Photo of the Day: All Souls

Throwback photo day to the Days of the Dead flower markets in Valledodid, Mexico.

trace8-copy-1

For the week leading up to the Days of the Dead, the markets are filled with thousands – hundreds of thousands, probably – of flowers, especially chrysanthamums and celosia, that will be used to deck the family tombs on All Soul’s Day. Every stall is is laden with blooms, and special masses said in the cemeteries and people bring candles and offerings, many spending the night in prayer, honoring their loved ones.

The morning after All Souls all these flowers had vanished, and the shopkeepers were back to regular life, with just a few stray petals being swept aside by the breeze. The market, like life, goes on – but the veil between the two worlds seems thinner for a while…

 

Windows & Doors

 

Today’s windows and doors are brought to you by the lovely town of Oaxaca, Mexico, where I spent a week admiring the graceful colonial architecture and shimmering colors, and showcasing my inability to take a photograph with a level horizon.

Some fun links for your Thursday….

Over the holidays I went to Florida to visit family, and for the second year in a row I was able to go snorkeling with the manatees at the Homasassa River. I went with these fine folks, who are very knowledgeable and also very careful of the manatee’s safety and wellbeing; I highly recommend them. I also highly recommend this Cressi dive mask; I snorkel whenever possible and I am always being driven crazy by leaky masks. Is my face a weird shape? Am I Max Headroom? Who knows. But this mask is the only one I’ve found that doesn’t leak on me and I think it was only about 50 bucks.

On the subject of safely snorkeling with manatees, and manta rays, and alligators – well, maybe those you just observe from a distance – my amazing friends Claire and Jeremiah have the first episode of their kick-ass webseries, Kickass Animal Encounters, up and running, and you should totally check it out, because it is – wait for it – kickass. You can also see more coolness on their blog! Go! Right now!

(And at the risk of blowing my own horn, if you watch the “Update” video, the huge map that Claire is pointing to is totally MY map, on the wall of MY den, so I feel I should get at least 12% of the credit for the awesomeness of that segment.)

(Although an argument could be made for 15)

If you need to chill out this chilly Thursday, I recommend Watership Song by User’s Atmosphere, which you’ll sadly have to listen to only on youtube because I can’t find a purchase link to it anywhere; or Clubbed to Death by Rob Dougan, which IS available on Amazon, and is the best thing about the third Blade movie, besides Ryan Reynolds’ abs.

If you’re into movies check out the Reel Snobs podcast! Sassy Chicks discussing Flicks. I love it. Reel Snob Kalena even got on CNN this week!

Finally, a quick shout out to my favorite instagrams of the week: @egzgiozcan, who I think is Turkish and fills her instagram with her quirky illustrations, which I love, and @javie.33, one of my favorite underwater/wildlife photographers on insta. His boat photo from yesterday is particularly gorgeous.

Enjoy! And have a great, safe weekend of adventures…

Oh, good grief, I almost forgot – I’ve written an ebook! As many of you know I work in film and television, and I wrote an ebook on How To Be A Movie Location, for anyone who’s interested in renting out their home/office/property to a film production. Money! Excitement! Craft Services! It’s all in there and it’s only $1.99 as a download so check it out!

 

 

The Universal Language

IMG_3501 copy

Several years ago, when I first moved to Atlanta, I had to find an apartment, one that would take not only me but the dog I then had, a 90-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback that was the very definition of a big dog. Most apartments had rules that dogs could not exceed 15 pounds, roughly the size of my dog’s left rear leg, so I had to look outside the cool neighborhoods and wound up in heavily immigrant area off Buford Highway, living in an apartment complex that was about 90% Mexican.

At the time, my Spanish was a few degrees less horrible than it is now, but wasn’t anything you would call “conversational” unless your idea of conversation involved a lot of grunting and gesturing, so I didn’t talk to my neighbors much, but I followed along with the activities of the complex, which was an almost perfect slice of Mexico carved out and dropped 500 miles north, right down to the shy woman who came door-to-door every Thursday selling homemade tamales (they were fantastic), the guy who ran a Mexican lottery out of his apartment, and the paleta man who came along selling ice creams on steamy summer afternoons. I was involved with everyone – broken spanish, grunting, gesturing – and if things went wrong and I wound up with a mango paleta instead of a strawberry one, well, at least I still had ice cream.

I had one interaction when I was there that has always stuck with me – I can picture it in my head to this day.  It’s a bit weird to call it an interaction, since it was just a conversation I observed while sitting on the balcony, but I became just as invested in it as the speaker –

Two men were standing out by their van, and one of them began telling the other a long, involved story. The second listened with interest, and then more interest, and started egging the first speaker on. To me, it sounded like this:

Man 1: “spanish spanish spanish spanish, si?”

Man 2: “si, si.”

Man 1: “spanish spanish spanish…. spanish spanish”

Man 2 : (amused) “heh, heh… si, claro… vaya…” (heh, I get it, go on…”)

And I suddenly realized – based on nothing but body language and the tone of their voices – hey… wait a minute...he’s telling a joke!

And I watched, fascinated, as Man 1 continued the setup, with Man 2 getting more and more amused, and right when you would expect it, Man 1 burst out with, “spanish spanish spanish…MUCHACHOS!!!!” and both of them absolutely lost it, laughing so hard they were pounding on the side of the van and there were tears streaming down their faces. And I burst out giggling as well – not because I understood the joke; to this day I have no idea what they talked about – but just from their infectious merriment and my pleasure in having followed along. I felt like I’d tapped into some deep universal commonality, but instead of some mystical, serious revelation I found…giggles.

Two friends making each other laugh.

The best type of language there is.

 

*photo above of backlit Cosmos flowers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which has nothing at all to do with today’s story. Sorry about that. I’ll eat a tamale later, though.