Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pic-of-the-Week for February 13, 2018

Hola Amigos!

Feliz dia del Amor y Amistad!  (Manaña!)  

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We are still remembering our 50 year anniversary celebration with fond memories!  Thank you for all your good wishes sent our way!  

Sad news.... Cousins Tom & Karan Malpass are leaving the neighborhood tomorrow.  The time has come to return to the duties at the farm in Oregon.  Sigh.... of course they are planning to return next winter, and we look forward to that!  We've enjoyed having them here for dinners and exciting games of Mexican Train.  Last night, we even had some fresh strawberry pie (and we all thought of Ryan and his love for Mom's homemade pie), so we took and sent him a picture.  😁  The good news about this.... I won the Mexican Train battle last night, after starting off with a horrible score!  Oh....and I haven't lost my ability to make a delicious pie.  

Good news ... the closing for our new property purchase is happening tomorrow here in Los Barriles.   And more good news; our corn crop is doing well on our new property.  I even planted the second crop, now that the first one is 6" high!  We put a fence around the little plot, since it looked like something (probably some local Jack Rabbits) had been nibbling on the tender little plants.  

Tom checks on the corn every day he comes over.  He's very pleased with the results so far!   He's just sorry he won't be here for harvest!  

I'm sure I will be picking beans in a few days as they are blooming and growing little beans quite nicely. and I've planted the second crop a few days ago; they are also ready to be strung today or tomorrow.  (Good thing I don't have to bend all the way to the ground to string these things!)

I have been continuing my daily walks with the dogs (except Sam didn't want to go today).  I get great opportunity to take pictures early in the morning with my i-phone (which also tracks how far I've walked).  Here are a few examples:

There are some BIG old cactus to the southwest of our casa (you can see our casa in the middle of this picture, behind that other cactus).  This is a gradual slope up as I hike towards Highway 1, and I've had to take a leash to PULL Sam up!  He looks at me like "you've got to be kidding!"  Today, he opted to not go with us on the hike!  He stayed home with Ben.

I don't seem to get up and at 'em quite soon enough for the early sunrise, but when there are clouds, I still get some good colors.  

And some days, when we have bigger waves, I can get shots like this!  Whoosh!  Of course, Zoey barks when I'm walking next to the water, or when I stop to pick up some glass or a shell, or when I stop to take a picture!  She only barks when I'm going south.  When I turn around and head back home, she quits barking!  Silly dog!!  

Friends Katie and Mel headed north a few days ago, too.  They are going to another fishing hole (the Umpqua River in Oregon), and were anxious to head out.  We went out and visited them at their camp last week before they left, and admired what they had done with the "Purkey Fish Gate" that we donated to the cause.  They are doing something that we dream about, but never accomplish...they're taking their time going north, visiting lots of friends along the way.  Someday!  

And finally, Rebecca sent a drawing that our grandson David had done of a dachshund, and in one look, I decided it was Zoey!  Great job, David!  (I especially liked the caption "Do not wash", as Zoey does NOT like water!)

Don't you think it looks just like her?  

I have started a 2018 February album.  

Hasta la proxima vez,

Tus amigos de Baja
Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pic-of-the-Week for January 30, 2018

Hola Amigos,

It is past time for another edition of Pic-of-the-Week, and I have no excuse, really, for being late.  

Our BIG 50th Anniversary Celebration was held last Saturday the 27th, and it was a great success!  We were expecting about 85 people at the "final" count, but then several called and excused themselves, one or two forgot (we are getting older and more .... forgetful!), and some couldn't get there due to schedule changes.  We ended up with about 75 guests, and a beautifully decorated venue, thanks to Evelyn and the La Playa waiters, waitresses, bartenders and chefs.  Evelyn decorated with gold tableclothes, bouquets, balloons, lights, and a special table for us.  One of the best things about last week is that our daughter Rebecca came join us from the Middle East!  It took her several days to get here, but she was able to spend Thursday noon through Sunday noon with us.  Ryan couldn't get away from Shanghai at this time, but we expect him here in April or May, and he's spending the summer in Baja. 

