Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Three Kids

My oldest daughter lives in North Carolina. She can't come to New York very frequently so it's a rare occasion when the three of my children are all together in the same place. It is rarer still to get them to pose all dressed up. A recent family event featured a photographer taking free posed photos of any guest who wanted one so my children all posed for a group shot. Here they are. I'm just a proud mother hen showing off my three chicks.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Boyz In Da Kitchen

Yesterday was one of those days that came together in a random sort of way and just flowed. It started with a request from my son's friend for some driving practice. Knowing that I was giving my son driving lessons, he asked to join in. After a couple of hours of biting my nails and praying to multiple deities as these two young men practiced three-point U turns, parallel parking and negotiating left turns, we returned home. The day before, I had asked my son to bake me a cake, something that he had put off after he had taken all the ingredients out. When his friend mentioned that he had never baked a cake before, I seized the moment and commanded them both to commence baking. Oh my. What did I do?

These guys became very creative with chocolate cake. They began by tossing jelly beans and M&M’s into the cake batter. They frosted the lopsided layers that emerged from the oven and embellished them with more M&M’s, multi-colored sprinkles, Dunkaroos and anything else they could find. They even placed some birthday candles on the cake and blew them out, just because. It was the ugliest cake they had ever seen and were sure that it would taste just as bad as it looked. I decided to cook a big Puerto Rican soul food meal of arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), stewed beans and tostones (fried green plantains) and invited my children’s friends to stay and eat. When my husband came home, instead of finding our kids in front of their respective computers, he found a house full of lively teenagers and a huge pot of food on the stove. After dinner, I sliced into the cake and served it for dessert. To everyone's surprise and delight the cake was as moist and delicious as it was ugly. The abundance of candy-coated garnish these guys put in and on the cake did nothing to diminish the flavor, in fact I think it was enhanced. My husband raved about how moist the cake was.

After dinner I played chauffeur, driving people to their respective homes, picking up a nephew along the way and dropping him and my son off at the bowling alley. I got home after 10 PM. When I took stock of my day, I realized my time had been completely consumed by the needs and/or desires of others from about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I spent the whole day driving, cooking and taking pictures of the goings-on. It wasn't at all what I had planned but it probably turned out a whole lot better. I know this is going to be one of those days that will come up in the future when my kids start reminiscing about their youth and it will be accompanied by smiles and laughter. How fortunate that I chose to photograph it. How blessed I am to have been a part of it.

Carpe diem. Treasure the golden moments.

Ballo ergo sum, - Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Technology - Love it or Leave it

Ok, this posting is nothing more than frustrated venting. You have been duly warned.

We've all had technology-related sob stories about computer's gone wild and the like. As of this writing, I am wrestling with two email programs, one I want and one I don't. It seems Microsoft Outlook has hijacked the messages from my main email account and now all my mail is being automatically forwarded to Outlook. I was in the middle of a live chat with technical support, receiving instructions on the simple change of settings needed to remedy the situation when the connection failed and finally timed out. I can not reach live chat again until tomorrow and in the meantime my emails are residing in a strange mailbox. I am not happy.

There was a time when all this computer stuff was so simple for me to understand. Now it seems everything has become so complicated and convoluted. I want things simple. After all, I'm not creating the next feature length animated film or calculating the number of times quantum particles can split. I just want to check email and do some web-surfing. These days I have to ask my son to help me out with computer related issues. Seems like only yesterday I was teaching him how to navigate around a monitor with a mouse so he could play learning games. This role reversal is uncomfortable...not the part about him helping me but of me being unable to help myself. I feel totally out of the loop.

That's it. Nothing else. Like I said before, just venting.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reaching Back

My parents, and their parents and grandparents before them, were born and raised in Puerto Rico. They, like thousands of others from the island, came to New York during the Great Migration of the 1950's. I and nearly all my generation were born and raised in New York, either in Brooklyn or the Bronx. Being raised in a country other than that of your cultural heritage has one great are physically disconnected from your cultural roots. All the daily routines, rituals and activities that are integrally tied to your culture are taken out of their natural context and must be adapted to your new surroundings. If you don't make an effort to maintain your culture, you can easily lose yourself in a new set of customs, losing your cultural identity in the process.

As an adult, I have made it a priority to learn as much as I can from my elders so I can pass that information on to my children who, as second generation Latinos born in the US, are even further distanced from their cultural roots. So it was a rare treat when my father recently brought me a coconut. Not only had I not eaten fresh coconut in many years, I had never seen one opened before. For me, a coconut is not just a tropical is something that I associate with the Caribbean, in particular Puerto Rico. I took the opportunity to photograph this cultural lesson for future preservation. My father bored holes into the soft "eyes" on the top of the coconut, afterwards handing it to me with instructions to insert a straw and drink the coconut milk. Mmmmm. Delicious. He took pains to show me the proper way to crack the coco without shattering it. With measured and deliberate strokes, he rapped around the coconut with a hammer until it cracked into two halves, exposing the creamy white flesh inside. I never knew that fresh coconut was so soft and tender. My father told me that the flesh hardens slowly after it has been exposed. My parents and I ate fresh coconut together, as they had done with their parents back in their native country.

Cracking a coconut is not a big deal but it was for me. I was reaching back for a piece of a past life that I did not participate in. I was looking at a page of my unknown history. The experience was priceless.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva