Welcome to my blog!My name is Melody M. Nuñez, and I’m an artist and a writer. Please look around my website and make yourself at home. I post new blog entries weekly, and hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and come back often! To learn more about me, please view the “About” page…
Category Archives: travel
Hocus Pocus Horoscope-us?
I’m a Taurus, and was also born in the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Ox. Does that make me doubly stubborn? I’m sure my husband, Jose, would answer in the affirmative! I’ve never been one to follow horoscopes closely or put weight in them, but I do find them rather entertaining. The daily horoscope messages put out in the newspaper or online are pretty hit-and-miss, and I rarely read them. What I do find interesting is the personality traits attributed to the different signs. They seem, at least in my case, pretty accurate.
Here are some personality traits for a Taurus: patient, reliable, warmhearted and loving, persistent, determined, and placid. Taurus represents art, beauty in all its forms, and strength (not only physical). Taureans are realistic, and security loving (both on the material and psychological level). Sounds right-on to me!
From the Chinese Zodiac: The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or Buffalo are fortunate to be stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character. Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness that the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task. Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home. This also sounds about right.
So, given the bullish and oxen-related vibe that surrounds me, for better or worse, I decided this week’s self-portrait should include a ceramic rendering of my bovine-esque self. I bought this little ox at the Chinchero Market, in Peru – it’s one of a pair. “I’m” posing with a rose to make my visage slightly more feminine and more colorful!
I saw countless pairs of ceramic oxen (larger than this palm-sized version) on the roofs of homes in Peru – particularly in the Sacred Valley. They’re put on the roof to attract happiness and prosperity, and though I can’t put the pair I bought on our roof, the two oxen have a place of honor on our mantel.
A stretch for a self-portrait, you say? I don’t think so, given the double ox designation of my birth. It’s also a great way for me to mention an upcoming travel feature I’ll be posting! Be sure to read my blog on Sunday, October 17th – I’ll be posting a brief photo diary of my 2009 trip to Peru, including coastal Lima, Andean Cusco, the mountainous Machu Picchu, and the floating Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
I’ve shared many of my “loves” on this blog (art supplies, baking, books, movies, etc.), so I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you how much I love to travel. Whether it’s to another state, or another country, I am crazy about travel. A business trip to Minnesota? Yes! A half marathon in New Orleans? Woo hoo! A guided tour in Peru? Heavenly! So it may surprise you when I say that a trip to an international district within a hundred miles is thrilling to me, too.
I live in Southern California and I’m so thankful that this area is such a melting pot. And though different ethnicities are spread throughout, there are often pockets of particular ethnicities in certain areas. For example Chinatown, near downtown L.A. I love driving up, having a dim sum lunch, and wandering through the stores and markets. So much of the atmosphere and product is different than what I’d find in my neighborhood stores, and I eat it up. It’s like I’ve traveled far away, though I’m not far from home at all.
I think of this kind of trip as a poor woman’s tourism, and am thankful I can slake my thirst for different experiences and cultures in these international districts in between my trips abroad. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever have enough money or vacation time to satisfy my travel lust, so I have to be resourceful.
No Passport Required
My dear husband and I recently took an afternoon and went to the far-off land of Little India. I’ve wanted to visit India (the country) for years, but haven’t managed a trip there yet, so this was a do-able compromise. And though it was a unique and wonderful experience, it only took us about 30 minutes to drive to Artesia. No packing required, and no jet lag! José and I only spent about three hours in Little India, so I’ll definitely need to go back when I have more time. I’d like to peruse the shops and markets more slowly, but I saw enough on this trip to know that I want to go back for more!
We started our adventure with a visit to a restaurant called Ambala Dhaba. We shared the following:
Samosa keema (the two pieces served as a tasty appetizer)
Channa masala (a vegetarian side dish featuring chickpeas – we loved it!)
Ambala chicken (our main dish, which came out sizzling on a skillet)
Garlic Naan (delicious bread)
We also had:
A mango shake (José)
Shikanjvi (limeade – me)
The entire meal was delicious, but the channa masala, naan, and mango shake stole the show. I would drive to Little India just for that shake – yum! José was nice enough to share with me.
After lunch it was time for a little shopping. As a visual artist, I was thrilled with the colors, textures and fabrics. Indian apparel is often bold and bright, and I love it. The colors and fabrics were nearly irresistible, and my purchase desires definitely outstripped anything my wallet and finances could ever support! I restricted myself to one tunic-style garment and some inexpensive bracelets, but drank in the textiles everywhere we went. Delicious! And that doesn’t even include the jewelry.
My God, the jewelry! The window displays turned me into a slack-jawed tourist, and I numbly stood there gaping and wiping saliva from my chin. I couldn’t bring myself to enter a single jewelry store – for a few reasons. One, I know the 24-karat gold jewelry they sell is way out of my price range. Two, I have nowhere to wear such incredibly gorgeous and ornate creations. Three, reasons one and two wouldn’t keep me from wanting these pricey and impractical ornaments and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the proprietors by whimpering and whining when I’d eventually be forced to leave the store empty-handed.