Another great surprise for our guests is that we were able to get our favorite guitarist Miguel de Hoyos to perform for our party!  People asked "how did you get Miguel to come?"  I told them, "advance planning, asking nicely, begging...., and have Rebecca and Ryan willing to pay his fee!"  

As you can see, he even dressed up for the occasion!  His music was wonderful, as usual and a great addition to the party.  

Then there were the cakes!  We were going to have two, a tres leches and a carrot cake, enough for 80 people.  Then we kept getting more people saying they were coming, so I had our friend Perla order a small chocolate cake in addition.  They were wonderfully baked and decorated by a local baker here in town, and delicious.  (And we have a big chunk left over in one of our refrigerators!) 

I have added a bunch more pictures of our party and a few videos as well in our January 2018 album, so please check them out.  (There are also other January pictures in that album)

The weekend before our anniversary, we invited some friends and our favorite Mexican chef, Rossy Amarillas (with husband Hector Manuel) to learn how to make Chiles en Nogada.  That was a fun and delicious experience.  It is a long process; it takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to complete them.  Basically, it is chili rellenos with a meat/fruit mixture, covered in a walnut cream sauce with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.  

Of course, now we're all spoiled for how chili rellenos should taste!  

 The meat filling was ground pork and beef, apples, pears, peaches, fried "platanos machos", raisins, a tomato sauce, biznagas (acitron picado) (look it up!), and various spices.  The white cream sauce was cream cheese, milk, walnuts (she used pecans because they are more readily available here, and less expensive than the walnuts), all blended finely in a blender.  

Here, Hector Manuel is chopping up the biznaga.  

Ben has been busy working on his Model A.  He is still holding out hope that we'll be able to take it to Reno with us this summer for the National Model A Ford Club of America meet in late June.  Ever the optimist, I guess!  He has been working hard to keep Caliman, our paint and body man, with his nose to the grindstone.  Just getting him to answer his phone when Ben calls him to ask a question would be a plus!!  We hope to see the fenders and running boards within a week, and then we can take the body for him to work on.  

I have been walking every morning regularly with my dogs, and it was a treat to have Rebecca to walk with for several days when she was here.  I've taken advantage of a few different routes so I'm not on the soft beach sand all the time, and have found some beautiful scenery and plants, and great views as I hike south and west uphill of our casa. Not sure why I didn't try that direction sooner...creature of habit, I guess.  Anyhow, I'm trying to get regular exercise to help lower my blood pressure.  That, and a new medication that the doctor prescribed seems to be helping. 

We are getting very close to the time when our new property purchase can be closed (hopefully next week sometime).  We've run into a few bumps in the road, but our attorney is on top of everything.  We have also found out that our property taxes on that piece will be higher until we build a building with one bedroom and one bathroom!  Not just a garage; that doesn't qualify to lower your tax rate.  Rebecca kindly sat down and sketched up some ideas for us, but we have no money with which to build, so I guess we'll just be paying higher taxes for a while!  

I have taken advantage of a few feet of that piece of property, and tilled up a spot for a corn patch.  Cousin Tom brought me some "genuine Oregon Farmer corn seed", and he was willing to go to a nearby ranch with us and shovel 5 bags of cow manure to add to our soil, so we are hopeful that we will have a beautiful corn crop sometime this spring. (Tom has been coaching us on fertilizers to use....lots of nitrogen for corn!)   First crop is planted, and I think I saw one sprouting this morning.  The beans, lettuce, squash, onions and spinach are doing well.  

OK.... I think I'm pretty much caught up.  If I don't stop writing I'll never get this out!  I'm still floating from our wonderful party this weekend!  

Hasta la proxima semana,
Tus  amigos viejos 
Harriet & Ben, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pic-of-the-Week for January 2, 2018

Hola Amigos!

Did you notice?  I got the year correct on the title of this post.  I'm at 100% so far this year!!  

The view from our roof this morning.  

Happy New Year to all our friends near and far.  2017 was an OK year for us, and 2018 is looking to be even better! 

