Monday, February 13, 2017

random pics Oaxaca, Mexico Jan 2017

The first thing when you leave Canada in January and land in Oaxaca in southern Mexico is to feel sunshine and warmth on your skin. You can shed the hat, the scarf, the mitts, the jacket, the sweaters. And that in itself is sheer animal happiness...

The jacaranda trees were just coming out in bloom when we got there.  

Colours! Why don't we paint our houses in Canada different colours??? 

Or decorate our ceilings with little men?  

Here's a simple cafe menu. And oh, a fresco that happens to be a few hundred years old. 

Grasshoppers are a local delicacy served as snacks, so pay attention to what you pop in your mouth. No little legs on this plate, so probably there were only peanuts. 

You can always grab a taxi. 

Read a book if you're feeling contemplative.

This is the land where skeletons get dressed up in fancy clothes and skulls are encrusted with precious stones.

Here's R getting into the spirit.

Here, no building yet, but when there will be one, they've planned where to put the balcony.

In this one building, you can get so many different medical procedures, I'm wondering why we have whole hospital complexes in Canada.

Or a whole store for selling lamp oil which makes me wonder... does everyone have electricity?

Please note that I asked if she minded if I took a picture. Many people refused when I asked, so I don't have too many pics of people.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Evergreen Forest of Reading / Five Roses / Zaachila

This owl marks the pre-Hispanic tomb of Lord Nine Flower who was buried in Zaachila, Mexico somewhere between 1200-1500 AD.  

Was it a flowery fluke that I visited Lord Nine Flower's tomb and then got the news that my novel, Five Roses, was nominated for the Ontario Library Association Evergreen Reading Program? 

Of course, not! Librarians are behind that. Librarians promote books and reading. Yay, librarians! I'm very happy about this. Grateful to be chosen and honoured to be among this fine crowd of writers.

We travelled to Zaachila by communal taxi. The car would have accommodated five comfortably, but was packed with seven adults and three children. I sat half-propped against R, half-sitting on a piece of foam over the emergency brake. The driver and I were jowl to jowl--which was handy since he kept dozing off and I had to nudge him. I think he was stoned because the car was leaking gas. Fumes were heady. 

And did I mention? The car had a stick shift. Every time he smashed into fourth gear, I got stabbed in the thigh. I have no idea why he even wanted to get into fourth since the road we were on was blocked every half kilometre by speed bumps that were the size of cows lying in the road. I gather this obstacle course was designed to keep reckless drivers in check. In reality, the same drivers gunned their cars from speed bump to speed bump. In our case, the car stalled every time the driver braked, so he had to grab at the key and start the car again. The key, my knee... all the same to him. He was trying to stay awake. Or maybe not. 

We wanted to go to Zaachila because it was market day. Farmers had come from the surrounding hills and fields to sell their produce. Potatoes, eggs, limes, onions, peanuts... 

I've  never before seen peanuts with earth still on them. 


When the church bells sounded at noon, the gongs segued into -- we couldn't believe it! -- the American marketing jingle about the Frito Bandito, a commercial for corn chips that aired in the late 60s/early 70s.  

I've since discovered that the jingle was based on a traditional Mexican song called Cielito Lindo. Pretty sweetheart. Which is what the church bells were ringing, not "Ay, ay, ay, ay! I am the Frito Bandito..." 

snail mail from southern Mexico

I especially like to write snail mail when I'm away from home. However, I never know--depending on the country I'm in, which sometimes includes Canada--whether the recipients will get the mail.

These were my options last trip. Brass and marble. Looks impressive, eh? (Don't look too closely. A coupla letters missing.)

Outside this Oficina de Correos people were--over a period of a few days--protesting lack of work; parading statues/dolls representing baby Jesus; selling belts, wooden spoons, woven knapsacks; dancing in each others' arms; demanding the resignation of the Minister of Education.

If you get a letter from me, would you let me know? Just curious.

Friday, January 20, 2017

winter dusk

I've been very busy at my desk but still get out every day for a walk -- for the air, for the exercise, for what there is to see. Very lucky to live so close to the river.
Here: floes of ice, a strong current, the screen of willow branches. Dusk is my favourite time of day, if not the best time to take pics with an inexpensive phone. In French dusk has an apt, poetic appellation, "entre chien et loup". Between dog and wolf. In the failing light, you can't tell the difference.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

out the window

Starlings have mobbed the mountain ash outside my study window, but they're too heavy to get at the clusters of berries at the tips of the branches. Some have started fluttering their wings and bouncing on the branches to try to knock the berries to the ground. So it seems.

I haven't zoomed with the camera. I'm standing about a metre away on my side of the window. Note the flat roof, blue painted cornice, red brick house front across the street. This is Pointe St. Charles. Montreal. Le Sud-Ouest. Row houses.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

moustache dreams

One of my favourite memories from this past holiday season is an eight-year-old showing R why he's decided he will grow a moustache when he's old enough.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

raisin bread for breakfast Jan 1, 2017

I want to make raisin bread for brunch à deux on New Year's morning.

Seems I haven't made raisin bread for a very long time.

The original glue from the binding is desiccated. The paper is as fragile as dead butterfly wings. The recipe belongs to a pamphlet I used when I first taught myself how to make bread. When I was 12 yrs old? Maybe younger. I was allowed to bake whatever I wanted. I recall having been fascinated by how yeast grew. Later I experimented with making my own sour dough.

Sure, I have other cookbooks--and a virtual supply of recipes a fingertap away. But I might try to guess at amounts and ingredients from this page. Why? Because.

All best to all for 2017!