Tuesday, November 24, 2009


When I was a child, my mysterious and, to my child's mind, fascinating, Grandmother Catharine, had enormous collections of stuff that just about sent me over the edge with excitement... boxes and boxes of buttons, pieces of lace, beads, postcards, dried flowers, ribbons, small rocks she had painstakingly ground to a gleaming finish in a hand-operated rock polisher, tiny figurines of animals, seashells, Mexican tiles, and an absolutely amazing collection of small crosses and crucifixes. She kept all of these magical items (and many others) in dozens of boxes in the drawers of several large dressers in her dark and tapestry-draped bedroom, which smelled of the most wonderful incense ever. (I learned many years later it was myrrh and was pretty expensive stuff - I have no idea how she came by it, but it was always in the house, and I loved it!) She would spend hours with me in this exciting room, letting me paw through the boxes while she explained everything - where it came from, how old it was, and, most thrilling to me, the magical properties of all of these treasures. My favorite items were the Milagros, and she had hundreds of them. I loved spreading a handful of them out on a piece of silky fabric, while she told me what each one of them represented, and what kind of petition it might accompany, and to which Saint it was best to pray for that petition. My thoroughly modern (and thoroughly square) mother dismissed her own mother's stories and collections as superstitious claptrap, and cautioned me not to believe a word of it, which of course, only reinforced Grandma Catarina's mystique in my eyes.

Recently, I've been in serious Unclutter Mode, and have been divesting my life of lots of things I no longer need or want, or wonder why in hell I bought in the first place. At the same time, I've allowed myself to indulge in one last overindulgence. I'm finally doing something I've wanted to do for years... start a collection of Mexican Folk Art. Mexican culture was a big part of my life when I lived in Goleta, and things Mexican have always held a special joy for me. Goleta and Santa Barbara had many fiestas and bazaars and other such events, beautiful Spanish and Mexican architecture, and, most important, tons of Mexican restaurants. While I've never tried it, I'm pretty sure I could eat Mexican food for every meal of every day for a decent span of time without burning out... especially tacos... I'm constantly in search of The Perfect Taco - haven't found it yet, but I'm never going to give up hope! I make a pretty mean taco myself, but that's not the point. I want to be able to go to a restaurant and be fed perfect tacos until I pop!

I recently discovered an internet site, Artelexia, which offers a wonderful selection of Mexican Folk Art. There are plenty of internet sites offering Mexican Folk Art, but I like this one best because Elexia, the woman who owns it, along with her father, is just sooooo cool! After working the quilt shop with Sandy, I know how important customer service is, and Elexia has customer service down to a fine art! Not to mention the great stuff they sell! Elexia also maintains a blog which she's peppered with an outrageous collection of recipes, all of which I want to try for dinner TONIGHT! Anyway, my most recent purchase was the beautiful collection of Milagros pictured above, and this incredible Milagro cross...

Artelexia has a great selection of Frida Kahlo goodies, and I'll be pointing my attention in that direction next. Stay tuned...!


A Quilting Fool said...

two comments for this one...first - I can only hope that my granddaughters remember me as you do your grandmother; and two - I go to Cactus on Solano blvd in Albany for my crispy chicken taco fix...the only better tacos are my daughter's but her medium is fish (she makes an incredible avocado sauce with which to drizzle).

Francie said...

I'll give Cactus a try the next time I'm in Albany/Berkeley.

Any chance you can get your daughter to part with the recipe for her avocado sauce? Or just the basic directions if, like me, she doesn't use recipes...!

I sincerely hope you live longer into your granddaughters' lives than my grandmother did in mine. I feel so cheated that I lost her when I was only ten.

The Real Tijuana said...

We hope you find our post on the Emporium to be of interest. They've been specializing in Mexican folk art for half a century now. Their entry can be found directly at http://realtijuana.blogspot.com/2009/11/emporium-tijuana-tradition-for-museum.html

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