Friday, April 13, 2018

Pic-of-the-MONTH for April 13, 2018

Hola Amigos,

Did you notice the title of this one?  Pic-of-the-MONTH?  It has been a month since I wrote the last one, and I'm getting as slow as Ben about getting these out!  I guess that means we're busy..... or something.  

We are enjoying watching our "bottle brush" tree bloom right now.  It certainly makes a brilliant display, especially from the roof deck looking down on it.  In this picture you can see the buds getting ready to bloom, as well as the poofy pink flower in bloom.  

This was taken from the roof.  The blooms only last one day, so we are happy that it is more mature now and has more than the 5 blooms it had that first year!  It flowers for up to 3 or 4 weeks now.  Scientific name is Pseudobombax ellipticum.  

Ben is making weekly trips up to La Paz to check on his Model A progress at the body shop there.  It is coming along nicely.  He rarely takes pictures with his phone, so we'll just have to believe him on that!  He will probably take up the chassis next week so they can start putting it together.   

Ben has been working hard clearing our new property, mostly pruning trees and shrubs, but also raking up all the twigs and stickery things. He isn't getting too many scratches!  (He wears a hat and leather gloves at all times). It seems like every tree here has thorns.  We've also found a few neat cactus tucked away under all the brush.  Ben cuts the brush into short lengths, and after it dries a couple days, we have "campfires" in the evening instead of hauling it off to the dump.  We've made S'mores several times!  Our friend Pat found some Marshmallows at Chapito's Express, and I found Graham Crackers at Joe's Deli, and Hershey bars at Chapito's regular grocery store!  Ben made a roasting stick (broom stick with some stainless steel wire on the end), so we're set!    I am helping, too, by the way, especially with the raking and cleaning up, and sometimes moving a cactus.  After we're done, we go in and pull all the thorns and sticks out of the bottom of our shoes!  We were kind of surprised to find all the rocks under those trees, too.  

Our house is casting the shadow you see in this picture.  

The garden has been doing great this year.  Our corn is almost ready to start harvesting!  It isn't very tall, but it's green and healthy looking, and the cobs are filling out nicely....the second crop is doing even starting to form cobs. I've canned one batch of green beans, we've had them multiple times fresh, have eaten an abundance of lettuce and spinach, and our cucumbers have produced quite nicely.  I just pulled out all the remaining lettuce yesterday as it was starting to go to seed.

By the way, that little fence around the corn patch was very necessary!  I planted a few sunflower seeds outside the fence the other day, and as soon as they were sprouted, they were gone!  We do have bunnys in the neighborhood!  They are appreciating the leaves on all the pruning piles that Ben has piled up.  I have also noticed the burros and cows hanging around our place lately.  I'm sure they can smell this corn.... just hope the fence and cattle guard keep working.

We had company this last week!  Our nephew Ariel and his girlfriend Darling came to visit for a week.  They mostly stayed around here and had some great beach time, as the weather and water were warm, and the wind didn't blow!  They spent a lot of time snorkeling and swimming.  (Darling was impressed that I convinced Ariel to put on sun screen!)  They were lucky enough to spend a couple evenings dancing because a great Cuban band was in town for two of the nights they were here!  They were also able to spend a day in La Paz, and while there, Ariel swam with the Whale Sharks.  I think they'll be back!  

Zoey and I have been taking our daily walks first thing in the morning.  There is always something interesting to see and appreciate; the sunrise, rocks, flowers, cactus, shells, beach glass.... I have even taken a plastic bag several times to pick up garbage on the beach.  Last weekend was the second  "Easter vacation" weekend for Mexicans this year, and although they're much better about picking up their own garbage after camping on the beach, there is always something left behind.  I  pick up little bits of plastic, such as bottle caps, old toys, bottles and cans that end up on the beach.  Zoey is a real trooper and we manage over 2 kilometers every day.  (She then spends the rest of the day napping!)  Sam has decided he's too old to go on our long walks (he turned 11 on April 4), so he stays home and guards the house.  In this photo, Zoey is checking out all the campers on "HER" beach!  We didn't walk the beach that day, since she is so friendly she'd be walking through the middle of everyone's camp, checking for leftovers and making friends with everyone.   

These are the blooms from a Palo Verde tree I saw on my walk.  

And here's a sunrise when I got out REAL early one morning.  Actually, the sun was up, but it was making some neat colors behind those low clouds.

With that, I leave you to think about Baja and wish you were here to see this stuff!  I haven't started an album, and don't know if I will, so just enjoy these few pictures.

Hasta la proxima vez, whenever that will be!
Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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

Hola Amigos,

I could be doing a lot of things right now.  I could be weeding my garden. I could be pruning brush on our new lot.  I could be canning a batch of green beans.  I could be working on a new quilt that is almost started (I do have the pattern picked out).  But instead, you lucky people, I forced myself to sit down at my computer and write to you!  Doesn't that make you feel special?  

This is a little flower I spotted on my morning walk with Zoey today.  Notice the bug on the left side.

Here's the update on our red truck, that was in the shop during the last writing...and in the shop all last week as well!  Turns out the problem was more complicated than we originally thought.  A turbo hose had been hooked up incorrectly, and the turbo was getting dirt and dust and "stuff" sucked into it, and was destroying itself!  Ugh!  So of course, our labor bill was higher than we thought, but the more expensive thing was all the parts, that had to be ordered from Guadalajara.  We are so happy that Ben found this diesel shop in La Paz (with the help of our car savvy friend Hector Manuel).  Not sure what we'd do without him (the mechanic and Hector Manuel!!)  Ben has used this mechanic previously for both of our trucks, but when we tried to find him a few months ago for another problem, the phone wouldn't connect.  So Ben sicced HM on the fellow, and thankfully, he found his new shop.  (Most private citizens don't have diesel vehicles, due to some old Mexican laws...therefore, not many mechanics know how to work on them.  The majority of diesel vehicles here are Mexican delivery trucks, buses, and the pickups Americans and Canadians bring down). 

Ben took the bus up to La Paz on Saturday and picked up the truck AND checked on the progress of the Model A Roadster.  Most of the parts of the Model A were still at the sand blaster, so he's going back today to see if there is anything left after all the rust was blown off!  (Hope so!)  

The garden is doing very well.  Cousin Tom would be proud of our little corn patch!  Ben keeps adding nitrogen as Tom suggested, so we should have a nice crop.  The first crop is now taller than our 2' fence, and the second crop isn't too far behind.  It's not a big patch of corn, but it will be plenty for us!  (The plywood leaning against the fence is to protect it from the stiff winds we've been having).  We are also getting cucumbers, and wonderful lettuce and spinach.  

There have been some absolutely gorgeous sunrises and sunsets lately.  One morning, the water was purple and pink from the reflections!  Wow!  You can see more sunrises and sunsets in the 2018 March album.

And the evenings are just as nice!

We are enjoying "campfires" in the new fire pit I built on the lot.  We will be burning a lot of brush, and since trash burning fires are illegal (except at the dump....go figure?) we do it at night as a recreational fire.  We'll burn it poco a poco!  We get out our lawn chairs and a little table, a glass of wine or two, and watch the stars come out.  Lovely!

If we get low on wood to burn from our lot, I have noticed all kinds of downed wood on my walks not far from the casa.  

The weather has warmed up quickly, and I no longer need a sweatshirt on my morning walk.  In fact, yesterday it was up to 90F.  The morning temps are high 60's and low 70's.  The only downside is that the winds are still blowing.  The winds are making their last gasp effort to make the kite boarders and wind surfers happy!  March is when it is supposed to be slowing down. has been nice enough that we are spending more time on our front veranda watching the birds and bees and other wildlife that comes by.  The other day, a Jack Rabbit was pretty close (and where in the world were our lazy dogs?)  He was eating the Cholla cactus there, or some of it's fruit.  They must have really tough mouths to get around those thorns! 

Speaking of dogs, poor old Sam got kicked by a burro the other day on our morning walk.  Fortunately, it wasn't serious, but he's still a bit sore.  I took him to the vet to make sure nothing was broken and that he didn't have internal bleeding, and he's fine.  He is on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds for a week.  For some reason, he hasn't wanted to go on our walks with us since then.  Hmmmmm....  

Anyone want some bananas?  Another bunch got ripe, and we are eating them as fast as we can!  They are small, but sweet and good.  

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

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Pic-of-the-Week for February 27, 2018

Hola Amigos!

It has been a busy 2 weeks since the last post, and it has turned "wintery" for Baja.  Wind, cool temperatures, and lots of cloudy days.  We're looking forward to warmer temps next week, and more sunshine!  (Low temps have been in the 50's, and that's really cold here near the tropics!  Highs have been low 70's.) 

We had our sofa reupholstered by a little shop in a garage in La Paz, and I am quite happy with the fabric I picked out in Oregon last summer!  They did a great job with it.  It cost $1,500MX, which equals $80US.  Not bad!

We closed on our property, and the corn crop planted on that piece of ground is doing great!  The first crop is about a foot tall, and the second crop (you can see it through the wire, is about 4" tall.    Not quite "knee high" yet!  It is doing quite well in spite of the cooler weather.

The bean crop is keeping me busy every day picking what's ripe.  We've been enjoying fresh beans very much.  

Our 2006 Ford truck decided to not start the other day.  😬  Of course, Ben had just washed it and we were ready to go to Cabo San Lucas to have lunch with friends who arrived on a cruise ship.  Fortunately, the 2001 truck still runs, so we did our day trip in that one, and met Patti & Tom at Solomon's Landing at the Marina.  

We arranged for a tow truck from La Paz to haul the truck to our diesel mechanic in La Paz.  When he came on Saturday morning, we decided we needed to pull it out of it's parking spot in the carport in order to load it on the hauler.  We hooked it up to the white truck, and when Ben turned the key to put it in neutral so we could tow it, he decided to go ahead and turn the key further "just in case"...... and it started!!!  Well... we still didn't know why it didn't start all day the day before, so we loaded it up and sent it off anyhow.  Here's a little tidbit for you on the price of things in Mexico.  Diesel is currently about $3.72 US per gallon.  Labor, to work on our pickup for two days, is $45 US!!!!  That's the total cost.  Really!  Hopefully, the truck will be ready by tomorrow.  Ben will take the bus up to La Paz to get it.  

On Monday, we used the white truck (old reliable!) to haul the 1930 Model A body and various parts to a body shop in La Paz.  They promise that they can have it done in 2 months, and we're hoping they're correct!  They are doing some nice work in that shop, and they're excited to work on the "A".  By the way, it took Ben and I 3 or 4 hours to get it loaded on the trailer.  It took 4 hombres at the shop less than 1 minute to get it from the trailer to the setup in their shop!  Sigh.... only so much muscle...but lots of time (at home!)  

FYI, there is a minimal amount of work being done on the 56 Jeep.  It seems like the Model A has taken precedence, and maybe NEXT year, we can get the Jeep done and start using it.  Sigh.... only so much time and money!

We had a solid day of rain a few weeks ago, so the Ocotillo is blooming.  Here's a couple blooms from my morning walk today.  Most of the time, the plant looks dead, but it almost always sends out blooms after a rain.  It makes a striking red splash in the desert! 

I have added a few more photos to the
2018 February album.  Take a peek.  

Ben is off today paying our property taxes in Santiago.  I'm hoping it doesn't rain because I'm doing some laundry!  (No dryer here...only my eco-friendly clothes line!).  I'm also waiting for the propane truck to show up.  Soon I hope, since we're very low right now.  

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

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, 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