Saturday, January 3, 2015

Instead of a Christmas Tree....

Instead of a Christmas Tree, Mexicans celebrate  the birth of Jesus with a nativity diorama in their homes, businesses and churches. I've seen them before made with some live vegetation and moss but gradually I'm seeing them decorate the vegetation as we would in the US with Christmas lights and glass balls. This manger was in the Monjas church. I was in the church for quite a while and these two little girls were standing in front of the diorama pointing and whispering to each other. I was kind of waiting for them to move on and then it dawned on me that they "made" the picture.

Since before Christmas I've been trying to go to all the churches to photograph their nativity scenes but most of the time I've been in town and ready to photograph there was a Mass going on. Today I thought that finally I'd get in the Parroquia because from what I can see from the back of the church it looks like they have a colorful and twinkly scene. Nope. The main floor of the church was decorated with white roses and roped off in anticipation of a wedding. I'll have to go back again. I'll also have to go back to the San Juan de Dios Church. The doors were closed. Although the doors of the churches in the Centro are almost always open, the San Antonio and the San Juan churches are closed except when there are services going on.

This nativity scene was in the San Juan de Dios Mercado. Actually there were two nativity scenes in the Mercado. In both of them the baby Jesus was disproportionately large for the other figures in the scene but then he is the principal character.

While I was at the Mercado I checked to see if any of the stands were set up to sell toys and candies for Mom's and Dad's to buy presents for their children for Three King's Day. Not yet so I will go back.

I love the Nativity scenes. So appropriate for remembering the reason for Christmas.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015

That is me! December 30th is my birthday. I have been on the Party Circuit since Christmas but after welcoming the New Year last night, it is time to move on. A lot of wonderful things happened in 2014 but I am so excited about what is already on the calendar for this year.

First of all I'll still be working on my project in Port Aransas. Since last Spring so many things have happened that are more than just a coincidence or serendipity. I've met some very helpful people and doors have opened. One exciting thing that happened just this week is that I found out that a group of very creative photographers are meeting in Port Aransas at the same time I was planning to be there. I'll be joining them and I am sure it will be like a massive shot of creative energy. I have many things to follow up on and photographs to take but this project is bringing me great joy.

I've signed up for the San Miguel Writer's Conference. I've heard nothing but wonderful things from people who have gone and the schedule for this years conference includes amazing speakers and workshops. I can certainly use some help writing an introduction for the Port Aransas book but I'll also take some of the workshops about publishing. I'm hoping that some of the writing talent and creative energy of the people attending will rub off on me.

I am going to Sicily along with five other photographers. Great photography opportunities and great food.  And all of this is in the first half of 2015.

I also have some fitness goals that I will work on this year. Yes, I feel great but at my age I have to work on it so that I can do the things I want to do. I'm very optimistic about 2015. I think it is going to be a great year.

I wish all my readers robust health and many adventures in 2015.  

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fifty-eight Years Ago Tonight

This time of year is always busy because of Christmas and New Years but even more so in our family. I have two nephews born during this week of the year as well as Ned's father's birthday was on the same day as our wedding. So of course I pulled out the Wedding Album. Here we are. Now husband and wife.

In many ways it is hard to believe this was 58 years ago but the hats and the suits and the horn-rim glasses say, 58 years ago. Looking at these pictures haven't made me sad although I wish Ned was still with me. I feel blessed that this was the beginning of 55 years together.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Posada Across the Street

In the last post I was a little sad that I had not seen a neighborhood Posada. Oh, the Posada led by the San Antonio Church was wonderful but there is something very special to me when it is a grassroots event. Ask and ye shall receive.

Last night just as Carly and I were getting ready to go to bed, I heard singing in the street. We flew back to the upstairs studio to get the camera and when I looked out the window, there was the Posada knocking on the door across the street asking to come in. I was afraid that by the time I got the camera and got outside that they would have moved on so I decided to shoot from the window.

It was a good decision because just after I took this picture, the door opened and this was the house that gave Mary and Joseph room in the stable. The little house is about 10 feet wide but still all the people who had been in the street, maybe 75 or 100 people, followed Mary and Joseph into the house. I love the small bouquets. I love the candles. I love the kids lighting sparklers. I love the music. I love celebrating Christmas in such an intimate way. How blessed I am that it all happened in the street by my house.

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Neighborhood Posada

Last week I loaded up the camera with a new battery and the lens I thought I'd use, plus I had a wider angle lens right beside it for quick pickup. I wanted to be ready when I heard the music outside that signaled the neighborhood Posada. The Posadas are held during the nine days before Christmas and are a recreation of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. There is a traditional song that the children sing at each stop along the way asking for a room for Mary and Joseph.

In the past we have had some very elaborate Posadas around my street with Mary on a donkey, a band, and everyone walking with candles. When Mary and Joseph finally find a place to stay and all the prayers are said, piñatas are strung across the street and the children have a great time whacking at it until finally it is broken and candy falls. There are usually traditional foods and ponche and bags of oranges and goodies for everyone.

If that happened on my street this year, I missed it but last night I did hear a group singing in the street. I grabbed a jacket and my camera and headed out. It was a large group that was lead by the same truck that usually leads processions from the San Antonio Church. There was a keyboard in the bed of the truck and someone was leading the music interspersed with readings and prayers from the priest. This time there were statues of Mary and Joseph carried by some of the women, not a "real" Mary on a "real" donkey. And there were not any candles. I followed along for a way until I was sure that they were headed to the San Antonio Church then I headed back home. I hope that when they got to the plaza in front of the church that there are piñatas, ponche and food for everyone.

I hope that the wonderful posadas in the little neighborhoods in the Colonia are still happening and I just missed the one on my street this year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Virgin of Guadalupe

Every year on December 12, the San Antonio Church in my Colonia is the destination of a procession in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I have not been here for it for several years but I'm here this year and headed over to the church. The procession comes up Salida a Celaya and the line stretched back as far as I could see. They are carrying their pictures and statutes of the Virgin to be blessed. There is also a big contingent of people on horseback with banners honoring the Virgin.
One thing I didn't see this year were people who came long distances on their knees. The one exception to that was while I was sitting in the church before the procession, one woman came up the aisle of the church on her knees, prayed for a few minutes and then left.
With the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe it is like the Christmas Season has officially begun. Next it will be the posadas. It is a good time for me and my camera. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mercer Christmas Tradition - Jalapeño Quiche

A reader requested the recipe for Jalapeño Quiche so here it is. Of course I make a few changes. I do make it in a pie plate most of the time.  I use 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and ½ cup of swiss cheese.  I put in ½ of the jalapeño peppers and leave the rest for the pepper heads to put on top. I don't measure the onions and probably use between ¼ to ½ cup. I slice the tomatoes very thin or use Roma tomatoes seeded and chopped.  I double the recipe but use three pie shells. If you do this then you need to make enough onion and tomato for three quiches. This quiche is usually a Christmas morning tradition but this year since we were all together it shifted to a Thanksgiving morning tradition.

Jalapeno Quiche

Quiche pastry – enough for a 10” quiche pan or a frozen 9 ½ inch pastry shell

1 ½ cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
¼ cup chopped onions
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup cream
5 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped jalapeno peppers
1 sliced tomato

Place well-greased ring on greased quiche pan.  Roll out quiche dough and gently lay into pan.  Line dough with foil.  Fill foil with pie weights and bake shell at 350 for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile saute onions in butter until golden.  Evenly distribute sauteed onions and tomato slices on bottom of shell.

Beat eggs and cream together, stir in salt, pepper and cheese.  If you are feeling brave and like “hot” food mix in your jalapenos now.  If not, save for a garnish.

Pour mixture into shell, bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Gently remove ring and serve warm.