The grocery store we visited (Pioneer Grocery) was a treasure trove – full of products and packaging that were new and exciting to me. Spices galore (including a huge bag of turmeric for less than $14), orange lentils that tickled my retinas, several kinds of rice in huge bags, and gorgeous purple and deep pink potatoes – all were there for me to enjoy free of charge. Next time I visit I’ll grab a cart and shop!
Culinary enthusiasts that we are, we felt compelled to sample Indian ice cream at Saffron Spot. They have many flavors that are unusual to the western palate, and though we tried the rose-flavored ice cream, we stuck with more typical flavors like coconut, vanilla, and butterscotch. Armed with our shovel-shaped “spoons”, we sat on a bench in the shade and enjoyed the creamy goodness.
Leaving No Stone Unturned
After visiting some more clothing stores and shops with assorted goods, it was almost time to call it a day. Work loomed the next day, and, responsible citizens that we are, we had to head home. We couldn’t leave without visiting one of the many sweet shops though. We didn’t want to shortchange you, dear readers. (wink) We ventured into Bombay Sweets & Snacks, and gathered an assortment of goodies to take home with us.
Papri gathia (a kind of chip made from chickpeas – they resemble Fritos!)
Hot mix (India’s version of spicy Chex Mix?)
Coconut, mango, and badam (almond) barfi (squares of confectionery goodness)
Badana (mysterious orange balls that won me over simply because of their color)
Amriti (mysterious orange pretzel-looking things that also wooed me with their color)
Back home I sampled all these goodies. My favorites are the hot mix on the savory side, and the mango and badam barfi (tastes better than it sounds), and badana on the sweet side. The badana balls are incredibly sweet and delicious. I think they’re basically fried and sugared bits of bliss – so it’s a good thing I don’t live down the street from Little India or the Bombay staff would be seeing a lot of me!
Venture Forth, Southern California Residents!
I really enjoyed this poor woman’s tour, and hope to return to Little India soon. If you live in Southern California (or live in another metropolitan area with international districts), consider a trip to Little India. The sights, smells and sounds will be a treat for your senses, and you’ll experience the joy of travel without all the hassle. If you’ve read this far, thank you! I’ll be posting write-ups on trips I’ve taken and on visits to international districts/ethnic markets in the coming months, so please stay tuned!
From time to time I will share a haiku with you, dear readers. I must say that I’m a fairly recent haiku convert, and didn’t fully embrace this Japanese form of poetry until a year or two ago. However, after a writer friend shared the fun of haiku, and kindly reminded me that I need to accurately count my syllables (yes folks, I once goofed on a simple syllable count!), I’ve really enjoyed writing the occasional haiku.
Traditional haiku is quite different than the poems I have created thus far. For example, a traditional haiku uses a season word and my haiku generally do not. (For the history of haiku, please click this link)
However, being a bit non-traditional hasn’t stopped me from forging ahead and creating a slightly modified English/Melody version consisting of three lines. There are five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the last line. Here is an example – a haiku about haiku!
A haiku is brief
Choose words carefully
Get the idea? Here is my first official haiku for my blog – complete with a related photograph.
Love your forty shades of green
I long to return
It’s pretty fun once you get going! Perhaps you’ll be inspired to write a few 5-7-5’s of your own. Please feel free to post a haiku in the comments section of this blog post – I’d love to see what y’all come up with!
p.s. This photo, of the Cliffs of Moher, was taken on the western coast of Ireland.Tweet
For those of you who don’t know me personally, my name is Melody M. Nuñez. I’m a writer and an artist, and am very excited about my new blog. My blog will be focused on writing, art, and life in general, as my tagline says. My future posts will likely include the following – and more!
- Updates on my attempt to find a literary agent for my collection of illustrated short stories, and posts on the twisty-turny road that leads to getting a book published
- New photographic images
- Preparation for and participation in National Novel Writing month this November (Yep, I will write a 50,000 word novel in one month!)
- Photos of new collages or mixed-media projects I complete, some with before and after photos
- New articles and creative writing (including haiku!)
- Self-portraits (I will be participating in self-portrait Friday, posting new images every other Friday)
- Posts on the odds and ends in my life – books, travel, walking half marathons, movies, baking (I will include photos & recipes), particularly good meals, volunteerism/charitable opportunities, my pet rabbits (Cypress & Pinto), and anything else that strikes my fancy…
I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog. You may subscribe now by using the feature on the upper right side of this main blog page, or on the separate subscribe page accessed from the menu at the top. Also, please invite your friends and family to subscribe, too, if you think they might be interested. The more the merrier!
Before I sign off, I’d like to publicly thank my wonderful husband, José B. Nuñez, for all his help with the renovation of my website, and with the launch of this blog. He put in an incredible amount of time and effort, and I’m beyond appreciative. I’m blessed to have such a helpful, talented, and supportive husband. Thank you, José!
Thank you for stopping by, everyone, and please come back soon! My next post will appear on Tuesday…