Saturday, July 31, 2010


A quick visit to the Farmer's Market this morning yielded beautiful sweet peppers (the large Cubannelles and the small ones that remind me of our ají dulce), flawless cilantro and tomatillos, which added to onions and garlic made for wonderfully aromatic sofrito.

There are many recipes for sofrito, a base we use in cooking almost anything, but especially beans and arroz guisado. My maternal grandmother was famous for her sofrito and while I have to do without recao* and ají dulce, I make do with other local ingredients (like cilantro and tomatillos) and the result is not as authentic but just as good for my purposes.

(*I just found a website that claims they will send you recao seeds so I might just try that...)

Oh, how do I love summer and all its cooking possibilities!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

County fair finds

A visit to the county fair is always a must in summer around here and this year was no exception. My husband and I met up with friends and their kids there. Our first stop, before we visited the farm animals, which we both like to see, was the old one-room country schoolhouse that they have on the premises as a small museum.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me so the cellphone had to do the job. Still, I was glad to have at least a way to get the picture of the 1915 Rules for Teachers above, which are hilarious and disturbing all at once ("You may not dress in bright colors"!!??). I definitely would've been fired, if I'd been a teacher back then (for that and many other reasons probably!).

What teachers had to know before they were accepted into teaching, below, would have also sealed my doom, since there's a lot of that I don't know how to answer even today.

We then went on the look for the Día de los Muertos calavera that the daughter of a nurse I know here in town made for her 4H project. We figured it would be the only Latin@ artifact in the whole fair so it was worthwhile having to search from exhibit to exhibit until we did find it (too bad for the fuzzy picture). Good for her to have done such a great job!

We then moved on to the animal pens, first and foremost to the draft horses, which are glorious and I took that picture of the hoof prints on the concrete floor because the horses were in their shaded stalls and I couldn't get a good shot of them. We did see one horse that seemed unhappy to be penned and kept kicking his stall and ignoring his owner's shouts to stop, and two other horses who were tied next to each other and started bickering and one tried to kick the other one. Quite a lot of action for a small fair.

Finally, we met up with our friends and their kids, and after funnel cake and lemonade (they had pulled pork and my husband had a caramel apple) we went on to watch the Figure 8 Bus Racing, which was funny in a sort of disturbing way, especially given the very dark smoke emanating from the buses as they tried to outrun or collided into each other. "Has anyone heard of the environment?" I asked.

Then there were rides for the kids (I went with the girls to watch them go on Berry Go Round and the tiny fake helicopter rides) and a visit to the petting zoo where we saw and fed kangaroos, a fawn, a domesticated skunk (probably de-glanded), antelopes and goats.

Cotton candy to go and we were done with this year's fair. Next year, I will remember to bring my camera and will, hopefully, find even more things to record.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Chiquita

For her clamoring fans:

Chiquita sunbathing...

Chiquita and Lizzy reluctantly share the sofa...

Chiquita, The Couch Potato...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chiquita's favorite spot

Little miracles

Earlier this year, when my father was still contemplating the move here to await his inevitable end, he bemoaned the fact that Mr. Frog had died the previous winter. "We'll have to go and get a frog when I am there," he said back then.

Every day, before and after my father's passing, I would walk by the tiny pond in our front yard, wishing for a frog to show up, especially while my dad was still mobile and might see it. We did get a toad, the news of which made my father smile, but still no frog.

"No more frogs will come," my husband declared, noting that, if one should show up, we'd have to figure out what to do with it come winter so that it didn't go the same way as poor Mr. Frog.

Well, lo and behold, today, as I walked outside in the heat of the afternoon I noticed ANOTHER FROG!! Happily treading water in our tiny pond! This time, I won't let the poor creature spend the winter in that killing pond but we have time to figure out what to do.

In the meantime, I wish I could call my dad over so he could see it, although something tells me that this is all very much his doing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


So it goes like this: I've always wanted a Chihuahua, given that they're the one recognizably Latino dog, and even though one of the two dogs who have bitten me so far was a nasty Chihuahua who belonged to a neighbor childhood friend.

I walk into the vet's office Thursday, a day after returning from a difficult trip to Puerto Rico to take my father's ashes for his memorial mass, and there is this crate and there are these two Chihuahuas in it and they're being given away with discounted vet bills as an incentive. One of the two tiny dogs is this pathetic looking Chihuahua, named Rickie, which I assume is a male and I start weeping because the dog is so scrawny and so clearly starving for affection and attention. A true underdog.

I call my husband, who is a saint and who loves me beyond reason, and he agrees that I can bring the dog home if no one else adopts him by the end of the day. I leave the Chihuahua there, thinking that's the end of that since the vet had posted the dogs on Facebook and they had people calling about them all day.

I get a call around 5:30 p.m. from the vet's office manager that the smallest Chihuahua is yet unclaimed and would I want to give her (not a male after all) a try over the weekend. I consult my beloved husband and he agrees, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Chiquita, as we've christened her, cannot fill the immense void left by my father but she is trying hard. Lizzy isn't sure what to make of her and isn't easing into being a big sister but the cats have taken Chiquita in stride though they don't know what to do when she starts jumping around and play-bowing at them.

For a Chihuahua, Chiquita doesn't evidence any of the breed's bad traits. She is truly Omega (doesn't have a single Alpha hair on her) and has a personality that is eerily similar to our very loved Geni girl, who left us last year. She isn't housebroken, so we're working on that and I've purchased a book on Chihuahuas to learn more about the breed. I've also got her a pink collar (6 inches!) and her own halter and leash with bling. I am now in search of a Chihuahua carrying purse...

I'm fully aware that having five furry children is ridiculous but there are some offers life makes that you simply can't refuse.

Friday, July 16, 2010


In Puerto Rico there is a legend that, before a person dies, there is a huge moth, with the face of a skull, that visits the house of the dying to announce the impending end.

The remarkable moth in the picture above showed up at our house a few days before my father's death and disappeared shortly afterward. The first night it was on the back porch but it spent most of its time in the front porch, arranging itself at one point on our small gargoyle, which is meant to protect us from evil.

Today is two weeks since my father went to el otro lado de las cosas, as he liked to say. We had a nice memorial service here at my small college on the hill, attended by my good friends and colleagues and some of my former students, and then my husband and I traveled to Puerto Rico where my family held a memorial mass in my father's honor last Monday.

The void my father leaves nothing will ever fill. But life does go on and we're hoping to make the most of what remains of the summer. In my huerto, which I have long neglected because of more pressing obligations, the cherry tomatoes are beginning to redden and my sweet peppers are getting bigger by the day. The lettuce is going wild but the onions, the strawberries and the watermelon have been a bust.

I guess that's what they say about life, that there's always una de cal y otra de arena.

This has been a very hard half of the year so far. Here's to hoping that the second half will be about practicing resurrection.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

No hay palabras

Friday, July 9, 2010

Democracy Now tribute to my dad

DEMOCRACY NOW, July 8, 2010

The well-known Puerto Rican attorney, political analyst and historian Juan Manuel García-Passalacqua has died at the age of 73. After his death on Friday, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño declared three days of mourning. Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez, who has known Passalacqua for many years, talks about his life and legacy.

Juan Gonzalez Remembers Puerto Rican Analyst Juan Manuel García Passalacqua

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Small accidents

You can tell where my head is not these days when today I managed to destroy one of my husband's carefully positioned cabinets in his painstakingly well-designed garage.

A huge black wasp got into the car and, as I was trying to open the driver's door to let it out before it stung me (it had already crawled down my arm and that's how I noticed!), I put the car on Drive rather than Reverse.

Adiós, cabinet, it was!

My husband created the poster above to poke fun at the parking sign my sister gave me a while back, which hung above the now-defunct cabinet.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Juan M. García Passalacqua

February 22, 1937 ~ July 02, 2010

Juan Manuel García Passalacqua, one of Puerto Rico’s best known political analysts, an advisor to two Puerto Rican governors and one U.S. president, an educator, author and lawyer, a husband, father and grandfather, died Friday July 2, 2010 at age 73 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, where he spent his final days in the care of his family.

He was born February 22, 1937, in San Juan, P.R., the son of Manuel García Díaz and Josefina Passalacqua. After graduating from law school, he was recruited in 1958 as an advisor to Puerto Rico Governor Luis Muñoz Marín. He also served as an advisor to Muñoz’s successor, Roberto Sánchez Vilella.

Juanma, as he was popularly known, went on to become one of Puerto Rico’s top political analysts, producing and appearing on popular television and radio current events programs and writing columns for several Puerto Rico newspapers.

He also testified before several congressional committees on the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status and dedicated much of his professional life to studying, writing about and teaching about Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States. He was also the author of more than 20 books in both Spanish and English, ranging from non-fiction works on Puerto Rican and Caribbean affairs to novels.

During the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, he was an advisor to the National Security Council and the U.S. State Department on Caribbean and Latin American affairs. He later became a member of the Ambassadors Circle of the Carter Center in Atlanta and served as an impartial election observer in more than a dozen countries around the world. In 1982, he also became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

For more than 20 years, he worked as legal counsel for the Ana G. Méndez Foundation in Puerto Rico. He taught as a visiting professor at institutions including Yale University, the University of Puerto Rico, and the Center for Advanced Studies in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and he wrote in his final newspaper column that he hoped to be remembered most as a professor.

He is survived by his wife, Ivonne Acosta Lespier; two brothers, Julio García Passalacqua and Luis García Passalacqua; a daughter, Ivonne Marie García Acosta, and her husband, Lance Oliver; a son, Juan Manuel García Acosta, and his wife, Mildred Maymí; a daughter, Ana Marie “Maruca” García Acosta; and six grandchildren.

The family will observe a private family service locally. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 12 at the Iglesia San Miguel Arcángel in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made to Hospice of Knox County, 17700 Coshocton Road, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A small tribute to my dad

There will be a short private service at my small college on the hill this week for my dad and then in Puerto Rico, the week after, there will be a Catholic mass, which promises to fill the small church where it will be held.

In the meantime, I've arranged a few of his personal belongings: the last book he was reading, his glasses, his passport and appointment book, his watch and comb, around his ashes (the urn won't be ready until later this week) in a small altar in our dining room. The photo poster was made by the wonderful funeral home we were recommended, which also posted a lovely obituary for him on their web page.

I have a candle burning at the altar and it gives me great solace to wish him a good night and to say buenos días, papito, in the mornings.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Joan Manuel Serrat - Elegía

Poema Elegía
de Miguel Hernandez

(En Orihuela, su pueblo y el mío, se
me ha muerto como del rayo Ramón Sijé,
con quien tanto quería.)

Yo quiero ser llorando el hortelano
de la tierra que ocupas y estercolas,
compañero del alma, tan temprano.

Alimentando lluvias, caracolas
y órganos mi dolor sin instrumento.
a las desalentadas amapolas

daré tu corazón por alimento.
Tanto dolor se agrupa en mi costado,
que por doler me duele hasta el aliento.

Un manotazo duro, un golpe helado,
un hachazo invisible y homicida,
un empujón brutal te ha derribado.

No hay extensión más grande que mi herida,
lloro mi desventura y sus conjuntos
y siento más tu muerte que mi vida.

Ando sobre rastrojos de difuntos,
y sin calor de nadie y sin consuelo
voy de mi corazón a mis asuntos.

Temprano levantó la muerte el vuelo,
temprano madrugó la madrugada,
temprano estás rodando por el suelo.

No perdono a la muerte enamorada,
no perdono a la vida desatenta,
no perdono a la tierra ni a la nada.

En mis manos levanto una tormenta
de piedras, rayos y hachas estridentes
sedienta de catástrofes y hambrienta.

Quiero escarbar la tierra con los dientes,
quiero apartar la tierra parte a parte
a dentelladas secas y calientes.

Quiero minar la tierra hasta encontrarte
y besarte la noble calavera
y desamordazarte y regresarte.

Volverás a mi huerto y a mi higuera:
por los altos andamios de las flores
pajareará tu alma colmenera

de angelicales ceras y labores.
Volverás al arrullo de las rejas
de los enamorados labradores.

Alegrarás la sombra de mis cejas,
y tu sangre se irán a cada lado
disputando tu novia y las abejas.

Tu corazón, ya terciopelo ajado,
llama a un campo de almendras espumosas
mi avariciosa voz de enamorado.

A las aladas almas de las rosas
del almendro de nata te requiero,
que tenemos que hablar de muchas cosas,
compañero del alma, compañero.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Requiescat in pacem

Juan Manuel García Passalacqua

Father, teacher, Puerto Rican patriot.

February 22, 1937 - July 2, 2010