Monday, December 31, 2007

quiet anniversary

Nice quiet anniversary the kind we prefer.

Some squirrels are back in the yard, the rest are at the training camp.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

late winter solstice flower

the holiday commonly celebrated as Christmas which recognizes the mythology of a divine birth has a much more ancient celebration of the dark, short days becoming longer minute by minute.
So, whether it is Christmas or winter solstice or whatever....happy whatever....
My "whatever" amaryllis bloomed fully this morning.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

ancient dog heritage?

still going through photos from my last trip and came across this clay dog from a museum in Oaxaca.
So don't you think there is resemblance here to my favorite dog?

barbecue for breakfast

(photo notes: the picture is part of a mural in Aguascalientes in the government building) You can see the comal where the corn tortillas are being made)

This morning I had barbecued lamb and soup made with the lamb broth for breakfast. A friend of ours has been employing some Mexicans in his tree cutting business for years and told us about the Sunday morning meal. Every Saturday night an animal of some kind is barbecued, lamb or goat being the most typical. Most of the Mexicans who live around here are from the state of Hidalgo where it is very typical to cook the meat in the ground with wood and cover the meat with layers of earth and maguey (agave) leaves. I have seen this in done in Mexico so I am not surprised that the custom continues here. They even sell the maguey leaves in some of the tiendas here.

The “restaurant” is in a trailer, which I assume is also someone’s home. I am sure that if the health department knew about this place, it would not be allowed, so you have to "know someone" to find out about the food.
A comal (flat clay surface over a heating source) is set up in the corner of the kitchen and the quintessentialMexican sound of the masa (cornmeal) being slapped and shaped by hand to form tortillas is heard. The other corner of the kitchen has a cutting board where the lamb is being cut up to serve in the tortillas Of course, there is “real” salsa that has some heat and lime, cilantro and onion. People were coming in and out of the trailer some eating there and some taking home the food.

I enjoyed talking with everyone, people are always surprised to meet a gringa who has no interest in Cancun and has actually been to their small, untouristed town somewhere in rural Mexico. Everyone there was enjoying the meal, talking and laughing. However, this trailer park has seen some horrible examples of how the Mexican people who live here are preyed upon. An owner of the store that catered to the Mexican community in front of this trailer park was brutally beaten to death not long ago (2 young black men were arrested and charged with the crime) and a few months ago a local policeman was finally caught taking money from Hispanics when he stopped them on the highway, supposedly he had been doing this for years, but until recently no one had reported him out of fear of being noticed by immigration. And there has been a big outcry by the usual bigoted idiots who do not want to allow undocumented youth to attend the local community college, even though in most cases they were brought here as very young children.
It was wonderful to be in this little corner of Mexico, and John was with me! He enjoyed the breakfast and said he would return with me on another Sunday.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

why do they call it Spanish moss?

Spanish moss is not related to mosses or lichens. Instead, it is a flowering plant in the family Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads).

Native Americans called the plant "tree hair", which name the French explorers turned to "Barbe espagnole" -- "Spanish Beard" -- to taunt the Spanish who were their rivals in for North American territory. "Spanish Moss" is the part of the taunt that has survived.

In the park there is a fair amount of Spanish moss growing on the trees next to the river. I like the contrast of the crepe myrtle trunk pattern and the moss.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

palm trees where none grew before....

Until 5 or 6 years ago I never saw palm trees in Washington, North Carolina.(latitude about 35 degrees N)
The closest palm trees used to be several hundred miles south in coastal South Carolina. However since we have such mild winters it is not uncommon to see palm trees, including some that have attained some impressive size. Also in the past few years, people have started growing banana trees in their yards although the foliage usually gets knocked down by frost before they can bloom, but since the ground never gets very cold they come up from the roots the next year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


coots and late afternoon glow.

incident of the bird bath

mysterious overturning and breaking of bird bath pool, a few spots of blood on the upturned terra cota surface. What happened here? Nadie sabe. no one knows.
However, the next day Spike Cat seemed to need a lot of sleep.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

back from Oaxaca, back in the land of consumption

I have been reading the nature diary of Jim who is now in Chiapas in the Yerba Buena reserve. All of his writings echo the feeling of wonder at the natural world and also the intense sadness and sense of loss when I see or read about the accelerating loss of biodiversity and not incidentally health and beauty of the planet. At the moment, he is seeing the reserve-in-name-only being stripped of the magnificent trees.

He says: Way up in the cloud forest, chainsaws whine away. During the day groups of men pile heaps of logs along the highway, and then the logs are loaded and spirited away. The pillaging is of such a scale that clearly most of the wood is being sold commercially, not taken home to local people's kitchens. Atop all that, Yerba Buena's owners are felling large trees in the much smaller tract across the road from the reserve, where I live. Throughout each day large trees crash to the ground with the entire attendant popping of other trees' branches as they're ripped off, the raining sound of bark and epiphytes cascading from the sky, the shaking of the earth itself. Sometimes when a giant falls I ask myself what I'm doing staying here. After I think about it awhile, I realize this: What's happening here is no different from what's going on everyplace else. It's just that here it's all done at such an elemental level that you can see the effects of people's appetites. When the big trees fall you can go look at the new hole in the forest, smell the crushed herbage, see the dislodged epiphytes and see the disoriented birds and squirrels whose nests have disappeared. In contrast, when people in North America and Europe turn up the thermostat more than it needs to be, they don't see the meter at the power plant saying that more energy needs to be generated. They don't see the air- polluting coal that has to be mined, mostly through ecosystem-obliterating strip-mining, to produce the energy they're calling for. They're not confronted with the environmental violence that'll have to be committed someplace on Earth, at some time in the future, in their name, responding to that wrist-turn at the thermostat. For my part, I prefer being here, where the violence at hand is other than by remote control. When a tree falls so close that it jars the ground you're standing on there's no room for hypocrisy or self deception. If you use the wood from that tree, there's no escaping the knowledge that you are an accomplice to the removal of that tree, and to the destruction of the biotic community that once depended on the tree”

I am working on buying nothing, trying to contribute to “good causes” like Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood, Oxfam, Greenpeace etc. etc. But it seems that once I make a small contribution to any of these organizations, I am inundated with an avalanche of mail for more worthy causes, all these organizations seem to generate heart wrenching mailings as often as once a week. I feel emotionally and financially stressed, there is never going to be an end to misery or worthy causes, the nature of non-profit solicitation and the distribution of mailing lists guarantees that the more I contribute the greater increase in the number and frequency of mailings from worthy causes. In addition the small amount that I am able to contribute, 10 or 15 dollars probably does not cover the cost of the beaurocracy, the paper (more dead trees!) and postage for these mailings. So what am I really doing besides acting out of guilt and sorrow?

Photo credit: From the new release: What Would Jesus Buy?