  1. We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary January 27th!  You are all invited to our party here on that day at La Playa restaurant ... live  guitar music by Miguel de Hoyos!  Really... if you want to come celebrate with us, let us know.  (The weather has been beautiful this winter; hopefully it will continue!) 
  2. We bit the bullet and made an offer on the lot right next to us that was for sale.  It was accepted, and will close early February.  Now we don't need to feel guilty parking our rigs on this lot, nor for our dogs using it as their bathroom!  (I do clean it up fairly regularly!!) We're not planning on doing anything with it at this point.  Perhaps one of you is interested in a nice lot in Baja, next to some really nice neighbors?!  
  3. The 1930 Model A Roadster is coming together nicely.  Ben has been working on getting all the things on the frame / chassis while Caliman is doing the body work and painting the fenders and running boards.  The shocks, steering column, and various other necessary bits and pieces have been installed, and we have also got the front seat and the rumble seat upholstery finished.  That project definitely takes 4 hands to stretch and pull and hog-ring and nail!   
  4. The Jeep?  It too, is at Caliman's, and it should even have a gas tank by now.  Will it be done for us to use this year?  Who knows?  We can hope!
  5. I think my US phone finally will ring if you try to call me.  My old service, which was Republicwireless.com, just wouldn't get my phone to ring.  All calls would go directly to voicemail, and that was just as irritating as all get out!  I have switched to AT&T Mexico plan, and it will now ring if you try to call me at 541-854-5303.  Hooray!  Thanks to my Baja friend Marla who went to Eugene for Christmas.  She brought back my new SIM card, plus the new debit card to replace the one that had been compromised.  We owe her a dinner out!  Or something!  

I have the garden started, and my green beans are starting to sprout.  The squash I planted from seeds from my Walla Walla friends' garden is producing nicely.  We got another bag of "fresh" compost from our rancher friend in San Bartolo, so things should really grow well this year!  I've also got to decide if I want to order a load of nice garden soil to put on an area on our new lot, and maybe plant some corn this year.  Decisions, decisions!  (The soil on that lot is just as bad as our old lot, of course, plus it has piles of old adobe bricks they used to make right here!  With this clay soil!!)  

This last weekend, Ben & I had the opportunity to visit the "family ranch" of our friend Rosi Amarillas.  Her brother Alfonso Virgin lives there and runs the ranch.  They were having a family reunion where all her sisters and brothers from all over Mexico got together, which was the first time since 1986.  We were privileged to join them and get a taste of ranch life in Baja.  The ranch is located near Los Planes, which is north of our town about 45 minutes to an hour; actually on one of the roads we take to go to La Paz.  They raise cattle, grow field corn, and lease other fields to other farmers; one field grows zucchini, which is harvested by hand daily. 

Rosi is in the purple sweater.

This is the "indoor" kitchen.  Very compact.  There is also an "outdoor" kitchen with a much bigger sink.

One of the calves in the calf pen.  

Guys everywhere get together and talk about whatever guys talk about!

Backside of ranch house.  Can you see the little cactus growing on the palapa roof?  

Large zucchini field which needs to be harvested daily.

Big old scale hanging in the living room.  Used to weigh cattle.

This is Alfonso's graduation picture from Veterinarian School.  

A cut-throat game of Monopoly going on with the cousins.  (I read one of the "chance" cards, and told Ben he couldn't play because it was in Spanish!)

The water pond near the stock yard.  Plenty of water here, since the ranch is located near an arroyo.  And yes, that is rain drops you see on the edge of the pond.  Here we call that about a 4" rain.


We enjoyed a meal of beef, tortillas and potato salad.  The beef had been cooked in a pit in the ground.  Rosi's husband Hector Manuel is on the left.

We celebrated the New Year with our friends Mel & Katie Crabb, and Pat Curry.  Since Katie had both hips replaced last summer, this was the first time she's been dancing for a LONG time!  (Years!)  We hauled her out of there a bit early, and it took her all of the next day to recuperate, but she had a ball!  The food was delicious, the music was great, and a grand time was had by all!  

A few more pictures are located in our January 2018 album.  

Hope I didn't overwhelm you with this first of the year letter!  And I mean it about coming for our anniversary.  Rebecca and Ryan were going to throw us a big party, and it turns out neither of them can make it in January this year, so we decided to do our own "thing".  Come if you can!  Just let us know. RSVP!

