Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Moonlit Vine- Claro de luna


By Elizabeth Santiago

Illustrations by Mckenzie Mayle 

Publisher: Lee & Low Books 

Hardcover: 368 pages

ISBN-10: 1643795805

ISBN-13: 978-1643795805



Fourteen-year-old Taína just learned that she is a descendant of a long line of strong Taíno women, but will knowing this help her bring peace and justice to her family and community?


Despite her name, Taína Perez doesn't know anything about her Taíno heritage, nor has she ever tried to learn. After all, how would ancient Puerto Rican history help with everything going on? There's constant trouble at school and in her neighborhood, her older brother was kicked out of the house, and with her mom at work, she's left alone to care for her little brother and aging grandmother. It's a lot for a fourteen-year-old to manage.


But life takes a wild turn when her abuela tells her she is a direct descendant of Anacaona, the beloved Taíno leader, warrior, and poet, who was murdered by the Spanish in 1503. Abuela also gives her an amulet and a zemi and says that it's time for her to step into her power like the women who came before her. But is that even possible? People like her hardly make it out of their circumstances, and the problems in her home and community are way bigger than Taína can manage. Or are they?


A modern tale with interstitial historical chapters, The Moonlit Vine brings readers a powerful story of the collective struggle, hope, and liberation of Puerto Rican and Taíno peoples.



Taína, una joven de catorce años, acaba de enterarse que es descendiente de una larga línea de fuertes mujeres taínas. ¿Pero, le ayudará esto a traer paz y justicia a su familia y comunidad?


A pesar de su nombre, Taína Pérez no sabe nada de su herencia taína, ni ha intentado nunca aprender. Al fin y al cabo, ¿cómo podría ayudar la historia antigua de Puerto Rico con todo lo que está pasando? Hay constantes problemas en la escuela y en su barrio, han echado a su hermano mayor de casa y, como su madre está trabajando, le toca a ella sola cuidar de su hermano pequeño y de su abuela anciana. Es mucho para una niña de catorce años.


Pero la vida da un giro radical cuando su abuela le dice que es descendiente directa de Anacaona, la bienamada líder taína, guerrera y poeta, que fue asesinada por los españoles en 1503. La abuela también le regala un amuleto y un cemí y le dice que ha llegado el momento de asumir su poder como las mujeres que la precedieron. ¿Pero es eso posible? La gente como ella apenas consigue salir de sus circunstancias, y los problemas de su hogar y de su comunidad son mucho más grandes de lo que Taína puede manejar. ¿O lo son?


Un relato moderno intercalado con capítulos históricos, Claro de luna ofrece a los lectores una poderosa historia de lucha, esperanza y liberación colectiva del pueblo puertorriqueño y taíno.


Elizabeth Santiago grew up in Boston, MA with parents who migrated from San Sebastián, Puerto Rico in the 1960s. The youngest of nine, Elizabeth was entranced by the stories her mother, father, aunts and uncles, and community elders told her. Later, she sought to capture and honor those narratives and share them with the world. She earned a BFA in creative writing from Emerson College, a master's in education from Harvard University, and a PhD in education studies from Lesley University. She still lives in Boston with her husband Kevin and son Ezekiel, but travels to Puerto Rico as often as she can to feel even closer to her ancestors, culture, and heritage. Find her @liznarratives


McKenzie Mayle is a New York City based artist and illustrator with roots in Appalachia Ohio. She delights in creating relatable and eccentric characters, predominantly inspired by Tim Burton, Shel Silverstein, Jann Brett, and Roald Dahl imagery. Van Gogh and Monet influenced the scenery she would create for her characters. When not drawing or out and about people-watching for character inspiration, she can be found cuddled with her cats, Pretzel and Tarmac. Find her at

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Memorial Day 2023: Remember the Chicano Who Won WWII?

This column originally ran in September 2019. My father saw Europe through the gunsights of a .30 calibre machine gun. He fondly remembered a big house overlooking the arches on the beach of Etretat, Normandy. The Army billeted the victorious soldiers there on the cliffs. That house was one of two good memories Dad shared with me through the years.

Michael Sedano

“What the Hell is that doing there?” My dad’s vehemence wasn’t unusual but this time his irritation rang with something else. The cover of the big thick book had the Nazi swastika against a white circle. I recognized what I’d done and snatched the volume off the table and hid it away spine-first. I thought the author had been stupid to put that piece of crap so blatantly out there, but then, I knew my dad’s stories, and the symbol sold books about the 16-year old war.

I was probably 5 when I first heard about my daddy’s war. This puts my Dad only 5 years distant from the last days of World War II, 6 years from being an orange picker with a high school diploma. He was picking la naranja again, and smudging in winter, with 2 kids and a Good Conduct Medal.

Dad showed me the armbands, some fotos of dead German soldiers, a newspaper foto of his smiling face sticking up from the tank. He looked so young, even to my mocoso eyes. He told me haunting stories about killing people. About the dead German tank commander said to bear an eerie resemblance to my father's face. A barn filled with machine-gunned civilians. It was war.

They were never going to get rich on an orange picker's sueldo
but that didn't stop my Dad from 100-box days when the
grove was good.
Dad sat in the machine gunner’s forward post on 19APR45 when his tank, the C’est la Guerre, led the 69th Infantry Division to the front door of Leipzig City Hall. The war was won. If you saw the movie, Patton did it all by himself, casí. “We gave it back,” my Dad told me as he closed the shoebox of memories.

Dad wouldn’t have been the first GI inside the building, but as the machine gunner riding in the nose of that tank, my Dad was the closest GI to the front door when the driver set the brakes and WWII was over. A Chicano won WWII. My Dad never said that. William L. Shirer went that whole book and didn’t say it. I say it: A Chicano orange picker from Redlands California won WWII in Europe. It’s true.

By the time the Army allowed my dad and his platoon into the building, all the good stuff was gone. Rank has its privileges. A few worthless German marks littered the floor, some brand new Nazi armbands. Here's a chrome bayonet that slicks in and out of a decorative sheath, in all likelihood the guy who wore it in a goose-stepping parade was killed during the assault.

This is the crew of C'est la Guerre, the first U.S. tank
to reach Leipzig City Hall, where this bill littered the floor.
Dad autographed a one hundred thousand Mark bill and sent the loot home to Berdoo. Germany was printing money at will and the bill looks like it's fresh off the printing press.

C’est la Guerre’s crewmen signed a one hundred mark bill. Along with my Dad, these are the first GIs to reach Leipzig City Hall. History has forgotten these warriors. Somewhere a family has a similarly autographed bill. I hope they know it's a treasure.

McCann, the Loader on C'est la Guerre, remained in contact with my father the rest of their lives. Just as dementia was seizing my Dad's future, they'd planned a reunion so my nearly-blind Dad could view the Fall colors back east. When McCann died, my mom decided my Dad didn't need to know that. She said goodbye to Mrs. McCann for us. Thank you for your service.

Two armbands complete the collection. A variety of GIs signed their names and addresses. I looked up a couple. The address in Chicago is a building erected in 1900. It stands. I know one GI who returned there after WWII. Hillsboro TX buried a man whose particulars suggest he was with the 777th Tank Battalion that day in Leipzig. Another Chicano who won the war. Chippewa III 22 signed both armbands.

I am happy my Dad did not downsize his Army souvenirs. I’m downsizing my possessions and happened upon my Dad’s last Army stuff, the memories he kept in his strongbox. Dad, I won’t let go of your memories. I’m not waiting for VE Day to say “thank you for your service.” And I add, thank you for holding in those nightmares. I remember your stories, I understand holding it in can break a man. You did that for us.

The last time I sat with my father in his bedroom at home, his mind was back in the field. He wanted to reset the firing stakes for their new position. He was on the road to Leipzig, resting now, dug in and ready. I could hear it in his voice.

69th Infantry Division, 777 Tank Battalion, on the road to Leipzig, April 1945.
The soldier stands over the machine gunner's hatch.

