Sunday, January 31, 2016

No Más Bebés: Documentary on Latina Sterilization Premieres on PBS

Text in this blog via Independent Len's press release

Maria Hurtado: Photo from PBS Pressroom

Directed by Renee Tajima-Peña (Who Killed Vincent Chin?), No Más Bebés premieres on Independent Lens, Monday, February 1, 2016, 10:00-11:00PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.

(San Francisco, CA) — No Más Bebés tells the story of a little-known, but landmark event of women’s history and reproductive rights, a struggle that unfolded four decades ago in Los Angeles. The film recounts how a small group of Mexican immigrant mothers and activists sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and 1970s. Many of the mothers spoke no English, and charged that they had been forced to consent to having their fallopian tubes tied by doctors and nurses during the late stages of labor — often based on little more than the question “More babies?”

The film tells an unforgettable tale of family, cultural conflict, and resistance. Aided by an intrepid, 26-year-old Chicana lawyer and armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice. In their landmark 1975 civil rights lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan, they argued that a woman’s right to bear a child is guaranteed under the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

One of the film’s key figures is Dr. Bernard Rosenfeld, then a young doctor who had noticed a troubling practice in the maternity ward at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center — immigrant women, many of whom spoke no English, were being encouraged to sign authorizations for tubal ligations. A first year intern with everything to lose, Rosenfeld secretly gathered evidence and blasted letters to media and watchdog groups around the country, trying to get someone to take up the cause. He soon met a newly minted law school graduate, Antonia Hernández, whose own mother had given birth at the hospital. Hernández and a group of young Mexican American lawyers, working out of a legal aid storefront, set out to file a civil rights lawsuit to stop the practice.

The filmmakers spend six years tracking down the mothers who sued and other witnesses, and the unfolding drama of the case, Madrigal v. Quilligan, is told through their own words. Many of the mothers were still living under the emotional shadow of the sterilization and were reluctant to discuss the case, but six agreed to be filmed. Four decades later, their memories are still raw. Many had no idea they were sterilized until lawyers and activists helping with the case came knocking on their doors. They frankly discuss the effect the procedure had on their marriages, families, and future lives.

The film asks: Was the maternity ward functioning as a “border checkpoint” for unborn babies? Were the mothers pushed into signing consents in a language they did not understand, were in no condition to sign, or agreed to under threat? For the first time since the trial, the defendant doctors also agreed to be interviewed, including Dr. EJ Quilligan, the prominent head of OB-GYN. While the doctors deny any wrongdoing, they describe the maternity ward of the massive, public teaching hospital as a “war zone,” where so many women labored on gurneys in the hallways.

The events depicted in No Más Bebés unfolded against the backdrop of similar sterilizations of poor women at public facilities across the U.S. The Madrigal v. Quilligan lawsuit and related cases around the country led to reforms to protect women from coercive sterilizations and other significant changes in hospital policy. And yet, coercive sterilizations continue to happen. In 2010, it was discovered that incarcerated women in California prisons were unwillingly sterilized; in 2015, a Tennessee judge was found to have offered probation in exchange for sterilization. On the positive side, North Carolina and Virginia have recently agreed to compensate victims of sterilization abuse. Says Independent Lens executive producer Lois Vossen, “the struggle so vividly depicted in No Más Bebés also anticipated the reemergence of the reproductive justice movement today, as Chicana activists sought to redefine reproductive politics not only as the right to abortion, but also the right to bear a child.”

“Like most middle class women, to me Roe v. Wade meant the right to abortion,” says producer/director Renee Tajima-Peña. “I never considered I would ever be denied the choice to have a baby. Today there is a growing reproductive justice movement that argues for a woman’s control over the full range of her fertility — the right to terminate a pregnancy as well as the right to have a child and raise that child in dignity. Forty years ago, these women were talking about reproductive justice in a way that was ahead of their time. They understood that their race, poverty, and legal status affected whether or not they had any choice at all.”

