Saturday, July 11, 2009



Terreno de mi familia. My family heritage, this little piece of land that has been in our family for over four to five generations at least. Los Morales Morales, Morales Acosta. Just a bunch of Morales, with their stories of digging and burying treasures, with their legends, which are probably just a bunch of bologna, but their are myths indeed. Then the stories of the better known ones who were lawyers, large land owners, and the people who ceded the land where Naranjito was built.

The real treasure though is the land it self. If cultivated it will serve you and bring you wealth. You just have to work it. My aunt Sarita, planted a bunch of fruit trees that are still bearing even to this day. The breadfruit, the papaya, grapefruit, and plantains are bearing fruit in abundance. Then the beautiful trees with flowers, like the Flamboyan and the Acacia just bring you joy to look at as well as the crazy crotons. Well,it is as much home as any place will ever be to me. It has been like my only constant among so many places where I have settled my hat. But Naranjito is where I have settled my heart.

It was such a good day to go up there and breath deeply even with all the Sahara Dust and click away.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

One of my Favorite Things, El Yunque

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El Yunque

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Yesterday, I went to El Yunque, a wonderful mysterious forest, well known as a place where Taino indians went on pilgrimages. So I did the same. In fact every time I come to Puerto Rico, I try to go up the mountain on Route 191 and venture to find something new there. This must be at least my twentieth trip. It might be more. I've been coming here since the time I worked as a tour guide with Tony Tours, way back in the late 1960's when I was a college student. I no longer see those huge buses making those precarious turns up the mountain, with a tour guide balancing herself as I did at the head of the bus, trying to entertain and instruct simultaneously.

That's when I fell in love with El Yunque. Later when I had a fiancee, I made sure he took me to the place I loved. Then I married and I brought my children for picnics, and later in my silver hair adventures, I have brought my mother and friends. Yesterday, I went alone. I wanted to get a check mark on my to do list for this trip to this island I love so much. What pictures would I take that I had not taken before? What could I focus on that might be a little unusual and off the beaten path? How far would I have to go in order to do that?

When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised and a bit annoyed I must admit with how full it was. There was hardly a place to park, but as soon as it started raining the not so faithful fans quickly started down the hill leaving some space for those of us who know this is a rain forest after all. There was of course a good number that stayed because they had come with their bathing suits precisely looking for a waterfall, a stream, or a natural pool to take a dip in. I really had no such plans, though I did hope to put my feet in the water somewhere.

Funny how things work out. The first trail, I had planned to go down to my disappointment was blocked with a mudslide. Things happen when a tropical wave moves through like it had the day before. Then the next trail I ventured on, only led to solitary open cabins with picnic tables, but frankly I didn't feel comfortable having my ham and cheese sandwich alone at any of them. Then I decided to head back to the car and have my sandwich while a short shower poured outside. Then I thought being the visual person I am. Visual in that I like beauty, I thought why don't I find a prettier spot to finish my sandwich and I pulled my car out to seek a nicer place. The nicer place turned out to be barely across the street where I found a pretty stream.

I finished my last two bites of my sandwich and was about to go to the bridge to take some pictures when I noticed a small path leading right into the stream, and no one was there splashing themselves and making a lot of noise. It was just right: open to enough people passing by and empty just for me. Enough quite for reflection and appreciation of the beauty around me, and not frighteningly alone. In fact after I had done enough reflection a family came by and joined me and I got to converse with them. It was nice.

I was able to think there a while about how maybe a Taino indian might have smelled the beautiful white flowers like I did, maybe swatted a mosquito, knelt to drink out of a fresh stream, relaxed in the same pool and sat listening to the beautiful birds cawing in the wind. Maybe he or she watched the huge green yagrumo leaves turn their silver face in the breeze and raise his brow when a heavy palm frond fell with a thump just beyond his view. Perhaps they heard the melody of a coqui. Those were the things I thought of and wished I could have seen. We don't know that much about our gentle Tainos, but some how I hope they did these things. For now I'll just put my feet in the water, the cool chilly water that refreshed my feet, and dream.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Under an Almond Tree


That's how we more or less spent an hour and a half at the Balneario de Isla Verde. Look at that ocean! Isn't it beautiful. The water was wonderful.

The rest of the day was spent going to see mom at Legends and caught these flamboyanes on the way. One near the airport and the other near San Patricio Plaza, close to el Colegio Belen.

Oops I meant copyright on the pictures, not copywrite.
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cruz de Malta y Canarios, Maltese or Jerusalem Cross

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By now you know I love flowers. Big ones, little ones, yellow, red, purple, blue, pinks, I love them and Puerto Rico has for all tastes. The other day, I couldn't help but see those bright yellow ones at the top we call Canarios, which loosely translated means, canaries. Canaries are yellow. So that's the name. Then today I came across a hedge of Cruz de Malta*. Someone is going to have to help me here with the English names. The Malt Cross, I think will not cut it. Anyway, there were yellow ones and bright orange, and cross pollination ones which I thought were cool. By the way, these flowers not only are beautiful, they also have the sweetest nectar. No wonder butterflies and hummingbirds flock to them.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


I did a little more research and found that it is called the Maltese Cross, Constantinople champion, Jerusalem cross, and Scarlet lychnis. I love all the beautiful names it has. So I wasn't that far off after all and it is called a whole bunch of other names:

Lychnis chalcedonica L.

CHINESE : Zhou ye jian qiu luo, Zhou ye jian qiu luo.

DANISH : Brændende kjærlighed.

ENGLISH : Constantinople champion, Jerusalem cross, Maltese-cross, Scarlet lychnis.

NORWEGIAN : Branntjæreblom, Brennende kjærlighet.

SLOVAKIAN : Kukuãka hustokvetá.

SPANISH : Cruz de Malta.

SWEDISH : Studentnejlika.

About the Canary

Its Common names are:

* alamanda-amarela (Source: D. Groth, p.c. 2005)
* allamanda (Source: World Econ Pl )
* Allamande (Source: Dict Rehm )
* carolina (Source: D. Groth, p.c. 2005)
* copa de oro (Source: Dict Rehm )
* dedal-de-dama (Source: D. Groth, p.c. 2005)
* golden-trumpet (Source: Hortus 3 )

Doing this research I discovered two invaluable websites:

One is called GRIN Where you can type the common name of the known plant and it will get you its scientific name and lots of information of where it is cultivated, what use is given to the plant, among lots of other useful information such as is it poisonous, etc.

The GRIN site also provides a picture of the plant. Incidentally, the Canario, wasn't listed I don't think as a plant in Puerto Rico, but obviously it is. You can also research plants according to country, and I did and didn't see the allamanda listed, but the picture I have proves otherwise.

The other site is called:

Searchable World Wide Web Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database

Both are excellent resources for finding the common and scientific names of plants.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Mud About You : Pottery Making

Myriad of paints, choices choices choices, unglazed pottery of all shapes and sizes, ample pine tables, rolls of paper towels, aprons, and friendly staff makes for a fun activity either for yourself, family, or group of friends if you are lucky enough to live in Penfield, New York. My daughter and I, with my energetic and artistic granddaughters in tow went to Mud About You again. This was my second visit this year. My infrequent visits are due to the fact that I live in Orlando and not Penfield. If it were otherwise I think I would be there almost everyweek. We had such a nice time making starfish, corn on the cob, hearts, mugs, and trivets in our own creative way.

Annie, my daughter, was the most courageous making a sushi platter and a matching dip bowl. Simple yet practical. Smart girl. I made a mug for my herbal tea inspired by some outstanding glasswork from the Corning Glass Museum. Mine is light years away from my inspiration but it captured some of the joy and it too will be used. Zee made a bunch of colorful items including a multicolored baby bottle and some corn on the cob.

We did have a mishap; Aay's little starfish fell and cracked. When Aay learned what had happened she burst into tears. She had worked so hard on it. Fortunately the young lady attending the studio told us it was fixable. When Aay found out it could be fixed she found her smile again. We were also told that we would not be charged for that item. So it all worked out.

But the best part in going is doing it together and having the opportunity to do something artistic in a tangible way. The additional reward is having a momento of the experience and being able to use it, too.

An important note is that there is a wait period for you to pick up your fired items. It takes approximately a week to have them fired and ready for each client so plan ahead if you need them for a particular date.

If you live in the Penfield area you can go To Mud About You, too. Happy pottery making!