Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The home stretch...

After driving all day, and missing Christmas with our folks, we finally made it into San Diego close to midnight. It was great see the Coronado Bridge disappearing into the fog of the bay.

For several years, the San Diego bay and its bridge were our daily view from the window. Payan and I have spent many afternoons deep in conversation and joyful reverie here in Golden Hill. Since then, we grown nostalgic for our old neighborhood, with it's 24 hour taco shops, ocean breezes, and sailboats on the horizon.

For the moment, it feels like Home Sweet Home.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holi-daze!

Sissi cat wishes you una Feliz Navidad

Monday, December 24, 2007

Deer is Dead?...sometimes literaly

Was it dramatic foreshadowing that had warned me against it?

As Payan and I prepared for our holiday road trip to California, I scanned the my fav design site - Apartment Therapy - and saw that they were debating whether the "deer trend" was dead. The NY Times ran a similar article, this time declaring the whole antler thing kaput. Deer was officially Dead.

Then my beloved niece called and asked me to drive her little Honda out to Califas instead of my trusty Jeep Cherokee. I didn't think of it as a dangerous option -- plus I really liked Ashley and wanted to support her escape from muggy Houston for a West Coast Disney internship. She'd flown out the month before and told me how she was shivering now that the cold weather had set in with no car of her own or boots to wear. How could I turn her down?

So Payan and I took 2 extra days trying to pack up her little car with all our gear. Our shiztsu Poopi wasn't happy about the setup.

As a result we headed out much later than we'd planned. I knew we had to make up for lost time if we expected to work my family's annual toy giveaway the morning of the 24th, which we had promised to videotape.

Sissi cat was a trooper and settled into a comfortable position. Victor was exhausted, so I took the first shift on the road heading West. The night caught up to us pretty fast...

...and I began to see the bodies of dead deer all over the road. Driving at a 35-mile-an-hour crawl thru the Texas wilderness took forever. My eyes were anxiously straining for any live animals crossing the road...hour after hour.

Of course, Fate had other plans, and I did hit a deer...even though I swerved to miss it. It was awful. My niece's car was badly damaged. Thankfully, the engine was still running so we scattered some rose petals and said a prayer for the poor deer before continuing on.

I'll spare you the gruesome images and emotional fallout of this sad event. Payan and I were just glad to be alive. As we drove thru New Mexico, we knew we wouldn't make it to the Festival Hall event in time, but were comforted knowing we both had family in Arizona to at least share Noche Buena with.

My sister-in-law Lydia waited up for us with her shiztsu Lina. Poopi was relieved to be on solid ground when we arrived.

Christmas Eve this year for us was people and not a geographical location. We had some hot toddies, recharged and gave thanks for the best Christmas blessing of them y familia.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Most Beautiful Homes of San Antonio 2007

I know San Antonio is surrounded by acres of multi-million dollar McMansions, but these cookie cutter developments just don't float my boat. I've always harbored a soft spot for older homes with character. Maybe I've watched too many British dramas on PBS or have a secret crush on Bob Villa from "This Old House"?

Antonia's home with the charming turret and green roof

One of the great things about this town is that it has an abundance of historic homes. This isn't the disposable So Cal culture I grew up in, where yesterdays relics are regularly bulldozed in the name of "progress". Aaaand, since the holiday house parties are in full swing, I've been fortunate to receive several invitations to actually visit these gems and see what they look like on the inside.

Antonia y sus admiradoras

First off is Antonia CastaƱeda's house. She heads a wonderful women's group called MALCS and is one of the brave souls helping to revitalize the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

It was such a pleasure to see the loving attention to detail displayed throughout Antonia's home.

Everywhere one's gaze fell, there was a beautiful figurine or gorgeous vignette.

I especially loved the modern steel shelves in her traditional kitchen. It gave the whole room a chic and edgy vibe.

Aren't these Mexican tin folk hearts flanking "Que Bonito Amor" ("A Beautiful Love") just precious? And the bathroom terracotta tortoise was also a charming touch.

Later that week, I got to visit the home of Roberta Hassle, a business woman and arts patron who sits on the board of the Martinez Street Women's Center.

Roberta's cool Frida Kahlo nestled among the branches

I love Roberta's Frida glass ornament and her eclectic mix of furniture, especially the divine mid-century dining room ensemble.

Hassle's awesome art collection was an inspiration as well. My New Year's Resolution will be to get more of our artwork properly framed.

This woman has an excellent use of color throughout her home. I luvit!

My final soiree in San Anto for 2007 was at Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark's lovely Woodlawn home. She was kind enough to chat with me a bit after the party about San Antonio gastronomy. Now I know where to get the best torillas. ;-) Plus, I got to explore Ellen's lush courtyard and garden.

A bewitching moonlight walk led me to the glowing embers of a bonfire...

...and a twinkling fairy shrine. Pure magic, from deep in the heart of Tejas.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mom visits the Alamo City

Riverwalk illuminated for the holidays

San Antonio is what is known as a "destination city" -- meaning that each year hoards of tourists and convention attendees come out to visit it's many picturesque locals. The Alamo, Sea World, annual Fiesta celebration and the Riverwalk. Since I grew up in Orange County, with a father who worked at Disneyland, I kinda O.D.'d on the whole manufactured "amusement" park experience at an early age. Even now, when my husband wants to drag me out to oohhh and ahhh at a fireworks display, it's hard to pull myself out of my 80 or so memories of Tinkerbell suspended on wires above Disney's Matterhorn, illuminated by pyrotechnics. Then as now I just want to put my hands over my ears and wait for the predictable spectacle to wind down.

Mom and me

My mom doesn't share my jaded sensibilities when it comes to 1st World amusements. She loves the flash and garish spectacle of places like Vegas and Miami. A visit to the annual Riverwalk Lighting Ceremony was definately in order. It was mom's first night in the Alamo City, so we braved the traffic and crowds to share a slice of wholesome and silly X-Mas fun.

Amidst a blaring rendition of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" featuring a boatload of tweeny future Texas pagent queens...

...and costumed holiday soldiers, we did our duty as San Antonio tourguides to dear Mamaw. She loved it. A lifetime of Bolivia's muted earthtone palette with pretty llamas wandering afoot and condors soaring above has given her the abilty to appreciate these "plastic" pleasures. I of course having grown up in the shadow of the Mouse house, always yern for wilderness and ecological splendor. We're a bit of yin & yang mother daughter pair. It amuses Payan tremendously.

Mom loves Rosario's cactus tuna margarita

Thankfully, we're both fans of good food and my favorite spot for dining out is currently Rosario's on the edge of King William and Southtown. I like to head over on weeknights, before the loud salsa band starts playing. Maybe I'm becoming a bit of a grump in my old age, but I like heartfelt conversation at dinner, as opposed to clublike yelling over loud music. Rosario's salsa is to die for and their cactus tuna margaritas are as potent as they are tasty. Everything on the menu is fresh and flavorful.

Martha and Pocha at the swank Tower bar

We topped off the week with a visit to San Antonio's "space needle" - the Tower of the Americas. Since the terrain here is flat, I often long for the kind of perspective being up high gives you. In LA I used to love driving up to the Griffith Observatory and taking in the breathtaking view.

Thankfully Texas' tower bar -- glamourous, plush and serving a generous array of cocktails -- is a great alternative for my Griffith park nostalgia. Mom had the hot chocolate and I savoured a yummy pomogranate creation. Mi madre totally enjoyed her stay deep in the heart of Tejas.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

San Antonio Peace Market

I was kind of sad that we wouldn't be participating in this year's Puente Hacia La Esperanza Anti-Mall craft sale, put on by those lovely Caracol folks. It's always been a treat to see all the familiar faces and reconnect with our gente in LA over the holidays. Ni modo, we're "Tejanos" now and are branching out into a new community. Thankfully, the folks at the Esperanza host a pretty badass event called the Peace Market. Yay!

Virgen earrings

I've been working on some cute religious theme jewelry and want to share it with the world. Each item features gold or silver plated findings, semi-precious stones and delicately detailed catholic medals. Some even have genuine coffee beans on them! It's been suuuper fun making these.

Scapular Earrings

Check out my Etsy to order online - I promise to post items on this new etsy page soon!

"Crown of Mexico" pillow featuring Maximillian and Carlota

The Peace Market just wrapped today, so I'm kinda wiped out as I write this. 30 of my 32 pillows sold! First to go were my Hapsburg Family portraits. I hadn't realized that there's lotsa German folk here in San Antonio. Dass good ;-)

The mexi-pop back of the "Crown of Mexico" pillow

We got to connect with a whole new crowd and actually ran into a few folks we've met before. Payan's Keep on Crossin' gear proved quite the hit. Thank you San Antonio!

Keep on Crossin' fan

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Spirits Rising: A Tribute to Raul R. Salinas

Poet, Writer, Activist - Raul R. Salinas

Tonight Payan put together a wonderful tribute and fundraiser for Austin poet Raul R. Salinas. He's been very ill this past year and unable to keep up his public appearance schedule. As a result, Raul's independently owned bookstore and publishing house have fallen on hard times.

Payan, Salinas y Pocha

I first met Salinas a few years ago while attending the NALAC Leadership Institute in San Antonio. He came out to do a poetry reading and blew my mind with his gentle presence and powerful imagery. Hanging out with Raul afterward he revealed a joyful spirit and wicked sense of humor.

Payan passes over several thousand dollars in donations

It's an honor to help Raul keep his dream alive, and a joy to see so many good people come together in celebrating his work. The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center was the location for this night's event which drew a sizable crowd.

Salinas y su artistic familia

The best part of the evening was seeing Raul connect with everyone. He was smiling like a little kid! After all the pain and toxicidy of his treatments, it was good to have his spirit uplifted. Salinas wasn't able to perform his poetry of liberation this evening, but we captured a performance earlier in the year at Ruta Maya coffee house. Check out "Hail Pachuco" below...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day of the Dead 2007

Pocha's 2007 Altar

As a child, Halloween was always one of my faaavorite holidays -- then I discovered "Day of the Dead" while at college and embraced it. I was overjoyed that there existed a tradition where I could "visit" with my dead ancestors, celebrate life and put forth postive intention for the coming year. It was like Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year all rolled into one -- eerily comforting, centering and enlightening!

A cigarette, tea and coffee for our Muertitos

I grew up watching my maternal grandmother pull out her rosary every Monday and sit down before her home-made altar, always filled with fresh flowers, fading photos and religious icons. I would hear her speaking in quiet Aymara, her speech puctuated by familiar grandfather, aunts and uncles. She would even call upon my father's family and ask that they watch over me. I asked her why she would do this and she said it was a Bolivian tradition to remember and honor your dead on Mondays.

Day of the Dead bread

One year I made my dad drive all over Tijuana searching for Day of the Dead bread only to be greated by amused and patronizing comments about how these superstitions were only practiced by indians in the countryside. That was over two decades ago! Now Day of the Dead is a chic and popular annual event. I even wrote about it for Tu Cuidad magazine.

Victor Payan Sr. - R.I.P

It's been fun over the years to use this day to reconnect with the memories of those who have passed on. I set up their photos (or in this year of moving out of state, their names written on paper), flowers and offerings -- tell them all about my year and what I hope to achieve in the next one. I play music for them, brew them coffee and scatter marigold petals to guide their way. Since I'm a newlywed, this was the first year I included images from my husband's family. His dead are now my dead.

Lanterns made by San Anto students and staff

This was also the first Day of the Dead we celebrated with the San Antonio Arts Community, where we participated in San Anto's annual procession. "El Dia de Los Muertos" is now a poetic tradition in the heart of the Westside.

SA's most glamorous muertos

Of course, altars these days aren't limited to family anymore. It's typical to see heros and rock stars illuminated in the night.

Joe Strummer - R.I.P.

Our video students even screened a sweet version of our delightful autumn short "Trick or Tweet" for the occasion.

Still from "Trick or Tweet"

Its a story about a witchy mom and what she does to her daughter's boyfriends. Southern Gothic at its best, and made with a crew of four 15 year olds, two instructors and a parent! Check it out below and have a happy Day of the Dead!