday wishes.  So many of you said such nice things, I’m touched and humbled … yes, and touched in the head, too.  After 15 years here in Oaxaca, I could tell you so many stories and important life lessons…  and even more from my life before, but as the Buddha said, “ I could tell you, but really, you have to figure it all out for yourself.”  So I’ll leave you with this, a quote from Korean Master SongChol:

“If you'd like to know whether you were good or evil in a former life, than look at yourself now to see if you are fortunate or unfortunate.  And if you'd like to know whether you will be happy or miserable in your next life, take a close look at what you're doing now.”

Saturday, September 10, 2022

It's an art : A Wall Update....

Just look at this gate!  Imagine entering that everyday.  It's a real work of art.  Almost ready for a saint to be placed into it.
And it is all the work of this albañil, stonemason.  Maestro!
This work site is just around the corner and
I've been following the progress for weeks.  I always stop and tell the albañil how amazing his work is and that he is a true artist.  He just smiles.  I joked and said, "You must be a rich man."  He said, "Right. Just look how I'm dressed." And we laughed because I was dressed just the same.  Haute Campesino!  He says it will be finished in another week. 
Can't wait to see the finished entrance to go along with his beautiful walls.

Monday, September 5, 2022

High as an elephant's eye....

With all the recent rains, the corn has really shot up, reaching for the sky.  Such an amazing plant, it is no wonder that there is a God or Goddess of Corn in so many cultures.  Also, it's important to recognize that corn or maiz was developed 10,000 years ago in the nearby Mitla area. 
I grew up in upstate NY, corn and dairy country and spent many an hour in the seemingly endless fields of corn. Nothing is quite like the sound of the winds blowing through the tall stalks, alive or dried.  At my 50th high school reunion, I had one of the best conversation with a classmate, a long standing local farmer (Hey, Warren!).  When I started talking about corn and it's important role in Oaxaca and Mexico, his face lit up. "My wife won't let me talk about corn at all." and we were off on a wonderful corn filled conversation.  And how much has that corn grown?  This is what that field looked like one month ago.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Then and Now....

When I moved into this house, the grounds were pretty much bare with construction grade soil.  Well, look what a few years can do... and a little work and a pandemic.  I've propagated lots of the plants from singles and the mango tree was started from seed.  Same for the flor de mayo, now quite large, started from cuttings.
The front and side plots were empty with terrible soil.  This is the front now...
and here's the side kitchen garden. 
I've learned which plants can survive the long hot dry spells and love that they continue to spread and fill all the empty spaces.  Those ornamental grasses all came from a single plant and they continues to spread. 
And some plants have gotten quite large and reached for the sky. 
And, of course, there's a big heart in every garden, right?
Obviously, the rains have finally come and everyone's happy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Rebozos.... It's an art...

There is a wonderful display of rebozos, the long shawls worn by every Oaxaqueña, just across from Santo Domingo.  These are departures from the more traditional designs and, like other textiles and fashion trends, are a mix of the traditional and the more adventurous. 
And they are stunning. 
They are all protected, under glass, with the artist's name at the top, along with prices, which ranged from $15k to 25k MP ($750-1250 US. The images are different, but the delicate and fine macramé at either end is very traditional.... as are these monos on stilts.
There looked to be around twenty rebozos, but there may be more as they were displayed on both sides of the stands.
Worth checking out if they are still there.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

It's an art....

I've been watching this wall go up for the last few weeks.  I just love how it looks and I think the man working on it is a real maestro.  We always exchange a few words and I always tell him how beautiful I find his work. 
He probably thinks I'm just some crazy old guy, because for him, he's just doing what he always does.... working hard.  However, for me, he is representative of the quality of work done by so many here.  I've had work done by electricians, plumbers, albañils, stonemasons, like this man, even the cable guy, all have done really good work.... and I am a really tough judge.  And for me, like so many aspects of life here in Oaxaca, it's all an art.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Se busca

OK, I'll admit it's been a while since I posted anything.  And that's a "Wanted" poster I saw in the city today.  And no, I'm not the Indigo Girl, but I guess folks have wondered where I've been.  Friends wrote and asked, "What? No Teotitlan del Valle shots? No guelaguetza shots?" Well, I do have a few, but really, so many people I know have covid or have had it, that it made sense to just keep on keepin' on.  I guess I'm like a lot of people in that life has changed in the last few years and we're all adjusting as best we can. 
You know, just sitting back and watching the corn grow, staying close to home.  Incidentally, that corn looks pretty good, but really we are in a drought here and most of the corn around here looks really bad.  Hoping for the rains to come next week.  In the mean time, I'm doing lots of music and the gardens look great... oh, and there was that ten day period in which the house had all the cement eaves replaced.  These guys were masters of working with the stuff.  I'll try to post more now.  However, one of my constant sayings is, "My exciting life..."  and my current mantra is, "Well, at least we made it this far." 
I guess I've been gone a while.  Remember this corn street art from the city?  It used to be a single stalk and now...

Monday, June 6, 2022

Geeks Bearing Gifts...

I'm heading to El Norte for a couple of weeks and I have folks up there who always appreciate the Oaxacan treats I take up with me  Really, they are all just the traditional gifts you take when you visit folks here.  Things like, chocolate, mezcal, torillas, mole, quesillo.  So, of course, I go to the tortilla ladies just down the road for forty hand made tortillas. 
And then to the Etla market to get everything else.
As always, it's Vicki, my go to source for the last fifteen years.  So much goodness in such a small space. 
And now, everything is wrapped and ready to go.  Hmmm.... now that I think about it, are they happy to see me or is it just the goodies I bring?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

from here to there....

A composer friend (RB) recently said he had moved on to new things and would not be composing anymore. Of course, he did not mean that the music ends, as we know, it never does. And so it is for me.... and I love the latest tech that makes everything so much easier.... except embedding it here.  So click on the link. From here to there