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for December 19, 2017

Feliz Navidad, Amigos!

We want to wish you all a wonderful Merry Christmas, and hope you get to celebrate with friends and family, and that you stay WARM!  Please remember the reason for the season.... 

Another two weeks have flown by, and in spite of the Fashion Show being behind us, we are still super busy with various and sundry things.  One of the main things is trying to get our insurance updated.  Of course, when you go to the doctor they manage to find "issues"...for both of us.  Nothing major, but Ben is sticking with our old policy for another year, and I'm going with a new one that covers more things.  And the older we get, the more expensive the insurance rates are.  We just have to console ourselves with the fact that we live in a beautiful place!  It's cloudy today, but this was our view from our favorite breakfast restaurant after church on Sunday.

Ben has made several trips to La Paz, one for another car show with his '28 Martin-Parry woody, and another to help our friend Dalia.  Her boyfriend is in the hospital with leukemia, and Dalia is finding people who are willing and able to donate platelets  to him from here in Los Barriles.  It's a sad situation, but she is doing her best to help him as long as possible.  On the last trip to La Paz, Ben stopped by our friends' the Amarilla's, and bought two servings of Chiles en Nogada (chiles in walnut sauce), one of Mexico's most popular dishes.  Ben and I shared one the other night, and it was delicious!  Rosi said she'd show me how to make it, and I just might take her up on it.  She even gave us mild Poblano peppers!

Our lime tree is still producing nicely.  We can go out and pick up a handful every other day or so.  I had to change to a bigger basket to hold them, and today I decided to go ahead and squeeze some for juice, since they'll spoil if left sit long enough.  

And then there are the banana trees!  We are having fun trying to keep up with the ripe bananas.  We gave the last huge bunch to Chuy and Lydia, who run the Jesus Cristo Pan de Vida food program that our church sponsors.  I just went out to take a picture of it and noticed part of it is really ripe, so I'm enjoying a fresh banana from my garden as I type!  I think Chuy might get a good part of this bunch, too!

The Fashion Show Ben and I headed up had abundant proceeds this year; in fact, over twice what was made last year.  Ben came up with a brilliant plan to have the local grocery store create vouchers for the participants of the Pan de Vida program, each for the value of $250 pesos.  That is about $14 US.  We made enough so we can supply the 28 families for most of the year with this monthly voucher   They can use the vouchers for basic food items that they may not be able to afford otherwise.  No alcohol or soda; but certainly cereal or coffee or tea or sugar or fruits and vegetables.  (The store owner had to sign every single one of these vouchers!)  We were very thankful for the results.  

We've been working since last spring with a mechanic here in town to get Ryan's 1976 Ford van restored with a working engine, (we supply the money ... transferred from Ryan, and he supplies the parts and work).  Man, if it's not one thing it's three.  We THINK MAYBE he'll be done with it today.  The soft brakes are the last thing he's working on.  Edgar the mechanic says the engine is working very well.  And I've been learning "mechanical" Spanish!  Then, maybe it can be sold.  We're hoping Ryan will be here in February for a visit with Charlotte.  We hope so; we're excited to meet her.  

This week is going to be busy for me at the piano keyboard.  Our community choir has been asked to perform this weekend at the Saturday market, so I'm practicing all the Christmas songs we do for that, including Jingle Bell Rock, White Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and quite a few others.  Then on Sunday, we have the normal church service, and that evening, our Christmas Eve candlelight service.    Good thing my piano bench is padded!  

Sending our Christmas blessings to you from Baja,

Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for December 5, 2017

Hola Amigos,

Believe it or not, it has only been two weeks since our last "Pic".  The major hurdle is done.  Feeding the Hungry Fashion Show was held, was successful, and we survived!  Please check out this link from the professional photographer we used to see all our models, and a few of us.  Fashion Show .  All of these models are local ladies who had a great time showing off the fashions of local dress makers.  You can see by these pictures how much fun they had!

 I was the MC and the answer lady, and Ben sold drink tickets and raffle tickets and kept people happy on his end of the deck, while I flitted around and visited, thanked people for coming, and dusted off my Toastmaster skills for speech making.  I also spent some anxious moments trying to track down the DJ who had our sound system!  Yikes.  No way I could yell loud enough for everyone to hear.  We are hearing reports that people really enjoyed the show, had a good time, and basically the only thing they could complain about is that we didn't have enough seats (some waited to the last minute to buy tickets, in other words!)  We sold out, and I think there were a few sneaking in at the last minute anyhow!  

So, I figured after the show, this week, we could relax a bit and maybe get a few things done that have been on our list.  Well....the calendar is so full this week it's crazy!  We're trying to get a few time sensitive things done (like our new health insurance) before deadlines are reached.  Maybe next week we'll have a little time to relax.  Maybe.  

In the meantime, I have been doing a bit of gardening.  I saved and planted some squash seeds from friends in Walla Walla.  These need a bit of shade right now as they're developing, but I think they'll do just fine for a winter garden here in Baja.  I'm hoping the lizards don't find them once they set on fruit!  I have some onions started, and I'll be planting some other things very soon, now that the weather has cooled down some.  The rancher from San Bartolo stopped by soon after we arrived home and sold me two bags of compost, so I'm set for a nice garden in my raised beds.  I put the squash on the neighboring vacant lot.  I'm hoping they can spread out nicely there.  

Our bougainvillea is blooming profusely (see up top), and the lime tree just keeps putting out a few more of these wonderful sweet limes.   The banana trees have produced one very nice big bunch that we donated to the church food program, and we have at least three more bunches in the group!  Hard to say how long it will be before they get ripe, but it may be a while!  

OK.  Not too many pictures have been taken in the last two weeks, because our noses have been to the grindstone getting ready for the Fashion Show.  Hopefully we'll get a chance to get out and about and get more pics soon.  Speaking of out and about....we're trying to figure out where our Jeep is in the process of being painted and so forth.  Last time we saw it, it was in the Palmas Boat Yard waiting for a bit more fiberglass work on the firewall.  We are really ready for it to get done and use it!  (According to our painter whom Ben just called, he is retrieving it from the boat yard RIGHT NOW!)  Hooray.  The Model A is coming along, too.  Ben has done some upholstery (we have upholstery kits and new springs) and it looks very nice.  Today, the fenders and running boards are going to get sandblasted and taken to Caliman, the painter in San Bartolo.  

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pic-of-the-MONTH- for November 21, 2017

Hola Amigos!

Have you been missing us and our pictures of Baja?  No?  Phew....that makes me feel less guilty!  It has been a month since I wrote the last one, but we have been very, very busy here in Paradise.  

First, we had our guest Lydia to entertain, and since she made the effort to come visit all the way from Austria, we thought we should show her around a bit.  So we went places and did things that we haven't done in a long time.

One of the first places we went was to Zorra Falls up in the mountains for a swim.  It's also a major hike down (then back up....puff, puff, puff!!!)  We were kind of surprised that there wasn't more water coming down the falls because of all the rain from the storm in September.  And no one jumped off the cliffs (like Ryan usually did when he went there).  

It was a hot day, and the water felt great.  

There was plenty of water in the oasis at Santiago.  I don't think I've ever seen this much water there.  We passed this area on our way to and from the falls.

Ben took Lydia for a tour of La Paz one day, and for contrast, we took her south  to Los Frailes the next day to visit our friends Katie and Mel at their "boonies" camp about 4 miles up the arroyo.  The arroyo was really scoured out during the storm, and the "road" up is very soft sand all the way.  Ben used 4 wheel drive our entire way up there, wishing our Jeep was done (a story for next time).  He used 4 wheel in the place pictured here, too, just before the Los Frailes area, where a spring has sprung and it is very wet!   (The pigs at the nearby ranch are loving it!)  Yes, this is the coast road!

On Monday, we convinced our friends Debi and Sandy to take us in their Toyota Land Cruiser and an ATV up north towards Muertes Bay.  We didn't get all the way there, since there were some questionable spots on the road, but we did stop at a beautiful beach for a swim, saw some gorgeous scenery and had a great lunch at a newer Hotel in El Cardonal.   This picture shows the road, and Sandy and Ben checking it out.  We decided this was far enough!

This is at the swimming beach.  We enjoyed looking at all the rock formations in this rock wall we're parked next to.  

And there's Muertes Bay.  There are restaurants and hotels out there near that sandy beach to the right.  (There are other ways to get there...one popular way is by boat, which we've done before quite a few years ago).  

On Monday night, we went to La Playa restaurant to listen to the Salsa music band (Cuban fellows) who are living here in Mexico now.  Lots of fun, and we got to visit a bit with our friend Perla, whose mother and a friend also came from La Paz that night.  (I get to practice my Spanish with Perla's Mom!)  And it's always fun watching young Perla dance to the Salsa music (she is a very good dancer).  

On Tuesday, we went to San Jose del Cabo to stay overnight at the Tropicana Hotel, an old favorite place right downtown.  We did a bit of shopping and ate some really good food, and enjoyed a guitarist who played during our dinner.  They are tearing up the main street in front of Tropicana and redoing the sidewalks, so of course, we had to walk on the construction (shady) side of the street, and the store owners were desperate for us to walk in and shop.  We did go into a couple of them.

Pool at Tropicana.  I opted for a siesta instead of a swim this time....

Lydia flew out the next day.  She had a stop-over in Houston, then flew onto Frankfurt, then Vienna (I think!)  All in all, about 14 to 16 hours of flying, plus some layover time.  She did survive the flights (and the vacation), and we enjoyed her time here with us very much!  We told her that she needs to bring her husband next time, though.  

OK.  Lydia left on Wednesday, and on Thursday afternoon, we were in a little parade, hauling the Queen of Los Barriles and one of the Princesses up and down the street(s) of LB in our '28 Woody.  There was a Police car in front (siren blaring), the Woody with the royalty (and us), the mayor of town in her pickup, and an ambulance at the tail end (siren blaring)!  We made quite the impression from one end of town to the other, and you'd be amazed how many cars and ATV's and trucks pulled over for us!  

These ladies are Jessica (the queen in the red dress) and a gal whose name I can't remember (it was a hard one!)  Jessica is our friend Dalia's niece.  I think all four princesses are related somehow.  

Then, Ben worked feverishly Thursday, Friday, and Saturday trying to figure out why the 29 pickup didn't run smoothly.  He finally adjusted the valves (final thing to try!) and voila!  It ran like a champ.  So I had a quick driving lesson on Sunday afternoon (you've got to double clutch these things whenever you shift up or down, and we've got way too many speed bumps in our community!)  The reason for the non-stop work on the pickup is that we had the Revolution Day Parade on Monday; 7:30am we had to be at the start of the parade.  We made it with our two Model A's!   

You gotta love the crowns they use for the Queen and Princess!  

Oh, and for those of you who have enjoyed their music, Miguel de Hoyos and Alex DePue are back in town!!!  We went to hear them Sunday night and Monday night, and have plans to go again on Friday night.  Love, love, love their music.  They are SO talented.  I'll load a video or two on my November 2017 photo album for your enjoyment.  On Sunday night we took our friends Mel & Katie, and Katie was practically in tears she loved the music so much!  It was a real treat for her.

While we've been doing all the things I've mentioned, we have been working on the '30 Roadster (I hold things or lift things or offer moral support while Ben is on the business end of the tools) AND we are counting down for the "Feeding the Hungry" Fashion Show that will happen December 1.  Lots of meetings, e-mails, hand-holding, asking questions, thinking, preparing for ticket sales, obtaining raffle ticket items from vendors around town, answering questions.... It's an interesting process, and there are a lot of balls in the air at once.  Check with me after December 1 to see if we survived!  And then we're supposed to do it again next year...but it is for a very worthy cause of helping to feed 27 very poor families in our community, so we're happy to do it.  If you're on Facebook, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FeedingTheHungryLosBarriles/ 

I hope that's everything!  My head is spinning; how's yours?  

Hasta la proxima vez,
Tus amigos en Baja

Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey