Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PIc-of-the-Week for January 17, 2017

Hola Amigos!  

Sorry I'm so slow today.  We took a trip today to San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas  for various and sundry reasons, and since we didn't get home until 4, decided to go out to dinner, then decided to play 3-handed Pinochle with Pat.  Phew.  Just one of those days when more "important" things are happening than Pic-of-the-Week, if you can believe that!  

Another two weeks have flown by; it's amazing how fast time goes when you have friends visiting who are counting their days here!  (They were counting the days until they came down starting late last summer, so they are really good at counting!)  My cousin Tom and his wife Karan are getting into the Baja good life. They're renting a nice casa nearby, and have a fantastic ocean view, easy walking distance to our house (or Rancho Buena Vista round bar), and are enjoying the food and the life style.  They are staying a whole month, and plan to come back next year for even longer!  We've played some wicked good Mexican Train domino games.  We've all won a few, and lost a lot!  That's the full moon coming up behind them the other night, when we were at our favorite restaurant, La Playa, enjoying the beautiful evening (and of course, thinking about friends and family freezing in frigid Oregon.)

 Here's another shot of the moon, with just a little more "zoom".

Lord of the Wind Tournament is here in Los Barriles this week.  Trouble is, there is not much wind right now!  That is always a problem when people are ready to compete.  It is a pretty big deal; hopefully they'll get more wind as things start up tomorrow.  

We took Tom out to Los Frailes last week, and just about rattled his teeth out on that nasty road.  We took some supplies to Mel and Katie for their new campsite, and it ended up that poor Mel did most of the work.  But it looked really nice when he finished.  (It's a sewer pit for their camper). 

Ben and Tom supervised, as well as Katie and Ellie from the peanut gallery!  (I was assigned to picture taking, so I was working!)  They plan to move their 5th wheel and camper up next Monday, and we hope to be there giving moral support (and watch expert driver Katie maneuver that big ole trailer into place). 

We spotted a great big white bird across the canyon from their camp site, and I was able to get a few pictures of it, although none as good as I'd like to help identify it.  Katie and I figured it's either a Ferriginous Hawk or an Osprey....maybe!  What do you bird experts think this is?

As we were driving back to their beach camp, we saw a huge splash in the water in the bay, obviously from a whale breaching.  We didn't see it jump again, but saw lots of spouts.  Someone was also flying  bunch of kites on the beach, and they were so colorful and beautiful!  I should fly some from our roof!  The ones we saw were tied to a barb-wire fence.  Some were rotating, some just waving in the wind, like this one.  

There have been a few "coolish" days, and we and the dogs have appreciated the little propane stove.  So cozy!  For those of you who have been living in igloo conditions, we won't tell you our temps.  Just so you know...we're wimps when it comes to cold temperatures.  

And on the road to home from Los Frailes....what will YOU do to get great pictures with your GoPro camera?  Maybe ride on top of the jeep?  

And from the other side of the world, this is our 5-year old "teenage" grandson Aaron, who is enjoying his Dagwood sandwich.  This guy is a true gourmet!  He helps his Mom cook all the time, encourages his big brother to try exotic foods like mushrooms and garlic.  We're looking forward to having him and his Mom and sister and brother visit us here in late May.  (Doing my "Happy Grandma" dance!)  

And, just because I haven't done it for a while, here is a Hibiscus from our garden.  This is the BIGGEST hibiscus I've ever seen... it's probably over 6" to 8" across.  The bush itself is floppy, branches going everywhere, but the flowers are outstanding!

My vegetable garden is doing well.  I've strung my green beans, and they are working their way up the strings.  The onions are maturing, and we've eaten some Arugula, Spinach and radishes from the garden so far!  (I'll have to take some photos of our neighbor's Hydroponic garden....that stuff grows by leaps and bounds.  Truly amazing.)

Hope you are enjoying your January as much as we are.  If you're not, then you need to come see us for some Baja therapy.  

Hasta la proxima vez,
Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for January 3, 2017

Hola Amigos!