U.S. Army tank C'est la Guerre in Leipzig, Germany April or May 1945

C'est la Guerre and other armor, Leipzig, Germany, April or May 1945

Swastika is too offensive to feature on La Bloga

Monday, May 29, 2023

Cimientos 2023: IATI Theater's Staged Readings Series (June 8 to June 11)

Cimientos Play Development Program at IATI Theater in New York is a unique opportunity for global playwrights. Out of hundreds of submissions, only ten playwrights are selected to develop their plays with us. This program is dedicated to pushing the envelope of traditional playwriting and explore what IATI calls vanguardia. The program provides the selected playwrights with resources such as mentorship, workshop-panels, and a platform to present their work to audiences.

IATI's ultimate goal is to cultivate and support innovative and unconventional voices in the theater community. IATI believes in pushing boundaries and supporting artists who challenge the status quo.

Join IATI for the Cimientos 2023 Staged Readings Series between June 8-11, 2023. Spotlighting this exciting curation of national and cross-continental contemporary writers. For information about the plays including getting your tickets for any or all of the readings, visit here.

Location: IATI Theater Studio, 64 E. 4th St 2 Floor, New York, NY, 10003.

I am delighted that my play, Waiting for Godínez, is a featured play in Cimientos 2023 with a live reading scheduled for June 9, 8:00 p.m. (Eastern). If you are in New York, pick up a ticket and enjoy an evening of theatre.


May 22 was the book birthday of the Spanish translation of my short-story collection, How to Date a Flying Mexican under the title of Cómo Salir con un Mexicano Volador (University of Nevada Press). The Spanish edition was translated by Cinta García de la Rosa. Having my work available in Spanish means a lot to this old pocho. Perfect for the classroom and libraries! Get your copy now from your favorite bookstore or online seller.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Poetry Connection: A Lesson in Resilience and the teachings of Poetry

Melinda Palacio, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate

Woww Writers Lori Anaya, Mona Frazier, Melinda Palacio and 23rd US Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo

*This post was previously published in the Santa Barbara Independent 


National Poetry Month May be over but Santa Barbara continues to bring the best of the laureates to our town. United States Poet Laureate Ada Limón closed out poetry month. Last Thursday, UCSB hosted Joy Harjo, 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. Joy Harjo was the perfect choice for Multicultural Center’s Resilient Love series. To read her poetry, songs, memoirs and plays is to understand how she navigates obstacles and rises above them. 


If you are not familiar with our previous United States Poet Laureate, a good place to acquaint yourself with her twelve books of poetry is to start with Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light 50 Poems for 50 Years with a foreword by Sandra Cisneros, a rare insight into the friendship of two once-struggling poets turned literary giants. The notes section of the book is fascinating and tells the backstory and sometimes to whom the poem was written. The Life of Beauty, a New York Times assignment, is also on her music album, I Pray for My Enemies. I’ve spent the past couple of days listening to her songs on Apple music. Sandra Cisneros describes being startled when she first heard Joy Harjo’s singing voice: 


“It was a voice as soft as the wings of sparrows, as sweet and transparent as rain, so unlike her deeper speaking voice, a wonder to me. Where had she hidden that voice all those years? More important, why?”


I spent the day with Joy Harjo, first at a lunch with students at the multicultural center and later driving around town. The luncheon was a highlight for Joy because the students shared their stories about who they are, who they aspire to be and how they came to appreciate stories and poetry. During the break before her reading, I took Joy and her husband, Owen, to the pier at Goleta Beach. We witnessed a rehabilitated pelican being released on the beach. There must have been at least 50 pelicans at a nearby sandbar. Joy mused about the stories the bird would share once it reached its squadron of pelicans.

Joy Harjo


Goleta Beach

At the I.V. Theatre, Joy began with a song on her flute to acknowledge those who keep the land. 

So much of her work has to do with facing obstacles and poems as tools for healing and transformation. She conveyed how poetry can allow you to speak the unspeakable. There’s so much to unpack in her words, a lifetime of books and music. She also revealed her latest picture book, Remember. Judging by the profound questions from the audience, many appreciated how she’s never shied away from the difficult work that is writing. 


For Joy Harjo writing is about going into that troubling space and listening. “Poetry can give the mind something constructive to do in the face of grief or obstacles,” she said. Joy spoke about the hard work that must be done before writing: listening. Acknowledging and listening may be painful tools but ‘once you acknowledge the monster’s story, you can choose to release it,’ she said. She read from her poem, I Give You Back, which begins: ‘I release you, my beautiful and terrible fear.’ For Joy, the power of poetry is walking a little lighter, having released burdens.


There’s so much more to find out about the new direction Joy Harjo’s work will take. I asked about her role as the Artist-in-Residence at the Bob Dylan Center. She is the first to take on this position and said she was making it up as she goes. As a fan of Bob Dylan’s music, I hope I get to see some of her projects there. 


Upcoming Poetry Events in Santa Barbara:


Next week, for First Thursday, June 1, I will be introducing our State Poet Laureate, Lee Herrick. We will also be joined by our Youth Poet Laureate Madeline C. Miller at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Paseo Nuevo at 6pm. We will also have music at this event. 

First Thursday Laureates at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Paseo Nuevo, June 1 at 6pm.


This Saturday, The Mission Poetry Series features award-winning authors from Gunpowder Press. Catherin Eposito Presscott whose collection Accidental Garden won Gunpowder Press’s 2022 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize, selected by Danusha Laméris and the co-winners of Gunpowder’s Alta California Chapbook Prize, Gabriel Ibarra and Florencia Milito, both selected by Francisco Aragón.



Thursday, May 25, 2023

Family Tree with Crooked Branches


 Nicolas Gonzalez, Creator of a Mighty Tree

     How long are we supposed to keep family secrets? The relatives responsible for them are all dead. The irony is that before they died, some of them revealed what they knew.

     I wonder if migrants carry more secrets than those with the luxury of being settled in one place. Mexican men, for example, often left family, including wives and children, to come north and seek work. The plan was to send money home to the family, and when the time was right, and enough money saved, to bring the family north, reunite, and start anew. 

     Sometimes it worked, often it didn’t. Sometimes the men reappeared with new wives, and new families. In some cases, the young wives who remained behind lost hope, and found comfort in the arms of another, secretly bearing a new child, the father, incognito, whereabouts unknown, a village scandal.

     When the largest migration of Mexicans came to the U.S., between 1910 and 1925, the years of the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero War, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans came north to flee violence, pestilence, and starvation. Most came from the central Mexican states of Zacatecas, Jalisco, and Michoacan-north, a two thousand miles trek, no easy feat in the early 1900s.

     In her sixties, my aunt recalled leaving the family ranch Mitic, Jalisco, in 1918, as a child, with her father, mother, and five siblings. She said her last image was of her grandfather, Juan, astride a tall horse, tears in his eyes, looking down at his departing family. They had lived on the ranch for generations. They realized it was probably the last time they would see each other.  

     Sometimes the men came north alone, bachelors or husbands, like my paternal grandfather’s brother Pedro, who told his family he was heading north, to look for work. It was during the worst of the Revolution The family never heard from him again. In those years, the migrant trail must have been brutal. There were no superhighways or paved roads. People took whatever mode of transportation they could find.  

     If they could afford a train ticket, they headed for the station in Aguascalientes and took the train north. They rarely made it all the way to the northern pass, El Paso del Norte, so they struggled onward, taking a horse, mule, cart, or on foot. Once in the north, they found relatives or friends and crowded into barrios, often living on top of each other, parents, kids, uncles, aunts, and family friends.

     The stories of those years were passed down from generation to generation, mostly the good stories, about hard work, family bonds, triumphant over dire social conditions. Only behind closed doors did they mention anything unsavory.

     Then, it started, years later, maybe a simple request, like a daughter needing a birth certificate to get married. The parents feigned ignorance, bade their time, hoping their daughter would forget. When no answer came, she finally travelled downtown to the Hall of Records where she would learn the city had no record of her birth.

     The parents held her off as long as they could, making excuses. It caused a ruckus, yelling and tears. Where was her birth certificate? Eventually, it came out. Her parents weren’t really her parents, nor her name her real name. They were her uncle and aunt who had taken her in when her real father, a man she thought was her uncle, a wayward alcoholic, couldn’t raise her after her real mother died of cancer.

     She inquired further and found out her biological working-class Mexican father had married a young Anglo woman, the daughter of a wealthy Los Angeles family. She also found out her two older cousins were, in fact, her brother and sister. So many questions and no answers.

     The parents who raised her couldn’t articulate the complexity of the situation, how her father had begged them to take her in as one of their own. They raised her since she was in diapers, along with six other children, who treated her like a sister. How could she not see how much they loved her.

     Later, she heard rumors, questions about the man she thought was her real father. Her adoptive parents wouldn’t discuss it. The older family members clammed up, but years later, after the adoptive parents died, she asked an uncle about it, the last link in a shaky family chain. Even in his seventies, he was hesitant to say anything, so deep were the bonds of loyalty, and secrecy. She pleaded.  

     He thought it over and decided she had the right to know. Her real father was another man, a stranger, the father of an older cousin. The branch in her family tree was cracking. The truth wasn’t easy to accept, but she was relieved someone had finally been honest with her. Still, the revelation raised more questions. Don’t they always?

     When my paternal grandmother arrived from Chihuahua to Los Angeles, without a husband but with three children, one son and two daughters, it caused quite a stir, a lot of commotion over the years, and many more questions. No one ever asked. The barrio remained mum.

     Later, my grandmother’s two sisters, also with children, arrived. Rumor had it their husbands died working in Arizona’s coal mines, one run over by a coal cart in a dark mine shaft. Once all the women married, including their grown daughters, I had relatives with so many different last names it was hard to keep track.

     Because of all the interest in DNA testing and people wondering about their family roots, when my children asked how they were related to so-and-so, it was like trying to catch somebody up on a soap opera, and like the proverbial iceberg, more answers lie submerged under the surface than above it.

     The elders didn’t like talking about the past, especially anything personal. As I aged, I became bolder. I wanted to know, so I asked my father why my grandfather, rumored to be a happy-go-lucky older bachelor, would marry my grandmother, a woman with three children.

     My dad, a firmly integrated Chicano American, was a child of immigrants, refugees of the early 1900s Mexican diaspora. He told me, giving my question ample thought by digging into the recesses of his mind, how my grandfather had told him that a friend in the barrio, not the best source of information, said my grandfather could be drafted into the army for the first world war, but that the government would not take men with families.

     Apparently, that was good enough for my grandfather. He went out and found a woman with children to marry and guarantee he’d be exempt from the draft and from fighting in the war, probably a war he knew nothing about, and cared about even less.

     This explanation raised some questions in my mind. My grandfather resided in the U.S. legally, working, and probably in his early thirties when he married my grandmother. He spoke no English. During the war, the U.S. needed agricultural workers. In Mexico, my grandfather had been a rancher’s son, experienced in agriculture and ranching. Would the U.S. really draft a Mexican national, an older man who couldn’t speak, read or write English, a man who, in fact, taught himself to read Spanish.

     Who knows, maybe just the thought of going to war put the fear of God in him. After all, he had escaped from Mexico during the Revolution, a savage war that had already taken his brother. On his way to the U.S., he traversed a war-torn country. Had he seen the dead bodies littered over the Mexican landscape, or as many migrants described, corpses hanging from telegraph poles, images I tried capturing, in first novel, Pepe Rios, imagining my grandfather’s travels.

     Maybe he thought -- why would he fight a war for a foreign country, even an adopted country, when he had fled fighting in his own country? If he was like other Mexican migrants, he was just biding his time in the U.S., dreaming about the opportune time to return to Mexico and resume the life he’d left behind -- a pipe dream?

     When my father was born, his two half-sisters had already started their families, which had to have been confusing for him. He was the uncle to nephews and nieces who were older than he was. In fact, when I once referred to them as my uncles and aunts, because they were so much older than I was, he corrected me, “No, they’re your cousins.”

     Then, there was the time my maternal grandmother, sometime in 1930, suddenly, out of the blue, sent one of my uncles back to Mexico when he was seventeen. Eight years old when he arrived in the U.S., he was educated and raised in the North, Santa Monica to be exact. He was fluent in both English and Spanish, played baseball and football, an all-around American kid.

     Then, whoosh, he was gone, back to the family ranch in Jalisco, as if swooped up in a time machine, back to another world, where he stayed for the better part of five-years. The barrio kept its silence, even if, over the years, rumors had a way of seeping out into the open, something about an older woman, a pregnancy, and her husband away from home, working in another state, another cousin with questionable roots, another crooked branch in the family tree.

     Is it only my family, or is it the same in other families? Some things we just don’t talk about, but the family tree grows, sometimes taking a long, circuitous route?    

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Lani Rae's Marvelous Hair- El Cabello maravilloso de Lani Rae

By Yesenia Rodriguez and illustrated by Sunny Duran


Lani Rae is a little girl with many interests and lots of hair. When she learns that her best friend needs help, she searches for a way to make things better. Find out how she discovers the power behind friendship and kindness.


Traducido por Natalia Sepúlveda


Lani Rae es una niña pequeña con muchos intereses y con mucho cabello. Ella se entera que su amiga necesita ayuda y ella busca maneras de cómo mejorar las cosas. Conoce como ella descubre el poder detrás de la amistad y la amabilidad.



Yesenia Rodriguez was born and raised in Riverside, California. As a self-proclaimed multipotentialite, she has dabbled in many capacities that have influenced her writing. In her debut as an author, she recalls her time as a cosmetologist and the beneficial impact that one’s image can have on their self-confidence. She believes what one does for others and how one treats them leaves an even greater influence. You will normally find her creating memories with her daughter.



Sunny is an illustrator and designer of children’s books, wife, mother of four kids and keeper of two cats. She has always loved to draw and grew up in the woods of Northern Michigan along the shores of Lake Superior with her mother the illustrator and her grandmother the writer. She is a US ARMY vet and former 82nd Airborne paratrooper. Thanks to the military her family lived in Germany for 13 years. Where they grew to love the food, fests, castles and culture. 

Sunny currently lives in Maryland where blue crabs are plentiful and everything seems to have Old Bay seasoning on it. She spends her days doodling on her ipad with a cup of cold coffee by her side and a cat on her lap. Creating fun and quirky characters for picture books and middle grade. She is an active member of (SCBWI) the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is also the co-host of the Illo Chat podcast. A place where her friend and fellow author/illustrator Olga Herrera, talk about their journey as children’s book illustrators.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Gluten-free Comida: Quiche Sin Crust

Originally shared last June. Tis the season!

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks

Chile Verde Gluten-free Meatless Tortilla Quiche 56g* 

Michael Sedano, The Gluten-free Chicano


Note well, this is the Ur- version of the dish. An experimental attitude, and a hielera full of left-overs, leads to wonderful eating. 

Add a layer of chopped Hatch chiles, or, zucchini for a modified green&gold casserole. Adding a layer of well-drained sausage or ground meat picadillo gives the dish an entirely new character. (Beware of ingredients that add liquid to the delicately balanced custard element. You will ruin your meal. Add more rice to soak up the liquid.)


375º 45 minutes


Whisk together vigorously:

2 eggs (medium) 7g 

Scant 1/3 cup whole milk 4g

2 TBS (¼ stick) salted butter melted .02g

Pinch coarsely ground black pepper .06g


½ can, 1 cup or so, Las Palmas green enchilada sauce. 3g


Grease a baking dish, bottom and sides:

Ladle a few TBS enchilada sauce on the bottom of the greased baking dish.


3 corn tortillas 33g

Tear corn tortillas into small chilaquiles-size pieces (1/3 the size of a storebought chip)

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with tortilla pieces, get them 2 layers thick.

Cover the tortillas with most of your enchilada sauce.


Add all the egg butter milk mixture atop the sauced tortilla pieces.

Scatter 1/8 cup leftover steamed rice into the custard blend. 6g

1/3 cup small curd cottage cheese.  2g

1/3 cup grated mozzarella or jack cheese .4g

1/3 cup sharp cheddar .4g


Distribute cheese across the top. 

Daub rounded TBS of cottage cheese in 4 or 5 spots;

Sprinkle lots of grated cheese across the entire dish;

Ladle a few TBS enchilada sauce across the cheese;


Decorate the top with sliced yellow cheese and black olives.


Bake 40 to 45 minutes at 375º. 

Give the Quiche a shake. If the top middle jiggles like jello, give it another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit five or ten minutes. 

Serve with a crisp green salad and a gluten-free dressing.

La Bloga-Tuesday: A History of Gluten-free Chicano Food

The Gluten-free Chicano has been a La Bloga-Tuesday Semi-regular Occasional feature since 2011, when Michael Sedano's Celiac Disease-dictated campaign against wheat / barley / rye ingredients in his food was in its fifth year. No: bread, soy sauce, beer, pasta, malted milk, and a host of suspicious ingredients best avoided than risk a few days incapacitation.

Just because you have a food allergy, and Diabetes, doesn't mean you have to find a cave and become a food hermit. Some food, like Mexican food, is naturally gluten-free, or mostly so. Other dishes lend themselves to gluten-free methods, and carbohydrate counting. Diabetics often limit each of 3 big meals to around 50g, and two snack meals at 35g.

Here are four columns where a click leads you to some outstanding comida Chicana, all of it Gluten-free. Menudo. Nopales. Helote Calabaza soup. Enchiladas. Mira nomás!

Puro Quiche

Chile-Potato-Helote Bisque  

Multiple recipes



*Carbs estimated from values found at 


Monday, May 22, 2023

The Crocodiles by Xánath Caraza

 The Crocodiles by Xánath Caraza


The real problem was the crocodiles. The sharks that appeared twenty years ago from who knows where were being caught one after another by the brave fishermen of Burano. They were sent for, less because of their own reputations than for their grandfathers’. They took photos with the hanging sharks and their harpoons, which served more as decoration than anything else. But the crocodiles really were a problem: suddenly the smallest pets and some stray cats, adopted by the houses facing Murano’s Grand Canal, began to disappear.

Suspicions arose when a woman who was walking her puppy very early one morning let her off the leash and the curious puppy, without knowing it would be her last time doing so, peered into the canal, attracted by the water’s unusual movements. The woman, unconcerned, turned away to smoke a cigarette, like she usually did, and to look at some red glass necklaces in one of the many storefronts near the museum. The puppy was never seen again. The woman wore herself out calling her, smoking all the while, but little Zucchini, as she was called, was never seen again.


First, they suspected some Americans who had recently arrived on Murano. They had already become known for jogging around the island early in the morning. The police interrogated them and never found a trace of little Zucchini.


And then there was high tide when the moon was full, that really was a problem. The crocodiles, now more accustomed to the landscape, familiar with people’s habits, began walking alongside the canal. Sometimes, like good crocodiles, they stayed between the boats and all you could see was their two bright eyes. At first, people thought they were red lightning bugs, but they would disappear all of a sudden and then reappear in the middle of the canal. Other times, a whole bunch of little red lights that were always moving around in pairs would be seen in the middle of the lagoon. Then the strange sounds at night, almost like a roar. When it rained for twenty-four hours straight, they were sure to be seen on the surface, stalking any possible victim, even in broad daylight.


The last straw was when the boats appeared, drifting loose down Murano’s Grand Canal. There was never a trace of blood. No one knew how they did it. People stopped walking near the canals at night. Or if they did, they went in groups of at least four, and armed with brooms, slingshots, hefty books or whatever they could find around. Some people even got the half-rusted harpoons out of their grandfathers’ cabinets.


The population of pigeons and seagulls started to decline in Murano, the crocodiles were slowing eating them all up in the absence of human flesh. No one said anything because they didn’t want to scare off the tourists. Fortunately, there were so many tourists that the noise they made scared off the crocodiles. The problem was when one of them would stay out until midnight on his or her own, those were the ones the crocodiles would almost always eat; but no one would say anything and very early the next morning the garbage boats would quickly sweep up the hats or cameras that remained as the only proof of their existence. There were rumors that the crocodiles had eaten another visitor, but no one would say anything.


One night, an old lady who lived in front of the Grand Canal, her hair the color of the foam on the Adriatic, tried to save one of those oblivious tourists who stayed out past midnight taking photos. The night was so hot and humid that the old lady was still sitting by the window. As soon as she saw what was happening, she turned on the light and began shouting to scare off the crocodile. She threw, from the window, everything she could get her hands on: a pot of pink flowers, a red crystal vase, a metal elephant. The lights went on in other houses, but only a few people dared to go out onto their balconies to watch in horror how the poor, lonesome tourist was dragged into the canal. There wasn’t a trace of blood the next day. No one said anything about the incident, not a single word, and the old lady was, mysteriously, taken off to a psych ward the following week. Everyone remained silent. No one said anything, not a single word.


The crocodiles have disappeared. You can now stroll the length of Murano’s Grand Canal at night. That’s what people say. Yesterday it rained all day and half the night. This morning someone found six books of poetry abandoned by a bridge. They were from the Murano public library. One of the glass vendors, who got up very early, took them back to the library, and they carefully removed the record of the Chicana poet who had gone to spend the summer writing a book of poetry on Murano Island. No one said anything about the incident. Not a single word. It appears that the crocodiles aren’t completely gone from Murano Island.


(Murano Island, Venice, Veneto, Italy, June 15, 2015).


The Crocodiles” is part of the Bilingual Short Story Collection Metztli (2018)

Translated into the English by Sandra Kingery & Kaitlyn Hipple



Thursday, May 18, 2023

Chicanonautica: Education, La Raza, and Me

by Ernest Hogan

I’m getting ready to teach my Papí Sci-Fi’s Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom online at Palabra del Pueblo Writing Workshop. Guao, it still sounds weird. Me, a teacher. How the hell did that happen? 

My usual joke is to say that me and school never got along so good. Back in the Sixties the education system didn’t know what to do with a dyslexic Chicano with a dangerously over-active imagination. I just wasn’t good at the trained monkey act that gets mistaken for intelligence, and I couldn't seem to do anything right but daydream .  .  .

I’m not complaining. It’s been a wild ride, and where I ended up is pretty damn interesting. My out-of-control mutant monster imagination has been good for me, even if I had some serious struggles in my early years.

Somehow I keep ending up at odds with society and education—and by that I mean organized education. Y’know, like organized religion. I’m all for education, it's just that I tend to clash with the social constructions that evolved around it.

It’s something I keep writing about.

At one time I was so frustrated I almost threw my high school diploma into the trash. The only time I was asked about it was when I applied for some classes at a community college. Now that I  talk—some would say “lecture”—at colleges nobody even mentions any degrees I might have.

And in the last couple of decades, academia charged in and saved my career.

So I’ve become a teacher of sorts, an undocumented one, of course.

I have no explanation for it. It’s like a fable of Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom.

I’m a firm believer in self-education. I also believe that it never stops. Diplomas and graduations are social niceties, excuses for photo ops, parties, and glomming gifts. Have fun, get what you can, but the learning never stops—unless you’re a total loser.

I’ve long wanted to write a book called Steal This Education (referencing Abbie Hoffman), but the ways to acquire information—and knowledge—keeps changing. Any manual would be obsolete before it could be published, which is the point. You have to be constantly learning, or else you’ll be left behind.

It’s so pinche sci-fi. Gotta love it.

I can’t really tell anybody how to do it. I can babble about how I’ve done it. Maybe it will help.

So I try to make it fun.

Life is a series of learning experiences. Make it an adventure.

It’s the freaking story of my life. I’m always writing it. Sometimes I sell and publish it. It’s a bad habit I’ve got, and there seems to be no cure. I sure hope not.

Class dismissed. Now go out and get into some interesting trouble.

Meanwhile, I’m putting on my Papí Sci-Fi mask and costume, and going out to cause some interesting trouble.

Freeze frame. Mad scientist chortle. Fade out. 

Ernest Hogan shouldn’t be taken too seriously, after all he’s a cartoonist, sci-fi writer, and a Chicano.