Still Life, Frida and Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo

Today it will be mostly flowers, specifically the pink lilies in my garden and the vines of tiny pink flowers that are growing behind and around my banana trees. I mainly focus on composition, and while gardening this morning, and cutting down the lily plants that are too weak to stand up straight, I decided to put some of the flowers in a glass of water.

While pruning the dead fronds from my banana trees, I noticed the tiny, bright pink flowers latching onto the leaves of the tree.  Then it hit me that I could make a nice flower arrangement in a glass of water and try photographing still-life photos.

In addition, I had visited the Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo museum in nearby Nogueras. I love his paintings and bought a print. Lying around the house was also a poster advertising a Frida Kahlo exhibition, which I thought would look nice when framed on my wall. So after going to a framing establishment, I now have two very nice framed decorations on my walls. I would have loved to buy every painting of Hidalgo’s, but my space is limited, and now I am beginning to feel that my house is a combination flower shop/art gallery, even though there are only a few things here.

You can read more about Hidalgo here:

and see some of his fabulous paintings here:

If anyone visits this area, the Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo museum is one of the places you must visit not only to enjoy his art, but also to see and learn about the history of this area.

Meanwhile, please enjoy my gallery of photos of some flowers in a simple glass of water, taken in automatic and creative shot settings…..

Cats and their prey and Gardening in Cofradía

Where to start? My little quarter acre here in Mexico is so insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe and even compared to the Earth, but it is a whole world of living things requiring much attention and care.

I guess I could start with the creatures whom evolution decided would not be secured to the ground, forcing them to develop defenses that did not require flight from danger. And so – there are my gatitas, my kitten sisters Ginger and Peach. With no parent present in their lives, nor other adult cats from whom to learn, they are nevertheless becoming quite the huntresses.

They have captured several grasshoppers and crickets, and unfortunately several geckos also. While I admire their hunting skills,  since geckos are extremely fast when escaping prey or hunting their own prey, I rue the fact that geckos are also one species of the good guys who eat what we humans here call pests. I noticed that they play dead or stay perfectly still when cornered, so I have been able to rescue a few of them. Recently there was one on my bedroom floor and one on my doorstep who were still alive and intact, so I scooped them up and placed them in the foliage, where hopefully they will continue to live a long gecko life consuming whatever pests they can find.

I also recently found a little dead frog – or maybe it was a toad – on my bathroom floor. I don’t know if it died of starvation or from my cats using it as a play toy. In any case, it was the size of my thumbnail with very strange feet. More like a lizard’s feet than what I would consider the feet of a frog. But then, it was a long way from a body of water, and maybe it used those feet to climb trees. I remember my friend Lourdes had a fright when one day she started to pick up what she thought was a rock, and it turned out to be a very big toad.

Unfortunately for my “girls,” Momma cat has reappeared. Her belly is flat, so she has had her kittens somewhere else, but for 3 days now I have heard sounds of a cat fight early in the morning. This morning, she even got into my house when I left the door cracked open.
I’ve sprayed her with water, with detergent mixed with water, and thrown pebbles at her. She is still getting in the same way – on my neighbor’s roof, walking across my brick wall and climbing down my peach tree. I’m thinking that if I cement broken glass onto the top of my brick wall in a wide enough swath, she will not cross it to get to the tree to get into my yard.

And now onto the gardening. It turns out it is a lot more work than I imagined. Clearing areas of previous vegetation is one thing, but digging up the root systems underneath and the amount of rocks in the soil is quite labor-intensive. No wonder the streets are all cobblestone and the walls are mainly rocks and cement. I remember helping to get my mother’s garden ready on Long Island by sifting loads and loads of dirt to sift out the rocks. I thought about this each time I filled another wheelbarrow full of rocks.


After the root systems and rocks were removed there remained large holes which needed to be filled. So far, we’ve used 3 bags of dirt for the medicinal plant and herbal beds, but for the area that will be grass under my chayote vines, we’ve emptied 7 bags and my gardener estimates I will need another 8 bags, which he will bring tomorrow.


In the meantime, there is something they call here “plaga” which can infect trees and plants, and has already killed two of my smaller trees, necessitating that they be cut down. There is a two-fold answer to this problem:

First: for the bark already infected, mix Roma brand powdered laundry detergent with water and spray it on the infected areas. I am doing that and will see how it works. Second, powdered tobacco mixed in with the soil. Every 100 grams needs to be mixed into an area of soil 30 cm in diameter – so I bought 10 bags of one kilogram each and hope it is enough.  I will find out how well that works when I am done planting.


For some final odds and ends, I found a good equivalent for scrub pants, which will be used for gardening, as it is way too hot for jeans, and my Skechers are now gardening shoes, as they get way too dirty to now be used for anything else.   I am also constantly discovering new fruits and new flowers. I will be including photos of these, one of which is a bright orange daisy that is growing on a vine. Managed to snap a photo of an orange butterfly that perfectly matched the color, but it was so fast going from flower to flower that the photo is not as detailed as other photos I have taken of butterflies.

One last thing has also been added to my to-do list. Above the brick wall above my future plant beds is a triangular-shaped cement wall which is part of a structure belonging to my neighbor. I discovered it after stripping away some foliage. It forms a nice shelf, so my intention is, once it is cleaned up, to paint the cement a nice blue-green color and put little pots of plants or flowers on the shelf.

Well, I think that has been more than enough writing for today, so I will sign off for now and wish you all a good day – stay safe and warm…..


Mardi Gras, Cofradía-Style

Yesterday, I was minding my own business, busily sifting tons of rocks out of a new section of my property to make it ready to receive new plants, and a celebration found me. Not remembering that the next day would be Ash Wednesday, I wondered why I was hearing firecrackers and chanting, and opened my gate to see.

What I saw was a tradition called Los Paspaques. It began as an indigenous celebration of the Nahua people of Mexico, and now is held before Ash Wednesday. One person told me that it goes for 9 days, and I don’t recall hearing the chanting before yesterday, but the firecrackers are so common that it would be hard to remember if I heard them or not before this day.

So, there was a group of men, holding an effigy of a bull, chanting and throwing corn flour at any spectators that happened to be around and waving flags. I’m not sure what they were saying, but they were having a grand time, chasing each other with the bull and one of them came up to me and smeared part of my face and neck with the flour.

It made me think of Diwali – the Indian festival where everyone throws colored flour on each other, but this was just white flour and very amusing. Strange that I don’t remember it from last year, but perhaps I was somewhere else outside the village, or maybe just busy down at the Hacienda and didn’t hear the chanting.

Well, whatever the reason, there really isn’t that much more to say, so I will leave you with a few photographs and two videos which I hope you enjoy….