About the Major Participants

The Mothers

Consuelo Hermosillo
Carolina “Maria” Hurtado
Dolores Madrigal
Maria Figueroa
Melvina Hernandez
Jovita Rivera

Antonia Hernandez migrated from Mexico as a child and grew up in East Los Angeles. She was a 26-year-old UCLA Law School graduate, working at the Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice, when she met Dr. Rosenfeld. She and lead attorney Charles Nabarrette filed the Madrigal v. Quilligan suit. She went on to become President of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF) and is now CEO of the California Community Foundation.

Dr. Edward James Quilligan was the esteemed head of the Women’s Hospital at LAC+USC. Dr. Bernard Rosenfeld was the whistle-blowing young resident. Frank Cruz was the first Latino anchor on Los Angeles TV news and the only reporter to cover the trial.

Gloria Molina is an activist and, as President of the nascent feminist organization, Comisión Femenil, signed on as class representatives for the Madrigal v. Quilligan suit.

About the Filmmakers

Renee Tajima-Peña (Producer/Director) is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker whose directing credits include Calavera Highway (PBS), “The Mexico Story” of The New Americans series (PBS), My Journey Home (PBS), Labor Women (PBS), Skate Manzanar (performance and installation), My America...or Honk if You Love Buddha (PBS), The Last Beat Movie (Sundance Channel), The Best Hotel on Skid Row (HBO), and Who Killed Vincent Chin? (PBS), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Her films have premiered at Sundance, Cannes, San Francisco, New Directors/New Films, Toronto, the Whitney Biennial and festivals around the world. Among her honors are a USA Broad Fellowship, a Peabody Award, a DuPont-Columbia Award, an Alpert Award in the Arts, and IDA Achievement Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Virginia Espino (Producer) is a historian at the UCLA Center for Oral History Research, and has conducted oral histories with major figures in the Latina/o community. Her research on coercive sterilization at LACMC provided the basis for the documentary project. Her research was published in Las Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family, edited by Vicki L. Ruiz, and Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, and was supported by the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Grant in Women’s Health, the Ford Dissertation Fellowship for Minorities, the Smithsonian Institution Minority Fellowship, the Smithsonian Institution Inter-University Program for Latino Research Fellowship, and Irvine Fellowship. She has served on the California Commission for Sex Equity, and the Los Angeles Chicano/Latino Education Committee.


Director/Producer: Renee Tajima-Peña
Producer: Virginia Espino
Director of Photography: Claudio Rocha
Editor: Johanna Demetrakas
Associate Producer: Kate Trumbull-LaValle
Original Music: Bronwen Jones
Executive Producer for LPB: Sandie Pedlow
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
Executive Producers for Chicken & Egg Pictures: Julie Benello Parker, Wendy Ettinger, Judith Helfand

No Más Bebés is a co-production of Renee Tajima-Peña and Virginia Espino of Moon Canyon Films, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and Chicken & Egg Pictures.

About Independent Lens

Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 PM. The acclaimed series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. For more visit Join the conversation: and on Twitter @IndependentLens.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Tell Your True Tale story - Book Launch Saturday at ELA Library

Hey Bloga folks -

Volume 5 of Tell Your True Tale: East Los Angeles launches this Saturday at ELA Library (3pm)....

12 great new writers. 12 amazing true stories:

A Chinese girl grows up in South Central. A Zacatecan bracero searches for his family’s sustenance in Nebraska. The story of a woman’s deceased aunt, murdered as a teen ... and another's tale of working as a taxi dancer in the 1970s in downtown LA.

Here's a story of one woman's grand-aunt, who spent a lifetime searching for her disappeared children - until decades later, when the author discovered the truth:

By Sylvia Castañeda....

"... Luz returned to San Diego, destroyed. She continued searching.  Yet, unable to afford the rent on her own, she had no other alternative but to find shelter with the Gutiérrez family in Santa Paula. When she gathered enough strength to make it on her own, she moved to Tijuana.  For years, she frequently crossed the border into San Diego to search for her children Leocadio and Ascención without success.

By 1930, Luz was living in Tijuana, and remarried to a commercial fisherman who followed the fishing routes along Baja California. They divided their time between homes in La Paz and Tijuana, depending on the fishing season. Often, over the years, they crossed into San Diego to visit Luz’s family. When they did, Luz always returned to the house on Columbia Street where she last held her children.

But in time, neighbors moved away and the neighborhood was one she no longer recognized. She carried her children’s disappearance like a cross, longing more than anything to find her children.  But with every passing year, the longing formed a deep abyss of sorrow. ..."

Continue reading ...

A Musical Interlude from Carnival 2016

Melinda Palacio
The Louisiana Philharmonic at St. Louis Cathedral

            Carnival season is in full swing in New Orleans this weekend. I took advantage of a musical interlude last Wednesday. Don't get me wrong, I love a parade. What would carnival in New Orleans be like without the marching bands playing and dancing their hearts out and the sport of catching beads, especially handmade throws from float riders.
Throws from the Joan of Arc parade.

            Wednesday was the first time I had heard the Louisiana Philharmonic. Los Angeles and the Disney Concert Center has Gustavo Dudamel and New Orleans and Louisiana has Carlos Miguel Prieto, Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Louisiana Philharmonic. Prieto is a native of Mexico. He is the most enthusiastic and playful conductor I've seen. To be fair, I am not a seasoned concert attendee, nor have I seen the famous Dudamel (although I'd love to). However, I have experienced joy and know fine talent when I see it. Carlos Miguel Prieto is both joyous and talented. His love for music speakes volumes in the way his entire body dances to the music while his arms conduct with expert skill and grace. He urged the audience to applaud French Soprano Alice Lestang to the point he had the entire musical congregation stomping their feet until she came back on stage for even more applause. The acoustics in the church were not the best, but the experience of listening to sounds emanate from Ms. Lestang's diaphram was nothing short of religious, and St. Louis Cathedral was an appropriate venue for the show. Her voice emanated from her entire being. This was not the case for the student sopranos who were very good but not as magnanimous and precise in their vocalizations.

            The concert honored and reproduced the diverse musical selections offered during the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884. During that international fair, the largest presence was Mexico, thanks to the efforts of President Porfirio Díaz. Mexican music, especially brass bands influence on jazz in New Orleans was an important component of the fair's legacy.
St. Louis Cathedral in background

            Mexico was also represented in Wednesday's concert by the conductor and marimba player, Julian Romero Pacheco, who played a Guatemalan Rondo Allegro in tribute to the Quiche Maya who introduced Marimba music to New Orleans. As lagniappe (a little something extra), Pacheco played a Mexican tune on the marimba, the well known Sanduga from Oaxaca. I was familiar with the Bach selections and Strauss's Voices of Spring, having watched many Bugs Bunny episodes as a child, but less familiar with the Wagner and the Charles Gounod selections that were sung by the incredible Alice Lestang.
Inside the Cathedral

            Tonight parades begin and continue almost every day through Fat Tuesday. I'm sure I will treasure this quiet moment fondly, as the title of the concert suggests, A Fair to Remember, the 1884-1885 Concert Season in New Orleans.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Martín Espada talks to La Bloga about his new book

 Vivas to Those Who Have Failed
by Martín Espada
W.W. Norton & Co. 2016

L.G.: Tell me more about the title... How did it come to the five sonnets? Do we need to be acquainted with the Whitman poem to understand the reference? Also, the last verse, does it take us back to Whitman or to your reading of his poem?

M.E.: "Vivas to those who have failed" comes from section 18 of Whitman's "Song of Myself." For me, this phrase resonates on multiple levels. We have to see the world in a whole new way. We have to redefine what we mean by "failure." The subject of these five sonnets is the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913. This was one of the great strikes in U.S. history. Yet, they lost. Or did they? Their most important demand was for an eight-hour day. That demand would transform the history of labor in this country.

There is an important sub-text here. These were immigrant workers. Many spoke little or no English. They were considered sub-human on the one hand, and politically threatening on the other. Sound familiar? We live in the Age of Trump and the anti-immigrant bigotry he both provokes and embraces. All we have to do is look to history to see how immigrants have constructed the world we take for granted--just as immigrants do today.

In the same passage of section 18, Whitman refers to the "numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known." We must acknowledge those heroes, past and present, and finally give them their due. We don't need to know Whitman to know those numberless unknown heroes. We all know them, in our own lives and beyond.

Finally, I settled on five sonnets because  I want to find a way to focus on a great historical event by finding the part to stand for the whole, to find the face that is many faces, to find the stories of individuals, some famous, like John Reed of Reds fame, some anonymous like Hannah Silverman, to tell the tale. It's not a coincidence that these are Italian sonnets, given that thousands of these workers came from Italy.

L.G.: What role does research play in your writing process? Hannah, for instance, is she rescued from the anonymity of History?

M.E.: I did quite bit of research to write about the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913. I read primary source documents, written by and about people who were there. I did not discover Hannah Silverman. Historian Steve Golin has much to say about her in The Fragile Bridge, his book about the strike. Aside from his book, however, you'll find very little about the so-called "Joan of Arc of the Silk Strike." I do what poets do: I attempt to rescue the dead from oblivion.

Hannah Silverman

L.G.: The formal construction of your poems, the exalted tone, seem to oppose the notion of failure (like "Vivas...") Is failure necessary for change? Does that "river" ever reach the sea?

M.E.: We associate the sonnet form with Shakespeare, with exalted subjects, with high art. By using the sonnet form here, I'm demanding respect for those commonly denied respect. Jack Agüeros did that in his "Sonnets from the Puerto Rican." Rafael Campo did that in his emergency room sonnets, the cycle called "Ten Patients and Another."

Yes, "failure" is necessary for change. Any struggle for justice is matter of years, decades, centuries. Those who came before us, who contributed to that struggle, invisible though they may be to us in the present, do "become the river"--a powerful force, a force of nature, moving forward, beneath our feet and all around us, from which we take sustenance, even if we don't know it.

"The brain thrown against the wall of the skull remembered too:
the Sons of Italy, the Workmen's Circle, Local 152, Industrial
Workers of the World, one-eyed Big Bill and Flynn the Rebel Girl
speaking in tongues to thousands the prophecy of an eight-hour day.
Mazziotti's son would become a doctor, his daughter a poet.
Vivas to those who have failed: for they become the river."

L.G.: How did you conceive of this collection of poems? Can you talk about the process of organizing its five sections... (5 again!)

M.E.: Here's a quick overview of the five sections:
1. Vivas to Those Who Have Failed: These are the poems about the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913. I chose this sequence of sonnets to begin the book because that social struggle is so critically important to our history in this country, and, as they say, la lucha continua--the struggle goes on.
2. Heal the Cracks in the Bell of the World: These are poems about, and against, violence. The sequence begins with a poem about the conquistador Juan de Oñate and his genocidal assault on the Acoma Pueblo, and continues on with poems that address the Sandy Hook massacre, the killings of unarmed people of color by police, and the murder of James Foley, a journalist (and former student) executed by ISIS. The common denominator of each poem, however, is resistance, in all its forms, from protest to memory.
3. Here I Am: This sequence of poems that celebrates performers and visionaries: poets, musicians, baseball players, actors. There is the same struggle against oblivion in this section--there are three elegies--but there is also humor, particularly in the poems about my "career" as a Shakespearean actor with a community theater company.
4. A Million Ants Swarming Through His Body: This group of poems deals with my childhood--in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico--as well as the connections between generations: grandfathers, fathers and sons. There is a particular focus on Puerto Rico, including a poem about my first visit to the island and another elegy, this time for a former light-heavyweight boxing champion, Chegüí Torres.
5. El Moriviví: This is a cycle of poems about and dedicated to my father, Francisco Luis "Frank" Espada, who died in 2014. They range from very personal to very political. Frank Espada was a hell-raiser: a community organizer, a civil rights activist, a leader--some would say the leader--of the Puerto Rican community in New York during the 1960s. Above all, he was a documentary photographer, the founder and director of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, a photo-documentary and oral history of the Puerto Rican migration.  I read the last poem, "El Moriviví," at his memorial service at El Puente, a community center in Brooklyn, in May 2014. The title refers to a plant that grows in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. This plant closes at the touch, and then opens again. This plant also closes in darkness and opens in light. The word literally translates to "I died/I lived," and so it becomes the ideal metaphor for the many lives, deaths and rebirths, the ultimate transcendence, of my father.

L.G.: In "Once Thundering Penguin Herds Darkened the Prairie," you write: "We [poets] will tempt them [tourists] to taste the steamed tofu dog of poetry instead." Sounds pretty unappealing! Could you tell us a bit more?

M.E.: I often write about the power of poetry. (The poem "Here I Am," about the poet José Gouveia, is a good example.) I believe in the power of poetry. Here is a poem, however, about the powerlessness of poetry. Sometimes we poets have to concede that poetry is not all-powerful, and laugh at ourselves, as this poem does.


Reading & Book Launch 
for Vivas to Those Who Have Failed 
at Cave Canem in Brooklyn (20 Jay St.) 
Friday, February 5th at 6 PM
Click here for more info

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tell Your True Tale: East Los Angeles - This Saturday

Hey folks - this Saturday is the launch of Volume 5 of true stories from new authors in my TELL YOUR TRUE TALE writing workshop at ELA Public Library.

3PM - 3rd & Mednik in ELA.
The TYTT stories are becoming quite a cool phenomenon, as they marshal the tales of new authors to stitch in print a tapestry of the area and beyond that is rich and nuanced.
The stories are magnificent ... Nonfiction that reads like fiction:

One woman searched all her life for her disappeared children, and how her grand-niece finally found them. A Chinese girl grows up in South Central. A Zacatecan bracero searches for his family’s sustenance in Nebraska. The story of a woman’s deceased aunt, murdered as a teen ... and another's tale of working as a taxi dancer in the 1970s in downtown LA.

These and more....all from authors who have published very little before this.
Again, the event begins at 3pm in the Library's Chicano Resource Center.
Authors will be there, talking about writing, storytelling, and signing the books, which will be on sale. (Always Five Dollars!)

Please come and have fun. Let others know as well.
Read a selection of the stories at the County Library's site.

Pura Belpré Award Ganadores 2016

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. 

2016 Author Award Winner 

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir, written by Margarita Engle and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir brings us a memoir in free verse that conveys the story of growing up in two cultures during an era of great tension between the United States and Cuba. Poet Margarita Engle takes her young audience on a journey of longing. It is a story that touches on issues affecting numerous immigrant children today.

The book was published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

“Engle’s memoir of living in two cultures and the inability to cross the sky to visit family will resonate with youth facing similar circumstances,” said Pavon.

2016 Illustrator Award Winner

Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Margarita Engle and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Drum Dream Girl is a tale about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl in 1930s Cuba, who became a world-renowned drummer. Rafael López’s flawless and detailed illustrations in acrylic paint on wood are warm and vibrant; dynamic, double spread renderings bring to life Millo’s story.

Rafael López’s masterful art brings to life the drumbeats in Margarita Engle’s story. His dreamy illustrations transport us to Millo’s tropical island,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Ana-Elba Pavon. 

2016 Author Honor Books

The Smoking Mirror, written by David Bowles and published by IFWG Publishing, Inc. 

A fantasy novel about 12-year-old twins growing into their magical, shape-shifting abilities, as they descend into the Land of the Dead to find their mother. Bowles creates an action-packed story based on Aztec and Mayan mythology while capturing the realities of life in contemporary South Texas and Mexico.

Mango, Abuela, and Me, written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez and published by Candlewick Press.

After Abuela moves in with her family, Mia finds a clever way to communicate with her Spanish-speaking grandmother who has left her homeland to live in the United States. Meg Medina blends Spanish and English to seamlessly create a touching tale of transition, love and the willingness to connect.

2016 Illustrator Honor Books

My Tata’s Remedies = Los remedios de mi tata, illustrated by Antonio Castro L., written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and published by Cinco Puntos Press.

My Tata’s Remedies = Los remedios de mi tata is an intergenerational story about how a grandfather (Tata) heals and cares for his family, friends and neighbors. From his Tata, Aaron learns first hand the significance of healing with a tender touch of wisdom and medicinal herbs. Expertly rendered, realistic images encompass diverse expression, movement and emotion. 

Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press.

Angela Dominguez’s digitally-enhanced, mixed media illustrations are warm and expressive. They recreate the tone of affection and caring that exists between a young girl and her abuela. Dominguez masterfully conveys the sadness of the abuela for her homeland and her transformation as she realizes that home is where your heart resides.

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

This book about Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada teaches children about a forgotten art form and gives its audience a glimpse of Mexican history, through the digital hieroglyphic collages created by Duncan Tonatiuh and the colorful journey of lithography, engraving and etching of Posada’s designs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Gluten-free Enchilada Sauce. Poet Lauerate Nominations. Nature.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks: Roux-based Enchilada Sauce

Michael Sedano

Roux is a magical ingredient in sauces, as a recent La Bloga column noted. Starch, oil, heat, milk are the ingredients of some roux. For enchiladas, a chile-based roux, water-based thickened with corn starch, is the secret.

Making an enchilada sauce gluten-free is not a secret: use corn starch and water to thicken the sauce. Use more chili and water (or broth) to make as much sauce as you want. If you want to add more thickener during cooking, always mix the corn starch into cool liquid and add it in that form. Otherwise, the cornstarch lumps.

The Gluten-free Chicano likes the Gebhardt's brand of blended chili powder. Mild and non-picoso, it's the ideal base for children and gente who claim not to like to burn themselves. When I want a more lively enchilada, I use a 50-50 mix of pure New Mexico chili powder, and Gebhardt's.

Use a good olive oil and bring it to a boil. Add the chili powder. I add a sprinkling of powdered garlic, onion, comino, and coriander to the blend.

Stir the chili into the oil and keep stirring until the chili totally dissolves into the boiling oil.

The aroma will delight the cook and waft out into the house. Anyone who comes looking gets to grate cheese or chop onions.

In a cup of room-temperature water, dissolve a tablespoon of corn starch. Stir this into the toasted chili roux. You can experiment with heat by stirring more vigorously at higher flames to promote thickening. Use heat before adding more cornstarch. 

Stir until the liquid thickens and coats the spoon or whisk. Turn off the flame and let the enchilada sauce cool. The sauce thickens as it cools. 

Note there are no tomatoes in this sauce. Increase the amount of chili and water to make extra sauce. This basic red chili roux sauce is the basis of chile colorado. Sautéed thinly sliced meat, simmer in this sauce.

Chop a medium size onion, a pinch of cilantro. Drain a can of small or medium black olives. Grate sharp cheddar cheese to make at least two cups. Reserve some for topping.

Count out the tortillas and wrap them in a dishtowel. Microwave them for half a minute and leave covered. Test the heating by putting a finger in the middle of the stack. The center tortillas should be warm or hot. If not give them another 15 seconds.

Enchilada Assembly

Work on a greased cookie sheet. Spread the fixings in a row next to the cookie sheet. This is all hand work so wash your hands well. Work swiftly because the tortillas stick to each other when they cool too much.

Line up your ingredients starting with the trapo with the softened tortilla de maize.
The sartén with the warm chili roux sauce.
(Optional: a bowl of cooked picadillo or carne molida)
A bowl of olives.
The cutting board with the cheese and onions and cilantro.

Dip a tortilla in the chili sauce.
Place the tortilla on the cookie sheet.
A third off the way from the edge spread the (meat), big pinches of cheese and onion, a couple of olives.
Roll the filling and position the edges against the cookie sheet.
Make all ten or twelve the same size.

Use a spatula and drip unused enchilada sauce across the rows of unbaked enchiladas. 
Sprinkle reserved cheese and left-over fillings across the enchiladas.

Bake at 350º for ten or twelve minutes.

Serve with frijoles de la olla.

Left-over Enchiladas

Among the most elegant of the simple luxuries of life is left-over enchiladas. If enchiladas require a raison d'être beyond being enchiladas, left-over enchiladas are it. 

If you make ten or a dozen enchiladas, even with big eaters or unexpected company, you'll have a few enchiladas left over. Cover the sheet with aluminum foil and refrigerate just like that. That rich chili flavor builds up with time. Tomorrow's enchiladas taste better than last night's.

Breakfast the next morning can be microwave fast (3 to 5 minutes on a plate) or re-heated for fifteen minutes on the cookie sheet in a 350º oven and served topped with blanquillos over easy--que se salen, my grandmother used to say--or as you like your eggs. Add a scoop of beans and some tomato slices, aguacate if you have one, some of that extra sauce, and you're in gluten-free paradise.


The following is a screen capture from a Pasadena Now webpage. Please click link to read the whole story. Below the screenshot, you'll find a link to the nomination details.

Nature Photography Facebook Challenge

Rosalio Muñoz is an early-morning hiker and avid photographer. Recently, he joined a social media game where a poster invites individuals to post a poem or a photograph for seven consecutive days. Rosalio challenged me to join in, with the theme of Nature.

Here are the seven fotos I selected. I found insects, birds, weather, and sunrise that illustrated Nature.

Brown Widow Spider and Egg Sac

Macrophotography uses a lens to magnify small detail, the pistils of a blossom, an abstraction of a common object seen out-of-scale, an insect. A quality lens with a steady hand are essential. At high magnification a slight hand tremor or sudden gust can throw a framing off and fuzz the focus.

This spider has taken over where the Black Widow ruled. Turn over a patio chair, or a stick, or a leaf in the garden and a strong silken web alerts the presence of a widow. Leave them alone they leave you alone. Probably not if they've taken residence under a chair.

Metonymy of a Curlew
The sandpit at Morro Bay remains largely untouched. Wind surfers and birders make up the majority of people traipsing about the wildlife preserve. Hiring a boat is the only way to get there and back.

Snakes, mice, birds, surface and submarine critters leave their mark in the wet margin between sand and estuary. It's a birder's paradise but a hiker's nightmare. Marching in the sand was never my idea of a good time.

The tide leaves a ripple across the sand and while it's wet, shore birds wander looking for food leaving the memory of their passing.

Curlew Wading

I hold the Curlew in a special place of my heart. As a young reader I devoured The Last of the Curlews, about the extinction of one species of the bird. Other Curlews are thriving along the California coast. In Morro Bay the Curlew and dozens of species, thrive in the protected area.

California Quail Covey
The California State Bird is the California Quail. When developers razed the hills behind my family home in Redlands, the abundance of Quail disappeared within months. Ground dwellers, coyotes and foxes devoured their eggs and hatchlings. Ironically, the monstrous homes that stole the wild habitat stand empty on starkly barren land, the rolling hills paved with asphalt and criss-crossed with unused cement sidewalks and gutters. A few small coveys now visit the old homestead. When this covey emerged from cover at Montaña de Oro state park sweet nostalgia kept me smiling as I caught the leader taking the first bold steps into the open.

Swallowtail XCU
Macrophotography magnifies small objects to life-sized or closer. Photoshop lets the photographer scale the image to ever closer range. Ordinarily a flitter, this recently-hatched giant rested on a flower. I was able to lean in closely with the 100mm lens to focus a few inches from the beauty.

Foggy Ridge in Crystal Springs Pass, Redlands California

Photographing amorphousness, fog, challenges the ability of the camera to approximate detail one's eye constructs in the physical moment confronted by the roiling mass. The fog moves during the long exposure, the camera wishes it had more light to snap faster. 

Here fog infiltrates the air above the 10 freeway where Redlands borders Yucaipa. This vista has a special memory for me. My grandmother herded sheep in this valley when she was a girl

Sunrise and Three Sisters
A photograph at dawn means the photographer has to be up well before dawn to get the equipment set up in the dark. The Morro Bay estuary has a few choice spots to pull over and not have to schlepp the equipment too far. It's rugged terrain here, wetlands teeming with birds. A few minutes after sunrise the marsh comes alive with birds.

A tripod and remote are essential to capture the motionless landscape at f/32. This is the moment the sun breaks the near ridgeline. The three domes from center to left edge are eroded volcanic cores, part of the "nine sisters" set of basaltic megaliths that  run from Morro Rock to San Luis Obispo. The sisters erupted millions of years ago when the Pacific plate shoved under the North American plate and made volcanoes. Right at this moment it's the most peaceful spot on earth.