Tuesday, April 11, 2017

El Paso: UTEP: An Ocotillo Day


Ocotillo in April, Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, UTEP, El Paso, Texas.



The stalky ocotillo may be my favorite desert plant. Seeing these April ocotillos at UTEP's Chihuahuan Desert Gardens was like seeing a cherished friend.


When dormant, the ocotillo is just a spiny, angular, unattractive reedy collection of gray stalks. But when it blooms and when it leafs out, oh, I admire how it preens so prettily against the sky.

Ocotillo in April, Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, UTEP, El Paso, Texas.


An ocotillo I crushed on at Leasburg Dam State Park in New Mexico a few years back:

Ocotillo at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. May 2013.

Ocotillo at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. May 2013.

Ocotillo at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. May 2013.

See that hummingbird up there?




Monday, April 10, 2017

El Paso: A Walk on the Agave Loop Trail


Agave Loop Trail, Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.

A Sunday afternoon hike in April, guided by Dr. Gertrud Konings-Dudin, as she shared information about cactus in the Franklin Mountains:

Agave Loop Trail, Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.

With her help, we saw quite a selection of cactus on this short trail, including:
  • Texas rainbow cactus
  • New Mexico rainbow cactus
  • Prickly pear
  • Barrel cactus
  • Early bloomer cactus
  • Bishop's cap (aka eagle's claw) cactus
  • Cat's claw cactus
Century plant, Agave Loop Trail, Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.


We took a very steep route up to the trail zenith, which is also a paragliding base.

Agave Loop Trail, Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.










Sunday, April 9, 2017

El Paso: Walking With the Moon


Full moon eve, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.



Sister cities, El Paso and Juarez, are favorite children of the moon, I think.


Full moon eve, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


The moon likes to rise up, I think, and just look quietly upon the millions who've made their homes in the middle of a desert, ringed by folded mountains.


Full moon eve, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


One October evening, the eve of a full moon, I walked downtown from my apartment in Sunset Heights.


Full moon eve, Sunset Heights, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Often, I choose to walk downtown via Prospect. But on this evening, I chose Yandell.


Full moon eve, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Did I talk to the moon as I made my way down? Probably not. But I was pleased she was there.

I stopped on an overpass to watch the traffic on Interstate 10.


Full moon eve, Interstate 10, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

The many-lighted bridge across the way is Prospect Street, my usual route downtown.


Full moon eve, Interstate 10, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.




Saturday, April 8, 2017

El Paso: Mozart Requiem


Mozart Requiem, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.


The union of many voices or instruments to create a collaboration of sound is always so uplifting.

The El Paso Chorale and the El Paso Orchestra, showcasing four singers, performed Mozart Requiem in April on the Saturday before Palm Sunday.

Below is an excerpt, highlighting soprano Heather Dials, who begins singing at approximately 2:12:



El Paso has an impressive classical-music presence. There is, of course, the long-running, annual Chopin Festival. El Paso Pro-Musica promotes chamber music. UTEP has a music program with breadth and depth.


Mozart Requiem, El Paso, Texas. April 2017.



I had a superb seat at the Mozart performance.

Another excerpt below:




Friday, April 7, 2017

El Paso: Lurid Lagartos


Lagarto sculpture, San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


I'm afraid I'm not fond of the alligators in downtown El Paso. They lurk in the middle of the downtown plaza that some call the Plaza de los Lagartos (alligators) and some call San Jacinto Plaza. I prefer the latter name.


Lagarto sculpture, San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


They remind me of the godawful "art" at the entrance to an amusement park in Tbilisi, atop Mtatsminda. I took some shit for decrying the grotesqueness of the "art,"  but I stand by my verdict.

Mtatsminda, Tbilisi, Caucasus Georgia.


There was a time when real, live alligators were kept at the Plaza, beginning in the late 1800s and ending in the 1960s. There's even a Louisiana connection, with the arrival of "Jack and Jill, a pair who arrived in a cigar box from Louisiana."


Lagarto sculpture, San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.



The fact was, however, that the alligators suffered regular indignities, not to mention cruelties and even death, at the hands of visitors.


Lagarto sculpture, San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.



Here's a photo of a vintage El Paso postcard, showing the live alligators in the plaza:

Postcard of live alligators in San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. Postcard photographed by Red Oak Kid.



Lagarto sculpture, San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

Maybe I wouldn't find the durn things so objectionable if the colored lights didn't shout so loudly.


Lagarto sculpture, San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.





Thursday, April 6, 2017

El Paso: Las Cafeteras!


Las Cafeteras, Trickey Falls, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


October 2016

El Paso did not know what it was missing when it decided to do something other than enjoy Las Cafeteras at Trickey Falls on October 14, 2016.

Las Cafeteras, Trickey Falls, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Heck, I wouldn't have known what I was missing if I hadn't tripped over an NPR broadcast about "son jarocho" a couple of years earlier, before I had any inkling that I'd live in El Paso. That broadcast featured Las Cafeteras' cover of La Bamba, which they remixed and retitled La Bamba Rebelde, to proclaim pride in community, family, neighbors, being chicano, in being from East LA, in being no less American than anyone else here, and to signify solidarity with undocumented Americans.


Las Cafeteras, Trickey Falls, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


I am loca in love with the group's song, Luna Lovers, and I link you to their official video rather than the one I took (and posted on my youtube channel). Feeling distraught? Watch this video and feel tension fall away. You can't help but smile. Really. Try it.




I'm also crazy for the zapateo on the tamira.

Las Cafeteras, Trickey Falls, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.

Las Cafeteras, Trickey Falls, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


Watch this example below:



One of the Las Cafeteras members said something that startled and enlightened me. I don't remember her exact words, but the gist was that humans move, we migrate, just as our fellow animals do. Our human movements, like those of our fellow animals, do not care about arbitrary, administrative border walls, tangible or intangible. Our movement as humans is a natural process we have practiced through millennia. Sometimes we are pulled to new homes; sometimes we are pushed out of our old homes. Some of our migrations are temporary; some are permanent.

The natural forces of migration are what will - already are - pulling/pushing us out to the stars.

For us to criminalize fellow humans who migrate is unhelpful. Indeed, one might say it violates a law of nature.


Las Cafeteras, Trickey Falls, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

El Paso: Accidental Art


Ladies' room, Cafe Mayapán, El Paso. March 2017.



Mmmmm, those greens.

Squares,
Angles,
Verticals,
Horizontals.

Metal plates,
Plastic plate.

Shiny,
Matte.

Wood,
Ceramic,
Metal.

Shadow,
Light.


Accidental, utilitarian art in the ladies' room at Cafe Mayapán.