Feliz año nuevo!  Or, Happy New Year 2017!  We wish the best for you and yours in this new year.  Now, the first challenge for all us is to write 2017 instead of 2016!  I hope you're up to it.

Zoey is looking forward to more mobility, and getting in and out of this dog door in our kitchen screen door all the time instead of just once in a while!  She often comes in and goes out when the wood door is closed and she goes through both dog doors  She goes out this door.  But coming in?  She'll sit there and whine at us until we open it for her! Silly dog.  At this point she was thinking she might want in, but the sun felt pretty good laying outside the door.

I'm thankful that my garden is doing well.  The lettuce, onions and spinach continue to grow nicely; I planted my favorite Blue Lake green beans last week, and they are already popping up.  Ben said I should string them now, but it is just a bit too soon!  We should have beans to eat by February some time.

It is about time to put my soaker hose out, though, now that I can see the plants.  

On Sunday afternoon, we picked up our cousins Tom and Karan Malpass from the airport.  They said there was snow at the Sea-Tac airport, and a runway needed to be cleared and the plane de-iced before they could take off, so there were very thankful to get here where there is no snow in sight!  (Just white sand beaches!)  They are spending the month here, renting a house nearby us.  We had a rousing game of Mexican Train last night after dinner, and I'm sure there will be many more.  

Ryan is heading out for Thailand next week, to spend several months or more with his good friend Mike S, a college buddy of his.  Mike lives there and hopes to start a couple of enterprises with Ryan's assistance.  (The east room will be available!)  I think Sam is really going to miss him.  His lap is just the right height so that Sam can sit on it and rest his chin on the table...one of Sam's favorite places to be.  I don't think he tells him which cards to play.... Oh yeah, we'll miss him, too!!   Then we'll have our children all around the world.  Good thing for Skype and What's App to keep in touch!  I'll be anxious to see pictures of Thailand.
With those modern communications, we get to see pictures like this of Eleanor getting her hair cut.  (Or Aaron doing his own haircut.)  And pictures of David writing Arabic and Korean letters on the sidewalk to "make people think" as they walk by.  

We helped our friends Mel and Katie last week clean up the lot they will be moving their RV(s) to soon.  They spend about 5 months dry camping at Las Frailes, and this year they are going further up the arroyo almost to the ranch where there is a lovely spot available for them to set up, and keep it set up.  They do an elaborate camp every year, and they will be able to keep a lot of things in place at this spot.  

Katie is sitting about where they want the front of the 30' 5th wheel trailer to be.  She'll back it into here after winding her way up the arroyo and the road up the side of the hill to this camp spot.  We hauled brush Mel had cut previously, moved rocks, and picked up old garbage.  There used to be 5 or 6 little trailers parked here, and they were recently hauled out (lots of little bits and pieces left behind!)  They'll be getting a backhoe in to level some ground and dig a septic hole soon, and we hope to go back out to help them put things in place.  (I want to see her manuever some of those corners and skinny spots and be properly amazed at her driving abilities!)

After our work party we had lunch in Cabo Pulmo, and it was a windy day with very rough seas!  It looked like the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, except it was still the tropical turquoise color of the Sea of Cortez.  Oh... and you couldn't sit in an open air restaurant in December in Oregon and feel comfortable!  You can be sure no one was snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo that day!

Ben built a new platform for our bird feeder, since the old one was termite ridden and falling apart.  I'm sure the birds appreciate it (as long as we keep it full of seeds!)  The post is called Palo Brazil, which grows only here in southern Baja and parts of Sonora and Sinaloa. It is so hard, it is often used for fence posts.  I think the termites bypassed it, and just worked on the platform instead!  

I have created a January 2017 photo album just in case you want to see more...

Hasta la proxima vez,
Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for December 20, 2016

Hola Amigos, and Feliz Navidad!

Yes, it's beginning to look a bit like Christmas here.  We have put up our several years old agave bloom stalk that we use to hold our decorations and lights, and it's looking more "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" every year!!  I think we need a new one, but this one will do for now.

Thankfully, our weather is nothing like the snow and ice storms Oregon and Washington have been having and we haven't had our little heater on at all the last several weeks.  It is kind of cloudy and coolish today, but it has been sunny and bright; several days of calm, then several days of wind.  That way, the kite boarders and wind surfers don't get too worn out!  

It has been a quiet couple of weeks.  Ben didn't go to the car show in Cabo San Lucas where he won top prize last year.  The timing was bad for it this year, and they usually hold them on a Sunday when we are busy at church.  Ryan's college buddy Ken was here with his girlfriend for a while, and they just escaped Portland before the ice and snow storm hit there, so were very fortunate.  They sure enjoyed the sun and warmth here!

We are happy that our hummingbirds are beginning to show up in force again.  I believe that Hurricane Odile from a few years ago was very hard on the hummingbird population.  Once they found our feeders, there are more and more coming and using them.  

These two are young Costa's hummingbirds.  The one on the right has a few purple feathers on his head.  He will grow in a beautiful crown of violet feathers soon.  The one of the left looks like a female.

The motor is finally back in the boat, but not quite ready to go yet.  There are still bits and pieces for Chuyito to do to finish up, but he's got a job right now captaining a boat touring the Sea of Cortez for some fishing. He said the ship was over 100' long. Must be rough!  We're hoping he's back in a couple weeks to get this little guy sea-worthy.   At least Ben is able to get around in his shop and clean some stuff up.  

The weather was so hot earlier this fall that I delayed planting my garden.  Now, I'm happy to say, we have some Walla Walla sweet onions, spinach, arugula, radishes and lettuce coming up.  I should plant my beans soon because my canned supply is almost gone.  Love 'em fresh, love 'em home-canned!  

Our dendrobium orchid continues to put out multiple bloom stalks and blooms. For something I was ready to throw out a couple years ago, it is doing very, very well!  

A since it's Christmas season in Mexico, it's tamale time!  Ben ordered this for breakfast the other day, and he said it was delicious!  We do enjoy our Mexican food available here, and there are some wonderful folks who know how to prepare it!  

We get to see pictures of our Grandkids, and talk to them on Skype pretty regularly, but the picture of Aaron that Rebecca sent the other day was a "shocker"!  Aaron has taken to cutting his own hair.  I can't believe he did all that with just scissors (and didn't jab himself!)  We're thinking he was going for the "monkish" look....just not quite centered.  Like Rebecca says, he's definitely right handed!  And he has such handsome red hair!  Sigh......

From our casa to yours, we wish you Christmas Blessings, 
and a Prosperous New Year! 

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Hasta el proxima año,
Tus amigos de Baja
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for December 7, 2016

Hola, Amigos...

Another two weeks (and a day) has quickly gone by while we enjoy our sunny, but coolish, days here in Baja. By coolish, I mean that the morning temps have been in the 50's, highs in the 70's.  And that is cold for some of the Mexican homes that have no heating systems except for a few light bulbs and the cooking range.... and blankets!  It is supposed to warm up to the 80's this next week.  (Smiley face!)  

Yesterday was a beautiful calm and warm day and good enough for snorkeling ... at least for our friend Maggie.  We visited them at their new home yesterday, and when we got there she was down on the beach visiting folks from England and Germany who are here to take kite boarding lessons.  Of course on non-windy days, they need to do something else, so were snorkeling there, too. Those rocky areas attract a lot of fish, and she said there were hundreds of them out there.

Ben got our little propane heater working the other day, but it took the whole day to do it, and taking the thing completely apart and tipping it over to get to the little bits and pieces.  The gas supply line had separated from the igniter (he found that after much trial and error).  At first, he tried to order the igniter unit, but found that the shipping would be about $75 for next day air to get it to friends coming down soon.  Ha!!  Forget that for a $35 part!  Next he tried the store in Salem where we bought it.  They didn't have it.  Then he tried another one in Medford that wasn't real quick in getting back to us.  In the meantime, he managed to get the supply line back into the fitting by carefully, and with multiple tries, drilling out the fitting.  After about 10 or 12 times out to the shop to drill it again, it finally worked, and the fitting clamped nicely around the line.  Sure is nice to have a "Ben-of-all-trades" who can figure this stuff out. 

For those of you who have heard Miguel de Hoyos, our favorite guitarist, when you've visited us....he was back in town!  Hooray!  We got a front row seat for his last night here a few days ago, and really enjoyed his mastery of the guitar.  He claims he will be back again in January or February (with Alex on the violin), so we are pleased about that.  Check out our December 2016 album for a couple sample videos of his music. 

We are getting ready for Christmas...making our guest list to Christmas dinner and checking it twice or thrice.  Ben hopes to smoke another turkey, and I'm sure we'll have all the dishes to accompany it.  Ryan got our little stick tree out of storage and it is set up in the living room.  It's not decorated yet, but it's on the list of things for me to do!  Mañana!  Here's what it will look like....  Or something like that!!  At least the lights are already on it, so I don't have to deal with them this year.  

Ryan has a couple friends coming to visit for a while tomorrow, and they are our first "long term" guests this year.  I guess the weather hasn't been cold and miserable enough yet for the rest of you to consider a Baja vacation!  Ryan will be gone for several months mid January thru March or longer, so we'll have two guest rooms available then.  Something to think about!!  You can sit in our garden and watch the hummingbirds! 

Oh, I almost forgot... Ben took the 1929 Ford pickup to a car show in La Paz and won another prize or two.  I went up on the bus on Sunday afternoon, and got there just as the sun was going down.  

Isn't it pretty?!

I've got two photo albums for you to look at this week.  The November 2016 has some "end of the month" pics, and I've started the December 2016 album (and lucky you, a couple videos of Miguel playing have been uploaded).  

Hasta la proxima vez,
Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey (who snuggle together on cold mornings!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for November 22, 2016

Hola Amigos!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  We do celebrate here in Mexico; it is obviously not a Mexican holiday (they have plenty of their own!) but there are enough Gringos here that the stores have turkeys for sale, and we can even find cranberries!  Apple pie?  Pumpkin pie?  Sure, why not?  We've got the goods, so we can have it.  I think I'll make a lemon meringue pie to have with our dinner.  There will be 8 of us here to try to make a dent in our 20 lb Butterball turkey that Ben has brining right now.  He plans on smoking it Thanksgiving day.  Yum!  
Last Sunday was November 20, which is a very popular Mexican holiday, dia de Revolucion.  Los Barriles always has a parade, and the day of the week makes no difference.  Ben drove the 1929 Model A Ford pickup, since the queen usually rides in it.  We didn't take the 1928 Woody, because Ryan and I were in church running the sound and playing the piano the same time the parade was happening.  Ben did take the camera and got some good pictures, though!

It is a very colorful occasion!  Dances, concerts, bike races, horse races, baseball game, soccer.... something for everyone (there are most likely cock fights somewhere, too).  

We had a nice clear view of the Super Moon here in Baja Sur when it appeared.  

This next weekend is the first car show of the season in La Paz.  Ben will take his '29 pickup for the parade on Saturday afternoon, and the car show on Sunday.  I'll join him after church by taking the bus up.  The bus station is right across the street from the car show, so it is a very convenient way to get there to join him.  

You may have heard that the peso is not doing too well against the US dollar.  Right now it is at about $20 pesos to $1.  We get our cash by using ATMs, and it works well for us (and everyone else!)  Now that the peso is so low, it is very difficult to get out our $500 US limit with one transaction.  We have to ask for $7000 pesos or more, and some ATMs refuse to give that much (the error messages don't help either to figure out why you can't get your money out!)  Our little town has had various ATMs, some OK, some notoriously bad.  The one bank in Los Barriles did some remodeling this summer and vastly improved their ATM area with a wide expance of glass to brighten the ATM lobby and added machines.  However, when people started using the ATMs this fall (who didn't have an account at the bank), they could only get a maximum of $2000 pesos at a time (with an ATM transaction fee of over $80 pesos).  Bah, humbug!  I think this person may have reached the limit of their patience with the bank's lack of helpfulness!  The manager kept saying it was a glitch, and would be fixed "soon"  (same as manaña!)  We get all our pesos on our trips to La Paz or San Jose.  We can find banks with low transaction fees, and high limits. (Not my picture, but we saw it right after it happened). 

I found this moth on our veranda  a few days ago... loved the patterns on him.

Weather is moderating, finally.  We have very pleasant 80+ degree days, and a few windy days interspersed with the calm ones.   We usually have clouds building up in the afternoons, and often here thunder and see lightening, but haven't had any rain for a while.

I've got a few more pictures in our November 2016 Google album.  Enjoy!

Sending our Thanksgiving greetings from Beautiful Baja,

Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for November 8, 2016

Hola Amigos,

I'd say "Happy Election Day", but somehow, that doesn't seem appropriate this year.  Instead, I'll just say "hang on, it will be over soon"!  

We are finally getting some cooler days and nights here.  We've had a few windy days, and that has brought some comfort to us all.  Our friends said it cooled down because they got their new AC installed that day!!   The windsurfing and kite-boarding crowds are arriving, and we watched some of them as we had our breakfast at La Playa Restaurant a few days ago. Exotikite kite school is located there, and there were some people getting ready for lessons.  It isn't my cup of tea, but some folks just love it.  At least the water is warm right now!!

I prefer to sit and sip my coffee and eat my breakfast under the palapa and watch the wind blow!

We've been eating most meals on our north facing veranda.  We see all kinds of birds in our yard and bird feeder, but the other day, we had an interesting visitor to the feeder...a pretty green iguana.  I was able to get fairly close so got some nice shots of him.  I don't think he was eating any of the bird-seed, maybe just looking for insects.  At least he was safe from our dogs!  

The hummingbirds are back!  I have three feeders set up out there that they and the Orioles and Gila Woodpeckers frequent.  Of course with the hummers, they spend as much time fighting over the feeders as eating at them.  Silly birds.  The one below is a Costa Hummingbird with the brilliant purple crown.

I have started a November 2016 Google album that has a few more pictures.  Most of the pics are captioned, and they'll either show up when you go through the individual pictures, or you can click on the "i" in the top right corner for info. I have even included some great photos of the Grandkids that Rebecca shared with us.  :-) 

Zoey is doing about the same.  She can get around, she will attempt to chase lizards and cats (she can move fast!) but it is tough for her to walk straight on a slick tile floor!  We keep seeing little bits of improvement, so we hope that she gains more mobility in time.  

So far this season, we're all healthy, so that's something to celebrate!  We probably eat too well, with all this fresh seafood and fruits and vegetables, but we love to suffer.  Here we are after a breakfast with our friends Katie and Mel (from Sisters, dry camping at Los Frailes for about 5 months) the other day.  We've got another expedition planned with them tomorrow to Cabo San Lucas, to visit more friends from the Bend, Oregon area. (And of course, a trip to Costco is in order, too!)

Hope you are all well!

Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for October 25, 2016

Hola, Amigos!

We have been back home for almost 3 weeks now, and it has been our hottest October ever!  Temps have been in the 90's every day but a couple, and that's what the weather forecast is looking like for the foreseeable future.  Ryan says it's hotter now than it was all summer!  Crazy.  We are very much appreciating the AC in our bedroom at night so we can sleep!

I was so anxious to tell you about our trip home last time that I neglected to tell you about our final camping trip with our friends George and Carolyn.  They hadn't been to Hart Mountain yet this summer, and they asked if we'd like to go along.  Well, sure!!  Even though we'd get back just a day or two before we needed to pack up and head south, we don't pass up opportunities to go to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.  We even managed to sneak in a dinner at Cowboy Dinner Tree near Silver Lake, since they'd never been there before.  There was a cancellation, so we were lucky to get in. (The plan was to get enough food here so we didn't have to cook for several days!!  It worked!)

We camped with our trailers just across the street and had freezing temps that night.  Unfortunately, G & C's furnace wasn't working!  But with a little ingenuity, and the correct part at Ace Hardware in Lakeview, George was able to get the furnace to turn on; he just had to do it manually, so he still had to get up several times every night to turn it on and off.  

We camped at the bottom of the mountain for two nights and did some exploring down at the base, including the petroglyphs and the glass house that Ben & I visited last year.  The road out to these "attractions" is very rough (it included some serious mud puddles this year due to some heavy rains a few days before), so although it is a short distance (6.5 miles, mas o menos) it takes quite a while to get there and back!  The house is built up on the peak of a hill, and it is all plexiglass!  Really!  Roof and all.  It is abandoned now, and the property is probably owned by BLM, but it is fun to go check this out, and imagine trying to live here!  The original builder had an elaborate water system and a generator to run his electrical.  I imagine solar would be a good idea if you were going to live here now.  But golly, it sure is a long, hard drive to the grocery store for bread and milk!

Here is a good sample of the petroglyph art.  This critter (antelope?  goat?) has a little baby attached!

Ben and Carolyn spent a day back at Spectrum Sunstone mine, and this time they did it the "easy" way.  They spent an hour on a moving belt, pulling the pretty sunstones out.  They probably got as many in one hour as Ben and I did working it with the shovel and screen for 8 hours!  Live and learn!

 Here they are dividing the spoils.  What fun!

Of course, Hart Mountain is an Antelope refuge, so we did take a drive to check out how many antelope we could see.  Numbers seemed to be down, at least where we were looking, but we did see about 40 or 50 on our 20 mile drive.  And yes, that is patches of snow on that mountain peak!  It had snowed up to 6" on the mountain tops a few days before we got there.  

  OK.... back in Baja.  Ben has been busy as usual helping other folks get their houses in order.  Our friend Ruby is back for the first time in 4 years, and found her rental house in pretty bad shape due to various reasons.  Ben has helped her seal a leaky sink, look for batteries for her ATV, taken a termite ridden chair to the garbage (first to a carpenter to see if it could be repaired), arranged for a gardener to come clean her yard.  She is very appreciative!  Then our friend Mary also had a dead battery in her car, so he was her chauffeur for a day as she had commitments here and there the day she needed her car to be running.  I've been enjoying the quiet here in our casa, although they are building yet another new garage in Vista del Mar right in front of our casa.  This is the view from our roof.  At least these buildings don't obstruct our view of the ocean.  Ryan thinks we should "rent the roofs" to put solar panels on for our house!  If they wouldn't glare back in our eyes, it might not be a bad plan!  


We are happy to report that our newest "favorite" breakfast restaurant is open again for the season, and they will be serving dinner, too, starting on Friday.  This is La Playa, with great food and a wonderful view of the beach.

 My latest crochet project is this little beanie, which I made for our church's Christmas Shoebox gifts for the poor kids in the community.  The pattern is called "Brain Waves", and it's a good way to get rid of bits and pieces of yarn!  I hope to make a few more before the deadline.  

Had dinner at Tio's with friends last night, and they are ready for Halloween.  Look at this spider they have hanging in there!  It's not quite as big as the one I killed in our bedroom the other day (just kidding...but ours was big....and fast!!)

You may have noticed that I haven't directed you to any albums lately.  Since Picasa went away, all our photos have been migrated to Google Photos.  I've tried several various online photo sites, and it seems that Google is the obvious place to go.  I'm still working out some bugs, but I do have an October album if you want to check it out.  Just click on this link: 
October 2016 Purkey Photos.

If you want to see the captions, click on the individual picture, then click on the "i" on the top right (info).  The caption will then show up on the right.  You can also scroll through the pictures from that point with the arrow on the photo's right or left side.  (Move your mouse cursor over in that area if you don't see it.)

If you're a real glutton for photos, I also have a September 2016 album.

OK!  That's it for several more weeks.  We hope you're thinking seriously about coming to visit.  We may have guests for a week in mid December, but everything else is quite open.  And if you like HOT weather, the time to visit is NOW.  (If you've voted, you might as well check out Mexico!)

Hasta la proxima vez,
Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey